Boys’ soccer: Mascenic punches ticket to state championship with win over Hopkinton

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team played Hopkinton in the NHIAA Division III semifinals in Laconia on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/7/2019 8:13:36 AM

For the first time ever, the Mascenic boys’ soccer team has a shot at a state championship, after beating Hopkinton in a shootout to win their NHIAA Division III semifinal game in Laconia Wednesday night. 

“It’s kind of indescribable,” said second-year Mascenic head coach Andy Helliesen, standing on the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium turf after the Vikings’ 2-1 win.

No. 3 Mascenic (17-2) lost their season opener to No. 7 Hopkinton (13-5-1) way back on Sept. 3 in a 4-1 game head coach Scott Zipke called one of the Hawks’ best of the year, and the Vikings found themselves in an early hole again Wednesday. In the 22nd minute, Logan Rockwood played a ball across the goal to Andrew Beckwith, who hauled off and rifled it in past Mascenic keeper Chris Wilkins (seven saves) to put Hopkinton up 1-0. 

Hopkinton held Mascenic scoreless in the first half; the Vikings only had a few chances and Hawk keeper Aidan Burns (three saves) was solid. But aside from Beckwith’s goal, Mascenic’s defense – their season-long calling card – stymied the Hawks.

“We knew they were big up the middle,” Zipke said. “We tried to play the ball out wide and we didn’t exactly do that a lot tonight as much as we would have liked. I think if we could have stuck to our game plan better and played more possession out wide and continued to attack out wide, we would have been more dangerous.”

Down 1-0 in the second half, backs against the wall and season on the brink, Mascenic once again leaned on their unique, seemingly unstoppable weapon – Shea Zina’s long throwin. A hard-throwing baseball pitcher (he holds the school record for strikeouts in a game), Zina’s throws are unparalleled, and with 17 minutes to go in regulation, he ran up the right sideline and hurled the ball a good 40-plus yards in the air and onto the head of Sam Stauffeneker, who flicked it in for the equalizer. 

“[Stauffeneker] comes up huge every game,” Helliesen said. “He’s kind of one of our unsung heroes, but tonight he’s a superhero because he scored the goal.”

Neither team would score again in regulation, though the Hawks had a golden opportunity with 8:30 remaining, but their first point-blank shot hit a teammate and the second resulted in a one-handed flying save by Wilkins to keep it tied. 

The two teams played through two overtimes without a score and forced the dreaded penalty kick shootout. The Hawks had an early advantage their, as Burns made a diving save on Noah Caballero’s opening attempt and then got scores of their own from Ian Heck and Bryce Charron. But, Mascenic’s Nate “Diesel” Wilkins and Zack Barthel put their shots home, Hopkinton’s Derek West hit the bar, and Chris Wilkins made a save on Andrew Beckwith to even the PKs. 

Shootouts come down to the keeper, and never was that more true than Wednesday night. Before the shootouts, Helliesen, a former goalkeeper himself, told Chris Wilkins he’d be the fifth man up to shoot; the fiery keeper replied “Perfect – I thrive under pressure.” Wilkins was up to the task, skimming the ball in past Burns’ outstretched gloves to put Mascenic up 3-2. 

“Kid’s got moves,” Helliesen said. “If I had another goalie, he might be playing up top.”

Logan Rockwood took Hopkinton’s final PK and fired it high, Wilkins rising with it as it sailed to the bar, and Mascenic was championship game-bound for the first time in school history. 

It’s been a long ride there for the Vikings, a four-year ride for the team’s ten seniors and Helliesen, who was an assistant under Zack Stephenson as the program surged and then took over last season. 

“We have this core group of seniors,” Helliesen said. “We have ten seniors on the team, so I’ve been working with them, I teach at the school so I’ve watched go from freshmen to these things that are people, you know what I mean? Watching them coalesce as a unit – the way they behave on the field is great, but off the field, at practice, they’re a family, and it took a family to win that game.”

The Vikings play undefeated No. 1 seed and defending champion Campbell (17-0-2) for the state championship Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The Cougars knocked out No. 5 Mascoma Valley (2-0) in the semifinals and were the only team besides Hopkinton to beat Mascenic this season, a 2-0 game in Litchfield on Oct. 15. 


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