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Boys’ soccer: ConVal advances to second straight state championship game

  • Rich Miyara

  • Rich Miyara

Concord Monitor
Published: 11/6/2019 10:07:41 PM

The Falcons had more chances in the second half and pressured until the last whistle, but in the end the Bow boys’ soccer team suffered an all too familiar fate on Wednesday night against ConVal – a 1-0 loss in the Division II semifinals.

This is the third straight year Bow has lost by that score at this stage of the tournament. Two years ago, it was 1-0 in PKs against rival and eventual champion Pembroke Academy. Last year, it was 1-0 against Coe-Brown. Wednesday, it was against the top-ranked, defending-champion Cougars (15-1-2), who will now face No. 3 Lebanon in Saturday’s final.

“It hurts, but we won’t leave with our heads down,” Bow coach George Pinkham said. “Particularly our seniors, they’ve been to three straight semifinals. We’ve lost them all 1-0, so that’s tough, but when we walk off this field our heads will be raised, not down.”

Midfielders Matt Ferland and Matt Selleck had lots of time on the ball for the No. 5 Falcons (11-5-3), and sent plenty of tasty long balls toward the corner and into the box. But no matter how they tried, they couldn’t crack the ConVal defense. Goalie Mather Kipka and the back line of Trevor Faber, Zachary Kriebel, Connor Close and Max Shumway were all solid, and it was easy to see how the Cougars have only allowed nine goals all season.

“Our defense stood strong and the communication was good,” ConVal Coach Josh Smith said. “(Bow) moves all around, a guy could be on the right and then could be on the left, so it’s tricky to really defend that sometimes, so it was important for us stay communicative and be strong in the back, even in the waning moments when it got a little scary.”

The Cougars found the game’s only goal on a picture-perfect play in the ninth minute. Colby Knight started it with a pass out wide to Finn Wegmueller, who sent in a cross from the right side that hit Taylor Burgess in stride, and the Cougars forward hammered home a header for a 1-0 lead with 30:26 remaining on the clock.

“Any time you have guy up top who can put goals in when you need them, that’s really important to have, and Taylor had been huge,” Smith said. “He’s stepped up in big moments. It’s been a few games since he scored , so it was good to sort of see him shake the cobwebs out and get one in the semifinals.”

The rest of the first half lacked any real scoring opportunities as the game was stuck mostly in the midfield, but that was expected to change in the second half.

“We talked at halftime that (Bow) has a lot of seniors as well (ConVal starts 10 seniors) and they’re going to go out there and try to leave everything on the field and see what they can do, and they absolutely did that,” Smith said of the Falcons. “They had a great effort.”

Bow had more possession and more chances than the Cougars in the second 40 minutes, and when ConVal did threaten, sophomore keeper Kyle Martin came up big for the Falcons. He stopped a blast from Burgess in the 53rd minute and two minutes later he came off his line to end a breakaway big by Del Bonsu-Anane.

It was just after those stops that Bow really upped the offensive pressure. The best chance came in the 56th minute when a ball bouncing around the box landed at Ferland’s feet, but his shot sailed high and clanged off the crossbar of the football goal post behind the soccer goal at Bill Ball Stadium.

At the 65-minute mark, Pinkham threw another forward on the field and moved a defender up the wing to give Bow a horde of attackers, but they just couldn’t find the final pieces to solve the ConVal puzzle.

“That’s been a problem all year, the last third, the final touch, just not finding it,” Pinkham said. “We kept up the pressure, we just couldn’t dent the wall.”

That ConVal wall will now be get a rematch against the one team that did dent it this season. Lebanon beat the Cougars, 2-0, on Oct. 23.

“We went up there and had some injuries and that’s when we lost, so we’ll see,” Smith said. “If you look at it, I think the two best teams are in the final. They’re well-coached, they’re disciplined, they’re smart, but we know what to expect.”

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