There’s a cliché in sports about ultimate effort: “Leaving it all on the field.”
At the final whistle of a critical soccer game, the metaphor becomes literal.
Hopkinton eliminated the Bedford High School Buccaneers from the MIAA Division 2 state tournament Saturday, 2-1, on Sabourin Field. Many of the exhausted blue-clad student-athletes sprawled motionless on their home turf as the visitors rejoiced, and that told the story as much as the scoreboard did.
The result looks like an upset on paper, as the Bucs were the top seed in the state, and Hopkinton was ranked eighth. But that’s deceiving; the Hillers won 14 games, and haven’t lost since Oct. 10.
The Bucs fell to Hopkinton in November 2022 in the state semifinals, also by one goal, but they trailed all games, at times by two. Saturday’s match could have gone either way.
The Hillers opened the scoring about eight minutes in, off a shot from a long throw-in that Bedford failed to clear.
Bedford battled back and knotted the score with five-and-a-half minutes showing on the first-half clock. Leo Natalizio settled Sawyer Elliott’s long throw-in, resulting in a shot by Spencer Goss. The ball deflected back to Natalizio, who finished into the open right side.
Momentum went back and forth and as the game moved beyond 60 minutes, it was apparent that the next goal would be critical. And Hopkinton scored what turned out to be the winning goal off a corner kick in the 66th minute.
Bedford nearly tied the score five minutes later when Natalizio was put through on a ball from Eshan Pandey, but the ball was cleared off the line by Hopkinton defenders.
Head Coach Dave Boschetto saluted the team’s 10 seniors, who “left a legacy of commitment and competition that they can be proud of.” They are the four team captains – Miles Herzog, Sean Morrison, Akira Ung, and Elliott – and Shae Arsenault, Christian Hill, Nathan Kim, Cy Torrey, Cam Zhu, and Pandey.
Boschetto also praised his Assistant Coach Gunnar Olson, who scouted Hopkinton and “was instrumental in game-planning throughout the season.” He also thanked his predecessor and now volunteer Assistant Coach David Wilson, who as a Vietnam veteran was on the sideline for Veterans Day.
“Thanks to the families and the community for supporting our guys,” Boschetto added.