The Hopkinton High School girls soccer team captured the first sectional championship in program history by beating Notre Dame Academy, 1-0, on Nov. 5.
The ninth-seeded Hillers pulled off four straight upsets without allowing a single goal, including a win over top-seeded Old Rochester Regional (ORR) in the quarterfinals and a semifinal victory over Tri-Valley League (TVL) rival Medway.
“To be the South champion for the first time in school history is a great, great achievement for the players,” said first-year head coach Wayne Sygrove. “I don’t think they even thought about winning the tournament, but as the season went on and we played well against one of the top leagues, we realized we could play with anybody.”
Three of the final four teams in the 19-team South bracket came from the TVL. After beating Medway, Hopkinton started strong in the title tilt. The Hillers scored the game’s only goal thanks to a 25-yard strike by junior forward Allison Bird. Notre Dame applied constant pressure in search of the equalizer, but Hopkinton’s defense held strong and senior goalkeeper Natalie Calkins made three saves to keep her team in front.
“It was a great team performance to close it out,” Sygrove said.
Hopkinton played the season with four seniors contributing significantly to the cause. Calkins was a force in net as her team allowed only seven goals all season long. The Hillers lost senior Corinne Messier to a season-ending injury, but classmate Maya Zent was able to fill in at left back.
“It’s not her natural position, but she has done an outstanding job back there,” Sygrove said. “She is strong, she’s physical and she wins balls in the air.”
Two other seniors, Sydney MacDonald and Gabrielle Weilding, were both voted TVL All Stars. Weilding scored the lone goal in Hopkinton’s win over ORR in the quarters, and added the only tally in a 1-0 victory over then-unbeaten Holliston during the regular season.
The victory over Notre Dame put Hopkinton into the Division 2 state final against the North champions from Winchester. Regardless of how that game turns out, Sygrove said he hopes the sectional win will prove to be a launching point for the program.
“It’s a great way for the seniors to finish their season,” he said, “and it puts us on the map a little bit. Hopefully we can create that environment where players want to be part of the program and keep winning.”