Bow boys makes it two straight Div. III soccer crowns
EXETER - Both teams had similar chances to score on rebounds in the penalty box in the Division III high school boys' soccer championship, but only one did.
Connor Rossignol put his shot in and Jordan Birtz stopped the bid on him from his knees as No. 3 Bow claimed a 1-0 win over top-seeded and previously undefeated Belmont at Bill Ball Stadium on Sunday.
Rossignol scored his on the rebound of a shot by Nikos Kalampalikis with 12:46 left in the first half, and Birtz robbed Jeremy D'Amour with an incredible save midway through the second half to secure the second straight state title for the Falcons (18-2).
"This one's much sweeter," Rossignol said about winning a second straight title. "Last year we kind of ran through the tournament, there was nobody that could really beat us. We played the 15 seed (Raymond) in the final. This was a chance to show we're the best team in our division."
Bow survived an onslaught by the Red Raiders (19-1) over the final 20 minutes of the game. Their best opportunity came when a player took a shot from the left side of the penalty box that Birtz saved, but the rebound continued to the right side of the box and right to D'Amour.
Birtz was on the ground, but somehow managed to dive over and stop the shot by D'Amour and keep it a shutout with 19:30 left to play.
"I was just happy I saved that," Birtz said. "I was like 'that's going to be the one.'"
Just before that, Falcon fullback Elias Hatem saved a goal by heading a shot that eluded Birtz (8 saves) away from the net. And the last good chance for Belmont came with nine minutes left when Brendon Johnson just missed the net with a shot from inside the box.
"When you get opportunities, you've got to cash in on them," Belmont coach Michael Foley said. "The last 10-15 minutes, we had some nice looks."
Bow got its best look when Kalampalikis dribbled into the box on the right side and put a shot on net. Red Raider goalie Kaleb Brace (7 saves) made the initial save, but the rebound continued through the crease to Rossignol, who was following the play up on the far post and had an open net to tuck his shot into.
"It was an easy put-back goal," Rossignol said. "Give all the credit to Nikos on that."
There wasn't nearly as much offense in the first half as there was in the second.
"Last year in the semifinals, their keeper came up huge," Foley said. "And again he made the saves at the right moment when you need your keeper to."