Cooperstown’s dreams of a perfect season and a state championship came to an end Saturday, Nov. 13, as the Hawkeye boys fell to Section I Champion Alexander Hamilton 4-0 in the Class C State Semifinals in Goshen.
After waiting a week to follow up their dramatic overtime victory against Greene in the regional championship, Cooperstown had to wait a little longer on Saturday. The game was originally slated to kick off at 2:15 at Middletown High School, but rain and lightning forced it to be pushed back to 5 p.m. and moved to Goshen High School.
It was a tumultuous and ultimately heartbreaking day, but coach Frank Miosek said he saw no reason for his players to hang their heads.
“We actually didn’t play that bad,” he said. “We gave up a couple of goals in the first half that we haven’t given up all year long. They took advantage of it.”
The first goal served as an omen of how the rest of the game would play out for the Hawkeyes. With less than five minutes gone, Hamilton’s Steven Cambisaca unleashed what looked to be a harmless shot. But an errant clearance attempt by a Cooperstown defender resulted in an own goal that gave the Red Raiders an early lead they would never relinquish.
Cooperstown responded well to the early blunder, as the next 10 minutes or so were evenly matched. But Hamilton would find the back of the net again at the 22:15 mark when it scored on a counterattack following a Cooperstown corner kick, with Tiwa Soetan using a high kick to send the ball past goalie Finn Holohan.
It wouldn’t be the last time Soetan would burn the Hawkeyes. The Hamilton striker scored again at the 15:50 mark on a net front scramble coming off of a free kick that resulted in a 3-0 halftime lead.
Soetan would complete the hat trick with a shot late in the second half to put the cherry on top of the Red Raiders’ victory.
His performance left Miosek extremely impressed.
“He’s a heck of a player,” he said of Soetan.
Cooperstown actually outshot Hamilton 14-12 in the game, with several of those opportunities coming close to finding the back of the net.
Shortly after Hamilton’s first goal, Colby Diamond ripped a shot off the post that would’ve tied things up. Later in the first half with the Hawkeyes down by three, Ollie Wasson also found iron with a shot off the post.
As the game wore on, however, those chances became harder and harder to find, with the Red Raiders essentially playing keep away with the ball in the latter stages of the contest.
Miosek summed it up succinctly: “We had our chances, we didn’t finish and they did.”
The loss does nothing to dull the Hawkeyes’ 2021 campaign that included a near-perfect record, section and regional championships, and the program’s first appearance in the state final four in 30 years.
“We’re very, very happy to have made the final four and we hope to come back in the near future,” Miosek said.
It was also about as good a season as one could have imagined for a senior class that lost an entire year due to the coronavirus pandemic but in the end was able to go out on their own terms.
“The senior class has been great,” Miosek said. “They’ve been our nucleus. People look up to them.”
Despite losing that core next season, Miosek said he is confident that those who will be back can reach the same heights as the 2021 squad.
“We’ve got a nice group of juniors and sophomores coming along, we’ve got a good JV team,” he said. “We’re hoping to be back here very soon.”
Alexander Hamilton 4, Cooperstown 0
AH: Tiwa Soetan 3-0
Shots-Corner Kicks: AH 12-3, Coop 14-4
Goalies: Daniel Alvarez (AH) 1, Finn Holohan (C) 8