Hopkins boys soccer shuts out Rye for fourth straight FAA title

Hopkins won its fourth consecutive Fairchester Athletic Association tournament championship in boys soccer on Saturday.

Hopkins won its fourth consecutive Fairchester Athletic Association tournament championship in boys soccer on Saturday.

Joe Morelli / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW HAVEN — If Hopkins was going to bring home a fourth consecutive Fairchester Athletic Association championship, the defense was going to have to come up with a pair of stellar performances.

The Hilltoppers had 10 shutouts during the regular season to help earn the tournament’s top seed. Hopkins then put together two more shutouts in the tournament.

The second came on Saturday afternoon in the final as Hopkins shut out Rye (N.Y.) 2-0 at home to win that fourth straight title.

“After that last goal allowed at the tail end of October (to Brunswick), I told myself that I wouldn’t let in another goal,” Hopkins goalkeeper Owen Lamothe said. “Sure I have a very important role in the last line of defense, but I also give huge credit to the four guys in front of me and the team as a whole.”

Said Hopkins coach Joe Addison: “It’s really amazing to have continued success over five-year span but each of those titles feels unique in their own way.”

Hopkins (15-2-1) has earned the opportunity throughout this run to play all of its tournament games at home. The last two years. it’s been St. Luke’s who the Hilltoppers beat in the final, the last coming in 2019.

Last year, there was no season held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hopkins beat St. Luke’s 4-0 in the Fairchester semifinals on Thursday. Saturday’s final started in sunny and windy conditions, but ended in cloudy conditions with thunder and lightning close by.

In fact, the game was called with 2 minutes, 42 seconds left. Just 57 seconds earlier, Hopkins finally cashed in on that second goal after peppering Rye’s defense for the entire second half.

Munib Kassem connected on a pass to Michael Kluger, who finished past Rye goalkeeper Henry Geller.

“Gluber has scored that goal several times this season, out on the right, cut in, left foot hit. As soon as I saw him cut in, I thought, ‘This might be it.’” Addison said. “We were a little wasteful with some of our chances today, but I felt like we were in control enough that I was never that worried.”

There was thunder in the area, which meant at least a 30-minute delay before resuming the game. Hopkins does not have lights.

The officials huddled the coaches, they discussed and both Addison and Rye coach Alin Andrei agreed for safety reasons it was best to call the game right there.

“I think in the second half, we got some chances, we created some opportunities, but they have strong defenders and we were were unable to get clear chances,” Andrei said.

Hopkins scored its first goal less than 6 minutes into the game. Liam Spellacy set up Moustapha Gassama, who lined one to the opposite side past Geller.

“We handled some of the top NEPSAC Class A teams, got some wins out of them and by the end of the season, we were confident in our abilities to go on and win the tournament,” Lamothe said.

joseph.morelli@hearstmediact.com; @nhrJoeMorelli