The Harwood boys soccer team came up one game shy of a third straight trip to the Division 2 state championship game.
The Highlanders lost in overtime to Middlebury, 2-1, in the state semifinals Tuesday, Oct. 29.
“It was a tremendously successful season,” Harwood coach Joe Yalicki said. He expected a rebuilding year after graduating nearly an entire starting 11 from the 2018 undefeated, state-championship squad, but instead the Highlanders were again one of the top teams in the division.
Harwood finished the season 13-3-1.
Ranked No. 3 in the D-2 playoff field, the Highlanders beat Lamoille and Lyndon to earn a trip to face No. 2 Middlebury in the D-2 semifinals.
In that matchup, Andy Giorgio scored 12 minutes before halftime to give Middlebury a 1-0 lead. That’s where the score stayed until Harwood’s Hayden Adams set up Cole Hill on a corner kick for the equalizer with 12 minutes left in regulation.
Harwood’s hopes of another state title shot, and another crack at Stowe, were foiled three minutes into the first overtime, when Alex Bleich netted the golden goal for Middlebury.
Middlebury goalie Owen Lawton made one save, while Harwood’s Ollie Hammond stopped three, two of which were “very high-quality,” Yalicki said.
“We played them as hard as we could,” he said. Down 1-0 at the half, the team “never played with any fear in the second half,” but a second goal for the Highlanders late in regulation failed to materialize.
This is the fifth straight season the Highlanders have reached at least the D-2 semifinals. Middlebury improved to 14-3, but lost the D-2 championship game 2-0 to Stowe on Saturday.