By PAUL GOTHAM
Forgive Sean Hopkins and his Pittsford Sutherland Knights if they have had tunnel vision for the past couple weeks. Falling in three straight sectional finals can do that to a team.
Friday night Sutherland turned the tables on those disappointments.
Freshman Dylan Kladstrup and senior John Mozrall scored a goal apiece, and Sutherland upended three-time reigning champion Honeoye Falls-Lima, 2-0 in the Section V Class A2 finals played at Hilton’s LeBeau Field.
“We had some other guys who were really close over the last few years,” Hopkins said. “We wanted to win for them. They’ve been sending us emails and text messages. For the program. We just wanted to win one for the program. I’m pumped that they got it done. It was great.”
The championship was the program’s first since 2007.
“It’s such a relief,” the senior stopper said. “It’s such a great feeling. My sophomore year we lost to them, and we got our revenge. There is no better feeling.”
Graupman delivered the eventual game-winning assist with a 65-yard free kick that Kladstrup redirected home in the 61st minute.
“He got really good contact on it with a volley and just nailed it bottom left corner,” Graupman said of his teammate.
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“Will played a beautiful ball,” fellow classmate John Mozrall said. “Their men were pushed up. Dylan just went right around them. He one-timed it with a beautiful finish to the far corner, off the volley. It was amazing.”
Mozrall iced the victory with 1:26 remaining when he beat out an HF-L defender and goalkeeper and touched home his team-leading 15th goal of the season.
“It was just a point of effort,” Mozrall said of the goal. “There was no skill involved. You just got to work at it. You work hard enough, you get the win.”
Sutherland (11-7-1) opened the season 2-4-1 and entered sectionals a game over .500 at 8-7-1. Friday night they held off an HF-L (16-3-0) squad which was ranked No. 12 NYS Class A.
“We wanted to attack the outsides and clog up the middle,” Hopkins explained. “We wanted to make sure we had Parker (Hotchkiss) up top and tried to limit his opportunities and we did.”
Sutherland lost in the finals from 2013-2015. The Knights have not allowed a post-season goal this year and have outscored opponents 9-0 over the three wins.
“They worked so hard all year,” Hopkins stated. “We’ve talked about this. This is what we wanted – the ‘Block.’”
The loss ended a three-year run for HF-L which had won 12 straight games including a victory over Class A1 champion Brockport in the regular season finale.
“Hats off to Sutherland,” HF-L head coach Mike Merrill said. “They played really hard. They had a great strategy and frustrated us. We couldn’t make good on our chances and they did. That’s soccer. I’m really excited for those guys.”
Sutherland moves on to play Class A1 champion Brockport in the regional qualifier. A 5 p.m. kickoff is scheduled at Spencerport Central Schools on Tuesday.
*Updated to include the time and location of the Class A regional qualifier.