The 2019 season didn’t end how the Hiltoppers hoped, but one game doesn’t make a season by any means for the Hillsboro boys soccer program.
The Toppers ran into a buzzsaw on Friday, Oct. 18, as the Marquette Explorers knocked off the visitors in the Marquette Regional championship by an 8-0 final score.
Every Hillsboro kick seemed to find the foot of a Marquette player during the opening moments of the title game, with every bounce going in favor of the conquering Catholics as well.
Marquette opened the scoring four minutes in on a goal by Nick LaFata, with Noah McClintock making it 2-0 less than a minute later. Luke Atkinson would hit the post eight minutes into the game, but the shot still found its way into the back of the net to make it 3-0.
LaFata would complete the hat trick before the midway point of the first half, getting goals at the 11 and 20 minute marks to increase Marquette’s lead to 5-0.
Jack Stephan would make it 6-0 with 15 minutes to play in the half, while Atkinson would chip in another goal with a minute left to make it 7-0 at the break. Stephan would get the only goal of the second half as time was cut to 20 minutes due to the IHSA mercy rule.
Despite the insurmountable deficit, the Toppers didn’t roll over and play dead. While the results wouldn’t be in their favor, the team showed the effort that resulted in 16 wins and a South Central Conference championship this past season.
Next year’s Toppers will look vastly different as Coach Jason Burke will lose 11 players to graduation, many of whom will get another shot to play together at the sixth annual Grace Cup all-star game in June.
Still, the Toppers will return some key players, who have learned from the example set by the senior squad who won 52 games over the last four years and provided even more memories.