PITTSFIELD -- The Western Massachusetts lacrosse tournament seeds won't be selected for at least another week. That doesn't matter to the Hoosac Valley boys, who are feeling like their postseason has already begun.
"Our intensity level, it needs to go up. That's just the Western Mass. playoff intensity that we just need for these last games," Hoosac defender Tom Galesa said. "We can't afford a loss and we need to play like we're in the playoffs. We're playing to survive right now."
Stephin Wallace's goal with 1:05 left in the first overtime period gave Hoosac a needed victory as the Hurricanes beat Taconic 5-4 on Friday afternoon. Hoosac has three games left and needs to win them all to qualify for the tournament.
Wallace's goal was needed because Taconic's Mike Perkett scored with 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter to re-tie the game.
It's a far cry from last year, where the players on both of these teams were just members of lacrosse clubs. Being on a varsity team has changed how they all play.
"The intensity of each game has, I don't know the word, jumped up a level," Galesa said. "Now, we're representing our school and we have to play to our best every game."
The game, which Taconic coach Bill O'Brien-Garvey called the best the Braves played this year, was marred by an altercation with 1 minute, 45 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The Hurricanes were leading 4-3 at the time when Taconic called a time out. As the players headed to their respective benches, pushing and shoving between players led to benches emptying and coaches trying to separate players.
Once the teams went back to their benches, seven players were ejected. Taconic goalie Jake Schufreider, backup goalie Tyler Gaudette, midfielder Glen Bona and defender Codey Ramsey were thrown out along with Hoosac Valley defender Zach O'Neill, attack Judge Duval and midfielder Mitch Carlow. Judge Duval had two of Hoosac's five goals.
All seven will have to sit out their teams' next games.
Both coaches, who said they never saw how the altercation began, were disappointed in the late-game antics. The usual post-game handshakes were not given and both O'Brien-Garvey and Hoosac coach John Duval were stern in the words they had for their players.
That put a damper on what was otherwise one of the better days for the Taconic program.
"Without a doubt, it was the best performance, and we just played the worst game [Thurday] night," O'Brien-Garvey said. "If you're talking about a 100 percent turn, we made the turn."
Wallace said he remembered seeing the ball roll just over the half line at midfield . The sophomore Attack got the ball and took it from there. His shot, a good one to the lower right corner, eluded backup goalkeeper Jeno Teti.
The first four-minute overtime period was nearing its conclusion when Wallace stepped up.
"I picked up and just went for goal, and just threw it in," Wallace said. "I was just thinking net. I was just running for net. I was not going to lose that game."
Wallace needed to score to give Hoosac the win because the Braves wouldn't go away.
Taconic fell behind 2-0 in the first quarter and finally caught up when Nick Whitaker scored his second goal of the game with 7:50 left in the third. Exactly 1:47 later, Hoosac's Duval scored a man-up goal, giving the Hurricanes a 4-3 lead.
The tying goal came after the altercation. Mark Duane, who had three assists on the day, set up Perkett for the shot that beat Steven Raftery with 27 seconds remaining in regulation.
"I had a good day passing, just working out there," Duane said. "So did Nick Whitaker and Matthew [Duane]. They buried a couple for us."
The Hurricanes had the better of the play through much of the game as Schufreider had 30 saves and the Braves held the Hurricanes scoreless in the fourth quarter.
"We have to win them all. We're going to take one game at a time," John Duval said. "I think we're playing really well. Never say never."
Hoosac 2 1 1 0 1--5
Taconic 1 1 1 1 0--4
HV--Jake Beckwith (Stephin Wallace), 8:23.
HV--Judge Duval (UA), 4:21.
T--Nick Whitaker (Mark Duane), 3:36.
HV--Chaise Labrie (Mitch Carlow), 9:15.
T--Matt Duane (UA), 0:58.
T--Whitaker (Ma. Duane), 7:50.
HV--Duval (UA), 6:03.
T--Mike Perkett (Ma. Duane), 0:27.
HV--Wallace (UA), 1:05.
Saves--T: Jake Schufreider 30/Jeno Teti 0. HV: Steven Raftery 22.