Saturday September 22, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON -- It’s the kind of moment that can instill fear in a goalkeeper.

With the clock flashing 15 seconds behind him and the score tied, Wahconah Regional keeper Nick Tutela saw the ball squirt past his defense and onto the waiting feet of Monument Mountain’s Rowan Myers.

"That was really, really scary," Tutela said. "I saw the ball come through my players. I saw the ball get to the other team. I slightly panicked. But then I just got ready, got into my focus and made the save."

It was the last of nine stops for the senior, preserving a scoreless draw with a depleted Spartans squad in Great Barrington. Monument (3-0-1, 1-0-1 North Division) was missing seven starters thanks to a combination of injuries and red cards. Both teams seemed to know who to key on defensively, allowing neither to possess long enough to get quality chances on goal. Warriors coach John Kovacs said his team’s play looked a tad ugly at times.

"We just weren’t connecting," Kovacs said. "We usually go side-to-side better. We just weren’t going side-to-side. Enough players were tight so that we never got into any rhythm."

That was something both teams struggled with. Monument coach Matt Naventi said with all the players the Spartans were missing, primarily in the midfield and forward positions, they were missing the natural connections. Myers, who made a couple nice runs throughout the game with Nick Masiero, typically plays back and had been moved up front to fill holes.

Stringing together passes in the final third was a struggle all night. Masiero had some moments of inspiration, particularly late when he was able to counter down the field following free kicks, only to be stuffed by Tutela or a strong defensive line from Wahconah (3-1-2, 2-0-1).

"I felt like we controlled the midfield pretty well at some points," Masiero said. "But then getting a connection between our forwards and our midfield was pretty tough without [seven] of our starting guys. That might’ve held us back a little bit but I think the kids that came up really stepped up well, like Rowan."

Wahconah probably had its best chances late in the game. A flurry of free kicks and corners applied some pressure to Monument keeper Aaron House, who made four saves for the shutout. Kevin Boino couldn’t drive any of those set pieces into the goal, but one sequence resulted in a deflection that popped the ball high in the air. House was able to snag it, stepping back towards his goal but holding the ball out over the line.

"We just weren’t moving the ball all that well in the first half," Boino said. "Second half, we got a little better. We got our chances. We just couldn’t get a touch on it."

Luckily for the Warriors, neither could Monument. Considering all the turmoil in his starting lineup, Naventi was pretty happy with the tie nonetheless.

"To come out with this result here considering we were down all those players, I’m thrilled with the performances of a lot of these guys who are more used to playing 20 or 30 minutes," Naventi said. "They stepped up. Some of them -- four or five guys -- played 80 minutes."

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Monument 0, Wahconah 0

Monument 0 0 -- 0

Wahconah 0 0 -- 0

Saves -- M: Aaron House 4; W: Nick Tutela 9.