NORTHAMPTON — Mike Abdalla's goal two minutes in the first overtime lifted the Lenox boys soccer team to a 2-1 win over Westfield Tech in the Western Massachusetts Division IV tournament semifinals.
Abdalla's goal came after a scoreless second half, breaking a scoreless drought of nearly 60 minutes. Lenox will face No. 1 Monson in the championship game. A date and time have not been decided.
Westfield Tech packed in the box after allowing a goal early first half goal to Abdalla. In the second half, assistant coach Simon Borrett told his players to spread the field, drawing Westfield defenders away from the box. He said proper spacing helped Luke Murphy find Abdalla for the winner.
"You don't have to have the ball to be successful," Borrett said. "The movement without the ball can make you just as successful. Hats off to Abdalla, they identified him as the primary goal-scorer... His movement and secondary movement opened up the passing lanes."
Abdalla's winning goal served as a bit of redemption for the forward. Last year during the semifinals against Hopkins, Abdalla missed a potential winning goal. This time he came through, helping his team get to the championship after three straight semifinal loses.
"It feels good to finish it off this year and go to the finals," Abdalla said. "We just need to hit the practice field hard and keep put momentum going."
Lenox jumped out to a quick lead, as Matt Heim found Abdalla for a goal with 38:28 left in the first half. Westfield Tech responded with a great individual effort however, as Vitaly Melnik gathered the ball along the left sideline. He ran toward the box and fired a shot over Matt Tibbetts head from just outside the box, tying the game with 27:18 left in the first half.
After the game, the Millionaires broke the huddle chanting 'the curse is broken.' Lenox coach David Pugh said his team finally got the monkey of its back, and heads to the championship with a lot of positivity.
"We've been plagued on this field," he said. "Scoring two goals and winning in overtime is big for us."
L Mike Abdalla (Matt Heim), 2:32. W — Vitaly Melnik (unassisted), 13:42.
L — Abdalla (Luke (Murphy). 82:00.
Saves — L: Matt Tibbet 6.