LENOX -- The top seed in the Western Massachusetts Division III boys soccer tournament delivered a statement on Monday night.
Lenox may have entered its playoff opener with an underwhelming record hovering around .500. But when the Millionaires took the field against No. 9 St. Joseph’s, they showed just what they can do in a resounding 6-0 victory over the Crusaders.
"It was just so natural," said Alex Bennett, who had three assists. "We just connected and we knew where each other were the whole time."
Lenox (7-6-5) controlled possession from the outset, racking up pretty goal after pretty goal starting with Bennett’s feed that Andrew Vickery headed home in the 11th minute. Abdul Al-Henaidi got his first of three goals six minutes later, delivering a thunderous volley from 25 yards out that Crusaders’ keeper Shaun Parzick had no chance to stop.
But that wasn’t even the best goal of the game. That honor may be reserved for Luke Martino’s sailing free kick from midfield that found the back of the net with less than two minutes to play.
"We took advantage of them giving us some space and sitting deep," said Lenox coach Scott Chadwick. "It kind of worked for us tonight."
The Millionaires neutralized the biggest threat St. Joe’s (10-8-1) had: Matt Begrowicz. The senior had 28 goals entering Monday’s game but couldn’t squeeze one past the Lenox defense.
"They were just moving the ball around us," Begrowicz said. "They were really good at ball movement and that’s one thing we lacked."
Lenox now turns its focus to a Western Mass. semifinal against No. 4 Smith Academy later this week. The No. 4 Falcons (14-4-2) advanced with a 4-1 win over Turners Falls. A performance like Monday’s would almost surely give the Millionaires another trip to the Western Mass. final.
"[Lenox] came here to play," said St. Joe’s coach Aziz Adjao. "They showed us some soccer tonight."
Lenox 6, St. Joe’s 0
Lenox 3 3 -- 6
SJ 0 0 -- 0
L -- Andrew Vickery (Alex Bennett), 10:37.
L -- Abdul Al-Henaidi (Bennett), 16:30.
L -- Liam Gennari (Bennett), 25:00.
L -- Al-Henaidi (UA), 41:58.
L -- Al-Henaidi (UA), 47:50.
L -- Luke Martino (UA), 78:00.
Saves -- L: Trevor Hathaway 5; SJ: Shaun Parzick 11.