WESTFIELD — There was a whole lot of fight in the Lenox boys soccer team during Sunday's Western Massachusetts Division IV championship game.
Monson just knew how to land the right blows.
Finishing off a soccer tripleheader at Westfield State University Sunday, the Mustangs converted on their chances and kept Lenox's to a minimum to record a 4-1 win that sees Monson repeat as Western Mass. champions.
The loss, though, didn't sour Lenox coach Dave Pugh's mood about what his team did in 2015.
"First of all, it wasn't a tough way to end the season," Pugh said. We were the last Berkshire County team standing in a tournament this fall, and I was proud of that fact. Both our Lenox girls and boys were the last standing teams in Berkshire County. I think the score tonight wasn't really indicative of the way our boys played."
Monson forced an early Matt Tibbetts save to get things started, and the Mustangs drew first blood after 12 minutes on a penalty after a Monson player was fouled in the box. Connor Hicks stepped up for Monson and buried his penalty low and to the left.
"Ultimately, it's one of those situations you try to teach your players to defend well in the box and when two young men come together, mountains collide I guess," Lenox assistant coach Simon Borrett said. "The penalty didn't change the game. It's 1-nil, it's going to be a game where soccer was going to be played tonight. We made some adjustments as we went through the game, but ultimately we were found a little short."
Lenox had a chance to draw things level on a Emerson Wolski header, but the senior put his effort over the bar instead of under it.
Monson then capitalized on the missed opportunity, with Hicks added his second just under seven minutes after his first. Hicks finished with a hat trick.
To open the second half, Hicks set up a goal when he put a free kick into the box that Kyle Craven was able to nod in with his head
Monson coach Mike Rouette said that the first penalty helped set the stage for his team's second and third goals.
"From a psyche standpoint, [the penalty] puts a lot of pressure on Lenox," Rouette said. "Now they have to say 'alright, we have to start going forward more,' so it kind of opened it up. I think the brought Nic [Baruch] forward a little bit more, so we were able to play it around him, and then put another one in, then another one in. When we got to the third one, it's tough to score goals on us."
Lenox, though, still put up a puncher's chance over the final 30 minutes.
Four minutes after the goal the Millionaires thought they broke through when Wolski got on the end of a Chas Novitsky cross, but the sideline official raised his flag for an offside call.
"I think both teams played very well. We had a couple offsides in the second half really burn us," Pugh said. "That game could have been a lot closer score-wise. I think overall the game was close throughout."
Monson then went for the jugular, scoring with 21:33 to go on a header from Noah Malo.
Lenox got its consolation goal with 17:30 remaining. Joe Bouvier set the play up with a pass to Wolski, which the senior finished with an incredible effort as he fell backward.
The Millionaires wrap up the season with a 13-6-2 record. Monson now advances to the state tournament and a showdown with Central Mass. champion Bromfield.
That, though, didn't stop Rouette from dropping a positive forecast for Lenox's team next year.
"That team [Lenox], in my eyes, is the team to beat next year," Rouette said. "It really is."
M—Hicks (PK), 12:04. M—Hicks (Graves), 18:36.
M—Craven (Hicks), 47:35. M—Malo (K. Monaghan), 58:27. L—Wolski (Bouvier), 62:30.
Saves — M:Tranghese 0. L: Tibbetts 6.