Photo Gallery | Monument Mountain boys lacrosse tops Hoosac Valley
CHESHIRE — The Monument Mountain boys lacrosse team entered Friday's game against Hoosac Valley with three games remaining and needing one win to qualify for the Western/Central Mass. tournament. The teams played a one-goal, double-overtime game in the previous matchup which Hoosac Valley won, but with the stakes raised for the Spartans, the visitors pulled out a 9-7 win on Friday.
"This is big," Monument coach Rob Leary said. "Hopefully this gets the guys down in South County to see that we're coming along and we're for real and that we can continue to make progress. [Winning] can get more youth involved, get more players involved and continue to push forward with the sport."
The game started as a back-and-forth, fast-paced affair, but Monument's ability to close out periods with goals prevented Hoosac from generating much momentum. Brenden Ellsworth's second goal put the Hurricanes up 3-2 midway through the first period, but Joe LaBrasca tied the game at three and the Spartans added two more quick goals at the end of the first as Homer Winston fired in a goal with two seconds remaining.
Nick Waterman added two consecutive goals early in the second period for Hoosac, tying the score at 5-5. But again, Monument had an answer. Matt DiSilva scored a goal from his knees as he was falling down, and LaBrasca found the net with six seconds left in the half, putting the Spartans up two. They did not trail for the remainder of the game.
Jonah Swotes helped shutdown the 'Canes in the second half, limiting them to only two second-half goals. He made eight saves total. Cam Alibozek made 12 saves for Hoosac.
"We have a really talented midfield line and if we can get a good clear going, our transition game is pretty strong," LaBrasca said of the team's ability to generate offense quickly. "If we can exploit a two-on-one man-up advantage then we'll look for a good shot, and we'll get a good shot out of it nine out of 10 times."
Monument's strong transition attack, mixed with Hoosac's weary legs, led to defensive breakdowns late in periods for the host. Friday's game was Hoosac's fifth in seven days. Combined with the team clinching its first tournament berth on Thursday, coach John Alibozek said the emotional roller coaster led to a slight letdown.
"Our tiredness would show and we were a half-step behind at times," he said. "This was a winnable game. ... There were a couple plays that if we could've finished them differently, it would've been a goal going in."
Ellsworth led Hoosac with four goals. Waterman had three goals and Vance Eugene added two assists. DiSilva had three goals and an assist for Monument, and Jake Parkinson had one goal and two assists.
With their postseason spot secured, the Spartans can exhale slightly before finishing the regular season against Mount Greylock and Pope Francis. LaBrasca said Leary helped the team find the right balance of understanding the importance of Friday's game while still playing loose and relaxed, and playing in the postseason means more than just continuing a season for members of the team that have been together since lacrosse became an official sport at the school.
"Being with this team, as a part of the inaugural team and being here for four years, it means more than anything has ever meant to me in my entire life," LaBrasca said. "I've seen this team come from almost nothing, to being Western/Central Mass. qualifiers."
Monument goals — Matt DiSilva 3, Homer Winston 2, Joe LaBrasca 2, Jake Parkinson 1, Connor Parkinson 1. Monument assists — J. Parkinson 2, DiSilva 1, Winston 1, C. Parkinson 1, Walter Boyko 1.
Hoosac goals — Brenden Ellsworth 4, Nick Waterman 3. Hoosac assists — Vance Eugene 2.
Saves — MM: Jonah Swotes 8. HV: Cam Alibozek 12.
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252