Photo Gallery | Monument boys lacrosse tops Hoosac Valley
GREAT BARRINGTON — The Monument Mountain boys lacrosse team went into halftime of its MIAA Central/West Division III playoff game against Hoosac Valley with a lead, but the mood in the huddle was anything but positive.
The Spartans talked it out, though, and emerged in the second half with a renewed sense of vigor to top the Hurricanes 9-7 in the 8/9 matchup.
Hoosac made the Spartans sweat a bit before getting the win, but Monument put up the first three goals of the second half to build a 7-3 lead that provided enough of a cushion to see off a Hurricane side the Spartans split with in the regular season.
"I think in the huddle, we were sort of getting on each other, getting on ourselves," Monument senior Joey LaBrasca said, "and about halfway through halftime, a bunch of us, the captains especially, looked at each other and said 'we have to stop looking at our feet, we have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We haven't beat Hoosac on this field in three years, and we really need to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps.'"
LaBrasca helped lead the charge in the second half. He scored the first goal of the third quarter on an assist from Jake Parkinson, then set up Homer Winston for the third goal that made it 7-3.
Hoosac made a run late in the third when Tyler Jayko scored 17 seconds after Monument went up 7-3, then Jayko turned provider to hook up Bailey Trumble and make it a 7-5 game going into the fourth.
LaBrasca popped up again, though, 12 seconds into the fourth after Connor Parkinson scooped up a ground ball off the face-off and found his teammate in front of the net for the eventual game-winning goal.
"The second I saw [Parkinson] come up with the fast break and the ground ball off the face-off, I could see what he was going to do," LaBrasca said. "I saw my defender draw and I knew just to drop down I was able to drop down and get the goal."
LaBrasca then capped his day off with 8:13 to go, scoring his fifth of the day to make it 9-5.
Hoosac, playing down several men on an already thin squad, never let Monument run away with the game, but coach John Alibozek noted that Monument's third quarter cushion was a mountain too tall to climb.
"We felt we could get it back," Alibozek said. "We chipped away at it, chipped away at it, but we couldn't close that gap enough. It was something we were trying to get done and couldn't quite achieve it today with the smaller squad and the heat. I think the heat was more of a factor than the squad."
When Monument went back up four, the Hurricanes cut it down to three with 3:43 to go on a goal by Vance Eugene, then with 2:51 left Monument goalie Jonah Swotes was whistled for a one-minute penalty. The Hurricanes tried to work backup Jack Gibbson, but could not find a way to get the ball through.
The 'Canes scored one more time with 1:46 left, but it was too little, too late to get any closer.
"Getting that lead just gave us that extra little boost to know 'OK, now let's just settle down and play our game,'" Monument coach Rob Leary said, "we had good ball possession in the fourth quarter up until late in the fourth. We turned it over then and cost ourselves with a couple of penalties and were struggling to hold on."
Jayko had three goals for Hoosac in the loss, and Eugene had a pair. Connor Parkinson had three assists in the win, and brother Jake added a pair. Swotes made seven saves for Monument while Gibbson made one, and Hoosac goalie Cam Alibozek had three stops.
The loss ends Hoosac's season at 9-8. While a loss in the playoffs is never an easy thing to swallow, Alibozek noted that his team — making its first playoff appearance in program history — had every right to walk off the field with their heads held high.
"This was, this was our first time the team made it to Western Mass. That was a goal we had set at the beginning of the season. We achieved that. I think we've had the most wins of any lacrosse team at Hoosac, that was another good accomplishment for these guys. It's a good group of guys here."
The next task for Monument isn't an easy one. The Spartans, now with their first playoff win in program history, travel to face No. 1 Mount Greylock in a quarterfinal game tentatively scheduled for Thursday. The Mounties beat the Spartans by a combined 38-6 in two games this season.
But for LaBrasca, who was on the inaugural team in 2013, the opponent is almost a welcome sight.
"Yeah, [Greylock] are a great team, but honestly we wouldn't have it any other way," he said. "The first game this team ever played against was Greylock. If it has to be that it's my last game, I wouldn't have it any other way."
Hoosac Valley goals — Tyler Jayko 3, Vance Eugene 2, Nick Waterman 1, Bailey Trumble 1. Hoosac Valley assists — Eugene 2, Jayko 1, Matt Hall 1.
Monument Mountain goals — Joey LaBrasca 5, Nigel Baldwin 1, Connor Parkinson 1, Jake Parkinson 1, Homer Winston 1. Monument Mountain assists — C. Parkinson 3, J. Parkinson 2, LaBrasca 1.
Saves — HV: Cam Alibozek 3. MM: Jonah Swotes 7, Jack Gibbson 1.
Contact Geoff Smith at 413-496-6250.