ADAMS — When the final whistle went, it was readily apparent what Monday night's game meant to the Wahconah boys soccer team.
After dropping their first five games of the season, the Warriors finally put one in the win column with a 4-2 decision over Hoosac Valley at Renfrew Field.
All six goals in the game were scored in the last 25 minutes. Wahconah's Chad Howes and Hoosac Valley's Steve Crouch each bagged a pair in the barrage, but it was Howes that got the last laugh as he had a pair of teammates score with him.
"It was amazing," Howes said of getting the win. "We worked together, passed a bunch, switched fields. We just connected tonight."
The final scoreline didn't tell the whole story on how the game played out. Wahconah (1-5) goalie Anthony DonDiego came up with a trio of clutch saves in the first half to keep the game scoreless, and Hoosac Valley (2-5-1) goalie Jaydin Cooper — an eighth grader — played well beyond his years to keep Wahconah off the board for a majority of the game.
"We've struggled, obviously, and I think they have, so we knew it'd be a reasonably competitive game," Hoosac coach Mike Russo said. "I thought it was a very exciting game to watch with all the goals. The first 10 or 12 minutes, I thought Wahconah really came at us, but we were able to absorb that."
But when the goals finally started coming, they came in all sorts of ways.
Howes scored the opener after nearly whiffing on a golden opportunity. With the ball bouncing in the box and no one there to clear it, Howes nicked the ball the first time — causing Cooper to stutter in an attempt to line up the save — before getting all of it on the second swing.
Hoosac answered quickly through Crouch, who latched on to the end of a loose ball off a Hurricane free kick before slamming his shot off a defender and in.
"It could have been 2-2 at halftime, but it was 0-0 and we were waiting and waiting and waiting, and all of a sudden, I think, we got that goal and let down and they came right at us," Wahconah coach John Kovacs said. "It was the best thing [Hoosac] could have done. The second half was a shootout, back-and-forth, that's what it was."
Howes put his team up again with just under 15 minutes to go. Off a corner kick from Cole Accardi, Howes rose up in the six-yard box to meet the cross as Cooper tried to go up and grab it. Howes got to the ball first, and absorbing a bit of contact, the sophomore flicked his head back and sent the ball in.
"He had his hands on me," Howes said, "but I got around it and got the back of my head on it and it went to the back of the goal."
The eventual winner came with 7:33 left. Accardi started the move, whipping a shot at Cooper that the goalie couldn't corral. With the ball on the move, Isaac Voltoline was there for the rebound to put Wahconah up 3-1.
Hoosac brought the game back within one when Crouch scored his second off a pass from Keagan McGrath, but 30 seconds later Ethan Wesley found himself in space on the right flank and he sent a shot low and back across goal to seal the deal.
"I was nervous that they were going to come back, and they started," Howes said. "They were pushing hard. But we kept with it, and we just kept passing and kept working hard, and we finally got [the win]."
After the game, Russo said that his team was caught in catch-22 situation. Down 2-1, the Hurricanes had to chase the game and sent defensive captain Colin Rousseau up the field to try and create in attack. Rousseau's move forward nearly resulted in an equalizing goal with the game at 2-1, but on a corner routine very similar to Howes' goal, Rousseau met DonDiego for the ball and managed to tuck it in, but the referee called Rousseau for a foul and the goal was wiped away.
"I think the reason the goals were scored from our point of view, we moved [Rousseau]," Russo said. "And it seems like when we do that, we give up a goal or two. But we want to score the ball."
Both teams are back in action this week. Hoosac hosts Mount Everett on Wednesday, while Wahconah hosts West Springfield on Thursday.
W — Chad Howes (unassisted), 55:08. HV — Steve Crouch (UA), 57:09. W — Howes (Cole Accardi) 65:08. W — Isaac Voltoline (UA), 72:27. HV — Crouch (Keagan McGrath), 75:46. W — Ethan Wesley (Brent Sinopoli), 76:16.
Saves — W: Anthony DonDiego 8. HV: Jaydin Cooper 6.