Monument Mountain boys soccer team records 1-0 win over Lenox
GREAT BARRINGTON — It was a good day for the boys in white on Monday afternoon.
The Monument Mountain boys soccer team completed a season sweep of Lenox with a 1-0 win at home. In the process the Spartans booked a spot in the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament and continued to show the signs of progress as a team that coach Matt Naventi has wanted to see out of his unit.
"To [qualify] with three games remaining, this is earlier than we've been able to [usually]," Naventi said. "We play such a tough schedule. I think, of all the Western Mass. ranked teams, all of our games have been against ranked teams other than three. It's a challenge to get there, but we know if we can get into the tournament that we have a shot to be competitive."
Nate Lacombe proved to be the hero on Monday, latching onto a pass from Robert Baldwin on a rapid counter attack, then lofting a perfectly weighted ball over the top of Matt Tibbetts and into the net in the 15th minute. The goal was a pressure release for the Spartans (7-4-2, 5-2 Berkshire North), after the Millionaires had the better of play in the opening exchanges, and Monument goalie Kevin Kelly came up with a big save on Keveen Delgado.
"We've done a good job not conceding goals," Naventi said. "The worst we've done over the last 4-5 games is conceding just a goal in a game, and that's going to put you in a lot of situations where you are going to do well. And we've gotten out of our rut offensively, gotten the guys back that we need to from injury. We are doing pretty well."
Like many Berkshire North games that both teams have played in, the chances weren't abundant, but each side made the opposing keeper work hard enough to entertain those on hand.
After the Spartan goal in the first half, Lenox forced Kelly to make two mores saves, one on Delgado and another on Mike Abdalla, but couldn't find an equalizer before the break.
"Kevin made one great save in the first half. I was actually surprised, he didn't do that much work as far as saves, they only had a couple shots on goal," Naventi said. "He does a good job coming off his line, reading plays and eliminating possibilities so they don't get shots. We've seen them enough over the last few years and know their team well enough that we know what to expect and can adjust accordingly."
While the loss leaves Lenox (8-4-3, 2-4-1) winless in its last three games (two draws, one loss), the Millionaires weren't playing with a completely stacked deck. Ian Laurin, Noah Kalischer-Coggins and Zi Santos missed the game entirely, and Delgado and defender Matt Heim missed parts of Monday's action with injuries.
"Let's face it, I had four of my starters on the bench today with injuries," Lenox coach Matt Cote said. "My younger guys stepped in and they did admirably, but when you are down that many numbers, you have to expect you are a little bit rough and aren't connecting as well as you are used to. It's not all negative."
Monument flipped the table in the second half, and kept pushing to find an insurance tally against a dangerous Lenox side. Austin Holcomb tested Tibbetts in the 54th minute, and Heim had to make a last-ditch tackle on Ben Badurski to deny Badurski a clean breakaway on the Lenox goal. Henry Rauscher then nearly played a perfect ball onto the feet of Lacombe, but Tibbetts had the awareness needed to rush off his line and kill the threat.
In the closing stages, Kelly was called into action one more time as he ran off his line to boot the ball away from an onrushing Abdalla, and Tibbetts nearly started a counter attack himself when he rushed off his line to pick the ball off of Lacombe's feet. The ball ended up on the other side of the pitch quickly, but Cameron Abdalla dragged his shot just wide of the goal.
"I was really hoping to come away with the 'W,' more for our psyche more than anything else," Cote said. "I thought we could do it. Neither team had a ton of scoring chances. I would say we had just as many good ones as they did, but we didn't have that many good ones. They are fast, they are aggressive, they are tall and they are big, and so far they have been better than we are. ... It's hard to know what to adjust because I have so many guys that are down, but there has to be something."
Both teams showed their abilities on the counter in the game. Naventi, when asked afterward, said that his diminutive forwards — including Badurski, Holcomb and Lacombe — surprise some, but not him.
"When teams come and scout us, they are a little surprised that those are the couple of guys that are such offensive threats for us," he said. "But they work really hard, they do a good job pressuring the ball and putting themselves in positions to score. And if you are in the right place at the right time, it's going to work out for you. I was happy with the finish [by Lacombe], and he was close to getting a couple others as the game wore on."
Both teams return to action on Wednesday, and both in potential Western Mass. tournament previews. Monument heads to Belchertown, while Lenox is off to Drury.
Lenox 0 0 — 0
Monument 1 0 — 1
MM — Nate Lacombe (Robert Baldwin), 14:27.
Saves — L: Matt Tibbetts 5. MM: Kevin Kelly 5.
Reach sports editor Geoff Smith at 413-496-6254 or @GSmith_Eagle.
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