Monument Mountain boys soccer team falls to Frontier in Western Mass. D-III quarterfinal
The win propelled the Hawks (12-2-4) into the Div. III semifinals and a meeting with No. 2 Southwick-Tolland Regional High School (13-3-1) set for Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Szot Park in Chicopee.
"I wouldn't say (the second half) was our best half of the season possession-wise or anything like that, but I think it was by far our most intense half of the season," Frontier coach Dale Totman explained. "We finished better today than we have all year. I told the guys, you have to finish in the playoffs and it was nice to see us be able to do that."
Frontier led 1-0 at halftime thanks to a goal from Ethan LaFleur in the 13th minute.
Monument (8-7-3) nearly tied the game just before intermission, however, as Nate Lacombe's header off a corner kick hit the post with 2:20 remaining.
The Hawks took the 1-0 lead into the break, though Monument's hopes for a comeback took a big hit when junior midfielder Noel Powell went down late in the opening frame with an injury and didn't return.
Frontier doubled its lead in the 50th minute, as a brilliant bit of individual work from Ben Arnold made it 2-0. Arnold hauled in possession of the ball, flicked it past a Monument defender and got in alone on the penalty area. His left-footed shot found the back of the net against charging Monument goalkeeper Kevin Kelly (three saves).
"That little triangle between LaFleur, (Connor) Bagdon and (Zach) Hamilton is really tough to defend," admitted Monument Mountain coach Matt Naventi of Frontier's big guns. "The combinations they play, they can keep you off balance. We gave away that goal in the first half and that changed things into the second half."
Tim Barrington made it 3-0 in the 59th minute, as the Frontier offense really cashed in on its opportunities. LaFleur and Hamilton set things up, working a nice give and go that ultimately ended with Barrington's tipping in a shot on the back post.
Hamilton continued the offensive spree with just seven minutes remaining in regulation. Connor Waitkus did the heavy lifting on the final goal for the Hawks, as he charged up the right side and slid a pass across. LaFleur eventually found Hamilton, who placed a shot into the corner for a commanding 4-0 lead.
Monument got on the board for its only tally with 2:16 remaining in the game. Lacombe finished off a wild scramble in the box, slotting a low shot through traffic and past Frontier goalkeeper Peter Bronke (two saves) to account for the 4-1 final.
Frontier, which held a 14-10 advantage in shots, played Monument to a 1-1 draw in the season-opener on Sept. 7. A lot has changed for both teams since that contest.
"I think we knew what to expect from Frontier having played that game, but they've built up their style of play and their attack a lot since then," Naventi admitted. "They played a lot more possession and short passes tonight. It was a lot more effective."
Monument 0 0 — 1
Frontier 1 3 — 4
Goals — MM: Lacombe. F: LaFleur, Barrington, Arnold, Hamilton.
Assists — F: LaFleur 2, Hamilton.
Shots — Monument 10. Frontier 14.
Saves — M: Kelly 3. F: Bronke 2.
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