LENOX, Mass. -- Lenox Memorial junior Michael Abdalla had a lot on his mind when the ball was on his foot in the 80th minute of Wednesday’s boys soccer game against Mount Greylock.
“Honestly, the last three plays before that, I had a miss, then I had another miss, and then the third miss I was way over the goal,” Abdalla said. “I was like, ‘I need to do something to put my team ahead,’ because my team kind of counts on me sometimes, and I have to pull through because I’m the only guy up top.”
On Wednesday night, Abdalla showed why the Millionaires count on him when he buried his final chance of the game, cashing in the rebound of a Matt Heim shot off the post to break a 1-1 tie and send Lenox to a 2-1 win over the Mounties.
Heim took his try from near the top of the 18 on the right wing side, but the shot ricocheted off the near post for Abdalla, who scored his second of the game to give Lenox (7-3-1) its third win in four outings and first win over the Mounties in nearly a decade.
Abdalla’s game-winner capped a second half of end-to-end action that saw each side generate some dangerous chances but also have difficulty putting its shots on frame.
“They had some good opportunities that were wide open,” Abdalla said of the Mounties (5-3-1). “I was actually shaking in my cleats. I was like, ‘Please don’t score.’ Because the game was so heated. It was 1-1, the fans were going crazy.”
Abdalla gave the home fans something to cheer about for the first time in the 12th minute when he converted a Nick Baruch assist on a counter to give Lenox a 1-0 lead.
But the majority of the first half pressure came from the Mounties, who finally were able to solve Lenox keeper Matt Tibbetts (11 saves) in the 28th minute of the match. J. Bath sent a through ball up the right side for Quinn Johnstadt, who finished for his fifth goal of the year to even the score.
That is where it stood at half-time despite the Mounties earning an 8-2 advantage in shots and the only two corner kicks of the first half.
In the second half, interim head coach Camilo Bermudez said the style of play started to favor Lenox.
“I thought they were going to put a little more pressure on us in the second half, but actually, they were playing it a little bit more in the middle, trying to get it wide,” Bermudez said. “But that actually helped us because it gave us time to settle. That allowed us to get that space in the middle to get it to Baruch to get it to Abdalla. So it ended up being that we could actually work it in the middle and structure ourselves.
“But Greylock plays a good possession game … so while they were building, they were able to recover defensively.”
Mount Greylock’s best chance to break the tie may have come in the 73rd minute when Naka O’Connor made a run up the middle and set up Emmanuel Brennan, whose shot on goal was saved by Tibbetts to keep things level.
It was one of a number of scary moments from Abdalla’s perspective.
“I was just like, ‘I’ve got to put one on goal, and we’ve got to win this game,’ because we were looking at a stat earlier: It’s been eight years since we beat that team,” Abdalla said. “It feels good.”
Lenox goes to Great Barrington to face Monument Mountain on Friday. Mount Greylock hosts Burr & Burton of Manchester, Vt., on Saturday.