PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The Taconic boys soccer team Monday opened state tournament play like the well-oiled machine it was for most of the regular season.
Reynaldo Castro scored two goals and assisted on another as the Thunder advanced with a 4-0 win over Brighton.
The victory marked the 14th time this fall that Taconic (16-1-1) has scored at least four goals, and it sends the team to Division 5’s Sweet 16, where it will travel to meet fourth-seeded Gardner (13-2-2) on Wednesday evening.
Taconic had more than a week off between the end of the regular season and Monday’s tournament opener. But it wasted no time getting the offense untracked.
Just three minutes, 53 seconds into the contest, Ezra Ezan headed in a cross from Eric Quaidoo on the right wing to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later, a Castro shot on goal was saved for a corner kick, and on the ensuing set piece, Quaidoo got a head on Job Vengalil’s service, but the shot went just wide.
In the 17th minute, another Vegalil corner produced a goal. Castro broke into the 6-yard box and headed the ball into the back of the net for his team-leading 36th goal and a 2-0 lead.
“Everyone is committed to give his best in the practice, games, whatever,” Castro said of the Taconic squad this fall. “The communication and the friendship is very important.”
In the 31st minute, Castro scored on a counter with an assist from Ezan to send Taconic into half-time with a 3-0 advantage.
Taconic coach Luke Chambers was especially happy to see his team come out on top of a first half played into a wind that stiffened throughout the contest.
“Coming away with a clean sheet at the half was a huge advantage, because then we could play with the wind in the second half,” he said. “I think probably, it would take a little bit of the suspense and the tension.
“The first goal was crucial, and I think we just built on that. We kind of played on the counter today. With the pace and quality we have going forward, I think it was suited for our game.”
The final goal of the night came midway through the second half when Castro lofted a pass about 15 yards down the right side into the 18 for Nick Silva Plazas, who ripped a shot inside the near post and past the diving Brighton keeper to make it 4-0.
Zach Sullivan and Tim Parsons split time in Taconic’s goal, combining to make eight saves, mostly on shots from distance.
The Thunder advanced through the Round of 32 by the same score last year’s Taconic squad was ousted in the same round.
“I think this is the furthest they’ve ever been, so they’re all happy right now,” Chambers said.