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Hampshire Tops Monument Mountain Boys in Regional Semis

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports - Print

10:08PM / Saturday, October 28, 2023


WESTHAMPTON, Mass. – An early two-goal deficit proved too deep a hole for the Monument Mountain boys soccer team on Saturday evening.
 
But the Spartans put up a heck of a fight.
 
Erving Henderson scored a pair of goals to get the Spartans within one each time, but top-seeded Hampshire pulled away in the end to reach the title game of the Western Massachusetts Class B tournament.
 
Monument Mountain ran into a little bad luck to start the match, and the Raiders cashed in on an opportunity to get on the board first.
 
In the second minute of play, a Spartan was whistled for a handball inside the 18, and Brendan Stevenson converted the ensuing penalty kick past a diving Marko Kononenko (eight saves) to give his team a 1-0 lead.
 
“I think the call went against us because, unfortunately, the way Hudson [Manzolini] plays is: When he plays the ball off his chest, he sticks his arm out to the side,” Monument Mountain coach Matt Naventi said. “He claims – and it’s the same thing I saw – that the ball actually caught him on the side of his body.
 
“But the referee was adamant it hit him in the arm. That early in the game at this stage of a tournament like this, it’s definitely disappointing, but you know, we battled and we got a nice goal late in the first half to make a game of it.”
 
In between, Owen Miller scored for Hampshire with an assist from Dan Martin to make it 2-0 in the 14th minute.
 
About all the Spartans had to show for their efforts most of the first half was a corner kick with about 16 minutes left in the half. Henderson’s entry from the right wing corner found Matthew Cambi in the 18, but his shot was just wide.
 
But as the clock ticked toward half-time, the Monument Mountain offense started revving up.
 
With just more than two minutes left, Sean Scarbro took a direct kick from about 35 yards that was saved by Colin Holt (four saves).
 
Moments later, with the clock stopped at two minutes, Scarbro had another try from roughly the same part of the field with the same result.
 
Finally, with a little more than a minute left in the half, Manzolini beat a pair of defenders on the left wing touch line and lofted a cross into the 18 for Henderson, who finished with a nifty one-timer to cut Hampshire’s lead in half and send Monument Mountain to the break down just 2-1.
 
It stayed that way despite some dangerous opportunities that ended with shots off frame for both teams for much of a second half that got a little chippy at times.
 
Naventi said the physical play, which yielded a couple of yellow cards, did not characterize the Spartans’ first two meetings with Hampshire, which ended in wins of 1-0 and 2-0 for the Raiders.
 
“They really haven’t been [physical],” Naventi said. “Unfortunately, the kids play as physically as the officials let them. And I think, tonight, for better or worse, they were letting them play.
 
“At some level, you want them to go out and compete with that level of intensity, but, at the same time, you don’t want anyone getting hurt, for there to be a late foul or something that could cause somebody to get injured for the remainder of it.”
 
In the 67th minute, Miller scored his second goal of the game, this time from about 22 yards out, to make it 3-1.
 
But just moments later, Henderson scored his second, with an assist from Milo Potoski, to again get the Spartans within a goal with 12:51 on the clock.
 
With time running short, Naventi was forced to gamble and bring Scarbro forward from the center back position, and Hampshire took advantage with a goal by Aidan Miklaswiewicz, who played the rebound of a shot off the post, to provide the final margin of victory.
 
The Spartans wait until Wednesday to learn who their first opponent will be in the Division 4 State Tournament.
 
Hampshire moves on to Tuesday’s Western Mass Class B final against Frontier, a 1-0 winner over Belchertown on Saturday.
 

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