WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Keveen Delgado has been a wonder to behold during the Western Massachusetts Division 4 boys soccer tournament.
Just make sure you’re not on the field with him when you decide to stop and gawk.
“That boy is phenomenal,” Lenox coach Matt Cote said Delgado scored the only goal of a 1-0 win over Westfield Tech. “His teammates look up to him, and, actually early in the season, one of the things we had to work on or one of the criticisms I had was every time Keveen had the ball, we just stood around and watched him work.
“I was like, ‘Guys, I know you think he’s going to do something sensational, and he probably will, but that doesn’t mean you can stop playing.
“That’s the kind of player he is. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Delgado worked his magic in the 64th minute Saturday when he took possession on the left wing, dribbled into the middle at the top of the 18 and fired a shot past a diving keeper.
It was Delgado’s third goal in three tournament wins for Lenox this week and sent the Millionaires to Wednesday’s state semi-final against the winner of Sunday’s Sutton-Bromfield match in Central Mass.
“I just saw a space open,” Delgado said. “I’ve seen a space open this whole tournament, and I’ve taken it. … If I see space in front of me, I’m going to take it. I’m going to take my chances. And I did, and it was a goal.”
Up until that point, the Westfield Tech defense held up under withering pressure by the Millionaires, who had a 5-2 advantage in shots on goal, saw several other shots go just wide -- in one case off the crossbar -- and had one first-half goal waived off on an offsides call.
Cote said the Tigers’ defensive alignment posed some problems for Lenox (10-9-2).
“I did scout them … and I noticed right away that first of all they play stop-sweep, and second of all he plays real deep,” Cote said. “Any early vertical services were not going to work. We talked about that yesterday.
“So we were going to try to find Zach [Suffish] between the stopper and the sweeper, try to pull him out by making little over-the-top runs. We did it to some degree in the first half, where we got the ball to the center of the field and then to our wings on the end line. We had some really nice looks from the end line in the first half.
“It’s nice to go into the game knowing what you’re opponent is going to do and at least having a game plan. It’s hard to say that we capitalized on that game plan, per se. But we knew what we were up against.”
And as the game rolled through the midway point of the second half without a goal on the board, it was looking like that the Millionaires’ potent offense just might have met its match.
Cote said he never really thought his team would meet the same fate as the Lenox girls in their Saturday Western Mass final, i.e., a scoreless game that went to penalty kicks. But…
“For sure, I went through my starting five in my head, to make sure I had the guys picked out,” he said. “Did I think it would go to PKs? No. But I was ready.”
Fortunately for Lenox, its defense was just as tough, continuing a four-game shutout streak that has included all three post-season wins.
After falling behind, Westfield Tech turned up its offense and generated some of its best chances of the afternoon.
In the 73rd minute, a throw-in deep on the right wing was headed out of the 18 by Luke Patella. The game’s final chance for either side came on WTA’s only corner kick, which came in the final minute.
Lenox senior keeper Jacob Munch picked the ball out of the air to stymie the chance and secure the victory.
“Jacob is a great captain,” Cote said. “He’s a consummate sportsman. Thoughtful, genuine. And he lived in Matt Tibbetts’ shadow his whole career. He got maybe 10 minutes of time last year. And for him to step up this season they way he did. Under Jeff Egan’s instruction, he learned so fast.
“He went from last year, when he was OK to where he’s one of the best around. I had zero percent doubt that he would catch that ball. … He didn’t bobble it an inch. He’s a solid kid and a solid keeper.”