Rodriguez OT Goal Lifts Lee in Tourney Opener
LEE, Mass. -- Senior Jon Rodriguez responded perfectly to Lee boys soccer coach Frank Murphy's
Matt Kollman's pre-overtime talk about showing heart in its 3-2 overtime win against No. 9 St. Mary's, Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the Division IV Western Mass Tournament.
Rodriguez finished the sudden death overtime eight seconds in after receiving a pass from senior Nick Pow. Rodriguez carried the ball right into the 18 and crashed the net sending the ball to the far low corner and sending the team to the second round of the tournament.
"I'm really happy, we never gave up," Rodriguez said. "Coach told us the team with the most heart would win and that's what we did."
Lee trailed in the first half 2-0 after Joey Collins opened the scoring for St. Mary's and Kieran O'Donnel headed one in off a pass from Jake Viamari.
It wasn't until 14:33 left in the first half that Lee was able to capitalize off a pass from Pow to forward Luke Murphy sending the Wildcats into the second half down one goal.
"I wanted them to play more as a team, they were playing as individuals," coach Murphy said about his approach to the second half. "I wanted them to move in three's, together as a team and they were able to do that."
Lee found its rhythm in the second half, the 'Cats moved the ball to feet and pushed it up the field generating a lot of opportunities, but the shots just weren't hitting the back of the net.
Their power forward, Luke Murphy, who at the time had the only goal of the game for them, left the field injured with 10 minutes remaining; this sparked a whole new plan for the Wildcats.
"I took our sweeper and moved him to a forward position," coach Murphy said. "Sometimes the philosophy is, if you have a good offense it helps out your defense."
"Our defense really had to step up because we took our sweeper and moved him up, but it sparked our whole team. They knew they had to try extra hard, and I've been fighting with these kids all year to show heart and they did."
With less than five minutes remaining in the game Lee still trailed 2-1, but a throw-in from Rodriguez to Pow changed the game. Pow found Jose Mejia who was able to put in the equalizer goal tying it up 2-2.
The Wildcats were able to hold the tie for the remaining 4:38 that was left on the clock and send it into overtime; where Rodriguez wasted no time in getting his team to the second round.
Lee seeded, No. 9 will now take on No.1 Monson in the quarters on Friday at 2 p.m.
Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story misidentified the Lee boys soccer coach. iBerkshires.com regrets the error.