Drury Boys Qualify for Western Mass Tournament
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- At the end of the 2015 high school boys soccer team, then-junior Hunter Harpin was not exactly bullish on his Drury team’s chances for 2016.
“If you had told me last year that we’d be a tournament team this year, I probably would have laughed at you,” Harpin said Thursday afternoon.
Fast forward -- but not too far forward -- to the middle of the ‘16 campaign, and the Blue Devils are just that, a playoff squad and the first from the county to qualify for the Western Massachusetts tournament after earning a 6-1 win over Duggan on Thursday afternoon.
Drury (9-0-1) has eight more games left over the next month to improve its playoff seeding and, more immediately, contend for a Berkshire County South Division title.
But Devils coach John Jacobbe was not looking at that goal on Thursday.
“We’ve had some games on our schedule that we took advantage of, but we found ways to win or tie other games, and to be in the tournament this early is a nice accomplishment,” Jacobbe said. “But it’s only one goal on the list we set at the beginning of the year.
“We feel good about it, but the only thing that matters is Duggan on Monday. That’s the way we’ve been approaching it. We’re not even thinking big picture. Right now, we’re thinking Game No. 11, and that’s all that we can control.”
Drury controlled Game No. 10 from the get-go on Thursday at John J. Del Negro Field.
Reece Racette started the scoring in the fifth minute of play when he took a through ball from Daniel Alvarez in the middle third and drove through the middle of the Falcons defense before curling one under the crossbar to make it 1-0.
Jonah Miles doubled the lead after taking a cross from Conor Clark in the ninth minute. Eleven minutes later, racette set up Jon Boland to make it 3-0.
With about 15 minutes left until half-time, Clark converted a direct free kick from 45 yards out to make it 4-0 and give Jacobbe a chance to clear his bench.
The starters returned to start the second half, and Boland and Miles each scored their second before taking a seat to let the reserves finish things off. Duggan scored in the closing moments to spoil the shutout bid; by then, starting keeper Brian had long since left the stage. Clark and Corbin Rumbolt finished things up in net.
Harpin said it was nice to see the younger players hold their own for long stretches against Duggan and nicer still for the seniors to put three years of frustration behind them.
“I knew that to get to a certain point, everyone had to collectively come together, and that’s exactly what we did,” the captain and defender said. “We’re 9-0-1 right now for a reason. We beat teams like Wahconah that I used to dream about beating.
“I came in this year, and I was like, ‘Man, I’d just like to win more than four games.’ “
Drury won twice last year, twice the year before and five times Harper’s freshman year, which means it has already won as many games this year as in the three previous seasons combined.
This fall marks the first time in nearly 10 years that the Blue Devils are going to the Western Mass tournament.
Big challenges still lay ahead. After Monday’s trip to Springfield to finish the home and home with Duggan Academy, the Blue Devils return to the South starting with Wednesday’s home game against Taconic.
And although Jacobbe won’t want his players thinking about it too much, a certain Oct. 17 home game is liable to creep into their thoughts from time to time.
“I texted my coach before the year started, and I said my one goal is to beat Hoosac Valley,” Harpin said when asked about the one tie on this year’s resume. “I said, ‘I don’t care if we make the tournament. I don’t care if we win every single other game. I just want to beat Hoosac Valley.’ Since I’ve been here, I’m yet to beat Hoosac Valley. I guess that’s just kind of a rivalry thing.
“It stunk, but the thing is, it wasn’t a loss. We built off it. They were playing their best. We were playing our best. But something’s got to change there. We’ve got to find something that helps us win that game. Because it’s a big game. It’s a rivalry game. They’re not far behind us in the South Division. To play them in such a big game is going to be something I value as a senior.”