Miles Scores Twice as Drury Boys Get Playoff Win
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Drury High School’s Jonah Miles picked the right time to rejoin his high school teammates.
Miles scored twice on Saturday to lead the Drury boys soccer team to a 2-1 win over Mahar in the first round of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament -- the Blue Devils’ first post-season win since 2009.
The Drury senior has been an integral part of magical season at John J. DelNegro Field, where the Blue Devils have built a record of 14-2-3 that they take into Tuesday’s quarter-final at perennial power Belchertown.
A year ago, Miles was not even on the roster. He was developing his game, however, as a member of the Oakwood Soccer Club in Hartford, Conn., where he helped his club team win the Northeast Pre-Academy League and compete in the U.S. Club Soccer's National Championships in Colorado in July.
But traveling to central Connecticut at least three days a week after school took it toll, and Miles decided to go back to the Drury program, where he started as a freshman and a sophomore.
On Saturday afternoon, it was clear that move paid big dividends.
“It’s pretty much the best outcome I could envision coming back this year,” Miles said. “Winning our league, getting to the tournament, getting a home game in the tournament and then winning the game.”
For 53 minutes, it looked like the last goal was very much in jeopardy.
The 11th-seeded Senators (8-9-2) cashed in on a defensive miscue when Riley Drew pounced on a rebound off Drury keeper Brian Christian (five saves), and no one recovered defensively to deny Drew a look at an open goal.
Drew converted to make it 1-0, Mahar, in the eighth minute.
Drury coach John Jacobbe said it was the garden variety lapse that could have happened in any game, but in other respects he did think his team showed the effects of its longest layoff of the fall: nine days off since its regular season finale at Wahconah.
“The ball movement in the first half wasn’t as crisp as we would have liked,” Jacobbe said. “We had some chances -- plenty of chances -- but we couldn’t find the net. That may have been a little rust. And then down 1-0 nothing, you put maybe a little more pressure on yourself.
“At half-time, I basically said, ‘Trust yourselves. Calm down. We have 40 minutes left. We’ve been down before.’ “
Drury’s offensive pressure continued into the second half and was rewarded in the 54th minute.
Jon Boland sent Mitchell Anderson into the corner with a ball down the right wing, and Anderson battled against a Mahar defender, finally stealing the ball and drawing a foul just inside the 18.
After a brief conference, the referees decided to award Drury a penalty kick. Miles went to the spot and drilled a shot low and to the right of a diving Bryce Cleveland to make it 1-1.
“Mitch Anderson made a great play on the wing and was able to make a rush into the box and got taken down,” Jacobbe said. “That was a huge play that doesn’t get any points for Mitchell, but it led to the goal, and Jonah is our PK shooter this year, and he put it away to tie up the game.
“That, I think calmed us down the most. Once we got back to even, we started to play more our soccer and had more chances.”
The Blue Devils converted the only other chance they needed with 17 minutes, 59 seconds left in regulation.
Sophomore Reece Racette took on four different Mahar defenders on a run down the right wing before centering a pass that Miles one-timed into the back of the net to make it 2-1.
“[Racette] did most of the work out there,” Miles said. “He beat the defender, got to the end line, put the ball on a platter for me, and I finished it.”
From there, sixth-seeded Drury could have finished the game by packing it in at the defensive end, but Jacobbe kept his squad on the offensive.
“I don’t want to play defense for 17 minutes,” he said. “Jon Boland was a defender for us last year, and he’s a great defender. I contemplated moving him back. But I felt, if you play defense for 17 minutes, anything can happen. So we played Jon Boland up front. I finally moved him back with four minutes left.
“There was one scary play on the end line, and Danny Alvarez made a clearing save. And Brian [Christian] made a couple of big saves. So after that first big breakdown, I thought, defensively, we played well -- held them from getting shots. They had a couple of rushes, and we held them from getting that good look. And when they did, Brian made the save.
“It was a great team effort to hold them to that one goal and basically hold them off the board for the last 70 minutes or so.”