Devils Rally to Earn Draw with HurricanesADAMS, Mass. -- Renfrew Field can be either a dream or a nightmare for opposing soccer teams and their opinion can usually change in a blink of an eye.
The short, narrow field in which the Hoosac Valley soccer teams play on is unlike any other in Berkshire County. One small mistake on the offensive end can lead to a dangerous counter attack the other way and one misstep by a defender can leave the goalie in a deadly one-on-one situation.
Picture a pinball machine laid out on a high school soccer field.
Scoring usually takes a hike when games are played at Renfrew, and fast forwards like Drury's Jake Tietgens are just the kind of players that you need to watch out for and who are best equipped to take advantage of the small dimensions at Renfrew Field. Tietgens ability came into play on Saturday, when he scored two out of his three goals in the second half to rally the Blue Devils to a 3-3 tie against Hoosac Valley. It was the second draw this season between the two North County rivals.
"This field is such a challenge," Drury head coach Greg Caproni said. "I know Hoosac always talks about playing two-touch soccer but, on this field, you have to. Because this field is so small, if you hold it for more than two touches, three people will crowd in around you. You've got to play fast. This is a tight, tight field, and I think we adjusted in the second half and realized what he had to do."
There was a definite dichotomy between the two teams in each half. The Hurricanes (1-11-2) outshot the visitors 12-4 in the first half, while the Blue Devils (4-6-2) earned a 13-8 edge in that same category in the second half. Drury also was called offsides four times in the first, but Tietgens and the rest of Devils' forwards did a much better job surveying the field after the break and weren't called for a single one the rest of the game.
"I was finding that they weren't paying attention to the half-field line in their offsides trap, so I pulled ahead a little more," Tietgens said. "I tried to get more of a running start, so I could catch them on their heels and just break it away."
For Drury to come back in Saturday's game, it needed something good to happen quickly in the second half. Tietgens provided just that, taking a slick pass from junior Ryan Ouimet on the right side of the goal box and slotting the ball inside the far post just 22 seconds after the second-half kickoff.
"It was awesome giving my team the momentum to come back and maybe get the win," Tietgens said of his second goal of the game. "It felt even better to get another and tie it up. It definitely gave us the feeling that we could win this game. They're a good team, but we felt we could play harder than that and we had more heart than they do."
The second-half action on the small surface at Renfrew was highly entertaining for the fans in attendance. Those same fans saw just how quickly momentum can change at Renfrew on Tietgen's third goal of the game in the 56th minute. Hoosac had the ball near the Devils' goal box and had the Drury defense scrambling for position when Ouimet made a big play by stealing the ball and passing up the right wing to senior Rik Brown. He made one quick pass up the sideline to Tietgens, who tracked it down and chipped a perfectly placed ball over 'Canes goalie Tom Galisa and into the top part of the net.
"Tietgens sees the field so well," Caproni said. "He knows exactly where he has to be and where he has to place the ball. I keep telling him that he has to keep converting on his opportunities. We don't get a lot of opportunities, especially against North Division teams, so you have to capitalize on those breakaways. He did today, and transition soccer has been something that we've been talking about in the past few weeks."
Tietgens probably would have had a couple of more goals had it not been for a gutsy performance from Galisa, who made 12 saves and came way out of the goal box several times to act as a 12th defender against Tietgens. With 12 minutes to go, Galisa assured the tie for Hoosac by coming out 40 yards into the field to stop what could have been the game-winning breakaway for Tietgens.
"[Tietgens] is always dangerous, and he's a goal scorer," Hoosac senior captain Seth Kuta said. "He's got the wheels, so you have to be careful with him. We're always concerned about him. Because we play the flat three in the back, we've been trying to tell [Galisa] to come out and play physical like that. He's almost acting like a sweeper because if they play over the top, it's his responsibility to go get it. He did that today, and I thought he did a good job."
"He absolutely played good," Tietgens said of Galisa's performance. "He found out that it's a short field and that he can definitely take those breakaways away. He played great, and I think he's a good keeper."
If Blue Devils won the second half, the first half certainly belonged to Hurricanes. Nate Girard's club came out swinging, taking a quick 1-0 lead on a goal by senior Chris Stefanik 96 seconds into the game. Classmate Tyler Bissaillon slotted a pass through the Drury defense to an open Stefanik, who one-timed it into the left panel. After Tietgens scored his first goal off a through ball from Ouimet in the eighth minute, Kuta grabbed the lead back eight minutes later by blasting a shot over the hands off Blue Devils goalie Cameron Lesure (nine saves) and under the crossbar. The goal was again set up by Bissaillon and was a no-doubter from about 25-30 yards out.
"I thought we were moving the ball pretty well, and we were playing pretty physical and solid on defense as well," Kuta said. "That resulted in a couple of goals, and [our offsides trap] was working pretty well. They like to play the over-the-top ball to Tietgens, and it worked to stop that a couple of times."
With less than five mintues to go, the Hurricanes caught a big break when a Drury defender was whistled for a handball inside the penalty box. Senior Dylan Hilchey came on and placed the ball into the low-left corner of the goal to give the hosts a 3-1 lead at the break.
It was a lead that Girard was hoping would have led to his team's second win of the season.
"We were constantly talking and had Drury's back against the wall in the first half, Girard said. "We outperformed, outworked, and outplayed Drury in the first half. With high pressure and passing the ball to one another's feet, we looked like the team I knew we were capable of. We crashed their freshman goalkeeper all half long, creating turnovers in the box and creating opportunity after opportunity.
"We came out asleep in the second half, however, and Drury took advantage by netting a goal. I thought the boys put in their all, and we are dissapointed with the result of a tie. We thought it was our game to win, but Drury played a hell of a second half to come back and be the aggressor and take advantage of all opportunities put in front of them."
The Blue Devils next host Taconic at 4:15 p.m. on Monday, while the Hurricanes travel to Monument Mountain for a 6 p.m. game on Thursday.