Hirsch, McComish Hook Up on Game-Winner for Mounties
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Eric Hirsch made the winning goal look easy.
But the win was anything but for the Mount Greylock Regional School boys soccer team on Tuesday afternoon.
Hirsch converted a through ball up the middle from Benni McComish in the 67th minute to give the Mounties a 1-0 win over Monument Mountain on John T. Allen Field.
Mount Greylock (2-0) had a lot tougher chances to break through against the Spartans. But a misplay by Monument's keeper gave Hirsch an open look at the back of the net from the middle of the 18-yard box.
He wasted no time cashing in.
"We were trying to pound it up the gut all night," Hirsch said. "That's where we thought we had the advantage. On the goal, we switched the ball in to Benni in the middle, and he played a chip over the top. And I think their backs and keeper may have had a slight miscommunication, and I was able to get it.
"It wasn't like anyone was running onto a long ball or doing a long ball and a cross like we were trying to do a lot. But that's how soccer sometimes works. You can get one pass and one shot, and you get goals that way, too."
Goals were certainly at a premium the way both defenses played on Tuesday.
Mount Greylock had the better of play most of the afternoon, and when the Spartans (1-1) did break through, the Mounties' back line allowed just three shots on goal against keeper Cal Filson.
Perhaps Monument's best offesnive chance came on a corner kick from the right wing with about 10:30 left in the first half.
Although David Majetich headed the initial cross out of the box for Mount Greylock, Monument was able to keep the ball within about 25 yards from the Mounties' goal for nearly a minute before McComish finally was able to clear it.
About 13 minutes into the second half, Sam Plishtin had a try off a rush up the right wing, but Filson made a diving save to keep the game scoreless.
Moments later, Mount Greylock had a dangerous opportunity off a corner kick. The ball was played out of the box back to the left wing for McComish, who knocked a long cross into the box for Hirsch. Hirsch's header was on target, but Monument defender Alex Cami booted the ball off the line.
As the game wore on, the chances came more frequently for the Mounties as Monument was able to mount less and less of a counter attack.
"They were very well organized behind the ball," Mount Greylock coach Blair Dils said of the Spartans. "They didn't give us the opportunity to find the open midfielder as much as we'd like to do.
"But then in the second half, as much as they had to chase the ball as they did -- that seemed to tire them out. It was more, I think, we just wore them down toward the end of the game."
Monument Mountain's coach said his team definitely had some lapses in the final 20 minutes of the game.
"I think what ended up happening was ... a few of the guys were trying to do too much," Matt Naventi said. "Instead of holding their positions a little bit and being more composed, we started to get away from our game. Unfortunately, what that allows Greylock to do is expose holes and create space for them that wasn't necessarily there for them in the first half or the first 20 minutes of the half."
Tuesday's game was a rematch -- of sorts -- of last year's Western Massachusetts Division 3 semi-final, which Mount Greylock won in a penalty kick shootout.
It was not a true rematch because while the Mounties return most of last year's team for 2014, Monument graduated 15 seniors off that squad.
Hirsch said that the Spartans came back strong despite those departures.
"I know they lost a lot of seniors from that team, so it's really a different Monument team," he said. "They've got a few familiar faces.
"But when you're playing Monument, it's still Monument all the same. We want to win. They want to win. And we felt we would have the upper hand this year. They came out and showed us: Maybe not so much.
"We were able to get a goal and get a win the first time around. That's really all we could hope for."