Lenox Boys Reach Finals With OT Win
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- The past two seasons, the No. 2 Lenox boys soccer team has traveled to Northampton High School for the Divison 4 semi-finals and walked away with a loss.
Concluding Tuesday night's game against No. 3 Westfield Tech in their post-game huddle, players and even head coach Dave Pugh said with smiles across their faces, "The curse is broken."
The Millionaires, whose soccer programs seem to like leaving fans on the edges of their seats, defeated Westfield Tech, 2-1, in overtime. Earlier Tuesday, the second-seeded Lenox girls team advancd on penalty kicks.
Lenox's boys opened the scoring a minute and a half into the game as they came out strong. The goal came from Mike Abdalla as he lofted a shot from just inside the 18 to take the lead.
Back on Oct. 15, Lenox defeated Westfield Tech, 6-2; after going goal for goal in the first half to end it 2-2; Abdalla came out in the second half and added four for the win.
"In both our playoff games this year, we've come up against two very well-organized teams, they did a great job of identifying some of our plays we've had success with in previous games against them and they set themselves up well, which is all credit to them," Lenox coach Simon Borrett said. "We had to change what we wanted to do and ultimately the last play of the game has kind of been dictated as what we want the players to do."
After Westfield Tech's Vitally Melnick tied it at one with 27 minutes to go in the first half, the Millionaires seemed to lose their rhythm. And they didn't quite find it again until the second half.
In the final seven minutes of the second half, Lenox went to the corner four times in a row as each kick was deflected off of Westfield. The first three looked like they each could be the tie-breaker, but Westfield's defense was able to get a touch to knock it out each time.
"You don't just have to have the ball to be successful in the game, your movement without the ball can make you just as successful for a pass and tonight, hats off to Abdalla, they identified him as the potent striker that he's been all year after his four goals in the first game," Borrett said. "But it was his movement and secondary movement that opened up the passing lane which generated Luke Murphy to send him the ball for the assist."
This movement the Borrett speaks of came three minutes into overtime after ending regulation tied at one.
Lenox, determined to walk away from Northampton with nothing less than a win, came out in overtime and quickly got two shots on net. It was the third that sealed the deal.
Murphy found Abdalla in the right flank; he then took the ball and broke away up the field drawing the goalie off his line and slotting it past him in the net for the 2-1 victory.
Lenox will now take on No. 1 Monson, who defeated Granby, 4-0, in the other semi-final game. The Millionaires faced Monson two seasons ago in the semis, suffering a 6-0 loss.