WESTFIELD, Mass. -- The Lenox boys soccer team’s leading scorer put his name on the scoresheet just once in Sunday’s Western Massachusetts Division 4 Championship Game.
But it was the biggest mark of the day.
Michael Abdalla scored in the third minute to spark the Millionaires to a 4-0 win over Drury in the season’s only all-Berkshire Western Mass final.
The win sends Lenox (13-5-3) into Tuesday night’s state semi-final against Central Mass Champion Bromfield (20-1) at Marlboro Middle School.
Abdalla’s 13th goal of the season was the key to his team’s 13th win of the season.
“The first five minutes ... for my guys, they were edgy,” Lenox coach Matt Cote said. “I could tell by the way they were playing. But if Drury scores the first one, the complexion of that first half looks completely different. We scored early, a huge sigh of relief, 'OK, now we can get down to business.'
“I thought it took a couple more minutes for us to get our legs under us, and then we settled down and we began to play the way we should play.”
Drury coach John Jacobbe agreed that the game’s first goal was a major turning point.
“Our goal was to defend as long as we could and get a counter,” Jacobbe said. “When you give up that first goal, that takes your philosophy out of the game. It was a tough break. It's one we'd like to have back.”
A misplay at the top of the 18-yard area allowed Abdalla to take ball behind Drury keeper Corbin Rumbolt (10 saves) and deposit it in the back of the net.
“We lost the ball in the midfield, and we lost the ball in the box, and the boys would like to have it back,” Jacobbe said. “But there's nothing you can do about it once a mistake happens.”
Drury (13-8) generated a few first-half chances, but Lenox’s Matt Tibbetts made three first-half saves on his way to Lenox’s third straight playoff shutout.
At the other end of the field, Lenox opened a two-score lead in the 23rd minute when Harrison Keator fed Nic Baruch, who ripped a shot from the left wing that beat a diving Rumbolt into the far side of the net.
It remained 2-0 at half-time and well into the second half -- a far cry from the 7-1 Lenox win when the teams met in the regular season.
“Down 2-0 at half-time, you're still in the ballgame,” Jacobbe said. “We were in the ballgame against a team that a couple of weeks ago we weren't in the ballgame at half-time against.
“We just didn't create enough offense. I thought Lenox did a good job controlling the middle of the field and controlling the ball in the air. And that was the difference. The better team won today. But in soccer, especially, a hard-working team with a lot of talent like we have can win this game.”
“You've got to hand it to Drury,” he said. “I said it the other night: Drury is capable of winning big games. They're capable of beating us if we're not careful. We have to bring our 'A' game. To be fair to my guys, I think we really did. I think we played good, selfless soccer. We moved the ball, shared the ball, used our wings effectively.
“We don't always do that, and we did it today. I was very, very pleased with the style of play. They played Lenox brand soccer against a very spirited Drury team. I have to hand it to coach Jacobbe. He's done a nice job with them.”
In the 66th minute, Baruch set up Laurin, who played the ball deep into the 18, barely avoided putting it over the end line and then somehow got it past Rumbolt from the side of the goal. Lenox then capped the scoring in the 71st minute when Baruch scored his second of the game, converting a rebound off Rumbolt.
Jacobbe credited his team’s heart with allowing Drury to stay competitive against a team that dominated the Blue Devils at the end of October.
“Our compete level in a 2-0 game for a Western Mass Championship was a lot higher than a game where we were playing a Northern [Berkshire County League] team and it was just a regular season loss,” he said. “Our complete level the last couple of weeks got us to the finals. ... We're an ongoing, trying to develop team. But heart and hustle and desire, we had the whole year for the most part. It was a great run for the team.
“I'm never satisfied with 'moral victories.' We lost to the better team is the only saving grace. But I expected our team to come here and win, and we're walking away with a second-place trophy. We'll be happy in a couple of weeks, but not today.”