LENOX, Mass. -- The biting wind, the chilly temperatures and the bright lights were not the only things that made Wednesday’s Lenox-Hoosac Valley boys soccer game feel like a November matchup.
“It’s funny,” Lenox coach Matt Cote said. “Coming out of half-time, my keeper came up to me and said, ‘Coach, this feels like a playoff game, doesn’t it?’ I said, ‘I absolutely agree with you.’
“I’ll tell you what, I haven’t ever played Hoosac with my boys team. We didn’t play last year. I didn’t know what to expect. But these guys are pretty good. I don’t know what they normally look like, but they’re sharp all the way across, they’re very organized on defense.
“And I’m glad for it, because this is exactly the kind of game we need to prepare for the tournament.”
JT Novitsky scored one goal and set up another, and Jacob Munch made three saves to earn the “W” as the Millionaires won their second straight game to even their record at 6-6-2.
Hoosac Valley, meanwhile dropped its third straight to go to 4-8 with four games left to play. Despite the loss, Wednesday’s strong performance against a Berkshire North foe was a sign of how far first-year coach Patrick Mahoney’s side has come since a 1-5 start.
“I don’t think we were necessarily capable of this kind of performance a month ago,” Mahoney said. “But they committed to it every single day, no matter win or lose the day before -- they’re going after it. It’s impressive for me .. just to sometimes step back and see how hard these guys are working.
“This is a game we desperately wanted to win. Monday [against Mount Everett], we didn’t really bring it, at least for the first 45 minutes or so. Tonight, right from the start, we wanted to show we could play with these guys.”
And the Hurricanes matched Lenox stride-for-stride for most of the first half.
In the waning minutes of the period, the Millionaires earned a free kick deep on the left wing, and Novitsky was able to curl the ball through traffic and inside the far post to give his team a 1-0 lead at the break.
It took Lenox 11 minutes of the second half to extend its lead. This time, the play started with a Mateo Phillips run down the left wing. He took a through ball from Tristan Collins and centered it into the 18. A Hoosac Valley defender attempted to clear the ball, but Novitsky was able to corral it at the top of the area and set up Andre Collins for an insurance goal.
The insurance came in handy.
Two minutes later, Hoosac Valley’s Aiden Maturski intercepted a pass in the back and beat Munch, who had come off his line, to make it 2-1.
For the next 27 minutes, the action swung back and forth, but Lenox had the better chances, including a couple that rang off the post. Those that didn’t were turned aside by Jaydin Cooper, who finished with six saves.
“In my opinion, this is our best win of the year,” Cote said. “Good opponent. For our part, we played very well, unselfishly. We moved the ball pretty well. We had great off-ball movement. We shared the ball up top very well.”
Lenox travels to Kirvin Park to face Pittsfield on Friday. Hoosac Valley hosts Taconic on Monday.