ADAMS, Mass. -- The Hoosac Valley and McCann Tech boys soccer teams drew a huge crowd for Thursday’s showdown under the lights at Renfrew Park.
And they gave those fans plenty of reasons to come back for more.
From a poignant pregame ceremony to furious up-and-down action to a three-goal flurry in the final 10 minutes, the match had everything.
And, for at least half the fans, it had the right result.
Ian Godfrey and Francesco Zanolo each scored for the Hurricanes in a 3-2 win in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Lukie Waterman made 11 saves in the Hurricanes goal despite playing through one seriously bruised left shin after a first-half collision.
Despite limping a little with a baseball-sized welt that drew pained looks from his teammates, Waterman was all smiles.
“It doesn’t even hurt, honestly,” he said. “The adrenaline is still kicking in. I’m sure when I wake up tomorrow morning, I might need a ride to school to say the least.
“I’ve never seen a boys soccer game this packed before. We’re 10-3-3 now -- most wins Hoosac Valley soccer has had in a while. All my friends are here. The football team is here. You don’t see any of the football kids coming to our games usually because they’re at practice. Their coach ended practice early so they could be here.
“It just shows how close Hoosac is as a school.”
The last time the Hurricanes met the Hornets, the game could not have been any closer, a 1-1 result between the two squads way back in the second game of the season.
On Thursday night, with both teams playoff bound but coming off Tuesday losses, the stakes for a regular season contest could not have been any higher.
And players from both sides showed it, contesting every loose ball, making furious runs up and down the field and giving up their bodies.
Waterman did the latter as much as anyone.
“When I came out and slid on the kid, I slid with my legs first,” Waterman said. “I hit his shin pad -- clean play, just wrong-timing the slide. Nothing against that kid. They’re all great players.”
Hoosac Valley coach Patrick Mahoney said the high energy play may not have always produced the prettiest soccer, but it sure was exciting to watch.
“It wasn’t necessarily this clean, pristine match,” Mahoney said. “The ball was a little slippery and stuff. … But I do think there was an additional level of desire from both teams feeding off [the crowd]. We always try to keep our standards high and always play with intensity and everything, but you can’t help but give just whatever extra left you have to give during matches like this, with atmospheres like this.
“When this match got rescheduled, I was like, ‘Perfect. This is how we’re ending the regular season?’ We’re really looking forward to using it, hopefully, to win, which we did, but also as a chance to tune up for the Western Mass tournament and then the state playoffs after that, because every match is gonna be like this from how on. Every match is going to be hyper competitive, so it’s good we pulled out a result in this one.”
The Hurricanes caught the first break on Thursday night when Tyler Norcross’ corner kick from the right wing was knocked into the goal off a McCann Tech defender for an own goal and a 1-0 Hoosac Valley lead in the 11th minute.
It stayed that way until the middle of the second half, and then all that exciting play translated to goals.
Ian Godfrey got things started when he received a long ball over the top from Isaac Herrmann just outside the 18, took a touch and finished past a diving Michael Harris (four saves) to make it 2-0 with 25 minutes, 52 seconds on the clock.
Eighteen minutes later, McCann Tech got on the board when it scored on a corner kick from the same spot that led to Hoosac Valley’s first goal. Waterman got a touch on the ball but gave up a rebound, and it appeared that Ivan Liang finished for the Hornets. But the referees consulted and ruled that the ball crossed the line before Liang’s touch, and it went in the books as the match’s second own goal.
Either way, it went on the scoreboard for the Hornets, who cut their deficit to 2-1.
Hoosac Valley answered three minutes later with a Zanolo goal on a lofting shot assisted by Matt Tassone.
But it took just more than a minute for the Hornets to find paydirt when Jack Cooper converted on yet another corner kick to cut the margin down to one goal.
Hoosac Valley managed to deny the Hornets any chances to tie it down the stretch by getting the ball into the corner in the McCann Tech end keeping it there as the seconds ticked away.
The Hornet’s second loss of the week ended their regular season with a record of 8-4-4, but coach Stephen McAllister had no complaints.
“I just told the boys, I really don’t have anything to criticize,” McAllister said. “They played a hell of a game since the whistle at the start. Unfortunate goal in the first half, but it is what it is.
“They stayed strong. I honestly think we were passing the ball much better. I think we had the percentage of time with the ball. We just couldn’t finish at the end. We were by their 18 numerous times, and it was just tough.”
Prior to the match, as part of Hoosac Valley’s Senior NIght festivities, the Hurricanes’ eight seniors each presented McAllister and their family with a rose in memory of Evan McAllister, a young star on the McCann Tech team who passed away in May 2020 and would have been a senior himself this fall.
Mahoney said the gesture was the idea of Celia Norcross, a mom and a leader on the team’s booster club.
“I am really glad that that became part of the pre-match ceremony, for sure,” Mahoney said.
Given the close ties between McCann Tech and Hoosac Valley, who draw players from the same youth soccer programs, the expression of love was heartfelt.
Given the proximity of these competitive programs, a clash like Thursday’s was inevitable.
“Coming out of this, I think we’re going to steamroll any opponent we come upon,” Waterman said. “Especially off a big win like this against an opponent like this. They’re a great team. I hope this rivalry continues for a very, very long time.”