WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The Monument Mountain boys soccer team went into Thursday’s Churchill League match at Mount Greylock a little shorthanded.
The Spartans finished it even more shorthanded but with a win in their hands.
Sam Higa redirected a Sam Yeung free kick in the 32nd minute, and Luke Arienti made 10 saves to earn a 1-0 win over the Mounties on John Allen Field.
“It was a game of survival for us, unfortunately, because we have a number of kids out with sickness,” Monument Mountain coach Matt Naventi said. “Not COVID-related, just stuff going around the school. We actually played both [varsity and JV] games with 13 guys.
“So, you know, to have a couple of JV guys stp up who are kind of floating between the two teams and get some good minutes and see this game out … it’s a good morale boost in some ways.”
Not having the full team available is one reason Naventi gave for Mount Greylock’s dominance throughout the contest.
Most of the match, the hosts kept the Spartans locked into their half of the field, but Arienti and the defense stood up to the pressure as Monument Mountain (3-1) recorded its third straight shutout.
“It’s interesting that the least amount of experience we have at the varsity level of each third of the field is our defense,” Naventi said. “They’re young. I think there’s only like two years total of combined varsity experience returning.
“And then the rest are new players or guys in different positions, like Colin Kinne was phenomenal out on the right hand side, and he’s been playing forward for us the last few years and kind of transitioned to that position. … The two guys out on [the left] wing are just the floating players between JV and varsity, and they played the entire game on that wing and did well for us.”
Naventi knew going into the match he would have to rely on some of those “floaters.” But late in the first half, Erving Henderson, who had two goals and two assists in the Spartans’ first three games, went down with an injury after being fouled on the right wing.
Ironically, the same play that threw a wrench into Monument Mountain’s offense for the rest of the day also led to the day’s only goal.
Yeung took the restart and sent the ball into the 18, where Higa got a boot on it and directed the ball off the post and into the net.
Higa said he knew the Spartans had to take advantage of the scoring opportunity in a match where they were not getting many.
“Definitely,” he said. “Especially with Erv out. Erv creates a lot of scoring chances.”
Mount Greylock, with its full complement of varsity players, created plenty of scoring chances throughout the game, right down to the final minute, when Arienti got his fingertips on a header from inside the 18 off an A.J. Kruger free kick from the left wing.
“It felt like we did everything but score,” Mount Greylock coach Blair Dils said. “But we were very pleased with the energy level of our team and the commitment to defending and really making it difficult for [Monument Mountain].”
Dan Warren stopped three shots in Mount Greylock’s goal.
“We played with the kind of energy we want and moved the ball pretty well in a couple of stretches,” Dils said. “We still have things to tweak in the final third, but we’re getting there. We’re getting closer to the goal. We just need to cash in.
“A couple of scrambles in front. We hit the post. Josh [Rudin] hit the post off his chest. The second half, we had some good bids from outside, the little header at the end. So, the chances are there, so that’s good. It’s just incredibly frustrating to lose, especially when their best player goes down with an injury.”
Mount Greylock (1-2-1) hosts league rival Pittsfield on Monday.
Monument Mountain goes to Lenox on Saturday.
: Monument Mountain keeper Luke Arienti denies a last-minute header to preserve a 1-0 win at Mount Greylock on Thursday.
: Monument Mountain’s Sam Higa talks about his game-winner in Thursday’s victory at Mount Greylock.
: Sam Higa knocks home the only goal in Monument Mountain’s win at Mount Greylock on Thursday.