CHESHIRE, Mass. — A battle for first place was a battle of second chances.
Shaun Knapp scored two first-half goals to lead the Hoosac Valley High School boys soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Drury that clinched the South Division title for the Hurricanes.
Two of the game's goals came on rebounds, including the one Knapp scored in the eighth minute to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.
"My good man Benny Trimarchi on the right wing, he's always cleaning up the garbage on the back side," Knapp said after joining his teammates to celebrate their second straight league title. "He took a nice shot, hit the crossbar. It's a hustle play to the wing. It's the first one there. I got the turn on it, had the sideline and saw an open goal.
"But that was all from that first shot."
Knapp's second goal came out of a scramble at the top of the 18. His blast deflected off the post and into the net to give Hoosac some insurance.
The way the Hurricanes were playing in the first half, it did not look like they needed any.
Hoosac had an 8-0 edge in shots on goal at half-time and had the game's first 11 shots on goal after Drury keeper Joe Liporace made a diving save on Sean Ryan-Kut's try from inside the 18.
But in the 59th minute, Drury's Michael Boland took a shot from the right wing that Colby Ells stopped for one of his two saves, and Stephin Wallace was there to cash in the rebound and cut Hoosac's lead in half.
"Two-zero, in my opinion, is one of the worst leads to have in soccer," Knapp said. "Because with that next goal, your momentum is off. ... We just had to stay poised. We still worked well as a team, got the ball wide and just executed."
Drury coach Greg Caproni admitted he tried to light a fire under his team after a rough first half.
"The only thing I asked my kids at half-time was to play the Drury way, to dig in a little bit," Caproni said. "This Hoosac team has phenomenal skill. We have to play a little more blue collar soccer that we're able to do and get them to force bad passes.
"When you give them that time, they're able to place those passes, but when you put their heads down, they start kicking the ball out a lot more."
Drury (5-12) came into the game with a chance to tie Hoosac for the South title thanks to wins in two of its last three games gainst division opponents. Instead, it will heads into Monday's finale against North champion Mount Greylock knowing that better days are ahead for a Blue Devil squad featuring six freshmen and four eighth-graders.
Hoosac, meanwhile, hosts Taconic Tuesday as final tune-up for the Western Massachusetts Division 2 tournament.
On Friday afternoon, the 'Canes took some time to revel in what they have accomplished already.
"I love it," Hoosac coach Camilo Bermudez said. "I'm excited. You play for every tournament or championship you're involved in. If we played in a two-day tournament, we'd want to win. This one, we wanted it so badly.
"This program has been through a lot the last couple of years, so we'll take this one, absolutely."