LaBrasca Scores Five to Lead Monument Boys to Quarters
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. -- The Hoosac Valley and Monument Mountain boys lacrosse teams each made some history on Tuesday: the Hurricanes for playing their first Western Massachusetts tournament game and the Spartans for getting their first post-season win.
Joe LaBrasca scored five goals, and Jonah Swotes made seven saves to lead Monument to a 9-7 win over Hoosac and a berth in Thursday’s Division 3 sectional quarter-final at Mount Greylock.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Monument Mountain coach Rob Leary said. “Wre trying to build. This is our fourth year in existence. In four years, to make it to Western Mass and get the ‘W’ against a good, competitive team in Hoosac Valley, I thought it was really big for the program.
“The guys stepped up and played hard today.”
Hoosac Valley coach John Alibozek was disappointed with Tuesday’s outcome but still proud of what his players accomplished this season.
“This was the first time our team has made it to Western Mass, and that was a goal that we set for this team at the beginning of the season,” Alibozek said. “I think we’ve had the most wins of any lacrosse team at Hoosac Valley. That was another good accomplishment for these guys.
“It’s a good group of guys here. I think I’ve only got one senior, so most of this squad will be back next year. There are a lot of positives to look at.”
Hoosac (9-8) and Monument (9-8) split the regular season series in games decided by one goal and two goals, so it was no surprise when Tuesday’s tournament game started with the teams trading goals.
The first half featured three ties before the Spartans were able to take a 4-3 lead late when LaBrasca scored in transition.
The Spartans took command to start the third quarter, scoring the first three goals to jump out to a four-goal lead.
“We’re definitely a team that’s slow to start and then comes out in the second half,” LaBrasca said. “I think in the [half-time] huddle, we were getting on each other, getting on ourselves, and about halfway through half-time, a bunch of us -- the captains especially -- looked at each other and said. ‘We’ve got to stop looking at our feet. We’ve got to stop feeling sorry for ourselves.’ “
Leary said he did not make any major adjustments at half-time.
“Basically, just execution,” Leary said. “Even though it’s late in the season, we’re still struggling trying to clean up some of our passing and forcing things a little too much. We need to look for some better opportunities and put the ball in the back of the net.”
Homer Winston scored of a LaBrasca assist on the man-up with 2:18 left in the third quarter to give Monument its first four-goal lead, 7-3.
But Hoosac responded with a goal and an assist by Tyler Jayko (three goals, one assist) to get back within a pair going into the fourth.
MOnument pushed its lead back to four goals with a pair of LaBrasca tallies. The second, with 8 minutes left in regulation, made it 9-5.
But Vanc Eugene scored in transition to get Hoosac within three, and with 2:51 left to play, Swotes was sent to the sideline for a one-minute penalty.
Monument backup keeper Jack Gibson came on and made a big save in the man-up situation, but let one goal slip through with 1:40 on the clock before the Spartans were able to get Swotes back into the game.
The time Gibson was able to run off the clock was critical in helping preserve the Spartans’ lead.
“Jack’s a really good goalie,” Leary said. “If Jonah wasn’t there, I have all the confidence in the world in Jack. I think him coming off the bench cold, he fought hard. The one save he did make. He was ready to go. That’s exactly what I need him to be: the backup who is ready to go.”