Smith Academy jumps on Turners Falls, advances to Division 3 boys soccer semifinals
HATFIELD — A fast start is never a bad thing, especially in the postseason.
Fourth-seeded Smith Academy used an opportunistic offense to scored three goals in the first 20 minutes and went on to beat fifth-seeded Turners Falls 4-1 in the quarterfinals of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Boys Soccer Tournament on Monday.
“Getting a lead in the first half makes a big difference,” Falcons coach Jason Duncan said. “Not having to play from behind is definitely a nice thing.”
Smith will play the winner of Monday night’s quarterfinal matchup between No. 1 Lenox (6-6-5) and No. 9 St. Joseph’s (11-7-0). A date, time and place for the semifinals has not been determined.
Derek McMahon was the Indians’ nemesis in the first half, as he played a part in all three goals.
In the 10th minute, McMahon received a centering pass from Mat Sulda just inside the penalty area on the left wing side. He turned and blasted a shot that deflected off an Indians defender, as goalkeeper Tenzin Khenrab sprinted to the far post to make the save. However, the spinning ball dipped and struck the inside of the post, ricocheted off the unsuspecting Khenrab’s ankle and into the goal.
Smith (14-4-2) struck again in the 14th minute. Sulda again served a ball to McMahon inside the penalty area. He settled the ball and rocketed a shot that Khenrab dove and stopped, but the ball deflected to Harry Kennedy on the right wing side of the area, and he calmly settled the ball 12 yards from the goal and struck a well-placed shot in the near corner past an Indian defender to make it 2-0.
McMahon upped the lead to 3-0 in the 20th minute. Sulda dribbled down the left wing, stopped and booted a pass to McMahon at the top of the penalty area, 18 yards from goal. As McMahon spotted a Turners defender closing in, he faked to his left, drew the ball back to his right and unloaded a rocket to the upper-right corner that Khenrab had no chance to stop.
“He has a knack for finding where he needs to be to open himself up to shoot,” said Duncan of the junior sniper, who didn’t play soccer last season. “I’m very glad he’s playing this year because that fills a big void on our team. He knows how to score goals, and when he gets the shot he wants he has a cannon, and that’s a nice weapon to have.”
Wyatt Bourbeau closed the gap to two in the 65th minute when he trapped a crossing pass on the far post and booted a point-blank shot past Smith keeper Cam Woodward.
But just as quickly as Turners (14-4-1) seemed to gain the momentum, Smith all but put the game away five minutes a later when Tyler Gay got behind the defense on a breakaway and ripped a shot off the outstretched hands of backup keeper Zack Battistoni and into the far corner.
Woodward finished with three saves for the Falcons, who outshot the Indians 16-5. Khenrab turned aside nine shots in 62 minutes before Bergstrom moved him up front, and Battistoni made two save in his 18 minutes.