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Soccer title for Amherst boys on penalty kicks over Ludlow

  • The Amherst team swarms goalie Curtis Barnes, in yellow, right, after defeating Ludlow in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Guilherme Costa of Ludlow, front, missed his shot to end the game.

    The Amherst team swarms goalie Curtis Barnes, in yellow, right, after defeating Ludlow in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Guilherme Costa of Ludlow, front, missed his shot to end the game. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Amherst team captains Jaimon Olmsted, from left, Cody Baglow and Curtis Barnes celebrate their win against Ludlow in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.

    Amherst team captains Jaimon Olmsted, from left, Cody Baglow and Curtis Barnes celebrate their win against Ludlow in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Amherst team celebrates their win against Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.

    The Amherst team celebrates their win against Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Amherst goalie Curtis Barnes stops a penalty kick from Dylan Pereira of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.<br/>

    Amherst goalie Curtis Barnes stops a penalty kick from Dylan Pereira of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Isaac Bass of Amherst, right, goes to the ball against Dylan Pereira of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.

    Isaac Bass of Amherst, right, goes to the ball against Dylan Pereira of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jaimon Olmsted of Amherst, top right, goes to the ball against Curtis Pereira of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Keith Dixon is in the foreground.

    Jaimon Olmsted of Amherst, top right, goes to the ball against Curtis Pereira of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Keith Dixon is in the foreground. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cody Baglow of Amherst, left, passes beside Sukru Yildirim of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.

    Cody Baglow of Amherst, left, passes beside Sukru Yildirim of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Adrian Haughton of Amherst, left, goes to the ball against Gabe Ramos of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.

    Adrian Haughton of Amherst, left, goes to the ball against Gabe Ramos of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nick Johnson of Amherst, right, moves the ball against Kieffer Orsulak-Kalesnik of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.

    Nick Johnson of Amherst, right, moves the ball against Kieffer Orsulak-Kalesnik of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mike Rock of Amherst, right, heads the ball against Ludlow defenders Sukru Yildirim, left, and Luke Woishis during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.

    Mike Rock of Amherst, right, heads the ball against Ludlow defenders Sukru Yildirim, left, and Luke Woishis during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Amherst team celebrates their win against Ludlow in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final last year at Westfield State University. Amherst won on penalty kicks.

    The Amherst team celebrates their win against Ludlow in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final last year at Westfield State University. Amherst won on penalty kicks. Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Amherst team swarms goalie Curtis Barnes, in yellow, right, after defeating Ludlow in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Guilherme Costa of Ludlow, front, missed his shot to end the game.
  • Amherst team captains Jaimon Olmsted, from left, Cody Baglow and Curtis Barnes celebrate their win against Ludlow in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.
  • The Amherst team celebrates their win against Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.
  • Amherst goalie Curtis Barnes stops a penalty kick from Dylan Pereira of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.<br/>
  • Isaac Bass of Amherst, right, goes to the ball against Dylan Pereira of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.
  • Jaimon Olmsted of Amherst, top right, goes to the ball against Curtis Pereira of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks. Keith Dixon is in the foreground.
  • Cody Baglow of Amherst, left, passes beside Sukru Yildirim of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.
  • Adrian Haughton of Amherst, left, goes to the ball against Gabe Ramos of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.
  • Nick Johnson of Amherst, right, moves the ball against Kieffer Orsulak-Kalesnik of Ludlow during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.
  • Mike Rock of Amherst, right, heads the ball against Ludlow defenders Sukru Yildirim, left, and Luke Woishis during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Amherst won by penalty kicks.
  • The Amherst team celebrates their win against Ludlow in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final last year at Westfield State University. Amherst won on penalty kicks.

Instead, the Hurricanes senior goalkeeper listened to his head, made a game-saving stop and Amherst went on to defeat Ludlow in sudden death penalty kicks 7-6 at Westfield State for the program’s first-ever D-1 title.

The No. 2 Hurricanes (11-2-5) and No. 1 Lions (14-2-5) were tied at 4-4 in the best-of-five first round of PKs when Ludlow’s Dylan Pereira stepped to the line. A goal would have ended it and given the powerhouse program its sixth-straight sectional title.

“Goalkeepers are trained to look for signs and I saw the signs that he set up to go to my left, but it was way too obvious,” Barnes said. “I just said ‘no, he’s not going left.’ My body was telling my to go left, but in my head I was saying ‘go right, go right.’ I went right and I made the save.”

The diving stop forced a one-for-one sudden death PK round and Amherst’s Adrian Haughton and Brendan O’Connor each made their kicks and were matched by the Ludlow counterparts.

“With PKs, you just have to keep calm,” Barnes said. “In the back of your head, you are saying you better make this save, but you have to keep your composure. You’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Erik Schleeweis then stepped to the line with the score tied at 6-6.

“For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been working on PKs and our coach told us not to shoot different spots, so I already knew exactly what I was doing when I got up there,” Schleeweiss said. “Everybody else on the team knew what they were doing too.”

The senior defender blasted his shot into the bottom-left corner to go up 7-6 and when Guilherme Costa’s try sailed high and left, Schleeweis led the swarm to Barnes and tackled his keeper. The two were piled on top in celebration.

“One thing about soccer, maybe more than any other sport I can think of, it is about chemistry, togetherness and that love for each other this team seems to have and seems to put us through in games like this,” first-year coach Michael Rudd said. “Ludlow is a great team and we have a tremendous amount of respect for them. I suppose it is our turn.”

The Hurricanes advance to the state semifinals where they will meet central Mass. champion Leominster (9-5-7) at Nashoba Regional in Bolton on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Eric Gooden, Jesse Welborn, Nick Johnson and Brandon Vazquez connected on the first-round PKs.

“We’ve been working on PKs steadily in training for the last few weeks,” Rudd said. “Even last night at Amherst College, we were working on PKs. Our first 10 were established and we even had enough for another five or six. PKs is about confidence, about repetition and being comfortable in front of lots of screaming fans.”

Vazquez’s converted PK was a do-or-die one to force Pereira’s attempt and Barnes’ save.

“It’s really like something out of a dream, having Curtis save that last shot,” Rudd said. “It was a dream for all of us and I don’t think we’ve woken up quite yet.”

Barnes’ performance in the PKs was just a capper on a terrific performance by the senior, who has anchored the team’s dominant defense all season. Barnes made five saves during the 100 minutes of scoreless play, including three diving highlight-reel level stops.

“He’s one of the finest keepers in western Mass. because of the way he uses his mind,” Rudd said. “He’s technically more advanced than just about any keeper we face and he’s so smart in goal. His positioning allows him to save shots that other keepers don’t. He’s been terrific all season.”

The entire defense has been especially terrific down the stretch. Sunday marked the sixth shutout in seven games for the squad, which hasn’t been scored on in the postseason.

Both teams traded offensive scoring chances throughout the contest and while Ludlow may have had one or two more, Barnes and the defense were up to the task.

“It was really stressful. We held our own on defense. I’ve to credit everyone on the back line. They all worked so hard. The team can’t survive without the back line. They came through every time.

In victory, the Hurricanes thought back to the program’s former players. Amherst lost to Ludlow in the 2011 finals in PKs and fell again to the Lions in the semifinals last year. Both of those Ludlow teams went on to win the state title.

“This goes out to every player who has ever played for Amherst,” Schleeweis said. “The players last year who were knocked out in the semifinals. The players from the year before who lost to Ludlow on PKs in the finals. This goes out to everyone before them, too.”

Barnes had been thinking especially about the 2011 team leading up to Sunday’s title matchup.

“Before the game, we were saying we would really love to beat Ludlow, especially for those guys who didn’t get a chance to beat them, especially in the playoffs,” he said. “The class of 2011 really fought hard and unfortunately they didn’t do it, but I think we made them proud today.”

Jim Pignatiello can be reached at jpignatiello@gazettenet.com.

Legacy Comments1

So proud to be an Amherst Soccer Alumn right now!! Amazing the strides this school has made in boys soccer over the years!! Congrats to Coach Mike Rudd and all the ARHS boys soccer players on their historic run this year.

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