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Nate Flachs lifts South Hadley boys soccer in double overtime

SOUTH HADLEY — Nate Flachs’ first goal settled down his South Hadley boys soccer teammates.

His second one riled them back up.

Flachs scored both goals as the Tigers earned a 2-1 win over Wahconah Regional in double overtime Friday in the first round of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament.

“It’s all about my team,” said Flachs, who was at the bottom of a pile of Tigers following the game winner. “It’s all the hustle they put in, all the balls they send over.”

Flachs’ winner came when Ryan Dickinson made a run into the Wahconah box, but was turned away. The Warriors’ clear attempt, however, was intercepted by Dimitri Kastrinakis, who flipped the ball toward Flachs.

Flachs beat goalkeeper Nick Tutela (six saves) to the ball and flicked it into the net for the golden goal 95 minutes, 58 seconds into the contest.

“I just saw the defense relax and then (Kastrinakis) kicked it and gave me a chance,” Flachs said. “The goalie made a mistake and I just put it in.”

No. 7 South Hadley (11-5-3) advances to play No. 2 Cathedral (7-5-5) in the quarterfinals Monday at Central High School at 6:30 p.m.

“This is a great confidence boost, especially since we are going to play Cathedral, another team we haven’t played, but we’ve heard they are pretty good,” Flachs said. “If we put it all in and are good from the start, we should have a great game against them.”

Dickinson assisted on the first goal Friday.

“Ryan is the go-to guy and even on the game-winning play, he’s the one who cuts the guy and I thought got fouled,” South Hadley coach Jij Mercer said. “The play carried on, thankfully, and we were able to finish it.”

Flachs has seven goals and two assists in the team’s last six games.

“Nate has been feeding off (Dickinson) and we’ve had other guys who have chipped in too. Nate has been on a roll for the last three or four weeks.”

On the first goal, Dickinson, who has 20 goals and 12 assists this season, fired a long throw-in to the far post, where Flachs headed the ball into the net.

“We’ve done that almost every single game this year,” Flachs said. “That’s how I have almost half my goals. It’s a great play.”

That tally answered an early goal from No. 10 Wahconah (6-8-4), which took the lead in the 11th minute.

Kevin Boino’s corner kick found Nick Montferret in front and Montferret blast a shot into the net.

“We didn’t play our best today,” Mercer said. “We graduated 13 seniors last year, 11 seniors the year before that and 11 seniors the year before that, so there were only a couple guys with any tournament experience. I thought you could see that they were a little bit nervous, especially early and I thought it got better as the game went along.”

Eric Maryea finished with five saves for South Hadley.

“I’m glad the guys got a chance to continue their season,” Mercer said. “If you had told me at the beginning of the season we’d be 11-5-3, I would have told you you were crazy.”

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

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