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Division 1 boys soccer: Amherst Regional fights off East Longmeadow, advances to semifinals

For the Gazette
Published: 11/7/2019 9:29:11 PM
Modified: 11/7/2019 9:29:00 PM

AMHERST — The Amherst Regional boys soccer team overcame cold and wet conditions to beat East Longmeadow, 3-2, in the quarterfinals of the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament, Thursday.

The third-seeded Hurricanes (11-3-4) will face No. 2 Ludlow (12-4-3) in the semifinals at a date, time and place to be determined. Ludlow beat Central, 4-0, in its quarterfinal.

The No. 6 Spartans finished 9-7-3.

With conditions as bad as they were, the two sides had no choice but to push the ball and keep the action moving.

“It’s a game I’ll never forget,” Amherst coach Michael Rudd said. “I’ve never seen conditions quite like this by the end of the game but like I told my players, I was shocked by how well they played, especially considering how rough the conditions were today.”

Amherst had the upper hand on possession early, something that ended up being a theme for the game. Following some opportunities to create shots at goal, the Hurricanes found themselves on their back foot as the Spartans went on the counterattack. The result was a Hurricanes’ handball in the box that resulted in a penalty kick.

East Longmeadow’s Tyler Smith stepped up to take the penalty and put his shot just to the right of center, but Amherst goalkeeper Lucas Morales-Fernandez saved the attempt. Smith had a chance to put in a rebound but Morales-Fernandez stopped that as well.

The Hurricanes continued to dominate possession but it didn’t stop the Spartans from going on counterattacks. As halftime approached, both teams had chances to score. With just a few minutes remaining in the half, Amherst forward Matthew Firrine put home a deflected cross from Brayan Rivas Martinez to put the Hurricanes up 1-0 heading into the break.

In the second half, Amherst controlled possession early. Within the first five minutes, the ball crossed into East Longmeadow’s half about three times but never reached a scoring position.

The Hurricanes started creating chances in front of the goal with their crosses and forward play. They broke through when forward Jack Semler scored a goal off a Patrick Cooper cross with 31:35 remaining to put Amherst up 2-0.

Five minutes later, the Spartans caught a break when they drew a penalty after a foul call in the box. Robert Michalski took the shot and scored to cut the deficit to one.

That is, until two minutes later when Levi Blinder took a short pass from Marcos Sotarello in the left wing, dribbled by a couple of defenders and fired a shot past the goalkeeper to put the Hurricanes up 3-1.

After some back-and-forth play, the Spartans made it a close game again when they went on the counterattack and Smith found Santino Mazza, who slid the ball into the back of the net with 10 minutes left.

“I was really proud of the way we played,” Amherst captain Liam Carpenter-Shulman said. “We took things into our own hands. We earned all of our goals, played well, played the right way, played hard and I couldn’t ask for a better last game on this field.”

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