Division 1 boys soccer: Ludlow edges Amherst Regional in semifinals

For the Gazette
Published: 11/13/2019 10:19:39 PM

SPRINGFIELD — The Amherst Regional boys soccer team fell one step shy of the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament finals with a 1-0 loss to Ludlow, Wednesday at Central High School.

Third-seeded Amherst (11-4-4) and No. 2 Ludlow (13-4-3) play terrific matches every time they meet, and the sectional semifinal did not disappoint.

“That was one of the most fun games I’ve ever played,” Amherst senior Liam Carpenter-Shulman said. “I thought it was really equally matched and could’ve gone either way. There was a great competitive energy. There’s a lot of respect between the two sides – it’s a really good, competitive rivalry. We’ve been playing against these kids since we were like 9 and they came out on top this time, but it was a lot of fun.”

It was a competitive 80 minutes of soccer that was mostly played in the midfield. Neither team really edged the other in possession while both seemed to be playing a more defensive style.

The Lions were a pace ahead of Amherst when they had attacking opportunities around the box, taking more chances from outside and pushing as many players up as they could.

The first half was a battle of two teams not wanting to be edged out and it showed. The Hurricanes were playing a pressing style whereas Ludlow was comfortable sitting back and attacking when the gaps allowed. The main difference between the two sides was that the Lions played the ball on the ground whenever possible whereas Amherst tried going through the air to use the pace of their attackers.

The second half was much like the first, only the attacking was heightened a bit. Both teams found chances in and around the box, but none fell through until there was 18 minutes, 58 seconds remaining when Ludlow junior Michael Szewczyk found the back of the net on a cross from senior Anthony Quiterio to put the Lions up 1-0.

Amherst couldn’t respond despite a few close tries and Ludlow advanced to the finals to take on No. 1 Longmeadow (18-0-1).

The Hurricanes had a couple of good looks around the goal, but the number’s game became too difficult for them due to their defensive-minded formation.

“We struggled in that Ludlow forced us to play a lot of defense,” Amherst coach Michael Rudd said. “All of our players are two-way players so when we did possess, it was sometimes hard to bring numbers down to make a difference.”

Carpenter-Shulman has been a steady presence for the Hurricanes for the past two seasons. The senior said the team is what he’ll remember most.

“The importance of friendship and companionship – what being a team means,” Carpenter-Shulman said. “This season was the most fun I’ve ever had playing soccer. It was with kids I’ve been playing with my whole life. When I came back to Amherst two years ago, I re-learned what it’s like to have fun playing soccer.”

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