Div. 4 boys soccer: No. 2 Easthampton holds off No. 3 Rockland, sets up all-Western Mass. final

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  • Easthampton’s Carter Daughdrill, right, fights for the ball against Rockland on Wednesday night at Doyle Field in Leominster in the Division 4 state semifinals. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Anaias Isaza-Malloy controls the ball against Rockland on Wednesday night at Doyle Field in Leominster in the Division 4 state semifinals. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Anaias Isaza-Malloy controls the ball against Rockland on Wednesday night at Doyle Field in Leominster in the Division 4 state semifinals. GAZETTE STAFF

  • Easthampton’s Javier DeNucce-Simms dribbles against Rockland on Wednesday night at Doyle Field in Leominster in the Division 4 state semifinals. GAZETTE STAFF

  • Easthampton’s Javier DeNucce-Simms scored two goals in the first half against Rockland on Wednesday night at Doyle Field in Leominster in the Division 4 state semifinals. GAZETTE STAFF

  • Easthampton celebrates after scoring against Rockland on Wednesday night at Doyle Field in Leominster in the Division 4 state semifinals. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Carter Hebert dribbles against Rockland on Wednesday night at Doyle Field in Leominster in the Division 4 state semifinals. GAZETTE STAFF

Staff Writer
Published: 11/17/2021 9:34:17 PM

LEOMINSTER — Carter Daughdrill put away what seemed like an insurance goal with 21 minutes remaining in Wednesday’s Division 4 boys soccer state semifinal against Rockland.

Gabe Zellen fed him a pass near the top of the penalty box into yards of space. Rather than taking that space to dribble, Daugdrill ripped it into the far corner of the net. The goal put No. 2 Easthampton up two goals and gave them more room to breathe against No. 3 Rockland on Wednesday at Doyle Field.

“I just saw that I had so much space, so I knew that if I put it across the goalie then it’d be a good result,” Daughdrill said.

Ten minutes later, the Bulldogs clawed back again. Joao Faria controlled the ball with a clean touch in the box and finished to cut the Eagles lead back down to one, making Daughdrill’s goal essential.

It became the winner, as Easthampton prevailed 3-2 to reach the first state final in program history. The Eagles will face No. 5 Frontier in the final Saturday at a time and place to be determined. It’ll be the fifth time the Moriarty league rivals meet this season. Each team won once,  and they tied twice. Frontier bested Hampshire 1-0 in the other semifinal. It’ll also be Frontier’s first-ever state final appearance.

“It’s a weird, bizarre year, and it’s gonna be difficult because at this point we both know each other really well,” Easthampton coach Andrew Lawrence said of Frontier. “We have no idea what to do to mix it up.”

At Doyle Field, Easthampton scored twice early to establish a lead. Rockland played an offside trap all night, but in the first half, the Eagles’ forwards weren’t trapped back there with the Bulldogs back line. Rockland’s defenders were trapped with Javier DeNucce-Simms.

The Easthampton junior put away two goals in the first half slipping behind Rockland’s back line. He beat Rockland keeper Tommy Gallagher to a through ball in the 21st minute and tapped it into the net through the collision.

“We had to adapt to it. That’s the first team that’s really played the offside trap against us,” DeNucce-Simms said. “We realized we had to stay wide. We were faster than their back line, I believe. We just stay wide and run in and then we’ll catch them.”

On a nearly carbon copy play four minutes later, the ball found DeNucce-Simms first and he touched it around Gallagher, leaving the Easthampton forward alone with the goal. He tapped it into the net for a 2-0 lead in the 25th minute. The rest of the Eagles circled around him, and Carter Hebert jumped into his arms.

That dangerous lead didn’t last long. Rockland’s Luis Araujo scored with a phenomenal touch in the Easthampton box four minutes shy of halftime.

“We knew we had to keep our foot on the gas and we just had to keep going. We had to close the game out,” Daughdrill said. “At the end, it always gets crazy. We had to try and settle down and clear every ball we could.”

Daughdrill’s goal gave the Eagles some breathing room, but the Bulldogs constricted the final 11 minutes on Faria’s strike.

A late Easthampton challenge gave Rockland a clean look at a free kick from 35 yards out to the left of goal. Matheus Gomes hit a looping ball toward the right corner looking for glory and an equalizer, but Easthampton keeper Griffin Foskitt safely plucked it out of the sky.

“It was hectic and stressful the whole time,” Lawrence said. “You never knew what was going to happen.”

Now the Eagles will face a familiar opponent in unfamiliar territory.

“We know how each other plays,” Daughdrill said. “It’s gonna be a bloodbath.”




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