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South Hadley deals Easthampton first loss of boys soccer season

  • Nic Soucy, left, of Easthampton, and Ashton Sanford, of South Hadley, jump to head the ball, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Joy, center left, of South Hadley, splits Easthampton defenders Sam Colenback, left, and Nic Soucy, Tuesday at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. Henry Ferland looks on. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Gabe Kovacs, right, of South Hadley, heads the ball beside Jacob Bacis, of Easthampton, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Declan Joy, left, of South Hadley, and Anthony Soucy, of Easthampton, try to win control of the ball Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Gabe Kovacs, right, of South Hadley, moves the ball against Henry Ferland, of Easthampton, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Declan Joy, left, of South Hadley, and Anthony Soucy, of Easthampton, go to the ball Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sam Colenback, left, of Easthampton, passes against Jonas Clarke, of South Hadley, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Joy, left, of South Hadley, passes beside Jacob Bacis, of Easthampton, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Declan Joy, right, of South Hadley, stops a pass with his chest as Henry Ferland, of Easthampton, looks on Tuesday, in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Adam Johndrow, right, of Easthampton, moves the ball against Gabe Kovacs, of South Hadley, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Nic Soucy, left, of Easthampton, passes against Ashton Sanford, of South Hadley, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Max McCurdy, left, of South Hadley, moves the ball against Anthony Soucy, of Easthampton, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Max McCurdy, right, of South Hadley, moves the ball against Fernando Tenesaca, of Easthampton, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Sibley-Welch, front, of South Hadley, passes against Easthampton, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Joy, second from right, of South Hadley, celebrates his goal against Easthampton with Declan Joy, Tuesday at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. The goal gave South Hadley a 3-1 lead en route to a 3-2 win. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos and video. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cris Casolari, left, of South Hadley, passes between teammate Austin Croteau, right, and Henry Ferland, of Easthampton, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Henry Ferland, left, of Easthampton, heads the ball away from Liam Joy, of South Hadley, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • South Hadley players, center, from left, Max McCurdy, Theo Abrams, Liam Joy and Declan Joy celebrate Liam Joy's goal in the second half against Easthampton, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. Abrams and Declan Joy also scores in the Tigers' 3-2 win. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Chris Williams, right, of Easthampton, goes to the ball against Grant Petrosky, of South Hadley, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jonas Clarke, left, of South Hadley, blocks a pass from Nic Soucy, of Easthampton, Tuesday at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Sibley-Welch, front left, of South Hadley, begins a pass against Dylan Schmidt, of Easthampton, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Adam Johndrow, front, of Easthampton, moves the ball against Declan Joy, of South Hadley, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018 at White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

@kylegrbwsk
Published: 10/17/2018 1:12:37 AM

EASTHAMPTON — Liam Joy wanted the shot for himself.

South Hadley’s senior striker had the ball in Easthampton’s penalty area down the left side in the second half of a scoreless game. Then his brother, Declan Joy, popped into the corner of his eye as he was turning to face the goal. Liam slid the ball over to Declan, who took one touch and popped it into the top-left corner over a hopping Drew Caires in the 53rd minute.

“It’s one of the happiest feelings in the world to see that,” Liam Joy said.

That breakthrough began a barrage of goals in the second half, as the South Hadley boys soccer team beat Easthampton, 3-2, at White Brook Middle School Tuesday. It marked the first loss of the season for the Eagles, who had outscored opposition 53-1 over 12 straight wins.

“It doesn’t seem real,” Liam Joy said.

South Hadley (10-2-2, 8-1-1 Schmid) kept itself alive in the Schmid League championship race and avenged a 1-0 loss from September.

“This is the biggest win we’ve had,” fifth-year South Hadley coach Eric Castonguay said. “We’re not used to playing competitive games like this late in the year.”

The Tigers haven’t played in the postseason since 2012, but are already qualified this year.

“Tonight it felt like a playoff game,” South Hadley senior Chris Casolari said.

The first half resembled a tournament contest. Both teams had just one shot on goal, and both of those chances came in the last six minutes of the half.

“I think we were trying to get a feel for their pace,” Casolari said. “You always gotta see what the opponent’s got.”

The Tigers played more at their pace in the second half. All three of their goals came in transition. Theo Abrams put the Tigers up 2-0 in the 58th minute when he one-timed a cross from Jonas Clarke just outside the 6-yard box.

Clarke’s run brought the play to life. He gathered a South Hadley defensive clearance then burst 50 yards down the left side, outrunning Easthampton’s back line. He slid the pass across to Abrams just before Caires could dive out and thwart him.

“We have some speed,” Castonguay said. “We have some fast forwards, and if we can get them isolated one-v-one I’ll take that footrace any day.”

That 2-0 deficit was the largest the Eagles (12-1, 9-1) faced all season and only the second time they trailed. They stemmed the tide quickly.

Bryan Wolf scored for Easthampton two minutes later on a feed from Nic Soucy.

“We’ve only been down twice this year, both times we came back hard with a vengeance,” Easthampton coach Mike Soucy said.

Liam Joy stalled the comeback with a goal in the 71st minute. He beat the Eagles’ defenders to the ball and tapped in quickly a pass from Abrams in transition.

“I saw the defender behind me, so I got a quick tap in,” Liam Joy said.

Easthampton increased its pressure and made the Tigers sweat the game’s final moments. Henry Ferland pulled another goal back for the Eagles with 6:31 left from Anthony Soucy.

Easthampton held possession for nearly the rest of the game but couldn’t find an equalizer. South Hadley keeper Clayton Koppi, who finished with eight saves, and the Tigers defense stayed compact and kept the result in their favor.

“We’re all working for each other,” Koppi said. “Everyone put everything they had into tonight.”

Despite losing, Easthampton retains pole position for the Schmid title. The Eagles will claim the championship with wins in their final two league games against Gateway Regional and Hopkins Academy. Easthampton beat the Gators 8-0 and the Golden Hawks 2-0 earlier.

“These guys have a checklist of goals for the season, and being league champs is one of them,” Mike Soucy said. “It got postponed tonight, hopefully the guys take care of business.”

But if Easthampton ties one of those games and the Tigers win out, they’ll share the league title. A loss by the Eagles with two South Hadley wins gives the championship to the Tigers. South Hadley faces Athol and Granby on the road to end its league season. The Tigers won the first round of those games by a combined score of 9-2.

“For us even to think of being in this position shows how much we’ve grown,” Castonguay said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.



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