Boys soccer: Easthampton forwards menace South Hadley in 4-0 victory

  • Easthampton’s Carter Hebert drives the ball across the field past South Hadley’s Alex Martin-Romero in the first half Wednesday at Nonotuck Park. COURTESY J. ANTHONY ROBERTS

  • Easthampton’s  Mateo Navarro and South Hadley’s Timmy Laporte battle for control of the ball in front of the South Hadley goal in the first half Wednesday at Nonotuck Park. COURTESY J. ANTHONY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/6/2021 8:26:09 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Carter Hebert fed Mateo Navarro a pass in the South Hadley penalty area – a maneuver the Easthampton teammates execute regularly.

Four Tigers defenders walled around Navarro, leaving him little room to operate and no angle to score. Or so they thought. Navarro maintained possession of the ball then stepped over enough to create a crack. The Eagles junior fired the ball through it into the South Hadley net in the seventh minute, collecting the first goal of a 4-0 Easthampton win Wednesday at Nonotuck Park.

“I just let my skills take over,” Navarro said. “I just let it happen.”

Navarro or Hebert – typically together – contributed all four goals for the Eagles. Easthampton (7-1-1, 5-1-1 Moriarty) led 1-0 at halftime on Navarro’s strike but pressed their advantage in the second half. South Hadley struggled to contain Easthampton’s forwards and through ball passing without center back Liam  Sibley-Welch.

“As much depth as I like to brag about in certain positions, we don’t have a lot of depth in the back, so we pulled from somewhere else, which weakened the midfield,” South Hadley coach Eric Castonguay said. “They just had free runs over there.”

Five minutes into the second half, a through ball found Navarro free on South Hadley keeper Tyler Evans. Navarro touched the ball past him and stepped toward it. Evans grabbed him by the waist and brought him to the ground, which earned Easthampton a penalty and Evans a yellow card. That meant Evans had to be subbed out for the spot kick, and Collin Quinn stepped up to try and stop it.

Navarro sent Quinn leaning right – Navarro’s left – and sent the ball into the bottom right corner for a 2-0 lead in the 45th minute. The Eagles don’t have a designated penalty taker, but Navarro stepped to claim the ball confidently, so Hebert let him have it.

“Whoever has the hot hand,” Navarro said.

Hebert’s turn on the scoresheet came soon enough. Navarro drove the ball up the left side of the field and picked a pass to Hebert at the top of the box. Hebert took a touch then chipped it over Evans for a 3-0 advantage.

“We work in practice on quick passes and going wide. They used to go in the mettle and they’d get blocked off,” Easthampton coach Jaquy Perez said. “They all read the ball very well, and they’ve all known each other for years, so they communicate very well with each other.”

Perez normally coaches the Eagles junior varsity but stepped into the varsity role because Easthampton coach Andrew Lawrence was at home with his wife Steph after she had a baby a few days ago.

“I usually just step up for Andrew when he can’t make practices or can’t make games,” Perez said.

The Eagles didn’t need much guidance in the second half. Hebert made it 4-0 in the 71st minute after Jack Cloutier found him at the top of the 18-yard box. He nearly had a hat trick but laced a clean look wide with the outside of his foot.

“I’ve got to finish those, but at the end of the day, we won,” Hebert said. “Good team performance.”

Keeper Griffin Foskitt topped all five shots he faced to keep the clean sheet. It’s Easthampton’s third win over the past four games. The Eagles haven’t lost since Sept. 22 at Frontier to keep a firm hold on second place in the Moriarty League behind the Redhawks.

“We’re at a point in the season where we really want to focus on chemistry and working together,” Navarro said. “We’re starting to finally show knowing where each other are, finding each other and putting our trust in our teammates to finish those goals.”

South Hadley (4-5, 1-5 Moriarty) has alternated wins and losses over its past four games and struggled to find consistency.

“This team is unique. I think we were spoiled with so many seniors last year that a lot of these kids weren’t starters, but they’re certainly good enough that they were playing on the team,” Castonguay said. “We just haven’t put it all together with these guys. Hopefully by the end of the season we can put it all together and stat playing out style of soccer.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
in the first half Wednesday at Nonotuck Park.


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