LOGAN LAROCHE works to clear the ball away from a Berlin attacker in action Oct. 11. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 14, 2013ALTON — Prospect Mountain and Berlin have always enjoyed a great rivalry on the soccer field.
That rivalry produced another classic on Friday, Oct. 11, in Alton, as the Timber Wolves rode an early Chris Whalen goal to a 1-0 lead over the Mountaineers.
"Obviously, getting that first one was helpful," coach Gary Noyes said. "And there was really some good, solid passing."
Prospect had plenty of chances right out of the gate, as Alex Rayno and Mike McMahon had a drive stopped by the defense and Doug Krivitsky had a shot go over the net. David Troy was also strong in the backfield, where he stepped in to fill the shoes of Joe Perry, who Noyes kept on the bench with an injury.
"I didn't want to sacrifice one game for four games (later on)," Noyes said of holding Perry out. "And Dave (Troy) did a nice job back there."
Less than four minutes in, the Timber Wolves scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal, as Ken Gilbert fed Whalen, who delivered a strike low to the far post for the 1-0 lead for the Timber Wolves.
Prospect came right back with more chances, with Rayno and Whalen continuing to lead the way. Berlin was able to get its offense moving in the right direction as well, but Logan LaRoche, Nate Farnham and Krivitsky all turned in strong defensive plays in the backfield to keep the Mountaineers from striking. Jake Towle did turn away the one shot that got through the defense.
Berlin had a good chance on a corner kick, but McMahon did a great job clearing the ball out of the zone, but the defensive play of the game came on the next Berlin corner, just a few moments later. With Towle out of the play after leaping unsuccessfully to try and get the ball out of the air, the Mountaineers had an open net and fired the shot. Gilbert stepped in front of the ball and headed it out just inches before it crossed the goal line to preserve the lead.
Tyler Brown had a nice cross that just missed connections, while Gilbert had a shot go wide and Rayno and Daniel Krivitsky couldn't quite make a charge into the zone work. Prospect had a pair of corners and couldn't convert, while at the other end, LaRoche and Farnham were strong on defense.
McMahon also turned in strong defense and Doug Krivitsky had a nice clear, while Towle made a couple of solid saves to close down the half with the 1-0 lead still intact.
Prospect had a couple of early chances in the second half, with Rayno finding Whalen for a bid, while Prospect also had a corner cleared out. Joey Cleary headed a shot high on a direct kick chance and McMahon just missed connecting with Alex Bennett on a bid.
Prospect had two more corners, but again it was the Berlin defense that stepped up, clearing the ball out of the zone. Daniel Krivitsky and Tyler Sinclair got in close and Rayno had a shot saved, but Berlin slowly began to get its chances as well.
Gilbert had a couple of good chances for the Timber Wolves and Rayno just missed connecting with Whalen and sent another one through the crease. Towle made nice saves on a Berlin direct kick and on a Berlin corner. The Mountaineers sent a shot high of the net and another through the crease as they continued to look for the tying goal. Towle, meanwhile, stepped up and made the saves.
Rayno and Doug Krivitsky had the good chances for the Timber Wolves in the closing moments, but more importantly, Farnham, LaRoche, Troy and Matt Hamilton kept the backfield solid to hold off the Mountaineers for the 1-0 win.
Noyes was quick to praise Hamilton, who he had marking Berlin's top player all night.
"Matt really did a nice job on number three," Noyes said. "And the defense was playing unbelievably."
He noted that while the backs were strong, the team also had plenty of good scoring chances.
The Timber Wolves also had plenty of scoring chances on Monday, Oct. 7, as they battled past Farmington by a 7-0 score.
Cleary scored his first two varsity goals, both in the second half. Rayno, Sinclair and McMahon scored in the first half and Sinclair and Whalen joined Cleary in scoring in the second half for the 7-0 win.
The Timber Wolves will be playing their final regular season home game on Friday, Oct. 18, at 4 p.m. They head on the road on Monday, Oct. 21, for a 4:30 p.m. game at Sanborn.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or email@example.com