Prospect boys win battle with Berlin
Team heads to Class M semifinals to take on Hopkinton Nov. 5
|BERLIN GOALIE Curtis Arsenault snags the ball almost off the head of Prospect’s Zack Drouin during quarterfinal action Nov. 1 in Alton. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)|
November 02, 2009ALTON — The return trip has been booked.
The Prospect Mountain boys' soccer team sealed a second-consecutive trip to the Class M Final Four with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Berlin in the Class M quarterfinals on Sunday, Nov. 1, in Alton.
As expected, the two teams played a very physical game and went back and forth for much of the contest, with the defenses getting the job done in both ends for most of the game.
The Timber Wolf defense had to come up with a couple of strong plays early in the game, as Greg Tinkham and Ryan Soucie did their job, while keeper Scott Kanash also stepped up and made a save to thwart a Mountie scoring attack.
The Timber Wolves fought right back and with just more than five minutes gone in the game, Brian Jones drilled a shot to the top left corner of the goal on a rebound from a Jake Rochette bid, giving the Timber Wolves the 1-0 lead.
With the battling back and forth on the field, it seemed highly unlikely that the first goal would also be the last, but there would be no more scoring the rest of the way.
Kanash made a couple of big saves after the early goal, including one on a shot by Berlin keeper Curtis Arsenault, who came out to make a number of his team's kicks from around midfield.
Prospect came right back with pressure from Jones, Erik Aldrich and Jiri Dahlgren. Dahlgren had a header ricochet off a Berlin player and then off the post as the Timber Wolves threatened but didn't score.
The same was true at the other end, as Berlin had a couple of chances to score, sending one shot wide on a corner and having another shot deflect away from the goal.
Jones, Rochette and the Timber Wolf offense continued to have the chances, but they were constantly denied by a solid Berlin defense.
Kanash turned in a big save as he went leaping over the back of a Berlin defender to haul in the ball inside the box. The Mounties had a couple of corners but couldn't convert and Dahlgren had the Prospect fans on their feet when he headed one off the post, then had an open net for the rebound, only to send the ball high, sending the teams to the break with a 1-0 score.
The Timber Wolves moved the ball well in the early part of the second half, as Zack Drouin, Tony Ungarelli and Anthony Frangione moved the ball in on net but couldn't convert.
On the defensive side, Tinkham, Soucie, Jesse Brown and Ben Couch continually turned back Berlin attackers, keeping the ball away from Kanash.
Drouin, Aldrich and Ungarelli all had great scoring chances as the Timber Wolves continually moved the ball down the field and Drouin had a great chance for a header snagged out of midair by a leaping Arsenault.
Arsenault also forced Kanash into his first save of the second half, as he made a leaping grab in traffic of a shot from near midfield. Drouin turned that save into a scoring chance at the other end, but Arsenault made a nice save to tip the ball over the cross bar.
The two teams battled back and forth over the final few minutes, with Tinkham heading a ball wide, Ungarelli having a shot stopped by the defense and Jaime Fragile and Drouin just missing on chances as the clock ticked off to zero.
"It's a brutal matchup," said coach Gary Noyes Sr. of his team's traditional battles with Berlin. "It's all out effort."
He noted that his team got into the long ball a little too much in the second half, but other than that, played a solid game of soccer against a physical team.
"We got the job done," he said. "Those backs covered very well for each other.
"Obviously they left it all out there on the field," the veteran coach continued.
The Timber Wolves opened the playoffs with a game against 15th-seed Stevens on Thursday, Oct. 29.
The Cardinals did all they could to contain the Timber Wolves in the first part of the game, as the hosts had plenty of chances but nothing to show for them.
Drouin, Fragile, Rochette, Frangione, Jason Houghton, Dahlgren and Alrdich all had good looks in the first part of the first half, but the Stevens defense and keeper kept the game scoreless, while at the other end, keeper Spencer Goossens was strong in net, turning the Stevens shots away from the goal.
Prospect continued to control the flow of the game, as they had the ball in the offensive zone for a good chunk of the first half, but couldn't find a way to put the ball in the net.
Rochette sent one wide, Jones had a chance blocked by the defense and the Timber Wolves couldn't seem to buy a break.
Finally, with 11 minutes to play in the half, Rochette took a gorgeous Drouin feed and put it in the net for a 1-0 lead.
Jones, Fragile, Ethan Henderson, Rochette and Aldrich continued the attack following the goal, but it was Jake Biscoe who netted the team's second goal. He made a great head shot of a pass from Jones with 3:50 to play in the half, giving the Timber Wolves a 2-0 advantage at the break.
After Prospect opened with some good pressure from Aldrich in the second half, Stevens had a shot drill off the post and Goossens made a save to keep the two-goal lead.
Rochette, Dahlgren, Brown and Frangione continued to send shots into the goal area, but nothing slipped by and into the net. Drouin had a shot saved on a corner kick and Frangione hit the crossbar on one shot and the crossbar and post on another.
However, with 20:45 to play, the Timber Wolves were awarded a penalty kick and Frangione didn't hit any iron as he buried the ball for a 3-0 lead.
Stevens made an effort to get back in the game with a number of scoring chances, but Goossens and the Prospect Mountain defense stood strong and the three-goal lead stood until four minutes remained in the game and Brown slipped a shot past the Cardinal keeper for a 4-0 lead, the way it would end.
"We had a little bit of a slow start," Noyes said. "We passed the ball well, but we probably should've had shots that we didn't take."
With Kanash and Ungarelli unavailable, the veteran Timber Wolf coach cited his depth as something that has gotten the team to this point and continues to be an advantage.
"That's the biggest part of this team," he noted. He also praised Goossens for stepping up in a big situation. "He works hard in practice, which made the difference in being able to jump right in there today."
The Timber Wolves will now face off with Hopkinton in the Class M semifinals at Merrimack Valley High School in Penacook today, Thursday, Nov. 5, at 4 p.m. The Class M finals are set for Sunday, Nov. 8, at 10 a.m. at Southern New Hampshire University.
"They just get tougher, no question about it," Noyes said of the playoff matchups.
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