Timely goals lead T-Wolves to semis
|MATT MCGINNIS hustles to knock the ball away from a Kearsarge attacker during action Oct. 30 in Alton. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)|
November 01, 2010ALTON — The goals haven't exactly been flowing out of the foots of the Prospect Mountain boys' soccer team in the Division III playoffs, but the Timber Wolves have been able to find the back of the net at the right times and opened the tournament with a pair of wins to advance to book another trip to the semifinals.
The Timber Wolves opened the playoffs at home against Belmont on Wednesday, Oct. 27, and with rain threatening for much of the first half, neither team was able to put the ball in the net.
However, the Timber Wolves were able to beat Mother Nature, scoring two goals in the second half to help put the Red Raiders away for a 2-0 win as the rain rolled in.
Anthony Frangione got the Timber Wolves' on the board first, as he took a feed off a nice hustle play from Jason Houghton and popped a shot off the post and into the net with 24:30 to play in the second half, giving the Timber Wolves a 1-0 lead.
Jake Biscoe then executed a perfect give-and-go with Jake Troy with just more than eight minutes to go in the game and Biscoe put the ball in the net for a 2-0 lead.
Everyone on the Prospect team knew they would have to play a better game against fifth-seeded Kearsarge on Saturday if they wanted to make another trip to the Final Four.
The Cougars, who played for years in the former Class I, came to town with a very physical game and the Timber Wolves were able to match the physical style of play and kept themselves out of trouble, leading to a hard-fought 1-0 win and another trip to the Final Four.
"They were physical and strong," coach Gary Noyes stated. "But we didn't play to their style of play." The veteran coach was pointing to the three yellow cards the Cougars received during the game.
The Timber Wolves and Cougars certainly were evenly matched in every aspect of the game and it was up to both goalies to turn the tide for their respective teams.
Prospect had the first early chances, with Houghton getting in on net, but the Cougars turned right around and had a chance of their own. Zack Drouin just missed connections with Houghton in the Prospect offensive end and the Cougars turned the ball around and made some good moves of their own, forcing Scott Kanash and Greg Tinkham to turn in solid defensive plays, while keeper Spencer Goossens made a diving save on the first of consecutive corners for the Cougars.
Biscoe just missed connection with Drouin and Kanash sent one in just over Drouin's head as the Timber Wolves looked to get on the board. The Cougars came back strong with a number of bids, but Tinkham made a nice defensive play, Goossens made another save and a couple of shots sailed wide and high of the net.
Jesse Brown, Kanash and Biscoe made a combined offensive bid that the defense stopped and Frangione sent a direct kick in to the box that Drouin headed on net, only to see the Kearsarge keeper make the save.
Ben Couch made a great cross to Biscoe and Brown, but the ball went in just ahead of Drouin, who was charging hard and the keeper scooped it up.
The Cougars put some offensive pressure together, with a couple of great chances. One went wide, the defense stopped another and Goossens stepped up for a save on a third. The Cougars continued their assault on the net, with a couple of corner kicks and a direct kick, but the Prospect defense held tight, with Brown and Kanash getting nice clears.
Kanash and Brown also chipped in at the other end, as Kanash sent a nice cross through the box that the defense got to first and Brown headed a shot just wide of the net in the closing minutes of the half.
The two teams went to the break with the score knotted at zero.
Kearsarge quickly tested Goossens in the second half and the senior keeper was on his game, turning away a couple of early bids. The defense also helped out on a corner kick chance.
Frangione and Houghton made a good connection with a bid, but the ball slipped wide. Frangione then sent another ball in that was just ahead of Houghton.
The Timber Wolves finally broke the scoreless tie thanks to a hustle play from Couch.
After an obstruction call, Couch quickly set up the direct kick and drilled it on net. Biscoe took the loose ball and tapped it to Drouin, who buried it in the net to give Prospect a 1-0 lead with 24 minutes to play in the game.
"I told them at the half to play the ball quick," Noyes stated. "Ben played it quick and we just scrambled for the ball.
"While they were turned, he made the play," Noyes continued.
Kearsarge came storming right back, immediately forcing Goossens to make numerous saves to keep the Timber Wolves in the lead. The Cougars didn't relent, consistently keeping the ball in the offensive zone and forcing Goossens and the defense to shine.
Prospect finally got the ball out of the zone and Frangione and James Barrett missed connections and Frangione headed another shot wide.
The Cougars, in need of the tying goal, continued to push the ball up the field and forced Goossens to turn in save after save as the clock was winding down. The senior goaltender was up to the task and the final whistle blew on a 1-0 win for the Timber Wolves.
Goossens finished with 20 saves in net for the afternoon.
"If he holds back, they're going to score," Noyes said of his keeper's aggressive play that resulted in him taking a few bodies during the game.
The veteran coach also praised his team for staying away from the yellow cards that plagued the Cougars.
"I'm proud of them for not getting any cards, especially with the way the game went," Noyes said.
The Timber Wolves were slated to meet up with their rivals from Gilford in the Division III semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m. at Merrimack Valley High School. If the Prospect boys were able to earn the upset, they will play in the finals, which are set for Saturday, Nov. 6, at 10 a.m. at Southern New Hampshire University.