New England Newspapers
LEE -- Down a goal to Hoosac Valley in a driving rain storm, the Lee boys’ soccer team was desperate for a win.
After all, it was October and the Wildcats hadn’t won at home yet. That’s when Gabriel Nogueira rescued Lee. Standing tall in the box while defenders slid around, Nogueira equalized. Five minutes later, Jose Mejia delivered another in a 2-1 victory for the Wildcats.
"This was really a must-win game," said Lee coach Matt Kollmer. "We’ve gotten some good results. ... But, at the end of the day these are the games that we really have to win. It was nice to be able to pull this game out."
The win gives the Wildcats (5-4-2, 2-1-0 South) four points in the county’s South Division, two back of leaders St. Joseph’s and the Hurricanes (4-4-1, 3-1-0). Lee did it in tough conditions and against a Hoosac defense that wasn’t easy to beat.
The Hurricanes put five defenders back, frustrating Lee at times. Hoosac was able to poke holes in the Wildcats’ defense, chipping forward with fast runs from David Haley and Sean Ryan-Kut.
While the Hurricanes couldn’t capitalize in the first half, those two combined on the opening goal when Ryan-Kut slotted a ball over to Haley. The sophomore knocked a dribbler just past Lee keeper Heamon Williams in the driving rain.
"I just saw David Haley sitting there on the back post with no defender on him," Ryan-Kut said. "Crossed it on the ground for an easy pass to put it in."
That defensive lapse forced Kollmer to call a timeout. The Wildcats responded, beginning to control the play on a sloppy field. That led to those two openings in the box during a five-minute span, both of which were finished by Nogueira and Mejia. John Graziano was the man who found Nogueira to give Lee life.
"Gabe and I always have this back and forth, joking around. ‘You owe me one, you owe me one,’ " Graziano said. "I saw him. He was wide open. I found him. I knew he was going to put it away."
Hoosac had chances to equalize, forcing Williams to make eight saves. Two were breakaways by Ryan-Kut. He found himself free in the first minute, and then again late. Williams came out to make a diving stop on the latter play.
"Once we scored, we just started booting it again," said Hurricanes coach Camilo Bermudez. "We never got passes in the middle. ... You know, you get your breaks. We had two breakaways. Just didn’t get them."