HARWICH ─ Tensions ran high in the second of two nearly back-to-back games between the Monomoy and Cape Tech boys varsity soccer teams, with the Monday afternoon game ending in a 1-1 tie.
As the Sharks worked to shake off the fatigue from a demanding end-of-season schedule, the Crusaders seized control early, but found putting the ball in the net a challenge.
After a scoreless first half that saw the intensity build between the crosstown rivals, Monomoy's Clifton Wilson put the Sharks on the scoreboard early in the second half when he headed in a corner kick from Sean Spies, giving the home team a 1-0 edge.
Tensions simmered when Cape Tech coach Ivan Popov became verbally frustrated with a call from officials before player emotions boiled over into a scrum that saw both teams incur red cards, one to Tech and two to Monomoy officially.
When game play resumed, the Sharks were a man down in a 10 players to nine situation and forced to step up their defensive play, putting forth a determined effort even as the Crusaders matched their efforts offensively. Senior captain Cathal Daly ultimately netted the equalizer with less than a minute left in the second half with a shot that Monomoy goaltender Ted Clifford tried hard to send over the net as it slipped past his gloves.
“It was a good game,” said Popov. “A very intense game, especially the second half.”
The Tech coach said he was frustrated by a missed foul call by officials.
“I've been officiating over 20 years of games,” said Popov. “I've been teaching these guys how to officiate. I'm a former professional official in my home country of Bulgaria. Everybody makes mistakes. I make mistakes, but I think they could make a few more calls so the second half would be less intense.”
Meanwhile Monomoy head coach Keith Clark chalked the game's intensity up to closely scheduled games and a longstanding rivalry between programs, not to mention each team seeking a tourney berth.
“When you play back-to-back like that, Saturday to Monday, you're bound to get a little animosity between the two teams,” Clark said. “And also it's a local rivalry as well. It was set up to be a hotly contested match.”
Clark felt his team started off slow in the outing.
“I really thought we started slow and sluggish,” he said. “We couldn't hold the ball too well. We defended fairly well, but we didn't generate any chances in the first half. I don't think we had a shot on goal the first half.”
From the outset the game was chippy, though evenly matched.
“They have enough players that are good on the ball so that they can play and are dangerous,” said Clark. “Our guys get caught stepping in and tackling so it gets physical.”
Clarks was disappointed in the score from Cape Tech but felt Clifford played a strong game in goal.
“It's unfortunate that we gave up that late game goal,” he said. “I thought we fought them off at least to get out of here one-nil, which is what we were trying to do in the end. The ball was served in nicely. Teddy got a hand on it but couldn't push it over the bar.”
Clark said Ben Thomas played well in the midfield, Wilson in the back, and Nick Meehan on defense.
Popov shouted out his whole squad.
“The whole team played well,” Popov said. “Everyone played well. They tried hard and played through to the end.”
When the teams first faced each other on Oct. 21, the Sharks battled to a 3-0 shutout thanks to the efforts of Clifford and Sean Deveau in goal, and the scoring success of Sean Spies, Jan Lipinski, and Graham Papenfuhs. Spies netted his goal 10 minutes before the end of the first half, with Papenfuhs converting a penalty kick for his score.
Monomoy needs two more wins to make the playoffs. They were slated to host Rising Tide Tuesday and next will face Falmouth Academy today (Oct. 26) at 4 p.m., with their final regular season game set for Oct. 31 at Sturgis East.
The Crusaders need two more wins and a tie in their three remaining games to make the postseason. On Tuesday the team was set to travel to Cape Cod Academy, with a game scheduled for Oct. 27 at Old Rochester. The team's final home game of the season, pending tournament play, is set for Oct. 31 at 4 p.m. against Rising Tide.
“We'll keep fighting,” said Popov. “I hope we make it. Otherwise I'll continue working with my team and get ready for the next season.”