HARWICH ─ Senior Night proved a tough one for the Monomoy boys varsity soccer team, which fell 3-1 to St. John Paul II in their second meeting of the season.
The last time the two faced each other, the Sharks came away with a 3-1 win courtesy of late-game goals, but last Thursday the odds were against the home team, which was stymied by the Lions' punishing defense that left little chance for Monomoy to get near the net.
“They played really compact, four in the back, and fairly high, so they were very dense and sat back in the first half and let us come to them,” said Monomoy head coach Keith Clark. “They were very good defensively.”
Monomoy did its best to maneuver the ball into scoring territory, but was repeatedly thwarted by the SJPII lineup. Adding to the struggles, the Lions were able to sneak in three goals in the opening half, the first of which was scored roughly 12 minutes into game play. The second came on a clearing pass that missed its mark, allowing the Lions to go up 2-0.
“We gave up two soft goals in the first half that made a challenge for us,” said Clark.
A penalty kick offered a ray of hope for the Sharks, but when Gio Green's kick went wide, the proverbial wind went out of Monomoy's sails a bit.
“We missed [that] PK, which could have turned the game around, perhaps, and changed the momentum a little bit,” Clark said.
The game's second half saw stepped-up play from the Sharks, who continued vying for a spot near the net, with much of the possession belonging to Monomoy. With 15 minutes left in the game, Sean Spies put the home team on the scoreboard when he converted a pass from Connor Coughlan for a goal, unfortunately the only one Monomoy would net all night, though it did erase a shutout.
“I think once we were rolling we were on them,” Clark said. “But we really made two bad mistakes.”
Clark gave kudos to his opponents for their efforts.
“Full credit to them,” he said. “I think they came out with a good style. They sat in, played low pressure, and led the counterattack against us because they do have some speed up top.”
Clark also praised the hard work of Monomoy players Clifton Wilson, Spies, and team captain Rudy Fratus.
“Clifton played well in the back, Rudy, wherever we put him, he did the job, and Sean Spies on the ball was obviously our most dangerous weapon,” he said.
Prior to the game the team's four seniors – Nick Delande, Green, Akeem Bucknor and Fratus – were honored along with their families in a pregame ceremony, during which Monomoy staffers who had a positive impact on each senior were also recognized. Among them were teachers Richard Houston, John Dickson, Lisa Forte-Doyle, and athletic trainer Taylor Murray.
Two days after their match against SJPII, the Sharks fell to Nauset 6-0, though it was a game Clark was realistic about, knowing that the undefeated Warriors are considered one of the better teams in the region at the moment.
In spite of the losses, Monomoy (8-5-1) still has a chance to make the post season by winning at least one of their remaining games. At press time the Sharks were set to face Rising Tide Charter School on the road before returning home to face Sturgis West this afternoon at 4 p.m. On Friday the Sharks travel to face Sturgis East before wrapping up their regular season against Cape Tech on Tuesday.
“We've still got some work to do,” said Clark. “But I think we're okay.”