HARWICH ─ The 2016 season of the Monomoy boys soccer team came to a halt on Friday night when the Sharks were stunned by the Millis Mohawks in the preliminary round of the MIAA Div. 4 playoffs, which ended with a final score of 3-1.
“We knew they were going to be a tough opponent,” said Monomoy head coach Keith Clark. “Full credit to them. They're very physical and talented. They play in a league against a lot of Div. 2 and 3 opponents so their record was very misleading. We knew that coming in.”
The 14th seeded Sharks hosted the 19th seeded Mohawks on their home turf at Monomoy, with
senior Akeem Bucknor scoring the lone goal for Monomoy in the game's first half on an assist from Gio Green. Though the Sharks tried to maintain the momentum, the Mohawk defense proved challenging.
“They had some very clever players up top. We never really got control of the ball like we normally do in the midfield,” said Clark. “Our passing game just never came on. Maybe nerves, maybe it's because they were pressuring us, maybe the spaces weren't there. It was a combination of things.”
Meanwhile, the decidedly physical Millis squad, laden with seniors, proved difficult for Monomoy's defense to slow down as they cruised to three goals in the second half. Clark said the team's athleticism stymied his Sharks even with their one goal.
“The first goal really came out of nothing,” Clark said. “It was well finished, but at the end of the day I would say they outplayed us. They were a little more athletic than us and we struggled against that all year long.”
Clark added that in spite of home field advantage, Monomoy was never able to develop the energy and level of game play they'd become accustomed to during the regular season.
“For us it was important to try to control the pace of the game keep the ball a little bit, and see if we couldn't open up some chances, but we really didn't create enough in the end,” he said. “We were playing too many hopeful balls and too many long balls.”
Clark said a possible factor in the loss could be the scheduling issues that arose after the sudden departure of former Monomoy Athletic Director Brendan Case, after which Clark said his schedule came to include 10 matches across 20 days late in the season.
“It's not ideal playing that many games close together so late,” he said.
The disappointment regarding the loss was compounded for some fans who were confused by the absence of key players in the game, some of whom played very little or not at all. Clark gave kudos to Clifton Wilson, first-half goalkeeper Henry Watson, and team captain Rudy Fratus for their efforts in the game, though ultimately ceded to Millis.
“I think they were the better team of the night,” he said.