SOUTH YARMOUTH – The Monomoy boys clawed their way back from a 1-0 deficit to a 2-1 lead in the Cape and Islands Lighthouse League finals against Sturgis East on Monday night, and then, with the Sharks just seconds away from their first-ever championship win, the lights above the pitch at Townhouse Field in Yarmouth went out, casting the field in darkness.
The glitch was just one more oddity in a season of strangeness brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For the Sharks, it was a season of wearing masks during game play, navigating new rules (no throw-ins, no headers), and ultimately, of victory.
The first quarter found Monomoy somewhat sluggish as they sought to find their footing on a decidedly different playing surface than their traditional home turf. Where the turf brought reliable flatness and plenty of space, the field at Townhouse offered dew-slicked grass, divots, and anything but a level surface.
But once the Sharks found their groove, the battle was on. Thankfully, Monomoy goalkeeper Sean Deveau was simply golden in net, fending off 17 shots on goal throughout the game. He allowed just one to get past him, a goal from Alex Mendez that soared above Deveau's outstretched arms.
With the Storm leading 1-0, Monomoy regrouped and upped their intensity, their energy helped by Damarr Beckford, who evened the score late in the third by capitalizing on a stellar feed from Troy Olson. As East goalkeeper Isaac Rocha dove toward the ball, Beckford seized the chance to deflect it into the net to tie the game.
With one quarter left, the intensity on the field and off was palpable. The Monomoy crowd cheering wildly with every save of Deveau's and every defensive rebuff of a Sturgis attempt at a score. Then came Olson again with less than five minutes on the clock. Teammate Duncan Ramler offered a well-placed pass inside the box, setting up Olson, who fired off a shot past Rocha to give Monomoy a 2-1 edge.
As time ticked out, Monomoy stepped up every ounce of their game play, determined to clinch the win. Then, with nine seconds left in the game, every light over Townhouse Field went out, plunging the pitch into total darkness. While officials and athletic directors worked to solve the issue, lights at an adjacent field at the park came on. When those above the main field of play didn't, the decision was made to move the game for the final seconds.
In those final seconds, Beckford handily intercepted the Sturgis kick-in and nearly had an empty-net goal, but the last grains of sand in the proverbial hourglass ran out before the ball crossed into the net. Either way, it was a Monomoy win, punctuated by gleeful celebration.
“I've been around the game a long time and there are some things I've never seen,” said Monomoy head coach Keith Clark of the wild ending. “Overall I think both teams fought hard. I think each team had the better of the play at certain times. We were fortunate to draw even and then I think we excelled after that.”
Clark had high praise for his seniors and their tireless efforts.
“Full credit to the seniors,” he said. “They really led this team, especially in the back with Josh Coughlan, Trey Cox, and our goalkeeper Sean Deveau. I thought Duncan Ramler and Miles Boyle in the midfield really played solid defensively.”
Clark said the team struggled in the first quarter due to the intense pressure the Storm put on the Sharks, making it challenging for Monomoy to solve the East equation.
“They were really on us,” Clark said. “They're very good up top. But it was one of those nights where it was just going to be hard work and craft that was going to do the job.”
Clark also shouted out Beckford, noting that he “brings a lot of heart and soul to the team and really is enthusiastic.”
Beckford, meanwhile, kept the focus on his team.
“As seniors, this was our last game so we needed all the energy from the whole team. We had to keep the energy at 100 percent,” he said. “We started as a team and we finished as a team, and I love that about us.”
Beckford said being part of the program the past five years has meant everything to him.
“I didn't expect it to go by so fast,” he said. “We played as a family and we finished as a family.”
And that game-tying goal?
“I did that for my family,” he said.
Fellow senior Sean Deveau was also riding the wave post-game.
“We started off a little slow on the offensive side so the defense had to pick it up, and I thought the defense and our whole line played well overall,” he said. “In big games you make big saves. That's how it goes.”
Deveau said his career with the Sharks is one he'll always remember.
“It's everything,” he said. “From the coaches to the players to playing on the field. We're like a family. This is a great way to cap off five years of high school soccer.”
Prior to their history-making championship win, the Sharks defeated Sturgis West in the semifinals, with Sam Higgins and Beckford scoring on assists from Ramler, while Deveau earned his sixth shoutout of the season in net with the 2-0 victory.
“I was real pleased with the guys,” Clark said. “This is the first time we've won a championship, so I'm sure they're going to feel good about it as much as I do. We're going to enjoy this one tonight, for sure.”