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Closeout woes plague Vikes

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team hosted Fall Mountain on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team hosted Fall Mountain on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team hosted Fall Mountain on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Mascenic’s Jake Zina patrols the midfield against Fall Mountain Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team hosted Fall Mountain on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic boys' soccer team hosted Fall Mountain on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Mascenic has already played an extra hour of soccer this season after three double overtime games. But if they want to add any more bonus time to their schedule — in the form of a postseason berth — they’ll have to start closing out down the stretch.

“We're having a hard time closing games,” said head coach Zach Stephenson after Tuesday’s 3-2 double OT loss to Fall Mountain. “I think there's a potential here to be a top club, but we've just got to start finishing.”

The loss leaves the Vikings winless in all three of their double OT appearances, with a 2-2 tie at Hillsboro-Deering and a 3-2 loss at Raymond to go along with Tuesday’s final.

“I think it's either the teams are finally just connecting ... or we're letting up,” Stephenson said. “I think we're losing it at the wrong time and teams are capitalizing on it.”

The Vikings looked strong for much of Tuesday’s game, controlling the possession for the majority of the match. And up until the 77:48 mark, Fall Mountain had just a fluke goal that snuck under keeper Chris Wilkins’ mitts to their name.

Mascenic, meanwhile, had

tallied twice. The first came on Noah Caballero corner kick that found the head of Zach Barthel for a score.

In the second half, Nathan Wilkins put one in unassisted to put Mascenic up 2-1.

It was the first game for Mascenic in their new formation, a 4-1-3-2 that Stephenson implemented based on a strategy from an old Croatia vs. England game.

“It’s more of a fast game,” he said. “I think it worked to our advantage.”

As the clock ticked toward injury time, the Vikings looked confident in a victory. Then, Fall Mountain put together a series of chances, finally breaking through and scoring with just 2:12 left, tying the game and stunning the Vikings.

“We possessed the ball, I’d say, 65-70 percent of the match, and then — just like Conant — they find the seam, exploit it and they score,” Stephenson said.

Caballero and Nathan Wilkins had a couple chances in both overtime periods, but Fall Mountain struck midway through the second extra frame and mobbed each other as the Vikings fell to the ground in disbelief.

“We had multiple chances to put the ball in net, and we didn’t, and our defense needs to be stronger,” Stephenson said.

With the loss, Mascenic is now 5-5-1, 15th in Division III, right on the playoff bubble as they topple toward the 17th and final postseason spot.

“We're going to move on from this, practice hard tomorrow,” Stephenson said. “We have the best team in the state, Derryfield, tomorrow, so our main focus is to slay the giant on Thursday night here, move on and go to playoffs.”

The Vikings host the undefeated, 11-0 Cougars today at 4 p.m.