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High Schools: Motuzas hat-trick propels Conant boys’ soccer to first win of season

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant’s Keegan Burke, Gavin Motuzas and Brennan Aho form a wall and block a shot by Monadnock’s Isaac Jasinsky. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant boys' soccer team traveled to Monadnock on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, September 12, 2018 12:31PM

Down by one in the waning moments against Monadnock staring their fourth loss of the year in the face, Conant reversed their season’s fortunes in one fell swoop. Or rather, leap, by Gavin Matuzas, who pounded in a set-piece header in the 88th minute to even the score and swing the momentum the Orioles’ way.

“We knew we were going to win after that,” said Matuzas.

The game, like the season, got off to an inauspicious start. Monadnock scored first in the 10th minute on a deep cross that went clear through the box, hit Brennan Aho and ricocheted into the goal.

Conant and Matuzas would answer back quickly, taking the kickoff straight down the heart of the Husky defense, where the senior captain scored his first goal of the game, striking a clean equalizer past Monadnock keeper Matt Trembley.

But Monadnock retook the lead in short order on another Conant miscue as a 30-yard toe-ball took a strange bounce when Conant keeper Garret Somero dove on it with his chest and it squirted out into the goal for a 2-1 Monadnock lead.

“It’s kind of demoralizing when you have two goals scored against you that way,” said Conant head coach Dan Bemis. “I think the team showed some mental resilience in sticking to it.”

Conant buckled down for a defensive battle. The Orioles remembered Monadnock senior striker Isaac Jasinsky torching them for a four-goal first half last season in a 6-1 Conant loss, and they were determined not to happen let it happen again.

“I was so pleased with my back four this game,” Bemis

said. “They have an absolutely phenomenal striker in [Jasinsky]. He is one of the best players that I’ve seen in Division III that I’ve seen since I started coaching. Containing him allowed us to have the opportunities to be there in the end and win the game.”

The Orioles kept control of the midfield battle throughout the game but couldn’t find the net – “I felt like we were outplaying them but we weren’t seeing the result,” Bemis said. With a one-goal deficit and the pressure building, Bemis switched from his 4-2-2 shape to a 4-3-3 for a last-gasp shot at tying the game.

It worked.

Conant got a corner kick with about two minutes left, and Motuzas took to the skies about ten feet out of the goal mouth, found the ball and flicked it in to tie it up.

It looked like a season-changing moment for the winless Orioles, who needed something — anything — to get the positivity flowing.

“It was like a whole new team,” Bemis said. “I think this is a turning point, this is the mentality we need to win games the rest of the season.”

Regulation played out in a flash and it was on to overtime, where Motuzas and the Orioles felt they’d have an advantage over the tired Huskies.

“We feel we work a lot harder than most people,” Motuzas said of Conant’s conditioning going into the extra period.

Only a minute or two into overtime, the Orioles got a cross through the box on the ground, in between the Husky keeper Trombley and defender Jackson Lepisto. It looked like Monadnock would gain control, but Motuzas split them, stuck his right foot out and poked it past Trombley.

“I was just lucky I got my toe in there,” Motuzas said.

The senior captain watched the ball roll in untouched, roaring in victory as the Orioles swarmed him to celebrate their first win of the year.

Conant is off until Saturday, when they’ll travel to Mascenic for the Vikings’ homecoming game at 2 p.m. Riding high on the strength of their victory over Monadnock, the Orioles are where they want to be going into the rivalry matchup.

“We just wanted to get a win before we played Mascenic,” Motuzas said.

BOYS’ SOCCER

WLC 6, Epping 0

Rebounding after a loss to Colebrook, WLC came back strong with a 6-0 win over Epping. Jack Schwab hit the first goal at the 38:20 mark on the clock assisted by Dylan Pfeil. His next goal came at the 15:53 mark on the clock assisted by Sean Brennan. Schwab paid the favor back by assisting Sean on a goal at the 14:23 mark.

In the second half, sophmore Paul van Blarigan hit back to back goals ending the game with a final goal by freshman Nathan Browne.

Samuel Bailey had ten saves for the shutout. Owen McGettigan and Troy Brennan’s defensive skills were right on target during the game.

WLC (4-1) hosts Conant at 4 p.m. on Monday.

ConVal on national radar

The Cougars were off Monday and Tuesday but still made headlines, as the undefeated ConVal boys were named to the USA Today Top 25. 5-0 ConVal came in at No. 9 in New England in the coaches’ poll.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

Conant 3, Monadnock 0

The Orioles look to be rounding into shape as they shut out Monadnock for their second win on Tuesday. Megan Graff scored on a header and Jill Patria put in two goals of her own as Conant won 3-0. Coach Adam Patria said his young team has “gotten the monkey off their backs,” improving day by day and may be ready to take the next step.

“We’ll find out Thursday at Fall Mountain,” he said.

Conant (2-3) plays at Fall Mountain at 6 p.m.

Epping 4, WLC 1

The Wilton girls’ soccer team suffered its first loss of the season against Epping 4-1 Tuesday.

Janel Bachand played a great game making 10 saves. The defense played hard against a tough offense with excellent performances from Lexi Balam, Kaitlin LoVerme, Emma Skelly, Avery Krug and Ella Kelley.

The mids and forward worked hard to create opportunities which paid off with a good goal from Sam Boette.

Wilton (3-1) faces Portsmouth Christian Academy (1-3) Friday at home at 5:30 p.m.

FIELD HOCKEY

ConVal 1, Stevens 0

The Cougars got off the schneid on Friday, shutting out Stevens for their first win of the year. Senior captain Dee Kashulines netted her third tally of the season to get the win for ConVal.

The Cougars (1-3) had Tuesday’s game postponed due to field conditions and return to action Friday at Mascoma (4-0).