Cowboys slip by upset-minded Thomaston
LITCHFIELD – The idea was to check out coach Rob Andrulis’ undefeated Litchfield High boys soccer team on the heels of a 1-1 tie with Lewis Mills three days earlier in a battle for Berkshire League supremacy.
That was the idea anyway. But, sometimes the idea has to be tweaked and so be it.
You see Thomaston showed up with its own idea and being background fodder was not part of the thinking. The Golden Bears, who entered the game with a 3-5 mark, made the Cowboys reach down to avoid a crucial tie or loss before bowing, 2-1 Monday afternoon.
Tim Donovan capped off the entertaining affair played in mist and light rain with his second goal of the game with just 7:34 left to turn what could have been a tough day into a tough win.
The game was a restart from the previous week where Litchfield led, 3-1 in the first half before rain made it all null and void. But, forgive us if we underrated the Bears here. Last year they knocked off the Cowboys in the final game of the regular season, 1-0, to earn a spot in the state tournament and seem to have a penchant for giving the Cowboys a rugged challenge.
“They always play a great game against us, we knew it was going to be a tough battle,” admitted Adrulis.
What the Cowboys didn’t anticipate was the difficulty in getting the ball past Thomaston goalie Shawn Galeski. The big netminder had a brilliant day repeatedly thwarting the Cowboys with kick saves, diving saves and all manner of saves.
Litchfield could have easily been ahead by three, four or five goals in the first half as they peppered Galeski with chances only to find the back of the net off limits.
“He’s a big dude and covers the goal well. It was tough,” said Donovan. “But we noticed he likes to use his feet more than his hands and kept kicking shots at him.”
“Thomaston fought back and (Galeski) kept them in the game for sure,” added Andrulis.
For all of Galeski’s fancy-footwork and eye-opening saves in the first half. Andrulis thought his club missed numerous chances.
“Sometimes we have a tendency to let down against Thomaston and go through the motions,” said Andrulis. I think we had a letdown today, coming off a big game, holiday….We’ve got to put the game away in the first half. Our shots were right at him. We should have been up two or three goals. We let them hang around.”
The Cowboys finally got one by Galeski just over seven minutes into the second half when Donovan took a crossing pass from John Ray in front of the net and lasered one past the game goalie.
However, befitting the afternoon the Bears were not done. With 25 minutes left two-time All-Stater Mergim Kutllovci knocked in a free kick just off goalie Colby Bunnell’s hand to tie the game, 1-1.
With a tough schedule ahead and Mills likely to keep on rolling, this would have been more than mid-season hiccup for the Cowboys and they knew it.
“We talked about it,” said Andrulis. “In the fourth game against Shepaug which went into overtime we mentioned it and it was the same today.”
“It’s a lot of pressure,” said Donovan.
Litchfield responded to the pressure. Donovan got loose in front of the net and boomed one in the corner of the net for the decisive goal as time waned.”
A little moxie on the Cowboy side. And a pretty good day for the Bears despite the defeat.
“We played about as hard as we’ve played all season,” said Bears coach Martin Giroux. “We rose to the occasion. Shawn was as quick as he’s looked all year. We yelled at him to stop using his feet but he’s better with his feet than his hands. This is a moral victory for us.”
Sometimes you just have to tweak your idea.