The Chiefs are in charge
There’s a lot of soccer still to be played in the Berkshire League so what can we say at the halfway point of the season? Well, how about `Hail to the Chief.’
In a whirlwind 20-hour period starting Thursday night, Nonnewaug clearly established as the big man on the BL campus with a pair of scintillating victories over Lewis Mills. The best soccer rivalry in the BL and arguably the area pitted four teams with 8-0 records against one another.
By the end of a gorgeous Friday afternoon, both the Nonnewaug boys and girls teams stood at 9-0 and Lewis Mills 8-1. There are rematches in the offing, the final games of the regular season as a matter of fact. But in early October the Chiefs own the deed to first place.
Another thought to keep in mind is that the BL does not play off ties. So unless somebody else in the BL can pull off an upset of Nonnewaug before the two powerhouses go at it again, it could be that the Chiefs could do no worse than share the title.
Thursday night was a great night for the BL, a great night for Nonnewaug and yes, a great night for Mills. These two proud programs have been banging heads, trading kicks and sharing titles for seemingly forever.
Mills has grabbed the last four (2012-2015). The four before that? You guessed it, those belong to Nonnewaug. In the BL it’s kind of championship by invitation and the Spartans and Chiefs like a two-program party.
So throw these two programs on pristine Nassahegan Field on a crisp early October night created for soccer with undefeated records add about 400 pumped up roaring rooters and you are just asking for special and you got that and more.
The records and history demanded hype, the game surpassed the all that preceded it. Mills gave notice early that it was their turf and their preeminent spot in the BL that they have guarded so efficiently for the last four seasons was going to be protected.
Nonnewaug was the last team in the state that hadn’t given up a goal this season, having outscored the opposition, 42-0, prior to the game. Nice statistic, admirable achievement. And in just 8 minutes it became a nice memory when John Mudgett scored from in front of the net.
The Chiefs rolled with the punch. Losing four years in a row to Mills has gotten under the Nonnewaug skin a bit. Chiefs coach Toby Denman had talked Tuesday after a win over Thomaston about how hungry his seniors were without a victory over Mills in their careers.
Denman felt his team might have an edge this year with the likes of Leland Malloy, Nate Firlings and a rock solid defense led by goalie Ryan Rescanski.
Right before the half, the slippery Firlings took a pass from Malloy and deflected a shot of a Lewis Mills defender and into the net.
The second half was a wonderful cornucopia of back-and-forth as solid a game of soccer as you are going to see. Nonnewaug dominated the early going and then Mills kept the ball in its end for a long period of time. All of which had the crowd building to a boil over which would come.
Fittingly enough the game went into overtime and in the third minute Mr. Firlings was at it again, sending a rollicking Nonnewaug student section into some good old fashion soccer hysteria.
Seven minutes later came the boil over with the Nonnewaug students storming the field to toast their guys. You would have thought the Chiefs won a championship. Not yet, but they finally beat Mills and that ranks right up there.
Nonnewaug’s Jake Matta was as fired up as any player in the middle of the party, a picture of passionate exultation. One heck of a scene.
Mills and Nonnewaug are thisclose. Mills probably didn’t feel like it was a great night but they get another chance and this was one heck of a noble effort for their faithful. It takes two to make great and on this night they were part of the great.
There was hardly enough time to catch your breath before the girls game Friday afternoon. Again, the similar scenario. Spotless records, programs that feed off another while producing a fair share of excellence. You get the idea and no offense to the Housatonic girls that the Spartans and Chiefs dominate BL soccer. Their games are a happening.
This one lacked the drama but not the execution on Nonnewaug’s part. A 5-1 victory secured by four second half goals. A hat trick from Mary Bibbey. In the second half. Not that’s a show.
Nonnewaug’s victories did not decide titles, Mills will still have its say. But this much we knew by late Friday. They are all chasing the Chiefs now. And there is no better show than the Chiefs and Spartans. They can light up the day and night.
While standing next to Dave Heuschkel of the Valley Press and the West Hartford Press during the boys game Thursday night. He told me he had covered the Hall-West Hartford - Farmington game the night before. Hall is ranked No. 1 in the state. He told me there weren’t nearly as many people there and raved about the crowed energy particularly on the Nonnewaug side more than once.
You get the idea, a great night for the BL and two great programs. Give us more.