Big road win only the beginning for Mills boys soccer
BURLINGTON – A big road win has the Lewis Mills boy’s soccer team right where it wants to be but it can’t afford a letdown to get where it wants to go.
On top of the Berkshire League standings after a tough 2-1 overtime victory over Nonnewaug in Woodbury on Friday, Lewis Mills still has four games to go and has work left to do.
“It was a big game and a big win for us but now our focused has shifted to Northwestern on Tuesday,” Mills coach Ben Kulas said.
The Spartans’ focus needs to be on the present for good reason. Mills has Northwestern, Litchfield, Wamogo and Housatonic left on the schedule. Any of the four would love to play spoiler and all are on track for state tournament berths.
“Northwestern and Litchfield this week will be very difficult games,” Kulas said. “We tied Northwest 0-0 at home in our first meeting and they are a strong team who will really want to beat us. Litchfield we tied 1-1 at their place. Litchfield in my opinion outplayed us for most of that first meeting.”
The first time around Northwestern and Litchfield nearly picked off Mills, while Wamogo (7-4-1) has some weapons as does Housatonic (7-5-1) and both will be motivated after losing the first time around against Mills.
Against Nonnewaug, Lewis Mills was down on the road at halftime and came back to take over first in the BL with a dramatic overtime victory. The Spartans raised their level of play and got some clutch performances.
Kulas felt the Spartans were able to take it to the Chiefs over the final 50 minutes after being outplayed in the first half. Goalie Alexander Daigle kept Mills in it with terrific play in goal and Mills was able to earn a penalty kick just two minutes into the second half and keep control of the game the rest of the way.
Despite the tough road ahead, the Spartans are not the same team they were back in September when they had three straight ties and were 2-0-3 after five games. They still have not lost since last year’s Class M semifinals in a shootout and are getting better and healthier.
As far as differences from now and the beginning of the season I would say our execution,” Kulas said. “We are beginning to finish our chances when we get them, not all of them, but more than before. We have continued to improve each week as well, which is all a coach can ask for. When I think about where we were back in September and now it’s like night and day.”
Kulas credited Daigle, Freddy Marinelli and Ryan Finley for strong play this season as well as Seth Ouellette and Cole Farrey in the center mid. Ouelette and Farry may not have big stats offensively but Kulas said defensively they have been huge blocking the middle up and distributing the ball on the offensive end.
The return of sophomore defender Connor Angers will help as well down the stretch. Angers started a number of games as a freshman and started the first four of this season before getting hurt in the first Litchfield game.
“We have a very difficult road ahead if we want to win the league and the players are aware of this,” Kulas said. “The target on our back has grown significantly since the Nonnewaug win. This week our goal is six points, no matter what it takes. Every game for us has been and will continue to be a state tournament type game for us since its win or go home in terms of the BL title.”