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Housatonic: Under the radar, on top of the BL

POSTED October 25, 2011
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                          Housatonic: Under the radar, on top of the BL    

            LITCHFIELD -  Sssssssssh – Don’t tell anybody but the Housatonic boys' soccer team is pretty good. Like undefeated good. Like first place good.

            You didn’t know the Mountaineers were 9-0-4, a tad ahead of Nonnewaug (8-0-5) for the Berkshire League lead?  No surprise. Somehow the Mountaineers seem to get lost in the high school shuffle.

            Maybe in part due to geography. After all it’s nearly a train ride up to bucolic Falls Village where the Mountaineers call home. You break down on the way to or from the home of the Blue and Yellow and you had better have some flares because cell service is a rumor. 

            Maybe it’s Nonnewaug and Lewis Mills the more mainstream powers in the BL and any other team that manages to horn in on the race for first place. Either way the radar seems to have trouble identifying Housatonic.

            “Last year we finished second to Nonnewaug and got to the quarterfinals in the state tournament and we didn’t seem to get much publicity,” said Housatonic’s superb midfielder Myles Clohessy. “We kind of feel like the underdog.”

            Understand Clohessy’s reaction is more assessment than complaint. The Mountaineers are hardly banging on the media door to get recognized.  They play and don’t really worry about who is there and who is not. In fact, they feed off the lack of attention.

            “It (lack of attention) is there but it doesn’t bother us,” said Jim Terrall, co-coach along with Hoot Belter. “The team plays with a little edge. I think one of the problems is that the kids have heard how good they are and don’t work as hard at times.’

            Clohessy agreed. At least with the incentive part.

            “Kind of feeling like we’re under the radar gets us motivated,” said Clohessy. “We know we should be the best in the league but feeling like an underdog helps us.”

            The Mountaineers' skills are not lost on the rest of the league. Not when you are undefeated and coming off an 11-5-2 record. What the general public may not be as aware as is deserved, opponents do.

            Housatonic plays a sweet game. It is a short passing, ball control game. It is a punishing pressure on opponents. The team plays 1-2 touch drill in practice and excels at it. With the dominating Clohessy in the midfield along with R.J. Thompson, whom Terrall calls the best player in the BL and players the caliber Thomaston Gailes, Steven Wingard goalie Willy Yahn and Matt Matsudaira, they are a team hard to defend.

            “It is a group that has played together for a long time,” said Terrall. “They play ball control and a short passing game. Even in our ties we have possessed the ball 70 percent of the game. Against Nonnewaug we possessed the ball most of the time.”

            If there is one problem in the attack it is finishing things off. As of late the goal mouth seems about the width of a blade of grass. Five straight overtime games, three ties against Nonnewaug, Lewis Mills and Shepaug.

            “The beginning of the season we were scoring like crazy but we have hit a rut in the middle of the season,’ said Clohessy. “We have shots from the 6-yard line and can’t put it in.”

            Tuesday’s game against Wamogo the recent struggles were on display. The Mountaineers outshot the Warriors, 20-6. There was constant pressure and yet few shots on the goal and nothing in the net. Most balls ended up in the brush behind the goal and high enough that Shaq or Kareem couldn’t knock them down.

            Another tie seemed to be in the offing until Matsudaira took a pass from Gailes and connected on the game-winner in the first overtime.

            “Didn’t we tell them at halftime to put the ball in the net,” said Belter in exasperation in the second half.

            Yet, the Mountaineers found a way.   A loss has not found its way on to their record. There are games left against Gilbert, Litchfield and if things go right a BL championship game against Nonnewaug (the first one was a 0-0 tie).

            If you haven’t noticed the Mountaineers, it is time. It fact it is long past time.  One thing is for sure the opponents know who they are and how good they are. A first BL title since 2005 will insure that everybody else will to.

            But title or not, the Mountaineers’ play demands attention.  

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