Hosting the defending New England Class A Champions today, Berkshire hoped to avenge their loss to Hotchkiss in the New England Quarterfinals last November. It was a perfect afternoon for the match and both teams looked ready for the anticipated rematch. With an enthusiastic crowd on hand at Young Field, the match at a playoff feeling to it. In the opening minutes, Berkshire fended off some early and direct attacks by Hotchkiss, and in put some pressure on the visitors. The play shifted back and forth in the opening 10 minutes, and then Berkshire began to assert itself more and play with greater confidence. With increased possession and good build up, Berkshire started to put the visitors back on their heels. Luis Echeverria '13 and Haden Cosman '13 did a good job controlling the middle and finding the right passes. The Bears played solid team defense and Tanner Tomasi '14 did a good job neutralizing Hotchkiss's talented striker Isaac Normensiu '13. At halftime the game was level at 0-0.
In the second half, Berkshire continued to pressure Hotchkiss, creating several dangerous attacking sequences. Tony Amolo '13 and Jack Harrison '15 provided good width and linked up well with their teammates. It was Zeiko Lewis '13 who opened the scoring when he beat his man and slotted a ball into the side net. Berkshire's confidence grew and they took more control of the tempo and possession. Justin Donawa '15 increased Berkshire's lead midway through the half when he struck from just outside the 18 on a low left-footed blast. Up 2-0 and playing very confidently Berkshire seemed destined to claim an important win. However, the visitors did not back off and continued to push hard to get back in the match. There efforts led to a couple good long distance shooting opportunities, but Bryan Gerstenfeld '14 in net for Berkshire proved to be up for the challenge and made the necessary stops and punched out a few dangerous crosses.
With just 10 minutes remaining in the match, one of Hotchkiss's strikes hit the crossbar and bounced down and out of the net. The head official let play continue but the linesman indicated that the ball had crossed the goal line. It was a tough moment for the Bears, as it appeared to most that the ball had not crossed the line. This pivotal call gave Hotchkiss an important goal, which ignited their desire for a second. The pressure continued, and Berkshire did well to fend of the visitors while also showing some great counter attacking threats all the while. In fact, it looked as though one of the later counter attacks was going to be a sure goal when Zeiko Lewis '13 cut out and around his defender and then was pulled down in the box. The center official did not see what looked to be a clear foul and play resumed. With just a minute left, Hotchkiss played a deep ball toward Berkshire's back line, and the ball was misjudged and bounced over the back line and rolled into the 18 with several Berkshire players and Hotchkiss players in pursuit. Berkshire's Tanner Tomasi '14 got to the ball just ahead of everyone else and he blasted a clearance ball that ricocheted over a Hotchkiss player's chest and ran back toward the goal line. In a mad rush the Berkshire and Hotchkiss players chased the ball as it trickled toward the goal line. Several players went to ground to try and get the first clearing or finishing touch. In the mass of bodies sliding for the same ball, it appeared that Hotchkiss got to the ball first as the ball was poked across the line.
Berkshire and Hotchkiss both played a good game and the final result stood a 2-2. For the Bears, it was definitely disappointment to have let the win slip away, but the team can certainly take a lot of positives away from this match and build on it. A special thanks to all the people who came out to support the Bears on Friday - the energy was great and gave the team a big lift.
Click here to see a quick video of fan support at the game.
Up next the Bears play away at Northfield Mount Hermon on Sunday, September 23rd. The match begins at 2:00 PM.