In the opening league match of the year, Berkshire hosted a very talented squad from Wilbraham & Monson. From the outset the match looked to be a good one, and it proved to so. The visitors were strong, athletic, and well organized. However, Berkshire was able to stick to its game plan and play with good composure and focus. For much of the first half, Berkshire was able to keep control of the ball and push well inside Wilbraham's half of the field. However, Wilbraham played tough defense and countered well. Berkshire backs and midfield did well to break up the counters and limit the visitors chances. Despite controlling much of the half, Berkshire was unable to break through Wilbraham's defense. At the half the score was 0-0.
Entering the second half, Berkshire looked to try and get on the scoreboard early, but the Bears still struggled to crack through the tightly organized Wilbraham defense. The pattern continued with Wilbraham surging forward at times in counter attack mode and then Berkshire regaining possession and trying to find the go-ahead goal. It took some time, but eventually Berkshire was able to find the way through. Midway through the half, Mutaya Mwape '16 broke free off the wing and beat his defender and then crossed a beautiful ball to Justin Donawa '15 who skillfully knocked in what proved to be the game winner. Wilbraham surged following the goal and put more guys forward, but Berkshire's backs held strong. Nate Summers '14 and Stephen DePietto '15 controlled the center with the help of Tanner Tomasi '14 in the midfield. Outside backs Kevin O'Neill '14 and Justin Donawa '15 defended well too and transitioned well into the attack.
Jack Harrison '15, Komar Martinez-Paiz '15, Tony Barraco '14, Another Kushaina '15, Matty Wieczorek '14 took turns in the middle and helped Berkshire control the ball throughout much of the afternoon. Strikers Austin Zaepfel '14 and Milton Martinez '15 worked hard pressuring the oppositions backs and linked up well with the midfield. Keeper Bryan Gerstenfeld '14 was solid in goal and recorded several good saves on his way to a shutout victory.
Wilbraham is a stronger side than they were last year, and the Bears had to work very hard to earn an important league victory today. Up next Berkshire travels 20 minutes down the road for a local derby with Hotchkiss on Friday night. Looks to be a very exciting match.
Watch highlights from this game here.