Boys soccer: South Hadley, Frontier settle for 2-2 draw (PHOTOS)

  • Frontier’s Brady Burch (9) one-touches a low passed corner kick to score against South Hadley in the second half Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • South Hadley’s Charlie Anischik (22) takes a leaping shot against Frontier in the first half Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • South Hadley’s Charlie Anischik (22) knocks in a late minute penalty kick to tie the game 2-2 against Frontier in the second half Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • South Hadley’s Charlie Anischik (22) carries the ball to midfield after scoring a late minute penalty kick to tie the game 2-2 against Frontier in the second half Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Nico Fasulo (5), right, takes a breakaway shot defended by South Hadley’s Timmy Laporte (24) in the second half Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier goalkeeper Owen Babb lunges to make a save against South Hadley in the second half Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • South Hadley goalkeeper Eddie Wykowski reels in the ball off a header from Frontier in the first half Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Chanhee Son (17) winds up to send the ball downfield against South Hadley in the second half Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • South Hadley’s Matt Gillis (6), right, lunges to block Frontier’s David Pettinato (7) from clearing the ball downfield in the second half Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • South Hadley’s Moki Kovacs (7), middle, clears the ball away from Frontier’s Matt Sicard (11), right, and Max Rajballie (14) in the first half Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/15/2022 9:12:38 PM
Modified: 9/15/2022 9:12:08 PM

SOUTH HADLEY – No doubt surfaced about which South Hadley boys soccer player would take the ball to the penalty spot.

The Tigers trailed Frontier by a goal with four minutes left at home. A referee’s whistle blew for a Redhawk hand ball in the South Hadley penalty box. Tigers senior Charlie Anischik grabbed the ball from the corner and headed to the spot.

Already with a goal to his name, Anischik sought a second and a tie game. 

“As one of the leaders on the team, and in my opinion the best goal scorer – not to be cocky – but the best goal scorer on the team, I think that’s my ball,” he said. “I just felt really confident.”

He struck it low and to the left as Frontier keeper Owen Babb dove the other way. The goal tied the game 2-2, and despite both team’s last-gasp pushes over the final few minutes, that scoreline stuck. South Hadley rallied from a goal down twice to remain unbeaten on the season and remain atop the Moriarty League standings.

“We’re looking at this as a little bit of a sigh of relief to acknowledge that we can play with the top teams in our league,” South Hadley coach Eric Castonguay said. “Coming back and fighting in this game and at least getting a positive result is what this team has really worked at, and they feel pretty good about it.”

Frontier (1-0-1, 1-0-1 Moriarty) found its footing first. Nico Fasulo dissected South Hadley’s defense with a through ball to Brady Burch, who slid it under the keeper after a touch in the 25th minute.

“We’re trying to play team-style soccer. The more we can get that going, it’s just, how do we get all 10 guys on the field doing that,” Frontier coach Evan Horton said. “How do we get everybody on the field on that same page, and I think when we can find that rhythm then we’re gonna start to look like we did last year.”

Frontier reached the Division 4 state final a year ago. That gives opponents another shot of energy to take them down. South Hadley relied on its athleticism and tried to use long balls and its athleticism to pick apart the Redhawks back line.

“South Hadley has a pretty particular style that they play, and we should know that. I think they did a really good job of coming at us the whole game,” Horton said. “It kind of forced us to be on our back foot. We really didn't get a chance to possess.”

The Tigers’ (2-0-1, 2-0-1) quick-strike attack erased Frontier’s lead six minutes after the Redhawks went ahead. Moki Kovacs lofted a long ball into the space in front of Anischik, who ran through the ball with his chest before settling it. He made the keeper come off his line and chipped the ball over him for a 1-1 game in the 36th minute.

“Charlie's our workhorse offensively. He has all the fine-tuned skills that you want your player to have there, and we can trust him up there,” Castonguay said.

That 1-1 score lasted through halftime until the 68th minute. Frontier earned a corner. Fernando Saravia played it low across the ground to the front post. Burch reached the ball before South Hadley’s defense or keeper could, popping it into the near goal at the six-yard box with his first touch. After it settled into the netting he pointed at Saravia running toward him. They leaped into each other, chest bumping in celebration of what felt like a game-winning goal.

“That’s something we had planned. We both were on the same page,” Burch said.

Frontier’s lead lasted another 10 minutes, but South Hadley hounded the Redhawks for most of them. Babb turned away seven shots in the Frontier net.

“We need to be in a position to see out games. So you know, the first goal was a mistake on our backline and then the second goal, just those things happen in high school soccer. That call could have gone either way,” Horton said. “The bigger question is why weren’t we up 3-1 or 4-1. If we put ourselves in a position where they can equalize on a PK then that's the situation we put ourselves in.”

As much as Frontier’s initial reaction to the result was negative, the Redhawks recognized they still are leaving a road league game with a point. They’ve only played two games in two weeks.

“We hung tight. I'm disappointed that we couldn't hold on for the win, but at the same time, I'm proud of the way we played and how we responded,” Horton said. “There's definitely things that we have that we can build on, and there’s obviously things that we need to fix. The guys kind of look at this as at loss, I definitely am not. We tied a league team, that’s not a bad position to be in. It’s not a bad way to start.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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