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Pioneer falls in PKs

  • Pioneer’s Noah Keith (2) has hit shot stopped by Westfield Tech during penalty kicks, Thursday night in Holyoke. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer's Felix Pruitt-Dahl (22) takes a shot against Westfield during penalty kick shootouts Thursday night in Holyoke, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer goalie Ryan Underwood after Westfield scores the winning goal during penalty kicks, Thursday night in Holyoke. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer's Jack Loud (4) dishes off a pass in between Westfield defenders in the first half Thursday night in Holyoke, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer's Garrett Cote (21) takes a shot against Westfield in the first half Thursday night in Holyoke, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer's Nate Mousseau (13) takes a shot against Westfield in the first half Thursday night in Holyoke, Nov. 8, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little



Staff Writer
Thursday, November 08, 2018

HOLYOKE — Pioneer Valley Regional School did not want to leave its WMass Division 4 Boys Soccer semifinal game against Westfield Technical Academy to penalty kicks.

After the Panthers controlled roughly 70 percent of the possession during the 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime, however, that’s exactly what happened as neither team was able to score.

The inability to score came back to haunt the Panthers as Dan Kontsimal scored on the fifth and final penalty kick for the third-seeded Tigers as they ended the second-seeded Panthers’ season, 3-2, in penalty kicks Thursday night at the Roberts Complex.

Both teams took five penalty kicks to determine the champion and Jack Loud started it off for Pioneer with a goal, while Philip Lisyanyy scored for the Tigers to even things after the first round. Both kickers missed in round two, and Pioneer again missed in round three, as Garrett Cote put his shot over the crossbar. Pioneer goalie Ryan Underwood picked up his teammate by making a diving save on Ed Borodin in round three to keep the score even at 1-1. Felix Pruitt-Dahl gave Pioneer a 2-1 lead in round four, but Ruvim Vdovichenko scored for Westfield Tech to tie it at 2-2 heading into the fifth round. Noah Keith stepped to the line for Pioneer in the fifth but, had his shot stopped by Tigers’ goalie David Antonovschi, which meant Kontsimal had the chance to win it and he buried it under the dive of Underwood to send the Tigers to the WMass finals.

“It’s frustrating, it’s kind of a mirror image of last year when we played Lenox and we packed it in hoping to get to PKs,” Pioneer coach Don Fraser said. They were playing for PKs and that’s the way it goes when you get there.”

The Pioneer coaching staff was also frustrated with officials late in the game. In the final seconds of regulation, Pioneer (10-4-3) got perhaps its best scoring opportunity as Cote carried in toward goal from the right side and had his shot stopped by Vdovichenko, who came sliding out. The rebound went to Loud, who one-timed it toward net and the shot was on the mark but a Westfield Tech defender leapt on the line to keep the ball out. The ball appeared to deflect off his arm, but nothing was called.

“I’m a little frustrated with some of the officiating but that’s the way it goes,” Fraser said.

The Tigers did a good job frustrating the Pioneer attack, as the Panthers controlled midfield much of the night but were unable to penetrate the defense, leading to long-range shots much of the time. Pioneer did get the better scoring opportunities, including several chances in the final 10 minutes of play. Cote had a chance to put Pioneer ahead with eight minutes to play when he beat Vdovichenko to a loose ball in the box and fired a shot on net but a Tiger defender cleared the ball off the line. One minute later, Alex Taylor took a pass near the top of the box and fired a shot toward the post that the Tigers’ goalie turned aside. Jacob Quinn also had a chance with four minutes to play when he tracked down a long pass into the box that he tried to touch past Vdovichenko, but the goalie made a sprawling save to push the ball wide.

“We knew the through-balls weren’t going to be there, but we got our chances,” Fraser said.

Pioneer outshot the Tigers, 15-6, and Vdovichenko made seven saves. Underwood stopped just two shots, but was very active in tracking down loose balls in his box to prevent the Tigers from several opportunities.

Westfield Tech (21-1) will face top-seeded Lenox (9-9-2) Saturday at 1:15 at Westfield State University for the WMass title.