Boys soccer: Frontier, Pope Francis play to nil-nil thrill

  • Frontier’s Samuel Felton-Emrick (15) contends for a cross against Pope Francis defender Andrew Mason (9) in the second half Tuesday night in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Gates Tuttle, right, carries the ball contested by Pope Francis defender Bryant Kenney in the second half Tuesday night in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Connor Waitkus vies for a 50-50 ball against Pope Francis in the second half Tuesday night in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Samuel Felton-Emrick throws the ball in against Pope Francis in the second half Tuesday night in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Gates Tuttle (5) breaks downfield against Pope Francis in the second half Tuesday night in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Benjamin Morse clears the ball downfield against Pope Francis in the second half Tuesday night in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 10/8/2019 10:56:57 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — After a five-game losing streak, the Frontier Regional boys soccer team has seemingly found its groove.

The Red Hawks held one of the most high-powered offenses in western Mass. off the scoreboard Tuesday night. Goalkeeper Nick Jarvis made five saves, including a highlight-reel stop late in the first half, and host Frontier played to a 0-0 draw with Pope Francis in an independent contest between two of the top WMass Division 3 programs.

“In my opinion, (Pope Francis) is the best team in Division 3 right now. They’re the team to beat and they will remain the team to beat into the tournament,” lauded Frontier head coach Evan Horton. “They’ve got an incredibly talented group of seniors. We tried to execute a plan to minimize their chances and I thought we did a good job of it. They have four or five guys who are All-State caliber players. I thought we did a great job cutting down space and limiting chances.”

The Cardinals (8-2-2) have scored five or more goals on six occasions this season, including a 7-4 win over Central last week where they tallied seven unanswered goals after digging themselves an early hole. The Frontier defense, with Jarvis at the back, did well to keep them off the board. Key contributions from seniors Ben Morse and Sam Felton-Emrick limited quality opportunities on Jarvis, though when the senior keeper was called upon, he delivered.

His best save of the night came in the 33rd minute. Pope Francis broke through on a counterattack, and Noah Rivera drove a point-blank shot to the near post. Jarvis made a diving save, deflecting the ball out of bounds to the delight of a raucous home crowd that saluted his stellar stop.

“Nick Jarvis played out of his mind tonight,” said Horton of his goalie. “That stop in the first half, nine times out of 10 that’s a goal. I think we played well and responded over the next 30 minutes of the game because of that save. Ultimately, I think he led from the back and gave the guys in the back the confidence to play loose and relaxed.”

Jarvis said he knew Pope  Francis would throw a lot his way, but credited the defensive unit with slowing the likes of Rivera, Simba Pelletier and Bryant Kenney.

“We knew they had a bunch of good players so we wanted to try and keep them pushed to the outside,” Jarvis said. “There’s been good communication the last four or five games back there, everyone is on the same page.”

Frontier (4-5-2), which also received strong work in the back from sophomores Cam Wrisley and Cairn Bright, picked up its play on the offensive end in the second half. Matthew Sicard’s volley in the 60th minute went over the crossbar, but his chance helped loosen up the Pope Francis defense. While the Red Hawks struggled getting the ball to leading scorer Connor Waitkus, they earned several corner kicks in the second half and buzzed around the 18-yard box thanks to the work of midfielders Tenzin Tsundue and Ethan DeMaio.

“I’m happy with the fact that we stuck with it all game,” Horton said. “The guys were fighting for each other, covering for each other.”

Pelletier had one final chance for the Cardinals, but his flick from close range went over the net in the final 30 seconds.

“I’m really happy with what we were able to do tonight,” began Jarvis. “Defensively, we worked as a unit. I wish we had more opportunities offensively, but that’s a good team and we played well.”

Both teams could very well meet again, most likely deep in the Division 3 tournament. Tuesday’s game had the feel of a postseason affair, as three yellow cards were handed out and tempers flared at times on the pitch. The tie continued a four-game unbeaten streak for Frontier. The Hawks are 3-0-1 following the five-game skid.

“To limit that team to no goals, I’m as happy as if we had won that game,” Horton said.

Frontier now turns its attention back to the Moriarty League portion of the schedule. The first time through, the Hawks went 0-4 against Division 1 opponents Holyoke, Chicopee, Central and Chicopee Comp. They’ll get another crack at all four teams, beginning with Monday’s home game against Central (4 p.m.).

“We’re excited to go back through the league with the team that we are now and see what we can do,” said Horton.


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