Bombers shine in shutout victory

Bombers’ Alex Jackson (2) and Lancers’ Alex Shapiro (10) go up for a header. (Photo by Chris Putz)

WESTFIELD – The playoffs begin now.
The Westfield High School boys’ soccer team shut out Longmeadow 3-0  yesterday on senior night at Bullens Field to keep its tournament hopes alive with three games remaining in the regular season.
Westfield senior forward Kyle Murphy recorded a hat trick, senior Rob Sullivan broke up nearly every offensive series for Longmeadow (1-4-7) in the backfield, and the Bombers’ goaltending blanked the opposition.
“We found the back of the net tonight,” Westfield coach Gabe Crane said. “That makes a difference.”
Murphy lit up the scoreboard 59 seconds into the game with a brilliant header on a pass from Matt LaCroix.
“Matt did all the work on that one,” Murphy said. “He brought the ball down the side. All I had to do to was go up and get it.”
Murphy got it, got a second, and added a third.
The senior forward ripped two more shots into the net – scoring in the 22nd and 54th minutes – to help silence Longmeadow. Ian Kennedy assisted on the final tally.
“We’ve been struggling to score goals all year,” Murphy said. “I told coach before the game that I was going to do whatever I can. Hopefully, it rolls along and we make the playoffs.”
Sullivan and starting senior goalie Sam Blake ensured the team of a shutout.
Westfield’s senior goal keeper made a handful of key saves, while Sullivan patrolled the defensive side of the field, handcuffing Longmeadow’s forwards. Junior Robert Bernadara also made some fantastic saves in relief duty in net, also tipping away the Lancers’ final shot as time expired.
“I like to use my speed and play athletically,” Sullivan said. “It’s definitely easier to play with the lead. The defense picked up its marks … and played aggressive.”
“If our offense keeps it up,” the defensive specialist said, “we are definitely going to make the playoffs.”
Westfield must win its final three games or go 2-0-1 to earn a postseason berth. The Bombers have three games remaining – all on the road – at Chicopee (Monday), at Northampton (Wednesday), and at West Springfield (Oct. 29).
“We have a tough road ahead of us, but the pieces are coming together,“ said coach Crane, whose team has rebounded from a slow start to the cusp of the postseason. “If our spirit stays like this, if our intensity stays like this – we are going to make it happen.”

Gateway 0, Hopkins Academy 0
Mike Arel made nine saves in a shutout effort in goal as Gateway qualified for the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament with a tie to improve to 7-3-4 overall this season.
Randy Garfield, Ryan Fisk, Zach Mackechnie, and Justin Edinger helped silence Hopkins with solid defensive play for Gateway. Gators’ Curtis Dowers had a solid game in the midfield at the forward position.
It was a marked improvement for Gateway, which managed to stretch the field after being bottled up by Hopkins in their first meeting, a 1-0 loss.

Southwick 1, South Hadley 0
Bailey Emerson scored the game-winner on a pass from Andrae Campbell for Southwick, which improved to 6-4-3. Patrick King (3 saves) and Tim Reardon (5 saves) combined for the shutout in goal.

Southwick 2, South Hadley 2
Dan Lane scored on a penalty kick, and Liam Jackson tallied a goal on a pass from Ryan Todesco for Southwick.

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