MONMOUTH — In the end, both teams felt as though Tuesday afternoon’s 1-1 Mountain Valley Conference draw was a fair result.

For top-ranked Monmouth, the tie likely kept them in the No. 1 spot in the Class C South Heal point standings. For a young Hall-Dale side, any points on the road were welcome after dropping their previous two contests away from home.

There is also the business of the looming postseason, which both teams were already assured of participating in. So, staying healthy (they did) and getting a good run against another strong 11 (they did that, too) were both as important as any win, loss or tie.

“It’s never easy to settle for a 1-1 tie, but it’s not a loss,” Hall-Dale senior center back Nick Guiou said. “I wanted the lead to hold up, but that’s just how soccer goes sometimes. It was a very well-played game.”

Monmouth (7-1-2) got the equalizer late in a second half in which the Mustangs were tasked with pressing the pace of play against a Bulldog team trying to see its early one-goal lead all the way through to the final whistle. That turn of events left head coach Joe Fletcher happy enough afterward.

“We didn’t want a tie, but we’ll take it today,” Fletcher said. “Both teams had chances, and it was two evenly matched teams.”

“It’s a very positive result. I’m very pleased with our effort today,” said Andy Haskell, head coach of a Hall-Dale team that’s now 6-2-2 and entered the day third in Class C South. “(Monmouth) had a lot to play for, but we were able to get some identity. We’re starting to play the way we want to into the playoffs, so that’s good.”

Neither of the game’s goals lived up to the moniker of “The Beautiful Game.”

Guiou opened the scoring off a long, lofted service that froze Monmouth goalkeeper Bradley Neal well off his line. He nonchalantly tried to recover, but the ball ended up simply skipping off his hands and into the net for a 1-0 Hall-Dale lead in the ninth minute.

Armed with the early lead they wanted, the Bulldogs then set about sitting back deeper to defend with numbers. It nearly worked out, until an equally fluky goal as Guiou’s drew the match even in the 72nd minute. Bulldog goalkeeper Ashtyn Abbott came out to play a long clearance too far off his own line, and when the ball changed direction on a high bounce, Monmouth’s Hunter Richardson was able to get his right foot on it and flip it on goal. Bulldog back Jett Boyer tried to clear it off the line but mistimed his attempt.

“I had one chance to capitalize and I flicked it over (Abbott’s) head and hoped it went in,” Richardson said. “That’s pretty much all it was, just flicking it.”

The goal may have needed a stroke of luck to finish it off, but after a first half in which the Mustangs needed 27 minutes to register their first shot and a second half in which neither team yielded much in the midfield, it at least came with Monmouth able to get numbers forward.

“We discussed at halftime making a formation change and putting another player up on the attacking end, but it’s such a tight field here, there’s not a whole lot of space,” said Fletcher, who settled for moving the striker Richardson far outside to the touchline on the left. “They took real good advantage of that, playing defense on the narrow field. It probably helps them here having a lead more than it does on their own field.”

Each team had a chance to steal the victory before extra time.

Tyler Nadeau sent his brother, Josh Nadeau, in alone on Neal just three minutes after Richardson’s equalizer. Josh’s bid was thwarted by the Mustang keeper’s jaw-dropping diving save at the right post.

In the 80th minute, Richardson was the benefactor when a pair of Bulldog backs collided and left the ball to him. Richardson’s low drive, however, missed the far post by inches.

The best chance in either half of extra time came from Monmouth’s Avery Pomerleau, who found space at the top of the 18-yard box but his bid was met by a solid stop by Abbott.

“It was a good result. I think both teams should be happy,” Haskell said. “Monmouth battled back. I think we’re the two best teams in the MVC, and I think we’re probably going to see each other again in late October (in the playoffs). This was important, because we got points.

“Both teams played hard for 90 minutes, and I think that’s what both coaches wanted. You get a lot of easy games, but you want some hard games, and that’s what we got.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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