MONMOUTH — The Mustangs can lull you into a false sense of security, the feeling that a 20-, 30- or 40-minute span has gone exactly the way you would have hoped for. It’s what the best counter-attacking teams do.

Monmouth Academy did it to Mt. Abram on Saturday, snapping a draw with senior Nate Camire’s goal in the 75th minute en route to a 3-2 season-opening win in Mountain Valley Conference boys soccer.

Camire’s goal came just 11 minutes after the Roadrunners had pulled back a two-goal deficit in the second half.

“They counter well and quick, and they caught us off guard a couple of times,” Mt. Abram coach Darren Allen said of Monmouth. “We got away from our bread and butter which is possession, and in the last 15 minutes we got into boot ball and weren’t able to mount anything. We weren’t connecting the dots. We were just kicking it, and it’s not our style.”

To understand the nature of playing against a successful counter-attack, you have to go back to the beginning.

A poor pass in the Mt. Abram midfield in the opening minute sent Nate Ashton in alone for an easy goal and a very early 1-0 Monmouth lead. From there, though, the Roadrunners found both their footing and their possession game, and were the better team over the final 15 minutes of the opening period.

Despite a sluggish start to the second half, Mt. Abram produced the more dangerous chances soon enough — with sophomore striker Jonathan Jordan’s bid sailing just wide of the left post in the 47th minute and sophomore central midfielder Evan Allen coming up empty on a free kick in the 54th.

But just when the Roadrunners felt they could relax, Shane Kennison sprung Avery Pomerleau free down the middle of the park. Pomerleau’s nifty heel flick to himself created the space he needed, and he opened his account for the season in the 55th minute for a 2-0 Monmouth lead.

Suddenly a manageable deficit for Mt. Abram turned into — pardon the pun — a mountain to climb. The Roadrunners were able to go forward, but they were constantly reminded that they were just one more perfectly timed and placed through ball away from Monmouth running away and hiding.

That’s what it’s like playing against lethal counter-attacking.

“Our team, wth our speed, is going to get tons and tons of opportunities throughout the game,” Pomerleau said. “When we capitalize, it’s great, and we have to just keep going. A lot of choices, a lot of opportunities, are going to come with our speed.”

Credit Mt. Abram for not packing it in, first getting Allen’s penalty kick in the 62nd minute and Ben Butterfield’s header four minutes later to knot things at 2-2 as the game started to break down with injuries, yellow cards and hard fouls.

And that’s where Monmouth had one more counter-strike in them, as Mt. Abram began to focus on Pomerleau — the striker who led the Mustangs in goals last season.

“We’ve got some pretty dynamic players,” Monmouth coach Joe Fletcher said. “Nate Ashton’s a skilled center forward, and he can put the ball in the net, too. That’s going to free Avery up. If teams want to mark him, they’re going to pay the price with (Ashton) and Nate Camire.”

Confusion on a Roadrunner goal kick led to an errant pass a the top of the 18-yard box, and Camire stepped into his one-timer for the 3-2 advantage the Mustangs would see through to the final whistle.

Fletcher admits that, while focused on the counter, it can be difficult for his players to see the bigger picture — particularly when opportunities in space, or up the gut, keep coming while not always yielding immediate goals.

“They’re so self-motivated to score as much as they possibly can, it’s hard to reign them in sometimes and realize that it’s progress,” Fletcher said. “It’s a progression. We talk about it all the time. We’ve got to let it develop. They’re so direct in their style, it’s a challenge to reel them in.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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