FARMINGDALE — Hall-Dale senior Alec Byron didn’t expect to be left wide open Tuesday afternoon late in a Class C quarterfinal game against Traip at Simmons Field.

The senior striker was left unmarked to run onto Josh Nadeau’s clanger off the right post midway through the second half, tapping the rebound home and lifting No. 2 Hall-Dale to a 2-1 decision over No. 7 Traip Academy in the Class C South boys soccer quarterfinals. One year after the Rangers shocked the Bulldogs in the regional semis, Hall-Dale made sure history would not repeat itself.

Traip Academy 5 Tre Brown, left, and Hall-Dale 13 Matt Albert head a ball during a Class C South playoff game on Oct. 23, 2018, at the Melvin H. Simmons Athletic Complex in Farmingdale.

“When it first came to my foot, I was shocked that I was wide open,” Byron said. “I kept my composure, took my time and tapped it in. When we lost to them last year, it was a tough pill to swallow. We were pumped up for this. We knew it was a revenge game.”

Hall-Dale (14-1-0) advanced to host the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal between No. 3 Maranacook and No. 6 Winthrop. Traip finished 7-7-1.

So intent on avoiding another tournament upset were the Bulldogs that they settled nicely into a defensive 4-4-2 formation from the outset and all but offered the ball to Traip at every turn. That counter-attacking philosophy served Hall-Dale well as the two teams went into halftime scoreless and freshman Camden Adams flicked home Nadeau’s free kick from the left flank for a 1-0 lead in the 45th minute.

“We counter-attacked real well. We had these guys scouted out pretty good,” Hall-Dale coach Andy Haskell said. “Last year, they stretched us out and this year we stuck together and the glue guys did their job.”

“Last year we might have snuck up on them a little bit with their playing style,” Traip coach Michael MacLeay added. “I think we earned their respect a little bit when a team doesn’t want to come out and fully play you. We haven’t really faced anyone who has done that this year.”

Traip senior Alessandro Pulzato equalized 10 minutes later, beating a pair of Bulldog defenders out of the left corner and firing a low bullet through traffic.

Hall-Dale went back on the counter straightaway, though the Bulldogs came up short on a couple of near misses — breakaway chances for Byron (his low bid driven straight into goalkeeper Jayce Nielsen) and Nadeau (forced wide, his shot found the outside of the net) — and tension started building.

“I was pretty nervous, but it was just like the game restarted at 0-0,” said Hall-Dale senior Matt Albert, the reigning Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year. “I knew we’d be able to get another one. I know we can pack it in in the back and get everything out, and we’re good enough defensively to do that.”

That set the stage for Nadeau to hit the right post in the 64th minute. And when it caromed straight across an empty goal mouth, Byron was on the spot to convert.

“That’s a tough little bounce there,” MacLeay said. “We executed what we wanted to do, but it just came down to one or two little moments. … They set up to play on the counter and just executed perfectly.”

The last best chance for Traip to pull even for a second time came in the 80th minute, when a lofted ball cleared the Bulldog back line and put Hall-Dale goalkeeper Ashtyn Abbott (two saves) under pressure. Abbott, making his first start of the season in the nets, recovered enough to leap and punch the ball clear of the goal line.

Nielsen finished with eight saves, six of those after halftime.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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