FARMINGDALE — With just 11 minutes remaining and the Hall-Dale boys soccer team having already squandered a pair of leads to trail fellow Mountain Valley Conference heavyweight Mt. Abram, Bulldog coach Jesse Rowe issued a challenge.

“He called me over and said let’s get together and score two goals,” senior midfielder Josh Nadeau said. “We were just playing hard and kept going at them, and we obviously got the goals which meant a lot.”

Facing the first loss of the campaign, the Bulldog captain delivered. First he set up Akira Warren for his second goal of the day in the 71st minute before himself heading home the winner seven minutes later, rescuing Hall-Dale’s unbeaten season in a 4-3 win over Mt. Abram on Wednesday that was as stunning as it was improbable. Nadeau finished with a goal and three assists for the Bulldogs (10-0-1), who got a six-save effort from junior keeper Sam Sheaffer — including two with the outcome hanging in the balance inside the final 10 minutes.

For a team that hasn’t faced much adversity this season, it could turn out to be the signature victory of the regular season for Hall-Dale.

Rowe recalled his conversation with Nadeau differently.

“I pulled Josh Nadeau aside right after they had scored the go-ahead goal,” Rowe said. “I said, ‘Go score two.’ I knew he was going to be part of the two goals in some way shape or form.”

In truth, Mt. Abram (8-3-0) deserved a far better outcome. The Roadrunners enjoyed a significant advantage in possession over the course of the 80 minutes, picking apart the Bulldog midfield and aside from a nervy start which allowed Hall-Dale to take a 1-0 lead through Warren’s first goal in the sixth minute, generating much better looks at the opposing goal.

Still, it was another near-miss for Mt. Abram, which has now lost twice to Hall-Dale. The Bulldogs scored a 1-0 road win in Salem on Sept. 24.

The Roadrunners three losses this season are by a combined three goals, and all have come against the two MVC leaders, Hall-Dale and Monmouth.

“They scored three goals when we were switched ‘off,’ but otherwise — oh my gosh — it was beautiful,” Mt. Abram coach Darren Allen said. “The kids played phenomenally. It’s just frustrating. They’re like right there, and they just can’t seem to break through.”

What Hall-Dale did terrifyingly well Wednesday what what it has done most of the season. It counter-attacked with lethal precision.

Knotted 1-1 at the break after Kenyon Pillsbury evened things for Mt. Abram in the 29th minute, Hall-Dale went to work. Nadeau made the extra pass to find Camden Adams for the lead in the 45th minute, but J.B. Jordan leveled things again five minutes later for the Roadrunners to cap a beautiful run through the middle of the park for the visitors.

In the 69th minute, Mt. Abram took its first lead when the Bulldogs didn’t deal well with a corner kick — the Roadrunners’ fifth of the half to that point — and Evan Allen whipped home a half-volley with a tremendous bit of skill at the right post.

That’s when Rowe called upon Nadeau. Mt. Abram ended up playing with the lead for just two of the 80 minutes.

“We weren’t really connecting passes, and they were doubling Akira the whole game,” Nadeau said. “It was hard to get our goal-scorer up. Once he got open, we could get passes going and we got some of those passes through the middle.”

“I think it showed our character that we don’t give up,” Warren said. “I told the other person up top to keep moving and get the ball more, so they could bring the defenders over to them. That would create some spaces (in the attacking game), and it worked out well for us.”

Like thoroughbred race horses with their earplugs pulled for the stretch run, Nadeau, Adams, Warren and Ian Stebbins simply overwhelmed the Roadrunners in order to cross the finish line first. There were too many attacking options and not enough dialed-in defenders for Mt. Abram to deal with all of the chaos the Bulldogs aimed to create.

“I’ve got to hand it to my team, they never once wavered,” Rowe said. “We had to pull that victory from the clutches of defeat. We had to pull that victory back.”

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