Led by a first half hat trick by James Fisher and a two-goal performance by Max Robbins, the Longmeadow Lancers boys’ soccer team (2-0-1, 0-0-1 Churchill) topped the Northampton Blue Devils (0-1-1, 0-0-0 Moriarty) 5-3 on Tuesday afternoon at Northampton High School. Fisher scored two goals midway through the first half to give Longmeadow the lead before adding what proved to be the game-winner just before halftime. Robbins scored the goal that put the Lancers in the lead for good in this high-scoring battle and then scored an insurance goal late in the second half. The Northampton offense was led by Leon Moore who scored twice, as well as freshman J.D. Pruett who scored a goal while taking a corner kick.
Northampton took an early lead in this game on a goal from Moore in the fourth minute, but the visitors’ attack quickly came to life. “We started to take advantage of the way [Northampton] was playing in the back and the fact that our forwards are very fast,” said Longmeadow head coach Brad Miller of his team’s offense. “I mean James Fisher just scored a first half hat trick which you don’t see very often, so that in and of itself was a huge boost for us.”
After Moore’s early score, Fisher found the back of the net twice in a span of about five minutes. Fisher received a pass inside the box from a teammate who had just beaten his defender with a nifty crossover. Fisher turned and rocketed the first of his three goals past the keeper, evening the score at 1-1. Soon after, a long pass was sent down the field to Fisher who dribbled past the goalie and fired a shot right by a defender and into the goal to give the Lancers a 2-1 lead.
Northampton bounced back thanks to another goal by Moore, but Robbins and Fisher helped put Longmeadow back in front as they each scored a goal within a minute of each other. Robbins streaked past the Blue Devils defense on a breakaway and scored easily to give the Lancers the lead again before Fisher finished off his hat trick by sending the ball into the net after it had deflected off the keeper. These two scores gave Longmeadow a 4-2 lead at the break.
The Blue Devils refused to go away, however, as Pruett scored for Northampton to cut the Lancers’ lead to 4-3. The Blue Devils nearly tied the game a few minutes later, but a wide open shot in front of the Longmeadow goal was sent over the crossbar and Northampton still trailed. “We started to try to settle the ball down and play a little bit, but [Northampton] were physical and they made us work and they never really let us get very comfortable,” said Miller. “So I thought it was a pretty good battle on both sides.”
Robbins put the game away for Longmeadow shortly after the miss. The speedy junior weaved his way through multiple defenders and tapped a shot past the keeper, giving the Lancers a 5-3 cushion.
Despite the loss, Northampton head coach Mino Caulton was very impressed with his team’s offense. “We scored three goals. We scored them good, we created them good,” the second-year coach said. Moore scored two nice goals in the first half. The first came on a header that floated over the head of the keeper and past a defender before bouncing into the net. The second was scored when Moore tucked a beautiful shot into the lower lefthand corner of the goal. The most spectacular score of the afternoon, however, came from Pruett. The freshman scored the first goal of his high school career when he sent a corner kick into the box that deflected off the hands of the goalie and into the back of the net.
Caulton was also very pleased with the way his team adjusted defensively in the second half, as they allowed just one goal after allowing four in the first. “Our defense, we had lapses which is the concern, obviously,” Caulton said. “But it wasn’t a structural issue and the cool thing was, second half, we adjusted the whole team formation and we took to it literally instantaneously. Very, very cool to see.”
Caulton had his defense play in a European style in the second half. “We hold a little bit tighter in certain areas and we allow higher guys to use speed and mobility instead of technique and vision,” he explained.
Another highlight for the Blue Devils was the performance of goalkeeper Jon Brodeur. Despite allowing five goals, the senior made nine saves, which was more than twice as many as both of the goalies that Longmeadow used combined. Brodeur made multiple diving stops and his effort was noticed by Miller. “I thought [the Northampton] goalie played phenomenally,” Miller said after the game. “He came up with some unbelievable saves.”
The Lancers next game is on Friday at home against East Longmeadow. The Blue Devils will go on the road next to face Lenox on Thursday.