JAY — Two depleted boys’ soccer teams produced a game that wasn’t short on intensity, scoring opportunities or playoff implications Tuesday.

Thirteen players strong, Monmouth Academy jumped ahead on goals by Hunter Richardson and Kyle Fletcher and held off Spruce Mountain High School’s spirited rally for a 2-1 MVC victory at Taglienti Field.

Noah Parker put the Phoenix on the board with 18 minutes remaining, but the Mustangs — who used only two substitutes, and sporadically, at that — withstood two more quick looks at the potential game-tying goal by both Parker and Austin Gilboe to stay in control.

“That was a hard-fought game. They kept coming at us,” Monmouth coach Joe Fletcher said. “When we went up 2-0, I didn’t think it would be so stressful, but it was.”

Monmouth (6-4) moved into ninth in Western Class C Heal Points with the win. Eleven teams qualify for the postseason. With its fourth straight loss, Spruce Mountain (6-5-1) missed out on a chance to pad its No. 6 status in Western B.

Richardson’s one-timer polished off a perfectly positioned corner kick by Joe Menice for the first Monmouth goal. Menice left it on the ground directly in front of the cage, and Richardson, a freshman, deflected it around the traffic with 18:40 remaining in the first half.

“I missed the first one with a header, so I figured I might as well put this one in,” Richardson said.

It stayed that way through the half, thanks largely to the work of Spruce Mountain goalkeeper Dustin Jones (seven of his 12 saves before intermission) and Monmouth defenders Ben Bolstridge, Casey Clement and Sherman Spears.

Spruce Mountain left the door cracked open with a hand ball near midfield, and senior co-captain Fletcher kicked it down with 25 minutes left. Monmouth keeper Kasey Smith set up the play with a solid goal kick.

“We got a foul at midfield and I saw that we had numbers, so I told Hunter to take it quick and he put a perfect through-ball,” Fletcher said. “I got right onto it and finished.”

Fletcher, whose earlier shots were scorchers but just off the frame, deposited this one into the lower left corner of the net.

“He’s strong,” Spruce Mountain coach Bill Acritelli said of Fletcher. “It’s like he’s running downhill with a soccer ball, and it’s just like a magnet to him.”

The Phoenix weren’t finished. Erik Taylor’s serve from 35 yards was deceptively long enough to catch Smith leaning, and Parker poked it home.

Smith (eight saves) stared down the ensuing near-misses by Parker and Gilboe.

Jones also made two more huge stops to keep Spruce Mountain in position to pull even. He knocked down a Richardson try with his open hands, then later tipped Fletcher’s direct kick off the far post and into the safety of his own reach.

Spruce couldn’t match those quality chances at the other end in the late stages, though.

“We had a good game. Some of our guys were wrestling with injuries, but we should be able to be all set for playoffs,” Spears said.

The Phoenix were missing one starter who is on the Maine moose hunt, and some reserves due to academic probation.

“When I have to take my sweeper and put him up front to score a goal, there’s just nobody to finish,” Acritelli said. “But no excuses. They have 13 kids and I have 20, and my goal was to run ’em, run ’em, run ’em, but those 13 kids of theirs are in good physical condition.”

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