MONMOUTH — An early one-goal deficit to a team such as Hall-Dale can seem as daunting as a two- or three-goal margin against most other teams.

Monmouth Academy knew the uphill climb it faced after falling behind the Bulldogs on a fluke goal less than eight minutes into Tuesday’s MVC showdown at Chick Field. The Mustangs eventually learned that when presented with such a challenging task, it doesn’t hurt to have the law of averages on their side.

Hunter Richardson tied the game with a fluke goal of his own with 10:08 remaining in regulation, and the Mustangs settled for a 1-1 tie with the Bulldogs.

Monmouth, which is ranked No. 1 in the current Class C South Heal points, is now 7-1-2. Hall-Dale, ranked third, is 6-2-2.

Richardson, a senior center-mid, tracked down a long through ball and was able to get a leg on it before the Hall-Dale defender marking him and Bulldogs goalie Ashlyn Abbott, and direct it on net over Abbott’s head. Yet another Bulldog defender was there to clear it out, but whiffed on his kick, and the tying goal bounced in with 10:08 remaining.

“I saw the goalie coming out and I had one chance to capitalize,” Richardson said. “I flicked it over his head and hoped it went in. It did.”

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The Bulldogs couldn’t complain about luck or the bounces being against them. They scored their lone goal at 7:43, when senior midfielder Nick Guiou booted a high-arcing shot from about 15 yards inside the midfield stripe that went off the hands of leaping Mustangs goalie Bradley Neal and into the net for the early lead.

“Both goals were a fluke,” Hall-Dale coach Andy Haskell said. “The goal that we scored … was almost deja vu from last year when (Quin) Stebbins hit a 55-yard bomb (to beat Monmouth, 1-0).

“And then (Monmouth’s goal), two guys could have cleared it off the line. I mean, it was going towards goal, so you can live with it. If you’re going to score goals in these games, that’s how you’re going to score them.”

Hall-Dale succeeded in frustrating Monmouth after taking the lead, holding the Mustangs without a shot until midway through the first half.

The Mustangs started creating some opportunities in the final 15 minutes of the first half and ultimately equaled Hall-Dale’s shot output by the end of the first half, 6-6, and for the game, 13-13.

“That’s the thing with Hall-Dale; they’ve always been like that,” Richardson said. “They plan to score first and then once they score, they’re shutdown ‘D,’ and they do very well with that. Our goal is to do what we do and try to play hard, play with heart, just attack them, wait for a chance and then capitalize, which we got.”

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Not before bad luck took one last shot at the Mustangs with 4:30 left in the first half. Guiou blocked Dylan Goff’s shot from just outside the box but redirected it over Abbott’s reach. The ball hit the crossbar on the way down.

“Both teams had chances,” Monmouth coach Joe Fletcher said. “They had chances in the first half and we had chances in the second half. And then Bradley makes a huge save. That’s two evenly matched teams.”

Neal’s tie-preserving save came with seven minutes left, a leaping, diving stop to rob freshman Josh Nadeau from about 20 yards out.

Both teams were fine with splitting the Heal points while acknowledging that they could see each other again in the postseason.

“It’s a very positive result. The last couple of times we’ve been on the road, we’ve come home with a couple of losses and no points,” Haskell said, referring to his team’s losses at Lisbon and Wiscasset.

“No one enjoys a tie, but when it comes down to the late season, you’ll take any points you can get,” Richardson said.


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