MONMOUTH — There was plenty of action when Mt. Abram and Monmouth Academy faced off in MVC Class C South boys soccer on Thursday, it just didn’t translate into a lot of scoring.

Gabe Martin scored late in the first half for Monmouth and that goal stood up as the difference in the Mustangs’ 1-0 home win over the Roadrunners.

“I thought it would be a little high-scoring,” Martin said.

Rain throughout the game didn’t do anything to help create scoring chances, but it also didn’t dampen the intensity of a meeting between two Mountain Valley Conference favorites. It was the third matchup in less than a week between the MVC’s top three teams. Monmouth tied Hall-Dale on Saturday, then Mt. Abram lost to the Bulldogs on Tuesday, also by a 1-0 score.

“You know, we knew this week was going to be tough,” Roadrunners coach Darren Allen said. “Hall-Dale and Monmouth and us are pretty close, so unfortunately we lost the two this week. I think our confidence is going to be really good. I told the kids, ‘Don’t worry about the result, just prepping us for playoffs.'”

Allen said there was a playoff atmosphere to Thursday’s game. The Mustangs (6-0-1) certainly played with the intensity to protect their home field.

“We knew coming in they were going to be really hungry coming off a loss,” Mustangs coach Joe Fletcher said. “We take a lot of pride playing here. We believe it’s been five years since we’ve lost here, and we’re tough to beat here.”

The Roadrunners (6-2) had a couple chances on set pieces in the first five minutes, but Monmouth goalie Brock Bates made a save on Evan Allen’s direct kick, and a corner kick didn’t amount to much of an opportunity.

Fletcher said he told his players to make sure they contained Allen.

“Really just making sure we had our eyes on him the whole time,” Monmouth midfielder Thomas Neal said. “Making sure that somebody on our team had our eyes on him, not letting him sneak away from us because when he gets like three or four free touches he makes something really good happen.

“So we just made sure that we kept somebody near him at all times and covered him up.”

The Mustangs’ attack centered around Martin, who had a handful of first-half shots against Mt. Abram goalie Ian Allen that were unsuccessful. One of those even came less than a minute before Martin finished off what he called an “impeccable” assist by Hayden Fletcher.

“It was pretty frustrating because just not seeing it go in the net, you get a little discouraged,” Martin said. “But I learned early in the season I got to start switching my feet on shots if I ain’t making it, so that’s why I switched to my left and I put it in the bottom-right corner.”

“Hopefully there’s some good things to come with him because he’s been struggling to score a goal in a big game, and this was a big game, and he put us on his back,” Joe Fletcher said.

Monmouth went on the defensive in the second half and was able to neutralize a Mt. Abram attacking offense that was desperate for an equalizer.

“We were tired near the end, but for the most part we played within the framework of what we practice,” Fletcher said. “So I’m pleased with the way we played and the composure that we showed near the tail end of that game.”

“They did a good job on shutting us down offensively,” Darren Allen said. “You know, some choices in the final third for us (had) gone a little differently (it) would have been better, but our spirits are up.”

Bates stopped all five shots he faced for the shutout. Ian Allen made nine saves for Mt. Abram.


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