WALES — It was a heroic effort as well as difficult to watch Oak Hill play two-men down while JV players manned the team after most of the varsity squad was forced to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure.

The underclassmen took their licks and 10th-ranked Sacopee Valley glided off with a 4-1 victory over seventh-seeded Oak Hill in an opening round of the Class C South boys soccer playoffs on a chilly Saturday afternoon.

The Hawks will play No. 2 Waynflete (10-2-2) on Tuesday.

Oak Hill coach Bill Worth and Sacopee Valley skipper Michael Pingree understood these were not ideal conditions for a playoff game and both would have rather seen the Raiders (7-7-1) at full strength.

“We usually carry a roster of what, 22 (players), something like that,” Worth said. “(It was due to) one injury and the rest is because of exposures to COVID. They basically had to isolate and couldn’t play soccer. So (I) lost eight of my starting varsity. Of the nine out there, we had three consistent starters.

“So the rest were JV and partial varsity and hadn’t played a full game. So my hats off to the team that we had, playing short, too, and six of them were JV — and to get a goal out of it, you know a nice goal in the corner off of Fernando (Dovalle) and end up 4-1, I am happy with that. I am very happy with what they did … and best of luck to Sacopee Valley.”

Pingree said it was just an unfortunate situation for the Raiders.

“(Oak Hill) had such a good season,” Pingree said. “It is so hard to show up and tell guys to sort of prepare for a different kind of style, but I think in the second half, we started a little bit better than the first half.

“I thought we moved the ball. I thought we passed well efficiently, and I think communication in the second half picked up and that’s when we sort of took over.”

Despite an empty bench, the Raiders played on against the Hawks (6-7-2).

Junior captain Jonah Naratil scored all four goals — a first for him — for Sacopee Valley, with James Wing and Chris Root each collecting two assists. The Hawks held a 2-0 lead at halftime.

“They were down two men; we were up — that was tough for them to play,” Naratil said. “I was in the right place at the right time. I was able to put them in. It was a good game. It was unlucky for them. COVID — it is tough.”

Naratil indeed seemed to place himself in the right spot each time he scored. In the first half, Naratil scored around seven minutes into the game on a Wing assist, sending the ball into the left side of the net. He followed up with his second goal, with assistance from Root.

“He gets a lot of the things going for us,” Pingree said. “He plays center mid, and a lot of times when we need a goal, he is the guy that steps up.”

The undermanned Raiders managed to get on the board in the first half, with senior forward Dovalle drilling in his unassisted goal.

Naratil, the team’s leading scorer, made sure his Hawks remained on top in the second half with another pair of goals.

Oak Hill goalie Ethan Lemont made nine saves, while Sacopee Valley’s Caleb Vachiano made four.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.