If the Mohonasen boys’ soccer team was looking to make a statement, there was no better time than Thursday night.
Playing at home in the first round of the Class A sectionals against Suburban Council rival Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, the Mighty Warriors dominated the two-time defending champions, 5-0, with Trey Jasenski having a hand in all of the goals.
“We could have looked at it like, `Well, it’s Burnt Hills, they’ve won the last two years, and we can pack it in,’ ” said Mohonasen coach
Josh Gregg. “But we decided to look at it as a great opportunity.”
Postseason success and
Mohonasen have been pretty much mutually exclusive terms for better than three decades. The program has not won a sectional title since 1970, played for a title since 1971 and last reached a semifinal in 1982.
“We knew all about the history,” said Jasenski, who will be playing at UNLV at this time next year. “When I got to modified, I knew if this same group kept playing together, it would be different.”
Sweeper A.J. Prezkop, another of the nine seniors who started Thursday night, felt a change coming even last year.
“It was a matter of playing together and gaining confidence,” said Prezkop.
And to a degree, playing with a chip on their collective shoulders.
“We still don’t get a lot of respect,” said Jasenski, who has been a handful for Suburban Council defenders all season. “Some people still don’t think we’re for real. We think we’re a pretty good team.”
Mohonasen showed that from the start against Burnt Hills, dominating possession in a half that ended 3-0.
Jasenski set up Felix Bransch for the first goal, drawing the attention of the defense to the left, then deftly sliding a pass to Bransch, all alone at the top of the box, in the 14th minute,
Less than three minutes later, Jasenski ripped home a free kick, and he made it a three-goal lead two minutes from there, when his low drive from the right flank beat the Burnt Hills defense.
“He’s a very talented player,” Gregg said of Jasenski. “He’s a defender on his club team, so that shows what kind of skill he has.”
Prezkop, who calmly anchored the Mohonasen defense and came forward to take restarts, enjoyed the view from his half of the field in the first half.
“When the offense is playing like that, it makes everything easier,” said Prezkop. “Not that you can
relax, but getting goals like that makes our job back there a lot easier.”
Jasenski set up Bob Ralbovsky’s goal with 12 minutes to play, and he closed the scoring six minutes later, as the seventh-seeded Mighty Warriors earned a Saturday quarterfinal game at No. 2 seed Scotia.
“We’ve got some very skilled players in Trey and A.J., but every player on this team has stepped up his game this year,” said Gregg, who stepped in as coach this year for his brother, Corey, who is serving in the military overseas.
“Sean Shields has been one of the best outside midfielders in the Suburban Council this season. Lucas Flood, Gabe Prusko and Matt Ploetz has really been steady in the back,” said Gregg. “They took it upon themselves to improve and really make a run at it this season.”
Mohonasen opened the season with a win over Scotia, and closed the regular season with a 2-1 victory over town rival Schalmont, the top seed in the “A” brackets.
In between, Mohonasen put together a 7-8-1 league record, and stands 10-8-1 after dispatching Burnt Hills.
Since the graduation of Section II’s career goal-scoring leader
Peter Squeglia in 2002, Mohonasen struggled to seven league wins and 16 victories overall until this season.
“We knew at the beginning of the year that this could be special,” said Gregg. “They’ve shown all season long that they can play at this level, and now, we’re hoping we can have a long postseason.”
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Categories: High School Sports