Boys soccer: Masuk High advances to Class L semifinals

Tommy Hooker competes with RHAM’s Jarrod Dumanine during the state quarterfinal match. — Andy Hutchison photos

Through the first three rounds of the Class L state tournament, nothing seems to be able to cool off the Masuk High boys soccer team

Not even a challenging squad from RHAM or the sub-freezing temperatures the teams played in during Friday afternoon’s quarterfinal round matchup at Benedict Field.

The fourth-seeded Panthers, behind their usual formula for success — a pair of Ryan Winkler goals and a lights-out effort from the defense — blanked No. 28 RHAM 2-0.

Masuk (17-1-1) moves on to face top-seeded E.O. Smith (19-0-0) on Monday or Tuesday in the semifinals.

Max Mastrorocco keeps the ball in play.

E.O. Smith defeated Masuk’s South-West Conference foe Bethel, 5-1, to advance.

The chants from supportive fans in the bleachers changed from “Here we go Masuk” to “Final Four Masuk.”

The Panthers are in the semifinals for the third time in program history, and seeking their first state title according to coach Antonio Viscuso.

“It feels fantastic,” Masuk goalkeeper Sam Forsythe said of the Panthers advancing.

Winkler was assisted by Aidan McShane in the opening half.

The visiting Sachems applied pressure for most of the second half, but managed to get only a few shots through to Forsythe, who made a handful of saves.

Moments after a flurry of RHAM chances, Masuk’s Ryan Hodska won control near midfield and sent a long through ball to a streaking Winkler.

He got behind the defense and buried a low shot, along with RHAM’s chances, with just 3:24 remaining in regulation.

“You have to give credit to RHAM and their coach Ray Bell. They played a phenomenal game,” Viscuso said. “Our defensive shape and discipline was crucial to winning this game.”

McShane, Hodska, Stephen Murphy, Max Mastrorocco, Matt Macham, Zach McCollum, Kyle Konkol and Alex Vassilakis blocked shots, headed the ball away, and broke up opportunities to prevent the Sachems from getting any clean looks at the goal.

“I have faith in my back line and I have faith in myself that when we have pressure on us we’ll pull through and hang tough,” Forsythe said.

This was Masuk’s second shutout of the state playoffs.

“We haven’t conceded more than one goal this entire season,” Viscuso said. “The back line has always been there for us.”

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