PITTSFIELD -- The Athol and Taconic girls soccer game resembled a basketball game for the first 40 minutes Sunday.
In this first-round Western Massachusetts Division III matchup, both teams were streaking up and down the field firing long shots as a total of six goals were scored in the first half.
Despite the high-scoring first half, the seventh-seeded Braves could not find the tying score in the second half, losing 4-3.
Taconic coach John Flynn said his team came out flat on defense.
"[Athol] came out flying. They had a lot of energy, a lot more than I thought," Flynn said.
The 10th-seeded Red Raiders scored their first goal two minutes into the game. Olivia Smith found Julia Carey on the right side and she fired past the keeper.
Taconic answered midway through the first half in highlight-worthy fashion.
Gillian Campbell gathered the ball on the right side in Athol territory after a throw-in. From about 25 yards away, Campbell fired a swirling shot just past the hands of the Athol keeper into top left corner of the goal.
Emily Casella scored a header goal to take a 2-1 lead for Athol at the 15-minute mark. Taconic answered 10 minutes later, after Angela Pannesco found Shea Hassett with a cross that Hassett put in the net.
The Red Raiders scored two more times in the first half to take a 4-2 lead. Athol coach Tim Cleveland said he was confident that his team could score.
"I knew [the Braves] were going to be able to score. But I knew we were going to do the same thing," Cleveland said. "I was a little surprised with the amount of scoring. But I was satisfied with our effort."
The first half was filled with goals, but in the second half the Taconic defense tightened. Defender Courtney Luscier said improved communication led to a solid second half.
"We talked more and we were more positive toward each other," Luscier said. "We started to see how they reacted and we worked around that."
The improved Braves defense lead to them controlling the ball throughout the second half.
With 20 minutes left in the game, Gillian Campbell found Lauren Curry on a corner kick and she headed the ball into the net bringing the score to 4-3.
Taconic had several chances to tie the game late in the second half. Campbell nearly connecting with Lisa Laughnane whose header just missed right of the goal. The final whistle blew and the Braves failed to add the tying goal.
Overall, Flynn said he was proud of the season his team had. He said they reached the goal of making Western Mass. that they set at the beginning of the season.
"I met these girls when they were ninth graders. I looked at them and said ‘you guys are going to make Western Mass.,'" he said. "That was one of our two goals and I knew when I first met these girls that we'd be here today."
To reach Akeem Glaspie:
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Athol 4 0 -- 4
Taconic 2 1 -- 3
A -- Julie Carey (Olivia Smith), 3:00.
T -- Gillian Campbell (unassisted), 10:00.
A -- Emily Casella (unassisted), 15:00.
T -- Shea Hassett (Angela Pannesco), 25:00.
A -- Carey (unassisted), 26:00.
A -- Smith (unassisted), 38:00.
T -- Lauren Curry (unassisted), 70:00.
Saves -- Athol: Jess Hann 15; Taconic: 12.