WESTFIELD — The Monson girls were simply too much for the Lenox girls soccer team to handle during Sunday's Western Massachusetts Division IV championship game, as the top-seeded Mustangs raced out to an early lead before finishing off a 5-1 decision at Westfield State University.
Monson — which defended its 2013 and 2014 championships — scored its opening goal inside of four minutes, and tacked on two more over the next eight to take control of the game for good. Megan McGuill recorded a hat trick and added an assist to pave the way for the Mustangs.
"[Monson] play a very similar game to what we like to play," Lenox coach Kyle Zinchuk said. "They were just a little bit better at it than we were today."
The Millionaires struggled for chances in the first half. The Mustangs did well to keep possession of the ball and move it out wide to create dangerous chances. The Mustangs threatened first after three minutes when Haley Richard pushed a shot just wide of Shannon Meisberger's goal, but just a minute later Meisberger had to fish the ball out of the netting when McGuill hit home a rebound on a cross from Ally Jarvis.
Monson added another in the 13th minute through McGuill, then 40 seconds later Jen Fabrycki found the back of the net.
"In a big game like this, early goals are huge," Monson coach Eric Degnan said. "That settles a team. I don't care whether you've been here or not, there's nerves — it's part of the game. Once you settle in and get a couple like that, it can go a long ways."
For Lenox's lone senior, Alessandra Arace, the early goals were tough to swallow.
"It was tough on us, and you could tell," she said. "I think after that third goal we all kind of put our heads down. But once we regrouped we kind of picked it back up because we wanted to leave it all on the field."
Monson added a fourth in the 31st minute when Richard converted on a McGuill cross. The assist marked McGuill's 100th point of her career, and the game was paused briefly as Monson celebrated the occasion.
In the second half, Monson added its finally tally when McGuill got on the end of a Bee Murphy pass.
Lenox kept pushing forward to try and get on the board, and the Millionaires eventually did when Tova Brown fed Arace for her last goal in a Lenox uniform.
"She's had an unbelievable career with us," Zinchuk said. "It's going to be really hard to see her go. The girls are going to miss her, we are definitely going to miss her leadership and that spark she gives us. You can't replace a player like her."
The Mustangs also noted Arace's influence on the game.
"We always want to keep the ball at our feet, attack wide and out-possess our opposition," Degnan said. "But on the same token, we had to account for Arace every second she was on the field. She is a phenomenal talent, she is a dangerous player. We knew that, we respected that, and we just wanted to make sure we always had our eyes on her."
While the loss certainly stung for Lenox, Zinchuk did take solace in the fact that his side was significantly younger than Monson. The Mustangs started six seniors in the game.
"We are still very young, more than half of my roster is freshmen and eighth graders," Zinchuk said. "This is really just a great experience for us. To get this far in the tournament and have them be on this stage is a huge step for us as a program."
Lenox finishes with a 13-5-3 record. Monson advances to play Central Mass. champion Sutton on Tuesday.
M—McGuill (Jarvis), 3:00. M—McGuill (Richard), 11:24. M—Fabrycki (Hicks), 12:03. M—Richard (McGuill), 30:36.
M—McGuill (Murphy), 49:35. L—Arace (Brown), 64:28.
Saves — M: E. Garon 1, H. Garon 0. L: Meisberger 7.