CHICOPEE -- Mount Greylock boys' soccer coach Blair Dils had six players picked out in case Wednes day's game against Monument Moun tain went to penalty kicks. He needed seven.
Junior Dan Flynn got the nod with a chance to complete an im probable comeback in the seventh round and buried his chance, giving the Mounties a 5-4 win over the Spartans in PKs after the teams played to a 1-1 draw in a Western Massachusetts Division III semifinal at Szot Park.
"Just based on performance in training and kind of who was next on the list," Dils said of his thought process. "I wanted a more senior guy."
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No. 3 Monument had taken a tremendous lead in penalties by converting on its first three attempts. Meanwhile, No. 2 Greylock had missed its first two, putting the fate of its season on Grant Raphael's foot. He kept the campaign alive, as did Ian brink, Jake Foehl and Taylor Carlough, as the Mounties rattled off five straight successful PKs. Cal Filson came up with the two biggest saves of his career during that stretch. To do it, he had to settle the butterflies in his stomach.
"Honestly, it was just the nerves," Filson said. "After [Emil Gilkes] missed that, and then after I made the first save, that took so much nerves off. It really helped."
Flynn stepped to the line after Filson stopped Monument's Bobby Kinne in the seventh round. Make it, and Greylock moves on to the championship. Miss it, and the Spartans have another chance. He left no doubt.
"I remember in hockey, it was the same thing. We were playing Chicopee ... and situations, it's so tough," he said. "You can't think about it; you just got try your best."
The win puts the Mounties in the title game against No. 1 Belchertown at a date, time and location yet to be determined. It's the fifth straight season Greylock has faced Belchertown in the postseason. They've yet to beat the Orioles in that stretch, which includes a championship game loss in 2011.
It brings an end to a promising season for a Monument squad that sported 15 seniors.
"I wish one of the teams would have put a second one in; it's an easier way to do it, definitely," Monument coach Matt Naventi said. "It's a tough way to go, especially for kids that are in high school."
In three games between the teams this season, the Mounties technically never beat the Spartans (. Monument edged Greylock 2-1 early in the season before the teams played to a 1-1 draw a month later. One of three games decided in regulation is why the Mounties were quick to give credit back to the Spartans.
"I just want to congratulate Monument, first of all, on a great season," Greylock's Jake Foehl said. "They played their hearts out tonight."
Monument earned all the praise Greylock gave it before it stepped onto the field Wednesday. The performance the Spartans turned in only solidified it.
Greylock broke through first on its second great opportunity of the game, coming only minutes after the first.
Sam Dils had just narrowly missed tucking the ball under the crossbar on a bullet of a shot with 27 minutes left. Three minutes later, Hirsch converted.
Raphael sent a long cross into the box from the right side. Monument appeared to be in position to clear with a volley, but the ball skipped off the defenders foot and right to Hirsch at the back post. A quick finish to the right post and the Mounties had their first lead against the Spartans this season.
All that did was wake the Spartans up.
For the rest of regulation, Monument had Greylock in "survival mode," as Dils put it on the sideline. The Spartans had a couple of good looks at the goal shortly after Hirsch's tally, including one by Lucas Wartella that required Filson to make a diving stop.
But the Spartans made their mark on a long throw in from Bobby Kinne. The senior defender turns a routine throw in into a scoring opportunity anytime he's remotely close to the 18-yard box. Monument finally converted on one when Cam Powell received the throw, turned to goal and fired a shot to the short side, tying the game 1-1 with 18:06 left.
Monument kept the pressure on and had several quality opportunities, but couldn't convert to take the lead.
"It was good for a lot of the time, and then a lot o the time, it was really shaky," Foehl said of Greylock's defense. "Guys stepped up, made great plays to keep them only have one goal or keep it a shutout. Overall it was good, but we had to work hard for that."
The way the Spartans were playing, it seemed only a matter of time before someone would find a way to score. But the Mounties regrouped before the first overtime session, and made it a much more balanced game for both overtimes.
"We just knew we had to come out hard, and it could have been our last 10 minutes of the year, and for our seniors," Flynn said. "We played for our seniors, played for our town and our school."
Monument Mountain-Mount Greylock penalty kicks in order
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