LENOX -- Alessandra Arace scored two goals and added two assists to lead the Lenox High School girls soccer team to a 4-0 win over St. Joseph’s in a Western Massachusetts Division III quarterfinal game on Tuesday night.
The score was deceiving, however, as the Millionaires led only 1-0 at halftime and 2-0 after 72 minutes. Freshman Arace and eighth-grader Tova Brown then scored twice within 30 seconds to create the final.
"Lenox is very fast," said St. Joseph’s coach Betsy D’Agostino. "They have speed at just about every position on the field. It’s very hard to match."
Lenox pressed the Crusaders’ defense very hard in the first five minutes of the game. With 34:44 left in the first half, Lydia Graham carried the ball up the right side of the field, and fed Arace flashing across the middle for the score.
But that was it for the half. St. Joseph’s goaltender Kendall Smith was superb, making several tough stops over the next 34 minutes.
"Smith was terrific," said Lenox coach Matt Cote. "She was great in the air. We were taking good shots, but she was stopping them."
After that first goal, St. Joseph’s regrouped. Keegan McCauley and Bailey Vinette made some nice runs down the field. McCauley got off a great shot that Lenox goalie Kathy Prescott had to hustle to stop.
Defensively, D’Agostino was playing her people deep, and while Millionaire halfback Josie Marshall was making some long runs of her own into Crusaders territory, the St.
Lenox reprised its first-half pressure as the second half opened. Brown got a pass from Arace at the top of the box, and beat Smith just 4:18 into the second half.
But again, the play was pretty even for the next 25 minutes. In fact, the Crusaders had a span of about six or seven minutes about midway through the period where they had some pretty good chances to cut into the lead. But Prescott and the Millionaire fullbacks were, for the most part, well-positioned to force the visitors to take difficult shots.
The Millionaires, according to Cote, began lowering their collective sights as the half went on.
"We talked about it at halftime," said Cote. "[Smith] was stopping everything in the air, so we wanted to concentrate on getting into position and taking lower shots."
Brown’s second-half goal was a low shot, coming at 71:50. That put the margin at 3-0, and the collective wind began ebbing from the sails of the St. Joseph’s players.
And so, Lenox pounced again. Jane Fitzgerald intercepted a cross-field pass at midfield, burst downfield and fed Arace at 72:13.
"Some of these girls have been together for seven years," said D’Agostino of her players, many of whom were sobbing into each others arms after the game. "It’s tough. We had a great season, getting into the tournament and winning a game. But Lenox played well and we lost."
Lenox 1 3 -- 4
St. Joseph’s 0 0 -- 0
L -- Alessandra Arace (Lydia Graham), 5:16.
L-- Tova Brown (Arace), 4:14.
L -- Brown (Arace), 71:50.
L -- Arace (Jane Fitzgerald), 72:13.
Saves -- Lenox: Kathy Prescott 6. St. Joseph’s: Kendall Smith 20.