Girls soccer: Strong first half propels Wahconah

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DALTON >> The Wahconah girls soccer team dominated possession throughout the game, out-shooting Mahar by a wide margin en route to a 4-0 win on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Western Mass. Division III tournament. The Warriors advance to face No. 3 Southwick on Wednesday at a location and time to be determined.

Defending sectional champion Wahconah had 26 shots on goal, leading to 19 saves from Mahar keeper Elysha Bedard. Warriors' forward Arden McKnight said they've been working on scoring off re-directed balls, and their barrage of shots created plenty of opportunities.

"Lately we've been really good on offense," McKnight said. "We've been passing the ball a lot better. We got really hyped for this game, and that allowed us to put the pressure on."

Bedard did a good job of keeping the Senators in the game early, but McKnight broke through with a goal in the 13th minute, opening up the floodgates.

Nine minutes later, the Warriors kept the ball alive after the initial stop from Bedard, and Ella Sears found Asi Graham for the goal. Jocelyn Hill added Wahconah's third goal, off another re-directed ball inside the box. Amelia Daugherty added the final goal with two minutes left in the first half.

Wahconah coach Pat West said his players had their best week of practice to date ahead of their quarterfinal match-up, and it showed in their performance.

"These guys came out and starting on Monday, all five days we had monster scrimmages," he said. "They were going after each other hard. We had five of the best games this week, with ourselves."

Wahconah kept the pressure on during the second half, but Mahar did generate better looks at the goal.

Starting in the 59th, the Senators had three corner kicks in three minutes, but Kayla Kowalczyk and the Warriors' defense held strong, clearing all three attempts. Kowalczyk made two saves. Lily Howes made one save.

The Warriors will have a light practice today before returning to practice fully on Monday. West said he expects a tough game from Southwick, as the Rams have beaten Lenox and Monument Mountain during the regular season.

Despite the Wahconah's strong effort, West added there is always room for improvement.

"There are lots of little things [to work on]," West said. "First touches, beating people to ball, anticipating, making sharp passes and staying focused. There's an endless supply of things to work on. That's what we talked about at halftime too."

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W — Arden McKnight (Jocelyn Hill), 12:29. W — Asi Graham (Ella Sears), 22:00. W — Hill (unassisted), 31:03. W — Amelia Daugherty (unassisted), 38:57.

Saves — Mahar: Elysha Bedard 19. Marie Nottleson 3. Wahconah: Kayla Kowalczyk 2. Lily Howes 1.


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