Halverson scores a pair as Hoosac Valley girls soccer team tops Lee 5-0
After playing 80 minutes in the beating sun, Kathy Budaj's girls have to suit up again Tuesday for a trip to Berkshire North rival Pittsfield. After that, games against fellow North powers Monument Mountain and Wahconah loom.
"Now we're getting into it. You've got to keep them motivated through this stretch," said Budaj, who's team has outscored opponents 23-2. "When you play those teams, if you're playing down, you're not going to have success."
The Wildcats, meanwhile, remain 2-2 overall and hope to learn from this foray into the North before resuming their Berkshire South slate Friday with a visit from Drury.
"This is great. We knew coming in that they were going to be difficult," said Lee head coach Lauren Finnegan. "For us, it's going to come with experience. The more we play and they face these difficult teams, the better we'll be."
Hoosac Valley (3-1) wasted no time in asserting its veteran prowess against a young Lee team. Juniors Chloe Martel and Claudia Bresett connected on a goal about 90 seconds into the game. Bresett's corner kick got into the box, where Martel was the lucky recipient to put a shot on net and send the hosts to an early 1-0 lead.
From there, the Hurricanes displayed crisp passing and put constant pressure on Wildcats veteran keeper Brianna Hawley (12 saves). When Lee managed to get possession on Hoosac's half of the field, defenders like Alie Mendel forced shots to be taken from well outside the box.
For every long-range Lee attempt that was turned aside easily by keepers Kelsey Bulson (four saves) and Grace Kronick (two saves), there were two or three Hoosac Valley attempts from up in Hawley's grill.
"We've been working a lot on placement over power. It is hard some times, we had a lot of shots right at the goalie, and she played great," said Budaj, who's team had seven girls earn a point. "That's what we're about — spreading it around and having everybody have a positive feeling."
Midway through the first half, Shaleigh Levesque dribbled her way deep down the left sideline and cut in on Hawley, leading her defender into the box. She leaned in and punched a pass out toward the center, where Sydni Jamross was waiting to finish it off the underside of the crossbar for a 2-0 lead.
Just outside the two-minute mark in the first half, senior defender Jess Halverson made a run in on the keeper as well. She and Hawley went after a loose ball, but it squirted away and Halverson scored on the empty net to go into the half up 3-0.
"Brianna did a phenomenal job. We're still trying to learn how to play with a very young team. They're a very good passing team, and we didn't know how to adjust to that," said Finnegan. "More experience is what they need. Our forwards were shying away from the ball earlier, and tonight they were calling for it and going after it which is a huge step in the right direction."
Hawley continued standing on her head for much of the second half, frustrating senior attacker Ellie Field in particular. Eventually, though, Field got behind the defense on a great ball by Ashlee Meczywor and skirted a shot into the far corner.
Halverson got her second score in the 71st minute, as Hoosac made a furious charge off a Lee corner kick with 10 minutes remaining. Martel picked up the assist for her second point.
Lee 0 0 — 0
Hoosac 3 2 — 5
HV — Chloe Martel (Claudia Bresett), 1:36. HV — Sydni Jamross (Shaleigh Levesque), 17:40. HV — Jess Halverson (unassisted), 37:44.
HV — Ellie Field (Ashlee Meczywor), 52:14. HV — Halverson (Martel), 70:19.
Saves — L: Brianna Hawley 12. HV: Kelsey Bulson 4, Grace Kronick 2.
Reach sports writer Mike Walsh at 413-496-6240 or @CLNS_Walsh.
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