Hoosac Valley girls soccer team bounced from Western Massachusetts Division III tournament on penalty kicks

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GEOFF SMITH - THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
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WESTHAMPTON — Penalty kicks are a cruel way to end a soccer season, and the Hoosac Valley girls soccer team experienced that devastating blow in a 5-3 loss on penalty kicks to Hampshire Regional in a first-round contest during the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament. The game was scoreless after regulation.

The Hurricanes had the defensive resolve to nullify a potent Hampshire attack, and had enough chances to walk away from the game with a win. But when Hoosac needed a goal most, the tally was nowhere to be found during 100 minutes of open play.

In the spot kicks, the No. 8 Red Raiders converted all five of their tries, while Claudia Bresett sent her penalty just over the bar in the second round of penalties. When Sam Tersavich stepped up and buried her kick in the fifth round, the home faithful hit the roof while Hoosac tried to pull itself up off the ground.

"In OT, we were right there and we just can't put the ball in the net," Hoosac coach Kathy Budaj said. "that has been our season, not putting the ball in the net. It's haunted us too many times, and it did again today. We should have ended it in regular time, but we didn't. Girls fought hard, they played hard, they played well, it's unfortunate."

And play well the Hurricanes did, even if it all went for naught.

The two teams played out a very cagey first half, with both sides going hard into tackles as they tried to feel each other out. Hampshire got the first look of the game three minutes in, only for Grace Kronick to make one of her five saves on the night, and Hoosac answered when Ellie Field sent a shot just wide inside the box.

Back and forth the teams went without making any headway. Toward the end of the first half, Chloe Martel freed Alie Mendel down the left wing, and Mendel's cross into the box found the feet of Shaleigh Levesque, but Levesque's shot again hooked wide instead of in.

Before the break, Kronick had to come up big one more time. Tersavich, the danger woman for Hampshire throughout, fired off a low shot that Kronick repelled back into play. With the ball rolling dangerously through the box, Skylar Case booted the ball clear before a Red Raider could get to it.

"The girls are very close, and they really went at it tonight," Hampshire coach Gareth Flitcroft said. "It was a typical playoff game, where it can get a little scrappy at times, especially at the start where both teams are a little bit nervous. We came up against a Hoosac Valley team that are probably the most physical team we've played in terms of the challenges, in terms of the style of soccer they play, and we really had to dig deep."

In the second, Tersavich nearly broke the deadlock when she had a cross come back to her, only for the shot to go over the crossbar.

The rest of the second half was all Hoosac. Mendel nearly pounced on a defensive error by Hampshire, but her shot caught the wrong part of her leg and went over the crossbar. Jess Halverson also came close to breaking the deadlock, but her shot rifled off the post and out.

At the other end, Riley Robinson and Ashley Meczywor had their hands full dealing with Tersavich and Sophie Aldrich, but were up to the task of shutting down Hampshire's attack. The best chance for Hampshire came on the rare moment a pass beat Robinson and Meczywor, with Tersavich playing a crafty through ball onto the feet of Emma Kuntz, only for Kuntz's shot to hit the outside of the side netting.

In the dying moments of the second, Hoosac got a corner kick and a shot off in the box with Katie Taylor beat. But the Hampshire goalie got to thank Barrett LaPlante, who used her head to slam the ball away moments before it crossed the goal line.

"It just exemplifies the character we have on this team, that the girls are throwing themselves at the ball to stop a goal," Flitcroft said. "And Barrett tonight was sensational. She's one who has improved so much over the year, and tonight she showed it."

In the overtimes, Kronick came up with one last save in the second 10-minute frame, stopping a well-struck effort from Aldrich. Later, with the clock nearing all zeroes, Levesque found herself in the box with the ball, but before she could get a shot off, a pair of Red Raiders crowded her out to clear the danger.

"I thought we had better offensive chances than they did," Budaj said. "A lot of corner kicks for both teams, which was odd. But, overall, like I said, just putting the ball in the net. It's soccer. I've lost games where we've outshot teams 20-2 and we've lost. It is what it is. It's tough to swallow, it's a hard swallow. I wish them the best in the tournament. We're just going to have to fight and come back next year."

Hampshire went first in the spot kicks, and Olivia Aldrich got her team going with a goal low and to the left. That got Hampshire off and running, as Abigail Goodnow, Sophie Aldrich, Carley Stenson and Tersavich all converted on their kicks. For Hoosac, Halverson scored on the first kick, while Robinson and Levesque scored in rounds three and four. Hoosac did not have a fifth penalty taker, as Tersavich's goal sealed the deal first.

Hampshire advances to play No. 1 South Hadley in the quarterfinals. Hoosac finished the year at 6-6-5.

———

Hoosac     0     0          0

Hampshire     0     0          0

Penalty kicks — Hampshire 5 (Olivia Aldrich G, Abigail Goodnow G, Sophie Aldrich G, Carley Stenson G, Sam Tersavich G); Hoosac Valley 3 (Jess Halverson G, Claudia Bresett NG, Riley Robinson G, Shaleigh Levesque G).

Saves — HV: Grace Kronick 5. HAMP: Katie Taylor 3.

Geoff Smith can be reached at gsmith@berkshireeagle.com, at @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.


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