Lenox girls earn top seed in Western Mass. tournament
Lenox girls soccer coach Matt Cote got more than he expected Wednesday.
Not only do the Millionaires have a home game to open the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament, but they also have the top seed in the bracket.
"It's very much a surprise," Cote said. "I didn't expect the 1 seed, for sure. I thought Granby was going to get it, and in my opinion, deserves it."
Cote was hoping for the No. 2 or 3 seed when the MIAA released the brackets Wednesday. Instead, his Millionaires (11-4-2) will await the winner of the 8-9 matchup between St. Joseph's (7-7-3) and Franklin County Tech in the quarterfinals.
Granby, which is 16-0-1 and beat Lenox in the regular season, is the No. 4 seed behind Lenox, No. 2 Smith Academy and No. 3 seed McCann Tech (16-2-1). McCann will face either No. 6 Gateway or No. 11 Holyoke Catholic in the quarterfinals, while No. 5 Lee (7-7-3) heads to Granby for a quarterfinal match.
Lenox is still playing without leading scorer Jen Delasco, who was lost for the season last week due to a broken collarbone. To replace her, Cote has moved Alessandra Arace from the midfield to striker, and Hayden Zinchuk has been moved to center midfield, joining Josie Marshall.
"I don't like not having Jen, for sure," Cote said. "We're a better team with her on the field. But, knowing that's not an option, each girl has stepped it up in her own little way. Moving Alessandra Arace up the field gives us speed there.
"I like her in a footrace against pretty much anyone."
In the Division I girls bracket, Berkshire County North Division champion Pittsfield (11-1-3) earned the No. 5 seed and a first-round bye. The Generals, whose only loss is to top seed East Longmeadow, will travel to No. 4 Northampton (14-2-2) for a quarterfinal match.
Pittsfield's girls lost the opportunity to play two games this week due to Hurricane Sandy-related cancellations, as well as an independent game against Mount Anthony earlier this season. Generals coach Andy Waluszko believes those cancellations hurt his team's chances at a No. 3 or 4 seed.
"We would have liked to have been a little higher," he said. "We would have liked to have a home game this year."
Pittsfield has played the top two seeds in its bracket, losing to East Longmeadow at home and tying No. 2 West Springfield early in the season. Pittsfield and Northampton didn't meet during the regular season, but the teams have scrimmaged each preseason for the past 5 years, including this year at Northampton.
"They're a solid team," said Waluszko of Northampton. "They're very good defensively. They play in a tough division."
In Division II, both No. 4 Mount Greylock (10-3-3) and No. 5 Hoosac Valley (11-4) earned first-round byes, but will meet in Williamstown in the quarterfinal round. Greylock swept the Hurricanes in the regular season, beating them Saturday to win the South Division championship.
Hoosac hopes history repeats itself early next week. Last year, Drury's girls beat Hoosac twice in the regular season before the Hurricanes stopped the Blue Devils in the Division II first round.
"We got the news [at practice]," Hoosac coach Blair Mahar said. "I think they're pretty pumped.
"I think the girls are pumped to show them who the better team is. I think we are the better team."
No. 6 seed Wahconah (8-6-3) also earned a first-round bye, and a quarterfinal matchup at No. 3 Southwick.
Warriors coach Pat West feels his team is peaking at the right time.
"Defensively, we're outstanding," he said. "We have to learn to score goals, but aside from that, we're playing far better than we were playing at the beginning of the year."
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