DALTON — Internally, Wahconah knew it was a good team that would be dangerous come tournament time. The rest of Berkshire County and Western Massachusetts still wanted to see more evidence.
After stewing over a one-goal loss at Mount Greylock for nearly three weeks, the Warriors presented their final case in a 7-3 win over those same Mounties.
The score may have been close, but the game never appeared that way.
Hannah Bowlby scored three first-quarter goals and had four on the day, as the Warriors led 3-0 after one frame and 5-1 at halftime. Greylock’s offense never got off the ground.
“Communication for sure,” said senior goalie Sydney Smith, as to the difference between the matchups. “We talked way more than we did up there.
“That was a really tough loss.”
The Mounties scored nine goals on Sydney Smith and the Wahconah defense during that May 21 victory in Williamstown. Through nearly three full quarters in Dalton, Greylock found the back of the net once.
“Today’s game was definitely a solid team effort. Our strong defensive play backstopped by Sydney Smith led to a strong offensive effort,” wrote Wahconah coach Kathy Budaj in an email. “We were patient moving the ball which gave Hannah Bowlby some nice opportunities to drive. It was nice to see Kaeli Talora being very strong with the ball. We have been focusing on our passing game and being patient and not rushing the passes. Catie Ronayne did a fantastic job on defense as well as in our transition.”
After Bowlby collected her natural hat trick to open proceedings, the Warriors kept up their offensive pressure. A three-second violation was called on Greylock’s defense, which opened some room in the middle for an Ava Massaro goal. A couple minutes later, Talora scooped up a ground ball behind the Mounties net and wrapped around for her own marker and a 5-0 lead with 8 minutes,14 seconds left in the half.
“I don’t really know. Two were with my off-hand too, so I don’t know it just happened,” said Bowlby. “Maybe the vitamin water I had an hour before was just really good.”
Greylock’s first goal came with 4:20 to play in the second quarter when Ainsley Abel made a highlight shot while leaping left-to-right through the crease.
Smith and her defense, though, were pretty much impenetrable. Up 5-1, but with Greylock making a play for momentum, Smith turned away a pair of free position tries by Zoe Armet. Every time Greylock’s top scorers Sarah Polumbo or Carolyn Jones made a run at the net, they were met with two or three bodies.
Greylock senior Emma Stevens scored a pair of second half goals, the first on a free position with 19 seconds left in the third quarter to make it 7-2. Smith said she knows the Greylock attack very well, and has played with Stevens in the past. That allowed her to look for high sticks and direct her defense.
“When we were at Greylock, the defense didn’t talk at all,” said Bowlby. “When I was back there today, I don’t think I heard them stop talking. Communication goes a long way. We also caught a lot better today.”
Jilly Cote added a strike to open the third quarter, No. 101 for her career after celebrating the milestone a day prior. Bowlby then fired in her fourth on a bounce off a free position. Wahconah will have two more chances to fine-tune itself before tournament time with a home-and-home against Lee on the docket, but Wednesday was all the proof Bowlby and her teammates needed that they are a threat when the brackets get released.
“Just coming together, playing together. If we do that, it’s going to work. That’s been the big difference,” said Bowlby. “We just came out stronger. We wanted it. We knew we were a better team. I don’t think we’ve beaten them like this before. They’ve beaten us badly in the past. The past three years feel really good right now. This feels really good, like what we should be doing.”
Greylock 0 1 1 1 — 3
Wahconah 3 2 2 0 — 7
Goals — MG: Stevens 2, Abel; W: Bowlby 4, Cote, Massaro, Talora.
Assists — W: Accardi, Bowlby.
Saves — MG: Rech 9; W: Smith 8.