WILLIAMSTOWN — Mount Greylock goalie Christy Rech had already made 18 saves. Senior captain Delaney Babcock didn't want her to have to make another, especially with a one-goal lead and 30 seconds remaining.
So, as Wahconah senior Jilly Cote came on the attack with head of steam and nose for Rech's net, Babcock set her feet and braced for impact.
"Well I saw her running as fast as she possibly could, and I knew there was about a minute and 30 seconds when we were on offense," said Babcock postgame with a banged up mouthguard and bags of ice dripping from her neck. "Then it was just the blink of an eye and she was at me. I'm a basketball player, so it was automatic, plant my feet try and take a charge.
"That's not exactly what happened."
Cote's stick connected with her first, and while the Warrior attack kept moving forward, the ball dislodged and hit the ground. Ainsley Abel was there to scoop it up and bolt the other way as time expired on the Mounties' 9-8 win.
Sarah Polumbo registered just two assists on the scoresheet Friday evening. Those two helpers, though, wound up being a pair of biggest plays of the game.
Wahconah senior Chloe Accardi scored with 1 minute, 37 seconds left in the fourth quarter, evening the game up 8-8.
Polumbo entered the faceoff circle opposite Cote, and left with possession. She made a straight run toward the right corner, dodging a swipe.
With the defense sagging off to protect against a charge, Polumbo had the lane to see a white jersey making an inside cut on the Warriors’ net. She lofted a perfect pass into the zone, connecting with the stick of Tessa Levesque, who overhanded a shot by Sydney Smith for the game-winner.
Here's the winner. Tessa Levesque from Sarah Polumbo with 1:23 left. Mount Greylock downs Wahconah 9-8. pic.twitter.com/MvA76lio25— Mike Walsh (@WalshWrites89) May 21, 2021
"I just knew we needed one more to get the win. Tessa made an amazing cut and was wide open. She was calling for the ball, and I saw her," said Polumbo. "It was just an amazing cut, really a perfect play."
Polumbo won the following faceoff, lofting back to Abel. As the clock ticked inside a minute, Wahconah's Anna Naef forced a turnover, and Eva Eberwein gained possession. Using Smith as a pivot, Wahconah got an outlet to Clair Naef, who found Cote in stride leading up the field and in on the Hoosac net, before Babcock got in the way.
"Our goalie has a lot of experience. We're really proud of her. She brings it every single practice, every single game," said Babcock. "Our defense is kind of a building year, but a lot of girls have really stepped up."
Wahconah led 5-2 with 7:50 to play in the second quarter, but the Mounties stiffened up and battled back. Polumbo and Abel worked off one another for the equalizer at 5-5, four minutes into the third quarter.
"We figured out cutting wasn't really working, because they have a really strong defense. So we learned that if we could draw another defender it would open up," said Polumbo. "I drew one of their players, which left Ainsley open so she could get the pass and take an open shot on the net."
Carolyn Jones led the Mounties with four goals, while Abel had two. Wahconah got a hat trick and a five-point night from senior Hannah Bowlby. Cote added two goals and two assists, while Accardi scored twice and had a helper.
The story of the game, though, was the Greylock defense, which battened down the hatches following that 5-2 Warriors lead. Led by Rech and her 18 saves, the Mounties put a lid on the Wahconah attack, holding them scoreless in the third quarter.
“We made some decisions that hurt us,” said Wahconah coach Kathy Budaj. “We worked our tails off, had a lot of nice things. I have to say, the difference in this game was their goalie. She did amazing.”
In the meantime, Greylock went about knotting the game up. The Mounties opened the second half with a 90-second possession that went nowhere, so the next time they had the ball, Jones took a transition pass from Akira Harris and wasted no time in attacking and firing a shot by Smith to make it 5-4. Jones had also scored in the final minute of the second quarter.
Equally frustrated by her team's lack of prior offense, Cote grabbed the opening faceoff of the fourth and went right into attack mode, scoring 19 seconds into the frame. Separation was hard to come by, though, and Greylock responded with a twisting, winding, spinning attack by senior Emma Stevens for the 6-6 tie three minutes later.
And so it went.
Bowlby's hat trick came on a Cote assist with 6:40 remaining, and Jones answered that with a strike moving right to left with 5:59 to play. Next up was the No. 1s, as Greylock's 1 jersey Gianna Pesce gave her side its first lead since the game's opening minutes. Accardi then pulled a magic trick and disappeared into a scrum, only to reappear unguarded and scoop-shot a goal by Rech to knot things back at 8-8.
While the Warriors did net three goals in the fourth, the missed opportunities were glaring. Wahconah lined up for five free position tries in the second half and came away empty each time. Cote had one in the middle of the third on a Rech foul, forcing the goalie to line up behind her. A bouncing attempt on the empty net caught the post and ricocheted away.
“We have them again at home, and who knows, maybe we’ll see them in the tournament,” said Budaj. “I can tell you, the girls wanted a good game. We’ve had some blowouts, and I said this was a good game, a great game. We just came out on the wrong side."