DALTON — Quinn Walton wanted Senior Day — the final regular-season performance on her home pitch — to be her team’s best performance of the year.
The Wahconah girls lived up to those standards with a 7-0 win over the previously undefeated McCann Tech Hornets on Wednesday night.
“I think a lot of us wanted to make our families proud,” Walton said. “We wrote letters to our parents saying this is our last game on this field and we wanted it to be our best one.”
Photos: Wahconah-McCann Girls Soccer
Wahconah plays McCann girls soccer in Dalton
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Olivia Gamberoni notched her second hat trick in as many days, but it was Lily Robb and Elena Iovino setting the tone early for Wahconah (6-8-1).
“Forever and ever we’ve been focused on just shooting the ball and they did that tonight,” Wahconah coach Meg Smith said. “They did a great job of getting solid shots.”
Robb placed the ball in front of the net and Iovino punched it in just four minutes into the match. Three minutes later, Robb found Iovino on the outskirts of the goalie box and she did the rest, spotting the Warriors an early 2-0 lead.
Kiera Lennon was all that stood between Iovino and her hat trick, stuffing one of the attempts sandwiched between her two goals. Lennon was handed a full plate and was even delivered seconds, saving 23 shots on the night, 12 coming in the first half.
Iovino was scoring early, but it was clear that Gamberoni was going to markup the scoresheet. The sophomore midfielder had the Hornets (10-1-1) defense discombobulated with her speed and ball control.
As a result, she took four shots in the first 10 minutes, but all were saved by Lennon. Unable to reach the back of the net, Gamberoni decided to use her head, literally.
Anna Naef popped a corner kick into the air and it held just enough for Gamberoni to connect on the header. She added two goals in the first 8 minutes of the second half, capping the night with a floater that made it just over the lunging Lennon.
Wahconah girls hosting McCann in 10 minutes or so. We have a team that plays good defense and a team that scores whenever they want… should be interesting pic.twitter.com/LrSwEjowCp— Jake Mendel (@JMendel94) October 20, 2021
Lennon spent most of her night on her head, stopping every shot she could in front of the McCann Tech net. Opportunities were sparse for the Hornets on the offensive end, but every attempt started with a Camryn Belisle spark.
She broke behind the defense and had a peek at the net, but the shot went wide right with 22 minutes left in the first half. With 8 minutes left, she was again behind the defense and created an opportunity with a ball that floated across the face of Wahconah’s net, but nobody could break the Warriors defense and answer the call.
The Warriors maintained possession for most of the night, which made the outing much easier for keeper Eva Eberwein, who faced little pressure in the first half.
“Lately we’ve been working on passes on the ground to feet and shorter passes so we’re not creating as many 50/50 balls — you could lose those balls,” Walton said. “I think this game helped us a lot, we’ve been playing in a tough league and this was a boost in confidence.”
Robb was awarded for her early assists with a goal late in action. Additionally, Eberwein marched onto the pitch and scored with less than two minutes left in the game.
Wahconah’s seniors, consisting of Robb, Eberwein, Walton, Claire Naef, Hannah Connelly and Molly Shippee, were thrown into the fire this season as the team lost 14 seniors to graduation in the spring.
“They’re great girls,” Smith said of the seniors. “They’ve had a very big role stepping up this year and setting the tone for the team — they rose to the occasion and we’re so proud of them.”
“I think it’s about sticking together,” Walton said of entering the season after COVID-19 derailed last year. “We’ve been able to stay in touch and being friends with your teammates helps when you have that gap year.”
Both the Hornets and Warriors are stuck in limbo before the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference announces the schedule for next week’s Western Mass. event. The MIAA released updated tournament ratings on Oct. 17 with McCann ranked 15th in Division V and the Warriors coming in at No. 8 in D-IV.
“We need a little rest since we’ve been playing a lot over the last three weeks,” Smith said. “We’ll get that rest and come back to work on fundamentals and make sure we have everything tightened so we’re prepared for whoever we face.”