Lenox girls scored three in the second half to earn a 4-0 soccer win over Mount Everett
Eventually, with 12:34 remaining in the game, Kristin Parkinson broke through the Mount Everett defenses, giving the Millionaires a breath of relief with a 2-0 advantage. Lenox remained unbeaten in the Berkshire South with a 4-0 victory over the Eagles, though the final score may trick some into believing the win was a breeze.
The Millionaires (5-5-2, 5-0 Berkshire South) scored three times in the final stretch of the game, finally overcoming a virtually lights-out performance by Everett (3-8, 1-5) goalkeeper Madison Ullrich and a strong defensive outing around her. All night long, Lenox was forced to fire off shots from a distance due to the protective bubble provided by veteran defenders Sarah Beckwith and Hannah Race. What did get through was swallowed up repeatedly by Ullrich, who racked up 21 saves.
"The defense played really well. [Ullrich] is phenomenal. It's crazy sometimes," said Mount Everett coach Jess Murtagh. "The center of the field we needed to be a little stronger. Our goal at halftime was to play upbeat and quicker, which we did. We had a better second half, even though we got scored on more."
For over an hour, Sarah Fenton's second-minute goal was the difference in the divisional clash. Just 1:14 into the game, Kristin Parkinson drove into the left side of the zone and sent a pass toward the far post. The play stretched Ullrich to her limit and Fenton beat the goalie to the ball for a 1-0 Lenox lead.
"I've been working on my left foot, because my coaches have been telling me not to switch to my right and to hit it with the left on the left. I was going for that right corner, but was off a bit," said Parkinson. "I was just grateful Sarah was there to finish it."
The Millionaires did hold possession on the visitor's half for an overwhelming majority of the night, but time and time again the shots were coming too far out. Lenox earned three corner kicks, but couldn't generate any scoring opportunities off them. Much of that is a mentality, according to Fenton, one of the team's senior captains.
"A big thing we've had to push through is mentality. We have games we go into thinking we have won and we end up not playing like we should. A lot of that is having a positive attitude," she said. "Those other games we go into thinking it's going to be tough and we end up playing really well. We just have to figure out a way to go into games thinking only about ourselves and worry less about the opponent."
"It's something we've fallen into the habit of doing when the game doesn't call for it. I got frustrated with that a few times on the sidelines, but towards the end we got away from taking the immediate shots and looking for more quality shots all around," added Lenox coach Kyle Zinchuk. "I just wished we would've made that change a little earlier than we did."
Though they managed to hold Lenox to one score for such a long time, the Eagles couldn't get much of their own offense going at all. Lauren Edwards put one shot on net in the first half and the only other threat on goalie Sophie Patella was handled by defenders Zenani Santos and Erin Czelusniak.
With 18:30 left in the contest, Ullrich made another brilliant stop, diving in to put a halt to a similar-looking setup that netted Lenox their lone goal. The tries kept coming, though, and eventually Zinchuk's pleas took hold. Abby Schilling got in deep and managed to get a ball to leak through the defense. Parkinson came charging through and punched in the insurance goal for her second point of the evening.
"In other games we can make those corners from far out, but this game they were shutting those down," said Parkinson. "Shooting closer and getting those connection passes definitely helped us win tonight."
Down 2-0, Murtagh's Eagles never thought about packing it in, and Logan Rathbun quickly came up with their best chance of the night. With around 10 minutes to play the midfielder got into Patella's box and blasted a shot off the crossbar. The rebound was handled by the hosts and pushed back up field, where the hole was climb became rapidly steeper for Mount Everett.
"We went into the game with a defensive mindset, but had been on a roll offensively," said Murtagh. "So we lost some of that momentum, but overall I'm happy with the way they played. We're not used to night games with high-intensity crowds. We got a little into the head game there."
Lenox eighth-grader Mary Elliot came off the bench to score the night's highlight-reel goal with 7:35 left. She took on two separate defenders one-on-one before holding off Ullrich long enough to drop a shot by her into the net.
Shelby Lynch scored on a penalty kick in the 79th minute to put a cap on Lenox's big night and continue a stretch of very strong soccer from the Millionaires. Lenox played North foes Monument Mountain and Mount Greylock to draws, lost a thriller to powerhouse South Hadley and furthered its hold on the South with a 2-1 win over Taconic in recent weeks.
"We have a tendency to get up for certain games and not so much for others," said Zinchuk, echoing Fenton's take. "It's something we're working on: playing our game with our speed and our intensity every time we step on the field."
Lenox 1 3 — 4
Mount Everett 0 0 — 0
L — Sarah Fenton (Kristin Parkinson), 1:14.
L — Parkinson (Abby Schilling), 67:26. L — Mary Elliot (unassisted), 72:25. L — Shelby Lynch (penalty kick), 78:87.
Save — ME: Madison Ullrich, 21. L: Sophie Patella, 4.
Reach sports writer Mike Walsh at 413-496-6240 or @CLNS_Walsh.
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