Mount Greylock boys soccer team tripped up by Belchertown again in Western Mass. playoffs
DALTON — It was a different year with different players, but the result remained the same — the Belchertown boys soccer team beat Mount Greylock in a Western Massachusetts playoff game.
This year, it was a 1-0 win for the No. 2 Orioles over the No. 6 Mounties in the Division III semifinals. The win is now Belchertown's eighth in a row over Mount Greylock, since Mount Greylock last won a Western Mass. title in 2008. Thsoe wins include semifinal victories in 2018, 2017, 2012, 2010 and 2009, and finals victories in 2014, 2013 and 2011.
"It's not as much fun for me, but these guys don't have the history that I do," Greylock coach Blair Dils said of the losing streak. "You are just trying to find a way to score a goal against a Division-I level team. Every year, it's always a different kind of challenge.
"I thought the goals were there to be had tonight, for sure, and we put ourselves in the right position, we just couldn't get that goal."
Dils wasn't off in his assessment. The Mounties carved out their fare share of chances against the Orioles. Chris Tilton, though, had some kind of force field around his goal.
Greylock got the first half-chance in the game when Will Starenko had a shot blocked by the Belchertown defense. On the ensuring corner, Josef Soza-Foias got a shot off, but sent it over the crossbar.
Luke Swann and Julius Munemo each got cracks at Tilton's goal later in the first half, but both shots were saved.
Belchertown, though, started growing into the game from there. On a corner kick, Zachary Lajeunesse got a header on a Evan Fournier cross, but sent his effort just wide of the goal.
A few minutes later, and Fournier lined up over a free kick on the left win. Fournier, a left-footed player, whipped his free kick into the box with pace. Teammate Jarod Bolton was the first to meet the ball, and Bolton re-directed a header onto goal and into the back of the net.
"I thought [Bolton] tracked the ball fairly well," Belchertown coach Zach Siano said of the goal. "I thought he slipped though his guy and made a great play on the ball. He's got a great nose for the back of the net, as we've seen. I've been incredibly proud of how he's played lately."
Greylock got one more good chance before the half let out. Emi Soza-Foias started the sequence with a nice through ball to Finn Welch, but as Welch tried to get the ball out from under his feet to get a shot off, the Belchertown defense collapsed around him, and Tilton came off his line to snuff out the chance.
"That's the thing, some of the guys were a little down in the mouth at halftime, but I said look, we are putting the pressure on them, we are getting better scoring opportunities, we are building the ball up and creating good opportunities," Dils said of his halftime team talk. "I said that's going to continue in the second half, and it did, but we just couldn't poke one home."
Soza-Foias and Welch combined again for a good effort to star the second half, with Emi Soza-Foias again playing Welch trough on the ground. Again, though, Welch couldn't get the ball out from under him, and could only push the ball out of play for a goal kick. Toby Foehl then sent a shot flashing just over the bar, and after Owen Crowell did well to break up a Belchertown attack, a Greylock free kick from Will Reynolds found the head of Josef Soza-Foias, but Josef Soza-Foias had his header saved by Tilton.
Greylock continued pushed for an equalizer as the game wore on, with Welch seeing a shot save, and Foehl also had a shot from distance go over the bar instead of under it.
Dils praised his defense after the game for keeping Belchertown relatively in check outside of the set piece. Belchertown's best chance for an insurance goal came when Max Caron sent a chip shot into the side netting. Outside of that, the Orioles didn't have much to look at.
"They had a couple little dangerous plays there, the header in the first half. In the second half they started coming inside a little bit, created a couple better chances, but really not too much," Dils said. "Our defense was excellent, and we certainly put ourselves in position to score tonight, but some kind of force field was around that goal and kept it out a couple times there.
"You don't really know why the ball didn't go in the net a few times. They got the break in the first half, and we didn't in the second half."
Belchertown advances to play Frontier for the Western Mass. title. The game will be at Westfield State University, although a time and date were not available at press deadline. Greylock finishes the year at 10-7-2.
Greylock 0 0 — 0
Belchertown 1 0 — 1
B — Jarod Bolton (Evan Fournier), 28:50.
Saves — MG: David Falk 5. B: Chris Tilton 5.
Geoff Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.
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