Mount Greylock girls lacrosse scores OT winner to upset Hoosac Valley in Central/West D-II tournament
CHESHIRE — Jayden Johnson and the Mount Greylock defense surrendered seven goals in the opening 20 minutes of action during Sunday's Central/Western Massachusetts Division II quarterfinal game at Hoosac Valley.
In the final 30 minutes, plus overtime, the Mounties back end held the second-seeded, and Berkshire County champs to just two goals.
Starting slow and finishing strong, though, is nothing new to coach Lindsey von Holtz's team.
"I knew what they were capable of, but I knew it was going to be a battle. I'm proud of them for putting in the work to get there," she said after her 10th-seeded Mounties upset the Hurricanes 10-9 in overtime. "There were many points this season, I'm sure they were disappointed. We didn't even have a strong enough record to make the tournament. We had to make it by finishing second in the league."
That 8-10 record and pair of losses to Hoosac Valley became instant history when sophomore Carolyn Jones found the back of the net on a free position with 22 seconds left in overtime.
The sides were deadlocked at 9-9 — they were tied on six separate occasions Sunday — for the final 8:45 of regulation, plus nearly all of overtime.
"We as a team have gotten better and better as the season has gone on, and that's exactly what you want," von Holtz said. "I'll admit the first half we weren't quite where we wanted to be, but the girls decided at halftime that they wanted to practice tomorrow. That meant they had to win."
Practice the Mounties will, with a semifinal date against No. 3 Auburn scheduled for Tuesday.
Of course, it was very nearly the Hurricanes who would face the Rockets this week. Hoosac built up a 7-4 lead at one point in the first half, and held possession for nearly the extent of overtime. However, a rushed shot gave possession back to the Mounties on the stick of Ainsley Abel. The ball got up to Clare Sheedy and Carolyn Jones — who scored eight goals combined — in a hurry. Jones attacked the net with less than 30 seconds left, and got the call to set up for a free position.
"I like to go low, and usually I like to take a few steps and fire low," the sophomore said of her strategy against Hoosac goalie Emily Godfrey. "But last time we played them, I had a couple free positions that hadn't counted because I stepped into the crease. So my mentality was just don't do that. I just tried to really go for the power shot, not the little finesse, run-it-in shot, and it worked really well."
Jones' fifth tally of the night sent the visiting side off in a fit a hysterics, and the hosts to a disappointingly early tournament exit.
"It's kind of crazy, because we have graduated, but we're still playing. It's like the last thing to hold on to," said senior Brook Masse. "So many amazing things are happening right now, and this is great to just continue it."
Those emotions could have been flipped at the end of regulation, when the Hurricanes had their own chance to essentially walk it off with a victory.
"It was a great game, back-and-forth. We had plenty of opportunities to win it," Hoosac coach Molly Meczywor said. "They could've in regulation too, Emily made some great saves. It's tough to go out. The girls had visions of getting to the finals."
After nearly nine scoreless minutes that featured a pair of yellow cards on Mount Greylock, and the injury exit of senior star Brooke DiGennaro who was caught near the eye with an errant stick, Hoosac had its chances.
Claudia Bresett (three goals) had a try turned aside by Johnson, who with five minutes left was burgeoning with confidence.
"She had a tremendous game, she's grown so much this season," commented Sheedy on her keeper.
Then, inside the final 10 seconds, the county's leading scorer Alie Mendel (two goals) earn a free position. Her first run at it was knocked away by Johnson, but a whistle was blown with four seconds remaining, and she was awarded a second try on another foul.
"I was nervous, but we had two people on either side of the hash who are really fast, and after Jayden made that first save, she had the momentum," a confident Jones said. "There was no doubt in my mind that she would make the second one. It was a beautiful save."
Johnson stood strong once more, and the game moved to overtime. The sophomore keeper made 14 saves in all.
"Twice," an exasperated and Gatorade-covered von Holtz said. "Free positions are tough. Based on our record, there's a 60 percent chance they're going in. But at the same time, I knew Jayden was excited and ready for it. And our girls collapsed on Alie so fast, she really only had one position to shoot from, which makes it easier for the goalie."
Hoosac's 7-4 lead came out of a 3-3 tie in the middle of the first half. Bresett soared for a goal at the 4:58 mark, and von Holtz quickly signaled for a timeout.
With two minutes left until halftime, Greylock's Talia Cappadona took a big charge from DiGennaro. Possession raced the other way, and Jones netted a goal with 33 seconds on the clock.
She bracketed half time with another strike, on a Sheedy feed after Emma Stevens made the long journey to change fields again. Sheedy's turn came next, and they broke off a laser on a free position to knot the game at 7-7, four minutes into the second half.
Hoosac led 9-8 after a pair of goals by DiGennaro, but Delaney Babcock buried another free position for Greylock with 8:46 remaining.
The win Sunday highlighted the in-season growth by the Mounties. Greylock fell to 6-8 overall on May 20 with a six-goal loss to East Longmeadow at home. The Mounties seemed defeated leaving Farley-Lamb Field that day.
"In the middle of the season, the seniors got together with our coach and were talking about what we wanted to change," Sheedy said Sunday. "I think after that there was a mutual feeling that we could come back. Once we defined the unity, it fell into place. We've been practicing harder, and once Western Mass. came and we saw we were playing Hoosac again, the last two practices were the greatest, most motivated we've had all year."
While the Mounties march on, Meczywor had to reminisce immediately on the journey her program has been on over the last seven years.
"The cool part about this team, though, is the way they feel when they're together," she said. "The impressive part, win or lose, is the legacy that you leave. The fact that kids want to be a part of this program moving forward is an awesome legacy. Winning is great, it's what everybody wants, but the relationships, the 12th-graders taking on mentor roles with sixh- and seventh-graders, and they do it on their own. That's what I love. What we've built is that fun part."
Meanwhile, Mount Greylock has won two road playoff games, and the confidence is only growing for a 10 seed that refused to bow out.
"It's incredible," Jones finished. "A lot of people said this was a rebuild year, but today, we proved that we're still the team to beat.
"We're still Mount Greylock."
Greylock 5 4 1 — 10
Hoosac 7 2 0 — 9
HV — Alie Mendel (unassisted), 20:22; MG — Carolyn Jones (UA), 19:44; MG — Clare Sheedy (Jones), 18:40; HV — Claudia Bresett (UA), 17:40; HV — Mendel (UA), 16:19; MG — Sheedy (UA), 12:24; HV — Bresett (Brooke DiGennaro), 12:10; HV — Lauren Davis (Elli Miles), 10:20; MG — Jones (Ainsley Abel), 9:54; HV — Faith Hall (UA), 7:51; HV — Bresett (Kelsey Bulson), 4:58; MG — Jones (UA), 0:33.
MG — Jones (Sheedy), 23:20; MG — Sheedy (UA), 20:53; HV — DiGennaro (Bresett), 20:22; MG — Brook Masse (UA), 15:32; HV — DiGennaro (UA), 14:32; MG — Delaney Babcock (UA), 8:46.
MG — Jones (UA), 0:22.
Saves — MG (Jayden Johnson, 14); HV (Emily Godfrey, 10).
Mike Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.
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