Mount Greylock girls soccer team beats Frontier on penalties to advance in Western Mass. D-III tournament
WILLIAMSTOWN — It had the feel of a late-round tournament game, perhaps a semifinal. And while 100 minutes was not enough to decide a winner on Tuesday night, No. 6 Mount Greylock buried all four of its penalty kick opportunities, with Clara McWeeny scoring the clincher to send the Mounties to a 2-1 victory (4-1 in PKs) over No. 11 Frontier Regional School in a classic Western Massachusetts Division III first-round girls soccer contest at John T. Allen Field.
"The quality and skill level was really high from both teams," said Mount Greylock coach Tom Ostheimer. "This was real good soccer. There's no question about that."
The Mounties advance to the D-III quarterfinal round and a match up with No. 3 Mahar (16-1-2), a 2-0 winner over No. 14 Drury in another first-round game played on Tuesday. Frontier finishes its season 11-6-2 overall.
Neither team managed to score in two 10-minutes overtime sessions, forcing penalty kicks to decide a winner. Greylock went first, and received four straight goals from Charlotte Raushcer, Livia Morales, Jane Skavlem and McWeeny. Frontier's lone make came in the opening round, when Jess Wrisley found the back of the net. The Red Hawks had two of their three attempts go over the crossbar, and McWeeny's strike secured a 4-1 win that sent the hosts through to the quarterfinal round.
"You never know what's going to happen [in PKs] because there's so much pressure on the line," Ostheimer said. "But all four of those [goals] were hit perfectly."
Frontier head coach Phil Pittelli was proud of his team's performance, despite the heartbreaking loss in sudden fashion.
"You can't replicate that atmosphere in practice," he said of penalty kicks. "That pressure, you can't create that and get everyone prepared for the feeling they're going to get when they step up to the line. For us, it's a crappy way to lose. You hate to lose no matter what."
Both teams traded haymakers throughout Tuesday's game. The Mounties struck first, taking a 1-0 lead with 23:15 remaining in the second half when McWeeny spun around just inside the 18-yard box and fired a shot that beat Frontier keeper Siomara Green to the near post. Morales was credited with the assist.
The Red Hawks picked up their intensity from there however, and cashed in for the equalizer with 10:48 remaining. The tally came on a counterattack, with junior Cambrie Hamilton pouncing on the ball near the 18. She pulled it back to her left foot and powered a perfectly-placed shot into the left corner of the goal to make it a 1-1 game.
"The last 12 minutes or so of regulation, I thought we dominated," Pittelli said. "Cambrie was able to sneak that goal in and reward us for that strong play."
Ostheimer said that after McWeeny's go-ahead strike midway through the second half, his team seemed to tighten up.
"We got up 1-0 and I think we were trying to ride it out a bit," he admitted. "We got caught on our heels and they were able to take advantage."
Mount Greylock goalkeeper Delaney Babcock came up huge in both overtime sessions. In the final minute of the first OT, she made a diving save to reject a blast from Frontier sniper Natalie Denkiewicz, and in double overtime, she came up with another diving stop, this time on Wrisley at point-blank range. Wrisley had another chance to win it with 20 seconds remaining, but her breakaway attempt hit the post and kicked away from danger.
"It could've gone either way," Pittelli said. "We had some really good chances late, they had some chances early. I thought in the first half we were getting outhustled and beat to a lot of balls but we picked it up after halftime and really put the pressure on after that."
Both goalkeepers stood on their heads at times. Babcock finished with nine saves in the victory, while Green registered eight saves for the Hawks.
The loss ended a six-game unbeaten streak for the Red Hawks, which hadn't allowed a goal since Oct. 11.
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