Wahconah girls soccer team crushes Pioneer Valley to advance in Western Mass. D-III tournament
DALTON — If there was any chance for No. 13 Pioneer Valley to catch the No. 4 Wahconah girls soccer team slipping, it went out the window in the fourth minute when Noelle Furlong took a through ball from Chloe Accardi and slotted the ball home.
If there was any chance for the visiting Panthers to keep things close, that also went out with the bath water when Furlong doubled her tally in the seventh minute, Hannah Bowlby scored in the 10th, and Abby Wells finished off an audacious attempt in the 11th minute.
By the time the dust settled in Dalton, the fourth-ranked Warriors left their home field with a 10-0 shellacking of Pioneer.
Wahconah coach Meg Smith said she was "most definitely" happy with the offensive output.
"Just believing in themselves that they can maintain and do what needs to be done, shoot the ball, complete their job in that sense," Smith said of what she liked most. "Doing that hustle, giving that all, and kind of fighting within that box — I was very proud of them tonight, yes."
The early blitz sucked all the life out of the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament game. But for a Wahconah team that has struggled to score at times during the regular season, a cut-and-dry first-round game wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
"It feels pretty good, but we have to remember that we have to keep rolling," said Wells, a central defender. "We have some big games coming up. Obviously can't look too far ahead, we have to focus on the next one — just move on and work hard at practice."
The next big challenge is a home game against No. 5 Monson, which beat No. 12 Easthampton 3-0. A time and date for that quarterfinal contest was not available at press deadline.
While the Warriors wait to find out their next game, they can reflect on the 10 goals that came in a variety of ways Tuesday.
Furlong's opener was on a cutting pass from Accardi. The next two goals came off of turnovers by Pioneer in their own box. Then, Wells decided to up the ante a bit. Taking the ball near half field, the defender didn't look for anyone to pass to — she wanted to dribble herself.
"I'm really not going to lie, I wasn't thinking much," Well said. "I just saw space and heard somebody say 'shoot it!' so I took a shot.
"Obviously, I'm a defender and that's not my job. I'm glad that I got to contribute in more than one way. It was good to see everybody contributing, everybody seemed really into the game."
Molly Shippee and Bowlby rounded out the scoring in the first half, while Bailey Shippee, Maggie Mazzeo, Kelly Anderson and Accardi all found the net in the second half. Anderson, the backup goalkeeper, drew a loud ovation from her bench when she scored, then Accardi uncorked a beautiful shot from outside the box to finish up the scoring.
The win is the second in as many years for Wahconah over Pioneer in the first round of the D-III tournament, after the Warriors won 3-0 last season. On the Pioneer sideline, however, there was a sense that things did go better this year — despite the scoreline.
"We played significantly better than the last time we played them," Pioneer coach Nikki Pullen said. "The last time we played them, they had 10 shots in the first minute. This game, they didn't have a shot until three, four minutes in. We actually had opportunities."
Michaela Moncecchi had a quiet night in net, making just two saves. Wells and Smith both pointed to a strong defensive effort in helping keep Moncecchi out of the action.
"I never get nervous who is back there, we all work well together," Wells said of her defense, which switches from four-at-the-back to three-at-the-back depending on formations. "It was good that when [Pioneer] would have a drive, I would know somebody was there. We just work together really well."
Pioneer 0 0 — 0
Wahconah 6 4 — 10
W — Noelle Furlong (Chloe Accardi), 3:24. W — Furlong (unassisted), 6:44. W — Hannah Bowlby (UA), 9:09. W — Abby Wells (UA), 10:24. W — Molly Shippee (Sydney Drane), 21:50. W — Bowlby (Furlong), 36:31.
W — Bailey Shippee (UA), 44:07. W — Maggie Mazzeo (Kelly Anderson), 52:29. W — Anderson (Bowlby), 56:12. W — Accardi (UA), 65:35.
Saves — PV: Anna Picard 17, Shaelyn Mullen 5. W: Michaela Moncecchi 2.
Geoff Smith can be reached at email@example.com, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.
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