Wahconah girls soccer team falls to Monson on penalty kicks
HOLYOKE — While a championship is always the goal, it seemed fitting that Wahconah's season didn't truly end in a loss.
The Warriors didn't allow a goal through 100 minutes of regulation. Unfortunately for the Dalton faithful, neither did Monson.
The third-seeded Mustangs took the Western Massachusetts Division III semifinal 4-3 in penalty kicks. Monson moves on to face South Hadley in the title game.
"I don't know that it was a brutal loss. It's just a tough way to go off. I wish we could have had 10 more minutes," said Wahconah coach Meg Smith. "For the game to come down to penalty kicks is kind of intense. But we had 100 minutes as a team to try and put it in the back of the net."
Wahconah, the No. 2 seed in the bracket, pitched three consecutive shutouts and held the Mustangs without a truly strong scoring opportunity pretty much throughout Thursday night's contest at Holyoke High School.
Still, the Monson defense was just as strong. Led by senior goalkeeper Hannah Garon, the Mustangs haven't been scored on in tournament play either. Back on Sept. 27, Wahconah and Monson played to a scoreless regular season draw. With a trip to the final on the line, though — after two, 10-minute overtimes — penalty kicks were needed.
"It just took us a little longer to come around today, we need to shoot more in the first 80 minutes," said Smith. "I'm still proud of them."
Monson's Meghan Monaghan and Wahconah's Chloe Accardi knocked home the opening round, but then Garon stepped up to save a Kate Mathews try, and Alivia Skowyra gave Monson an edge. Wahconah junior Michaela Moncecchi answered with a save of her own on the fourth Mustangs PK, before Cat Boino looped one in on the right side to even things at three a piece.
Next up, Monson called upon Garon to go both ways. She tore off her gloves and left them on the turf. In goalie-on-goalie action, Garon put a shot by Moncecchi for the 4-3 lead and then strapped back up and got in net. Wahconah's next try, a Noelle Furlong grounder, rolled wide left of the net and Garon was mobbed.
"Try to relay to them that there's no pressure," said Wahconah assistant coach Taylor Kenyon. "Just do your best, aim low and aim hard."
Wahconah owned possession for much of the first half, earning the lone shots on goal with Sadie Anderson and Abby Wells testing Garon. Time and time again throughout, though, the Warriors put a little too much on through balls, and Garon was always there first.
"My kids know that if you want something to measure your team with, you play Wahconah," said Monson coach Eric Degnan. "They've had such a tremendous program for a number of years. They bring the best out of us.
"Hat's off to them, because they absolutely carried the play in the first half."
Monson picked it up in the second half, earning three quick corner kicks, but the defense around Moncecchi, led by Wells and Jilly Cote in the middle, was a force field.
Wahconah took hold again later, and with about 20 minutes remaining had the best look of the evening. Boino earned a corner kick with a strong charge, and Cote looped one in on Garon, who punched the ball sky high. It went straight up and came straight down into a cluster. Morgan Marauszwski got a foot on it, but it wasn't clean, and the ball lingered enough for Garon to scoop it back up. After a Smith timeout 10 minutes later, Wells sent Bailey Shippee crashing through the box to no avail. With two minutes left in regulation, Allison Washburn tried a turnaround scoop on Garon, but it went just wide.
Cote had a strong look in the first overtime period, but it pounded into the keeper's chest. In the second OT, both Accardi and Furlong had runaway chances taken away by Gawron.
Monson 0 0 0 0 — 0
Wahconah 0 0 0 0 — 0
Monson 4 (Monaghan G, Skowyra G, Lobik G, Doyle NG, Garon G.
Wahconah 3 (Accardi G, Mathews NG, Marauszwski G, Boino G, Furlong NG.
Saves — M: Hannah Garon 7; W: Michaela Moncecchi 3
Mike Walsh can be reached at email@example.com, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.
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