Wahconah girls soccer tops Mount Greylock, clinches Berkshire North title
WILLIAMSTOWN — With autumn comes the evolution from green to a yellow and orange foliage, much like a caution sign for athletes that playoff time is quickly approaching. Monday's Berkshire North battle between Mount Greylock and Wahconah was a dress rehearsal of postseason intensity, and it was the Warriors that came away with the 2-0 victory with the help of some game-defining plays on both side of the ball.
Wahconah entered the match with a league-high five draws, but a late-season adjustment is paying dividends as Noelle Furlong scored twice in a three-minute span to power the Warriors.
"We changed our formation from a 4-4-2 to a 3-4-3 because we needed an offensive push," Furlong explained. "We thought if we had that third person up top then we would have more people in the box to crash and get the ball in the net. We were struggling to do that in the 4-4-2."
The Warriors had opportunities early, bet Mountie keeper Delaney Babcock had five-straight saves to start the night.
"She's come a long way this year and every game she comes out with her A-game," Greylock coach Tom Ostheimer said. "She is rock solid and continues to improve. She has a good back line in front of her to give her confidence."
That back line cracked for a brief moment, which allowed Maria Gamberoni to send the ball behind the defense and Furlong cashed in for her first goal of the night at 17:06.
Lighting struck twice in the form of a corner kick off from Chloe Accardi. Furlong was there again for her second goal, this one at 19:32. The Warriors suddenly had some breathing room with a two-goal advantage.
The Mounties struggled to get anything going offensively in the first half. Greylock tried sending the ball up the field and allowing speedster Madison Ross to gain some separation behind the Wahconah defense, but the Warriors extinguished every attempt.
"As a unit we do a great job of filling in space," Wahconah coach Meg Smith explained. "Hopefully we are not chasing around players to keep some of our endurance and stamina."
Despite the quiet first half from Greylock, they came out for the second half with new-found life.
"It took us a bit to get our heads together and I think we came out of the half with a lot of urgency," Ostheimer said. "We turned the game around in the second half with a bit more pressure and a lot of energy working the corner right away."
As mentioned, this game had a playoff feel and even featured some plays that would define a tournament run. Midway through the second half the Mounties broke behind Wahconah's keeper, Michaela Moncecchi, but just before Mount Greylock could cut into the lead, junior defender Jilly Cote jumped in front of the shot and saved the shutout. Not five minutes later, she did it again — leaving the Mountie faithful silent.
"We needed a goal and there were two balls," Ostheimer said. "Cote had two great saves after we got behind their back line with Jane Skavlem and she cleared them away after a good volley."
Mount Greylock was ready to claim the game's momentum, but with two deflections, the Warriors snuffed the threat and claimed the game.
"We preach that everybody needs to protect each other and it is how we play defense," Smith said. "When we play our game, have a one-two defending that thru ball and that back line is solid — they will chase down and turn into a contain to protect Michaella."
The win was the third for the Warriors (8-1-5) in the Berkshire North, who locked up the division crown with a game to spare, at 3-0-4. Mount Greylock is headed to the tournament with a record with a record of 11-3-1 and is 3-3-1 in the North.
"This team has the best defense we've seen," Ostheimer said, "This is tournament-caliber soccer and we got a taste from it today. We have to learn from it, get better and try to move on."
Wahconah 2 0 - 2
Mount Greylock 0 0 — 0
First Half — W: Noelle Furlong (Maria Gamberoni), 17:06. W: Furlong (Chloe Accardi), 19:32.Saves — W: Michaela Moncecchi 11. MG: Delaney Babcock 15.
Jake Mendel can be reached at email@example.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.
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