WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Here's a scary thought for Berkshire County boys soccer teams: Mount Greylock has 11 goals in three games this season, and the Mounties' biggest problem has been not finishing enough of their scoring chances.
That's the assessment of junior Grant Raphael, who had the first goal in Saturday night's 5-1 win over Vermont's Burr & Burton Academy in the final game of the Mount Greylock Invitational.
"The team is struggling with finishing," Raphael said. "We've struggled with that the past two games actually.
"We had five goals [against Lenox] on 30 shots, though. That was trouble finishing, too. That was a rough game."
Eric Hirsch and Felix Kershaw scored two goals apiece on Saturday night. All six goals for both teams came in the second half.
In the first half, the Mounties (2-0-1) did everything but finish against the reigning Vermont Division II state champions.
Mount Greylock generated 10 corner kicks in the first 40 minutes and came agonizingly close to scoring on chance after chance.
In the first minute of the game, Hirsch sent a ball from the left wing for Sam Dils in the box, and Dils' header went just wide. Midway through the half on a corner kick, Dils' shot was blocked by a defender, but Benni McCommish played the rebound into the box for Dan Flynn, whose header went wide. Late in the half, Dils took a through ball from Jake Foehl and sent a shot just high.
"I think we were a little frustrated," Mount Greylock coach Blair Dils said. "We came into half-time feeling a little bitter about the fact that we hadn't cracked the net yet.
"I said, 'Guys, you've got to settle down and keep pressing because I think once we get one, we might get a couple more after that.' Obviously, that came to fruition, but it doesn't always happen that way. You just have to be patient in this game. The constant pressure of the ball movement wears a team down, and you get three goals in the last seven minutes."
The Mounties came very close to needing a couple of insurance goals.
Raphael gave his team a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute of the second half when he played a loose ball about 25 yards out and knocked in a shot that glanced off the hands of the Bulldogs' keeper.
Moments later, the Mounties converted their 13th corner of the game. Kershaw did the honors with an assist from Taylor Carlough to make it 2-0.
That lead seemed pretty safe for the next 20 minutes or so, but Burr & Burton took advantage of a free kick about 45 yards from goal and played the ball quickly into the 18-yard box, where Andrew Gayda scored on a header to make it 2-1 with 9:14 on the clock.
Then a minute later, a Mount Greylock defender headed the ball over keeper Cal Filson (four saves) and toward the Mounties' goal. The ball ended up rolling just wide of the post for a B&B corner kick.
"We came about six inches from tying it up on ourselves," Blair Dils said.
"I was trying to get some guys in who hadn't seen much time and put some pressure on them to perform. We didn't do a great job of clearing the ball. And it was also a sloppy foul [on the B&B goal], too. Typically, you don't give up goals because of one mistake. It's usually a series of mistakes. That's a good example of a goal that gets scored because of two or three mistakes, not just one."
The Mounties rallied after surviving the near own goal and found the net three times in a span of 3:28 to put the game away.
Hirsch scored twice in that stretch, and Kershaw scored once to take over the team lead with three goals this season. But one thing that jumps out about this year's edition of the Mounties is balance on the scoresheet. Six different Mounties have scored in the first three games; last year the team relied heavily on the considerable scoring ability of the now graduated Nathan Majumder (31 goals, 11 assists).
"I think we'll do better as a team as a whole without Majumder because we're used to playing straight through him," Raphael said.
"We're good at getting in the final third. By the time we get there, we struggle. But that will work itself out during the season."
Mount Greylock gets its next chance to work on its finishing on Tuesday afternoon when it hosts Hoosac Valley.