WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The first time the Mount Greylock boys soccer team played Wahconah this fall, the Mounties gave up two goals in the first half.
On Monday night, Mount Greylock allowed just one shot on goal in the first 40 minutes.
And that was a big reason the Mounties cruised to a 3-1 win in the quarter-finals of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament.
Benni McComish scored two first-half goals, and Eric Hirsch added some insurance for second-seeded Mount Greylock (12-3-4), which advances to the sectional semi-final against Monument Mountain, a 4-2 winner over Cathedral on Monday.
The Mounties dominated the first half at John T. Allen Field, keeping Wahconah (8-6-4) pinned in its end most of the period.
"Our back four and our midfielders have been absolutely incredible the last half of the season," said Hirsch, a junior forward. "The backs have been amazing, [goalkeeper] Cal [Filson] has been great, Benni McComish has just been playing out of his mind.
"They've just been unbelievable."
Mount Greylock coach Blair Dils said it was a total team effort that kept Wahconah pinned in its end most of the first 40 minutes.
"In tonight's game, we were able to keep the pressure on in the front half of the field," Dils said. "Our backs really didn't have to do that much in the first half.
"That's part of defense. It's not just the backs, it's the front two getting turnovers, it's Benni and Grant [Raphael] getting turnovers. We defend as a team.
"Now, we're starting to defend as a full 11."
Mount Greylock won that first match against Wahconah, 4-2, but it was part of a stretch in which the Mounties gave up 14 goals in five games. Counting Monday night, Mount Greylock has allowed three goals in its last seven games.
Meanwhile, Mount Greylock's offense scored in the sixth minute of the game to set the tone.
Raphael got the play started by entering the ball in the 18-yard box from high on the left wing. A Wahconah defender appeared to make a play on the ball, but McComish took it away and blasted a shot into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
The Mounties had a couple of near misses over the next 20 minutes, including a pretty try by Liam Collins that missed just wide of the far post.
Finally, McComish added the second goal on a play started by Hirsch's drive and dish from the left wing.
"He can finish," Dils said of McComish. "I think he settled into that defensive role and hanging out at the top of the 18 instead of taking a chance and getting in the box. It's great to see him find little gaps and get in behind tonight."
McCommish has four goals on the year, including three in the last four games.
Hirsch said getting on top early was a key on Monday night.
"With that team, the longer you let them stick around, it becomes a battle, and they start to gain confidence," he said of Wahconah. "They've got a lot of weapons on that team in [Kevin] Boino and [Jeff] Pullano.
"When we got that 3-0 lead with 10 minutes, we knew it was going to be impossible for them to come back from that."
Hirsch scored the Mounties' third goal in transition on a through ball from Sam Dils. Hirsch beat two Wahconah defenders and knocked it past goalkeeper Chris Dapson (four saves) to put the game out of reach.
Wahconah finally beat Mount Greylock's Filson (five saves) when the Mounties were whistled for a foul at the top of the 18 with 10 minutes, 29 seconds left. Boino took the penalty kick and picked a corner low to Filson's right for the goal.
Mount Greylock, which picked up its third win of the season over Wahconah, now looks for its first win this fall against Monument (11-3-5), which won 2-1 in Great Barrington and tied the Mounties, 1-1, more recently.
"It's going to be another war," Hirsch said. "We've played two wars with them in the regular season that could have gone either way. They happened to get slightly the better of us, but it really could have gone either way.
"It should be fun."