Belchertown Boys Edge Mount Greylock in Sectional Semi-Final
CHICOPEE, Mass. -- The Belchertown boys soccer team Wednesday scored twice in the first seven minutes of the second half to open up a two-goal lead en route to a 3-2 win over Mount Greylock in the semi-finals of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament.
Jarod Bolton scored the go-ahead goal in the 43rd minute and set up Michael Laughner to make it 3-1 a few minutes later as the top-seeded Orioles (16-2-2) punched their ticket for the sectional final for the second year in a row.
No. 4 Mount Greylock (11-5-2) battled back and cut the deficit in half with 7 minutes, 34 seconds remaining, but the hole was just a little too deep.
“I was a little bit disappointed that we didn’t match their energy level [to start the second half],” Mount Greylock coach Blair Dils said. “That was a pretty good shot [Bolton] hit. I think [keeper David Falk] was struggling a little bit with the angles, playing his angles on that goal. I don’t know what the sightlines were like. Not playing on this field before, it seemed like he was a little off on his angles in the second half.
“But, again, it was a really well struck ball, and on the dewey surface it found its way in.”
And for the seventh time in nine years, Belchertown found its way past the Mounties the tournament.
“It’s me that’s tired of it,” Dils said. “It’s not the guys. There’s only a couple of guys who played a against them, but that was three or four years ago. It’s a completely different episode and chapter -- just a hard-fought battle between two teams that regularly find themselves in the Western Mass semis and finals.”
Belchertown coach Tony Almeida agreed.
“Hey, you beat Mount Greylock, they’re always one of the best teams in D3,” he said. “They’re as good as any team in D1. It’s always good to beat a great opponent like Mount Greylock.”
One of the keys to Wednesday’s win: holding Mounties striker Sam Dils in check.
Belchertown senior Nolan Vogel was attached at the hip to Mount Greylock’s 15-goal scorer.
“He did an outstanding job,” Almeida said. “He did the same thing earlier this year against [Quinn] Serafino from West Side. So I had all the trust in the world he would do the job here today and shut him down.”
Dils play a role in Mount Greylock’s first goal of the game.
After Belchertown opened the scoring in the fourth minute, the Mounties responded with 32:59 left in the first half when Luke Swann intercepted a pass in the offensive third and sent it forward to Dils on the right wing. He crossed it to Emmanuel Soza-Foias, who converted for his fifth goal of the season to make it 1-1.
That is where it stayed until half-time despite a series of chances midway through the first half when Belchertown earned three straight corner kicks. Falk (four saves) caught the last corner kick and punted the ball out to end the threat.
Mount Greylock earned back-to-back corners of its own with about three minutes left in the half, but the second was caught by Belchertown keeper Sean McCarthy (six saves).
After Belchertown built a two-goal lead to start the second half and time began to run short, Blair Dils altered his team’s shape, bringing a second striker forward to try to take some pressure off Sam Dils.
And the increased offensive threat paid off.
With a little more than eight minutes left, Sam Dils was hauled down on the left wing just outside the 18-yard area, and the Mounties were awarded a direct free kick. But the Orioles’ defense denied Mount Greylock a good look at the goal.
Finally, in the 73rd minute. Brady Foehl headed in a cross from Soza-Foias to make it close.
It was the final goal in a stellar career for Foehl and the final game for Dils and the other eight Mount Greylock seniors.
“I’ve grown up coaching these guys for all these years,” Blair Dils said. “It’s tough to swallow that it’s over. It’s just a great group of kids. They worked hard and made it fun every day of training. They left it all out on the field.
“The desire was certainly there. We were just one or two plays away.”