Hoosac Valley Girls Win to Reach Western Mass Tourney

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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CHESHIRE, Mass. -- The Hoosac Valley girls soccer team saved one of its best games for last.
And that means it has not played its last.
The Hurricanes scored two first-half goals Tuesday to hand Mount Greylock a 2-0 loss and qualify for the Western Massachusetts tournament on the last day of the regular season.
“Why did we wait so long?” joked Hoosac Valley coach Kathy Budaj.
The Hurricanes finished the year 6-5-5, gaining the needed .500 record after dropping their last three decisions.
“That’s what we were saying after the Monument and Wahconah losses,” Budaj said. “Hopefully, this is happening to build some resilience in the girls so they can execute when needed. And they did, which is great.”
Alie Mendel started the scoring in the seventh minute when she converted an assist by Ellie Field for her team-leading 10th goal.
Then the Hurricanes, who had been giving away leads during a stretch where they went 1-3-4, built on their lead just before half-time. Chloe Martel set up Shaleigh Levesque for her seventh goal of the season.
“That was huge,” Budaj said of the insurance goal.
“What we noticed is, we were tending to let down when we got up, so it gave people a chance to get back into games. The Monument loss, we let them back into the game. Wahconah, we battled and finally got one in, and then we let down. Belchertown, we’re up and we let down. That’s something we’ve been talking about at practice.”
Hoosac Valley’s backline and keeper Grace Kronick (three saves) made the lead stand up.
The Mount Greylock Mounties, who own a 3-1 win over Hoosac Valley from early October, entered the game knowing they were in the tournament and finished the season 9-6-2 overall but just 0-3-1 in their second run through the Berkshire County North Division double round-robin.
“In some respects, I think we clinched it a little too early,” Mount Greylock coach Tom Ostehiemer said. “We’ve gone through the North Division and kind of made tournaments happen for other teams.
“That’s being generous,” he added with a laugh. “It wasn’t part of the master plan to say, ‘Let’s give Pittsfield a chance,’ and ‘Let’s get Hoosac into the tournament.’ “
The Mounties, who got seven saves from keeper Isabella Nicastro, again saw sophomore striker Madison Ross sit down early after aggravating a nagging hip injury.
Ostheimer said he hopes the eight-goal scorer will be able to make a go of it in the tournament. But, either way, he thinks his side is talented enough to make a splash in the post-season.
“We can come up with lots of excuses, but all we can control is our own play and the 11 we put out there,” he said. “We’re not deep, but we’re strong enough to make a tournament run, and hopefully that’s what we’ll do.”
The Western Massachusetts tournament seeds and first-round games will be announced on Wednesday.
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