Blanchard's Game-Winner Lifts Monument Mountain
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. -- Aubrey Blanchard knocked home a Gabriella DeFelice corner kick in the 54th minute to break a 1-1 tie and send the Monument Mountain girls soccer team to a 2-1 win over Wahconah in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 quater-finals on Tuesday night.
The third-seeded Spartans (12-3-5) took a 1-0 lead early but Wahconah (8-8-4) battled back to tie it in the 48th minute.
Six minutes later, DeFelice went to the corner on the right wing side and delivered a strike into the 6-yard box, where Blanchard volleyed it into the back of the net.
Wahconah had just a couple of chances to get the equalizer as Monument Mountain kept its foot on the gas and finished strong, keeping relentless pressure on the Wahconah backs and keeper Sage Howes.
“We try to apply high pressure the whole game,” Monument Mountain coach Jessica Platt said. “Obviously, the adrenaline that comes with a second goal is huge. And I think they really took that energy and kept it going.”
Now the Spartans are going to Thursday’s sectional semi-final at Holyoke High School, where they will face second-seeded Monson (13-2-4), a 4-0 winner over Frontier on Tuesday night.
Monument opened its quarter-final with a Meri Powell goal in the seventh minute. Like the eventual game-winner, Powell’s goal came out of a Monument Mountain corner kick.
“We’ve had some success [with set pieces],” Platt said. “We’re always trying to put the ball in the back of the net. And if it comes off a corner or it comes off a shot from anywhere else, we’ll take it.
“We don’t train [corner kicks] too much. We just focus on our movement to the ball and our high pressure and our confidence. I think we have some really talented players who are willing to put their bodies on the line to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Wahconah’s Arden McKnight was able to put one past Monument Mountain keeper Helen Pajeski eight minutes into the second half to tie the game, 1-1.
But as it did in a pair of regular-season wins over Wahconah, Monument Mountain found a way.
“We played Wahconah twice in the regular season, but we walk into post-season as its own separate entity,” Platt said. “We just start with Wahconah 0-0 and see where we go from there.”
The Spartans have another rematch on tap Thursday night. Back in September, the Spartans dropped a 1-0 decision at Monson. Since that loss, Monument Mountain has gone 8-1-3.