Czelusniak Scores Pair to Lead Lenox into Western Mass Final Four
LENOX, Mass. — Already in the driver’s seat with a 2-0 halftime lead, the Lenox Millionaires found out that they had already done enough and the victory was theirs.
Due to deteriorating field conditions in Friday afternoon’s Western Mass Division 4 girls soccer quarterfinal at Lenox High, the match was called at halftime and Lenox claimed the shutout victory over the Smith Academy Falcons.
“It was definitely a strange situation,” Lenox head coach Kyle Zinchuk said. “Hopefully, we were going to feel confident and comfortable coming into the second half. I was actually telling them that a 2-0 lead is the worst lead you can have in soccer, because you can sometimes overplay that comfortable factor and not play with the same intensity. We had a little bit of a cushion but we could not rest and relax, and then we heard the news.”
The region experienced its first snowfall of the season Friday, and the contest was played in frigid temperatures. But as the sun went down and the temperature fell, the playing surface became unmanageable and the decision was made to call the match.
“It took us a second to process it, to be honest,” Zinchuk admitted. “We were in the mindset of where we were at in the game, and on what we had to do in the second half. To go from that moment to that is it, I’ve never experienced something like that before, as a player or a coach. My heart really breaks for Smith in terms of that. I know what it is like to be in that situation and to be ready to come out in the second half and make your changes and adjustments to look for that comeback. Especially in a tournament like this, now that is the end of their season. That’s not the way you want to end a soccer game; I wanted to get the full game in.”
Erin Czelusniak recorded both goals for the Millionaires, who improved to 9-8-1.
The senior tallied the winning score off an assist from Mary Elliot with 25:28 remaining in the first half. Elliot placed a perfect feed out in front and Czelusniak sprinted past the defenders to create an open look, and she then bounced the ball past the keeper and into the net.
Just four minutes later the Millionaires nearly added another score, when Molly Knight soared a blast from 25 yards deep. But Falcons goalie Claire Bennett secured the ball for the save.
Bennett had four saves overall.
In the 39th minute just before the break, Czelusniak struck again. This time she got free on another breakaway and rolled the ball in for the 2-0 advantage.
“Erin had those goals and really showcased her speed,” Zinchuk said. “Even Solia and Mary also have some of that speed, so even if they had wanted to man-mark Erin and take her away, we would have been able to find those speed options also. The speed was a big role for us today. We knew we had that speed things we could do today, so we were looking for those through-balls. I think we were also possessing and moving the ball really well to get into those positions, so I was happy with the balance of our attack today.”
The Millionaires controlled field position and were aggressive on the attack. Lenox took 12 shots on goal, and found the net on its two best scoring opportunities.
“That is something that we have struggled on a little bit this year is to capitalize on opportunities, so it was nice to see us put away those good ones that we had,” Zinchuk said. “I still think we did not find that final pass that we needed on a couple other situations that would have given us great opportunities, but I can’t be unhappy with the way we played. We got the job done that we needed to do.”
The Falcons (7-10-1) spent much of the game on defense. Smith managed just one shot on goal, which was stopped by sophomore keeper Sophia Patella.