By Ryan Holmes
09:16PM / Monday, October 24, 2011
ADAMS, Mass. -- In a game featuring the top two teams in the South Division, both of which have stellar defenses, the squad which has the best ability to finish around the net should come out on top.
Danielle Beauchemin displayed just those skills for the Hoosac Valley girls' soccer team at Renfrew Field on Monday night. The Hurricanes' junior was in the right place at the right time and showed off some serious accuracy on her way to scoring a pair of second-half goals to lead the Hurricanes to a huge 2-0 win over division rival Mount Greylock.
The victory vaulted Hoosac into first place in the South Division with a 6-1-1 record, 7-2-4 overall. The Mounties, who were previously undefeated in division play, fall one point behind with a 5-1-2 mark in the South, 8-5-2 overall. Both teams have a pair of South Divison games left, with Drury (5-1-2 in the South) still holding out hope they can crash the top spot as well. Friday's game between the Hurricanes and the Blue Devils is now even more interesting than a typical Drury-Hoosac rivalry game.
"Coming into the game, there was no doubt that we had to win," Beauchemin said. "It was just hard work, and that's all that mattered. We all know that we can all play 80 minutes straight. That's help us all season because of our low numbers."
With only a total of 13 players on the roster for a majority of the season, the 'Canes have had to find a way to work hard the entire game without running out of gas before the final whistle. There didn't seem be any letdowns from Blair Mahar's squad on Monday night, as Hoosac earned a 20-10 advantage in shots and came up with a defensive effort that allowed freshman goalie Megan Richardson to make just two saves to earn her sixth shutout of the season.
After playing to a 4-4 tie in early September, Monday's game appeared to be heading for another draw after an evenly played first half. The 'Canes came on strong in the final 10 minutes of the first frame, however, giving them confidence that a goal-scoring opportunity could be just around the corner. Had it not been for some amazing saves by junior keeper Margot Besnard, the Mounties might have trailed heading into the break.
With just under nine minutes left in the first half, Hoosac senior Elizabeth Provost smoked a square pass aross the field to sophomore Megan Rodowicz. She juggled the ball into the air before volleying a high shot on net that Besnard had to leap high to snag. A few moments later, Provost drilled a shot from the right side of the box, only to watch Besnard jump to the near post and tap it over the crossbar. Hoosac got another chance on the ensueing corner kick, slamming a header on net that forced Besnard to dive to her right to make the save.
Besnard had five saves in the first half alone on her way to finishing with eight stops on the night.
"She kept us in the game," Greylock head coach Tom Ostheimer said. "I thought we could wear them out, but we're not all that deep either, so that kind of evened out."
Although they couldn't solve Besnard on that trip down the field, Beauchemin said the pressure they put on the Mounties' net had them feeling good at the start of the second half.
"I definitely thought the momentum was going our way," she said. "You could feel it coming on, and you could feel it that we were going to score. We were outplaying them towards the end of the first half, so we felt a lot better going into the second half. We knew that we just needed to keep playing hard."
After surviving a brief scare on a solid shot by Greylock junior Alex Majetich two minutes after halftime, the Hurricanes got right back to work attacking the Mounties net. Besnard came up with a few more key saves until the deck was eventually stacked against her. Less than six minutes into the second half, she turned away another Hoosac shot but let the ball get away in the box. A mad scramble ensued, and the ball eventually popped out to Beauchemin, who one-timed it high into the net for a 1-0 lead.
A scramble of players in front of the net, getting Besnard on the run, out of position and without sight of the ball was just the Hurricanes needed to break through on one of the most talented goalkeepers in Berkshire County.
"Confusion defintely helps with a good goalie," Beauchemin said. "You need to distract her, and it helps a lot if she doesn't know where everything is. It also takes a well-placed shot. It's does get frustrating when you keep shooting, shooting, shooting, and you can't get in it."
Thirteen minutes later, Beauchemin found the back of the net again wtih another well-placed shot. Rodowicz found her in the middle of the field, and Beauchemin used a nice step-over move to gain possession and freeze the Greylock defense. She saw a hole open up to her left and slid a low shot inside the left post to put the game away.
"Danielle stood out tonight," Mahar said. "Both teams do a good job of using their possession play to move the ball down the field, but it's what you do in the box that counts. Danielle just has that final, nice strike."
While there was certainly good things going on in the middle of the field, the Mounties just couldn't sustain their offense long enough to get quality shots on Richardson. Of the 10 shots they had on the night, only two landed in or near the hands of the freshman keeper.
"We didn't get shots on net, and we lost the ball trying to turn it," Ostheimer said. "I thought we played really well. We were a little loose with our marks early on on defense, but I thought we settled down well defensively. We just didn't take advantage. We had a lot of opportunities at the top of the box, but we just didn't get it into the box or press the goalie."
A major reason for that was the Hoosac backline of sweeper Courtney Hayer, stopper Jessica Gale and outside fullbacks McKenzie Robinson and Cali Romaniak.
"Courtney is just a wicked athlete and you saw how fast she is," Mahar said. "It's all four of them really, though. They're just really dominant right now. That's the reason why we've had three shutouts in a row and why we were able to shut out Wahconah this year for the first time in about 15 years. It's all about the defense taking the pressure off of Megan.
"Any day Meg has a boring game is good for us."
Hoosac next hosts St. Joe's at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, while Greylock plays at Lee at 4 p.m. on the same day.