Mount Greylock Boys Playing Through 'Heartbreak'

By Stephen Sports
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Three days after learning it will miss the postseason through no fault of its own, the Mount Greylock boys soccer team was able to channel some of its emotion into a 5-1 drubbing of Wahconah on Wednesday.
But even the win over a Berkshire North Division rival was a little bittersweet.
“Since we heard the news, it was kind of heart-breaking,” senior captain Zach Condon said Wednesday. “We’ve been trying to keep our hopes up. … This win would have put us in the tournament. It’s all out of our hands now, and it’s up to the MIAA to make a decision on the appeal.”
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has ruled that Mount Greylock must forfeit its first seven games of the season (one of which it lost anyway) because an administrative error allowed an ineligible student-athlete to participate in the program.
The school is appealing the decision with hopes that the state governing body will reinstate the Mounties (2-11-1 with two games left) for the Western Mass tournament, where it would be seeded as the bottom team in its bracket.
After the Mounties heard the news on Sunday, they dropped a 5-2 decision at Monument Mountain, a team they beat, 4-0, on Sept. 15 in a game they later had to forfeit.
“It may have contributed to the loss on Monday,” Condon said. “Everybody was upset, obviously, but some guys took that into the game. We didn’t have a lot of time to talk about it or understand fully what was happening.
“But we’ve got to push forward.”
Mount Greylock’s coach said he did not realize how much Sunday’s announcement would affect his team in Monday’s game until it happened.
“I think I underestimated the toll the decision had on the boys,” Blair Dils said. “I thought they might be able to compartmentalize it, but they’re 15- through 18-year-olds, and they don’t quite have the experience that adults do. I think we were still playing stunned.
“But give credit to Monument. Monument played well. They took it to us, and they were hungrier.”
It seems likely that Mount Greylock’s players will need even more time to accept its fate, especially since they are still clinging to the hope that the appeal will succeed. But the process of learning from disappointment is under way.
“I think the captains have really stepped up and asked a little bit more of the boys lately,” Dils said. “I think the whole team feels -- after having a rough stretch that culminated with the Monday outcome -- like they’re ready to turn the corner and put they’re all into the last games of the season, whether it’s two more games or somehow we do get in.
“They don’t want to pass up on the opportunity that the last two games present to them.”
The Mount Greylock program is no stranger to bitter disappointment when it comes to the post-season.
Just two years ago, the Mounties were the top seed in Division 3 in the Western Mass tournament and carried a nine-game unbeaten streak into the sectional final against Belchertown -- only to see Belchertown prevail in a game that went to penalty kicks with the teams tied, 0-0.
Condon, who played significant minutes as a sophomore on that team, said this year’s experience is tough to compare.
“It’s different in that we had a good, successful season in the playoffs,” he said. “With this, we don’t get to go to the playoffs and fight in the playoffs -- if the MIAA decides that. But it’s similar in some ways because a lot of the seniors here won’t get another chance, and it ends abruptly. Being as close to the post-season as we were, being told with only four games left in the regular season is a different kind of heartbreak.
“When you lose in the Western Mass tournament, you know you had a chance. We don’t even have a chance.”
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