DALTON, Mass. -- A header inside the 18 off a direct free kick was all the offense Belchertown’s boys soccer team could muster in the first half of Thursday’s Western Massachusetts Division 3 semi-final.
But it was all the offense the Orioles needed.
Jarod Bolton headed home Evan Fournier’s cross from the left wing, and second-seeded Belchertown held on for a 1-0 win over Mount Greylock at Wahconah Regional High School.
Christopher Tilton made six saves to preserve the shutout, and Belchertown won its eighth straight postseason meeting against the Mounties.
Mount Greylock coach Blair Dils, who admitted that the streak is not much fun for him as a coach, saw his Mounties (10-7-2) lose for the first time in seven games and go scoreless for the first time since Sept. 22.
“Again, our defense was excellent, and we put ourselves in a position to score tonight,” Dils said. “But some kind of force field was around that goal and kept it out a couple of times.
“You don’t really understand why the ball didn’t go in the net a couple of times. But they got the break in the first half, and we didn’t in the second half.”
Mount Greylock started the second half with a strong scoring chance in the 42nd minute, but Belchertown’s Connor Laflamme managed to defend a dangerous run up the middle by Finn Welch.
The Mounties continued to apply the pressure throughout the second half, although the Orioles did manage a few more tries against Mount Greylock keeper David Falk (four saves).
In the closing minutes, it was all Mount Greylock.
With just more than six minutes left to play, Luke Swann set up Welch on the left side of the 18, and Welch drilled a low shot that Tilton was able to corral.
In the 78th minute, the Mounties had a corner kick from the right wing that a Belchertown defender was able to head out of traffic, but it went right to Mount Greylock defender Will Reynolds at the top of the penalty arc. He fired a shot that went just over the crossbar.
In the first half, Mount Greylock earned an early corner kick, but its best chances came in a two-minute stretch around the 18-minute mark when Tilton needed to make a couple of saves.
The Orioles finally broke the seal on the game with 11 minutes, 10 seconds left until half-time.
Fournier took the restart from the left wing and sent the ball into the 18, where Bolton headed it past Falk for the game’s only goal.
“Some of the guys were a little down-in-the-mouth at half-time,” Dils said. “But I said to them, ‘We’re putting pressure on them. We’re getting better scoring opportunities. We’re building the ball up and creating good opportunities.’
“I said, ‘That’s’ going to continue in the second half.’ And it did. We just couldn’t poke one home.”