WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Win, lose or draw, Mount Greylock boys soccer coach Blair Dils is always good for a quote.
Just more than a year ago, on this same field, he thoughtfully and amicably talked about how his team was outplayed in a 2-0 loss to Belchertown in the final of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament.
On Sunday, faced with a row of reporters’ tape recorders, Dils stared at a point somewhere in the distance.
“I don’t know,” Dils said finally. “I don’t have much to say.”
What could be said after the Mounties lost to the long-time nemesis Orioles in a penalty-kick shootout that decided the 2014 Western Mass title and sent Belchertown back to try to defend its 2013 state crown?
This was supposed to be the year when Mount Greylock ended a five-year run of tournament frustration against the O’s.
And, in fact, this night was different. It was the Mounties who carried the play and generated the majority of the chances.
It is those chances that Mount Greylock’s players and fans will replay in their minds for a long time to come.
“It would have been nice if we had capitalized on some of our opportunities,” Dils said. “They had some opportunities as well, but, you know, it’s criminal in a way it comes down to that, but that’s just how it goes.”
“That,” is the penalty-kick shootout, the most arbitrary and unfair method of tie-breaking this side of tossing a coin.
But 100 minutes of scoreless soccer -- and a need to crown a team to carry Western Mass’ banner into the state semifinals -- meant that each team would take turns trying to do what it couldn’t do in regulation and two periods of sudden death overtime: find the back of the net.
Belchertown did it six times. Mount Greylock just five. And that means the Orioles get to lace up their boots again on Tuesday night.
It took 12 rounds of PKs to decide it thanks largely to the heroics of keepers Connor Curtain and Cal Filson.
Filson, in particular, was outstanding, making five saves on 12 shots.
His first save came on Belchertown’s last try in the best-of-five round that opened the shootout. Filson went on to stop four of the next six shots he faced, a run that no one in attendance at Westfield State’s Alumni Field is likely to see again.
“Cal was amazing in PKs,” Dils said. “He kept giving our guys chances. Unfortunately, we couldn’t support him. … Honestly, he hasn’t looked that great in training on those. So to see him make as many stops as he did was outstanding.”
Each time Filson made a save, he gave his team a chance to win the game on its next shot.
But five times, Mount Greylock followed a Filson save with a misfire. Twice, it hit the post. Three times, Curtain matched Filson with a save.
Finally, in the 12th round, Belchertown’s leading scorer, Chris Noga, went to the spot and delivered a shot low to Filson’s right that the junior could not get to. Mount Greylock’s next try missed the mark, sailing high and wide of the goal.
And that was that.
“We had a great, great year,” Dils said. “I’d love to play them again a couple of times. But, in the end, they got it done and we didn’t”
More photos from this game here.