Hornets, Reynolds Wrap Up PK Win, State Voc Final Berth

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Let others worry about ghosts and goblins.
High school soccer goalkeepers have their own thing to worry about this time of year: penalty kick shootouts.
On Wednesday, McCann Tech sophomore Savanah Reynolds overcame that bogeyman.
The first post-season game of the season in Berkshire County went the distance and then some as the Hornets prevailed over Tri-County Tech in a shootout in the semi-finals of the State Vocational Small School Championship.
Reynolds made three saves in five attempts to help the top-seeded Hornets earn a 2-1 shootout victory and advance to the state title game, likely to be played on Friday in the Hornets Nest.
Isabella LaCasse scored twice in regulation, and she and Molly Boyer each converted in the shootout. The Hornets regrouped after giving up a heart-breaking goal with 32 seconds left in regulation to tie it.
And after watching the final seconds tick off the second of two sudden-death overtime periods, Reynolds regrouped for the challenge to come.
“I have no clue,” she said when asked what was going through her mind. “I was just ready to get the ball. I was kind of nervous. I was shaking. And then I got the first ball, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna get the rest.’ Except for that one. But I got the third one, and we won.”
Reynolds stopped the first two shots she saw, and LaCasse made McCann’s second try to put the Hornets up, 1-0.
Tri-County’s Isabelle Dias slipped one into the net to tie it, but Boyer came right back with a goal to give McCann Tech a 2-1 lead.
Reynolds stopped Tri-County’s fourth attempt, but Paige Griffin answered with a goal in the bottom of the fourth “inning.” Tri-County’s fifth try went wide to Reynolds’ right, touching off a celebration for the Hornets.
Reynolds and her coach agreed that PKs have not been a strong suit for the keeper this fall, but she came up big when her team needed it most.
“I said, ‘Savanah, they have their backup goalie in there, I need one save,’ “ McCann Tech coach Mike Dowling said. “I figured the ones I have are all pretty good shooters. But when she made that first save, she just got confident. Three saves is big in a shootout.
“She was all worried about it. A couple that were taken during the year that were right at her, she missed. She made ‘em today.”
The Hornets (13-2-4) scored the game’s first goal in the 11th minute.
LaCasse received a ball over the top from Brooke O’Neil near the top of the 18. Tri-County’s keeper came off her line in an attempt to play the ball but appeared to misjudge it, giving LaCasse an open look at the net for her 32nd goal of the season.
It was easily the Hornets’ best opportunity in a first half largely dominated by the visitors.
Tri-County converted its advantage in possession time into a goal in the 23rd minute when Caitlyn Gorman one-timed a shot from the top right-wing corner of the 18 and made it 1-1.
That is where it stood at half-time, largely because of Reynolds’ seven first-half saves.
The Hornets had a tie game and some work to do during the break.
“We were kind scattered,” Dowling said. “I don’t know if it was nerves or something, but they were just kicking the ball. The midfield was just kicking the ball. … It was just going to the white shirts. So after they actually started taking a couple of touches … once they started using the outsides …”
It produced a goal in the 54th minute, when Addie Hayer brought the ball down the right wing and crossed into the box for LaCasse, who gave McCann Tech a 2-1 lead.
McCann went into the contest with a serious disadvantage in experience -- 12 freshmen on the Hornets’ roster against nine seniors for Tri-County -- and without 14-goal scorer Sarah Fortini, who was injured in Monday’s regular season finale against Hampden Charter.
“Mia Parise played a good game,” Dowling said. “She filled in for Sarah [Fortini]. I put Addie Hayer up front, and Mia stepped up. She played a really nice game. She never played that much in a game all year.”
After McCann Tech weathered a storm and got a big save from Reynolds in the 78th minute, it looked like LaCasse’ two goals would be enough to send the Hornets on to the title game.
But with 32 seconds left, Tri-County’s Noelle Kennedy converted a cross from Jessica Catalano and sent the game to OT.
Reynolds had three more saves in the extra session, the toughest on a try by Caitlyn Gorman in the 10th minute of the first extra session.
Reynolds, who went over 100 saves for the season on Wednesday, said that she has been working on PKs in practice.
“I usually get some of them,” she said. “It’s usually when I pay attention to their hips or their legs, and then when they boot it I know which direction they’re going to be kicking. I get a head start.”
And thanks to that, McCann Tech is heading to the finals.
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