Senior-Laden Wahconah Wraps Up North Title
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Each time the Wahconah and Mount Greylock girls soccer teams played in the regular season, it came down to the dramatic closing seconds.
In Sunday's Berkshire County North Division Championship Game, Wahconah removed a little of the drama with a pair of first half goals.
But the intensity was just as strong.
"It's a good game, great back and forth and there's never a dull moment in the sense that everybody is playing hard the whole 80 minutes," Wahconah coach Meghan Smith. "It's always exciting. I do enjoy playing them."
And even after outshooting the Mounties by a margin of 9-0 in the first half, Wahconah knew the game was far from over.
"We've been in that situation before with them having a cushion, and they came back," Smith said. "Especially in this case, you play 20 minutes, regroup, play 20 minutes, regroup, and go back at it and not give up because you never know what's going to happen.
"You don't want to give any leeway."
Sadie Anderson and Hannah Bowlby each scored a goal, and keeper Eva Eberwein and the Wahconah defense gave the Mounties very little leeway indeed in completing an unbeaten Fall 2 season in Dalton.
Anchored by the likes of Julia Trager, Jilly Cote, Maggie Mazzeo, Vienne Peltier and Quinn Walton, Wahconah's back line was a nearly impenetrable wall in front of Eberwein, who made four saves to earn the shutout.
"We preach: Protect each other, every line protects each other," Smith said. "When they get there, they're going to protect the goalie. ... They work hard, and they know when it comes down to them, they're going to put it out there for their team."
Most of the early chances were generated by Wahconah's offense, which generated shots on goal by Maria Gamberoni and Noelle Furlong in the first three minutes.
Mount Greylock keeper Delaney Babcock made seven first-half saves and stopped some dangerous crosses from the wings to keep the game scoreless.
But in the 29th minute, Anderson played a deflection off a Mount Greylock defender and went upper 90 to score the game's first goal.
"I'm kind of still in shock," Anderson said. "I just gave it all I've got. I tried to pick my head up, find a good spot in the goal and rip it."
About two minutes later, Maria Gamberoni played a ball from midfield down the left wing for Olivia Gamberoni, who dribbled into the corner and played it along the line before crossing into the 6. Babcock made a play on the ball, but it caromed off her body to Bowlby, who buried a shot to double Wahconah's lead.
The wet ball and field conditions definitely appeared to factor into the goal.
"Every game, we're screaming, 'Get into the box,' and especially today because that ball is going to jump, it's going to slip," Smith said. "We don't want to miss a chance."
Mount Greylock got a similar chance off Eberwein's body in the opening moments of the second half, but Elizabeth Dupras' try went just over the crossbar. Midway through the half, Dupras fired a blast from the top of the 18 on the right wing side that Eberwein controlled to maintain the shutout.
"I was proud of the way we came out with some energy in the second half," Mount Greylock coach Tom Ostheimer said. "And we had the pressure on in the end. If we could have gotten a goal, anything happens then. But it's tough to come to come back when you're down 2-0, especially playing a strong, veteran team like Wahconah."
Ostheimer already was looking ahead to next season, which in the case of soccer teams, is less than four months away.
"I don't look at it as a rebuilding year," Ostheimer said. "We've got a good, strong core. Obviously, we'll have to replace a lot of goals with Clara [McWeeny] not coming back. We'll find some offense somehow.
"It's May 2, and we usually start mid-August. It's nice not to have a big layoff."
For Wahconah, which suited up 14 seniors on Sunday, the team will have a different look next fall but also lots of success to build on.
But that's a matter for another day.
After winning the North title on Sunday, the team was thinking less about August than the august return to Dalton with fire trucks for an escort.
It marked the second championship parade in two days and third in a few months in Dalton, which celebrated an undefeated girls basketball season in March and a two-loss Berkshire North champion volleyball squad on Saturday.