Mount Greylock's Willis Shines in Senior Night Win
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Senior night. Under the lights. Your program's biggest rival. A county championship on the line.
It does not get any bigger than that.
And no one could have come up bigger than Mount Greylock senior goalie Paige Willis.
Willis stopped 18 shots on Thursday night to backstop the Mounties to an 8-7 win over Wahconah that gave the Mounties the inside track on the county title.
Neither Mount Gryelock nor Wahconah has been tested by a county opponent so far this spring, and the Mounties came into Thursday night with a 1-0-1 record against the visitors.
The one tie was very much on the minds of Mount Greylock's players going into Thursday's rematch.
"We wanted this really, really badly," Willis said. "It was constant in all our heads. We just wanted this game so badly, and I'm so happy we got it."
Her coach was happy, too ... and relieved.
"Every time we play Wahconah, it's a fantastic game," Mount Greylock coach Lyndsey von Holtz said. "They're a great team. It's a great competition. It's a lot of fun for the girls to have that. We rely on that every year. It doesn't matter how each of us is doing, when we play each other it's a good match.
"I'm definitely proud of the girls. Paige in goal was phenomenal."
At the other end, Lucy Barrett scored three goals and Caroline Flynn had two for the Mounties.
Flynn's second of the game came with 5 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first half to give Mount Greylock a 5-2 lead.
It capped a 3-0 run for the Mounties, and it looked for a moment like the hosts were going to have some breathing room.
But Emmy Cote scored with 11 seconds left before half-time and 39 seconds into the second half to get Wahconah within one. And Morgan Francese tied the game with a free position goal about a minute later.
Willis and Katie Bachli (13 saves) traded big-time stoops to keep it a 5-5 game for about two minutes before Francese scored her second of the game on a bounce shot in transition off a pass from Perin Genaway.
Wahconah's only lead of the game lasted 1:20 before Kelsey Orpin fought through two defenders to get to the goal and tie the game, 6-6.
The next couple of minutes were marked by two point-blank stops by Willis and an apparent Wahconah goal that was waved off due to a circle violation on a free position try.
Barrett put the Mounties on top with a low shot on a free position midway through the second half to make it 7-6. Wahconah answered a few minutes later when Paige Chiaretta scored unassisted.
With 4:30 on the clock, Sarah Stripp earned a free position chance for Mount Greylock, and she bounced her shot past Bachli to put the Mounties on top for good.
Wahconah's last scoring chance ended with about 3:40 left when Hope Willis broke up a Wahconah pass in the attacking zone.
The Mounties got the ball back and proceeded to run the last three minutes off the clock without taking a shot.
There was one scary moment for the home team with about 20 seconds left to play when the ball hit the ground about 20 yards from the Wahconah goal. But Mount Greylock senior Alana Chesney got to the ground ball to prevent a repeat of the teams' April 11 meeting, when Wahconah rallied from two goals down in the closing minutes.
Wahconah coach Kathy Budaj was disappointed her team was not able to get better ball pressure on Mount Greylock in the closing minutes. But that final possession could not detract from what was a thrilling, hard-fought contest.
"Greylock's a good team, they did what they were supposed to do, and kudos to them," Budaj said. "Take the last four minutes out of the game, and we played a great game.
"We fought back. The girls worked hard. We've got a lot of young kids on the team, and they did well. Overall, I'm really happy. Going into the tournament, two tough games coming up -- one against Northampton, which is going to be really tough -- but they're not going to get better unless we play good teams.
"We really wanted to be co-champs. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. But we'll take second place and hopefully next year we'll come back."