Wahconah Girls Come Back, Claim County Crown

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Make that five Berkshire County titles for Wahconah girls teams this year.
Jilly Cote had a hat trick and set up a goal in Wahconah’s come-from-behind, 7-4 win over Mount Greylock on Tuesday to win the rubber match of the three-game season series.
Adding that to Wahconah’s unbeaten seasons in basketball and soccer, a volleyball county tournament title and the school’s 12-1 softball team this season, the school is enjoying a run of success that would be the envy of anyone.
But with about 16 minutes left in Tuesday’s game, it looked like Wahconah might have to settle for second place for the first time in 2021.
In the ninth minute of the second half, Mount Greylock’s Sarah Polumbo scored to give her team a 3-1 lead in a game where shots -- let alone goals -- were few and far between.
It stayed that way for 50 seconds before Cote scored her first goal of the game, an unassisted score to get Wahconah within a goal.
“I think it’s a matter of who’s confident with the ball and who’s not,” Cote said. “That’s really what wins this game, and I think after that third goal they scored, we started to realize that we need to become more confident with the ball.
“And people who usually aren’t started to, and that’s what really got us going.”
Thirty seconds later, Cote set up Hannah Bowlby for her second goal of the game to tie it at 3-3. And a little more than a minute after that, Bowlby set up Cote to give Wahconah the lead for good.
Three goals in the span of 1 minute, 43 seconds to change the complexion of the game and send Wahconah on to yet another title.
“When they scored those two goals, I called timeout and pulled my captains aside,” Wahconah coach Kathy Budaj said. “I said, ‘This is the time you lead your team. This is time you lead your team. This is where you guys step up and take charge of your program.’
“And boy did they.”
Kaeli Talora scored with 10:21 left to give Wahconah its first two-goal lead, but the Mounties answered less than two minutes later when Polumbo scored off an assist from Gianna Pesce to snap a four-goal Wahconah run and make it 5-4 with 8:33 remaining.
Wahconah got another goal apiece from Cote and Talora to build a three-goal cushion, and it ran off two minutes in its offensive zone at the end of the game to stymie Mount Greylock’s comeback hopes.
After splitting the first two meetings this spring, the first half on Tuesday was about ball control and not wanting to give either high-powered offense an easy opportunity, Budaj said.
Bowlby did score once in transition about seven minutes into the game to give Wahconah a 1-0 lead. But Mount Greylock’s Christy Rech turned aside five first-half shots to make sure that was all the visitors would put on the scoreboard.
At the other end, the Mounties went nearly the entire first half without solving Sydney Smith (six saves), but in the closing seconds, Mount Greylock’s Carolyn Jones knocked down a Smith clear, and Ainsley Abel jumped on the groundball and scored to send the teams into the break tied, 1-1.
Mount Greylock took its first lead when Abel set up Polumbo following another Wahconah turnover in the defensive zone in the fifth minute of the second half. Polumbo’s second goal of the game gave Mount Greylock its two-goal lead before Wahconah stormed back.
Two months ago to the day, a lot of these same Wahconah student-athletes earned an emotional soccer win over the Mounties on the same field. But Tuesday evening, Cote was thinking more about the one-goal loss at Mount Greylock in lacrosse a few weeks earlier … and a few other losses to the Mounties over the years.
“It definitely feels nice,” she said. “We’re usually on the other end of that, on the losing side. It’s happened the past four years, so it’s nice to finally come out of this winning.”
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