Resurgent Wahconah Wins Third Straight

By Stephen Sports
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DALTON, Mass. – The regular season is ending too soon for the Wahconah girls lacrosse team.
After picking up its first win of the season on Thursday night, Wahconah beat Granby, 14-11, on Sunday for its third win in four days to improve to 3-15.
“It’s been a long road, and it’s been a fun road,” Wahconah coach Kathy Budaj said. “To see the improvement, the never quit, the perseverance and saying, ‘I’m going to play, and I’m going to play hard.’ I can’t ask for more from these girls. They’ve been amazing.
“I don’t know if this will do anything as far as Western Mass. We’ll see what happens. But we do know we have one game left.”
In the most recent in-season power rankings, Wahconah was fifth in Class C, just behind No. 4 Lee, which Wahconah beat on Thursday. Any team that doesn’t get into the four-team Western Mass tournament fields is assigned one game against another non-qualifier to finish out the regular season.
Whatever happens after Tuesday’s cutoff date for regional tournament seeding purposes, Wahconah was flying high after knocking off the Rams.
“We’ve been working super hard our entire season,” senior Olivia Roberts said after scoring five goals and setting up two more in Sunday’s win. “We’ve been playing hard teams that are better than us.
“But I think all of this growth has helped us. And we won, so it was worth it.”
Prior to Thursday’s double-overtime breakthrough against the Wildcats, there were signs that Wahconah was rounding into shape.
After a 12-1 loss at Mount Greylock in their first meeting on April 16, the Mounties won, 20-9, in a more competitive rematch. Belchertown, a 19-10 winner when they met the first time, won, 13-8, in Dalton on May 14. Northampton was a 15-3 winner in the first meeting and a 15-6 winner in round two. And South Hadley, a 17-4 winner on April 23, won, 12-7, on May 9.
Sunday was the first meeting against non-league foe Granby, and Wahconah built a 6-5 lead at half-time before pulling away in the second half.
Roberts’ classmate Ava Massaro scored a pair of goals, as did Chloe DiFazio, Mia Thomas and Gianna McCasland.
Phalyn Renderer stopped 10 shots to earn the win in goal.
Budaj agreed that the success Wahconah has seen on the scoreboard over the last week of the season will pay dividends for a very young program that graduates just Roberts and Massaro.
The pair will be missed, but their legacy is strong.
“The other night, against Lee, they could have let that goal as time ran out [in regulation] define them, but they didn’t,” she said. “They just came out and played. They don’t care what the score is. They just keep working.
“I’m going to miss [the seniors], that’s for sure. … When I say role model – for them to realize they have a bunch of seventh and eighth graders playing with them, the maturity and the respect they showed the younger players was impressive. They didn’t get a bad attitude because we were losing. They just kept working and led by example.”
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