CHESHIRE, Mass. -- Mount Greylock sophomore Carolyn Jones Sunday overcame a case of jitters, some personal ghosts and one of the top keepers in Western Massachusetts to give the Mounties a 10-9 win over Hoosac Valley in the Central/Western Massachusetts Division 2 quarter-finals.
Jones’ free position goal in the third minute of overtime capped a back-and-forth battle and sent the Mounties to Tuesday’s sectional semi-final against No. 3 Auburn at Tantasqua Regional.
“I was nervous,” Jones said. “My legs were shaking. The last time we played them, I had a couple of free positions that I went in the crease on, and they called it as a no goal, so my focus was just to get the shot off quickly.
“And I knew that [Hoosac’s Emily Godfrey] was remarkable with high shots, so I knew I wanted to go low. So I just took a few shots and ripped it.”
The game-winner avenged a pair of regular season losses to the Hurricanes and gave the Mounties a chance to get back to a second straight sectional final. It also made Mount Greylock the last Western Mass team standing in the Central/Western Mass sectional.
But none of that would have happened without a couple of huge stops by sophomore Jayden Johnson.
Johnson, who finished with 13 stops, turned aside two free positions in the final eight seconds of regulation after Delaney Babcock scored with 8 minutes, 46 seconds left in the second half to tie it at 9-9.
“You freak out slightly and cheer really, really loud when Jayden saves the ball,” Mount Greylock coach Lindsey von Holtz said of her team’s approach when the first of those free positions was awarded.
“Absolutely amazing that she did so well on those free position shots and kept us in the game, for sure.”
Jones said Johnson’s saves gave the Mounties a big lift going into OT
“Jayden had some remarkable saves in the last 10 seconds,” Jones said. “We knew this could potentially be the last three minutes that we ever played together, and we love our seniors so much and wanted to play with them.
“[Johnson] is such a hype beast. If she’s excited, we’re excited. And her making those saves won us the game. She was so huge back there and made some beautiful saves, not just in the last 10 seconds but the entire game, especially overtime.”
Hoosac Valley’s Alie Mendel (two goals) picked the ball out of the air on the draw to start overtime, and Hoosac Valley had the ball in Mount Greylock’s end for the first couple of minutes.
But just as it did when the Hurricanes controlled for the final three minutes of regulation, the Mount Greylock defense stood tall.
“Definitely a huge stop,” von Holtz said. “It ended up being one of our eighth-graders [Sarah Polumbo] who picked up the ground ball. Both our eighth-grader played the entire game, and both of them did fantastic.
“We asked a lot out of Carolyn [Jones] and Clare [Sheedy, who scored three goals], and once again, we asked Delaney [Babcock] to take Alie [Mendel]. … It took the entire team to be able to beat this team.”
The teams traded goals throughout a first half that saw Godfrey and Johnson combine to make 12 saves and their offenses combine to score 12 goals. The Hurricanes took the game’s biggest lead with about five minutes left when Kelsey Bulson set up Claudia Bresett for her second goal of the game to make it 7-4.
Jones scored with 33 seconds left until half-time to pull the Mounties back within a pair of goals at the break.
She scored again in the first two minutes of the second half, and Sheedy scored on a free position moments later to make it 7-7.
Then the teams’ defenses took center stage. After the Hurricanes and Mounties combined for 14 goals in the first 30 minutes, the last 20 saw just four more goals.
Brooke DiGennaro scored in transition to put Hoosac ahead. Brook Masse cut through the Hoosac defense from the left wing for an equalizer.
DiGennaro scored again in transition to make it 9-8. Babcock answered with a free position tally with 8:46 left in regulation to make it 9-9.
DiGennaro, a recent Drury graduate playing for Hoosac Valley on a cooperative team, left the game with about seven minutes left in regulation after suffering a cut on her head in front of the Mount Greylock goal. She walked off the field on her own, but her presence was missed by the Hurricanes’ offense down the stretch.
“That changes the landscape of the end, not having Brooke,” Hoosac Valley coach Molly Meczywor said.
But Meczywor wasn’t making excuses. After winning the school’s first Berkshire County Championship this spring, the Hurricanes have nothing to make excuses about.
In fact, even moments after the heart-breaking loss Meczywor was less interested in looking back on Sunday’s game than looking forward to what the Hurricanes’ program can become thanks to the work of the seniors who played their final game in a Hoosac Valley uniform on Sunday.
“It’s tough to go out, obviously,” Meczywor said. “What I said to them at the end is that we have a group of sixth-graders who have watched us practice, my daughter being one of them. She’s with us every day.
“There’s a group of six or seven sixth-graders who are now like, ‘I want to feel what that feels like.’ The impressive part about -- whether you win or lose -- is the legacy you leave. And the fact that kids want to be part of this program moving forward is a pretty awesome legacy.”