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Northampton girls lacrosse deals South Hadley second loss in less than 24 hours



Friday, May 30, 2014
NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton girls lacrosse team had less than 24 hours to make adjustments to its game plan before a Valley Wheel rematch with South Hadley.

The Blue Devils knew that freshmen goalie Sophie Gatzounas was going to be on point, but with teamwork, they beat the Tigers, 9-7, for the second time in as many days.

“I felt a little better about our game because we kind of expected what was coming,” Northampton attack Emily Allcroft said. “We were familiar with their strengths and weaknesses, and we tailored our game to fit them.”

The Blue Devils (9-2, 3-2 Valley Wheel) were focused on playing better following Monday’s 12-11 win in the heat, looking to use the whole field with strong passes and getting multiple people into the scorebook, Allcroft said.

Northampton had three players with three points apiece as Allcroft had a hat trick, Caitlin Keefe scored two goals with an assist and Kerry Fleming had two assists and a goal. Emily Biggs (one assist) and Hunter Zackaricz also scored for the Blue Devils, while Grace Goodwin-Boyd had a helper.

“You listen to Longmeadow talk about their stats and the one they are most proud of is their 80 percent assisted goals, so it certainly is a good thing to work for,” Northampton coach Sue Biggs said. “We have some good passers, so they are trying, they are working on that.”

Allcroft credited her goals to her teammates’ work at moving the ball, despite only two being assisted.

“A lot of them were the product of really good passing,” she said. “We were looking down the field early and weren’t just running straight down. We were using all of our outlets, which was great. A lot of fake passes.”

Allcroft’s third goal came off her own fake pass as she cut through the defense and looked to go right, but spun around to her left and shot past Gatzounas.

Allcroft is “a good little player. She’s definitely good at handling the ball in tight places,” Sue Biggs said. “A lot of players stick their stick out, but Emily’s got a good move and seems to finish off.”

On Tuesday, the Blue Devils had an easier time looking for the open person as South Hadley (5-7, 0-7) played 16 minutes of the second half down a player due to yellow cards. Still, the Tigers kept pace with Northampton.

“Without the penalty situation, who knows, but I’m very proud of the effort the team put forth,” Tiger coach Mike Hyer said. “We’re on the bubble on whether we will qualify for the tournament and really needed to win this game today and now we have Longmeadow still ahead of us. We’re not likely to win that so we really have to take care of business.”

South Hadley had hat tricks by Meg Ginley and Olivia Slysz. Breezey Couture added a goal in the loss.

Ginley, who recently surpassed 200 career points, didn’t find the back of the net until the first half was three-fourths over. She circled around the back of the net and tucked a shot passed Bridget Harrington (seven saves) to tie the game 3-3 with 6:45 to play.

Seventeen seconds later, Emily Biggs corralled a ground ball off the following draw and cut through South Hadley’s midfield before dishing it off to Keefe to make it 4-3 Northampton.

“I think us capitalizing on the draw really helped control the game,” Emily Biggs said. “We had our heads more in the game than we have earlier this season. We knew we had to get down to business and play our game.”

Allcroft netted her first with 3:58 remaining in the first half as the Blue Devils took a 5-3 lead into halftime.

The lead grew 29 seconds into the half as Emily Biggs scored from straight on, putting her own rebound past Gatzounas to make it 6-3.

Ginley scored her second with 16:40 to go and Olivia Slysz made it a one-goal game, 6-5, off a whistle with 12:48 to play.

Allcroft answered with her spinning goal 33 seconds later to push the lead back to 7-5.

Sophie Melcher and Keefe each scored to give Hamp a 9-5 lead before South Hadley threatened again in the final two minutes.

Ginley made it 9-6 before Gatzounas (18 saves) picked up an assist from in net. The goalie took a pass from a teammate and saw Slysz undefended two-thirds of the way down the field. Slysz played the lob and scored on the one-on-one break to make it 9-7 with 50 seconds to play.

“I saw it early that Sophie was going to be good,” Hyer said. “Sophie has been extraordinary. She is going to be one of the best goalies in western Mass. And really, is doing it all on her innate ability.”

Sarah Moomaw can be reached at smoomaw@gazettenet.com.