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Division 3 boys soccer: Jarod Bolton paces Belchertown past Mount Greylock, 3-2 in semifinals

  • Belchertown's Jarod Bolton, right, hugs teammate Sean O'Neill Nov. 8, 2017 after winning the Western Massachusetts Division 3 boys soccer semifinal game against Mount Greylock at Szot Park in Chicopee. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Michael Laughner, right, controls the ball under pressure from Mount Greylock's Alex Backiel Nov. 8, 2017 during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 boys soccer semifinal game at Szot Park in Chicopee. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown’s Michael Laughner, right, fights against Mount Greylock’s Alex Backiel to control the ball, Wednesday. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Michael Laughner, left, fights against Mount Greylock's Quinn Johnstadt to control the ball Nov. 8, 2017 during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 boys soccer semifinal game at Szot Park in Chicopee. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown’s Zachary Lajeunesse, right, tries to control the ball under pressure from Mount Greylock’s Colton Adams, Wednesday during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Boys Soccer Tournament semifinal at Szot Park in Chicopee. Belchertown won 3-2. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Michael Laughner, front, moves the ball past Mount Greylock's Will Reynolds Nov. 8, 2017 during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 boys soccer semifinal game at Szot Park in Chicopee. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Evan Fournier, center, celebrates with teammates Nov. 8, 2017 after winning the Western Massachusetts Division 3 boys soccer semifinal game against Mount Greylock at Szot Park in Chicopee. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown players celebrate after scoring Nov. 8, 2017 against Mount Greylock in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 boys soccer semifinal game at Szot Park in Chicopee. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Belchertown's Evan Fournier, center, controls the ball under pressure from Mount Greylock's Luke Swann, back left, and Mitch Jezouit Nov. 8, 2017 during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 boys soccer semifinal game at Szot Park in Chicopee. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



For the Gazette
Thursday, November 09, 2017

CHICOPEE — Hit play and Jarod Bolton is popping an inch-perfect through ball over the defense for Belchertown teammate Michael Laughner to finish. Rewind four minutes and Bolton is kissing the Orioles logo on his chest after blasting a shot off the post and into the net. Fast-forward to after the final whistle he deflects any credit for the team’s victory.

“It always feels good to contribute to the team,” Bolton said. “The whole team played with heart. It could have been anyone who put any of those in, it could have been anyone who got the assist.”

Bolton and the top-seeded Orioles (16-2-2) are headed to the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament final after defeating No. 4 Mount Greylock, 3-2, at Szot Park Wednesday.

Belchertown will face Thursday’s winner between two-time champ Frontier Regional and Southwick.

The Orioles were first on the board as Ben Laclair netted just four minutes into the match on an assist from Sean O’Neil.

Four minutes later, the Mounties (11-5-2) replied. Sam Dils swept a low cross across the edge of the box to Emi Soza-Foias. Soza-Foias lashed the ball back across Belchertown keeper Sean McCarthy, who was sliding over and could only watch as the ball skidded past him.

The match featured an entertaining duel between Laclair, Belchertown’s speedy striker, and Greylock’s Colton Adams, a center back with the pace to match him. In the 15th minute, Laclair got away from Adams as he chased down a breakaway. Sam Edge was at full tilt when he splayed out and poked the ball away from Laclair, 30 yards off his goal line.

With 10 minutes left in the half, Laclair had another chance when he ran onto a throw-in and cut back onto his left foot. He ripped a shot from inside the box but it was deflected and went wide of the near post.

Belchertown played a confident brand of soccer, dancing on the ball one minute and springing into a hard slide tackle the next. The team has skilled attacking players, and center back Cyrus Raines provides a backbone that gives the offense license to roam.

“We don’t consider ourselves a skillful team,” Belchertown coach Tony Almeida said. “We’re a blue-collar team. These guys go out there and work their butts off. They work hard preparing themselves for games like this.”

The Orioles wanted a penalty with a minute to go as O’Neil clipped a gorgeous pass into Alexander Szarkowski’s path. Szarkowski and a Mounties defender met inside the box and the Belchertown forward ended up on the ground, but the referee kept the whistle by his side.

Tied 1-1 three minutes into the second half, Bolton received a pass from O’Neil and turned to face the Mounties defense. He took a touch to set up a right-footed shot, but slipped on the frosty surface. As he slid, Bolton managed to strike the ball cleanly, launching a shot off the far post and into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.

Four minutes later, Bolton stood at midfield as a ball bounced in front of him. He saw Laughner streaking down the right wing and volleyed the ball into space for him to run onto.

“I saw Mike going in behind and I thought, ‘If I put it right to where his foot is, he’s going to put that in the back of the net.’ I have faith in him,” Bolton said.

Bolton’s faith was rewarded. Laughner made no mistake as he put the ball past Edge and gave the Orioles a two-goal cushion.

With seven minutes remaining, Greylock threw numbers forward to save its season. Soza-Foias crossed a ball from near the corner flag and it looked like McCarthy got his hands to the ball. But Brady Foehl used his forehead to pop the ball out of McCarthy’s grip and narrow the deficit to 3-2.

The Mounties had one last chance with three minutes left as the ball bounced inside the 6-yard box, but McCarthy dove into traffic to punch the ball away. The danger was averted and Belchertown held on.

“My guys know I’m never happy even if we win 10 to nothing,” Almeida said. “I’m always looking for more and better.”