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Division 3 boys soccer: Southwick wrestles title away from Belchertown on penalty kicks

  • Sean O’Neill, left, of Belchertown, and Timothy McGrath, of Southwick, battle for the ball during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Connor LaFlamme, left, of Belchertown, and Connor Geddis, of Southwick, fight for the ball during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jared O'Connor, left, of Southwick, kicks the ball while Sam Rogalewski, of Belchertown, defends during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jameson Secovich, right, of Southwick, shoots but goalie Sean McCarthy, of Belchertown, makes the save as Benjamin LaClair, of Belchertown, defends, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jameson Secovich, right, of Southwick, shoots but goalie Sean McCarthy, of Belchertown, makes the save as Benjamin LaClair, of Belchertown, defends, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Belchertown goalie Sean McCarthy, top, makes a save during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. Zachary Lajeunesse of Belchertown watches the play. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Connor LaFlamme, left, of Belchertown, moves the bal during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The Belchertown boys soccer team reacts after Southwick wins the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament title on penalty kicks, Sunday at Westfield State. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Belchetown goalie Sean McCarthy just misses the winning penalty kicks during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Sam Rogalewski, of Belchertown, kicks the ball down the field during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Southwick celebrates after defeating Belchertown during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Cyrus Raines, left, of Belchertown, gets comforted by a teammate after the Orioles lost to Southwick in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Benjamin LaClair holds the second-place trophy after the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship, Sunday at Westfield State. Southwick won on penalty kicks. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS



@kylegrbwsk
Sunday, November 12, 2017

WESTFIELD — The right post of the west goal at Westfield State rang with a hollow thud. Southwick’s Austin Davis was the Rams’ fifth taker in the shootout that decided the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament title.

The ball hung suspended for an instant, the goal frame ringing and quivering, then it dropped behind Belchertown goalie Sean McCarthy.

A cheer echoed from the sidelines. Davis peeled backwards, his palms raised as he ran back toward his team, which mobbed him.

McCarthy kneeled on the turf, looking at the ball in the corner of the net.

Davis’ penalty clinched a 5-3 win in the shootout for second-seeded Southwick, which won the sectional title for the first time since 2010. The Rams will face Central champ Nipmuc at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Assabet High School.

“In penalties, we were confident,” Belchertown junior Evan Fournier said. “Those are just luck.”

Davis received his opportunity at the winner after Southwick keeper Kyle DeMaio made the only save of the penalty shootout.

With a 4-3 lead, he faced Belchertown senior Michael Laughner, who took a choppy run to the ball and aimed left. DeMaio dove to his right at full extension and slapped the ball to the turf.

“(I was thinking) try to stay confident, don’t let the outside people get into my head,” Laughner said. “Just go out and do it.”

Before that save, Fournier, Cyrus Raines and Connor LaFlamme converted penalties. Jared O’Connor, Connor Geddis and Nick Brown scored for Southwick.

“For good soccer players, penalty kicks are just push pass to the corner, it’s all it is. It’s keeping your nerve. You have to have the skill to do that,” Southwick coach Peter DeMello said. “Both teams had those kind of players, and you just hope your goalie can make a big save.”

McCarthy made his big saves at the end of the second overtime. Southwick (15-3-1) had two free kicks in the final two minutes of open play. Brown scalded an indirect free kick just before the final whistle, but McCarthy tipped it over the bar for a corner, which Belchertown (16-3-2) cleared.

The Orioles struggled to create chances in both overtime periods.

“I think we were all pretty tired,” Fournier said. “Of course we didn’t want to go into penalties, but it happens.”

Belchertown never wanted to start overtime, let alone see all 20 minutes through.

Fournier put the Orioles ahead in the 41st minute. He drew a foul just outside the 18-yard box on the left side of the goal.

“I saw the ball pop out and saw some space, he stuck his leg out so I knew to go over it,” Fournier said.

He placed the ball and took it quickly, bending a shot left around the wall and nestling it into the back of the orange netting.

“I know I can make those quite frequently,” Fournier said. “The wall wasn’t positioned correctly, so I just shot it.”

Jarod Bolton and Ben LaClair were turned away in the next 20 minutes before Southwick settled back in.

“I thought there was a little bit of a sag,” DeMello said. “I think we were able to regroup.”

The Rams kept the pressure on. They hit the post twice in the 70th minute, and McCarthy stopped Brown’s free kick a minute later.

Belchertown gave Brown another shot in the final two minutes of regulation. He scalded a shot that deflected off the crossbar and in to tie the game at 1.

“It had been coming for the five minutes before that goal,” Laughner said. “We knew we were just hanging on.”

It was the second straight loss in the sectional final for Belchertown, which fell 2-1 to Frontier Regional last year. Belchertown seniors Daniel Becker, Joshua Cox, LaClair, Laughner, McCarthy, Sean O’Neil, Noah Pare, Cyrus Raines, Jacob Torna and Nolan Vogel played their last game.

“Ever since freshman year we’ve been talking about states, so it hurts,” Laughner said. “They’ll come back next year, and they’ll win it.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.