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Smith Academy rolls into Division 3 girls semifinal

  • Mollie Higgins, left, and Cassidy Snyder of Smith Academy celebrate Snyder's goal in the second half Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Mollie Higgins, left, and Cassidy Snyder of Smith Academy celebrate Snyder's goal in the second half Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mollie Higgins of Smith Academy, left, and Bella Butler of St. Mary's collide while going to the ball Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Mollie Higgins of Smith Academy, left, and Bella Butler of St. Mary's collide while going to the ball Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hannah Rickert of Smith Academy, right, shoots against St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy. Mia Ellis of Smith Academy and Maggie Parker of St. Mary's are in the background.

    Hannah Rickert of Smith Academy, right, shoots against St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy. Mia Ellis of Smith Academy and Maggie Parker of St. Mary's are in the background. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Annika Flynn of Smith Academy, center, moves the ball as St. Mary's defenders Miranda Arena, left, and Bella Butler approach Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Annika Flynn of Smith Academy, center, moves the ball as St. Mary's defenders Miranda Arena, left, and Bella Butler approach Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kory Wagner of Smith Academy, left, lines up a pass beside Allison Stanlewicz of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Kory Wagner of Smith Academy, left, lines up a pass beside Allison Stanlewicz of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cassidy Snyder of Smith Academy, center, passes away from St. Mary's defenders Jeanette Peretti, left, and Bella Butler Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Cassidy Snyder of Smith Academy, center, passes away from St. Mary's defenders Jeanette Peretti, left, and Bella Butler Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Moira Pitart of Smith Academy, right, gets control of a pass in front of Emily Wodell of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Moira Pitart of Smith Academy, right, gets control of a pass in front of Emily Wodell of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hannah Sassi of Smith Academy, right, shoots against St. Mary's goalie Francesca Depregola Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Hannah Sassi of Smith Academy, right, shoots against St. Mary's goalie Francesca Depregola Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Carley Pedruczny of Smith Academy, right, moves the ball against Allison Stanlewicz of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Carley Pedruczny of Smith Academy, right, moves the ball against Allison Stanlewicz of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mia Ellis of Smith Academy, center, passes between St. Mary's defenders Jeanette Peretti, left, and Maggie Parker Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Mia Ellis of Smith Academy, center, passes between St. Mary's defenders Jeanette Peretti, left, and Maggie Parker Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Moira Pitart of Smith Academy, front, boxes out Aisling Smith of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Moira Pitart of Smith Academy, front, boxes out Aisling Smith of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mia Ellis of Smith Academy, left, moves the ball against Maggie Parker of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Mia Ellis of Smith Academy, left, moves the ball against Maggie Parker of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anna Velotte of Smith Academy, left, goes to the ball against Caitlyn Holohan of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Anna Velotte of Smith Academy, left, goes to the ball against Caitlyn Holohan of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mollie Higgins of Smith Academy, top, heads the ball against Maggie Parker of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Mollie Higgins of Smith Academy, top, heads the ball against Maggie Parker of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mollie Higgins of Smith Academy, center, moves the ball between St. Mary's defenders Bella Butler, left, and Lauren Chapdelaine Tuesday at Smith Academy.

    Mollie Higgins of Smith Academy, center, moves the ball between St. Mary's defenders Bella Butler, left, and Lauren Chapdelaine Tuesday at Smith Academy. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mollie Higgins, left, and Cassidy Snyder of Smith Academy celebrate Snyder's goal in the second half Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Mollie Higgins of Smith Academy, left, and Bella Butler of St. Mary's collide while going to the ball Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Hannah Rickert of Smith Academy, right, shoots against St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy. Mia Ellis of Smith Academy and Maggie Parker of St. Mary's are in the background.
  • Annika Flynn of Smith Academy, center, moves the ball as St. Mary's defenders Miranda Arena, left, and Bella Butler approach Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Kory Wagner of Smith Academy, left, lines up a pass beside Allison Stanlewicz of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Cassidy Snyder of Smith Academy, center, passes away from St. Mary's defenders Jeanette Peretti, left, and Bella Butler Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Moira Pitart of Smith Academy, right, gets control of a pass in front of Emily Wodell of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Hannah Sassi of Smith Academy, right, shoots against St. Mary's goalie Francesca Depregola Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Carley Pedruczny of Smith Academy, right, moves the ball against Allison Stanlewicz of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Mia Ellis of Smith Academy, center, passes between St. Mary's defenders Jeanette Peretti, left, and Maggie Parker Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Moira Pitart of Smith Academy, front, boxes out Aisling Smith of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Mia Ellis of Smith Academy, left, moves the ball against Maggie Parker of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Anna Velotte of Smith Academy, left, goes to the ball against Caitlyn Holohan of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Mollie Higgins of Smith Academy, top, heads the ball against Maggie Parker of St. Mary's Tuesday at Smith Academy.
  • Mollie Higgins of Smith Academy, center, moves the ball between St. Mary's defenders Bella Butler, left, and Lauren Chapdelaine Tuesday at Smith Academy.

Mollie Higgins and Nicole Gay scored minutes apart after the opening whistle and Smith went on to beat St. Mary’s 6-0 in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Girls Soccer Tournament quarterfinal round.

Higgins scored 27 seconds into the game. Gay added her tally off a corner kick in the third minute. The seniors had knee injuries last fall. Gay missed the entire season after injuring her right knee during the preseason. Higgins missed the latter half, including the postseason where the Falcons fell 3-2 to rival Hopkins Academy, with a left knee injury.

“I was excited when they played Hopkins and when we were up 2-0 but it was hard not to be playing with them,” Higgins said. “It was a little disappointing not to be with them on the field. ... After six months of recovery I was so excited to play this season. I was so glad to be here with the girls again in tournament.”

The second-seeded Falcons (17-2-0) will play No. 6 Gateway Regional (12-4-2) in the semifinal round. Smith last reached the semifinals in 2008, when it lost Sabis. The Gators beat McCann Tech 2-0 in North Adams Tuesday.

“It was a big thing we talked about, trying to come out early and fast and put pressure on,” Smith Academy coach Matt McCloghry said. “I told the girls beforehand, ‘Every team starts (the postseason) with the same four-letter word, “hope”.’ We were fortunate to finish.”

Smith used the momentum from the early goals and rolled from there. With a midfield and defense that rarely allowed the No. 7 Saints (10-9-10) to cross midfield, the Falcons added two more goals and led 4-0 at halftime.

“I’m not saying that we want it more but we definitely have this ball of fire sitting in us from last year,” Gay said of her and Higgins. “We just want to get out there and prove ourselves and prove that we are just as good as we were before we got hurt. It lit a fire under us and kept us going.”

Cassidy Snyder, who assisted Higgins’ open tally, scored in the eighth minute. Hannah Rickert added an unassisted goal in the 28th minute.

The Falcons kept the pressure on in the second half. Snyder, who recorded her 100th career point during the regular season, struck again in the 49th minute and Hannah Sassi scored from Carley Pedruczny in the 62nd minute.

“You can come out and defend us and double team Cassidy, she will still get enough of the ball to set free Hannah Rickert, Hannah Sassi, Ali Fitzgerald, Nicole Gay, Mollie. We have enough kids who can finish and we’ve worked specifically on skill and technique and it’s showing.”

Goalie Brooke Pashek made four saves for her first career postseason shutout.

The Falcons face a familiar foe in the Gators, who won 2-0 behind a pair of second-half goals on Sept. 20.

“We got beat pretty bad and our midfield just wasn’t there that day,” Gay said of the first Gateway matchup. “I’m hoping we can use that to our advantage because we are ready to play them. I think we can come back with a strong midfield and come back strong as a team.”

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