Despite loss, Belchertown girls soccer coach says this team best ever
Belchertown goalie Sarah LaClair, right, and Natalie Caney react after their 3-1 loss to Medfield on Saturday in the Division 2 girls soccer state final at Worcester State University. Purchase photo reprints »
Belchertown goalie Sarah LaClair and Abbey Norden try to digest their 3-1 state final loss to Medfield Saturday at Worcester State. Purchase photo reprints »
Breanne Moreau of Belchertown is introduced before the Division 2 girls soccer state final against Medfield on Saturday at Worcester State University. Medfield won 3-1. Purchase photo reprints »
Belchertown players wave to their fans in the stands before the Division 2 girls soccer state final against Medfield Saturday at Worcester State University. Medfield won 3-1. Purchase photo reprints »
WORCESTER — Belchertown girls soccer coach Chris Mogavero proclaimed it before the season started, then reiterated it going into the postseason tournament.
And even following Belchertown’s 3-1 loss to Medfield Saturday in the Division 2 state title game, Mogavero did not hesitate in saying the 2012 Orioles are the best team he’s coached in his 13 years as coach.
This fall’s edition earned the program’s third appearance in the state championship contest. The Orioles won the crown in 2003 and lost in 2004 and Saturday.
“This is a truly great soccer team, the girls have been consistent all year long,” he said. “The year we won our state title in 2003, we won 1-0 in overtime. That was a very good defensive group that year, and this one is too. But this team is a much more complete team, a more offensive, attacking team.”
Over the last three seasons and especially this year, the Orioles have been so proficient that Mogavero confirmed Saturday the team is scheduled to move to Division 1 full-time starting next fall. This despite the fact the high school does not have the necessary enrollment to qualify as a Division 1 program.
“The MIAA has us penciled in there, so it’s pretty official at this point,” said Mogavero.
The five-time Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship coach has seen plenty of outstanding soccer during his tenure. But never has an Orioles squad been so strong in every respect — statistically, territorially and aesthetically.
“It feels really good for coach to say that,” said junior midfielder Brittany Moreau. “It just stinks to think that we could have been the second state champion for the school.”
Belchertown scored 92 goals and allowed just eight in an 18-game regular season, an average score of 5.1 to less than one-half.
The Orioles outscored their three sectional tournament opponents 17-0. Belchertown then played its best game of the postseason in a 4-1 win over Northbridge in the state semifinals Tuesday night. In all four games, the Orioles put up a four-tally half.
In the loss to Medfield, it was the first time all season that the Orioles gave up multiple goals.
Belchertown has four Division 2 all-state selections — junior twins Breanne and Brittany Moreau, senior Natalie Caney and junior Jackie Soucia. They were the team’s top four scorers who combined for 146 points on the season.
Breanne Moreau was named to the All-New England team for the second straight year, while Caney also earned the honor.
“This is without question the best team I’ve played on,” said Caney. “We were a lot stronger than the past few seasons, and the fact we got this far shows how hard we worked. It was a great senior year, and these are a great group of girls to play with.”
Mogavero continually lauded the leadership of his senior class, particularly that of co-captains Caney, a forward, and Abbey Norden, who anchored a very solid defensive unit.
As the only western Massachusetts girls soccer team to reach a state final and the lone squad to emerge from the sectional tournament undefeated, a strong case can be made that the Orioles (20-1-2) are the best in all of western Massachusetts regardless of division.
A look at their schedule makes that case even more solid.
Belchertown went a perfect 10-0 to run away with the Kurty-Fielding League, made up of five other Division 1 teams.
The Orioles added a 3-0-2 mark against opponents from the Coombs League, including a 3-1 win over eventual Division 1 sectional champion Minnechaug, a 6-0 whitewashing of Ludlow and a scoreless draw with defending champion East Longmeadow.
“Our chemistry built as the season went on,” Mogavero said. “We had the couple ties in the middle of the season, and those turned our season around. After that, we began to come together and gel as a group. It was a great run.”
Belchertown frustrated opponents all year with a ball-possession game that saw them in control for usually well over three-quarters of the action.
It took a phenomenal team and a great performance to topple the Orioles’ juggernaut. A physically strong and defensively sound Medfield squad provided more resistance than the western Massachusetts Division 1 teams.
“We didn’t lose to any of those (Division 1) teams, and these guys beat us,” said Mogavero. “It’s hard to compare, but Medfield must be at least on a par with all western Mass. teams.”
“We really didn’t play another team all season that was at (Medfield’s) level, so it took us a little while to play as well as we could have,” said Brittany Moreau. “Skill-wise, I think a team like East Longmeadow is a little better, but in terms of size and being athletic, Medfield is definitely the strongest team we played. I think that’s the main difference between western Mass. and eastern Mass. players.”
Despite the disappointment of the loss, Caney and her teammates will be able to recall being a part of the best Belchertown girls soccer team.
“That’s something that I’ll take a lot of pride in looking back,” Caney said. “I’m going to remember getting to this point. It’s unfortunate the game didn’t turn out better, but that’s the way it goes. We still played great.”
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at email@example.com.