Girls soccer preview: Belchertown earns top seed in Division 1; Hampshire tops Division 3 field
Brittany Moreau, left, of Belchertown, goes to the ball against Winnie Brown, of Northampton, Tuesday in Northampton. JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »
The top two seeds in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Girls Soccer Tournament are defending sectional champions, but this year only one can emerge with that distinction.
Following another unbeaten regular season, Belchertown (17-0-1) was awarded the top seed in its first Division 1 campaign. The Orioles won the last three western Mass. Division 2 titles.
The only team to take a point from Belchertown this season, 2012 sectional D1 champ Minnechaug, earned the No. 2 spot after going 12-4-2.
“A team like Minnechaug represents a difficult matchup for anybody, but every team in this tournament is dangerous,” Orioles coach Chris Mogavero said. “We expect tight playoff games all the way.”
In a pair of meetings, the Orioles beat the Falcons 2-0 in Belchertown, then the teams tied 1-1 in Wilbraham. That represented the only blemish on an otherwise perfect run through the Coombs Division.
During the season, Belchertown beat the No. 2 through No. 9 seeds, and didn’t face the final three teams.
“All these other teams will have different game plans for us, so we have to be on our toes and play our best soccer,” Mogavero said. “Everything is at stake, and every team will be fired up to knock us off.”
Belchertown will host either No. 8 Longmeadow (5-8-3) or No. 9 Agawam (7-9-2) in the quarterfinals next week.
The Orioles topped their performance of a season ago in going 16-0-2 before a run to the state D2 final.
“It’s nice to set certain goals at the start of the season and see them achieved,” Mogavero said. “It’s been motivating for us to play at this higher level, and trying to win the league and go undefeated should help us stay sharp going into tournament.”
The Moreau twins — seniors Breanne (25 goals, 41 points) and Brittany (22, 38) — lead a dynamic Belchertown attack. Fellow seniors Bryanna Veroneau (15 points) and Jackie Soucia (11) also can be counted on to provide offense.
Senior keeper Sarah LaClair is a seasoned tournament veteran, and she teamed with Ashley Cavanaugh for 12 shutouts.
Senior back Christina Delude and senior midfielder Jill Cavanaugh anchor a defense that’s allowed only seven goals. Belchertown hasn’t allowed a tally in sectional tournament play since a 3-2 semifinal victory over Wahconah in 2010.
Hampshire Regional (12-1-3), co-champion of the Grieve Division, was awarded the No. 1 seed in an extremely deep Division 3 field.
The Raiders represent a balanced squad with eight players having five or more points. Their leading scorer, sophomore Sienna Caron, had nine goals and 12 points.
Shelly Nardi and Erin Bishop lead a defense allowing well under one goal per game.
For the second straight season, Pioneer North champion Granby (14-3-1) received the No. 4 seed and will face No. 5 Wahconah Regional (7-6-3) in next week’s quarterfinals. The Warriors have been a Division 2 contender in recent seasons.
The two best teams in the Pioneer South earned top-five seeds, but not in the order of finish.
Smith Academy (12-4-2) won the league title, but was given the No. 5 seed and a trip to No. 4 Mount Everett (11-5-2) for a quarterfinal matchup next week.
“I’m disappointed we won’t get a home game this year,” Smith coach Matt McCloghry said. “Mount Everett looks like a strong opponent from a tough league, but we’ve faced challenges all year. The game will be tough, but I wouldn’t count us out.”
No. 3 Gateway (11-3-4) finished second in the league, but was rewarded for defeating higher-division opponents in South Hadley and Chicopee Comp.