Division 3 girls soccer: Hampshire moves past South Hadley to semifinal round
WESTHAMPTON — Despite scoring a pair of goals Tuesday evening, Hampshire Regional sophomore forward Chelsea Moussette still helped carry the ball bag off the field.
“It’s the job of the younger players every day,” she said.
The sight was symbolic of the Raiders’ season. Whether a younger or older player, a starter or reserve, Hampshire’s received contributions from everybody on the roster.
Moussette put in the first two goals and fellow sophomore Sienna Caron added another in a 3-1 victory over South Hadley in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament quarterfinals.
“We have girls all over the field that produce for us,” Hampshire coach John Aberdale said. “Our goals (Tuesday) were on tremendous plays, unselfish plays. This team works really well together.”
Top-seeded Hampshire (13-1-3) advanced to the semifinals to face No. 4 Granby (15-3-1), a 1-0 overtime winner over Wahconah Tuesday afternoon. The date, time and location of the game have yet to be announced.
“I’ve seen Granby a couple times and it should be a great matchup,” Aberdale said. “Whenever you get to the final four, you need some luck and the team that makes the fewest mistakes usually moves on.”
No. 8 South Hadley (10-7-3) returned to the postseason for the first time since 2008, and earned the program’s first tournament win in 10 years.
“I was very happy with how we played,” Tigers coach Eric Wood said. “The goals we allowed were not mistakes but great plays (by Hampshire). Our girls played excellent right to the last whistle.
“We had goals coming into the season, and we far exceeded them,” Wood added. “This is a stepping stone of a season for the program. You can see in the girls’ faces that they’re proud of what they accomplished but sad it had to come to an end.”
The Raiders opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Midfielder Liz Hotham sent Moussette on a partial breakaway, and she beat keeper Abby Lukasik to the left side.
“Coach told us to go hard on the 50-50 balls, and I won that one from behind,” Hotham said. “Once I got in front of the South Hadley player, I saw the through ball to Chelsea and we hit it on that play.”
Moussette doubled the lead nearly 10 minutes after halftime. Lauren Aldrich (assist) and Vanessa Groeber executed a give-and-go on the right wing, with Aldrich centering to Moussette for the 2-0 lead.
“It feels great to be the one to contribute goals,” Moussette said. “The first one was a great through ball by Liz. I saw the keeper come out, then back up a bit, so I picked a corner and made a good enough shot. On the second one, I bobbled the pass at first but gathered it in just in time.”
South Hadley senior Meghan Ginley cut the deficit in half roughly 11 minutes later off a feed from Tara Bainbridge. From the middle of the field with a step on the defender, Ginley snuck a left-footed shot inside the right post.
“The ball was floating in the top of the box, I put a touch on it and then gave it a left foot to the corner,” Ginley said. “Hampshire’s a great defensive team and they marked our forwards. We tried to use the whole width of the field, but couldn’t get the tying goal.”
An energized South Hadley squad put on a change over the ensuing five-minute stretch, which included Hampshire defender Shelly Nardi clearing a ball out of the box.
“South Hadley gave us a real run for our money,” Aberdale said. “It’s amazing to see what Eric’s done with that team. They’re much improved and they never gave up.”
In the final five minutes, a header off a Hampshire corner was kept out by South Hadley’s Jess Casolari. But the ball struck her arm and called a hand ball.
Caron, the Raiders’ leading scorer, calmly buried the penalty kick into the lower-left corner.
“That’s the right call, and a smart play by (Casolari) that prevented a goal,” Wood said. “It gave Abby a chance to stop a penalty kick, but (Caron) put it just beyond her glove.”
Lukasik was outstanding for the Tigers, making 11 saves.
Hampshire allowed just three shots on goal, all of them in the second half. Madison Boucher made two saves, while Kayla LaBrecque didn’t face a shot in the first half. Much of that is attributable to the solid play of the Raiders midfield.
“Everything goes through the midfield, so we have a lot of control over the game,” Hotham said. “Our strikers are really good, so the midfielders look to get the ball up to them whenever we can. We’re a very well-rounded team this year.”
It was the final game for South Hadley seniors Ginley, Lukasik, Rachel Harrington, Brenna Fogarty, Maddie Gatzounas, Caitlyn Hoschtetler and Meg Callahan.
“This season was awesome, even though we’re sad it’s over,” Ginley said. “It was a goal of ours to make it this far.”
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at email@example.com.