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Granby blanks Lee, advances to Division 3 girls soccer semifinals

GRANBY — The Granby girls soccer team relied on three of its top playmakers — Brooke Labrie, Kiley Baran and Rachel Mick — to shoulder the offense in the regular season.

However, their teammates took over on Tuesday as junior Kate Desormier and eighth-grader Erin Mikalchus scored in the fourth-seeded Rams 2-0 win over No. 5 Lee in the quarterfinals of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament.

The Rams (17-0-1) extended their unbeaten streak to 15 games and took their first step in returning to the sectional championship for the second straight year.

“We thought that with how well we played this season, we wouldn’t have to play someone as good as Lee in our first game, and it was a tough game but I think it’s going to help us as the tournament goes on,” Granby coach Nick Boorman said.

The Rams will face No. 1 Lenox (12-4-2) in the semifinals. A date, time and place have yet to be determined. Lenox beat No. 8 St. Joseph’s 4-0 Tuesday.

The majority of the first half was played evenly until Desormier scored in the 34th minute to break the tie. Boorman called a timeout to talk strategy just before the goal.

“We made a few slight changes and we kind of carried it after that,” Boorman said.

The goal started on the foot of Labrie, the Rams’ top scorer. She dished a pass off to Erin Mikalchus, who sent the ball over to an unmarked Desormier. Desormier floated a shot past Wildcats goalie Sara Middleton to give her team a 1-0 lead.

Despite the 1-0 deficit, Lee coach Lauren Finnegan felt her team had the advantage in the first half.

“I feel like we took them out of their game and had a lot of control in the first half,” said Finnegan. “Even after that second goal, I feel like we had opportunities.”

Granby pushed its lead to 2-0 just over five minutes into the second frame.

Junior Tara Mikalchus started with the ball on the left side of the field. She flicked a high cross to the middle of the 18, where her sister, Erin Mikalchus, sprinted unmarked toward the ball and one-timed it past a helpless Middleton (nine saves).

“That was a great ball by Tara, it was nice to see those two connect,” Boorman said.

Granby threatened throughout the remainder of the game as they totalled 10 second-half shots, but Middleton held her ground. On one occasion, Tara Mikalchus ripped a hard, low shot to the far post from close range. The ball seemed destined for the right side of the net, but Middleton dove and redirected the ball out of harm’s way.

“This by far was her best game, she was incredible today,” Finnegan said.

The Rams’ back line of Noelle Menard, Alex White and Alexis Ouellette snuffed out any potential scoring opportunity for Lee.

“I would say our defense is the best in western Mass.,” Desormier said. “I’d give them the credit.”

The defensive unit protected Brittany Hauschild, who made just four saves.

“We’ve only allowed five goals all season, and that’s because we play great team defense,” Boorman said.

The Rams are looking for redemption against Lenox, which beat them 1-0 in the 2011 sectional championship.

“We are looking forward to that, they are a very good team,” Boorman said. “We’ll be ready for them, and I know they’ll be ready for us.”

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