Belchertown girls win third straight soccer championship
Abbey Norden, left, and Natalie Caney of Belchertown raise their trophy after defeating Monson in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-0. Purchase photo reprints »
Brittany Moreau of Belchertown, right, moves the ball against Haley Richard of Monson during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-0. Purchase photo reprints »
Breanne Moreau of Belchertown, left, and Megan McGuill of Monson converge on the ball during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-0. Purchase photo reprints »
Bryanna Veroneau of Belchertown, left, prepares to pass beside Megan McGuill of Monson during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-0. Purchase photo reprints »
The Belchertown team celebrates with their trophy after defeating Monson in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-0. Purchase photo reprints »
Natalie Caney, left, and Alaina Swift of Belchertown celebrate their win against Monson in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-0. Purchase photo reprints »
Natalie Caney of Belchertown, left, celebrates her goal with Brittany Moreau during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-0. Mikayla Rouette of Monson looks on. Purchase photo reprints »
Natalie Caney of Belchertown, third from right, moves the ball against Monson during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament final Sunday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-0. Purchase photo reprints »
WESTFIELD — The two senior captains of the Belchertown girls soccer team knew they would be presented with a trophy Sunday afternoon.
Abbey Norden and Natalie Caney took it upon themselves to make sure their Orioles would be awarded the better one — again.
Norden and Caney scored the first two goals in a four-tally second half as Belchertown secured its third consecutive sectional championship with a 4-0 victory over Monson at Westfield State University.
“This is awesome, especially with it being my senior year and the third time in a row for the team,” Norden said. “We’re now hoping to go all the way at states.”
The matchup between the only two unbeaten squads in western Mass. was scoreless for the first 55 minutes before another Orioles barrage. They outscored three tournament opponents 17-0 overall and 12-0 after halftime.
“We know if we keep the pressure on, eventually we’ll get some breaks, and that’s what happened,” coach Chris Mogavero said. “These girls don’t know anything but being western Mass. champs. We always set our goals extremely high, and our senior leadership is tremendous again this season.”
Belchertown (19-0-2) will play Northbridge (17-1-3) in the state semifinals Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. back at Westfield State. Northbridge beat Holy Name on penalty kicks in the central Mass. final.
“We have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Caney said. “Sometimes we have a tendency to play a little slow, so if we pick up our tempo we should be fine. It’s nice to be able to play the next round at Westfield State. We feel this field can be an advantage for us, having played here the past few years.”
No. 2 Monson (18-1-2) not only suffered its first loss of the season but was shut out for the only time.
For the third title game in a row, the game-winning goal was scored by a Norden. In 2010, Abbey’s sister Emma Norden had the lone tally in a 1-0 sectional final victory over Monson. Abbey Norden did the honors for the second straight year, converting a penalty kick with just under 25 minutes left in regulation.
“It’s crazy to think about (scoring the winner again), but once I scored that goal I was overwhelmed with emotion,” she said. “Coach always gives me the opportunity to take the PKs, so I needed to keep my composure. I knew I had to put it in.”
The PK was awarded when Norden sent a ball into the left side of box. The ball appeared to be headed out of bounds, but Monson keeper Mackenzie Walat came out to play and knocked down a charging Téa Spellacy.
“Abbey’s been excellent on PKs her entire career, she never seems to let us down,” said Mogavero. “And once we went ahead, our energy went up and we loosened up. Then once Natalie finished her chance, we pretty much had it at that point.
The first goal capped a 10-minute period of heavy Belchertown pressure, and the Orioles didn’t relent, making it 2-0 just 59 seconds later. Brittany Moreau crossed from the right end line to Caney, who booted home the insurance tally.
“Those goals certainly gave us confidence, and we really got going after that,” Caney said. “As the captains, Abbey and I are extremely proud of the entire team. All our girls give 100 percent every day, so we deserve this.”
In the final 14 minutes, Spellacy knocked home a rebound off a corner kick, then Breanne Moreau scored from twin sister Brittany.
“I never had any doubts early, because we know we’re a great second-half team,” Caney said. “Once we regained our composure and got rolling, I knew we’d take it.”
Sarah LaClair made three first-half saves for the Orioles, but didn’t see a shot after halftime. Walat stopped six for the Mustangs, including a fingertip save on Brittany Moreau late in the first half.
“I don’t think we were pressing early, but in a championship game nobody wants to make a mistake,” Mogavero said. “Monson competed very hard and made us work for everything. They’re an undefeated team too, and they didn’t expect to lose. So we battled through it well.”
The defensive unit had to work harder than it has the entire tournament, holding Monson star forward Brooke Murphy off the board. She had three fairly solid scoring chances in the first half, including one she put off the side of the net.
“We talked about how great a player Murphy is, and we committed to covering her and not letting her get off any good shots,” said Norden.
The Orioles controlled the ball for much of the first half, but Monson displayed an intention to press the attack in hopes to claiming a lead.
“I was a little surprised with how they played, even though I don’t think (Murphy) got enough touches on the ball,” Mogavero said. “But they clearly were looking to score and get a lead on us, and I give them credit for that. And defensively we fought through it.”
Once again, the Orioles midfield trio of the Moreau twins and Jill Cavanaugh tipped the field toward the opposition’s goal. Belchertown had goals by Caney and Brittany Moreau nullified on borderline offside calls in the first half.
“We got a little frustrated in the first half, but this team is really good at keeping composed,” Norden said. “And we knew once we scored once, we wouldn’t stop. But we knew how good a team Monson is, and we figured it would be one of our toughest games all year “
The Orioles haven’t allowed a goal in their last seven western Mass. tournament contests, going back to a 3-2 semifinal win over Wahconah Regional in 2010.
The win marked the fifth sectional title for Belchertown under Mogavero. This week the Orioles will seek to claim the second state crown and first since 2003.
“We expect to be here every season, so it’s great for all our players,” said Mogavero. “They take a ton of pride in representing their school.”
“We’ll have our work cut out for us, no matter who we play next,” he added. “It’s a different matchup than playing Auburn the last two years. When we find out a little about our opponent, we’ll make some adjustments. If we play our game, we’ll have a pretty good chance.”
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.