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Belchertown strikes early to reach state girls soccer final

  • Natalie Caney, center left, and Jacqueline Soucia, center right, celebrate Caney's goal against Northbridge during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.

    Natalie Caney, center left, and Jacqueline Soucia, center right, celebrate Caney's goal against Northbridge during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Brittany Moreau of Belchertown, right, moves the ball against Adrianna DiMare of Northbridge during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.

    Brittany Moreau of Belchertown, right, moves the ball against Adrianna DiMare of Northbridge during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Natalie Caney of Belchertown, left, scores on Northbridge goalkeeper Nikki Zuidema during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Defending Caney is Jamie Hardina. Belchertown won 4-1.

    Natalie Caney of Belchertown, left, scores on Northbridge goalkeeper Nikki Zuidema during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Defending Caney is Jamie Hardina. Belchertown won 4-1. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Brittany Moreau of Belchertown, center, gets control of the ball beside teammate Karley Hodge and Northbridge defender Adrianna DiMare during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.

    Brittany Moreau of Belchertown, center, gets control of the ball beside teammate Karley Hodge and Northbridge defender Adrianna DiMare during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Karley Hodge of Belchertown, left, passes as Devyn Jacobs of Northbridge approaches during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.

    Karley Hodge of Belchertown, left, passes as Devyn Jacobs of Northbridge approaches during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Natalie Caney of Belchertown, left, heads the ball beside Devyn Jacobs of Northbridge during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.

    Natalie Caney of Belchertown, left, heads the ball beside Devyn Jacobs of Northbridge during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bryanna Veroneau of Belchertown, right, moves the ball as Bridgett Bousquet of Northbridge approaches during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.

    Bryanna Veroneau of Belchertown, right, moves the ball as Bridgett Bousquet of Northbridge approaches during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jacqueline Soucia of Belchertown, left, passes between two Northbridge defenders during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.

    Jacqueline Soucia of Belchertown, left, passes between two Northbridge defenders during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Natalie Caney, center left, and Jacqueline Soucia, center right, celebrate Caney's goal against Northbridge during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.
  • Brittany Moreau of Belchertown, right, moves the ball against Adrianna DiMare of Northbridge during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.
  • Natalie Caney of Belchertown, left, scores on Northbridge goalkeeper Nikki Zuidema during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Defending Caney is Jamie Hardina. Belchertown won 4-1.
  • Brittany Moreau of Belchertown, center, gets control of the ball beside teammate Karley Hodge and Northbridge defender Adrianna DiMare during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.
  • Karley Hodge of Belchertown, left, passes as Devyn Jacobs of Northbridge approaches during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.
  • Natalie Caney of Belchertown, left, heads the ball beside Devyn Jacobs of Northbridge during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.
  • Bryanna Veroneau of Belchertown, right, moves the ball as Bridgett Bousquet of Northbridge approaches during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.
  • Jacqueline Soucia of Belchertown, left, passes between two Northbridge defenders during the state Division 2 semifinal Tuesday at Westfield State University. Belchertown won 4-1.

Junior midfielder Breanne Moreau scored the program’s first state tournament goal in eight years just 14 minutes in, and Belchertown added three more tallies before halftime on its way to a 4-1 victory over Northbridge at Westfield State University.

“This is long overdue for us, because we’ve been so close the last couple years,” said Moreau. “We’re finally in a state final.”

“Being in this game the last two years made us battle-tested, and it was a really mature performance by our players,” said coach Chris Mogavero. “They’re an older team too, but our experience in the state tournament helped to carry us through.”

Breanne Moreau, Jackie Soucia and Natalie Caney each had a goal and an assist, while Brittany Moreau added a goal as the Orioles displayed their typical offensive balance.

“We’ve grown a lot offensively over the season and especially in this tournament,” said Breanne Moreau. “We all want to win, and we’re all willing to do whatever it takes. Every game we play together, we seem to get better.”

Belchertown (20-0-2) will look to complete an undefeated season in the state championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Worcester State University. It’s the third appearance in the state title tilt for the Orioles, who won their only crown in 2003 then lost in 2004.

North champion Belmont (14-3-3) and South champion Medfield (19-0-3) will battle for the other berth tonight at 5:30.

The first-time central Mass. champion Rams finished their season at 17-2-3. They were able to score the first goal by a Belchertown opponent in this year’s postseason.

“Northbridge came out excited with a lot of energy, but once we scored the first one it seemed to set them back a bit,” Mogavero said. “They only lost once before this game, so they probably hadn’t given up many goals that early in a game.”

In their three sectional tournament wins, the Orioles hadn’t scored earlier than the 15th minute, but came out with their sharpest first-half performance Tuesday.

“We didn’t really change anything strategically (from the last two state semifinals),” said Mogavero. “We just executed much better, especially in the first 40 minutes. We didn’t want to let that team hang around.”

Good ball movement from Soucia to Caney helped set up the first goal. Caney put the ball in the box, where an initial shot was blocked before Breanne Moreau planted the shot past keeper Nikki Zuidema for the 1-0 advantage.

“The first goal always sets the tone for any game, so we were able to take control early,” said Breanne Moreau. “Getting a lead helped us settle into playing our game and kept us from being shaky. We were able to settle down immediately.”

The next three tallies came over a 15-minute span. With just under 20 minutes left in the half, Breanne Moreau sent a shot wide to the right, but Caney tracked it down along the right end line. Her perfect cross eluded a pair of Northbridge defenders and Soucia finished to double the lead.

“Natalie and I work really well together,” said Soucia. “We can read each other pretty well, so we try to get each other the ball whenever possible.”

Breanne Moreau set up twin sister Brittany for the third goal with 10:31 left.

“They were using a 3-5-2, packing it in on us, so we used the flanks and the width of the field,” said Mogavero. “We usually get a lot of shots, and once we figured out their defense, the girls did a nice job finishing.”

Caney and Soucia executed a beautiful one-touch give-and-go for the final tally. Soucia’s return feed was right in stride with a streaking Caney, who put it over Zuidema’s head.

“I was hurt last season, so to be able to contribute to such a great team is amazing,” said Soucia. “These girls are so talented, and I love this opportunity to play together.”

An energetic Rams squad played a spirited second half and got on the board with roughly 30 minutes to play as their set of twins made their mark on the semifinal.

Sarah Boucher took a feed from sister Casey Boucher and broke free up the middle, scoring inside the right post.

“I played with their twins when we were younger, so that’s all I knew about” Northbridge, said Breanne Moreau. “Other than that, we went out there and just put our best on the field. We had to keep the ball on the ground and win balls, just play our game.”

Both Bouchers each had solid opportunities to cut further into the lead. Casey Boucher put a direct kick from 21 yards just over the bar, then Sarah Boucher had a good look from the left but shot it off the side of the net.

Orioles keeper Sarah LaClair made a pair of saves in the victory. The Belchertown starting back line of Abbey Norden, Emily Silva, Jillian Lund and Christina Delude limited the dynamic Boucher sisters, clearing balls that crossed into Orioles territory.

“Our main goal all season was to get to the state final, and now we’re there,” Soucia said. “Losing to Auburn the last two years was really tough, so it makes this win that much more special.”

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

Related

Opportunities pass, Belchertown boys fall 1-0 in state semifinal

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WESTFIELD — In all 21 prior games this season, the Belchertown boys soccer team eventually found a way to break through in the scoring column. Despite numerous chances throughout the contest, that streak ended along with the Orioles’ season in a 1-0 loss to Groton-Dunstable in the state Division 2 semifinals at Westfield State Tuesday. “Nothing was falling,” senior midfielder …

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