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Belchertown in good position for state girls soccer title

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.

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 »

Over the past three seasons, there’s only one stage on which the Belchertown girls soccer team has yet to perform.

That will change at 3 p.m. Saturday when the Orioles take the field for the Division 2 state championship game against Medfield at Worcester State University.

The game marks Belchertown’s first state final appearance since 2004, and a win would give the Orioles their second state title (2003). To claim the crown, they need to defeat the 2010 state champions.

“Our team is very confident heading into the game,” said Belchertown coach Chris Mogavero. “We have had a tremendous season and are excited to have the opportunity to represent our school and western Massachusetts in the title game. We have been preparing for this moment the past three years and are looking forward to putting our best foot forward.”

In a matchup of top 10 ranked teams in the commonwealth, Belchertown (20-0-2) and Medfield (20-0-3) represent two of the three remaining unbeaten girls squads in the state. Division 1 champion Franklin (22-0-1) defeated previously unbeaten Nashoba (18-1-4) in Friday night’s final.

Belchertown has yet to be heavily challenged it its postseason run, outscoring four opponents 21-1. The Orioles allowed their only goal in a 4-1 victory over Northbridge in the state semifinal Tuesday evening.

Medfield, on the other hand, was nearly knocked off in its first playoff match. The No. 3 seed in the South bracket needed penalty kicks to survive No. 14 Hopkinton. The Warriors took advantage of an own goal to stave off No. 8 Duxbury in the sectional final by a 1-0 score.

However, led by a hat trick by senior Katelyn Murray, Medfield clobbered North champion Belmont 5-1 in the other state semifinal Wednesday night. The Warriors roster is loaded with 14 seniors.

“All we really know about Medfield is that they are 20-0-3 and are ranked No. 4 in the state,” said Mogavero. “They are ranked in the top 10 in all of New England and they are even ranked or have received votes in the national rankings. So it’s obviously quite a challenge for us.”

For any team to beat the Orioles, it will need to at least match Belchertown’s stellar play in the midfield, which constantly tips the field in the direction of the opponent’s goal. The Moreau twins along with Jillian Cavanaugh patrol that part of the field. Their constant possession also assists a defensive unit that’s allowed just nine tallies in 22 contests.

Entering the final game, the Orioles are led in scoring by Breanne Moreau with 30 goals and 44 total points. Natalie Caney has 22 tallies and a team-best 19 assists. Brittany Moreau (16 goals, 16 assists) and Jackie Soucia (18, 11) also provide offensive firepower, while Téa Spellacy (three playoff goals) adds a spark off the bench.

The Moreau twins, Caney and Soucia were recently named to the All-State Division 2 team. Caney and Breanne Moreau were named All-New England.

Since consecutive draws with East Longmeadow (Oct. 2) and Cathedral (Oct. 4), Belchertown has reeled off 10 straight wins by a combined score of 67-5.

Belchertown played four times in eight days after the decisive victory against Northbridge, so Mogavero gave his team Wednesday off before returning to the practice field the past two days to prepare for its toughest test.

“They needed a day off mentally to recharge the batteries,” Mogavero said. “This is exactly where we wanted to be all season, so I’ve told them to have fun and leave 150 percent on the field. No matter what happens, we’ve had an outstanding season. That’s the way I look at. Obviously, we want to win it all, but if we play our hardest, we’ll be able to walk away happy.”

In looking forward to the matchup, Soucia mentioned something for the Orioles to work on that hadn’t been a remote possibility in any playoff game, but may very well come into play on Saturday.

“We’re probably going to have to practice PKs to be ready for that just in case,” she said. “If we can focus and have the intensity we always play with, we should give ourselves a good shot.”

But Breanne Moreau summed up the feelings of the entire team heading into the most significant game of each player’s high school career.

“This is a long time overdue for us, because we were so close the last two seasons,” she said. “We’re finally going to the state final. Our goal for the whole season has been to make the state championship, and we’ve worked so hard all year looking at that goal. We all know how tough a game it’s going to be, so we need to really focus in on what we have to do to be successful.”

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

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