Belchertown rallies, beats Frontier for WMass Division 3 championship

  • Tony Martel, left, and Evan Fournier celebrate with the Western Massachusetts Division 3 championship after Belchertown beat Frontier, 2-1, in double overtime, Sunday at Westfield State University. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Owen Raines (20) celebrates a Belchertown goal against Frontier during the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Belchertown celebrates their Western Massachusetts Division 3 championship win over Frontier Regional, 2-1 in double overtime, Sunday night at Westfield State University. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Belchertown runs off the field to celebrate with their fans after winning the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship over Frontier Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Belchertown runs off the field to celebrate with their fans after winning the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship over Frontier Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Belchertown celebrates their Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship win over Frontier Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Belchertown celebrates their Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship win over Frontier Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Belchertown's Evan Fournier (10) shoots past Frontier's Ben Morse (18) in the second half of the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Sam Felton-Emrick (15) heads the ball over Belchertown's Evan Walters-Zucco (8) during overtime of the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Connor Waitkus (10) slide tackles the ball from Belchertown's Connor LaFlamme (14) during overtime of the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Belchertown goalkeeper Christopher Tilton makes a close save on a shot from Frontier's Jon Wooley (12) in the second half of the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Belchertown's Evan Fournier (10) carries the ball on a breakaway defended by Frontier's Doug Hanieski (19) in the second half of the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Belchertown’s Jarod Bolton, right, settles a cross defended by Frontier’s Sam Felton-Emrick in the second half of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 championship, Sunday. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier walks off the field after losing to Belchertown in the second overtime of the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Doug Hanieski (19) jumps up to head the ball contested by Belchertown's Connor LaFlamme (14) in the first half of the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier’s Jon Wooley, left, makes a leaping kick defended by Belchertown’s Connor LaFlamme in the second half of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 championship, Sunday night at Westfield State University. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier goalkeeper Peter Bronke leaps for a save over Belchertown's Jarod Bolton (21) on a corner kick in the first half of the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Connor Bagdon (9) jumps up to head the ball over Belchertown's Evan Walters-Zucco (8) and Shay Oneill (4) in the first half of the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship Sunday night in Westfield, Nov. 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

Staff reports
Published: 11/11/2018 10:56:04 PM

WESTFIELD — Evan Fournier aimed for Jarod Bolton at the back post in double overtime.

It worked against Mount Greylock in the semifinals. It worked earlier in the 69th minute of Sunday’s Western Massachusetts Division 3 championship game against Frontier Regional.

“He comes over to me, he tells me where he wants it and that’s where I try to put it,” Fournier said.

He put it right on Bolton’s chest in the 95th minute. Bolton controlled it down to his feet, kicked it up with his heel and carried it across the line with his hip. When the ball went into the net, Bolton started running toward the crowd and the sideline, left hand cupped over his ear, firing up the Orioles crowd until he was tackled just shy of the 50-yard line. His second goal of the night delivered Belchertown its first Western Mass title since 2014 with a 2-1 double-overtime win at Westfield State University.

Belchertown lost the previous two championship games, last year to Southwick in penalties and the prior to Frontier.

“Being here the last three years and coming up short twice, it pushed us,” Bolton said.

“(Coach Zach) Siano told us we hadn’t won anything, we were still riding on the coattails of the seniors when we were freshmen. Getting this was super important, and I hope it put us on the right track.”

Belchertown (15-5-1) will face Central Mass. champion Nipmuc (17-2-2) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Chicopee Comp.

“I’ve been playing soccer and been a part of soccer most of my life,” Frontier coach Evan Horton said. “In 30-plus years, that’s one of the greatest games I’ve ever been a part of.”

Frontier (11-8-2) went ahead in the 37th minute. Ben Morse floated a free kick toward the far post. Connor Waitkus tracked it and knocked it to Hanieski with the side of his foot. Hanieski turned on a dime and fired through two Belchertown defenders and to the left of keeper Chris Tilton.

“I brought it down with my chest and just tried to strike it through,” Hanieski said. “I tried to believe it was gonna go in and hit it hard.”

With the way Frontier’s defense has played in the postseason and keeper Peter Bronke on the goal line, the Red Hawks figured one goal would hold.

“Our defense has been our rock all year. You would think a 1-0 lead would be good enough for us, but we tried to keep pushing,” Hanieski said. “I think if we got that second one it would be a different outcome.”

Frontier carried its one-goal lead into halftime. Siano challenged his players when he spoke to them during the break.

“Siano looked us all in the eye and told us that we can play better, we can come back into this, we know we can play this game,” Bolton said.

The Orioles earned a corner in the 69th minute. Fournier served a juicy ball from the left corner to the back post. Bolton leapt and met it with a header, firing across the goal to the left and leveling the game at 1-1.

“Evan does three different kinds of balls, my favorite one is the loft curl,” Bolton said. “That’s perfect for what I want to go in and win.”

Frontier earned two free kicks in regulation’s final seven minutes, but Tilton got his hands on the resulting attacks both times, sending the game to overtime.

“We played exactly what we planned on doing,” Horton said. “It was right there. We were 13 minutes from it going our way.”

Once the game went to overtime, Siano pushed players forward. The Orioles were not going to penalties for a second consecutive year.

“We’re gonna give one up or we’re gonna get one, and thankfully we were on the right side of that,” Siano said.

It was the final game for eight Frontier seniors: Connor Bagdon, Bronke, Hanieski, Noah Jacques, Ryan Loveland, Kip Newman and Ari Vanegs. They’ve overseen the most successful period in Frontier soccer history, reaching three sectional finals in four years. A Franklin County soccer team had never even played for a Western Mass title before Frontier’s run.

“The difference is now we expect to be in these games. Five years ago, we would be happy to be in this game,” Hanieski said. “It hurts because we expect to be here.”

The championship brought relief to Siano. Though he’s in his first year of coaching the Orioles varsity after taking over for Tony Almeida, who led the Belchertown program for 22 years, winning seven Western Mass. titles and a state championship in 2013, he was on the staff of the past two finalist teams. Siano also coaches Belchertown’s boys tennis team, which lost the last four sectional title matches.

“It’s great to get that monkey off my back, to be honest, I’m incredibly proud of these guys,” Siano said. “I’m glad they were able to carry on this one for coach (Tony) Almeida. This one was certainly for him.”

While the Western Mass. title achieves one of Belchertown’s goals for the year, the Orioles aren’t satisfied with just one trophy.

“These guys know that a state championship has eluded this program for quite some time,” Siano said. “These guys know how much of a special thing it is to come together and get to that spot. We’ll see what they can bring to the table.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.



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