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Division 1 girls soccer: Overtime winner sinks Belchertown in quarterfinals



Staff writer
Monday, November 05, 2018

WESTFIELD — Less than a minute remained in the first overtime. Belchertown and Westfield remained scoreless in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Girls Soccer Tournament quarterfinal, Monday at Roots Athletic Complex.

The Bombers controlled a Belchertown throw-in in their own defensive half with a header and a short flick to sophomore midfielder Catie Bean. She took a couple touches to settle the ball and passed across to Chandler Pedolzky near the half-field circle. Pedolzky had too much space.

She teed up a left-footed shot from 25 yards out and fired for the top-left corner, just over Julia Jimenez’s outstretched hand.

“We pressured and tried to win the ball,” Belchertown coach Kyle Thibeault said. “That’s a tough shot to stop where she hit it.”

The goal ended the game 1-0 and sent the third-seeded Bombers to the semifinals.

Westfield (12-6-1) will face No. 2 West Springfield (14-2-0) at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Central.

No. 6 Belchertown keyed in on Pedolsky defensively. She entered the game with 22 goals and eight assists. At times, though, that attention pulled the Orioles (9-8-2) out of their rhythm.

“We settled in more, stopped worrying about ‘where is she’ all the time and having that defensive mindset,” Thibeault said. “I told them if we’re going to do anything play our game and stop catering to one player, that gave them confidence.”

Belchertown played more aggressive through balls to its forwards in the second half, particularly its leading scorer Emma LeBlanc. She created a chance at goal in the 48th minute off a dribbling run past the Bombers defense. Westfield keeper Adrianna Arona stopped it, but the ball went out for a corner.

“We were being way more physical. We realized how the other team played, and we adjusted to it,” LeBlanc said.

Westfield’s defenders became frustrated and barked at each other after the Orioles quickly won another corner and created an open shot that went over the crossbar in the next five minutes.

LeBlanc took Belchertown’s best shot at a goal with seven minutes left. She waited for a cleared ball to come back to the middle, settled it with a touch and turned around her defender. LeBlanc’s left-footed shot rang the crossbar.

“It’s exactly like we practice and how we end up getting most of our goals,” LeBlanc said.

The quarterfinal loss was the last game for eight Belchertown seniors: Jenna Birk, Rachel Connolly, LeBlanc, Jocelyn Leja, Alexis Mastorakis, Delaney O’Brien, Elise Pikul and Kathryn Zawistowski.

“There’s nothing they should hang their heads about. This is a battle, overtime game against a good team and just didn’t go our way today,” Thibeault said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.