Division 3 boys soccer: Belchertown faces new test in Blackstone Valley Tech

  • Belchertown freshman Ethan Czaporowski, center, knocks away a ball being settled by John Skavlem of Mount Greylock in the second half of the Orioles' 2-1 Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship win over the Mounties at Springfield Central High School on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Belchertown's Nathan Schiffer is at left. Staff PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown senior goalkeeper Tony Martel clears the ball past Leo Rossitter, right, of Mount Greylock in the second half of the Orioles' 2-1 Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship win over the Mounties at Springfield Central High School on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Staff PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior Nathan Schiffer heads the ball over Cole McDermott of Mount Greylock in the second half of the Orioles' 2-1 Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship win over the Mounties at Springfield Central High School on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Staff PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • John Skavlem, left, of Mount Greylock and Belchertown sophomore Shay O'Neill both try to settle a ball in the second half of the Orioles' 2-1 Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship win over the Mounties at Springfield Central High School on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Staff PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Tate Kuster, left, of Mount Greylock and Belchertown senior Korey Houle battle for possession in the first half of the Orioles' 2-1 Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship win over the Mounties at Springfield Central High School on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Staff PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2019 9:03:58 PM

Blackstone Valley Tech got a head start for Tuesday’s Division 3 boys soccer state semifinals.

The Beavers ended three-time champion Nipmuc’s Central Massachusetts reign on Nov. 14, so their coaching staff watched Belchertown rally and defeat Mount Greylock in the Western Mass. final Saturday. The Orioles, meanwhile, will enter their second straight state semifinal comparatively blind.

“Scouting isn’t going to dictate how the next 80 minutes are going to go,” Belchertown coach Zach Siano said. “We’ve been able to scout them, we’ve been able to form some semblance of a game plan, and it’s about adjustments from there. It’s about getting each other out of our comfort zones early.”

The teams will meet with a spot in the state final on the line at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Grafton High School. It’s the second game of a doubleheader with the girls Division 3 semifinal between South Hadley and Holy Name Central Catholic at 5 p.m.

Blackstone Valley (15-3-1) didn’t allow a goal in three games and only scored once: a 78th minute strike by Luke Morrison in the semifinals to beat Auburn 1-0. The Beavers prevailed in penalties in the quarterfinals against Barteltt and against Nipmuc to win their first sectional title.

“They have one of the better center backs in the region and a big, strong goalie. They’re good in the air,” Siano said. “They’ve been able to grind games out. They’ve been battle-tested.”

Belchertown (11-4-6), conversely, put away 10 goals across three tournament games, scoring at least twice in every round. The Orioles have claimed six sectional titles in the past nine years. Belchertown has nine Western Mass. titles but won only three state semifinals. The Orioles captured the program’s only state title in 2013.

“Our guys know the expectations and what this brings. It’s more of a home game for them,” Siano said. “Regardless of the opponent, regardless of the site, regardless of how strong we are. No matter what team you’re playing this is the most important game of the season.”

Belchertown began the season unevenly. The Orioles started 2-2-2 before inserting senior Tony Martel in goal for their crossovers against the Smith League, which features some of the best teams in western Mass. They’ve only lost twice since. Belchertown has five clean sheets during that stretch and only allowed multiple goals three times in 15 games.

“It starts from the back,” Siano said. “We’re a defensive-minded team and a defensive-minded coach.”

Freshman Ethan Czaporowski emerged as a force up top, scoring 20 goals with 12 assists.

“It allows us to play a little more conservative at the back because we have such a weapon up front,” Siano said.

Blackstone Valley doesn’t feature the same fulcrum offensively. The Beavers have three players with at least five goals, led by Mike Fresh’s 11, and seven with at least three. Morrison accumulated 16 points on seven goals and nine assists. Blackstone Valley kept 12 clean sheets in 2019.

“It’s just patience and taking advantage of our opportunities. There’s more guys who are going out there and ready to do their job,” Siano said. “I can’t imagine a team that’s one of the last four remaining the state having any deficiencies. They have guys that step up.”




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