Division 3 girls soccer: South Hadley ready for talented Holy Name Central Catholic in state semifinals

  • South Hadley senior Reese Carey, left, turns a pass from Sydney Mercier (not shown) to score on Mahar sophomore keeper Mackinley Drew to make it 6-1 in the second half of the Senators' 7-2 loss to the Tigers in the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship at Springfield Central High School on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Staff PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Mahar freshman Astha Bernard, right, is challenged by Emma Sanford of South Hadley in the first half of the Senators' 7-2 loss to the Tigers in the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship at Springfield Central High School on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Staff PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley sophomore Elyse Manzi, left, and Mahar sophomore Natalie Belloli duel for possession in the second half of the Senators' 7-2 loss to the Tigers in the Western Massachusetts Div. 3 championship at Springfield Central High School on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Staff PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2019 8:29:28 PM

The South Hadley girls soccer team has had to deal with defending many talented strikers this season. Granby’s Nora Young, Monson’s Tennessee Murphy and Mahar Regional’s Delaney Parker, to name a few.

The Tigers will have to neutralize Holy Name Central Catholic striker Hayley Houston and get past Napoleons goalkeeper Isabelle Ayers in the Division 3 state semifinals on Tuesday to earn a spot in the state championship. The game is at 5 p.m. at Grafton High School.

“They’re very fast,” South Hadley coach Rich Marjanski said. “They have a lot of speed up top and are good in midfield. They have a very good striker up top. We are going to have to keep control of the ball and possess it as much as we can. Their keeper is very athletic.”

The Tigers (20-0-1) defeated Mahar, 7-2, in the Western Massachusetts championship to advance to their third straight state semifinal game.

Holy Name (17-3-0) earned a spot in the state semifinals by defeating Bromfield, 3-2, in the Central Mass. championship. The Napoleons trailed Bromfield by two goals early in the first half, but rallied to earn the victory.

In the sectional semifinals, the Tigers narrowly defeated Monson, 1-0, with a second half goal from Reese Carey.

The game served as a reminder for the team that nothing is guaranteed in the postseason tournament.

“I think we needed a game like that,” Rich Marjanski said. “We had our chances in that game, but the kids didn’t finish. I tell them all the time to take advantage of their chances. That kind of hit home in that game. When you have your chances in front of the net you have to take advantage.”

The Tigers’ midfield of Sydney Mercier, Maddie Doolittle and Paige Marjanski has consistently created scoring opportunities for the team’s forwards with their collective speed and ball control in the middle of the field.

“We totally try to play as fast as we can,” Rich Marjanski said. “The speed we have in the middle is amazing. Most of the play is in the middle of the field. The holding midfielders and attacking midfielder and center backs have that speed. We have it along the outside as well. With that the whole team works fast. That benefits us a lot. It’s a lot of fun to coach.”

The program has utilized the agility of its starting fullbacks, Hailey Werenski and Jaidan Luis, to contribute in the attacking phase with crosses, but the duo also has the speed to get back on the defensive end.

The Tigers went up against a talented striker in Parker in the sectional championship, but continued to initiate play with their fullbacks. Doing so could have left the team vulnerable defensively, but solid play from center backs Anna Evans and Amy Hampson got the job done.

Evans, Hampson and goalkeeper Bridget Sears will look to do the same while defending Houston and the Napoleans’ other talented forwards on Tuesday.

“This time in the season, these guys are prepared for anything,” Rich Marjanski said. “They have played against some really good strikers and people defensively. The best thing is that we have Bridget (Sears) back there to release pressure. They’re good at doing that.”

South Hadley fell to Sutton in the 2017 state semifinals and lost to Norwell in the 2018 state championship.

At this point in the season, the team isn’t taking any opponent lightly.

“We have to pay good soccer to win this game Tuesday,” Rich Marjanski said. “They know that if they don’t come out and play someone is going to take it to them.”




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2019 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy