Division 3 girls soccer: South Hadley rolls past Hoosac in quarterfinals

Staff Writer
Published: 11/7/2019 10:13:26 PM
Modified: 11/7/2019 10:13:15 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — The South Hadley girls soccer team knows that it can create offense with crosses from the wing.

But in Thursday night’s Western Massachusetts Division 3 quarterfinal against Hoosac Valley, the Tigers employed a multi-pronged attack. South Hadley not only created opportunities with crosses, but also with quick one-touch passes around the penalty box.

“That’s pretty much what our focus was this week in practice, especially in the middle,” South Hadley coach Rich Marjanski said. “Making quick touches and getting runs up the middle, especially from our holding midfielders and our attacking midfielders. There wasn’t a lot of space, but they were able to play the ball nice and quick. When we moved the ball quick we had great chances. A few through balls here and there. It was nice.”

The top-seeded Tigers used their dynamic offense to defeat No. 8 Hoosac Valley, 6-2.

Madelyn Doolittle (two), Teagan Gawron, Jaidan Luis, Sydney Mercier (assist) and Elyse Manzi scored for South Hadley. Reese Carey and Lindsay Marjanski each had an assist.

Bridget Sears made five saves in net for South Hadley. Riley Suchenicz replaced her in the second half and made six saves.

The Tigers (18-0-1) move on to play the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal between No. 4 Wahconah (11-3-5) and No. 5 Monson (13-4-2) in the semifinals at a time and place that is to be announced.

Mercier opened the scoring for the Tigers with 3 minutes into the first half. Carey brought the ball down field and sent a slicing, low pass down the middle of the Hurricanes’ defense. Mercier caught up to the ball, made a move to the right and scored with a low shot to put South Hadley ahead.

Ten minutes later, Luis sent in a corner kick that deflected off two Hoosac Valley defenders and fell to Gawron for a tap-in goal.

The Hurricanes threatened with 22 minutes to go in the half. A Hoosac Valley forward took a low shot that deflected off a teammate and redirected high. Sears adjusted with a last-second jump to keep the ball out of the net.

A little over a minute later, the Hurricanes earned a corner kick. Hoosac Valley sent a kick into the box that slipped by two South Hadley defenders. Shaleigh Levesque sprinted to the ball and tapped it in to close the gap to 2-1.

“That’s all communication and girls stepping up,” Marjanski said on the team’s mental mistakes. “That’s something we can build on. We’ll look at the film and see who didn’t step up to clear the ball or who wasn’t marking. ... We came into the game saying that we had to help each other out and back each other up, because we knew the ball was going to skip. Assume that your teammate is going to misplay it.”

South Hadley bounced back with four straight goals to close out the half – two from Doolittle and one each from Manzi and Luis.

All four goals came from a mix of crosses and great one-on-one play at the top of the Hurricanes’ penalty box.

“It’s important to have weapons to use,” Doolittle said on the team’s versatility. “It depends on how the other team is playing you. Sometimes they will man mark us in the middle, so we rely on the fullbacks to get crosses. But if they take note of us on the outside and play with outside midfielders, we are able to move the ball through the middle because they have less coverage.”

With the game in hand in the second half, Marjanski subbed out starters and rotated in role players.

“It’s just one of those things where I wanted to get the kids good touches and make sure there are no key injuries,” Marjanski said. “That’s the biggest thing going forward now, especially in these conditions.”

Emma Sanford had the Tigers’ best shot on goal early in the second half. A Hoosac Valley defender misplayed a ball and let it roll into the Hurricanes’ defensive zone. Sanford stepped up and carried the ball toward goal. She got a hard shot off, but it bounced off the crossbar and out of bounds.

Suchenicz replaced Sears in net during the second half. With 20 minutes to go, Levesque sent a low cross from the right side toward South Hadley’s net. The ball took an awkward bounce off of Suchenicz and rolled into the net to close the gap to 6-2.

The Tigers played good defense for the rest of the game to seal the victory.

The two-time reigning sectional champions are motivated to win a third straight title.

“We are thrilled, pumped and very ready,” Doolittle said. “We’re hoping to keep it rolling, because I’m not looking to play my last game for a while.”

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