South Hadley draws Belchertown to close girls soccer season

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  • Belchertown junior Sarah Sedlacek, left, settles a ball in front of South Hadley senior Anna Evans in the third quarter of their 3-3 draw in South Hadley on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley senior Macey Moriarty, left, and Belchertown freshman Madysen LePage try to settle a high ball in the second quarter of their 3-3 draw in South Hadley on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A threat by Belchertown senior Olivia Vogel, left, is stopped by South Hadley sophomore goalkeeper Kacie Levrault in the third quarter of their 3-3 draw in South Hadley on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior Alexa LaFlamme, left, takes a shot on goal between South Hadley's Paige Marjanski (21) and Emma Sanford, right, late in the third quarter of their 3-3 draw in South Hadley on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley freshman Lauren Marjanski, center, is congratulated by seniors Teagan Gawron, left, and Paige Marjanski after her goal put the Tigers up, 3-2, over visiting Belchertown just before the break in their 3-3 draw on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown sophomore Aida Name, left, tries to block a pass by South Hadley senior Macey Moriarty in the second quarter of their 3-3 draw in South Hadley on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior Avery Klingensmith, left, gets a pass by South Hadley senior Molly Goshea in the second quarter of their 3-3 draw in South Hadley on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown senior Brooke Samborski, left, and South Hadley freshman Lauren Marjanski battle for control in the second quarter of their 3-3 draw in South Hadley on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior Avery Klingensmith, left, maintains possession under pressure from South Hadley senior Siobhan McAllister in the third quarter of their 3-3 draw in South Hadley on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown junior goalkeeper Mabelle Bessette launches a kick in the third quarter of the Orioles' 3-3 draw in South Hadley on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 11/10/2020 7:37:39 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — A draw wasn’t how South Hadley wanted its girls soccer season to end.

The Tigers capped last season with a Division 3 state championship and won the previous three Western Massachusetts titles. Their nine seniors hadn’t lost a game on their home turf and wanted to go out with a win. Instead, South Hadley battled Belchertown to a 3-3 deadlock Tuesday.

“It’s better than a loss,” South Hadley senior Teagan Gawron said.

Belchertown opened the game on the front foot in the fourth minute. Alexa LaFlamme received a through ball from Erin Lucas down the left flank then fired a shot across the face of the goal into the far corner.

The Tigers didn’t need much time for a rebuttal. Gawron tied the game in the seventh minute after receiving a pass in the box.

“We knew it was our last game and once that happened we knew we had nothing left, so we had to give it our all and bounce back from it,” Gawron said.

The Orioles regained the lead just before the first quarter buzzer. Maya Sullivan settled a rebound then looped her shot over Tigers keeper Rylee Suchenicz in the 20th minute.

South Hadley coach Rich Marjanski replaced Suchenicz between quarters with sophomore Kacie Levrault. It was her first time in goal at the varsity level.

“I felt like there were missed opportunities, coming out late for the ball. I thought we needed to go in a different direction,” Marjanski said. “I watch her during practices and I see tendencies in her. I know she won’t get rattled. I know she’s got great hands, I know she’s good with her feet. I went with it.”

Levrault stopped six shots, including some blasts in the second half, and helped South Hadley rally to the lead.

Gawron unlocked the Orioles defense in the 26th minute. She found Jaiden Luis down the left side, and Luis picked the right corner to tie the game at 2.

The Tigers took the lead approaching halftime by sticking with it. Lauren Marjanski collected her own rebound in the box after her initial shot sent Belchertown keeper Mabelle Bessette (six saves) to the ground. Marjanski kept her nerve and slotted the ball into the back of the net for a 3-2 lead in the 38th minute.

“They answered the challenge,” Rich Marjanski said. “That shows a team that’s growing together.”

Halftime switched the tenor of the game. Neither team cracked the other’s defense in the third quarter despite creating opportunities. But the Orioles kept their pressure and eventually found an equalizer. Lucas tracked a ball down on the left side then crossed it toward Sarah Sedlacek, who fought off multiple South Hadley defenders to clear a shooting lane and beat Levrault in the 71st minute.

“We were pounding, pounding, pounding, and I kept telling everyone on the field ‘I feel it coming, keep on pushing, don’t give up,’” Lucas said. “She was aggressive, there was three girls on her, and she put it in the goal.”

Belchertown has one more game scheduled for Wednesday at Amherst Regional. The Orioles have tried to appreciate every time on the field because they know any game or practice could be their last.

“It’s not the way they wanted the season to go with no tournament and everything, but we’ve made the best of the opportunity we were given to play,” Belchertown coach Kyle Thibault said.

After the teams acknowledged each other from their benches – no postgame handshakes because of COVID-19 protocols – South Hadley’s seniors took a moment to reflect and be together before walking off the field for the final time.

“We’re a very tight knit team so we’re sad that it’s finally over,” Gawron said. “I’m glad we at least got a season, one last time to play with each other.”

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


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