CHESHIRE -- Absorb and survive. That's what the Mount Greylock girls' soccer team needed to do against Hoosac Valley. Just buy itself some time.
That time finally came in the 58th minute when Kelsey Orpin found side netting for the go-ahead goal and eventual game-winner in a 2-1 win over South Division rival Hoosac Valley on Saturday.
"I think they carried the better of play," Greylock coach Tom Ostheimer said. "We just took advantage of two of four, five good opportunities and so a lot of credit to our defense for keeping the team in it."
The win clinches the South for the Mounties. The two teams entered Saturday with 16 points apiece. Greylock was 7-0-2 and Hoosac was 8-1-0 in the division coming into the final divisional game for each team.
"Everything came down to this game and we worked so hard," said Greylock keeper Margot Besnard, who has been starting since the eighth grade. "Undefeated in the South, I'm really, really proud of as a senior and as someone who's been on this team for a long time. We've never had a win as big as this and it feels really good."
Alexandra DeVeaux played a ball from the left flank near midfield up into the middle for Sophie Leamon. Leamon, with her back to the goal and knee on the ground, passed the ball across the top of the 18-yard box for Orpin to run onto. She did and put her right foot to the rolling ball, sending it over keeper Meg Richardson's head and into the far side of
"It was a really tough shot and Courtney [Hayer's] fast, so I was trying ... to get by her and hope that it would hit the frame and it did," Orpin said.
Greylock had generated only two quality scoring chances in the game until Orpin's goal, and both of those came in the first 14 minutes. The second of those chances gave the Mounties a 1-0 lead.
Orpin chased down a ball on the left side of the box in transition. She quickly passed across the box to Melissa Swann, who did the same thing Orpin did to win the game, sending the ball over Richardson's head to the far post.
The Hurricanes had pinned the Mounties in their own zone for much of the first 14 minutes. But a lack of coverage on the weak side allowed Swann to find open space and take advantage. Orpin did the same thing.
Hoosac went into the game with the mindset of pressuring the Mounties every time they touched the ball. The Hurricanes did it well, but on the times it didn't pressure, Greylock had a scoring chance.
"We didn't step up quickly enough [on either goal]," Hoosac coach Blair Mahar said. "They're too good not to pressure them 100 percent for 80 minutes, and so the minute we get lulled into taking a breather or a little bit flat, they just went for it."
That presence intensified immediately after Swann's goal. On the ensuing kickoff, Meg Rodowicz found herself face to face with Margot Besnard. Her shot didn't make Besnard move an inch, and the threat ended quickly.
Rodowicz wasn't the one Greylock was worrying about, though. That was Danielle Beauchemin, and she showed why about a minute later.
Lily Kronick passed to Beauchemin at the top of the box. She tried to beat Sarah Stripp across the box but couldn't. She quickly cut back to her left, let Stripp pass, put the ball back on her right and fired inside the right post to bring Hoosac even just 1:15 after Swann's goal.
Beauchemin's move and shot was one Besnard has seen all too much of over the years.
"Well, top of the 18, ... hitting that shot with her right foot is something she's scored on me I think every single time I've played her in my life, and I've played her a lot of times," Besnard said. "It's her sweet spot. It's her strength, turning with almost no angle and hitting the shot."
Greylock's Sarah Stripp had been tasked with marking Beauchemin. The first-half tally quickly showed the eighth-grader that she was going to have her hands full. A quick couple of words from Besnard and Ostheimer telling her to force Beauchemin outside and to her left foot helped.
"I just try to turn my body one way," Stripp said. "But she's really good with her feet, so I just tried to stay in front of her as best as I could, and it worked out most of the time."
Beauchemin and the Hurricanes controlled play for the first 30 minutes of the game and then the first 20 of the second half. The Mounties rarely had sustained pressure in Hoosac's end. Even Besnard's booming punts relieved the pressure for only a few seconds.
But Besnard and the defense held strong, especially in a second-half sequence when Hoosac had three good looks at the goal.
Rodowicz took the initial shot from the middle of the box. Besnard couldn't tell if it was going to bounce wide of the left post, so she dove to her right, but couldn't control the ball. Rodowicz hustled to the loose ball and quickly put it back on frame but not before Besnard got back on her feet to make another diving save in the opposite direction. But Besnard still couldn't control the rebound and Beauchemin sprinted in from out of no where only to push the ball wide of a wide-open goal.
"I'm so glad that she's our goalie," Orpin said. "I think she's the best one in the league. I don't know how she does it. It's such a relief to have her back there."