WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Hoosac Valley girls’ soccer team had the advantage in shots, scoring chances, corner kicks and even flow of play during the Western Massachusetts Division II quarterfinal on Tuesday.
The one thing they did not have was Margot Besnard.
The Mount Greylock senior goalkeeper made 12 saves in regulation, four in the overtime sessions and then a huge diving stop in the first round of penalty kicks to lead her team to a 4-2 win on penalties after neither team could break a 1-1 tie through overtime.
"Margot was awesome," Hoosac coach Blair Mahar said. "I mean all these shots we’re taking, she was keeping them in it. She was totally keeping them in it. She deserves the MVP, she kept them in this game. It’s just really disappointing for us to lose on PKs."
Bensard’s highlight reel got under way early in the second half when Hoosac’s Lily Kronick headed a crossing pass toward an open section of net. Besnard dove backward to her right and was able to just get a hand on the ball to keep the game scoreless. She turned the same trick with the game tied 1-1, this time she dove to her left and barely deflected a shot from Meg Rodowicz wide.
"Margot comes out to play," Greylock sweeper Alexa Adams said. "I feel really safe with her behind me, honestly. I know that if I make a mistake she will save me. I know that she will do anything to make a save. She’ll sacrifice her well-being just to keep the ball out of our net."
Despite making two diving stops, one leaping punch out and another nice sliding save in regulation and overtime, her biggest save of the night came in the first round of penalty kicks.
Just in case making 16 saves wasn’t enough, she was the first shooter for the Mounties during penalty kicks. She buried her shot and then jumped onto the line to face Hoosac’s Danielle Beauchemin.
Beauchemin lined up and took a hard charge at the ball, firing it to Besnard’s left. The keeper leaped off the line and made the stop while in mid air.
It was the second time she had faced a penalty kick from Beauchemin this season. The first came on Sept. 18 in the first meeting between the teams. Beauchemin went left on that shot and scored.
"I decided before the game even started, that if Beau chemin got a PK I was going left," Besnard said. "Her shot is so hard that if I try to react to it I have no chance, so I just chose my side."
Sending the keeper to the line to take the first penalty kick is a big risk, but it’s one Greylock coach Tom Ostheimer knew he had to take.
"If she misses that first shot and then has to get into the net it could be tough," Ostheimer said. "There is a big risk with it, but she buried it and I think that really pumped her up and helped her make the stop."
The Hurricanes seemed to control the tempo of the game from the start. The Mounties didn’t even get a shot off until the second half. Hoosac outshot its opponent 27-11 and took 14 corner kicks, compared to the Mounties’ five. The Hurricanes just could not figure out a way to get another one of those shots past Besnard.
"I think in many ways when you have a really good goalie, it forces them to think about it," Ostheimer said. "I think Margot got in their heads a little bit. I mean that’s incredibly frustrating to pretty much take it too us in the first half and come out with nothing."
Even when the Hurricanes weren’t shooting they were controlling the ball and forcing the Mounties to play sound defense.
"Obviously, the first half we were dominating and most of the second we dominated," Mahar said. "To lose on PKs is disappointing, but it’s part of the game."
Hoosac started the scoring when Kronick picked up a loose ball and fired it into the top right corner of the goal with 27:30 to play in the second half.
It didn’t take long for the Mounties to answer, however. Sophie Leamon scored the answering goal 38 seconds later. That would be the last of the scoring for a long time.
"We wanted to shut down Danielle, and we had Sarah [Stripp], an eighth-grader, on her again," Besnard said. "She shut her down again [Tuesday], she really knows how to play her."
The victory moves the Mounties into the semifinal to play unbeaten Belchertown. The date, time and location of the game has not yet been determined.
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