NORTHAMPTON -- The Mount Greylock girls' soccer team wanted to take their Western Massachusetts Division II Semifinal game one half at a time. The first goal was to get out of the first half tied.
Goalkeeper Margot Besnard made 13 first-half saves and kept the game scoreless for 31 minutes, but Belchertown broke through twice in the final ten minutes of the half. It was all the Orioles needed on their way to a 6-0 win over the Mounties on Friday night.
"I thought that if we could get into the half at 0-0, we might have a chance," Greylock coach Tom Ostheimer said. "With two goals right before the half, we knew it was going to be hard to come back after that."
With nine minutes to play in the half, Belchertown's Mackenzie Yelle sent a crossing pass into the 18-yard box and Natalie Caney one-touched it past Besnard. Less than two minutes later, Brittany Moreau sent home a crossing pass from Christina Delude for a 2-0 lead.
Belchertown struck twice more in the first 10 minutes of the second half on similar plays. The Orioles' fourth goal came on a hard-crossing corner kick that Jacqueline Soucia headed into the empty net.
"They crossed the ball really well," Besnard said. "They cross it 12-yards away from the goal and they are hard low balls that are perfect to run on to. I mean congrats to them, they're just such a strong team."
The Orioles controlled the tempo from the very opening of the game. The Mounties
"We really just met our match today," Ostheimer said. "It was another caliber of soccer that we haven't seen in Berkshire County this year.
"Our hope was to keep it 0-0 for as long as we could and maybe get a fast-break goal."
In total, Greylock was only able to get the ball across the midfield line three times in the first half and just another four times in the second.
"[Belchertown] has a lot of speed, and they really pinch hard into the middle," Greylock senior Alexandra DeVeaux said. "It was just something that we weren't used to seeing. They have a really deep team and played well. I think we did our best to do everything we could. We kept our heads up after they scored the first goal and we really held them off for 30 minutes."
Belchertown didn't let off the pressure in the second half, forcing Besnard to make an additional 15 saves for a total of 28 in the game. It was the highest save total for Besnard this season.
"I've really been in the zone the last few games," the senior goalkeeper said. "It feels really good. I think I've really tried to just soak in the last minutes of playing high school soccer and tried to make the most of it."
She helped her team into the semifinal by recording 16 saves in the quarterfinal against Hoosac Valley, not including a save on a penalty kick.
The pressure was on Besnard all night. The defense had to collapse to prevent the crossing passes, and was unable to clear most of the attempts from the Orioles.
"Margot once again, I've said it before, but I think she's the best goalie in Berkshire County, and maybe even Western Mass.," Ostheimer said. "She really showed why today. The goals that were scored were balls she didn't have a chance on, there wasn't a single goalie mistake."
The semifinal appearance is the furthest the Mounties have come in recent memory. They qualified for the tournament after winning the South Division crown and earned a bye as the No. 4 seed.
"Overall, I'm really proud of us," DeVeaux said. "I think it has everything to do with how close our team is and how much heart we play with. We just wanted it so much.
"Winning the Hoosac game was just amazing, beating them three times this season was just great. I really think we were all happy to be here, and win or lose, I think we played hard and we kept our heads up."
To reach Sam Monroe, email
On Twitter: @NAT_DigitalSam