Monument Mountain girls soccer team scores three unanswered goals to top Mount Greylock
After the Mounties (2-1, 1-1 Berkshire North) broke a scoreless 40 minutes of soccer with a goal 14 seconds into the second half, Monument's persistent attack started wearing on their hosts.
The Spartans (1-1, 1-0) had put four shots on net in the first half, but were caught off-guard when Karen McComish and Madison Ross played their two-man game down the right sideline off the kick-off. Ross hit a screaming McComish for the game's first goal with 39:46 on the clock.
The deficit did little to deter Monument's attack, as Aubrey Blanchard peppered Greylock keeper Isabella Nicastro with a pair of shots over the next 10 minutes. Eventually, Zufan Bazzano bullied her way into the box and earned a corner kick. Defender Gabi DeFelice started the set play with a nice loft back into the zone, which met the oncoming head of Blanchard for the equalizer at 30:17.
"It was great, we definitely wanted to control the game with our effort and I think we did that, especially in the second half," said Monument Head Coach Jess Platt. "14 seconds in they got us on our heels a little bit, but I'm definitely pumped about these guys coming back with the right mentality and keeping their heads in the game."
Just 10 minutes later, the Spartans led by two goals and the home team looked winded. A stretch of three games in five days had worn on the Mounties, and the relentless movement of Blanchard, Bazzano and Molly Flynn up front helped the visitors break through.
"It was one of those back-and-forth games. We came out great, obviously, in the second half, but then got on our heels," said Greylock Head Coach Tim Ostheimer, whose squad beat Pittsfield and Lenox to open the season. "We fell into the box, sagged a bit too much and just stopped taking it to them. I saw a lot of good things, a lot we can build on. I feel really good. We knew this was going to be a really tough game and we played them hard."
In the 53rd minute, Monument was awarded a free kick around 40 yards from the net. Again, DeFelice stroked a near-perfect ball into the box, where Blanchard and Flynn were fighting Greylock defenders for position. Flynn got a good cleat on the pass and buried it for a 2-1 lead.
"I've never seen somebody with such a powerful kick," glowed Flynn of DeFelice's two assists. "She's had some amazing goals before and she's had some incredible assists. I'm so fortunate to have her on my team."
The Monument pressure continued, forcing a Greylock timeout at 21:52, but the stoppage did little to slow Blanchard and Flynn. The attack duo teamed up on a race down the right sideline when play resumed. Blanchard hit Flynn in stride and a strong shot hit the back of the net in the 60th minute.
"I think we were just working together a lot to try and get them down. We turned it up a notch as soon as [Greylock] scored. We needed to kick it up," said Flynn. "[Blanchard] changed the energy in the second half in the midfield. She just changed the game for us."
The final 20 minutes were much like the first 40, with the opposing midfielders duking it out and both goalies standing strong. Nicastro finished with nine saves, while Ostheimer's offense brought extra attackers to try and get back in the game late.
First-year varsity keeper Helen Pajeski was more than equal to the task for Monument, gobbling up consecutive shot attempts by Leah Majumder and Clara McWeeny around the 10-minute mark. She finished with seven saves total, but none were greater than her final, which came in the game's final two minutes after Greylock's Ross was taken down in the box on a breakaway, earning a penalty kick. With the possibility of having to survive a final stretch in a one-goal game, Pajeski read Ella Dudley correctly, dove left and pushed away the penalty kick to secure the two-goal edge and eventual 3-1 win.
"Helen Pajeski, man. She's phenomenal, super athletic and she's growing every day," praised Platt. "That'll be a big ego booster for her going forward."
The Spartans next visit Wahconah Thursday night for a Berkshire North clash at 7 p.m., while Mt. Greylock travels to Taconic Friday at 4:30.
Monument 0 3 — 3
Greylock 0 1 — 1
MG — Karen McComish (Madison Ross), 40:14. MM — Aubrey Blanchard (Gabi DeFelice), 49:43. MM — Molly Flynn (DeFelice), 53:01. MM — Flynn (Blanchard), 59:34
Saves — MG: Isabella Nicastro, 8. MM: Helen Pajeski, 7.
Reach sports writer Mike Walsh at 413-496-6240 or @CLNS_Walsh.
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