Mahar girls make statement
#15 Hailey Raymond breaks up a pass by #16 Jess Van Heyniguh
#5 Pioneer senior Kelly Sweeney (Mike Phillips)
#4 Emily Raymond #20 Kayla Lent
Close games usually come down to one play. For Mahar Regional School, it was a corner kick.
After applying a a lot of pressure in the waning minutes, the Senators finally broke through for the game-deciding goal with one minute left in the game to earn a statement-shouting, 1-0, independent girls’ soccer win over Smith Academy Tuesday night in Orange.
The teams entered the game with nearly identical records but Mahar (8-3-1) plays in the Franklin County League, which is considered weaker than Smith Academy’s Pioneer South Division. While that may be the case, the Senators have dominated against Pioneer South opponents, going 3-0 on the season and outscoring the opposition 8-1 in the process. That now includes a win over the Pioneer South-leading Falcons (8-3-1), as well as a 1-1 draw against Pioneer North power South Hadley High School. Mahar coach Chad Softic said that his team continues to do all it can to silence the critics.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” he said. “This is a win against a very quality tournament team, and it’s a big win for us. It’s a statement game that shows that we can play with anyone.”
The only goal came at the end of a lengthy time of possession by the Senators that saw Mahar take four straight corner kicks. Smith Academy all-star Cassidy Snyder helped clear out the first three corners but the fourth time proved to be a charm. Alex Temple took it and played the ball into the penalty area, where a scrum ensued in front of the Falcon net. Mahar forward Katie Cleveland helped keep the play alive and the ball wound up spinning out of the pack to Mackenzie Tenney, who fired a low shot toward a post. Smith Academy had a defender guarding the post, but the ball went off her leg and into the goal to give Mahar the win.
“We were finally able to get one through,” Softic said of the attempts. “Katie made a great play to keep the play alive.”
While the goal will be the memorable development, the Senators also did a solid job of containing Snyder, who came into the game with 15 goals, third in western Mass. Snyder nearly gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead in the first five minutes of play, but Mahar backup goalie Alicia Bedard made a save to keep the game scoreless. Bedard later gave way to usual starter Sydney Whitcomb, who needed to make just one more save for the shutout. Snyder was bottled up by the Mahar defense, including Kiana Whitmore, who drew the not-so-desirable task of trying to guard her.
“Kiana was really the MVP for us tonight,” Softic said. “She was assigned to guard Snyder and we sandwiched her with another defender.
Brook Pashek finished with eight saves in the loss.
Gateway 3, Pioneer 0 — Kendall Rooney, Alyssa Moreau and Ali Fisk each scored once on Tuesday afternoon and Gateway Regional High School edged Pioneer Valley Regional School, 3-0, in an independent girls’ soccer game in Northfield.
The Gators led 2-0 at halftime. Charlotte LeBarron finished with one assist in the win, and Sarah Otterbeck made one save in the shutout.
Pioneer’s goaltending tandem of Sydney Martin and Jocelyn Carney-Podelski combined to make 15 saves.
Ware 4, Turners 1 — Ware High School downed Turners Falls High School, 4-1, in independent girls’ soccer action Tuesday in Ware.
Nicole Kordana scored the Indians’ lone goal in the second half on a penalty kick.
Four Rivers 2, Hardwick 0 — Helen Perham netted a pair of first-half goals to help Four Rivers Charter School to a 2-0 win over Eagle Hill School in a River Valley Athletic League girls’ soccer game Tuesday in Hardwick.
Perham opened the scoring just 3 minutes, 40 seconds into the game with an unassisted goal. She made it 2-0 in the 16th minute on an assist from Nicole Zabawa. Lea Sweeney stopped all 11 shots she faced to earn the shutout.
Four Rivers (4-3) travels to Hadley on Thursday to take on Hartsbrook School.
Smith Voke 3, FC Tech 2 — Jeff Goralski scored with three minutes left in regulation to help Smith Vocational & Agricultural High School edge Frankin County Technical School, 3-2, in a Tri-County League North boys’ soccer match Tuesday in Turners Falls.
Tomaz Oliviera and Nick Adair also scored for the Vikings. Will Ingram made seven saves in goal.
Anthony Chaisson and Peter Krejmas each scored for the Eagles, and Chaisson also had an assist. Joey Barcomb turned aside 21 shots.
Four Rivers 10, White Oak 0 — Ben Michel scored three times on Tuesday as Four Rivers Charter School routed White Oak School, 10-0, in a River Valley Athletic League boys’ game in Greenfield.
Aidan Belanger and Jack Conant each scored twice in the win, and Kenny Olchowski and Finn McMillan each added one goal. Jackson Reeves-Henning and Liam Carlton each played one half in goal to combine on the clean slate.
The Otters (5-2) host Putney School today at 2:30.