Late goals help Green Wave survive Tiger scare

  • Katherine Haselton, center left,of Greenfield, moves the ball against Gabi Moroney, center right, of South Hadley, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School. Taylor Gelinas, left, and Audrey Bresciano look on.

  • Audrey Bresciano, left, of Greenfield, moves the ball against Emma Rahilly, of South Hadley, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School.

  • Katherine Haselton, left, of Greenfield, moves the ball against Olivia Wilson, of South Hadley, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School.

  • Kaylah Eggsware, center, of Greenfield, moves the ball against Breann Foley, of South Hadley, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School.

  • Bella Yee, left, of South Hadley, passes against Greenfield defenders Lucy Postera, right, and Raegan Hickey, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School.

  • Bella Yee, right, of South Hadley, and Raegan Hickey, second from right, of Greenfield, go to the ball amid Savannah Sudyka, from left, Corryn Moroney and Kayla Carleton, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School.

  • Raegan Hickey, right, of Greenfield, scores the tie-breaker in her team's 2-1 win against South Hadley, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School. Audrey Bresciano, center, had the assist. South Hadley players Savannah Sudyka, left, and Corryn Moroney look on.

  • Raegan Hickey, top, of Greenfield, celebrates with teammates after scoring the tie-breaking goal against South Hadley during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School.

  • Madyson Kuchieski, center, of Greenfield, goes to the ball against Bella Yee, of South Hadley, during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School. Taylor Gelinas looks on.

  • Greenfield players Audrey Bresciano, second from left, Kaylah Eggsware, right, and Raegan Hickey, front, celebrate Hickey's tie-breaking goal against South Hadley during the Division 2 semifinal Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 at Holyoke High School.

Staff Writer
Published: 11/5/2018 10:39:52 PM

HOLYOKE — Greenfield High School’s train toward a third consecutive Western Mass. Division 2 championship nearly derailed Monday night.

Trailing 1-0 with time ticking away, however, Raegan Hickey and Audrey Bresciano led the Green Wave cart back on the tracks. 

The senior tandem each found the back of the net in the final 11 minutes, 36 seconds of regulation, turning a deficit into a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over fourth-seeded South Hadley in the WMass Div. 2 semifinals at a rain-soaked Roberts Sports Complex.

Top-seeded Greenfield (18-2) will meet No. 3 Frontier (12-5-3) Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. at East Longmeadow High School for the WMass D2 title. The Wave have beaten Frontier each of the past two seasons in the championship game, and it’ll mark the fourth year in a row overall that the teams will play in the final.

“We definitely came out flat today,” Greenfield coach Erin Thayer began. “I’m not sure why. I think playing a team three times is a tough feat but they never gave up. They fought through until the end and did what they had to do to get by.”

Trailing 1-0 with 11:36 to play, Bresciano tallied the equalizer to give Greenfield new life. Maddy Kuchieski set up her teammate with some impressive stick skills, pushing a square pass in tight space to Bresciano in front of the South Hadley goal. The senior came through, blasting a shot through traffic that saved the day and got the top-seeded Wave back in the saddle.

Just 3:26 later, Hickey came through with the game-winner for the defending champs. After Greenfield called a timeout to set up a corner, Hickey and Bresciano executed the play to perfection. The duo worked a give-and-go, with Hickey winding up with the ball on her stick for a blast that rattled the back of the cage and gave the Wave a 2-1 lead with just 8:10 to go.

“When I took that timeout before (the corner), I told them they have to finish and execute to make it count,” said Thayer of Hickey and Bresciano. “They’re leaders on and off that field and they executed the way I would expect them to.”

Bresciano said there was no panic late in the game, despite increasing stakes as the game ticked toward a potential overtime.

“During the timeout we were just basically saying we don’t want this to be our last game,” she explained. “We’re going to call the corner we know best and execute.”

Just 10 minutes earlier, fortunes looked much bleaker for Greenfield in its pursuit of a third straight title. South Hadley’s Taylor Gelinas broke a scoreless drought with 18:10 remaining in regulation. Corryn Moroney broke through the Greenfield defense, forcing Samantha Smith to charge hard from the goal. Smith slid to break up the play, but Gelinas was right there to pounce on the rebound. She scooped the ball up, dribbled the final 10 yards into a now-vacant cage, and made no doubt about it from close range to give her team the 1-0 advantage.

“We’ve been working a lot on the give-and-go scenarios,” South Hadley coach Tara Cole said. “If the keeper goes down, what do we have to do. (The goal) was exhilarating. They were floored, I was floored, the coaching staff was floored to go up and take a lead like that.”

Early on, things seemed to go according to Greenfield’s plan, albeit without any goals. The Green Wave put the first five shots on goal, and had an early 4-0 edge in corners with plenty of pressure and possession down in front of the South Hadley goal area.

South Hadley goalkeeper Brooke Blair did her job in those situations however, and the Tigers began to find their legs midway through the frame. They nearly got on the board with 11:15 remaining in the first half, as the tandem of Gelinas and Gabi Moroney broke in on Smith. The senior dove to cut down the angle, stymying the transition attempt.

The momentum stayed with the Tigers (12-6-2) the rest of the half. The squad won a corner just before the halftime whistle, with Corryn Moroney the prime scoring threat on the play. On the ensuing corner, Gelinas’ blast missed just wide to the outside of the cage, but South Hadley was charged up entering the break all squared.

Not bad from a team that lost twice by a combined score of 13-3 to Greenfield in the regular season.

“I think playoffs and postseason brings its own kind of energy to the team,” Cole said. “We’ve been here many times in the postseason so the girls know how it feels. Playoffs brings its own energy and it kind of erases everything that’s happened before. Everybody has a ticket in and you want to keep your ticket going. That kind of energy continues and helps to propel them.”

Hickey, who scored three goals against South Hadley during the regular season, said she was impressed by the Tigers in meeting No. 3.

“We knew that we haven’t seen the best South Hadley play yet but we weren’t quite expecting this,” she said. “They came out ready to play.”

Now Greenfield has a date with its biggest rival on the biggest stage. Once again, all roads led to Greenfield-Frontier with the WMass title on the line.

“We just have to come out and play our best game,” said Bresciano, who scored the championship-clinching goal against Frontier in last year’s title tilt.

Greenfield 2, South Hadley 1

South Hadley

0

1

1

Greenfield

0

2

2

Goals: (SH) Gelinas. (G) Bresciano, Hickey.

Assists: (G) Kuchieski, Bresciano.

Shots: South Hadley 5. Greenfield 10.

Saves: (SH) Blair 8. (G) Smith 4.

Corners: South Hadley 2. Greenfield 8.




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