By Alex Brooks
The Mt Greylock boys soccer team played the Western Mass. Title Game on Sunday evening, November 16. There was no score in the regulation 80 minutes, and no score in the two ten minute overtime periods, and it remained tied after the teams had taken ten penalty shots each. but in the twelfth round of penalty shots, Belchertown made theirs and then Greylock’s Ian Brink missed his wide. It was Brink’s second penalty shot of the shoot out – he had buried his first one.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Mounties, who have lost to Belchertown in the post season six consecutive times and had hoped that this would be the team that could break the spell. The Belchertown team is fast, strong, aggressive and physical. The Mounties found it difficult to control or develop the ball under this kind of pressure, and the first half was pretty much a tossup, as neither team could develop an effective attack.
In the second half, though, Greylock’s superior ball control began to give them the advantage. Greylock’s Eric Hirsch beat a defender in the 48th minute and his shot beat the keeper and was headed into the goal – but it didn’t have quite enough pace on it, as a Belchertown defender caught up with it and cleared to the side just before it crossed the goal line. In the 75th minute, Mountie Sam Dils made a great move down the left side inside the penalty area, and sent a pass across the goal mouth only a few yards out. The pass made it to HIrsch at the back post with neither keeper nor defenders between him and the goal, but his shot missed wide. Belchertown did not have opportunities of the same quality in the second half. They had loose balls bouncing around in front of the Greylock goal a couple of times, and they had a cross to a player streaking in towards the Greylock goal at close range, but it was a difficult ball and the header popped up in the air and was nowhere near on frame. Overall, in the run of play, Greylock had 15 shots and Belchertown 9.
In the two overtime periods, with fatigue and adrenalin taking over, neither side was able to develop quality plays, and a lot of long balls and frequent changes of possession were the rule.
Greylock keeper Cal Filson was outstanding both in the 100 minutes of the game and in the penalty kick shoot out. During the shoot-out, he gave the Mounties several opportunities to put the game away by stopping Belchertown shots, but Belchertown’s keeper turned in an equally fine performance, and each time the Mounties also failed to bury their shot (two of these hit the post.)
This was truly a game of inches, and when it ended, many of the Mounties were inconsolable, some pounding the ground in anger and frustration, and some sobbing. But the team had a great run this year, coming within a whisker of a Western Mass. title.