Monument Mountain girls soccer picks up 2-1 win over Wahconah

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GREAT BARRINGTON — In a contest in which two back line mishaps kept both defenses on edge and zoned in, Molly Flynn's second-half blast was the difference.

Following a pair of own goals in the first half, Monument Mountain got the 2-1 win in a tight Berkshire North clash with Wahconah. The Spartans (7-1-3, 3-0-1 Berkshire North) battled back after digging a 1-0 hole for themselves on an own goal off a Wahconah (5-6-3, 1-2-2) corner kick 16 minutes into the game.

After another own goal evened things by halftime, Flynn scored on a feed from Fiona Horan in the game's 47th minute. The strike broke what had become a defensive stalemate and set up a Monument win. The Spartans sweep their season series with the Warriors and now have the inside track to a division title.

Horan entered the game off the bench in the first half and used her length and speed to change the pace in Monument's final third. Early in the second half, she controlled the ball near midfield and made her approach on the Warriors defense. Horan took on one defender and then another, forcing her way up field and into the attacking zone. Some space opened up and she drew a pass with her left foot to Flynn, who was filling the middle lane. Flynn sped by her defender and blasted a shot over the top of Sage Howes quick enough that the veteran keeper couldn't get there in time.

"They have a really good team, so offensively we just had to keep hammering on them and working them and eventually we just found the ball that worked," said Flynn. "I've played with Fiona for so long and she has such a strong left foot. Her passes are always great. It was so helpful having her come off the bench today."

The Monument defense then continued to stand strong, righting their earlier error with sure-footed play against the Warriors offense.

Wahconah controlled possession for much of the first half, forcing Monument keeper Helen Pajeski to make three saves, to just one for Howes. That pressure eventually presented itself in a Chloe Accardi corner kick. She played a soft pass in to Johanna Esko, who redirected back to Accardi. Then, she took her shot, which found the back of a Monument defender and ricocheted into the net for a 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, they would return the favor to Monument just five minutes later. Gabi DeFelice put a corner kick on the head of Zufan Bazzano that went wide at 20:30 of the first half, but the Spartans never relented momentum. The pressure built up and when the ball got in tight 45 seconds later, Wahconah's defensive spacing allowed an own goal at the other end to tie the game.

"Back to a tie game was good for us. Adjusting to the weather and the slick grass took us a half to get up to speed," said Monument coach Jess Platt. "We're just trying to grow every day and figure out how to get our looks as a team."

DeFelice and the defensive core of Lauren Kinne, Masho McAllister and Sydney Ruggiero were immense in holding off Wahconah's attack. DeFelice swallowed up Warriors star Arden McKnight (three shots on goal) on multiple occasions and even came away with a header save on a Sadie Anderson shot while Pajeski was taken out of the play. In the first minute of the second half, Ruggiero came up with a huge sliding save of a Hannah Ronayne attempt, and then a pair of defenders turned away a three-on-two inside the 10-minute mark.

"Gabi is an amazing player. She is like a wall, no one can get by her. It's so comforting to have her in front of me. She holds the defense for me," said Pajeski, before touching on the early own-goal. "I think we picked up our enthusiasm after that. The first half we weren't pumped up enough, but the second half we really got after it."

At the other end, Wahconah's defense was just as strong, taking Monument's other elite scorers, Bazzano and Aubrey Blanchard, out of the game with powerful double teams on the edges. Abby Wells was in command on Bazzano's side, while Bri Kasala and Sue Stefanik handled the other. The Warriors ultimately couldn't get home on the offensive end. An Anderson corner kick dropped into Pajeski's hands with little hassle late in the second half. Another set play was kicked behind the net and a Ronayne try was turned away to end it.

"That's been one of our weaknesses. We just don't have numbers in the box to score goals," said Wahconah coach Meghan Smith. "At times we go back to old habits and then it's too late.

"We are quick to change to the defensive play, but what kills us is that we forget to change back to offensive push. They are containing and doing great things back there, but we're slow on the offensive drive."

———

Wahconah     1     0          1

Monument     1     1          2

First Half

W — Own goal, 16:09.

MM — Own goal, 20:14.

Second Half

MM — Molly Flynn (Fiona Horan), 46:38.

Saves — W: Sage Howes, 4. M: Helen Pajeski, 6.

Reach sports writer Mike Walsh at 413-496-6240 or @CLNS_Walsh.


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