Athol, Mahar girls to host opening round tournament games on Thurs.
GRANBY — The Athol and Mahar girls’ soccer teams will host opening round games Thursday night as the WMass Division III tournament seeds were released on Monday afternoon.
The Lady Senators (8-7-3) earned the No. 7 seed while the Lady Raiders (8-8-2) wound up eighth in the 10-team field.
Mahar hosts No. 10 Putnam (9-5-4) while Athol hosts No. 9 Renaissance (13-4-1). Both games will kickoff at 6 p.m. Thursday. Both opponents participated in the Tri-County League. The Beavers are listed as a Division I team on the MIAA website, but were announced in the Division III bracket.
A Mahar victory would send them to No. 2 Wahconah for the quarterfinals. Athol would visit No. 1 Granby. The quarterfinal round is slated to be played on either Saturday or Sunday.
Here’s a look at the qualifying teams:
No. 1 Granby (16-0-2)
The Rams lost in the WMass title game a year ago, but have yet to lose this fall. Granby’s ties came against Minnechaug and Belchertown. The defense has allowed just 12 goals this season.
Offensively, the Rams are led by Erin Mickalchus (20 goals), Summer Molin (14 goals, 8 assists) and Kate Sarnacki (8 goals, 16 assists).
Granby defeated Mahar (4-2) and Athol twice (6-1, 3-0) during the regular season.
No. 2 Wahconah (14-3-1)
The defending WMass champion Warriors went 7-1 in a stout Berkshire North and look like the team to beat again this fall. All three Wahconah losses came against Division I tournament teams (Ludlow, West Springfield, Pittsfield).
Arden McKnight leads Wahconah with 14 goals, but Emmy Cote (12 goals, 13 assists) is the top playmaker. The Warriors have allowed just four goals in their 14 wins.
No. 3 Southwick (9-7-1)
The Rams went just 4-4 in the Grieve Division and are led by Lydia Klinsman (9 goals, 8 assists).
Southwick’s only shared opponents with Mahar are Sabis and Amherst. They had no shared foes with Athol. The Rams split with Sabis while dropping a 5-1 decision to Amherst. Mahar lost to Sabis (3-0) while tying Amherst (0-0).
No. 4 Palmer (8-8-2)
The Panthers went 3-0-2 in their final five games to get into the tournament. They allowed just two goals in that five game stretch and come in as one of the hottest teams.
Savannah Cavanaugh (10 goals) and Maddy Stahelski (8 goals, 8 assists) lead the offensive attack.
The Panthers beat Smith Academy (1-0) and Frontier (3-2), split with Sabis (3-2, 1-2) and lost to Amherst (2-1) and Granby (4-2) in games against like foes.
No. 5 Monument Mountain (11-6)
The Spartans went 5-3 in the Berkshire North with two of those losses coming to Wahconah (both by 1-0 scores). Monument defeated Frontier 2-1 earlier in the season while splitting with Pittsfield.
Ericca Broderick (12 goals, 6 assists) and Allison Kinne (11 goals, 5 assists) lead the Spartans.
No. 6 South Hadley (9-7-2)
The Tigers finished second in the Pioneer North, behind Granby. Goalkeeper Sophie Gatzounas closed the season with three consecutive shutouts and could be a difference maker for the Tigers.
South Hadley did battle with Athol (twice) and Mahar during the regular season. The Senators were able to earn a 1-0 victory while Athol lost both times (5-3, 2-0).
Emma Slysz (11 goals), Alexa Blaney (8 goals, 7 assists) and Lexi Gawron (8 goals, 8 assists) led the attack.
No. 7 Mahar (8-7-3)
The Senators have battled injuries to star player Kenzie Tenney and Cassie Verheyen to emerge as champions of the Franklin County League. Independent games against Gateway, Smith Academy, Athol (twice), Granby, South Hadley, Mount Greylock, Sabis, Pittsfield, Easthampton, Hopkins and Amherst have given Mahar plenty of competition throughout the regular season. Those teams are a combined 30 games over .500 (99-69-28).
Mahar has used a balanced offensive attack with Ella Fontaine (10 goals, 7 assists) leading the way. Katie Cleveland (7 goals, 4 assists) has been a major piece to the Senators attack while Tori Tenney (6 goals, 4 assists) and Delaney Parker (3 goals, 7 assists) have come on strong of late. Alex Temple has added 5 goals and 6 assists.
No. 8 Athol (8-8-2)
The Lady Raiders defeated Mahar and Frontier in their final two games to make the tournament. Seniors Kayla Robideau, Emily Casella and Lindsey Hamlett have all had their moments of glory down the stretch while goalkeeper Payton Parker has earned her stripes.
Robideau (10 goals, 8 assists) leads the team in scoring despite being the key piece of the defense. Julia Carey (9 goals, 4 assists), Casella (8 goals, 2 assists) and Amber Mahony (4 goals, 5 assists) are the primary playmakers, but 12 different players have scored this season.
No. 9 Renaissance (13-4-1)
The Phoenix finished second in the Tri-County League and come in boasting a two-headed monster in Desiree Crawford (36 goals, 19 assists) and Joanna Feliciano (28 goals, 10 assists). Those video game numbers are inflated by the TCL, but the duo clearly has some skill.
The only similar foe is Gateway, a team that beat the Phoenix 8-0. The Gators defeated Mahar 3-1 in the season opener.
No. 10 Putnam (9-5-4)
The Beavers finished fourth in the TCL, but went undefeated in their final five games. Sierra Mendenhall, Olivia Goodrow and Jennifer Graham lead the attack.
Putnam’s lone shared foe is Hopkins whom they tied 1-1. Mahar defeated the Golden Hawks 1-0.