Raiders, Senators to meet in opening round of tournament
GRANBY — The Athol and Mahar boys’ soccer teams will duke it out one more time.
It was announced Monday that the No. 8 Senators will host the No. 9 Raiders in the opening round of the WMass Division III tournament Wednesday night at 6.
The teams played a pair of exciting games in the regular season with Athol holding on for a 3-2 victory on Friday night. The schools played to a 2-2 tie earlier this season.
The matchup comes with plenty of intrigue following Friday’s “tale of two halves” contest. The Raiders jumped out to a 3-0 lead in that contest and probably should have been ahead by even more. The Senators rallied for a pair of late first half goals and made Athol sweat it out for the entire second half. Wednesday night’s winner will have the final bragging rights.
The winner will visit No. 1 Belchertown on Friday or Saturday.
Here’s a look at the tournament teams:
No. 1 Belchertown (13-1-4)
The Orioles’ lone loss came to Agawam — the No. 4 seed in Division I. Belchertown defeated Hampshire, Frontier and Southwick, all of whom defeated Athol.
Jack Kamins, Ryan Kearney and Jonathan Ingram lead the offensive attack while Connor Curtin and Tanner Clark have shared time in net. Belchertown has only allowed more than one goal four times.
No. 2 Hampshire (12-2-2)
The Raiders haven’t lost in their last 14 games after dropping to Belchertown and Monson in the second week of the season. The stretch includes a 2-1 victory over Athol.
Dilan Pooler and Colin Dearborn lead the attack while goalkeeper Nick O’Hare is stout between the pipes.
No. 3 Mount Greylock (10-5-1)
The Mounties stumbled in losing three of their final four games and they were victorious just once in their final five.
Sam Sils (15 goals, 4 assists) leads the scoring while Benni McComish (2 goals, 7 assists) and Naka O’Connor (8 goals, 2 assists) are also important to the offense.
No. 4 Southwick (9-2-5)
The Rams dropped late season games to Palmer and Hampshire as part of a stretch that saw them go winless in five straight. They recovered with a 4-0 victory over South Hadley in their regular season finale.
Southwick defeated Athol 4-1 earlier this season and is led by Bailey Emerson (15 goals) and Ryan Todesco (11 goals, 9 assists).
No. 5 Frontier (12-3-2)
The high-flying Red Hawks went undefeated in the Schmid Division and closed the season with seven straight wins. Frontier pumped in 63 goals this season including 27 in their final seven games.
Chad Parent (15 goals, 9 assists) and Connor Hamilton (14 goals, 12 assists) lead the attack.
No. 6 Palmer (13-5-0)
The Panthers drilled Athol 5-0 earlier this season, but finished fourth in the five-team Holley Division.
Joao Soares (30 goals, 8 assists) is one of the best players in the tournament while Matt Remillard (12 goals, 16 assists) is a strong player as well.
No. 7 Monument Mountain (7-6-4)
The Spartans have played great down the stretch in going 4-1-4 over their final nine games. The defense has surrendered just five goals in that span.
Isaac Graves, Dan Newey and Matt Amstead are the players to watch.
No. 8 Mahar (13-2-3)
The Senators haven’t been challenged much while rolling to a McGrath North crown. Seniors Owen Cook (20 goals, 16 assists), Pedro Mattos (14 goals, 12 assists) and Eli Smith (14 goals, 3 assists) provide the offense while goalkeeper Bryce Cleveland has 11 shutouts.
No. 9 Athol (10-6-2)
Senior striker Tyler Lajoie has scored 36 of his team’s 56 goals and is just three points away from 100 for his career. He’s scored five goals in two games against Mahar this season.
Seniors Owen King, Nelson Leadbetter, Xavier Santana, Brandon Barilone and Lorenzo Carra give the Raiders experience.
Athol has won six straight after a brutal stretch that saw them lose 6-of-7. The Raiders emerged from that stretch with a change in tactical approach and have outscored their opponents 24-3 since.
No. 10 Putnam (8-7-3)
The Beavers finished third in the Tri-County North and will be first round fodder for Monument Mountain.
Putnam is led by Tyonne Malone and Nick Jacobs.