WMass Div. 3 Girls Soccer Final: Mahar ready for unbeaten South Hadley

  • Natalie Belloli, left, of Mahar, and Brianne Salomao, of Hampshire Regional, go to the ball during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 semifinal, Tuesday at Holyoke High School. FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Carra Fitzgerald, right, of Mahar, moves the ball against Riley Shaughnessy, left, of Hampshire Regional, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 semifinal, Tuesday at Holyoke High School. Siobhan Davis looks on. FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Natalie Belloli, right, of Mahar, uses a chest bump to get control of a pass beside Maggie Rubeck, of Hampshire Regional, during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 semifinal, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019 at Holyoke High School.

Staff Writer
Published: 11/15/2019 10:08:36 PM
Modified: 11/15/2019 10:08:21 PM

The next hurdle for the Mahar Regional School girls soccer team is an undefeated, two-time defending Western Mass. champion.

The No. 3 Senators (17-1-2) will continue their magical ride through the Division 3 playoffs on Saturday at 11 a.m. when they travel to Springfield Central High School to play top-seeded South Hadley (19-0-1) with the Western Mass. championship up for grabs at Berte Field.

“They are a highly-skilled team,” Mahar coach Chad Softic said of the Tigers. “Really a possession-based team. They love to go horizontally across the field. Crosses go into the box and they use their athleticism.”

A win would give Mahar, and Franklin County, its first-ever sectional title in girls soccer.

The Tigers boast a strong midfield in Lindsay Marjanski, Paige Marjanski and Madelyn Doolittle.

“This is the best team I have seen in my career coaching,” Softic said of South Hadley. “But at the same time, this is the best Mahar team we’ve ever had. We don’t need to back down to anyone.”

Reese Carey is a dangerous striker for South Hadley.

“All over the field they have talent,” Softic said. “You can see why they’ve had as much success as they’d have the last few years.”

Delaney Parker scored three goals in Mahar’s 4-3 double-overtime win over No. 2 Hampshire Regional in the semifinals.

“She is an all-state player,” South Hadley coach Rich Marjanski said of Parker. “We have to keep our eyes on her. We aren’t going to change anything, but we are going to make sure we have help on her.”

South Hadley edged No. 5 Monson, 1-0, in the other semifinal on Wednesday night. Carey scored the game-winning goal in the second half for the Tigers.

The idea of playing at another neutral site is not an issue for the Senators.

“We have nothing to lose right now,” Parker said. “South Hadley is probably going into the game expecting to win, but we have nothing to lose. We are all pretty nervous for this game because we know South Hadley will be pretty tough for us but I think we are all ready for it.”

Softic said he does not expect any exotic schemes in an attempt to limit Parker.

“They’ve been so good with what they do with their back three,” the coach began. “I don’t think they are going to worry about her. I think they will show her attention when we get in their offensive half. Given their track record, I don’t think they are probably looking to do anything different and nor should they.”

Mahar keeper Maddie Lloyd thought about washing her goalie gloves after the semifinals, but thought better of cleansing the mitts that helped her collect 15 saves against the Raiders.

“The mojo,” Lloyd said. “Can’t mess with the luck.”

Lloyd jumped into a varsity role this season and has helped the Senators reach the finals with two playoff shutouts.

“I am excited,” Lloyd said. “I know once we get out there we will do what we always do and we are just going to win.”

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