Women’s Soccer Wins New England Championship
Lady Cougars Capture Region XXI Title
(Holyoke, MA) - The 2018 Lady Cougars soccer team won the New England (Region XXI) championship on Sunday afternoon, defeating Massasoit CC 2-1 in overtime. The Cougars split games with Massasoit during the regular season and the two sides finished tied atop the New England standings with matching regional records of 9-1-0. Holyoke's regular season loss to the Lady Warriors was the program's first regional loss since 2011. The Cougars worked extremely hard to prepare for their post season meeting with Massasoit and had just the right game plan to ensure they could defeat their foe in the season's most important game. In doing so, the Cougars claim their seventh consecutive regional championship.
A strong wind played a key role in Sunday's matchup; all three of the game's goals were scored by the team who had the wind at their backs. Holyoke trailed 1-0 at halftime but a relentless attack in the second half led to the tying goal. The momentum carried into overtime where the Cougars won the game.
Center midfielder Sam Tersavich (Westfield, MA / Hampshire Regional), who has played brilliantly all season, scored the overtime game-winning goal to claim the championship for the Lady Cougars. Her game-winner came with just 33 seconds remaining in the first overtime period. Tersavich launched a shot from 35 yards out that sailed over the opposing goalkeeper's outstretched arms and dropped in just under the crossbar, sending the Cougars into elation. During the second half, defender Gabby Petlock (Southampton, MA / Smith Vocational HS) was moved up into the offense to play her more natural position of forward. This is where Petlock sprinted past the Massasoit defense to receive a perfect through ball pass from Tersavich and bury her breakaway chance for the game-tying goal. In the three games against Massasoit this season, Holyoke has scored five goals, all of which were scored by Tersavich and Petlock. Center back Jessica Patruno (Granby, MA / Granby HS) led the defense on Sunday alongside Petlock and Kari Little (Amherst, MA / Amherst HS), keeping a strong Massasoit offense from earning too many scoring chances. Center midfielder Shannon McCarthy (Chicopee, MA / Chicopee Comprehensive HS) was outstanding for the Cougars, dominating in the middle of the field while leading the game plan to deny long passes to Massasoit's speedy forwards.
The Saturday before the championship game, the Cougars defeated Bunker Hill CC 5-0 in a semifinal, led by a goal and two assists from Madison Zollo (Monson, MA / Monson HS). Steph Robert (Monson, MA / Monson HS) and Emily Toro-Mattoon (East Longmeadow, MA / East Longmeadow HS) each scored in the win and each played one half of the game in goal to share the shutout. Olivia Brooks (Agawam, MA / Agawam HS) and Tersavich had the other goals on Saturday and McCarthy had a pair of assists.
The Lady Cougars regional record is 11-1-0 and their overall record is 12-6-1. Their record against NJCAA division III teams is 12-4-1. The New England championship is the women's soccer program's seventh consecutively and 11th in the past 13 years. Holyoke will host a District Championship on Saturday, October 27th at 12pm against Nassau CC. Nassau has been a thorn in the Cougars' side in recent years, having ended Holyoke's season in three of the past four years. The Cougars played Nassau earlier this season in Garden City, NY with the Cougars falling 2-1 in overtime. Holyoke looks to avenge the series of heartbreaking losses this Saturday where a win would punch their ticket to the NJCAA National Tournament (Elite Eight) for the first time since 2013. Let's go Cougars!!
Photos: (Main) The 2018 New England champion Lady Cougars. (Thumbnail) The Cougars celebrate around Tersavich after the overtime game-winning goal.
Update: The District Championship game has been moved to Friday, October 26th at 2:30pm at HCC.