High schools: South Hadley girls lacrosse pulls away from Belchertown for 14-7 win (PHOTOS)

South Hadley’s Ava Asselin (11) fires a shot to score against Belchertown in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Ava Asselin (11) fires a shot to score against Belchertown in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Jordyn Hunter (4) carries the ball under pressure from South Hadley’s Eliana Britton (2) in the third quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

Belchertown’s Jordyn Hunter (4) carries the ball under pressure from South Hadley’s Eliana Britton (2) in the third quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Maddy McArdle (15) carries the ball upfield defended by Belchertown’s Madysen LePage (12) in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Maddy McArdle (15) carries the ball upfield defended by Belchertown’s Madysen LePage (12) in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Emily Pilligian (4) sends a pass against Belchertown in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Emily Pilligian (4) sends a pass against Belchertown in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Madison DaCosta (8) and South Hadley’s Emily Piligian (4) fight for possession in the third quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

Belchertown’s Madison DaCosta (8) and South Hadley’s Emily Piligian (4) fight for possession in the third quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Madd McArdle reels in a pass against Belchertown in the second quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Madd McArdle reels in a pass against Belchertown in the second quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Margaret Watkins (10) fires a shot to score against Belchertown in the third quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Margaret Watkins (10) fires a shot to score against Belchertown in the third quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Maddy McArdle (15) sends a pass downfield against Belchertown in the third quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Maddy McArdle (15) sends a pass downfield against Belchertown in the third quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Rachel Yabra (3) passes the ball under pressure from Belchertown’s Olivia Corbin (20) in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Rachel Yabra (3) passes the ball under pressure from Belchertown’s Olivia Corbin (20) in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Raquel Losty fires a shot for a goal against Belchertown in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Raquel Losty fires a shot for a goal against Belchertown in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Madelyn Philpott (19) carries the ball against South Hadley in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

Belchertown’s Madelyn Philpott (19) carries the ball against South Hadley in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Ava Asselin (11) winds back to shoot against Belchertown in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Ava Asselin (11) winds back to shoot against Belchertown in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Olivia Corbin (20) carries the ball upfield against South Hadley in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

Belchertown’s Olivia Corbin (20) carries the ball upfield against South Hadley in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Aubrey McCain (11) and Madelyn Philpott (19) chase down a loose ball against South Hadley’s Eliana Britton (2) and Mia Beaulieu (22) in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

Belchertown’s Aubrey McCain (11) and Madelyn Philpott (19) chase down a loose ball against South Hadley’s Eliana Britton (2) and Mia Beaulieu (22) in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Ava Asselin (11) fires a shot against Belchertown in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Ava Asselin (11) fires a shot against Belchertown in the fourth quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Madysen LePage (12) sends a pass downfield against South Hadley in the third quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

Belchertown’s Madysen LePage (12) sends a pass downfield against South Hadley in the third quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Emily Piligian (4) takes a shot against Belchertown goalie Emma Almeida in the second quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Emily Piligian (4) takes a shot against Belchertown goalie Emma Almeida in the second quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Eliana Britton fires a shot to score against Belchertown in the second quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Eliana Britton fires a shot to score against Belchertown in the second quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Maddy McArdle (15) sends a shot just wide of the goal in the second quarter against Belchertown on Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Maddy McArdle (15) sends a shot just wide of the goal in the second quarter against Belchertown on Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Belchertown’s Jordyn Hunter (4) scoops a loose ball under pressure from South Hadley’s Eliana Britton (2) in the second quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

Belchertown’s Jordyn Hunter (4) scoops a loose ball under pressure from South Hadley’s Eliana Britton (2) in the second quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Eliana Britton (2) sends a pass against Belchertown in the second quarter Thursday in South Hadley.

South Hadley’s Eliana Britton (2) sends a pass against Belchertown in the second quarter Thursday in South Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 04-11-2024 9:14 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Entering the second quarter of Thursday afternoon’s game between visiting Belchertown and the host South Hadley girls lacrosse teams, the score was tied at three apiece after each team held a one-goal lead but couldn’t gain any more ground.

The Orioles struck first in the second, going up 4-3 on a Lia Pikul goal just 44 seconds into the frame.

It was all Tigers from there on their home turf.

South Hadley scored four unanswered goals and held Belchertown to just the one early goal in the second quarter as it took a 7-4 lead into intermission. The Tigers matched their first half total across the next 24 minutes to defeat the Orioles 14-7 in a rain-heavy Valley League contest.

Eliana Britton tallied a whopping nine points (three goals, six assists) and was one of four South Hadley players to record a hat trick in the win.

“The girls played really hard,” Tigers head coach Danielle Clark said. “I think we came out a little flat-footed, but I was happy with the overall effort. We always practice hard, and we talk about parts of the game we want them to improve on. It was cool to see them pick it back up and do some of those things after the slow start in the first half.”

Alongside Britton on the offensive end was Margaret Watkins (four goals, one assist), Ava Asselin (three goals, one assist) and Raquel Losty (three goals, one assist). Rachel Yabra added a goal and an assist as well for the Tigers.

During South Hadley’s previous contest against Hampshire, Watkins eclipsed the 100-point plateau in a 17-5 win. On Thursday, Losty was one point shy of joining her at the century mark, and almost cashed in a late goal that whistled past just an inch wide of the cage.

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“That would’ve been nice for her to get it, but hopefully next game she can,” Clark said. “We’re excited for her.”

The outburst on offense is nothing new to this South Hadley program. A year ago, the Tigers reached double digits in 10 of their dozen wins, with the two exceptions both being nine-goal outputs. With the majority of their attackers back this spring, Clark expects to see more numbers like the one on Thursday’s scoreboard moving forward.

“I am so proud of our offense,” Clark said. “We worked hard on that side last year, and most of our offensive lineup came back this year. It’s cool to see the girls taking it and running with it. They’re doing a great job, and I love that we have so many girls that can score.”

For the first quarter and a half, Belchertown, a young team playing in only its second game of the season, hung stride for stride with the daunting South Hadley charge. 

Paige Magner (three goals) found the back of the net twice in the first quarter, the second giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead for the moment. The Tigers’ second-quarter spurt was sparked by a man advantage, which saw them score three times in less than a minute.

Belchertown and South Hadley are awfully familiar with one another, as the two sides squared off three times last spring. That experience showed in the first two frames.

“The first 15 minutes of the game were pretty competitive, then we went a player down at some point in the second and that’s kind of when they opened it up,” Orioles head coach Jarrod Lemke said. “From there we were just playing catch up for most of the game. It’s always exciting when we play South Hadley. The score got away at the end, but in terms of the competition level of the game, I feel like it’s always pretty comparable.”

Goals were particularly sparse from the midway point of the third onward for Belchertown. For a team that relies heavily on their transition offense, the Orioles struggled to consistently use the midfield to open up that aspect of the game and use their speed to their advantage.

South Hadley made it just difficult enough for Magner, Madysen LePage (two goals) and the rest of the Belchertown attack to make clean, efficient passes in their odd-player rushes.

“[South Hadley] defended well, but we also had a lot of missed opportunities in transition,” Lemke said. “Our transition offense is typically the strongest aspect of our game, so when we’re going down the field and have some 3-on-2 or 4-on-3 situations and we drop it, it lets them get back on defense.”

Kenzie LePage also scored a goal and Madysen LePage notched an assist for Belchertown.

Because the Orioles (1-1) are two games into their schedule (while several teams have played four or five games already), it’s still a bit of a work-in-progress for a team that has a plethora of underclassmen still getting their feet wet at the varsity level.

Four games over the next seven days should help, starting with Westfield on Friday evening at 5:45 p.m.

“We’re trying to get our freshmen some game experience still,” Lemke said. “We have a young team, and obviously practice is different from a game environment. So getting them incorporated into game speed is something we’re still working on.”

After dropping three straight to start the spring, South Hadley (2-3) has won its last two – and in convincing fashion.

The Tigers did a good job of shifting their focus from the trio of losses to what’s ahead, and they’ve all contributed at a high level despite having only four players coming off the bench. South Hadley is off for a week, but will return to the field next Thursday at Mount Greylock for a 5 p.m. clash with the Mounties.

“This group of girls is really strong,” Clark said. “We have a small team this year, and I feel like those first three games they really fought hard but the other teams had double the amount of players we did. That’s a lot on our legs, especially in the midfield. Coming off of a win, we came into this game with the mindset that we were gonna win. That really helped us today.”

Hampshire 7, Chicopee Comp 6 — For the first time this season, the Raiders are in the win column after Anna Puttick’s hat trick helped them edge the Colts in a low-scoring affair on Thursday evening.

Emmie Collins notched a goal and an assist. Mary Thibault, Reagan Mott, Rylie Simmons all scored once each. Ava Gougeon and Abby Hennessy split time in goal.

Boys lacrosse

Granby 18, Central 7 — Nine different Rams players scored a goal in a true team effort en route to a dominant win over the Golden Eagles on Thursday.

Riley Goodhind led the way with three goals and our assists, while Connor McDonell notched a hat trick and three dimes of his own. Granby picked up its second straight win, improving to 2-1 on the young season.

Boys volleyball

Westfield 3, Frontier 0 — The Redhawks put up a fight against the defending MIAA Div. 2 state runners-up, but it was the Bombers that pulled away with a 25-16, 25-18, 25-11 victory in Westfield on Thursday. 

“We learned a lot as a team tonight,” Frontier coach Courtney Parent said. “The boys played tough against a very talented Westfield team.” 

Aleks Carey put down 13 kills and one ace, Jack Carey tallied eight kills and two aces, Theo Sargent and Evan Maio each made two digs while Tavo Vincent Warner dished 16 assists for the Redhawks.