Recorder: "Greenfield gets to wave banner"

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Greenfield gets to wave banner

By JEFF LAJOIE

Staff Writer

Published: 10/25/2019 9:34:36 PM

Modified: 10/25/2019 9:34:25 PM

NORTHFIELD — Time to order that banner.

For the first time in the 26-year history of the Greenfield High School girls soccer program, the Green Wave captured a league championship on Friday night.

In a matchup of the top two teams in the Pioneer League South Division, Greenfield scored three times in the first half en route to a 3-0 victory over Pioneer Valley Regional School, giving the Wave an outright league crown.

“It’s pretty amazing,” began Greenfield head coach Tina Riddell. “I’m so incredibly proud of them. There’s been a different atmosphere around the program, especially this year. Everyone plays together and works hard. They deserve this.”

Greenfield (13-2 overall, 11-0 Pioneer South) played its first year as a varsity program in 1993. The Wave had never won even a share of a league title until Friday night’s win, the closest attempts coming when they were Tri-County League runners-up in 1994 and 1995. But after a third-place finish and a postseason appearance a year ago, Greenfield continued its upward momentum by sweeping the season series against Pioneer (10-5, 9-2) to seal the deal.

“Once we started winning some games early on this season, we talked about how winning more games would get us a better playoff seed and we wouldn’t have to play the likes of South Hadley,” Riddell said. “But then we got to a point where, we can definitely win a league title so let’s go do it.”

The Panthers were looking to pull even in the league standings with a victory, and they were also in pursuit of some elusive history. Pioneer hasn’t won a girls soccer league title since 1988, when it captured the Bi-County League.

“We just didn’t bring it to the level that we’re capable of tonight,” Pioneer coach Nikki Pullen said. “And it’s a bummer because we did our homework, we knew what to expect with (Greenfield). But they were the better team tonight.”

Tina Reed staked the visitors to a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute, when her shot to the near post snuck past Pioneer keeper Anna Picard.

Eleven minutes later, Victoria Marin made it 2-0 when her free kick from about 25 yards out sailed over Picard’s head and just under the crossbar for another Greenfield tally.

“We talked about whoever won the first 10 minutes, whoever dominated the first-ball touches early on was going to win the game,” Riddell said. “The girls were nervous all day, I was a little nervous all day. But they went right out and played, got off to a solid start.”

Greenfield’s opportunistic offense made it 3-0 just before halftime, when Emma Savoy buried a low, bouncing shot into the back of the net to give the visitors a commanding lead at intermission.

“They can finish,” lauded Pullen of Greenfield. “They only need one opportunity and they can take advantage.”

Greenfield goalkeeper Dina Samake made the cushion hold up the rest of the way, as she did a nice job coming off her line and cutting down breakaway and long-ball opportunities for the Panthers. Samake finished with 10 saves in the victory, with defenders Samantha Santos, Elizabeth Trudeau and Kacia Kinsmith, playing well in front of her. Kinsmith cleared a ball off the goal line in the second half. Marin also slid back into a more defensive role than normal, shoring up the back line in the important league tussle.

“There’s no banner for girls soccer in the gym so we talked about how awesome it would be to make that happen,” Riddell said of the league title. “How cool would it be for the girls to someday bring their kids to the gym and show them that they were a part of that team?”

Pioneer’s Azemina Cecunjanin had the team’s best scoring chance with 16:20 left in the second half, when her point-blank blast was turned away by Samake.

Greenfield closes out its regular season on Tuesday night when it hosts Franklin Tech under the lights at Vets Field.

The Panthers have second place in the Pioneer South locked up, and they’ll look to improve their postseason seeding with a win in their finale on Tuesday against Smith Voke.

Greenfield 3, Pioneer 0


Greenfield

3

0

3

Pioneer

0

0

0

Goals: (G) Reed, Marin, Savoy.

Assists: (G) Savoy.

Saves: (G) Samake 10. (P) Picard 3, Mullen 1.