By DENNIS HACKETT
SPRINGFIELD – After a scoreless 80-minute deadlock that saw Westfield (16-2-2) dominate Central Massachusetts Champion Algonquin Regional (17-1-3) at times, forward Chandler Pedolzky stunned the crowd at Berte Field in Springfield with an outside the box snipe to seal the victory in overtime, 1-0.
Pedolzky dribbled past a defender to create some separation before letting a shot rip from outside the penalty box with just enough arc to leave the Algonquin goalkeeper scrambling to get to the corner to block the shot. However, the ball was just out of reach, and the goalie landed just short as the ball fell into the back right corner of the goal.
At times in the first half, Westfield committed some sloppy turnovers to put the defense in some tight positions but they stood strong, immediately shutting down any offense caused by the turnovers. Early on, forward Kaela Mochak was all over the ball, doing her best to generate some offense for the Bombers while also tracking back on defense when necessary.
After the 10th minute, the Bombers settled in and began to dominate for the remainder of the half but Algonquin held on to keep the game scoreless through the first frame. On several plays the Bombers were just an intercepted pass away from breaking the game open, while goalie Adrianna Arona anchored the defense with some great saves when called upon.
Westfield opened the second half a step slow against an early pressure from Algonquin but were able to quickly recover and maintain the defensive prowess they showed in the first half and dictate the pace of play for the rest of regulation.
Starting in the 65th minute, the Bombers started an offensive onslaught against the Algonquin defense that lasted five minutes. During the attack, Westfield nearly took the lead off of a header in the 67th minute but the Algonquin goalkeeper dove to the corner of the goal to push the ball over and out of play.
In the final moments of regulation, the Bombers settled into another offensive frenzy, including a play that almost found the game-winner. In stoppage time, forward Catie Bean dribbled the ball up along the right side of the field before sending a cross to the opposite side of the field. Then the ball was sent back into the middle and ricocheted off the Algonquin goalie but none of the Bombers could find the back of the net.
Before Pedolzky could grab the game winner in the 84th minute, the Bombers had to deal with Algonquin’s best chance of the game just seconds into overtime. The Algonquin forward brought the ball up along the left side of the field before sending the ball into the box and taking a deflection just outside the post that Arona would not have been able to save.
In the 83rd minute, Mochak nearly had the overtime winner off of a header that just barely went outside the right goal post. But luckily for the Bombers, Pedolzky ended the game just moments later.
Westfield takes on the winner of Brookline-Bishop Feehan in the D1 state finals Saturday night at Worcester State University at 5 p.m.