The North Adams Lady Devils had a spotless 5-0 record this preseason and kept that momentum right into the regular season as the Green and White scored a home victory against Bethel Tate, 1-0 on Aug. 22.
While Bethel Tate had a few shots early, none really troubled sophomore goalkeeper Madee Shipley, and the North Adams back line soon solidified, making it nearly impossible for Bethel Tate to have any sustained pressure, or possession.
Senior Cati Butler had a few long-range chances for North Adams in the first half but none were able to get past Bethel Tate’s goalie. Junior Kitasha Mesmer also had a great chance to break the deadlock with about 45 seconds before halftime on the right side inside the box, but another strong save preserved the 0-0 deadlock at the half.
More offensive chances fell the way of North Adams in the second half, but doubt began to set in for some as if the Lady Devils could crack the Bethel Tate defense.
Butler sent another strong kick goal-wards that was hit off the post and cleared by the Tiger defense and minutes later a ball over the top of the Bethel Tate defense to sophomore Lakyn Hupp about three yards out from goal was taken off Hupp’s chest but the keeper made claim to the ball to spoil the attack.
The one-way traffic continued as a minute later another ball was chipped over the Tiger defense towards goal, but a fingertip save by the goalie just sent the ball over the crossbar for a corner kick.
What looked to finally be the sure chance for North Adams came just minutes later when a North Adams goal kick was misplayed by the Bethel Tate back line, allowing Butler and Hupp a two-on-one attack at the goal, but a confident Tiger goalkeeper came out and claimed the ball once again.
The long-awaited goal finally came with 19:40 to play when a throw in by junior Abby Shupert to Hupp along the left sideline was made. Hupp was able to get past her defender and put in a cross into the box to Butler who found a yard of separation against her defender from just a few yards out from goal. Butler was able to knock the ball into the goal, this time with the keeper able to do nothing but watch.
Hupp said the goal was a result of her team not being frustrated by their inability to score early on.
“It felt great [to finally score],” Hupp said. “Our team was working together well and we never gave up.”
The Lady Devils were nearly able to double their advantage a few minutes later when a ball played into sophomore Taylor Hesler right at the penalty spot looked to be sent into the back of the net, but the ball was mishit and the Tigers were able to clear.
One final shot for Bethel Tate to equalize came with about 40 seconds to play when they earned a corner kick, but the cross sailed in too far over everyone’s heads and the Lady Devils were able to escape with the victory.
North Adams out-shot Bethel Tate 25-5. North Adams senior Shy Burns credited her back line’s communication as the main reason her team snuffed out many of the chances for the Tigers.
“We work well together back there,” Burns said. “We always have each others’ backs. If one attack fails we always have a back up. We always talk to each other – where we are and if we have each other’s back up pass or when someone is coming onto them.”
The victory was sweet revenge for North Adams as Bethel Tate won the matchup a year ago in the opening game, 3-0. A strong front line that kept pressure on was key to the victory, and Burns said she feels her strikers and attacking teammates should be confident in their current form.
“They [our strikers and forwards] are awesome,” Burns said. “I feel like they have the right to be confident in what they do. They’re always right there and ready to charge.”
The league opener for the Lady Devils opens up against perennial powerhouse Lynchburg-Clay on Friday in Southern Hill Athletic Conference play.