FALLS VILLAGE — Will there be any real high school sports championships in this topsy-turvy coronavirus season?
The seniors on Housatonic High School’s defending Berkshire League girls soccer team certainly think so.
The Mountaineers are off to a 2-0 start in the shortened regular season (12 games) with a 3-0 win over Northwestern (0-2) Monday afternoon at Housatonic High School.
Coach Steve Dodge asked his girls to make a statement on the field and Housy responded with all three goals in the first half — two by junior star Sydney Segalla and the third on a super-athletic backward flick by Tori Dodge from a rebound off the post.
The Highlanders, one of the better area teams, despite their early record, responded hard in the second half with several great chances, but the statement was made on the scoreboard:
The Mountaineers are off to a 6-0 scoring start after the same outcome on last Thursday’s opening day at Litchfield.
In some ways, Housatonic is luckier than many other defending champions across the state. In a virus-mandated regional playing system, the Berkshire League remains intact, albeit in two divisions with the addition of Wolcott Tech, to comprise a whole league with a title to defend.
It’s one of the many pluses, along with some obvious minuses, in the Mountaineer situation.
“We’re more motivated than ever,” said Neve O’Connell after Monday’s win.
“We know we have fewer games, so we want to leave every game on the field,” added Elaine Dekker.
And, in the seniors’ last high school season, there are more subtle team advantages as well.
“It’s a great team effort to even be here with the virus all around,” said Aliza Luminati, in a season in which other teams have had dropouts and lower numbers in fear of the illness.
“The virus has made us closer than ever because we know we have to take care of each other,” said Maggie Bickford.
So, yes, if the Mountaineers continue to plow through the other four teams in their BL division twice plus two crossover games and a planned four-team inter-divisional tournament, they will most definitely celebrate a very special kind of BL championship.
And yet, as it is for all of us, “This is a very different kind of experience,” Dekker and Abigail Coolbeth agree.
“It feels incomplete, because we never know for sure if the next game’s going to happen,” says Luminati.
“No night games and no states,” laments O’Connor.
Housatonic lost a 1-0 Class S quarterfinal nail-biter to eventual state runner-up Old Lyme last year.
Coach Dodge hopes state restrictions will loosen enough before winter for the possibility of playing an informal friendly return match against Old Lyme.
“I know we’d like to and I’m sure they would too,” he said.
Meanwhile, pursuing the chance at back-to-back league championships with only the threat of CIAC shut-downs dimming the hope, one of the “differences” on which the Mountaineer seniors are unanimous is this.
More than ever, “We play every game for the sake of the game itself,” they said.