LENOX, Mass. -- There was plenty of offense in Monday’s renewal of the Lenox-Pittsfield boys soccer rivalry.
But there was just enough defense to keep the ball out of the net.
Lenox’s Matt Tibbetts and Pittsfield’s Jon Bile combined to make 11 saves as the teams battled to a 0-0 draw under the lights at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School.
“You don’t realize how important goalkeepers are, until you see a game like this,” Lenox coach Camilo Bermudez said. “All those saves kept us in it. We wouldn’t have had that second half, if it wasn’t for Matt Tibbetts.
“And at the other end, their goalie, positionally, he was outstanding. Every time the ball got played long, he knew where to cover to get the ball. He knew when Nic Baruch had his breakaway, when Mike Abdalla had his, [Bile] came out, covered the space and really made things difficult for our forwards.”
The game marked the second tie this season between the Generals (7-1-5) and Millionaires (9-2-3). Last month, the teams finished a match at Kirvin Park all square at 2-2.
Pittsfield coach Andrew Antil joked Monday night that the teams might be able to play “for hours” without determining who is better.
It is an indication of how even Monday’s game was that each coach thought his side had the better of things in the second half.
“They’re big, they’re strong, they have great fundamentals, they’re well-coached,” Antil said of the Millionaires. “In the first half, we were trying to get away with little, cheeky moves here and there -- quick touches, behind-the-back passes, things like that. But it certainly wasn’t working.
“I basically told them at half-time: You’re going to have to go out and get beaten up, get bruised. And I think we played a bit of a better second half, but still we had trouble creating chances. They have a strong defense and a strong offense.”
Bermudez thought his team was stronger after the break.
“In the first half, they definitely played us well,” he said of the Generals. “Our two guys in the middle, Ian [Laurin] and Matt Heim, couldn’t play balls. We couldn’t get it forward.
“They won the first half, but then in the second half, I told our players to play a little more direct: Let’s just take one pass and then get it forward to Abdalla or one pass and then get it forward to Baruch. And I think it helped space them out a little bit and got them back on their heels a little bit.”
The truth is each team was able to create some nervous moments for the opposition.
Tibbetts was called upon to make a couple of diving stops. Bile came off his line on numerous occasions, at one point taking a shot that sent him to the sideline briefly midway through the first half.
On one occasion when Bile came out to cut off an angle, the ball skipped past him and toward an open goal mouth before defenders Patrick Silva and Jesse Kramer were able to converge at the goalline to sweep the ball out of danger.
“That’s kind of what it required tonight,” Antil said of the effort by his backs on that play. “It’s a small field. Everything is very tight. A lucky bounce here, a lucky bounce there. … It was all about effort tonight because you’ve got two good teams who have a lot of talented players. It’s who’s going to come out and take it.”
Pittsfield hosts Ludlow on Wednesday. Lenox entertains Sabis on Thursday.