PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Three days after its most disappointing result of the season, the Pittsfield boys soccer team Monday hit the ground running.
Owen Klatka scored in the first seven minutes, and the Generals took a 2-0 lead into half-time before finishing with a 3-1 win over Pope Francis at Kirvin Park.
Klatka started the game by running on a through ball and chipping a shot over a drawn out keeper from just outside the 18.
He later headed home a cross from the left wing to push the Generals’ lead back to two goals just seven minutes after the Cardinals cut it in half.
“We talk a lot about leadership on the field and what that looks like,” Pittsfield coach Neill Brandon said. “You know, bringing the team together and digging in for five minutes after we concede [a goal].
“We didn’t do that last Friday. We haven’t done that in a couple of games where we’ve drawn and lost. So to see that today was really impressive.”
On Friday, Hampshire Regional handed Pittsfield a 9-1 setback in Westhampton, nearly equalling the number of goals the Generals (4-3-1) allowed in their first six games.
“Hampshire’s a good team, and we had a bad day at the office,” Brandon said.
He did not want his team to dwell on that bad day, but he did not want his players to totally forget it, either.
“I think we wanted to forget to a degree, but we also wanted to learn from it and draw fuel from a performance like that,” Brandon said. “We didn’t show our best selves. We showed, maybe, our worst selves.
“And we’re motivated not to do that again, especially at home.”
Pittsfield took control early on its home pitch.
Brandon Balcazar sent Klatka up the middle on a through ball in the seventh minute of play. Klatka beat a defender to the ball and lifted a shot that found the back of the net to make it 1-0.
Both teams generated chances throughout a back-and-forth first half, but Pope Francis’ Brandon Chatel and Pittsfield ninth-grader John Mullen each held their own until the 26th minute.
That is when Kyle Cardoso set up Gustavo Oliveira with a ball about 25 yards from the goal in the middle of the Pope Francis defense. Oliveira settled it to his left foot and hit a high arcing shot that curled under the crossbar and over a diving keeper to make it a 2-0 game.
It stayed that way at half-time despite a dangerous opportunity for a Cardinal forward in the 34th minute. Mullen came off his line to make the stop and preserve the lead.
But a rejuvenated Pope Francis side finally did break through in the opening minutes of the second half. Sam Graham sent a cross from the right wing that Nick Dias headed home to get the Cardinals back within a goal at 2-1.
Pittsfield responded moments later.
Cal Soldato sent a cross from the left wing into the 18, where Klatka headed the ball into the net to provide the final margin of victory.
The win was Pittsfield’s third in its last four games and the first for Mullen in his first varsity start.
“It was fantastic,” Brandon said of Mullen’s performance. “His courage, his communication, his willingness to put himself in positions where he could get injured – that’s exactly what you want from a goalkeeper. He’s fearless.”
Pittsfield is home again on Saturday at Kirvin Park to take on Marlborough.