PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- A few weeks ago, the Pittsfield boys soccer team battled West Springfield to a 1-1 stalemate at Kirvin Park.
In Monday’s Western Massachusetts Division 1 quarter-finals, the Generals faced the very same Terriers for a second time … sort of.
“I was saying [to my players] after the game, we saw a different team,” Pittsfield coach Andrew Antil said after West Side walked off with a 1-0 win. “Their best players stood out. Our best players played well.
“I think maybe they were just a step ahead of us, a little more physical, a little better anticipating the loose balls. They won a few too many individual battles. But we worked hard. I was really proud of the guys.
“Obviously, it took a really nice shot. That split second was the difference.”
That nice shot came off the toe of West Springfield junior Trevor Gearty, who took a pass from Quinn Serafino and drilled a blast from the right wing in the 57th minute to break a scoreless tie.
West Side coach Nick Gumlaw agreed with Antil that the Terriers were a different side than the one that visited Pittsfield back on Oct. 12.
“In high school soccer, every team starts a certain way, but you finish completely different,” Gumlaw said. “Usually teams like [Pittsfield] that are well coached are going to grow throughout the year, and they were much better now then when we played them at the beginning.
“Same with us as well.”
West Springfield (10-5-5) advanced to Thursday’s sectional semi-final against either East Longmeadow or second-seeded Longmeadow (16-1-2). In the regular season, the Terriers gave up five goals in two games against the Lancers.
On Monday, Gumlaw’s team played lockdown defense, allowing the Generals (11-4-3) just two shots on goal.
“Our defensive line is a junior, a senior and two freshmen, and our goalie is a freshman,” Gumlaw said. “They’re young, but they play well, and I thought they did a good job against them. [Pittsfield’s Carter Matthews] is a really talented player with a great left foot, but they’re really talented up the middle, too.
“They really challenged us today, but we held our own.”
At the other end of the field, Pittsfield keeper Avi Snowise made 11 saves. But the well struck game-winner was too much to handle.
Snowise, a junior, will be among the returnees for Antil and the Generals next fall. But it was an emotional postgame at Kirvin Park Monday as the reality set in that 11 Pittsfield players had seen their last action in a PHS uniform.
“It’s going to be a challenge next year because we’re losing a big core,” Antil said. “We had four or five guys playing with us two years ago when we went to the semi-final. And they’ve kind of led the way. They’ve been leaders since they were freshmen.
“They’re just a fun group of guys. They keep the team together. They do a great job keeping the team together. They make it fun. They’re very coachable. I can’t say enough about them.”