PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Mark Amenlemah scored the first of his three goals in the first minute of the second half on Monday to kick start Pittsfield's offense and send the Generals on to a 5-0 win over Chicopee Comp in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 playoffs.
The eighth-seeded Generals (8-8-3) had a lot of chances to score but nothing to show for it on the scoreboard after controlling play most of the first half.
That all changed 35 seconds into the second when Luke Peplowski set up Amemlemah with a cross from deep on the right wing.
Amenlemah said it took him a while to settl his nerves in the playoff opener at Kirvin Park.
"At first, I felt nervous because I didn't really know about this team, and I thought they were going to be as good as us," he said. "I overestimated them, but they were still a pretty good team.
"We tried our best. We went full on. Everybody did good. And I am feeling exhilarated about the goals that I scored right now."
After punctuating the win with a goal off the crossbar in the closing minutes, Amenlemah showed that exhiliration by subbing out of the game and leaping into the arms of a teammate.
But it was his first goal that broke a scoreless tie and eventually turned into the game-winner.
"Our buildup play was great through the first half as well," Pittsfield coach Andrew Antil said. "We just had some bad touches in the final third.
"I think early goals either do one of two things. Either they make you complacent or they put you in gear. Luckily, that one put us in gear. I think the team responded to that extremely well. ... I think we knew that we were having a strong game, and it was just a matter of it coming."
Pittsfield kept the pressure on after Amenlemah's first goal, but it took about 20 minutes to find the back of the net again.
It was Amenlemah again this time, receiving a through ball from Cole Masiero at the top of the 18, beating a defender one-on-one and slipping a shot past a drawn out keeper to make it 2-0.
Moments later, Masiero scored after working a give-and-go with Justice Daniels in the final third.
David Kankam made it 4-0 with about five minutes left after making a run up the left wing, and Amenlemah's final shot of the game from the top of the 18 nicked the crossbar and bounced down and into the goal to make it 5-0.
At the other end of the field, Avi Snowise made four saves to earn the shutout in goal.
Snowise is back and looking strong in goal after suffering an injury earlier this season that forced Amenlemah to step out of his role as striker and into the net.
"I'm pretty happy [to be back in the front], but I didn't mind playing goal," he said. "We needed someone to fill in, and I was willing to take the spot. When I got back [on offense], it did feel a little weird because I'd been in goal for way too long. But it got much easier."
It's even easier with players like Masiero, Peplowski, Petie Breitmaier and Matt Miller feeding the offense from the midfield.
"It's like having the best team, the best players on your side," Amenlemah said. "They're so good. They're so coordinated. They're very skilled. They make it so easy to just play the game."
Monday's win marked Pittsfield's first victory in five games and the 100th career victory for Antil, who was happy but not particularly focused on the milestone.
"I haven't really thought about it too much," he said. "My wife really makes more of a big deal out of it than I do. But I appreciate the effort the kids made, getting the [team] picture and all that. I'm really more in the mode of taking it game by game."
And he knows that the next game, against top-seeded Longmeadow (16-0-1) in the quarter-finals will present a major challenge. The last time they met the lancers earned a 7-1 win at Kirvin Park way back on Sept. 16.
"The games aren't played on paper," Antil said. "History's over. We know what we did wrong the first time we played them.
"And we have grown so much as a team. That was early in the season, and we've gone through so many changes in terms of the starting lineup, in terms of formation, in terms of so many things. We're a completely different team."