Pittsfield Boys Fall in Double Overtime
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The Pittsfield High School boys soccer team had its heart ripped out twice in the span of about 23 minutes of game time on Thursday night.
The Generals gave up a one-goal lead in the 78th minute of regulation and saw Minnechaug score on a counter in the closing minute of OT to take a 3-2 win in the Western Massachusetts Division I semi-finals.
Pittsfield (10-4-6) appeared to be on the verge of nailing down a hard-earned win when it was awarded a corner kick in the 99th minute.
A Minnechaug defender was able to head the cross out of the box, where Pittsfield’s Hedi Abderrahim got the ball at his feet about 28 yards from the goal. But he was taken down from behind, and the Falcons recovered to start a rush that ended with a 2-on-1 against Generals’ keeper Jon Bile and a goal from Sean Borlen to send top-seeded Minnechaug (18-1-1) into Sunday’s sectional final against Cinderella Amherst, a winner over No. 3 Longmeadow in Thursday’s other semi-final.
Afterward, Pittsfield coach Andrew Antil struggled to find the right words to describe the crushing defeat.
“I feel like we put a lot of pressure on them,” Antil said. “We were so close. We had ‘em. And just one glitch, and that’s what happens.”
Pittsfield came back in the first half from a 1-0 deficit to the the game midway through the period on a Quinn Matthews goal assisted by Sam Higuera.
From there, the Generals took control of play, but they were not able to generate many good looks at Chaug keeper David Walbridge.
And the half ended with a golden scoring opportunity for the Falcons: a direct free kick from just outside the 18 on the left wing with mere seconds left in the half. After a Minnechaug timeout, its try curled around the wall but just wide to send the teams to half-time tied, 1-1.
After a Minnechaug push to start the second half, Pittsfield was able to mount a fierce attack that finally paid off in the 70th minute.
Evan Dempsey entered the ball into the top of the 18 for Jackson Rich, who drove to the right side and managed to get off a low liner while being knocked to the ground to put Pittsfield on top, 2-1.
There it stood until, with just fewer than three minutes on the clock, Bile came off his line to play a ball sent in from high on the left wing. He could not corral it, and an unmarked Michael Rita was able to finish for his second goal of the game, tying it with 2 minutes, 51 seconds on the clock.
Pittsfield had a couple of dangerous chances in overtime, including a strong run down the right wing by Grady Pedersen in the first OT and a header by Rich in the second. Each time, Walbridge was able to deny.
Antil said that despite the disappointing finish in regular time, the Generals were in good spirits going into OT.
“We were going to end it,” he said. “We were going to end it in overtime. I felt like [the Falcons] were sitting back a little bit. … I can’t say they didn’t earn it, because they certainly did. They’ve got a helluva team out there. But when they have a team like that who’s been winning, and we come so close. I feel like for most of the game, we did have the advantage. … And when you have a game like that, you want to end it the right way, not with PKs.”