Lenox Boys Used Tough Schedule to Prepare for Title Run
WESTFIELD, Mass. -- The Lenox boys soccer team is the lone Berkshire County team standing going into this week's semi-finals.
But it got there on the strength of the competition it sees from the rest of the county.
"I wouldn't give up our tough D1 and D3 schedule for anything," Lenox coach Matt Cote said Saturday after the Millionaires captured the Western Massachusetts Division 4 title with a 1-0 win over Westfield Tech.
"We could, if we had some bad seasons, drop to the Berkshire South Division and play all Diviison 4 teams and find some scrub teams from out of county. But that's not how you build a team."
Instead, Lenox played in the Berkshire County North, where all five teams qualified for the post-season, including the No. 3 seed in Division 1, Pittsfield, the No. 3 seed in D3, Monument Mountain and Mount Greylock, which went to the D3 semi-finals before losing, 1-0, to eventual sectional champion Belchertown.
Against that rugged schedule, Lenox finished below .500 in the regular season but earned the top seed in the Western Mass D4 tournament, a seed that held up with three shutout wins in the sectional playoffs.
The Millionaires, who go to Worcester on Wednesday night to play Central Mass champion Bromfield, have been to the Western Mass finals each of the last four years and have won the last two.
On Wednesday, Lenox will attempt to go back to the state title game for the first time since 2010, the second of a three-year run of Western Mass titles.
"I'm very glad that we have the luxury of being able to play in a league that's so tough," Cote said. "It just makes you who you are."
In Bromfield (14-3-3), the Millionaires face a familiar foe. Last year, the Trojans edged Lenox, 1-0, in the state semi-finals en route to capturing the state championship.
Bromfield is led offensively by Nolan Granville, who has 13 goals and six assists this season according to the Worcester Telegram. Will Armstrong has eight goals and seven assists, and Charlie Pappas is right behind Granville in goals with 12 to go along with three assists.
Ethan Fitzimmons and the Bromfield defense have been the best in its league. He has allowed just one goal per game in 16 games played, according to the local paper's website.
The Millionaires and keeper Jacob Munch have allowed a little more than two goals per game but just one in their last five -- a stretch that started after a 5-1 loss to Monument Mountain back on Oct. 22 and began with a 1-1 tie in Williamstown three days later.
"That was our first big result of the whole season, to be honest," Cote said of the tie against Mount Greylock. "We had won games, but, in my opinion, that was our first real result. And the boys felt it.
"Greylock killed us the first time around, 7-0. We were embarrassed. I couldn't even call the score in. I didn't know what to say. I've never been that embarrassed as a coach. And then to tie them, at their place, on Senior Night? That for us was literally the stepping off point.
"It was exactly what we needed to feel good about our chances going into the post-season."