LEE -- It's lacrosse's version of the trenches.
Dig some ground balls out of the midfield and you give your team extra possessions, extra shots and extra goals. That's exactly what Pittsfield did in its successful trip south on Friday.
"A team that wins the ground balls is usually going to win the game," said Generals coach Scott Aitken. "That's something we stressed coming in and Matty [Hoag] did a really nice job for us, especially on faceoffs. That leads to possession and when you possess the ball they don't have the ball, so they can't score."
Hoag scored once, Tom Curry had three goals and an assist and Brady Aitken had three goals and three assists in Pittsfield's 12-4 win over Lee. The Generals (7-2, 6-1 Berkshire County) dominated on ground balls, keeping Lee (4-2, 4-2) off the board for the first 19 minutes, 14 seconds of the game.
"We just couldn't keep it in our sticks," said Wildcats coach Ray Moon. "We got to go back to practice and just work on ground balls in practice. ... We can't pick up the ground balls, we can't get on offense. We spent a lot of time on the defensive side of the field."
Matt Russett was one of those Pittsfield middies frustrating Moon. Russett's scoop late in the first half directly led to the third goal of the game, while one of his other grabs helped kill off one of 11 Generals penalties.
Without that kind of midfield work, Pittsfield wouldn't be able to use its lethal transition game. Once someone like Russett secures the ball in his stick, he can fly into the attack. He did just that early in the second half when a one-time pass found Curry for a slam-dunk score.
"[Ground balls are] something as a middie I try to pay attention to a lot," Russett said. "Ground balls, backhand down scoop through them, stay low and dump them off to the attack. That's what I try to do out there."
Lee was rarely able to run its offense comfortably. The Wildcats were able to take advantage of a man-up advantage for Blake Poore's second goal of the game towards the end of the second half. Poore got Lee on the board three minutes earlier after Cam Keenan snagged a ground ball of his own in the midfield. He quickly flung the ball across the field to Poore who finished.
That kind of play simply didn't happen enough for the Wildcats.
"[The ground balls] were huge," Poore said. "It changed the game a lot. Our middies were having a tough time picking up the ball. It really hurt us."
Poore said it was also tough to find a way though a big, physical Pittsfield defense. Noah Tullock had nine saves in net for the Generals. It's a unit that, combined with Pittsfield's potent offense and midfield game, helped put the Generals as the lone No. 2 in the county behind Mount Greylock.
"The defense did a nice job of playing position, not overcommitting, sliding when they needed to," Scott Aitken said. "When you put it all together, it's difficult for the other team. I'm really happy with the whole performance, actually."
Pittsfield 12, Lee 4
Pittsfield 3 4 5 0-- 12
Lee 0 2 2 0-- 4
P -- Shane DeCarlo (Brady Aitken), 1:30.
P -- Matt Hoag (UA), 6:34.
P -- Kevin McCloskey (UA), 10:05.
P -- Allen Chague (Jon Bush), 2:37.
P -- Tom Curry (Aitken), 3:25.
P -- Aitken (Hoag), 6:10.
L -- Blake Poore (Cam Keenan), 7:14.
P -- McCloskey (Aitken), 7:36.
L -- Poore (Cav Wolskey), 10:44.
P --Aitken (Curry), 2:42.
P -- Curry (Matt Russett), 3:58.
L -- Keenan (UA), 5:36.
L -- Keenan (Bryan Kelly), 7:47.
P -- Curry (Bush), 9:08.
P -- Aitken (UA), 11:02.
Saves -- P: Noah Tullock 9; L: Eammon Flynn 9.