Tuesday June 5, 2012

NORTHAMPTON -- The Pittsfield boys lacrosse team played its best in the third quarter of Monday night's Western Massachusetts Division II first-round contest at Northampton.

But the Generals dug themselves too deep of a hole and couldn't muster enough attack to make a concerted comeback effort in a 14-3 loss.

"The second quarter really was the difference. They got the loose balls and made some really nice passes through our defense," said Pittsfield coach Scott Aitken. "After the first quarter, our sticks dropped a bit, which allowed them to make those passes."

Senior Brady Aitken scored twice with an assist for No. 9 Pittsfield, which saw its first varsity season end with a record of 12-5.

No. 8 Northampton (11-10) will face top-seeded Long meadow (16-4) in the quarterfinals Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Aitken's first tally on an assist by Matt Hoag seven minutes in cut the Blue Devils' lead to 2-1. Northampton scored seven of the final eight goals of the half to take a 9-2 advantage into halftime.

Justin Golec had a game-high five goals, while Colin Sawula scored four goals with an assist. They combined to put in eight of the nine first-half tallies.

Kevin McCloskey picked up a goal and an assist for the Generals. He was set up in the second quarter by Aitken, then returned the favor early in the third as Pittsfield made it 9-3.

"We played much better in the third," Coach Aitken said. "We possessed the ball a lot more, our defensive stands are strong. But by the fourth, they got the ball back and ran off the clock."

Northampton found its game again late in the third quarter, holding possession for most of the last 15 minutes and scoring the final five goals of the game.

"When it was 9-3, we missed a breakaway, and 9-4 and 10-3 are a big difference," said Aitken. "If we could have gone into the fourth at 9-4, the kids might have had more life."

Pittsfield senior goaltender Noah Tullock stopped 12 shots.

"He made some really good saves, it could have been a lot worse without him playing like he did," said Aitken.

The Generals lost 13 of 21 draws, and committed a number of turnovers in the attacking zone. Northampton defenders Andy Kuon, Jay Messer and Jarrod Neumann enjoyed active games.

"Overall, I'm really happy with the effort. The kids didn't give up," said Aitken. "To make the tournament our first varsity season isn't too bad. We probably had some nerves at first. It was a great season, the kids worked very hard and came a long way.

"We didn't play much outside the county, so this should have been an eye-opener for our younger guys to work that much harder in order to compete."