After losing scorer Katie Bradley to graduation, it was fair to wonder where the goals would come from for the Pittsfield girls soccer team in 2012.
It turns out a little 5-foot-3 midfielder named Sydney Deluce made sure they came from everybody, and lifted the Generals to a place they've never been in the process.
"She made sure we got everyone involved scoring-wise," said Pittsfield coach Andy Waluszko. "A lot of those were set up by Syd. She was great in that role this year. We had a lot of the pieces in place. You just kind of knew with all her talent, she can do a lot of things with the ball."
Deluce is the All-Eagle Most Valuable Player not only for what she could do with the ball, but what she helped everyone around her do. The captain had eight goals and six assists this year, but often her work in midfield or up front led to goals. Waluszko moved the senior all over the field in the offensive half, depending on where he needed her.
Deluce could fit in anywhere offensively and had a knack for the big goal. She kept the Generals unbeaten in Berkshire County by salvaging a tie at Monument Mountain and had a huge equalizer against powerful Auburn in the final five minutes of the game.
"I was focusing a lot on shooting [this year] and just being able to set up other people. Just set up other people to score and win every game."
The Generals didn't quite do that, but they came close with Deluce leading the charge. Junior Kara Alfonsi, who manned the midfield with Deluce, said the senior became more vocal this year. It was always positive chatter, too.
"Her confidence and her leadership on the field was really what we needed this year," Alfonsi said. "Coming from the middle, we really needed the one person who was always supportive and energetic and encouraged everyone. She was that person."
A contributor all four years, Deluce has grown into a force on the field despite her small frame. She worked with a trainer to build up her strength and this year was stronger on the ball than she's ever been. Waluszko marveled at his captain's balance and ability to stay in control of the ball even when pressured by bigger athletes from schools like Minnechaug and East Longmeadow.
Staying with the play allowed Deluce to do what she does best: find the opening.
"You couldn't stop just one person with this team," Waluszko said. "Syd would find the open person. She just has the sense of where the open person will be. She did a good job with that, finding her teammates and scoring big goals when she had to."
Behind Deluce, Pittsfield made it all the way to the Western Massachusetts Division I final before losing to Minnechaug on penalty kicks. It was the first time the Generals had made such a deep playoff run.
Even without the sectional title, Deluce called her senior season a success.
"I think overall we've accomplished everything we wanted to except winning Western Mass.," she said. "I'm going to miss it so much."
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