Photo Gallery | PHS girls soccer vs. Holyoke
PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield girls soccer team could still be taking shots at Holyoke goalkeeper Callie Cavanaugh, and the result of Thursday's game between the No. 8 Generals and No. 9 Purple Knights would probably be the same — a 2-1 win for Holyoke.
Pittsfield did everything it could to beat Cavanaugh on Thursday at Kirvin Park, putting up 29 shots throughout 80 minutes of play. But Cavanaugh wasn't ready to end her season, and after an 18-save effort Cavanaugh will lead her team into the Western Mass. Division I quarterfinals on Sunday at No. 1 Ludlow.
"We had a ton of opportunities, but we couldn't put it in the goal," Pittsfield coach Andy Waluszko said. "The keeper came up big on some shots, some shots we should have made but hit it right at her."
The pressure was nearly relentless from start to finish. In the opening moments, Julia Eline-Wright whipped in a centering pass to Lindsey Schnopp, but Schnopp's effort went right at Cavanaugh.
"Callie has been the key to our whole season," Holyoke coach Kevin Roberts said. "She has kept us in so many games. If we didn't have her in goal today, we would have lost for sure."
With the Purple Knights buoyed by their goalie's play, the offense finally popped up with 3:46 to go in the half for the opening goal. A long ball into the box from Emily Leblanc fell at the feet of Adamaris Torres, and Torres used a nice bit of strength to clear up enough space to fire the ball past Allie Hunt at the far post and put her team up at the break.
In the second half, Holyoke nearly added a second moments in when Cavanaugh — from her own box — launched a pass forward to Jamie Robert, but Robert put her shot wide of Hunt's goal.
That led to a cascading attack from Pittsfield. Every time Holyoke managed to boot the ball clear, the Generals kept streaming back.
That streaming forward, though, bit the team with just over 25 minutes to go.
On a clearance pass, Robert again found herself with the ball on the edge of Pittsfield's defense. Robert cleared up enough space for herself, then launched a looping effort at Hunt's goal that went over Hunt, off the crossbar and straight down for the goal.
"Jamie is a smart player," Roberts said. "When she saw the goalkeeper coming out ... she recognized that and put it up, and we got lucky on that one."
The second goal did little to stop Pittsfield's efforts, though. As the clock kept rolling, Waluszko switched his team's shape from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3, and the pressure on Cavanaugh kept building.
"We moved it to a 3-4-3, that's why we created a lot at the end of the game," Waluszko said. "We had a lot of opportunities. Their keeper came up big, [she had] almost 20 saves. We just didn't convert."
Except for once chance. With 18:31 to go Pittsfield finally found the net when Ilana Albert — a driving force behind Pittsfield's relentlessness in the second — picked the ball up from a scrum of players near the top of the 18-yard box. Taking a touch to get herself through, Albert then sized up Cavanaugh and finally managed to get one around her.
"I'm glad about how we came back to make it 2-1," Waluszko said. "It could have easily been 2-2 but again, execution."
In the closing stages, Molly Tierney had a chested effort and a shot saved, and the Generals had a penalty shout waved off after the referee judged that Schnopp had her shirt tugged outside the box and not in.
The loss ends Pittsfield's season at 12-7 and on a five-game losing streak. Waluszko was disappointed that the game didn't end in a win, but with only two seniors on his team — Hunt and Mary Piacenti — Waluszko also tried to put everything into perspective.
"We are young, we have a lot of sophomores and juniors," Waluszko said. "It's good experience for the younger kids to know what a tournament game is. When you have those opportunities in the tournament, you have to finish."
Or hope you don't see Cavanaugh again.
H—Torres (Leblanc), 36:14.
H—Robert (UA), 54:58. P—Albert (UA), 61:29.
Saves — H: Cavanaugh, 18. P: Hunt, 6