DALTON -- Wahconah needed this one.
With their backs against the proverbial wall in the hunt for a Western Massachusetts girls lacrosse tournament berth, the Warriors were hungry for a win. But lately, second-half leads just seemed to evaporate.
Not this time.
"We had a lot of built-up energy towards it," Paige Chiaretta said. "Like every game it's been happening, the same thing."
Chiaretta scored four times to lift Wahconah past Pittsfield, 12-8, on Thursday. The win at Nessacus Middle School keeps postseason hope alive for the Warriors (4-6, 4-5 county). Alex Wood added three goals while Alex Keator scored twice. Wahconah must now win three of its last four to reach Western Mass.
The victory was the Warriors' first over the Generals (5-5, 4-5) in three tries this year. Wahconah has been susceptible to comebacks lately, including a 10-9 loss to unbeaten Lee on Tuesday. It looked like it could happen again when Pittsfield's Tori Symanski scored her third goal less than two minutes into the second half, pulling the Generals within a goal.
But the Warriors held their ground, allowing just two goals over the final 23 minutes.
"I think our game against Lee the other day, they realized how good they can be," said Wahconah coach Kathy Budaj. "They knew they could execute. I think that's what it was. They've got more heart. They're working on being a team, really having a heart for the game versus just playing a sport."
The Warriors controlled possession for large stretches, not allowing Symanski -- the second-leading scorer in the county -- to get out and do damage. Symanski said her team just wasn't aggressive enough on 50-50 balls.
Even when Pittsfield had the ball, beating the Wahconah defense wasn't easy. Mackenzi Astore was the only other General to score more than one goal.
"It's everybody has got to be on the same page about where we are, what we're doing at that point in the game," said Pittsfield coach Jenna Giardina. "We're not moving together as a team. We have players in spurts here and there, but the whole team isn't on the same page yet."
The dagger came after Chiaretta had given Wahconah a two-goal cushion with 18 minutes, 19 seconds to go. Alex Wood took the ball off the ensuing draw control, sprinting down field to make the lead three just 11 seconds later.
The Warriors held onto that lead, patiently working the ball around and not forcing things in the closing minutes. That could be a sign this team has finally figured out how to finish games.
"I think towards the end of the game we realized we were trying a little too hard to get the goals and we have to be patient," Chiaretta said. "I try to tell everyone to slow it down on offense. ... If we slow it down more on offense then we always seem to come out of it with a goal."
Wahconah 12, Pittsfield 8
Wah 7 5 -- 12
PHS 5 3 -- 8
Wahconah goals -- Paige Chiaretta 4, Alex Wood 3, Alex Keator 2, Shaina Farrell, Morgan Francese, Perin Genaway.
Wahconah assists -- Natalie Polo, Keator, Wood.
Pittsfield goals -- Mackenzi Astore 3, Tori Symanski 3, Cara Partridge, Prudy Whalen
Saves -- P: Molly Barbarotta 10; W: Mikayla Weigel 7.