PITTSFIELD -- Last year, the Pittsfield High School boys soccer team missed the Western Mass. tournament by one point.
This year, the Generals have ensured that scenario will not be repeated.
Sophomore Louis Higuera scored a goal and had two assists, while junior Mike Schnopp had a goal and an assist as Pittsfield defeated crosstown rival Taconic 5-1 to remain undefeated at 8-0-4.
The score was not particularly indicative of the game. The Braves had several chances to score throughout the game. Dominic Nda had at least two good chances in each half, while Patrick Boua and Mohammed Fofana also had their opportunities.
"We played all right," said Taconic coach Mark Wasnewsky. "We didn't really do very well against their set pieces. Three of their goals came off throw-ins. Much to their credit, they executed very well today."
"The last time we played Taconic, it was a close, physical game," said Pittsfield co-captain Matt Capeless. "We won 2-1. So we were a little surprised at the margin today."
Capeless and his fellow co-captain Harrison Rapant have been pleasantly surprised at their record.
"No way I thought we'd be undefeated," said Rapant. "The North is a tough division. There are no easy games."
"I didn't see it coming, but I'll take it," said Capeless.
Rapant believes last year's near-miss fueled this year's success.
"We started the year with a lot more passion," he said. "We're a closer team this year."
Capeless' accurate, catapult-like throw-ins were a big key in this one. He assisted on Higuera's goal to give PHS a 1-0 lead about eight minutes in.
About 20 minutes later, he launched another ball into the box from the sidelines. Pittsfield's quick freshman, Jackson Rich, pounced on the ball and fed Schnopp for another score that held up until intermission. Taconic goalie Kevin Squires is quick and tough, but when the play starts a few feet in front of the bet, it is difficult to defend.
As the second half opened, the Braves pushed back. Nda, Mike Perkett, Fofana and Boua each made at least one nice run at the Generals.
But Pittsfield's defenders, Lazar Jankovic, Sean Russo and Nick Simonds, were alert. And active. The Braves didn't really get a clear shot at Pittsfield netminder Harrison Rapant until late in the half.
By then, Higuera had fed Flavio Olazabal and Joshua Bradley for scores, and Schnopp and Claudio Velez had executed a pretty smooth give-and-go for the last score. It was a deep hole, and Taconic could not climb out. Perkett outhustled a couple of General defenders for a late score to break up Rapant's shutout bid.
Pittsfield 2 3 -- 5
Taconic 0 1 -- 1
P -- Louis Higuera (Matt Capeless), 8:09
P -- Mike Schnopp (Jackson Rich), 27:00
P -- Flavio Olazabal (Higuera), 56:45
P -- Joshua Bradley (Higuera), 64:00
P -- Claudio Velez (Schnopp), 70:01
T -- Mike Perkett (Mohammed Fofana), 73:00
Saves -- Pittsfield: Harrison Rapant 6, Taconic: Kevin Squires 8.