Monday November 12, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A tearful Katie Bradley didn't know how right she was.

After the Pittsfield girls soccer team lost its third straight Western Massachusetts Division I semifinal last year, Bradley -- then a senior -- said she knew the Generals would make it to the Western Mass. final some day.

That day is today.

Pittsfield will finally play in its first Western Mass. final under coach Andy Waluszko today at 3:30 p.m. against Minnechuag at Westfield State University. The No. 5 Generals (13-1-3) got there thanks to a stunning free-kick goal from Lindsay Neuberger in the second overtime of Saturday's 2-1 semifinal win against East Longmeadow.

"It was like a curse," said senior Sydney Deluce. "We could never get past semifinals. It was an amazing feeling."

Unfortunately for Pittsfield, the No. 3 Falcons (11-5-4) were one of the purveyors of that curse. The Generals lost to Minnechaug 1-0 in last year's semifinal, the third time in four years that the Falcons had ended their season. Minnechaug reached today's final with a 2-0 win over Westfield on Saturday afternoon.

"It's going to be another tough game," said Pittsfield coach Andy Waluszko. "They're solid. They're always either in the finals or semifinals. But the girls are looking forward to playing them. ... [Beating East Longmeadow] is probably one of my biggest wins but we've got one more to get to the next hurdle."

The Generals will play without Aleah Sangiovanni today, who suffered an ankle sprain in Saturday's win. Sangiovanni provided Pittsfield's only regulation goal in the semifinal, tying the game less than two minutes after the Spartans jumped on top.

Deluce said Sangiovanni had been scoring a lot in practice and will be missed. Many of the Generals were banged up after a physical, collision-filled semifinal win. That lead to a light practice on Sunday afternoon at Kirvin Park.

"I think everybody's really sore in places where we didn't think we could be sore," Deluce said. "But I think we're ready. ... It's going to be the biggest game of my life."

And one more chance to add to one of the most successful seasons in school history.

"I'm most happy, not that I'm the one who scored, but I gave the seniors another chance to play," Neuberger said Saturday night. "That's what they really want."

To reach Christopher James:
cjames@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6252.
On Twitter: @BECJ2K