Wednesday November 7, 2012

NORTHAMPTON -- The Pittsfield girls soccer team overcame a two-week layoff and a late Northampton surge to reach its third straight Western Massachusetts Division I tournament semifinal.

Amanda Wright's goal in the 48th minute was the game's lone goal in the Generals' 1-0 victory.

"We had some good practices, but we were a little rusty," said Pittsfield coach Andy Waluszko, whose team had last played on Oct. 23, a 1-1 tie at Monument Mountain, due to weather issues. "We hadn't played in a real game in some time, but we moved the ball well."

No. 5 Pittsfield (12-1-3) advances to play No. 1 East Longmeadow (16-1-1) in the semifinals at a date, place and time to be announced. The Generals, who are 0-2 in the semifinals in the last two years, fell to the Spartans 1-0 at home on Oct. 17.

"We know what to expect with them," Waluszko said. "They are a very good team. It was a good game the first time."

The Generals carried the play for much of the first half and finally broke through early in the second.

Sydney Deluce took a run down the right sideline deep into Northampton (14-3-2) territory and crossed the ball to Nicole Alfonsi in front. Alfonsi took three touches in the middle of defensive pressure, forcing Northampton goalkeeper Maya Kerstetter (five saves) to commit to the ball and then skidded a pass to Amanda Wright on the left post.

Wright put the ball away in the open net.


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"We knew it was going to be that type of one-goal game, whether it was on a corner or something like that," Waluszko said. "They are a strong team."

Northampton struggled to build an offensive attack for much of the night, but called a timeout with 12:16 left in regulation and made a formation switch.

"We changed to a 3-4-3 instead of a 4-4-2," Northampton coach John Ruyffelaert said. "We pushed it and pushed it. There were some great opportunities and we just didn't finish it. Just the luck of the bounce of the ball, I guess."

The first good scoring chance came 4 minutes later when Pelligrino drew a foul just outside the top of the Pittsfield box.

Tompkins' blast was caught on the right post by Generals' keeper Allie Hunt (three saves).

With just over 6 minutes left, a nice combination that started with Tompkins on the left side to Charlotte Maurer on the left post toward Molly King on the right post just missed when King couldn't quite get a foot on the ball as it rolled past the open net.

Two minutes later, Susan Bell took a restart from 35 yards out and sent it into the box, but no Blue Devil could redirect it on goal.

In the closing moments, Northampton had one last gasp when Maurer won a ball on the left side and fired a high, hard shot to the near post, only to have Hunt smack it just over the crossbar at the last moment.

"Allie made a super save at the end for us," Waluszko said.