Photo Gallery | Lenox, Pittsfield boys soccer teams play to scoreless draw
LENOX — Eighty minutes of soccer couldn't separate the Lenox and Pittsfield boys soccer teams on Monday. Another 80 minutes probably wouldn't have separated them, either.
Playing under the lights on a pleasant fall evening at Lenox Memorial High School, the Millionaires and Generals played to a scoreless draw in front of a captivated audience, marking the second time this season that the two sides played to a stalemate. Earlier in the year, the teams tied 2-2 in Pittsfield.
"I feel like we could have played for hours [and not been separated]," Pittsfield coach Andrew Antil said. "There were a couple times that the ball passed in front of our net and my heart skipped a beat, but we had a couple opportunities at their end, too."
With news breaking earlier in the day that Mount Greylock forfeited seven games from the season — including a win over the Millionaires — Monday's game effectively was for the Berkshire North title. A win by either side and the North title would go to one side. With a draw, Lenox (9-2-3, 5-0-3) earned at least a share of the title. Pittsfield (7-1-5, 4-0-3) has one league game left, a tilt with Wahconah next Thursday. With a win, the Generals and Millionaires will split the league-winning honors.
"This was an important game in the North, and technically it was a title-deciding game, so it had the atmosphere of a playoff game, and you could see it right away," Lenox coach Camilo Bermudez said. "I thought in the first 10 minutes both teams were a tad shaky, but then I think the first half, they played us well."
The game was a scoreless tale of two halves. In the first 40 minutes, Pittsfield pressed the issue against Lenox, and if not for a couple of remarkable saves from Matt Tibbetts, the Generals could have led at the break. In the second half, Lenox's Nic Baruch fired a shot just wide inside the first 15 seconds, and the Millionaires knocked on Jon Bile's door several times, only for the senior goalkeeper — or one of his defenders— to shut the door on each occasion.
"It's funny, because you don't realize how important goalkeepers are until you see a game like this," Bermudez said. "All those saves kept us in it. We wouldn't have had that second half if it wasn't for Matt Tibbetts, and on the other end with their goalie, positionally he was outstanding. Every time the ball got played long he knew where to cover to get the ball."
In the first half, Tibbetts came up with a save within the first five minutes of play as he denied Evan Dempsey. Minutes later, Dempsey sent in a tantalizing cross across the floor that was nearly met by a teammate, only for Tibbetts to pop up and grab the ball away. Tibbetts, in turn, launched a counter attack for the Millionaires. The counter led right into Pittsfield's box, and Bile tried to make a punch on the ball to clear it. Only, Bile didn't get a clean look at it, and the ball bounced and started back toward his goal. With the ball almost at the goal line, defender Quinn Matthews headed the ball off the line and out of danger.
The drama continued, and halfway through the period Tibbetts made the biggest save of the night. With Dempsey freed up enough in the box, the Pittsfield senior rifled a shot that seemed destined for the top corner of the goal. Tibbetts, though, jumped to his right and plucked the ball out of the air and ended the danger.
To start the second half, Baruch nearly snatched the first goal when everyone else was still getting ready to begin again. Picking up a loose ball in midfield, the Lenox junior drove forward down the left and hit a nice, curling effort toward the far post. The ball went just wide, however, and kept the game scoreless.
Baruch nearly scored again midway through the half on a corner routine, but his shot didn't get enough of the ball and instead went out of play.
With the game getting stretched, Pittsfield avoided another mishap when the defense once again cleared a goal-bound effort off the line. Jackson Rich then had a nice shot blocked by the Lenox defense, and the block turned into an opportunity the other way. Mike Abdalla thought he was going to get a shot off, but Gael Hernandez slid in at the last second to take the ball off of Abdalla's feet.
"I think that our defense was strong, we stepped in when we needed to — literally — and on offense we didn't get the creativity because we weren't able to get our team up forward as a unit as much as we would like to," Antil said. "We can't complain with a tie against a team like this."
Bermudez echoed the sentiment.
"In soccer, it's a game of opportunities," he said, "first half they had chances and missed. We had tons of chances in the second half and didn't make them, and it ends up being another one of those really tight Northern Division games that's a stalemate."
Saves — P: Jon Bile 5. L: Matt Tibbetts 8.
Contact Geoff Smith at 413-496-6250.