Ludlow boys soccer shuts out Pittsfield in W. Mass. D-I semis
SPRINGFIELD -- Pittsfield boys soccer coach Andrew Antil said Ludlow's offensive pressure was something his team had a hard time adjusting to.
"This is pressure we haven't seen all season. These guys are a step above what we've played. We've got to expect this if the program wants to start going deep into the tournament," Antil said.
Ludlow's pressure generated an 18-5 shot advantage, leading to a 3-0 victory Wednesday in the Western Mass. Division I semifinals.
From the opening possession, it was clear that Ludlow was not going to beat itself. Despite being held without a goal until the second half, the Tigers were precise with their passes, and many of their possessions ended with shots on goal.
Antil said Ludlow forced his team out of their normal playing style.
"They're quick to the ball. They play at a very fast pace we're not used to playing at that pace," he said. "When we get the ball we like to slow it down. We were able to string a few passes together, but we were unable to impose our system."
Ludlow looked like it had scored just three minutes into the match, before having the goal waved off due to an offside call. The Pittsfield defense regrouped after the near-goal, stopping six corner attempts in the first half, but the high volume of shots was an ominous sign for the Generals.
The Lions finally broke through in the 51st minute when Jordan Martins scored.
Pittsfield's bend-but-don't-break defense eventually gave way to the Lions attack. Goalkeeper Harrison Rapant credited the skill of the Lions forwards for getting the ball past him.
"They're a [highly] skilled team and we couldn't handle it," he said. "They have so much pace on the outside they and could get around us."
Pittsfield looked to answer, as three minutes later, Mike Holmes fired a shot from just outside the penalty box that hit the top post. That was one of the better shot attempts for the Generals, as Ludlow keeper Tyler Diotalevi needed to make only one save in the second half and four for the game.
The Lions would strike again in the 66th minute when Mike Goncalves scored, and again in the 88th minute when Jeff Danek scored on an assist from Brad Garete.
Ludlow coach Greg Kolodziey said his team played to its strength against Pittsfield.
"We knew we could play to our strength, and with our skill on the ground, we could apply some pressure and get chances," Kolodziey said. "It's just a matter of tucking them away."
With the outcome of the game decided in the second half, play got chippy. A total of seven yellow cards were issued. Ludlow, in fact, was one yellow away from forfeiting the match.
Antil said he didn't want the yellow cards to take away from the game and the successful season that his team had.
"It's tough for the seniors because they're proud of what they've done. But with a good regular season, you want to go deep in the playoffs," Antil said.
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