Noel Powell's second-half goal helps Monument boys beat Pittsfield in soccer, 1-0
The Spartans were victorious in the bout, 1-0, courtesy of a Noel Powell goal on an indirect free kick from dead-center at the top of the box.
The win keeps Monument (4-1-1, 3-0 Berkshire North) unbeaten in division play following a victory over Lenox earlier in the week. The Spartans have now won the front two of their three-game run against the North powers, which will climax on Oct. 3 with a trip to Mount Greylock. However, head coach Matt Naventi knows his boys will need to play better to continue this run.
"I'm not happy with our performance, but at the same time to be able to go and grind it out against a good team and find a way to come out on top. That, I'm happy with," said Naventi. "I think they felt really good about the Lenox game, but we were a little too confident coming in today and didn't do a good job sticking to the plan."
The Generals (4-4, 3-2) were the aggressors for much of the game, putting eight shots on goal and controlling tempo with their quick-burst speed. Christian Mendez registered three of those attempts. However, PHS wound up paying for its physicality in the second half.
Monument drove the ball into the Generals zone on a free kick from about 35 yards out on the right side and a Pittsfield defender was whistled for using his arms getting up on the jump-ball. The call gifted Monument an indirect kick from just outside the penalty area. With 29:06 on the clock, Robert Baldwin tapped the ball and Powell engaged it with power. The wall of Generals released and separated on Baldwin's touch, allowing Powell to locate enough space to put his shot through and into the net.
"I think Noel at that time was confident he could get the ball around the wall," said Naventi.
From there, Monument ratcheted up its size advantage on the defensive end. The Spartans were first to most headers, with Triston Alston dominating the airspace above Kirvin Park and goalkeeper Kevin Kelly gobbling up everything that got by. Kelly finished with eight saves, six coming with the 1-0 lead. While PHS picked up the attack, Monument wouldn't release.
"Defense has been locked down throughout the season," said Kelly. "Sometimes it takes a goal for us to work. Today we came out a little flat, but after the goal we stepped it up. Our season isn't going to have a let-down, but that's what we need for Western Mass."
In the final 20 minutes, Pittsfield had two corner kicks and a pair of free kicks. Inside two minutes to play, a Generals player was tackled inches outside the penalty area. Instead of earning a potentially game-tying PK opportunity, the kick had to be taken from the top right corner and Kelly snared a second ball to preserve the shutout and win.
"We were awesome in the first half and decent in the second. We lost our game a little bit," said Pittsfield coach Andrew Antil. "We didn't put opportunities away. Too many people ball watching. We didn't play it like we should of and then got desperate at the end."
Monument 0 1 — 1
Pittsfield 0 0 — 0
M — Noel Powell (Robert Baldwin), 50:54.
Saves — M: Kevin Kelly 8. P: Avi Snowise 4.
Reach sports writer Mike Walsh at 413-496-6240 or @CLNS_Walsh.
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