Pittsfield girls upset Belchertown 1-0, reach W. Mass. D-I soccer final
SPRINGFIELD -- Pittsfield High School's girls soccer team didn't get many good looks at the Belchertown goal Thursday night. Lucky for the Generals, then, that Amanda Wright made the most of hers.
Wright scored on a deflection of her own shot in the 78th minute at Springfield Central High School, giving PHS a 1-0 upset of top-seeded and previously unbeaten Belchertown in the Western Massachusetts Division I semifinal round.
Pittsfield (17-3-1), which has yet to surrender a goal in the postseason, advances to its second consecutive sectional final. PHS will meet the winner of the East Longmeadow-Minnechaug semifinal this weekend.
"It comes down to one of those goals like that, off a corner or something like that, and we got the goal in," Pittsfield coach Andy Waluszko said.
Wright's goal, scored past Belchertown's Sarah LaClair with 2:47 remaining, touched off a wild celebration both on the PHS sideline and on the field. It was matched only by the celebration after the final whistle sounded.
"I passed to Nicole [Alfonsi], and she gave me a beautiful cross," Wright said. "The goalie deflected it, and I just went up to it and scored."
Wright's shot was one of only six Pittsfield got on net, as the Orioles (18-1-1) dominated possession for at least three-quarters of the game on a cold, wet night in Springfield.
Ultimately, though, Belchertown couldn't make the most of any scoring chance. Orioles midfielder Breanne Moreau said the conditions on the turf played in Pittsfield's favor.
"It was just really wet," she said. "The ball kept skipping everywhere. That was a detriment to our play. ... We couldn't get our foot on it, and a lot of times, the ball would skip past us."
Belchertown clearly had the better scoring opportunities in the first half, as well as a decided possession advantage, but Pittsfield's defense held strong on each Oriole opportunity. Through balls trickled through or were quickly booted out of the box by a player in purple. Crosses went just wide of their intended target.
For all their work on defense, though, the PHS girls couldn't get any kind of sustained attack in the first half. Belchertown put its size advantage to good use in the first 40 minutes, though the Generals picked up the intensity and played more physical near the end of the half.
The game was a far cry from the teams' first meeting this season, a 4-1 Belchertown win on Oct. 21. Waluszko said his girls learned a lot about Breanne and sister Brittany Moreau in that loss.
"We came in knowing the twins ... and we told [the defense], don't let them get shots," the coach said. "They had a few very good opportunities. We had the lucky bounce tonight. We were able to clear it out on the line, and Allie came up with a couple of big saves."
Hunt stepped up when she had to, corralling anything that even got near the Pittsfield goal. For everything else, the Pittsfield defenders were there, bunched together inside the 18-yard box and clearing anything near them.
"If you watch the balls go through, your heart drops a little bit," Hunt said. "You don't know who's going to be behind you or backing up."
Hunt was there last year when Pittsfield fell to Minnechaug in penalty kicks in the Western Mass. final. Even with no goals against her so far in this year's draw, she knows the tests won't get any easier -- despite having passed the hardest test so far.
"I know that the teams can really come out with a kick," Hunt said. "They're strong and can really defend."
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Pittsfield 1, Belchertown 0
Pittsfield 0 1 -- 1
Belchertown 0 0 -- 0
P -- Amanda Wright (Nicole Alfonsi), 77:13.
Saves: P -- Allie Hunt 10. B -- Sarah LaClair 5.
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