NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — It was a sign of the times for the McCann Tech boys soccer team.
It had just scored three goals. It earned a tie against a team that went to the Western Mass Division 2 tournament a year ago. It maintained its unbeaten record this fall. It stayed in first place in the Tri-County North.
And its players were as mad as Hornets.
Thursday's 3-3 tie against Commerce was not good enough for a team that has gotten very used to winning. After telling his players how proud he was of them, McCann coach Tom Bona said talked about how good it is that they're not satisfied with a stalemate.
"They worked hard," Bona said. "It definitely was a bummer, but it was a good team. It could have been worse. We could have lost.
"They're expecting to win now, which is a good mentality to have from your team. I'm proud of them."
There was plenty to be proud about on the McCann side on Thursday.
Three different players scored for the Hornets (4-0-2, 12-0-3), and Chris Gajda made seven saves in the team's second tie this year against Commerce (4-0-2, 7-5-4).
The teams traded one-goal leads throughout the afternoon in an entertaining contest that saw plenty of action on both ends of the field.
McCann could barely contain Commerce star Eyasu Michael, who ended up with two goals. The Hornets' leading scorer, Shane Fuller, gave the Commerce defenders fits all afternoon and ended up with one goal and was instrumental in setting up another.
The teams combined for four first-half goals.
Michael got the wild 40 minutes going about four minutes in with a direct free kick 30 yards from the goal on the left wing. His dead-on shot tipped off the outstretched arms of a leaping Gajda and into the goal to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
McCann answered moments later.
Josh Budaj followed the rebound of his own shot with a try from about 22 yards that tipped off the crossbar and into the goal.
Six minutes later, Commerce was whistled for a handball in the 18-yard box defending a McCann corner kick, and Fuller blasted a penalty kick low and just inside the left-wing post to make it 2-1, Hornets.
Michael tied it again in the 33rd minute on an assist from Melfin Agueda, and Gajda made two saves in the last five minutes of the half to keep the score 2-2.
Bona said he chose not to mark Michael one-on-one but instead keep the Hornets in their regular defensive alignment.
"It would have been too difficult to mark him," Bona said. "He started on defense, then he was in the middle of the field, then he's back on defense. And I think he's that good of a player where his coach lets him roam the field and go wherever he wants.
"I was more afraid that he would pull us out of our positions. We needed to stay in our zones, play our positions ... because he's too fast. If we had opened up a seam, it could have been worse. He could have killed us. He scored two of their goals anyway. He's a good player."
So is Fuller, and early in the second half, he showed just how good.
After Commerce misplayed a Gajda goal kick in the middle of the field, Fuller took possession and made a brilliant run down the left side, beating several Commerce defenders and nearly beating keeper Daniel Jones, who managed to make one of his four saves on the play. Damon Couture was right where he needed to be to play the rebound and give McCann a 3-2 lead.
The Hornets nearly got some much-needed insurance 10 minutes later when Couture sent a cross from the right wing into the box for Fuller, whose volley was saved by Jones to keep it a one-goal game.
Commerce got the equalizer in the 64th minute. Agueda took a cross from Donald Israel and finished from the right side of the 18 to make it 3-3, and despite trading corner kicks down the stretch, neither side could find the back of the goal.
After the game, McCann held its Senior Day festivities, which were delayed from the beginning of the contest to accommodate some late-arriving parents.
The timing of the event was fortuitous. It gave Bona the perfect chance to refocus the team after the disappointing tie.
"I feel lucky to have the group of seniors I have," the first-year coach told the crowd gathered for the twilight celebration. "It's quite a group of characters, and that's a good thing.
"They work hard and set good standards for the rest of you guys."
McCann closes the regular season next week with dates against Smith Voc and Putnam.