The Hornets' loss Tuesday ended their season and hopes for Western Mass. semi-finals.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — For the McCann Tech girls soccer team, the season was memorable, but its finale was forgettable.
As the Hornets walked off the field from a lopsided 2-0 loss to Gateway on Tuesday afternoon, the focus was on the big picture.
"Not a lot of emotion?" senior Alex Lincoln asked rhetorically. "Yeah. Well, we're really proud of everything we did this season. We played our hardest, and we could have done better, but there's really nothing we can do about that now.
"We're really proud of all our hard work and what we accomplished."
That list of accomplishments may not include advancing to the semi-finals of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament, but it does include a 16-2-1 record and McCann's second straight Tri-County League title — the fourth league crown under 10-year head coach Mike Dowling.
The Hornets won four more games this fall than they did a year ago, but they could not get anything going on Tuesday against a Gateway program that won the Western Mass Division 3 tournament two years ago.
The sixth-seeded Gators (11-4-2) built an 11-1 advantage in shots on goal. They scored two goals in the span of 1 minute, 11 seconds late in the first half and never looked back.
"Gateway was quick, they're a good passing team, and they had a knack for keeping the ball in this end," Dowling said. "We had trouble working it out. You've got to be able to work it out in order to sustain it in the other end.
"I'm not going to say we played badly because the defense was really tested today. They didn't back down. Physically, I thought we stayed with them, I believe."
Lincoln forced the only save by Gateway goalkeeper Brooke Fairman with a shot from just outside the penalty area in the 10th minute.
About 13 minutes later, Gateway's Kendall Rooney took a pass from Jamie Pease just outside the area and launched a shot that curled under the crossbar and proved to be the game-winner.
Moments later, Pease set up teammate Joanna Arkoette at the top of the area, and she one-touched the ball into the net to give the visitors some insurance.
"That second goal was kind of a killer because of the time it came," Dowling said. "If we had been able to establish more playing time in between ...
"It took the wind out of their sails a little bit. It's not that they were bummed or anything, but you could see it. They were tired and tried not to be tired, and then they got that second goal, and they were more tired."
What had been a fairly one-sided game until those goals became totally one-sided from that point on, with McCann rarely able to cross midfield for more than a few seconds.
Perhaps the Hornets' best scoring opportunity of the game was ended by a referee's whistle in the 36th minute. Forty-two goal scorer Mary Nguyen brought the ball up the left wing and sent a cross into the area, where it appeared that the Hornets had a numerical advantage, but McCann was called for being offsides, and Gateway went the other way.
"We couldn't spring Mary for a goal," Dowling said. "I was waiting all game. We needed that one spark. We did have pretty good wing play, but ... we were passing it to blue all the time. In that aspect, we didn't play well. But we played hard. They didn't give up."
McCann junior Alex Wood made nine saves and faced several dicey situations in a crowded box. But two lasers by the Gators proved to be McCann's undoing.
Wood is one of 11 juniors listed on McCann's roster, which bodes well for next season.
Lincoln, Nguyen and Alexa Durant saw their successful high school soccer careers come to an end on Tuesday.
"They were good senior captains and nice practice girls," Dowling said. "It was a really good captain's corps for the last two years. Alex and Mary were captains last year as juniors. And Mary far exceeded my expectations for a four-year career with 100 goals and whatnot. ... I don't care where you are, 42 goals is a helluva season.
"Alex controls my midfield, and Alexa the wing. They'll be missed, but seniors graduate every year. Hopefully they guided the people behind them in exactly the way it should be done in practice and games."