Mejia, Peplowski Power Crusaders to Tourney Win

By Shannon Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Jose Mejia and Mike Peplowski led the No. 6 St. Joe's boys soccer team past No. 11 McCann Tech Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the Division 4 Western Massachusetts soccer tournament at Clapp Park.
After facing each other twice in regular season play, both the Crusaders and the Hornets knew what they were up against; the Crusaders advanced their record to 3-0 over McCann after Wednesday's victory.
McCann knew it was in for a battle against St. Joe's Peplowski.
"I didn't mark him [Peplowski]; I had two guys watching him, we did a good with that, he got one goal, but then he started being a team player and started distributing the ball," McCann coach Tom Bona said. "We weren't giving him room, but he did the next best thing, he beat us with his play, he's a hard working player."
Peplowski finished the game with four assists and one goal for the game.
Two of his assists came off corner kick plays; St.Joe totaled 10 cornersfor the game.
The first was in the seventh minute, giving the Crusaders a 1-0 lead in the first half. Mejia finished the ball with a header into the net.
Nico Terpak advanced their lead to 2-0; before the second corner kick goal was tallied. Terpak sent a shot from outside the 18 to the far corner off a Peplowski throw-in, McCann goalie Nico Moreno lost it in the sun and came up short of the save.
With 20 minutes remaining in the first half; Peplowski went to the corner again sending a ball into the box where Chris Garrity was able to get a head on it to go ahead 3-0.
"We actually haven't done very well with them [corner kicks]," St.Joe coach Juan Ramos said. "Today was actually the first time we've scored off two of them in one game; it's been something that's been frustrating because Peplowski really delivers great balls and we haven't been able to capitalize as we should of, so today we really did a good job."
There is no better time than post-season play to finally start capitalizing, and the Crusaders executed quite well off of Peplowski's corner kick balls and his balls played in the field.
After leading at halftime 3-0, St.Joe came out and added its fourth nine minutes into the half; it was a Peplowski goal that came after making his way through the McCann defense with his swift moves and shooting it to the low corner.
"Once they got the fourth, then I kind of said I'm going to play some of the younger players and get them some experience," Bona said. "And that's what I did the rest of the game; but I'm proud of these guys they played well and they won our division which wasn't easy.
"Every week seemed like a playoff game, they had a lot of pressure on them all year, because we were just hanging on and hanging on, but they got those wins when we needed them."
Unfortunately for the Hornets, they came up short of a must win game Wednesday afternoon to keep their season alive.
Mejia added one more off a Peplowski through ball to secure the 5-0 victory and to advance St.Joe to the second round.
The Crusaders will take on No.3 Westfield Tech (15-1-2) in the quarter-finals Friday afternoon.
"We know that they are a very good team and very physical," Ramos said. "But, I wouldn't bet against my team."
McCann ends its season (8-8-3) and although their road to the Western Massachusetts Title was cut short; they will still be raising a Tri-County Championship banner.
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