Taconic Shuts Out McCann Tech, Qualifies for State Tourney

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- The Taconic boys soccer team Thursday got a game-winning goal from Gavin O'Donnell in the first half as it beat McCann Tech, 3-0, for the Thunder's sixth straight win.
Eric Quaidoo and Luke Murphy added second-half goals as the Thunder ran its record to 9-2 and scored at least three goals for the eighth time this season.
Since dropping a 4-2 decision at Ware in late September, Taconic has outscored opponents 34-5 in a run that included avenging one of its two losses when it bet Westfield Tech earlier this week.
"I think it just consistency has been really big for us," Taconic coach Paul Caron said of the win streak. "I think we've gone on a roll. Practices have also been a lot better. I think there's more intensity.
"And I think we're building off each win, staying confident. ... I think that seeing the ball go in the back of the net was really big for us."
It took less than two minutes for O'Donnell to find the back of the net on Thursday. He converted a pass from Murphy to put Taconic on the board just 1 minute, 48 seconds into the game.
In the 13th and 14th minutes, Quaidoo had opportunities in transition that hit the crossbar and went just high.
But for the most part, it was Jesse Brazee and the Hornet's defense that kept it a one-goal margin. Brazee made six of his 14 saves in the first half.
"Our defense has tremendously improved," said McCann Tech coach Stephen McAllister, whose team fell, 6-1, the first time it faced Taconic this fall.
"I'm not sure what the defense was doing on [Taconic's third goal]. Other than that, the defense did play pretty well. That's been our strong suit all season long."
Overall, McAllister thought his team did show improvement compared with its match at Taconic back on Sept. 20.
"And we've been playing offensively much better until today," he said. "We just couldn't get passes on the ground the way we wanted them. They just weren't passing the ball.
"The got a little better in the second half, but they should have been fighting a little harder for the 50/50 balls."
Caron also saw improvement from his side in the second half on Thursday as Taconic adjusted to McCann Tech's defense and avoided some of the offisdes calls that frustrated the Thunder attack repeatedly in the first 40 minutes.
"At half-time, we made an adjustment," he said. "We got to analyze what they were doing with the offsides trap. We talked to our guys up front about how to better position themselves.
"I think in the second half, we came out a little bit more confident. And we had cooled off a little bit. I think we had gotten a little too frustrated with the offsides. So it was just calming down."
In the 54th minute, O'Donnell set up Quaidoo, who chipped a shot over a drawn-out Brazee from about 20 yards that found the net and made it 2-0.
Fifteen minutes later, Andy Toapanta set up Murphy, who finished to provide the final margin of victory.
Timothy Parsons made four saves to secure Taconic's fourth shutout of the season.
With Thursday's win, the Thunder ensured that its season will extend into the Division 3 state tournament.
"It feels great," Caron said. "We've got to take one game at a time. We've got another game tomorrow. We have three games next week. So we'll worry about states when we get there, but it's great."
Taconic Friday travels to Springfield to face Commerce.
McCann Tech (5-4-1) is at Westfield Tech on Monday.
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