St. Joe Boys Rally for Tie at Taconic

By Stephen Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The St. Joseph boys soccer team Tuesday stormed back from a three-goal deficit to earn a tie and keep Taconic from securing a berth in the Western Massachusetts playoffs.
"We played with a lot of passion," Crusaders senior Mike Peplowski said. "The first half, I don't know what was wrong with us. We just came out kind of flat.
"And then everyone woke up second half, really came out, really wanted it. We didn't get the win we wanted, but coming back from 3-0 feels pretty good to me."
Peplowski played a role in all three goals, which St. Joseph (10-1-5) recorded in a span of about six minutes midway through the half.
First, Jose Mejia put home the rebound of a Peplowski shot to get the Crusaders on the board. Moments later, Peplowski set up Christopher Garrity to finish a corner kick.
Finally, with about 15 minutes left in the game, Peplowski was awarded a penalty kick, and he buried it low and to the right of Taconic keeper Cody Latimer to provide the score that dashed Taconic's playoff hopes.
Coming into the game, Taconic (6-8-3) needed a win to catch St. Joe for second place in the Berkshire County South Division standings and earn a spot in the Western Mass tourney. The Crusaders had already clinched a Western Mass spot by virtue of their overall win-loss record.
Although Taconic has one more game left -- a non-league match with Pittsfield on Saturday afternoon -- its chances of extending the season came down to a must-win game.
According to coach Mark Wasnewsky, his team never should have been in a do-or-die situation.
"I told them before the game that they put themselves in this predicament," Wasnewsky said. "I told them at the beginning of the season: Every game is a playoff game. Play it that way. They didn't this year.
"There were a lot of games we should have taken points out of and we didn't. That's why we found ourselves where we had to beat these guys to get in."
Taconic came out like a team ready to do what it needed to do.
Luis Rodriguez set up Ryan Abel for a goal off a corner kick about 11 minutes in.
Midway through the period, Rodriguez scored an unassisted goal with a left-footed one-timer from the top of the 18 to make it 2-0.
Jason Peprah made it a three-goal advantage when he converted an assist from Abel late in the half.
St. Joe coach Juan Ramos said he did not need to give the Crusaders a big pep talk at half-time.
"I thought that the goals that they scored were our fault, our mistakes, and if we cleaned those up, we'd be OK," Ramos said. "I didn't think they threatened us much at all, except for the three goals.
"And it showed in the second half. We cleaned up our mistakes and played a lot harder. We adjusted the midfield, and we were able to control the game."
St. Joseph will learn its first-round opponent in the MIAA Western Mass tournament when the seeding meeting is held on Nov. 2 at Granby High.
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