McCann Girls Win Western Mass Opener

By Stephen Sports
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NORTH ADAMS — Five members of the McCann Tech girls soccer team missed warmups for Saturday's Western Massachusetts Division 4 tournament opener because they were taking SATs in the morning in Cheshire.
In their honor, here's an "old-school" SAT analogy: The 2013 Hornets are to Pathfinder as the Harlem Globetrotters are to ...
If you guessed "Washington Generals," you're right.
And for the fourth time this season (and second time this week), the Hornets had the right answers for the Pioneers, beating Pathfinder 3-0 to advance to Tuesday's quarterfinal at third-seeded Gateway.
Allie Gibeau, Hannah Woods and Allexia Andrews scored for McCann, which ran up a 10-0 margin against Pathfinder in two regular season games, the state vocational tournament semifinals and Saturday's sectional tournament match.
Although the Pioneers were not quite as overmatched as hapless Generals of the hardcourt, McCann (15-4-1) had the upper hand throughout Saturday's meet, which was a far cry from Wednesday's 1-0 win over Pathfinder.
Neither the Hornets nore their coach were satisifed with their performance in the voc tech semis.
"We did real, real bad," said Eileen Zajac, one of the quintet who ran in from the parking lot just before kickoff.
And Saturday?
"We definitely talked more, and we passed better," Zajac said. "Our passes were definitely better today. And everyone was more confident.
"We were just excited. We wanted the win in Western Mass to make school history."
Twelfth-year coach Mike Dowling, who savored his first sectional tourney win on Saturday, agreed his girls passed with flying colors what was -- for many -- their second big test of the day.
"Much better today," Dowling said. "I think they realized this wasn't a 'gimme' game and they came out and played. They were a little flat at the beginning, but you gotta remember, I had five starters who didn't stretch or warm-up or anything.
"But after the first nine or 10 minutes, we pretty much controlled the game, and that's the way it was during the regular season. I think the last game, state voc -- especially when we got up 1-0 -- they got lax. I don't want to say they took [Pathfinder] for granted, but they got lax."
On Saturday, Gibeau gave the Hornets the 1-0 lead midway through the first half when she jumped on a loose ball just outside the box on the right wing and buried a shot inside the far post.
Rather than getting lax, McCann turned up the heat. A corner kick six minutes later was cleared out of the 18-yard box by Pathfinder's Amanda Leonard. A Zajac free kick just outside the 18 went just wide of the net moments later.
Finally, in the 30th minute, Jordan Budas' blast from the top of the area deflected off a Pathfinder defender to Woods, who took her time and lined up her shot to make it 2-0 at half-time.
Pathfinder mounted a couple of threats midway through the second half to score its first goal of the year against the Hornets, but McCann's defense was equal to the task.
In the 60th minute, Pathfinder's Brittany Plato interecepted a McCann clear at the top of the 18 and appeared to have space, but Monique Martel hustled to put pressure on Plato, stole the ball and dribbled out to midfield.
In the 64th minute, McCann goalkeeper Alexandria Wood
came off her line to take the ball off the foot of Amanda Krzynowek inside the goal box.
Dowling had high praise for his defense, which has allowed just one goal in its last 10 outings.
"That's what [Kaylee] McNeice is for, [C.J.] Schliech is for, [Danielle] Gibeau and Woody," Dowling said, referring to his backs and keeper. "That's what we've been relying on pretty much the whole year. They hold strong. They don't fold.
"C.J. is just so tough in there, and Kaylee is so calm outside. She doesn't freak out, she plays under control all the time. And Danielle just gets in the way of everything. The other girl might be faster than her, but you can't tell because she's always there."
With just more than four minutes left, McCann finished the scoring when Zajac made a strong run down the right wing and crossed for Andrews, who knocked a shot past Pathfinder keeper Maddison Weldon (five saves).
Now McCann heads to Huntington for a rematch of last year's Division 3 quarterfinal.
"We played them last year and lost, and they're better this year," Dowling said. "But we got our first Western Mass win. ... With that monkey off our back, we're just going to see what we can do.
"Gateway is from a much higher division, has a much more experienced youth program. We'll give it our all. If our defense holds strong and we get a few chances, we may surprise some people."
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