NORTH ADAMS --The McCann Tech girls’ soccer team had two things on its check list entering Monday’s showdown with Renaissance.
The Hornets wanted to establish themselves as a top team in the Tri-County, and they wanted to get Mary Nguyen’s 100th career high school point over and done with. She entered the contest with 99.
Check and check.
Nguyen found the back of the net for the 14th time this season to tie the game with just over two minutes to play in the first half. Alex Lincoln finished off the scoring a minute into the second half, blasting a pass from Alexa Durant into the net. The defense took care of the rest, sealing up a 2-1 victory.
"It feels really good to get [100 points]," Nguyen said while holding balloons, flowers and a cake after the game. "I feel like everyone was waiting for it and waiting for it to happen. Now I feel like I can just play my game and be completely focused on winning."
Not so fast. She is now just 16 points away from tying Heather Malloy for the school’s all-time lead. Malloy presented the ball to Nguyen at midfield after the goal. For now, that milestone is too far away to think about. Even with it weighing heavily on her mind, she has helped the team get out to an undefeated start.
Nguyen wasn’t the only one feeling the pressure mounting.
"She was really nervous about it, we all were," Lincoln said. "We all really wanted her
The pressure may have been getting to the whole team early on as Renaissance carried the flow of play. The visitors held a 7-4 shot advantage when Maya McCann put a shot past Hornet keeper Alex Wood.
To that point, the Hornets spent many of their offensive possessions attempting to force the ball up the middle.
"I think they were just looking for a shot instead of a play," coach Mike Dowling said. "I think they just wanted Mary to score."
After falling behind, it appeared the team stopped forcing the ball and began making crisper passes.
"I told them if I’m going to get my 100th point, I’m going to do it playing my game and I want to do it with them playing a regular game, playing our game," Nguyen said. "I try to keep all that [excitement] from them, but it’s hard to hide 99 points. They all knew."
All of the hype and stress of approaching the century mark went away when she chipped a shot passed Renaissance’s Joanna Felicianno, with 2:26 seconds to play in the first half. Surrounded by three Renaissance defenders, Nguyen got a foot on the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and chipped it through the defenders and toward the net. The bouncing ball found its way past Felicianno and into the open net.
The game was the first tough test of the season for the Hornets. McCann had outscored opponents 26-0 entering the game.
"This is a really big win for us," Lincoln said. "They are one of our biggest competitors, now we can just kind of fly through the rest of the season."
It was also the first game of a four-game week for the Hornets. They will travel to St. Mary’s (3-1) today, then host Mount Everett on Thursday and Pathfinder (3-1-1) on Friday.
"I think we’ll do fine," Nguyen said. "This was a really big game and I’m glad we got the biggest game of the week done first."
The McCann offense was slated to be the center piece of the team coming into the season, but a young defense has responded very well.
C.J. Scleich, a sophomore, and Monique Martel, a freshman, never played sweeper or stopper, respectively, before this year and both have played solid on the back end.
"They are a good combo," Dowling said. "And then [Monday] Danielle Gibeau, she played so great I couldn’t take her out of the game."