NORTH ADAMS -- It could have been a blowout. Check that. It should have been a blowout.
As it turned out, the missed opportunities the McCann Tech boys’ soccer team suffered early on didn’t factor into the result. The Hornets rally from a goal down in the second half to win 4-3 over Ware, making the road to Western Mass. much easier.
McCann came into Tuesday’s contest needing to win three of its last six games, or six of 12 possible points. A loss would have put the Hornets in a corner.
It seemed the game would end in a tie, despite McCann carrying play throughout the second half until a harmless intended cross found its way across the line.
After a McCann free kick from the right sideline failed to produce a goal, the ball eventually settled on the foot of Josh Budaj on the left sideline. He spun, firmly planted his left foot and sent a cross into the box. One bounce later it had gone between the keeper’s legs and into the net for the easiest goal he’s ever scored and a 4-3 lead with 11 minutes, 24 seconds left.
"It was supposed to be a cross, and then when I kicked it, it just ended up being like a knuckle ball," Budaj said. "It just schooled-out the goalie, I guess."
McCann now has some room to play with, needing just two wins in its final five games.
"It’s a big one, a crucial one. Had to win," Jon Leal said. "Tough game, dirty game, but we
The Hornets had scoring chance after scoring chance in the first 15 minutes. It should have been 3-0 before the game was 10 minutes old, but instead it remained scoreless.
A lack of finishing has been a recurring theme for the Hornets of late. On Tuesday, the predominantly right-footed Hornets lacked the confidence to play shots with their left foot when the opportunity presented itself.
"We didn’t have to use our wing as much [Tuesday]. Shane [Fuller] usually runs down the wing, and we use the wing," coach Adam Kozik said. "This team allowed us to go down [the middle] and use more combination play, which is good. Some teams will just allow us to do that down the middle and it’s amazing.
"But we weren’t finishing, as you can see. They’re not left-footers and they just can’t shoot with their left feet."
Chad Raimer finally broke through straight down the middle of the field using with his great top-end speed to distance himself from the defense before beating the keeper for a 1-0 lead 11:31 into the game.
But then Ware took advantage of a misplayed ball by McCann defender Dillon Carr to tie the score seven minutes later. That goal spurred three goals in 56 seconds.
Leal came right back for McCann just 18 seconds after Ware scored. He pulled up outside the 18-yard box and as he fell, he sent the ball skipping across the grass, just inside the right post. On his jog back to his side of the field Carr greeted him at midfield with a big hug and smile. His blunder had been erased.
Ware knotted the score for a second time 38 seconds after Leal’s goal after the initial shot hit the crossbar, bounced straight down, but not over the line. Before P.J. Laliberte could corral it, it was in the back of the net.
Ware then took their only lead of the game with 6:10 left in the first half on a short-side goal.
But Leal brought McCann even just 5:30 into the second half with his second of the game. The ball was played into the box, glanced off a McCann player and right to Leal. He quickly put his left foot to it and beat the keeper inside the right post, showing McCann can finish with their left foot.
"Little bit of everything, balls to feet, balls in the air, back post, shots from the 18, beating the defense. That’s what happened," Leal said. "Midfield, forwards are really strong this year."
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On Twitter: @NAT_DigitalJosh