Photo Gallery | McCann Tech plays St. Joseph's in soccer
PITTSFIELD — In the summer, the players on the St. Joseph boys soccer team weren't 100 percent sure they'd have a team this fall. In the first week of November, the Crusaders are 100 percent certain that they'll play at least two games in the Western Massachusetts Division IV tournament.
Mike Peplowski scored once and assisted on four other goals while goalkeeper Joey Maynard had five saves as the sixth-seeded Crusaders downed No. 11 McCann Tech 5-0 at Clapp Park Wednesday afternoon.
"It's a good feeling to know that we're advancing," said Peplowski. "We've been working hard all year. Once we found out we were going to have a team, we put the hours in.
"We were scoring goals and playing good defense. Everything's going our way now."
For the Crusaders, it's their first trip to the Western Mass. Tournament since 2012, when the then ninth-seeded Crusaders beat Gateway on penalty kicks, but lost to Lenox in the quarterfinal round.
For the players, getting this far is a reprieve, because a co-op with Lee has helped put the Crusaders in this position. The Wildcats elected not to have a team this year, so Jose Mejia — who scored twice for St. Joe — and some of his Lee teammates found a place to play in Pittsfield. They are pretty happy.
"I didn't play with Lee. Now I'm playing with St. Joe and we are doing well in this," said Mejia. "I had the opportunity to play with St. Joe. It is good too, because we are playing in the second round of the Western Mass. [tournament]."
The Crusaders will play third-seeded Westfield Tech Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Bullens Field in Westfield.
St. Joe came right out from the start and took control of the game. In the first half, the Crusaders had 12 shots to McCann's four, and Hornet goalie Nico Moreno had to make six saves. St. Joe had nine corner kicks in the first 40 minutes and scored on two of them.
The first goal came at just 7:46, when Peplowski took a corner from the left side, put the ball in the box and Mejia finished. After Nico Terpak's goal 10 minutes later, Chris Garrity headed in a Peplowski corner at 19:30.
"We just moved the ball around pretty well today, and I just happened to find the final pass," said Peplowski. "We had a few corner kicks and we got some heads on them today. It was really good. They finished off what I set up for them. All the credit to them, not me."
The Crusaders added a pair of goals in the second half, and the Hornets headed for home with a loss that ended their season.
"They've definitely come around," McCann coach Tom Bona said of the Crusaders. "They're a much better team this year."
St. Joe is also a team that had beaten McCann twice this year. Winning that third game is always a challenge, and St. Joe coach Juan Ramos said it was perhaps his biggest concern.
"I was very concerned," he said. "I've been [in the other position] and have been able to pull out a win. I was very concerned, yes. It's very hard to beat a team three times in one season."
SJ—Jose Mejia (Mike Peplowski), 7:46. SJ—Nico Terpak (Peplowski), 14:05. SJ—Chris Garrity (Peplowski), 19:30.
SJ—Peplowski (UA), 51:28. SJ—Mejia (Peplowski), 58:26.
Saves—MT: Nico Moreno 9. SJ: Joey Maynard 5.