McCann Tech boys soccer team comes up just short in comeback bid against Hampden Charter in Western Massachusetts Division IV tournament

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MIKE WALSH - THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
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NORTH ADAMS — The team that scores first in a postseason game is likely going to have command over the outcome. The team that scores the first three goals is going to be virtually unbeatable.

McCann Tech dug itself a 3-0 hole Friday afternoon and was unable to claw all the way back, losing 4-3 to Hampden Charter in a Western Massachusetts Division IV tournament game. Despite three goals in the final 22 minutes and eight seconds of game time, the eighth-seed Hornets couldn't complete the comeback and advance into the quarterfinals.

"We should have started the game like we finished it, bottom line. I don't know if they had jitters, [Hampden's] first two goals were because of our mistakes," said McCann Tech coach Tom Bona. "We [had chances] right off the bat in the first half, and then I don't know what happened. That makes a difference, getting out first in games like this."

Hampden Charter, the No. 9 seed in the Division IV field, put two in the net before halftime and went ahead 3-0 on Issac Chanthavongsa's second goal of the game. The skilled and speedy attacker also scored the game's first goal and assisted on a Justin Rodriguez strike with 2:44 left in the first half. The Wolves got possession deep into the Hornets zone and after goalkeeper Devon Griswold made a diving save on a shot, Chanthavongsa took advantage of the positioning and put the rebound into the back of the net in the 50th minute.

At midfield for the ensuing kick-off, McCann Tech tried to motivate itself, with one player calling out that it was going to be a heck of a story tomorrow — and it nearly was.

In desperation, the Hornets offense kicked up a notch for the first time since the game's opening minutes. A Matt Bailey free kick found Ryan Charon, who blasted a shot that was barely punched into the air by Hampden goalie Gabe Pagan. Josh Favre, who already had three shots on goal to his credit, finally broke through off a long lead pass by Michael Wojtaszek. Favre drove at the left post and skirted a grounder at the right side for McCann Tech's ice-breaker.

Unfortunately for the home squad, Hampden Charter wasn't finished and a Colby Ranch goal with 18:32 left meant dire straights for the Hornets.

"We knew they had some guys who could score coming in, but we were able to shut them down last time," said Bona, whose team had blanked the Wolves, 3-0, back on Sept. 26. Favre had two goals in that one, as the the Hornets forced Pagan to make 16 saves. Similarly, they out-shot Hampden Friday, 13-7.

Down three goals inside the 20-minute mark, McCann Tech still managed to bring the Wolves to the brink. Three minutes after Ranch made it 4-1, Charon got a through ball from Brandon Vallone and scooted by a defender to the left post to mirror Favre's goal with one of his own.

Over the final 10 minutes, a harried Hornets offense would threaten regularly, needing to break through twice to force extra time. Unfortunately, McCann managed just one more score, on a Wojtaszek penalty kick with 7:27 on the clock. Favre got after a ball in the box and was tripped from behind to earn the try.

With 17 seconds to play, Omar Ugdah booted a ball off a defender out of bounds on the end line. Bona called timeout to try and draw up a set play off the corner kick. However, the spot wasn't ideal and the wet conditions didn't help. Vallone's ball sailed beyond the box instead of hooking inward and the Wolves were able to clear as time expired.

"I wanted it at the top of the six, but over there, that corner is on the side of a hill. It's not a good spot," said Bona. "So I put a lefty out there to try and shank it in, figured it was worth a shot to stop it and get one more set play. Didn't go our way. We didn't have the luck pretty much all year, so I guess it ended up that way too."

———

Hampden Charter     2     2          4

McCann Tech     0     3          3

First Half

HC — Issac Chanthavongsa (Tyriece Cherival), 27:31. HC — Justin Rodriguez (Chanthavongsa), 37:16.

Second Half

HC — Chanthavongsa (unassisted), 49:12. MT — Josh Favre (Michael Wojtaszek), 57:52. HC — Colby Ranch (Munir Zaitown), 61:28. MT — Ryan Charon (Brandon Vallone), 64:50. MT — Wojtaszek (penalty kick), 72:33.

Saves — HC: Gabe Pagan, 8. MT: Devon Griswold 3.

Mike Walsh can be reached at mwalsh@berkshireeagle.com, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.


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