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Gateway sinks McCann in Division 3 quarterfinals

NORTH ADAMS — In an otherwise congested game on McCann Tech’s small field, the Gateway Regional girls soccer team scored twice in 1 minute, 11 seconds.

That was all the Gators needed as they advanced past the Hornets and into the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament semifinal round.

Sixth-seeded Gateway (12-4-2) will face No. 2 Smith Academy (17-2-0) at a time and place to be determined. The Falcons beat St. Mary’s 6-0 in the other quarterfinal Tuesday. The Gators beat Smith 2-0 on Sept. 20.

“We dominated the game” against McCann, Gateway coach Steve Estelle said. “We had the best of play. We had our share of chances to win by more than two.”

Gateway broke the 0-0 tie with 16:55 left in the first half. Jamie Pease found Kendall Rooney at the top of the box. Rooney took the open space and beat keeper Alex Wood with a high shot into the left side of the net. Just 71 seconds later Pease set up Joanna Arkoette for a goal.

The Gators used greater team speed to deny the Hornets time and space at every chance. Whenever a McCann player touched the ball, if there wasn’t already a girl ready to challenge, there was one just a few steps away.

That sustained pressure made it nearly impossible for the No. 3 Hornets to string any number of passes together and break out of their own half.

“We weren’t really there, though, with each other,” Hornet sweeper C.J. Schleich said. “We needed to really communicate a lot more. I think it would have been a lot easier. We’ve played teams like that before and done just fine. We just had a little bit of an off-chance. We did have good plays.”

Schleich and the rest of the defense were on their heels for nearly the whole game. Time and again they needed to clear balls out of the box or hope no one was making the back-door run.

The Gators were winning nearly every 50-50 ball and maintaining their offensive presence.

When the ball did make its way into Gateway’s half, it didn’t stay long. The long balls that striker Mary Nguyen so frequently runs onto and uses her speed to leave the defense behind weren’t connecting. A strong sweeper back in Jessie Walton negated much of Nguyen’s offensive threat.

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