HARWICH – Falling to Sturgis East with a final score of 2-0 after winning the Mayflower League wasn't necessarily how Cape Tech head coach Ivan Popov wanted things to go, but the loss didn't diminish his pride in his team's efforts, or their determination as the Crusaders went on to defeat Upper Cape Tech 4-0 the next day, officially becoming league champs in their first season with Mayflower Small.
The Crusaders were slow to get going against the Storm on Oct. 24, something the visiting Sturgis squad capitalized on en route to victory.
“We started the game slowly and not focused enough,” Popov said, adding that the team consistently lost out on every first ball, as well as on some passing opportunities on several occasions. “We got punished because of that by conceding a goal. In the second half, we changed our style and started playing more aggressively, fighting for every ball, but luck was not on our side and we did not score to equalize the result.”
Indeed, in spite of increased intensity by the home team Crusaders, the back of the Sturgis net remained elusive, even as the game's physicality increased, leaving one Cape Tech player bruised and bleeding after what was said to be an elbow to the face. When the move failed to incur a card, or even a penalty kick, there was tension between Popov and the game's officials as Popov felt the injury warranted action.
The Crusaders turned things around the following day, playing like the league champs they are in a 4-0 rout of Upper Cape Tech that saw Rick Goncalves and Kelsco Porter score twice each.
Though Cape Tech dominated possession and made a number of shots on goal during the first half, the scoreboard remained off limits until the 27th minute when Goncalves employed some of his fancy footwork while evading Upper Cape's defense before firing a shot that found its way into the net to put the Crusaders ahead 1-0.
The next two goals belonged to Porter, the first coming on an assist from Goncalves to give Cape Tech a nice cushion, and the next on a pass from Lucas Gurski to give the Crusaders a comfortable 3-0 edge at the half.
Goncalves netted the final goal of the game near the 55-minute mark, after which Cape Tech's defense worked on keeping the Rams away from the net, with Andrew MacPhee turning in a strong performance in net for the Crusaders.
Following the win against Upper Cape Tech, the Crusaders stood at 10-5-2 overall and 9-0-1 in the Mayflower Small League, clinching the league championship.
“The Crusaders boys varsity team had a remarkable season in the Mayflower Small League,” said Popov. “We achieved our start of the season's main goal and won the Mayflower League undefeated, plus made the playoffs.”
Popov said hard work during team practices paid off.
“I have a mix of outstanding players, some of them very experienced, who have been with me for four years, and I also have numerous rising stars,” Popov said. “I am very proud to see the boys so happy to achieve their goal at the end of the season and make history here at this great school by winning the league in our first season. I am honored to be their coach and part of this fantastic soccer program and to have the support of the entire Cape Tech community.”
With some teams wrapping up their regular seasons this week, seeds for the playoffs likely won't be out before Nov. 1, so follow @ChroniKat on Twitter for updates.