CANTON, Mass. – It was a frustrating Monday night for the Davenport division leaders at WWII Veterans Memorial Field. Canton was pressing forward, trying to find an equalizing goal that would maintain its unbeaten start to the season, but the Bulldogs kept running into the wall of the Oliver Ames defense.
As the clock ticked down under three minutes remaining, sophomore Emily McCabe collected a loose ball 30 yards from goal and let fly. The shot dipped down just under the crossbar and just over the fingertips of OA keeper Emily Meyers, securing a 1-1 draw and a point that pushes the Bulldogs back above Foxboro at the top of the league standings.
“Emily’s job was to make those runs into the final third and hopefully we’d have doubled up numbers to see if we could get more people shots,” said first-year Canton coach Idris Senyonjo. “We closed the gaps and give them no time on the ball then we were able to create more chances in the final third.”
It was typically hard-fought game between two rivals who were used to battling for the Davenport crown until the Tigers moved into the Kelley-Rex division for four seasons. Both teams pressed high up the pitch, compressing the space and giving little time on the ball for anyone to take an extra touch.
“They have two DI players up top and I thought with did a really nice job on them,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “Defensively, I was happy with what we did. We just couldn’t hold on for those last few minutes.”
Elisa Diletizia had a good early chance for Canton, after a Sarai Costello through ball, but the forward shot wide with a defender on her back. Lucinda Cotter set up Carly Gibson for a good chance in the middle of the Canton penalty area, but Allie McCabe charged down the shot.
OA grabbed the lead in the final minute of the first. Madeleine Taylor touched the indirect kick, teeing it up for Lauren Sellmayer to have a go from 35 yards. The ball was smashed just inside the post, giving Canton keeper Marissa Staffiere no chance.
The Bulldogs tried to answer early in the second. Olivia Rodman played the ball into the middle to Diletizia, who slipped a pass into the right channel for Gabriella Herivaux. With defenders racing over to try and block the shot, Herivaux hit it early but sent it narrowly over the bar.
As the half wore on, the Tigers seemed to be taking control of the tempo and the style of the match. Jenna Gilman intercepted a clearance and nearly set up Alexa Lane, but she couldn’t bring it under control in the six-yard-box.
Midway through the second, Camryn O’Connor had a steal in midfield, raced forward nearly 30 yards and then played in Reese Pereira, but her shot went just wide. With two minutes to play in the half, Sellmayer played a cross from the right that O’Connor knocked down for Emma Pereira, but the shot was over the bar from the edge of the box.
“Just getting in the final third and making their goalie make a great save, we just kicked some field goals and Reese had a chance that just went wide,” said Sellmayer. “Cam didn’t score for us but she had some great through balls, which we’ve been working on.”
The third quarter was largely a stalemate. Neither team was able to create a clear-cut scoring chance for the first 18 minutes. Mia Gilmore nearly changed that with a late free kick that she flashed just across the face of goal and just past the outstretched toe of Diletizia sliding in at the back post.
With 20 minutes to go and trying to avoid a first defeat, Canton started pressing into the attack and the OA defense started soaking up more and more pressure.
Senyonjo said, “We started playing too much of their game. I told them we have to stop that because if we do that then we’re not going to get a goal. We had to stay composed on the ball and our chances would come.”
Just three minutes into the fourth, Costello picked out Diletizia in the middle but her shot was over the bar. Seven minutes later, Gilmore had a go from 30 yards and that too was just over the top. Gilmore also had a free kick opportunity in the 73rd minute, but Meyers was able to make the save and it looked like Canton’s chance at staying alone in first place was gone.
Then McCabe stepped up to save the day and get an important point for the hosts, while the Tigers remained unbeaten as well, but had to settle for a fifth draw this season.
“One of the things I tell them all the time is if you keep playing and keep fighting hard then the chances are going to come,” Senyonjo explained. “The hardest lead to keep is a 1-0 lead because the more pressure you put on the other team, the more they just try to keep the lead instead of scoring a second goal. If we can keep moving then it will give us a chance to put some shots on target.”
CANTON, Mass. – On Monday night, it took Canton almost the full 80 minutes before they found the breakthrough goal and picked up a crucial two points. Two days later at WWII Veterans Memorial Field, the Davenport division-leading Bulldogs did all their scoring in the first quarter to make it a sweep of the series with North Attleboro.
Olivia Rodman scored twice in the opening nine minutes on Wednesday and the Canton defense recorded its third clean sheet of the season, leading the Bulldogs to a 2-0 win over North that keeps them two points clear of Foxboro at the top of the league standings.
While the attack, which is tied for the league lead with 25 goals this season, will get a lot of the attention, first-year coach Idris Senyonjo praised his defense for continuing to make things difficult for the opposition.
“That’s how we’re going to be able to win games like this, if you play as a whole team, defend as a team,” he said. “We’ve come a long, long way. You can’t win games if you don’t defend and for me that’s a key. Defensively, I’ve got to make sure we stay compact all the way from the forwards all the way to the back.”
Momentum seemed to carry over from the first meeting, as Canton jumped all over North in the opening quarter. The Bulldogs found a lot of success down the right wing. Alexandra Lopez found a lot of space out by the touchline and it was her crosses that led to the goals.
The first came after just five minutes. Lopez got free down the wing and played a low cross right to the foot of Rodman eight yards from goal. The Providence College-bound senior didn’t bother taking a touch, smashing a first-time shot inside the post, giving North keeper Kaylah Seavey no chance.
Five minutes later, another Lopez cross wasn’t fully cleared at the top of the box. Rodman harried the North defenders and kept the play alive. When the ball popped loose, Rodman was the first to react and hit a left-footed shot back across goal into the bottom corner for a 2-0 lead.
“This time, we played a different formation so we could counter what they were doing,” Senyonjo said about how his team adapted from the first game against North. “I wanted to be unpredictable. I put Alex there and they thought she wasn’t going to be a threat, but that’s where all the balls came from.”
North looked sluggish in the opening 20 minutes and struggled to put pressure on the Canton back line. A long ball from Autumn Hewitt nearly found the run of Emma Pratt but Canton goalie Elyse Broderick was out quickly to collect. Pratt also had a go from 20 yards that went wide, but that was about all that the Rocketeers could muster in the first.
“We were playing a little bit back on our heels,” North coach Bill Wallace explained, “so the space between midfield and forward was just too big and it’s something that we have to win more of those 50-50 balls in the middle of the field because if we’re constantly chasing then we’ve got two kids up top hung out to dry.”
There was a notable increase in energy from North after the first break. Two minutes into the second, Charlotte Moynihan’s free kick dropped in the penalty area but Anne Hoban was able to clear for the hosts.
Canton had one good look in the second. Sarai Costello played a through ball to Gabriella Herivaux, who fed Elisa Diletizia. She cut from left to right across the top of the box and forced Seavey into a diving save.
Chances continued to be few and far between for both teams in the second half as the aggression level increased in the midfield and both teams made it difficult for anyone to have time on the ball.
Moynihan had another good set piece midway through the third quarter trying to pick out the run of Steph McKenna but again Hoban was there to clear. North got its first shot on target with three minutes left in the quarter. HHaley Sinacola’s long free kick forcing Broderick into a leaping catch.
The Rocketeers kept battling and nearly got an equalizer early in the fourth. Moynihan’s corner from the right side hit Caroline Ferrin at the near post and freshman Ava Gilmore was in the right place to clear it off the line.
“I was very encouraged about the way we came back after that first period,” Wallace said. “The good news is they learned from it. We’re still a fairly young team and hopefully they can take this and say, we need to play a full 80 minutes.”
With six minutes to play, Diletizia came close to adding a third. A Costello corner picked out the forward in traffic and Diletizia’s flick came back off the post.
“For me coming in as a new coach, step by step you can see what we’re trying to do,” said Senyonjo about his team’s progression this season and about the challenge of facing the three teams (North, Oliver Ames, and Foxboro) who have accounted for the last seven Davenport titles. “I told them if we can get through this then we’ll be even better prepared for Monday.”
Canton (6-0-0) will continue its run against unbeaten teams when it hosts Oliver Ames for senior night on Monday. North Attleboro (2-2-2) will look to get back on track when it travels to defending champ Foxboro.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The new rule modifications in place this season are meant to limit physical contact between players, but once Monday night’s game at Alumni Field kicked off neither Attleboro or Mansfield was going to shy away from a challenge or give their opponents an inch.
It led to a competitive, hard-fought match with chances to win it at both ends of the field. In the end, Eleanor Graber’s third quarter strike matched Amira Walcott’s second quarter opener and the teams walked away with a point apiece following a 1-1 draw.
Attleboro dominated the opening few minutes of the match, as Mansfield worked to meet the aggressiveness of the visitors. In the third minute, Emily Dunlea slid a pass into the run of Isabella Salviati but the Attleboro forward dragged her shot through the box.
Once the hosts settled down, Mansfield started to assert itself and take control of the game. Tarynn Smith had the first good look for the Hornets after nine minutes but Alexis Campbell was there for the save. Following a corner, Carly Devine teed up Cathryn Cooney but her shot was wide of the far post.
Cooney almost created an opener with a cross from the left but it was deflected out to defender Kayla Doherty, whose shot from distance was blocked into the path of Kaylee Smith. The senior took a touch and put a shot on target from eight yards, but it was right at Campbell.
“It was just a matter of weathering their first adrenaline rush and maintaining our compactness in the middle and at the back and absorbing it and completing a pass going out,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith explained. “Once we did we were able to get a foothold in the game.”
In the 27th minute, Attleboro got a look for Briley Harnois but the senior’s shot from 25 yards out went wide of the post.
Mansfield took the lead in the 33rd minute. Campbell went up in traffic to collect a long free kick from Maria Sevastos, but couldn’t handle it cleanly and Walcott was in the right place to knock in her second of the season.
The Hornets had several chances to double their lead before halftime. Cooney had an indirect kick inside the box blocked at the near post by Olivia Calderone and then Katie Miller played Tarynn Smith behind the right back but Campbell came up with a big save, palming the shot over the bar.
“We started off okay and we got away from our style of play and more into their style of play,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos, “and it felt like were trying to defend the long ball and the races, so we dropped our defense back a little bit in the second half and got a little more composed and the flow of the game got a little bit better.”
Campbell came up with another big stop to keep it a one-goal deficit in the 51st minute. A ball over the top picked out Abby Jean on the run. The Mansfield sophomore decided to cut it back onto her right foot and bring it to the center of the box, forcing a full-stretch save down to the keeper’s right.
Santos said, “Lexi played well. She came out at the right times, made a key save when we needed it. She just got unlucky on that transition bringing the ball down.”
That save proved to be crucial as just five minutes later Attleboro was level. Mansfield keeper Olivia Salisbury had an outlet pass intercepted by Graber just outside the box. The Attleboro midfielder drove forward and made the turnover count with a shot into the bottom corner.
“That was a great hustle play by Eleanor,” Santos said. “She was in the right spot at the right time, made the right moves, and finished it.”
Much like Campbell, Salisbury had the chance to atone for her mistake and came up with the save of the game. Graber picked out Cossandra Stuger in the middle, who split the lines with a pass into Harnois on the left side of the box. The Attleboro forward was clean through on goal but Salisbury came sliding out to make a game-saving block.
“We talked about that in the intermission (between quarters),” said Smith. “We said, alright so we made a mistake and it cost us a goal. What do we want to do? React. So, we want to have a good, positive reaction and I thought everyone did.”
Mansfield started to regain control after Attleboro’s post-goal surge, putting pressure with a series of long free kicks by Sevastos and freshman defender Kara Santos. Bridget Hanley’s through ball sent Devine free, but the shot was held by Campbell. Attleboro created one more notable chance after Graber and Jessica Gates played a one-two and Gates set up Harnois in the box but again Salisbury was held onto the shot.
Smith said, “We had a lot of good pressure, a lot of possession, and a lot of good passing movements, and once we broke that down in the second half then they started coming back at us. Then you get that goal, but the last 10 minutes we recovered.”