Milford Extends Unbeaten Streak With Win Over Attleboro

Milford soccer Cashel Stuger Eduardo Santana
Attleboro’s Cashel Stuger and Milford’s Eduardo Santana battle for possession near midfield in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 MILFORD, Mass. – The Milford boys soccer team entered the season with hopes of winning a fourth straight division title, but after a slow start, the Hawks found themselves on the outside looking in.

But after losing three of its first five games, Milford has completely turned it around and is now the hottest team in the Hockomock League. The Hawks pushed their unbeaten streak to nine and winning streak to five with a 2-0 blanking of Attleboro on Monday afternoon and now sit in first place with three games to go.

“Hard work and unity,” Milford head coach Antonio Pinto said of what has changed since the beginning of the season. “The kids didn’t give up on each other. Especially when we were 0-2, we have really good leaders on this team that rallied everyone together. We have four great captains and even guys that aren’t captains, they pulled everyone together.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The streak starting with a shutout win over North Attleboro on September 27th, continued with three straight draws, and now the Hawks have won five straight games, including back-to-back wins over Mansfield and Attleboro — the former the team just two points behind in the standings and the latter just three points behind.

“On the field, everything has improved,” Pinto said. “We knew we’d be a competitive team, we didn’t expect to dominate but we want to compete with every team in the state. We’re ready to play no matter who the opponent is. As a whole, even after the first results, we kept our heads.”

Milford boys soccer

Milford applied pressure right out of the gate, registering their first goal-scoring chance just over five minutes in. The Hawks cashed in twice in the opening 40 minutes and senior goalie Kevin Gomes came up with a trio of terrific saves to earn the shutout in net.

The teams traded chances in the first half but it was the hosts who took advantage of their opportunities.

Avi Seri connected with Eduardo Santana with a pass out of the back and Santana turned and played a diagonal ball through to John Borges but Attleboro sophomore keeper Tyler Rocchio reacted well off his line, coming up with his first of many big saves to deny Milford.

Attleboro came back down the other way just three minutes later as sophomore Alex Vecchioli played a nice ball in for Liam Bischoff but Milford senior defender Chris Tocci did well to deny any chance.










Bill Silva launched a ball down the left sideline for Arthur Tome, who was able to go at the defender one-on-one and was fouled in the box as he cut towards the touchline. Tocci stepped up and buried a low shot to the keeper’s right for a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute.

It looked like the Bombardiers would pull level just two minutes later as Vecchioli, known for his left foot, unleashed a blast from distance off his right foot but Gomes made a terrific leaping one-handed parry over the bar to preserve the lead.

Eight minutes later it was Milford’s turn for a big chance. Junior Nick Ribeiro played a service into the area that was misplayed by the defense, giving Santana an open look from in close but his shot was right at Roccio, who did a nice job to hold on and prevent any rebound opportunity.

Attleboro senior Esvin Morales looked to pull even with what has become a signature move of his. With an attacking free kick about 25 yards out, Morales — who has scored twice doing this — shot it quickly before the wall was set but Gomes was quick to react and made a diving save to keep it out. On the ensuing corner, Vecchioli’s header was gobbled up by Gomes.

Milford doubled its lead with less than five minutes to play in the opening half. The play started in their own defensive third as senior Alex Siqueira played it quickly to classmate Christian Dinis on the right way. Dinis went central to Tome, who played a ball through behind the defense to Dylan Borr and the junior tucked away his low shot past the oncoming charging keeper into the far post for a 2-0 lead.

The first 20 minutes of the second half was mostly played between the boxes but with time at a premium and facing a two-goal deficit, Attleboro started to push more numbers forward to try and create chances.

Morales dropped a free kick in the area in the 58th that fell to Chris Russo but the senior didn’t get enough on his shot and it went wide. Two minutes later, Vecchioli curved a free kick around the wall but Gomes made a terrific diving save to keep it out.




The chances continued in the 62nd minute when Vecchioli kept the ball in play down the left flank and centered for Kyle Neuendorf but Seri came through with a key intervention to deny a chance.

“I always have a lot of confidence in our back line,” Pinto said. “Sometimes they scare me a little because they can take a few too many touches, they’ll take it past players…but at the end of the day, they get it done, they get their job done.

“And Kevin is an extraordinary keeper, made two or three great saves. [Vecchioli] can hit with both feet and had two great shots from outside and Kevin came up with a save each time. And props to their keeper [Rocchio] too, he made some great saves too.”

Attleboro’s Toby Smith made a great hustle play to keep the deficit at two in the 65th minute. Ribeiro connected with Dinis, who made a nice run out the back, but Smith came across the field to intercept the play and clear.

Junior Lucas Marques held possession in the attacking third, switching the play to the right side for a service from Neuendorf that was met by a header from Yianni Skordas but the shot was just off target.

“We worked hard in the second half,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “They got their breaks and they capitalized in the first half. Unfortunately a penalty, that can throw a team off a little bit. And then they got a late goal in the first half, that was a dagger. It took us a while to get going in the second half, [Milford] has great ball possession, which is difficult to try and take it away.

“The last 20 minutes we pushed some people up to create some breaks and their goalie made some good saves. [Rocchio] made some good ones too. We knew it was going to be a battle but they played a little bit better soccer than we did.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Milford boys soccer

Milford controls its own destiny with three of its four final games against division foes, and two of those games are at home. But even with a two-point lead entering the final stretch, Pinto says the focus isn’t on another division title.

“These guys aren’t worried about a division title right now, they aren’t worried about the standings, they just come out each time ready to play,” Pinto said. “They love to play soccer and they treat each game like a final. Each game is as big as the one before it.”

Milford boys soccer (8-3-2 Hockomock, 9-3-2 overall) returns to action on Wednesday when it hosts King Philip. Attleboro (6-3-3, 6-4-3) will look to bounce back on the same day when it hosts Taunton.

Taunton Takes The Tiger Bowl Behind Big Offensive Night

Taunton football Trent Santos
Taunton senior Trent Santos hauls in a 61-yard touchdown pass in the first half against Oliver Ames. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 TAUNTON, Mass. – Taunton’s two-game losing streak came to an emphatic end on Thursday night.

The Tigers had their best offensive outing in three seasons, scoring six touchdowns plus a field goal to grab a 45-20 win in the Tiger Bowl over Oliver Ames in a non-league crossover clash.

After a close loss to King Philip two weeks ago and a setback to Franklin last week in a game that was closer than the scoreline indicated,

Taunton football

Taunton got back into the win column for the fourth time this season.


“Offensively we knew we’d have the chance to score some points and we did a good job there,” said Taunton head coach Brad Sidwell. “I’m proud of our guys, we haven’t scored that many points in a while.”

Taunton football

Taunton picked up points on its first three drives — a field goal followed by two touchdowns — which all came in the opening quarter of the game. The host Tigers scored inside the final two minutes of the first half and less than two minutes into the second half and added two more in the third quarter to get the win.

The defense set the tone by forcing Oliver Ames into a three-and-out on the first series of the game. OA punted on each of its first three drives, had two series end on turnovers, and one turnover on downs.

A high snap slowed Taunton’s first drive of the game and the hosts settled for a 31-yard field goal off the right foot of senior Nate Keenan.

The offense didn’t need much time on its second drive to find the end zone. After Evan Perrotta (13 carries, 56 yards) moved the chains with a 10-yard run on first down, junior quarterback Jacob Leonard found Trent Santos in single coverage down the right sideline. Leonard dropped the pass into Santos’ hands in stride and the senior, who missed last week due to injury, did the rest for a 61-yard touchdown.










OA couldn’t get anything going offensively on its third series, partly due to a tackle for a loss from Ryan MacDougall, and the visiting Tigers had to punt, pinning Taunton inside its own 20-yard line.

The long field didn’t phase Taunton, who scored on its first play of the drive. Leonard dropped back and hit Perrotta on a screen. The senior back squirmed through the defense up the middle but OA kept with the play and forced a fumble. But before any OA player could pounce on the loose ball, Taunton senior tightend Faisal Mass scooped up the loose ball and raced his way to the end zone from 54 yards out.

Just like that,

Taunton football

Taunton held a 17-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.

“We have to come out better,” said OA head coach Ed DeWitt. “I don’t think it’s an X’s and O’s, I think they are blocking their stuff right…we just came out flat tonight. There wasn’t enough emotion…and when something goes wrong, we have to fight back.”

Oliver Ames put together a much-needed response that took nearly six minutes of the clock. Senior quarterback Jake Grimaldi connected with classmate Sean Friel, who fought for some extra yards to move the sticks with a 24-yard gain. Junior running back Collin Williamson (15 carries, 142 yards, 2 TD) broke free for 21 yards on the next play and then converted a third down inside the red zone three plays later. After that, Williamson took the handoff to the left and found his way into the end zone to make it 17-7.

“Collin’s great, he runs hard,” DeWitt said. “Sometimes it takes us a little bit to figure out where his seam is but when we do, he hits it and when he gets through, he’s a hard tackle and finishes runs for us. He’s been doing it all year for us.

OA’s defense held Taunton to just four yards on its next series, getting good coverage from junior Jordan Young on second down to help get the ball back. OA started to move the ball on its next drive but Nathen LaPlante had a big tackle for loss, OA was hit with a holding call, and Taunton sophomore Troy Santos intercepted a third down pass near midfield, taking it all the way to the OA 25-yard line with just 3:31 left in the half.

Taunton football

Taunton kept it on the ground for this series, handing it off to Perrotta four consecutive plays, the last for a 2-yard touchdown and a 24-7 lead going into halftime.

OA took a chance to start the second half, going for an onside kick on the opening kickoff. The visiting Tigers got the blocks they wanted but the ball bounced out and Taunton took over with good field position. The hosts took advantage of that field position, needing just three plays to add to its lead.




Leonard hit Perrotta with a swing pass out in the flat that went for 28 yards and then the Perrotta took back-to-back handoffs, the latter going for a 4-yard touchdown and a 31-7 lead with 10:20 left in the third.

“We haven’t finished the last two weeks so the whole thing this week was about finishing, and we did which was good to see,” Sidwell said.”With the new playoff system, you’re winning a game and you’re trying to keep that certain lead, keep it at the max. You’re not being unsportsmanlike, you’re trying to do the math figuring out the difference.”

It didn’t take long for Oliver Ames to respond. On just the second play of the ensuing drive, Robert Jenkins (68 receiving yards, 87 rushing yards) took a counter to the left before cutting up the field and through the difference, running away for a 77-yard touchdown with 9:13 to play in the third.

Chad Silva recorded a tackle for loss on second down and junior defensive end Chris Young made a nice play by getting his hands up to bat down a third down pass at the line, forcing Taunton to punt. Grimaldi hit Jenkins for 22 yards and a first down and Williamson gained five on the next play but Troy Santos read the play nicely on the next play, undercutting the pass for his second interception of the game.

Facing 3rd and 11, Leonard hit sophomore Jose Touron on a comeback route on the right side and he was able to break free from the defense and took off for 62 yards, tackled at the 1-yard line. Keenan burst up the middle and into the end zone for a touchdown and Taunton pushed the lead to 38-14 with 3:58 left in the third.

OA’s offense had another response to keep within striking distance. Williamson broke out for 35 yards on first down and Grimaldi kept it on a QB sneak four plays later to convert a fourth and short. Two plays later, Williamson bounced it outside to the right and used his speed to sprint away from the defense for a 34-yard touchdown. That cut the deficit to 38-20 with just 10 seconds left in the third.

“We fought a bit, tried the onside kicks to get back into it but there were some positives we can take from the second half,” DeWitt said.”We felt like we really came out flat in the first half, not much to build on. We put our knee down on the opening kickoff and then had a false start on the first play…and it spirals from there.

“When we got it to 17-7, we have to hammer down there and keep that score going into the half. We just have to come out strong and playing within the aspect of the game, managing the game a bit better.”

Taunton football

Taunton recovered the ensuing onside kick and march 55 yards on 7 plays to add another touchdown. Leonard hit Santos early in the drive to move the sticks and Keenan had a 21-yard gain on third down to keep the drive alive. Touron took the sweep to the right and Santos blocked the corner to allow the ball carrier to get into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown and a 45-20 lead with 9:21 to play.

“Our offense did a good job moving the ball but we have to establish the run game a little bit more, especially when you’re having a little trouble stopping the run. But I’m proud of the way our guys played. We’re trying to get healthy and better for the remainder of the season. The gauntlet of the Kelley-Rex [division] is really hard.”

Both teams have a tough schedule as they head into the final two weeks of division play. Taunton football (0-2 Kelley-Rex, 4-2 overall) hits the road to take on Mansfield while Oliver Ames (1-1 Davenport, 2-4 overall) returns home to host North Attleboro.

Milford Walks Off With Overtime Win Over Mansfield

Milford football Damien Carter
Milford sophomore Damien Carter hauls in the game-winning touchdown in overtime against Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Kelley-Rex division of the Hockomock League is always competitive and one of the best in the state.

This year, it might be the deepest it’s ever been.

There isn’t much separation among all six teams, but even less between the top three or four teams vying for the Kelley-Rex crown.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

On Friday night, it turned out the difference between Milford and Mansfield was only a matter of inches.

Sophomore Damien Carter went up and hauled in a 9-yard touchdown over a pair of defenders and landed just inches inside the touchline for the walk-off winning score, giving the Hawks a 27-24 win over the Hornets in overtime at Alumni Field.

After early fireworks that saw Milford score on its first two drives and Mansfield orchestrate a pair of good drives, scoring on the latter, the teams settled down in the second half. Mansfield took an early lead on its second drive of the half but Milford responded in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

Both defenses buckled down in the final quarter as the teams combined to punt five straight times and the game went into overtime.

Mansfield went on offense first but a pair of incomplete passes sandwiched for a loss of yards on second down meant the Hornets had to settle for a 30-yard field goal off the right foot of James Gilleran.










Milford went next, gaining just a yard on first down. The Hornets nearly ended the game on an interception on second down but instead, it was Milford putting the game to bed when Evan Cornelius (11-for-20, 156 yards, two TD) floated one just past the pylon on the right side and Carter came down with it; the sideline ref ruling his foot landed in-bounds before his body did out of bounds.

“I hope people believe now that Milford is for real,” said Milford head coach Dale Olson. “We knew coming into this year that we had some young kids but some talented kids. If we’re not a top 6-8 team in this state, I don’t know who is.

“I had actually called for the play before to go over there and [Cornelius] decided to go to the other side. After that, we wanted the 1-on-1 on that side. [Mansfield] did a great job on Isaiah. We went up 14-0 and they started to double on him. I thought early on we ran the football at-will on them. But that’s a great program, they did a great job tonight. But in the end, our kids buckled down and played great defense.”

It was a dream start for the visitors, who were making their first trip to Alumni Field since joining the Hockomock League nearly a decade ago. The Hawks needed less than five minutes to march 75 yards on 12 plays to get into the end zone. A 21-yard scamper from Tyler Lane (18 carries, 90 yards) helped move Milford into the red zone and Cornelius kept it himself to convert 4th and less than a yard for a 7-0 lead.

Mansfield looked poised to respond right away as the Hornets started to move the sticks. But the drive came to a sudden halt on its 10th play when Mansfield lost the ball on a run up the middle and the Hawks recovered the ball for their first red zone takeaway.

The Hawks’ offense picked up right where it left off, this time orchestrating an 88-yard drive in just seven plays. On the final play of the first quarter, Cornelius hit Isaiah Pantalone (eight catches, 94 yards) on a slant that went for a 67-yard gain. Three plays later, Lane plunged into the end zone on third down from a yard out to give Milford a 14-0 lead with 10:47 left in the second.

The turnover didn’t seem to bother the Hornets’ offense and they came up with a much-needed response. On third down, junior Conner Zukowski (12-for-21, 146 yards) connected with sophomore Trevor Foley for a big 40-yard completion. Three plays later, Drew Sacco took the handoff and sprinted in for a 5-yard touchdown that cut the deficit on the scoreboard in half.

Mansfield’s defense gained some momentum with back-to-back stops. The Hornets forced the Hawks into back-to-back three-and-out series to get the ball back. The offense rewarded them with a 6-play, 54-yard drive that resulted in the tying score just before the half. Zukowski hit Foley for a first down and then dropped one to CJ Bell for 31 yards and a visit to the red zone. Milford’s defense came up with some stops to make it tough but Zukowski got low and kept it himself to convert a fourth down with a 1-yard touchdown keeper.




The Hornets looked to pull a double, scoring on both sides of the half, and it looked like there was a good chance they’d complete it. Mansfield marched 44 yards on 7 plays but Milford’s Jaden Agnew made a terrific read and a diving interception inside the red zone to put the Hornet drive to a halt.

Mansfield’s defense had an answer of its own and on third down, defensive lineman Pedro Cruz got his paws up to bat down a pass and force a punt. Given a second chance to take the lead, Mansfield took care of business. Bell made a great move to evade a defender and get a first down on a 16-yard reception and a holding call in the secondary moved the sticks again for the hosts. On fourth and one from the 3-yard line, Zukowski tossed it to James Fichera on a sweep to the right and the senior captain rushed it in for a score and Mansfield’s first lead, 21-14, with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

“We finally get the lead and had a big score in the second and one in the third and then we just couldn’t get a first down,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “We tried to run it but they were doing a good job defending that. They were doubling our receivers. That was the key…we needed to get some first downs. We didn’t need to score but at least punt from midfield and give them a long field but we gave them way too many chances in the second half and sooner than later they capitalized.

“We’ve got to start better. it’d be nice to be up a touchdown instead of down one. We have to find a way to get a lead and play ahead. The last three weeks we’ve been playing from behind. We play hard and we catch up but these teams, it’s too much to overcome early.”

Milford’s offense couldn’t find its rhythm as it had to punt again on its next drive after a fumble on second down set them back. But the Hawks’ defense did its job and forced Mansfield into a three-and-out. That was a big swing and the Hawks found their footing on offense again. A penalty on third and short gave Milford life, and a holding call in the secondary moved the sticks again on the next play. Cornelius connected with Carter twice on the drive, the first for 13 yards and a first down and, three plays later, on a slant on the right side that turned into a 40-yard touchdown. Nick Araujo’s third successful point after attempt made it 21-21 with 7:56 left.

“In past, I think this program would have [panicked], they didn’t know how to win big games like that,” Olson said of Mansfield scoring 21 straight points to take the lead. “Tonight, we had that 14-0 lead and it felt like the Natick game all over again. I was hoping for one more stop and I thought, if we can go up three scores against a Mike Redding team, we’re going to force them into throwing the football more than they want to. But our defense stepped up in the end.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield had two drives in the final minutes of the fourth but only totaled 19 yards on its eight plays. Milford also had a shot at the go-ahead score but their five plays had a total of 7 net yards and they had to punt both teams as well, sending it to overtime.

“Every drive is important, every third down conversion is critical,” Redding said of the tight competition in the Kelley-Rex this year. “We’re learning as we go with young kids and they are playing hard but they need to realize how every series is critical in terms of momentum. You have to move the chains when you have the ball. And we just have to find a way to start better. We almost overcame it again but just not enough.”

Milford (2-0 Kelley-Rex, 5-0 overall) hits the road for the third straight week with a trip to Wrentham to take on King Philip. Mansfield (0-2, 3-2) will look to snap a rare two-game skid when it hits the road to take on Attleboro.

Black Knights Tame The Tigers With Timely Touchdowns

Stoughton football Anthony Girolamo
Stoughton senior Anthony Girolamo muscles his way to a first down in the second half against Oliver Ames. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The end of the first half and beginning of the second half couldn’t have gone worse for Stoughton during last week’s trip to Mansfield.

It couldn’t have gone much better this time around.

Sparked by a broken play, the Black Knights finally got on the scoreboard with less than a minute to go in the first half and then scored on all four of its drives in the second half to land a 35-7 win on the road against Oliver Ames.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Stoughton football

Locked in a scoreless game, Stoughton’s first two drives combined for eight plays and six yards, and the Knights lined up to punt on fourth down after their third drive stalled at their own 35-yard line with time running out in the second quarter.

But a low snap and pressure from an Oliver Ames special teamer forced senior Emmett Pearl to abandon the kick and take off running down the left sideline, sprinting 10 yards to move the sticks and keep the drive going.

“That was his decision, that was huge,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke.

Seven plays later, facing a 3rd and 20 from near midfield, sophomore quarterback Jarred Daughtry rolled out to the right on a bootleg, planted his feet, and fired back to the left side where Pearl, who had lined up on the right side of the formation, sprinted free and hauled in the catch, going for a 49 touchdown with just 29 seconds left in the half.

“It was a low snap and I saw the kid rushing, and I saw the open sideline and I wanted to score before halftime,” Pearl said. “I took off and it paid off. We really haven’t practice that so it was more my call off of instincts. I think coach felt the momentum with me and gave me a shot [on the touchdown].

“We learned our lesson from last week about staying up and keeping the lead. We fought and didn’t let the momentum take over after their touchdown.”










That spark ignited the Stoughton offense, which couldn’t be stopped the rest of the way. The Black Knights received the opening kickoff of the second half and quickly marched 65 yards on nine plays, highlighted by a 26-yard pass from Daughtry to Jonay Ly (11 carries, 82 yards, one touchdown).

Stoughton football

Stoughton faced a 3rd and 2 inside the 10-yard line and the Tigers got to Anthony Girolamo (12 carries, 118 yards, two touchdowns) in the backfield but the senior running back withstood the hit and bulldozed his way forward for a first down. Two plays later, Ly plunged in from a yard out as the Knights doubled their lead to 14-0.

“The end of the half one really sucked,” said OA head coach Ed DeWitt. “We felt good at halftime, just made the one mistake, but they came out right away and scored. We thought we had a shot to get a tackle to get them into a longer fourth down but [Girolamo] breaks the tackle and they get in the next play. It’s kind of a killer. We’d like to get a little more push back there.”

Oliver Ames marched into the red zone, helped by runs from Collin Williamson and Chad Silva, for the second time in the game but came up empty-handed again. Stoughton’s Michael Jardim defended a pass in the end zone in the first half to end the Tigers’ first trip and this time around, a sack from Tyler Noel and Liam Joyce pushed OA back and on second down and Pearl came up with an interception on the next play.

“I don’t know if we’re at their level yet but I think we’re really close,” DeWitt said. “But when they had a shot, they got it in. When we had a shot, we don’t. If you score during the two red zone trips, it’s a different game. We’re playing differently, they have to play it differently, and all of a sudden you’re right in the game. But those big point swings are hard to overcome.”




Stoughton football

Stoughton turned that interception into more points, going 83 yards on just six plays. Ly had back-to-back carries of nine and 12 yards, Girolamo broke free for 26 more yards, Konrad Rogers added 10 yards, and two plays later, Girolamo muscled his way to a 16-yard touchdown.

“We’re happy with the way we’re doing it,” Burke said, “As long as we can stay healthy I think we can hang in there with anybody…we’re going to be fighting and clawing and that’s Stoughton all the way.”

Oliver Ames reached into its bag of tricks to get on the scoreboard and get some momentum back. A reverse on the first play saw junior Jaden Graham go for 14 yards and a first down. On the next, senior quarterback Jake Grimaldi tossed a quick pass out to classmate Sean Friel, who was behind the line of scrimmage. Friel launched a pass down the left sideline and junior Jack Morley hauled it in, broke free from the last defender, and toed the line for a 51-yard touchdown.

The momentum was short-lived for OA, as the onside kick attempt just slipped through and Stoughton took over. Two plays later, Girolamo burst up the middle for a 45-yard touchdown and a 28-7 lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Stoughton got its second fourth down stop of the game and went 41 yards on seven plays, capped by a fourth down touchdown pass from Daughtry and Jardim from 11 yards out.

“Last week was tough, we played hard,” Burke said. “We didn’t win but we learned some lessons and fixed some mistakes. We’re just going to keep getting better and we’re happy we got our first league win. We’re hoping to get into the playoffs like everybody else in America.”

Stoughton football (1-0 Hockomock Davenport, 2-2 overall) is back on the road for the third straight week when it travels to Foxboro (3-1). Oliver Ames (0-1, 1-3) will try to bounce back when it takes to Canton.

Mansfield Shakes Off Stoughton, Cruises To Big Win

Rocco Scarpellini Mansfield football
Mansfield running back Rocco Scarpellini (22) is tackled by a host of Stoughton players, including junior Timmy Chung (11). (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield might be a young team with a lot of inexperience on both sides of the ball, but through three games the Hornets have looked like veterans.

For the third straight game,

Mansfield football

Mansfield rallied from a deficit to earn a win, this time in impressive fashion in the form of a 42-14 win over Stoughton, the first meeting between the longtime Hockomock rivals since 2012.

The Hornets had to score a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to take home a win against St. John’s Shrewsbury after seeing a halftime lead disappear. Last week, it took a last-minute drive the length of the field to force overtime against North Attleboro, a game in which they won in double overtime.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

On Friday night, Stoughton stunned the home side by scoring the first two touchdowns of the game. The Black Knights scored on their second drive of the game and on the first play of the second quarter, and were just five minutes away from taking a 14-0 lead into halftime.

“When the first quarter ended, this was not what I expected to be on the scoreboard at the end,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “I thought we were going to be in a dog fight and the way it was going, I thought we’d be lucky to pull it out. We were making mistakes, they were capitalizing and they were aggressive on both sides of the ball.”

Mansfield football

Stoughton had to punt after going three-and-out on its first possession of the game, but on Mansfield’s second play of their first drive, the ball came loose on the handoff, and Anthony Girolamo, making his season debut after suffering an injury during the Fall 2 season, pounced on it to give the visitors possession.

The Black Knights got the first down on a gift when the Hornets jumped offside on fourth down but the visitors earned the next one when Girolamo rumbled for 12 yards on a fourth and two situation. On the next play, Jonah Ly bounced to the left side and Girolamo delivered a big block to a member of the secondary, springing Ly for a 14-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 5:38 left in the first quarter.










Stoughton’s defense held when Emmett Pearl came up with a big tackle for no gain on fourth down at the Black Knight 40-yard line, forcing a turnover on downs. A sack from Mark DeGirolamo set Stoughton back but on third and 10, the Knights ran a screen play and sophomore quarterback Jarred Daughtry found Ly on the left side and he took off down the sideline. Junior Tyler Noel came up with the final block and Ly went in for a 50-yard score and a 14-0 lead just moments into the second quarter.

Mansfield football

But from there, Mansfield showed how quickly it can change a game.

The Hornets overcame self-inflicted penalties to complete their largest drive of the game: 15 plays for 73 yards, capped by a two-yard plunge from Rocco Scarpellini. Stoughton looked to have a huge stop on third down in the red zone but were flagged for pass interference.

Mansfield football

Mansfield converted the short third down and Scarpellini scored on the next play to halve the deficit with 4:04 left until halftime.

Momentum completely swung in favor of the Hornets when senior Braeden Veno came up with a strip sack on Stoughton’s next drive and Jephte Jean recovered for the home team.

Five plays later, the Hornets found the end zone. Junior Conner Zukowski (15-for-18, 174 yards, three touchdowns) floated a screen pass to sophomore Brian Butler, who won the jump ball just over a Stoughton defender and went in for a 6-yard touchdown. Mansfield knotted the score, 14-14, on James Gilleran’s point after with 21 seconds left in the first half.

“The big drive was the first touchdown, we had all those penalties and still overcame it and got it to 14-7, and just a little bit of change in momentum and kind of took some pressure off,” Redding said. “Then we get the fumble and another one before halftime and that just changed the whole game, kind of flipped it on its head. If we don’t convert there and it’s 14-0 at halftime, this is a whole different game.”

Mansfield football

Mansfield received the kickoff to start the second half and the offense continued to roll. The Hornets scored on four straight possessions in the second half, the only drive that didn’t end in points was the final one when the clock ran out.




“The second touchdown really hurt,’ said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “We should have just run the ball, punted if we had to, and go into half at 14-7. Next thing you know, they’re ahead. They had one or two big runs and they hurt us on a couple of passes. If you don’t move the ball and you give them the ball, you’re in trouble.

“I wish we had a better result but the kids tried. We’re down in numbers overall, we had three starters out. I’m not saying it changes everything but it would have helped for sure. It was great to get Girolamo back, once he gets going he’ll be fine. We had some chances to play better but we just didn’t get it done. But we’ll keep working hard at it.”

It took just four plays for the hosts to find the end zone in the second half. Faced with third and 12 near midfield, Zukowski found sophomore CJ Bell wide open downfield and dropped a pass into his hands. Bell spun free from a tackle and dove across the goal line for a score.

“We knew coming in after looking at their lineup, they have eight or nine kids that play every snap,” Redding said. “I thought that meant we could win the fourth quarter, which turned into maybe we had to score to win in the fourth, but I thought we wore them down a little running the ball.”

Sophomore Trevor Foley came away with an interception on the next Stoughton series and took it all the way to the house for a 50-yard interception return but a block in the back nullified the score. Instead, on the first play of the ensuing series, Zukowski threaded the needle up the seam to Foley for a 24-yard touchdown.

After a Stoughton punt, the Hornets were looking at 3rd and one from midfield. Stoughton sent a lot of pressure up the middle and Scarpellini got free after he bounced out wide, scampering the rest of the way for a 50-yard touchdown.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sophomore quarterback Connor Curtis took over midway through the next series and had back-to-back option keepers, the latter going for an 11-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.

“It’s good to know with all the youth that we’ve got some character,” Redding said of the ability to come back in each week so far. “No one has really panicked, I think the kids realized at the end of the [first] quarter we had got get it going in a hurry. But for a bunch of young kids, especially at the skill positions, they don’t seem to get rattled and just move onto the next possession. In all three games, we’ve had a really good 36 minutes but we’ve had a 12-minute span where one quarter we just don’t play well but fortunately, we had enough time to overcome it.

“But we have our hands full the next two weeks with Franklin and Milford back-to-back, whoever did the schedule didn’t do us any favors. We’ve gotta bring our ‘A’ game for 48 minutes for the league schedule, there are some heavy hitters in the Kelley-Rex division. The next two weeks should be fun in the Hockomock.”

Mansfield football (3-0) opens Kelley-Rex division play next week when they hit the road to take on Franklin (3-0), who took down Duxbury on Friday night. Stoughton (1-2) is also back on the road, taking a trip down Route 138 to take on Oliver Ames (1-2).

Attleboro Steals A Point With Late Equalizer At Taunton

Taunton boys soccer Attleboro boys soccer
Taunton’s Conal Scully blasts a shot from distance in the second half against Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 TAUNTON, Mass. – It was jubilation for Attleboro and disbelief for Taunton.

The Bombardiers, who trailed by a pair of goals in the second half, cashed in during the final minute of play on a penalty kick to steal a point on the road in a 3-3 draw with the Tigers.

A long throw-in into the area in the final minute of play took an unlucky bounce and hit off the hand of a Tiger defender, giving the visitors a penalty kick. Sophomore Alex Vecchioli sent the keeper the wrong way, tucking his shot into the corner to bring the Bombardiers level with seconds left.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

While it was an unfortunate bounce, the call was correct. But the throw-in before that, the one that led up to the handball, was more than just your average throw-in.

Seconds before, Taunton keeper SuJavonte Fernades grabbed a loose ball in the area off a cross but a teammate went down with an injury right in front of him. Fernandes immediately punted the ball out for the injury, but the Bombardiers didn’t buy it and elected to keep the throw instead of playing it back to the keeper.

“When you’re that close, you go for it,” explained Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “They were playing with the time delay, which is all part of the game but when you start doing that, we can play it too. But they are a good team, and they are young so they’ll be good for a couple of years now.”

While Attleboro took the early lead, it was the hosts who dominated play for a solid 50 minutes of action.

Attleboro junior Esvin Morales won a free kick from 25-yards out off a handball just eight minutes into the game, and before the ref could stop the time to map out 10 yards for the wall, Morales floated a shot to the far post before the keeper was ready and just like that, the Bombardiers built a 1-0 advantage on the road.










Taunton was coming off its first loss of the season after opening the year with four wins and now found themselves in an early hole against a division foe. But the Tigers, who have a very young roster with just three seniors, responded like a veteran squad.

Attleboro boys soccer

Seven minutes after falling behind a goal, Taunton found the back of the net with the equalizer. Junior Aidden Fitting drove a free kick into the attacking third where junior Riley Rebello was the first to it, flicking it on with his head to put the ball in behind the defense. Junior Conal Scully made the run onto it and tapped it in from in close to make it 1-1.

It looked like the visitors would retake the lead just minutes later when Morales drove a low corner to the near post and Liam Bischoff faked the defense with a terrific dummy, but the ball went through the area and the chance went begging for the Bombardiers.

Taunton started to knock on the door over the next couple of minutes. A bit of “Route One” soccer saw Fernandes blast a long ball over the top of the defense that Rebello nearly chased down but Attleboro defender Cashel Stuger did well with his position to shield it back to sophomore keeper Tyler Rocchio.

Attleboro boys soccer

Three minutes later, Taunton sophomore Delano Costa-Hanlon won a loose ball in the midfield, linked up with Rebello but his blast was denied by a nice diving effort from Rocchio.

The Tigers finally broke through on their third good chance in a 10-minute span. A quick throw from Scully down the left sideline found Rebello, who used his size and skill to create enough space to launch a cross to the far post where Sete de’letoile was all alone and tucked away his header.

“I’m really proud of them because even at the end of the game, they kept their head up and got together as a group and were focused on moving on,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters. “They are working hard, we have a great group of guys that are very talented. We just have to keep learning from these mistakes.”




It was a dream start to the second half for the hosts, tacking on a third goal less than a minute in. Scully cut the ball back to his right foot at the top of the area and curled a shot past the outstretched keeper and off the far post and in.

“They play good soccer, they have nice ball control,” Pereira said of the Tigers. “They got a couple of goals to go ahead and then that third one was beautiful, no one is going to stop that. With 20 minutes left, we had to push people up. We got a break on the second goal and we went from there. That’s a good point away for us…they probably should have had the game but it’s not over until it’s over.”

As time ticked into the latter portions of the second half, the Bombardiers elected to push numbers forward. Luke Hagopian nearly linked up with Morales on a nice diagonal ball but Taunton defender Jonathan Trinh did well to recover and deny the through pass. A minute later, Vecchioli’s shot from distance was gobbled up on the bounce.

Attleboro boys soccer

Attleboro got a big boost in the 63rd minute when Stuger blasted a free kick from midfield into the area and the ball slipped through the keeper’s hands and into the net, cutting a two-goal deficit in half to make it 3-2.

The Bombardiers were on the front foot for the rest of the game. Vecchioli found classmate Billy Badger in behind the defense but the latter’s touch was too heavy and grabbed by the keeper.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Before the pen, it looked like Fernandes had saved the two points for the hosts. Thomas Russo came flying out of the back with possession for Attleboro and he found Vecchioli, who did well to drift away from the defender. Vecchioli carried in the area, cut back to get space from the defender, and ripped a left-footed blast from 12 yards out but Fernandes parried it away with a diving effort.

“Any time we have a setback or a failure, we take it as a lesson and try to turn it around for future games,” Whitters said. “We have to have more of a success rate for a long stretch of the game. They are working hard at it and they’ll get there.”

Taunton boys soccer (4-1-1) will try to bounce back at home on Monday when they entertain Oliver Ames. Attleboro boys soccer (3-2-1) returns home for a date with Stoughton.

Foxboro Announces Creation Of Athletics Hall of Fame

Foxboro Hall of Fame
Foxboro dedicated its turf field to Sam Berns in June 2014. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Foxboro High School has a rich history in athletics and now there will be an entity to recognize it.

FHS Athletic Director Joe Cusack recently announced the creation of the Foxboro High Athletic Hall of Fame in an effort to recognize and preserve the deep tradition of success of past Warriors.

“I’m really excited to have the chance to start formally recognizing the tremendous athletes, teams, coaches, and other supporters who have been a part of creating an incredible athletics history at Foxboro High School,” Cusack said. “There are so many deserving people.  I’m sure we will learn even more about our athletics history as a part of this process, which is a part of why this is so exciting.

“Over time, a lot of things can change, coaches leave, people move, students graduate…this is a great way to preserve the history and achievements of Foxboro athletes. This lets us keep a record of our history.”

Cusack first thought of the idea when he was coaching cross country and track and field at the school, trying to find a record book of times and distances from previous teams.

“I thought, ‘why don’t we have one here?’ It seemed out of place considering the tradition we have in athletics here at Foxboro,” Cusack said.

Foxboro currently has two jerseys hanging inside the school’s gymnasium: Sarah Behn’s basketball jersey and Tom Nalen’s football jersey. Both numbers are considered retired but there is no official record in the school.

While Behn was an All-American in hoops, she also played soccer and set records for shutouts as a goalie. Nalen was known for his play on the gridiron, and rightfully so after he went on to play at the collegiate level at Boston College and played nearly 200 games in the NFL for the Denver Broncos. But what most don’t know is that Nalen is one of the best throwers on the track and field team, Cusack said.

Those two are perfect examples of what it means to be a Foxboro athlete. The majority of Warriors, both past and present, play at least two sports with a good chunk playing a sport in each the fall, winter, and spring. The newly created Hall of Fame will now be able to recognize those contributions.

The nomination process will open in early October and be available through the Athletics page on the Foxboro Public Schools website. Guidelines and criteria for nominations will also be posted there. Anyone can submit a nomination and all athletes who fit the criteria are eligible to be nominated.

“I want to thank Superintendent Amy Berdos and FHS principal Diana Myers-Pachla for their support, they are both really excited about this,” Cusack said.

While there will certainly be a lot of eligible nominations when the submission process opens, it’s important to note that not everyone will make it during the first year. While the inaugural class might be bigger than future classes, a no this year doesn’t mean a no forever, Cusack said.

“This is something we want to do every year, we want this to be an annual tradition,” Cusack said. “We’ll have a panel to help decide the first class but once we have members of the Hall of Fame, they’ll help determine future classes.”

Below is a section of the by-law for the Hall of Fame:

In order to preserve our athletic history, the Foxborough High School Athletics Hall of Fame is being established in 2022. The Athletics Hall of Fame is organized for the purpose of recognizing the rich tradition of athletic success at Foxborough High School.  It serves as a means of honoring and recognizing the athletes, teams, coaches, administrators, and supporters who made significant contributions to the Warriors’ tradition of excellence.  The Athletics Hall of Fame intends to honor the contributions and accomplishments of these individuals and teams who are worthy of recognition as examples for others to emulate.  Induction ceremonies are intended to be held annually.