By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Foxboro freshman Nic Biegel scored with less than five minutes to earn the Warriors a point in a 2-2 draw against Oliver Ames.
In a battle of the top two teams in the Hockomock League, Foxboro took the lead less than 10 minutes in but Oliver Ames scored twice off of set pieces to get a 2-1 lead before halftime.
Neither team found the back of the net, despite multiple chances for both sides until Biegel was able to slot home a rebound in the 76th minute.
“That’s a strength of this team, to not give up,” Foxboro first year coach Joe Franchino said. “They believe in themselves and that’s huge. If you go up 1-0 and then give up two goals it’s easy to put your head down but these guys didn’t do it.”
A neat combination play at the top of the area resulted in a little chip over the top from junior Anthony Barreira. Senior Devante Teixeira used his speed to race in and was able to get a touch to it as OA goalie Jack Carroll was also getting a hand to it. The rebound fell to Biegel and the freshman calmly placed it into the back of the net.
“I think it was a great goal, we needed it,” Franchino said. “Devante played big. We had high percentage chances right in front of the net that I couldn’t believe didn’t go in but that’s the nature of the game. I think it was a fair result 2-2 and we’ll move on.”
While it was a good comeback for Foxboro, Oliver Ames were certainly look back at some of the chances they had, specifically in the second half, that could have put the game out of reach.
In the 56th minute, Oliver Ames had a free kick put into the area that bounced around. It eventually fell to senior Keegan Nutt and he had a go from six yards out but his shot was blocked on the goal line by Foxboro senior Robbie Lowey.
In the 67th minute, the ball once again bounced around in the area before a foot from an OA player found the ball from close range but somehow Foxboro goalie Aaron Wentling was able to get a hand to it and collected the rebound.
The Tigers also had a handful of other chances, including a free kick from Cam Vella that curled just wide at the near post, but were able to add to their two goal first half.
“We had plenty of chances,” OA head coach John Barata said. “We had the ball bounce inside the six yard box close to the goal line four times. We minimized the chances from their trio [Barreira, Teixeira and Joe Morrison]. We knew they were going to score goals. The issue is that we thought we could score goals and we created a plethora of chances. Tonight we were good so I’m happy how we played overall. Disappointed we didn’t get the result but we still have five games to get better for the postseason.”
To start the game, Oliver Ames came out with the majority of the play and pressured high for the first 10 minutes but after a quick counter attack, Teixeira was able to earn a corner for Foxboro. Barreira curled in the cross and Teixeira elevated and headed the ball off the underside of the crossbar and in.
Foxboro nearly doubled the lead when Hussein Kafel was able to split OA’s defense with a pass to Barreira but the junior saw his bouncing shot go wide to the right.
Oliver Ames was able to level the scoring almost exactly 10 minutes after Teixeira’s game-opener. The Tigers were also able to earn a corner and an in-swinger from Chris Romero was hit on a side volley from junior Thomas McCormick to bring OA even.
Nearly two minutes later OA nearly took the lead when senior Joe Cucinotta used an individual effort to cut around a defender and rip a shot from 18 yards out but Wentling dove to his right for the stop and collected the rebound.
But in the 34th minute, the Tigers were once again able to use a set piece to get on the board. With a free kick on the right side, Vella and Nutt stood over the ball. Instead of a service into the area, Vella played a low ball straight ahead where sophomore Matt Campbell sprinted onto. Campbell put a low service into the area and McCormick was able to get a touch to it at the near post to put it in to make it 2-1.
“It was great, set pieces are the types of thing we need to work on for the playoffs,” Barata said. “Our goal is to do well in the playoffs and I think right now we’ve put ourselves in a position to at least compete there.”
It was the second time in less than a week that the set piece worked for OA as Campbell was able to find the back of the net against KP last Friday but the sophomore was deemed offside.
In the second half, Franchino elected to push Teixeira centrally after he had been shadowed all game. The move also allowed Morrison to take his two marks wide to create space in the midfield.
“It was a couple of mental lapses with the set pieces in the first half, giving two goals away,” Franchino said. “In the second half I thought we had some good chances. Joe Morrison was being double teamed the whole game so we tried get him to be creative and get wide to create some space in the midfield. I thought we had a better run of play in the second half so it might have worked. Overall it was a good fight by both teams.”
In the 47th minute, Barreira served in a free kick to the near post but no Foxboro player was able to get a touch to it and Carroll smothered the opportunity.
In the 60th minute, Teixeira ripped a free kick from just outside the area that he curved around the wall but Carroll was able to punched the ball over the bar. The next serious scoring chance from the Warriors turned into a goal
“We’ve only given up one clean goal all season and it was a great header from Teixeira,” Barata said. “They’re a very good team. I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win because we fought back from down 1-0 early to get the lead and I thought we played well enough to win the game.”
It was the first game Oliver Ames didn’t come out victorious in this season with their record now 10-0-1 in both the league and overall. The Tigers won’t have much time to dwell on the point as they host Stoughton, winners of four straight, on Friday. Foxboro (9-1-1, 9-1-1) will also be back in action on Friday when they host Canton.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
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