The first is to qualify for the state tournament, which the Tigers accomplished for the 11th straight season earlier this season with a win on the road at Franklin.
Now the Tigers can check the next box off on that list as they clinched the Kelley-Rex division title for the second time in three years with a 3-0 decision over Canton on Sunday afternoon.
“I think the season has gone really well, the boys have worked hard,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata, who has taken the team to the playoffs every year since he took over in 2009. “We’ve overcome some adversity and some challenges. Look at today, if you work hard luck can go your way. I think we learned you have to keep going. The first goal was a bit of a gift, to be honest, after [Canton] had done well defending and playing. The season has gone very well, we’re working hard and getting better.”
The first 50 minutes of the game was loaded with chances with each team coming inches from the opener. The Tigers hit the post and had a couple of point-blank chances turned away by Canton keeper Gio Ruggeri. The Bulldogs saw a good chance hit off the crossbar and stay out, and another bid cleared off the line by an OA defender.
The first goal finally came in the 51st minute on an unlucky play by the Bulldogs. After Ruggeri made the initial stop on a shot from OA junior Jimmy Keane, a Canton defender went to clear the loose ball but the kick ricocheted off of a teammate and into the open net for an own goal and a 1-0 lead for the hosts.
As it often can, the goal changed the game. From there on out, it was almost all Tigers. Oliver Ames scored a pair of goals inside a five-minute span later in the second half to secure the two points and the division title.
“We played a really good first half, I thought we both had the same amount of chances by halftime,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson, now in his 27th year at the helm of the Bulldogs. “We decided to give them most of the possession and the field because I think that was the way the game was going to go anyway. We didn’t completely hunker down, we just gave them their half and wanted to counter a little bit. I thought it worked out pretty good in the first half and maybe 10 minutes into the second half.
“When you give them a lot of the field, you take chances that fluke things can happen. We gave up a fluke own goal and I think that kind of took the wind out of our sails. I thought we were good up to that moment and then we struggled against a very good team, hats off to [Oliver Ames].”
Oliver Ames kept applying pressure following the first goal of the game and found a second 11 minutes later. Junior Kevin Louhis was able to find space between two defenders and laid off a perfectly weighted through ball into the area. Junior Colin Milliken made a diagonal run onto the ball and used a simple touch to beat the keeper and find the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Milliken had his second and the Tigers had a 3-0 lead. Senior Jonathan Freeman blasted a clearance up field. Louhis was able to keep possession over two defenders, playing Milliken in again. Ruggeri was first to the ball at the top of the area but Milliken tracked down the loose ball in the area and tucked it away for a 3-0 lead.
“We had a lot of chances, we had balls go through the six, had some shots blocked [in the first half],” Barata said. “Once that went in, it felt like there was a relief of the pressure. The guys were just playing, not every shot was to win the World Cup Final. Canton is a great team, Danny has done a great job with a young team. They are going to be very good in the future.”
Both sides had good chances in the first half, starting with Milliken’s blast from 20 yards out that was smothered by Ruggeri. Three minutes later, Canton freshman Jorge Sanchez put a free kick into the mixer and the rebound fell to sophomore Jacob Crunagle, but he couldn’t get over the ball and a shot on target.
OA responded when junior Anthony DaCosta won a battle on the sidelines, connected with Louhis who fired a left footed shot just wide at the far post. Two minutes later, the Tigers had a great combination play with Harry Ahearn linking up with Mathias Taylor. Taylor found Keane, who in turn played DaCosta in behind the defense but the final shot skipped wide.
Canton nearly took the lead in the 32nd minute. Senior Colby Ciffolillo rose up above the defense and got his head to it, lofting it over the keeper, but the ball smacked off the crossbar and stayed out.
A minute later, Ruggeri came up with a huge stop to keep the game scoreless. DaCosta connected with Milliken and he blasted a shot on target but Ruggeri pushed it away. Ruggeri made a point black stop a minute later when Milliken set up Keane inside the area.
Oliver Ames junior Brady deVos used the outside of his foot to near give the Tigers the lead in the 35th minute but his shot clanked off the post and went out. On the other end, deVos robbed Canton of a goal with a goal line clearance, heading away another bid from Ciffolillo in the 36th minute.
Oliver Ames boys soccer (12-1-0 Hockomock, 12-1-0 overall) returns to action on Tuesday with a night game at Mansfield. Canton (3-9-1, 3-9-2) will take on Sharon at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday night in the second half of a double header with the girls teams playing first.
With both teams still hoping to make a late push for the state tournament, the teams split the points after trading a pair of second half goals.
The point keeps Mansfield’s (2-7-4) playoff hopes alive but they don’t have any breathing room the rest of the way. The Hornets have to win their final five games but have three straight home games to start out, hosting Franklin on Friday.
Attleboro (3-6-2) has a little bit more flexibility, but not that much room for error. The Bombardiers have to pick up 10 points with seven games left on their schedule in order to qualify for the D1 South tournament.
“We’ll take any points here,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “We’re taking it one game at a time. We were supposed to get two points today but we’ll take the one and move onto the next game. It’s not an easy league, everyone is a top team.”
The hosts took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes and nearly found the game-winner in the final moments but a shot rang off the post and stayed out.
Mansfield had control for the opening 40 minutes but had nothing to show for it. The Hornets pulled level eight minutes after Attleboro’s opener but couldn’t tack on a second over the final 20 minutes.
“We have to win out to make the tournament, and we’re going to do it, that ball hit the post at the end,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan. “That was a sign right there.
“We were all over them in the first half but this has been the story of the season [not scoring]. We have to find somebody that wants to score goals. The effort is there, we played hard, we just have to convert.”
Despite not finding the back of the net in the first half, Mansfield had plenty of chances. The Hornets put two shots on Attleboro keeper Zackary Brown in the opening three minutes, including a take from junior Colin True from 25-yards out.
Attleboro’s first chance of the half came in the 6th minute on a free kick from just under 30 yards out. Senior Nathan LaPlume curled a shot over the wall, trying to tuck a shot inside the near post but his bid was wide.
The Bombardiers’ other serious chance came off the foot of senior Joshua Smith, who latched onto a loose ball from distance and ripped a low shot, but his chance was right at Mansfield keeper Anthony Salisbury, who handled the chance.
Mansfield’s Cam Eddy got on the end of a corner kick in the 22nd minute but saw his header go over the bar. Sophomore Matt Hyland whipped in a corner four minutes later but Brown did well to intercept and quickly handled the loose ball.
“We’re a touch team and those long balls kind of kills that momentum and it’s tough to bring the ball down and start it all over again, and they keep coming at you,” Pereira said.
“Mansfield was a little bit more hungry than we were today, they won a lot of the balls. We waited too long to start pushing. The last 15 minutes was mostly us. We let them into the game and they were on us in the first half. Their confidence builds and they start believing they can beat you.”
A long throw from Smith set the Bombardiers up for the opening strike in the 48th minute. His throw was partially cleared but only as far as LaPlume at the top of the area. The senior didn’t get all of his half volley bid and the ball fell right to the feet of sophomore Emilio Ticos, who quickly fired an open look into the back of the net.
Mansfield found the equalizer on its first real chance of the second half. The Hornets went with a set play on a corner kick, having at least a half a dozen players come crashing into the area from outside the area. Dan Rowe’s in-swinger was met by Eddy, who sprinted in, jumped, and smashed a header into the back of the net.
“That was a beautiful goal, it was nice to come back,” Sheridan said. “It was a play we brought back from last year, we just brought it back a couple of days ago. That was [assistant coach] Tommy [Giannouloudis], that was his creation and he suggested bringing it back, and it worked.”
The game was mostly played between the 18-yard boxes for the next 20 minutes before some final fireworks in the final five minutes.
Mansfield tried to hit on the counter right after but Smith did a nice job of shielding Sagar Koul to allow Brown to come off his line and scoop up the pass.
In the 78th minute, Eddy was the first to a long throw from sophomore Dylan Buchanan but this time his header flashed wide.
Attleboro was inches away from the winner in the final minute. Smith linked up with Soucy, who took a couple of touches towards the end line before firing a low cross. Junior Emilio Amaya met the service with a one-timer to the far post but the shot hit the post and stayed out. The Bombardiers believed there was a hand ball in the area before the clearance but there was no whistle.
“We had it go off the post and it went off the kids’ hand but neither ref saw it, unfortunately,” Pereira said. “The last 15 minutes was us but we needed to start 15 minutes before that. But it’s been tough, it’s been a tough season.”
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Milford junior Lucas Da Silva has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for Oct. 6 through Oct. 12. Da Silva is the sixth player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2019-20 school year.
Da Silva had an impressive week, as the Davenport division-leading Hawks solidified their position at the top of the league with three wins and moved within one point of securing back-to-back titles. He scored one goal and had three assists this week, providing important moments in all three of the wins, including assists on two game winners.
“Lucas is a really creative player with a high soccer IQ,” said Milford coach Brian Edwards. “His flexibility also allows us to plug him at various positions depending upon where he is needed.”
On Monday, the Hawks rallied in the second half to earn a one-goal win at Canton. Da Silva assisted on a goal by Pedro Joao Da Silva that proved to be the game-winner and handed Milford a 2-1 victory. Two days later, Da Silva controlled the midfield against Stoughton, adding the third goal in a 5-0 win. He closed out the week with a pair of assists in a win at Attleboro. Again he set up Joao Pedro for a goal that turned out to the game-winner and then set up Pedro Araujo for the team’s third.
Milford has already clinched a share of the Davenport title and needs only a draw from its remaining five Davenport games to win the division outright. With his four-point week, Da Silva has moved into a tie for third in the league’s scoring charts with 11 points (four goals and seven assists).
The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.
MILFORD, Mass. – Prior to Friday afternoon’s game with Oliver Ames, Milford coach Brian Edwards was joking about his team’s lack of a long throw. The Hawks used one in the defensive zone to occasionally relieve pressure but rarely utilized a throw in the attacking third.
With the game tied 2-2 and the clock winding down inside the final two minutes, Milford won a throw on the near touch line. Sophomore defender Chris Tocci had made a rare foray forward and he grabbed the ball, stepped back, and unleashed a throw into the middle of the OA penalty area.
It pinballed around, taking several deflections off both teams before finding the foot of junior Joao Pedro Da Silva, who fired a low, hard shot through traffic and into the back of the net. That goal proved decisive for the Hawks, who pulled out a 3-2 victory in a playoff-like atmosphere worthy of two teams that entered Friday unbeaten and leading their respective divisions.
“We’re talking about how neither of us have a long throw and I was like, well Tocci has one but we only use it deep in our own end to get it out of there,” Edwards joked. “He just happened to be up there and said I’ll take it. Not how we drew it up but it was quite a finish.”
He added, “I told the guys after they tied it, ‘You have nine minutes. We’ve been here before. I’m not nervous now because I feel like you can score a goal or two.’ Overall I thought we played a good game, but they’re an awesome team. Anytime you get to play OA you get to test yourself, and I thought we rose to it today.”
The first half was an even contest with both teams creating chances. Milford junior Leo Coelho skimmed the post and found the side netting with a shot from 20 yards, then OA nearly grabbed the lead when junior Colin Milliken slipped a pass behind the defense for classmate Anthony DaCosta, but Milford keeper Leo Oliveira was out quick to smother the chance.
In the 14th minute, the Hawks took the lead. Senior Pedro Araujo created the opportunity with a slick through ball to Da Silva, but OA keeper Drew Nickla was off his line to block the shot. The ball flicked high in the air and had to be cleared off the line. The rebound effort was also sent goalwards but went off the arm of an OA defender.
Araujo, the league’s leading goal scorer, stepped up to the spot and slipped his shot under the dive of Nickla (five saves).
Milford had a couple of good chances to double its advantage before the break. Coelho latched onto a bad clearance, heading past the defender, but he skied a shot when clean through on goal. Jordan Borges set up Lucas Da Silva in the OA box, but his shot was skewed wide.
The Tigers had their own moments to try and get on the board in the first half, only to be denied by Oliveira (four saves). Milliken had the best chance but his curling free kick was palmed away by the keeper at full stretch. The junior almost grabbed a goal with another set piece from a tight angle but just missed the top corner. Jonathan Freeman also tested Oliveira with a long free kick that the keeper was forced to punch clear of the OA attackers.
“That’s the best game Leo’s played,” said Edwards. “He made some big saves. It was tough in the first half cause the sun was in his eyes and the wind in his face. I thought he played great and he’s come a long way because he’s working hard and he’s grinding.”
Just a minute after the break, OA was inches from equalizing. Brady deVos made a slide tackle on the far sideline, taking possession and driving towards the right side of the box. He hit a perfect cross to the back post where it was met by Kevin Louhis, but somehow Oliveira managed to get across and deny the shot in the bottom corner.
Five minutes later, Milford led 2-0. Araujo swung in a line drive corner to the near post and Dan Santos got across his marker to flick in the header, his second goal in as many games.
The Hawks seemed in control, but the Tigers took advantage of a defensive lapse to get right back into the game. Milliken sent in a corner and deVos was wide open in the middle of the box for a simple, close-range header.
“They kept working hard. They’re learning,” said Oliver Ames coach John Barata about his team’s ability to fight back after falling behind. “We gave up some really soft goals on set pieces, really poorly defended, so we have to learn, but it was good to see them come back. It was a good test and good to see them come back again and again.”
Leading by one, Milford had a series of chances to try and put the game away. Borges looped a cross into the box that landed directly on top of the crossbar and then he sprung Araujo on a break that was only stopped when Matthew Nosalek somehow got back in front and blocked the shot with a sliding tackle.
A minute after that chance, Borges whipped a free kick into the top corner from 30 yards, only to have it wiped away because the call had been for an indirect kick. With 10 minutes remaining, Araujo again cut in on his left foot and again was denied a goal, this time by the post. The rebound was put back on frame but Harrison Ahearn cleared it off the line.
The missed chances proved costly, as the Tigers kept going and managed to find an equalizer with nine minutes left to play. Mathias Taylor found himself in acres of space on the right and he hit a low cross to Milliken, who coolly finished over the onrushing keeper.
After letting the Tigers come back from two goals down, Milford could have settled for a draw, but instead fought back to find a winner and extend its lead in the Davenport title race to five points.
Barata said, “Their attack is deadly and we needed to work harder than any other game. It was a great test.”
Edwards noted, “I think you find out who you are when you play a team like that. Today, I think we took a step in the right direction.”