Seniors Bucio, Williams Deliver In The Clutch For OA

Oliver Ames boys soccer Hector Bucio Jake Williams
Oliver Ames captains Hector Bucio (left) and Jake Williams (right) with head coach John Barata. (Ryan Lanigan/
 WALPOLE, Mass. — Oliver Ames senior captains Jake Williams and Hector Bucio have been the heart and soul of the team all season long.

The senior center back duo anchored the best defensive unit in the Hockomock League and one of the best in the entire state.

And when their team needed them the most, they delivered in the clutch.

Bucio nodded in the game-tying goal for the Tigers in the 77th minute and Williams assisted on the game-winner just two minutes later to propel Oliver Ames to a stunning 3-2 win over Hopkinton and the Division 2 state championship.

“This team always fights through,” Williams said. “These are some of the strongest kids I know, some of the most talented kids I’ve met. They just don’t give up, and that’s what we did today.

“We knew what we had to do and we knew we were capable of doing it.”

It was fitting that Williams and Bucio, the only two seniors in Oliver Ames’ starting lineup, played such a big role in the win, albeit in a different fashion than anticipated.

Bucio is no stranger to scoring goals. He spent the majority of his career with the Tigers as an attacking player, scoring seven goals a season ago. But this season, head coach John Barata converted him to a center back and paired him with Williams to form one of the best duos in the region.

“I get some criticism about changing players, fitting my system but I’ve converted forwards to defense, defenders to forward,” Barata said. “Hector was an incredible move. He anchored this team in the back. Him and Jake Williams together made an incredible duo. We conceded less than 15 goals all year, and a few weren’t with our starters out there. They were so solid in the back. I can’t say enough about Hector. Jake was phenomenal as well. But Hector converted from a forward to a center back because we needed it and he didn’t complain once. For him to do what we did was amazing.”

Oliver Ames erased Hopkinton’s lead when sophomore Casey Milliken hit a one-timer from inside the area in the 62nd minute to make it 1-1. But it didn’t stay level long as the Hillers cashed in just six minutes later. Sean Golembiewski, who had the opening goal for Hopkinton, kept possession along the end line before sliding a low cross into the area that was smashed home by Peter DiMichele to make it 2-1.

Hector Bucio

With about five minutes to go, and OA’s chances of claiming a state title dwindling, Barata called a timeout. In order to create more chances in the attacking third, he moved Bucio back up to where he played in prior seasons.

Hector Bucio

The move paid dividends almost immediately. Sophomore Craig Churchill lofted a service to the back post and Bucio tracked it perfectly, rising up and connecting with a header that deflected off a defender and into the back of the net to make it 2-2 with just minutes left.

“With having the experience of playing up top, I know what coach wants me to do when he sends me up there,” Bucio said. “At the end of the day, it’s who wants it more. We just wanted it more.”

“Me and Jake know each other really well, we know each other’s style of play. We work well together and are able to get it done.”

Bucio’s selfless switch to center back didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

“[The seniors] all deserve it, Hector especially,” Milliken said. “That kid, he’s super talented and really sacrificed so much to play in the back for us to benefit the team. That says a lot about our team and him as a person.”

“It’s awesome, I’m proud of him,” Williams said of Bucio’s tying goal. “He lost a lot of goal-scoring chances by switching to center back this year but he did it for the team. So it’s great to see him pull this off in the state final.”

“He wanted that really bad because he felt like he conceded their second goal by not kicking it out,” Barata said. “I’m really happy for him, he’s been amazing for us all four years, like he’s been a phenomenal player.

Hector Bucio

Before the dust could settle from the equalizer, Williams set up the state championship game-winning goal. He stepped into the attack and dropped in a perfect ball in behind the defense where Milliken was. He used a deft touch to loop one just over the reach of the keeper to make it 3-2 with just seconds to play.

Jake Williams

“I just knew if I hit the ball the right way that [Casey] would get onto it,” Williams said. “He’s a special player, he’s one of the best I’ve ever played if not the best. He got it done.”

Williams and Bucio and the rest of the Tigers didn’t allow the Hillers a chance in the attacking third in the final seconds. The final whistle sent OA into a wild celebration.

“This is all I’ve ever dreamed of in high school soccer,” Williams said. “Ever since I joined as a freshman, this was all I ever wanted.”

Bucio and Williams certainly cemented their legacy in emphatic fashion with the state championship.

Jake Williams

Oliver Ames Wins D2 State Championship In Stunning Fashion

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames boys soccer poses for a team picture after capturing the Division 2 state championship. (Ryan Lanigan/
 WALPOLE, Mass. — It was a scenario that Oliver Ames hadn’t been in this season, and one they didn’t want to be in either.

But yet, the Tigers were still prepared, and even more important, not panicked.

Trailing 2-1 with just minutes left in the game, Oliver Ames scored a pair of goals to earn a stunning 3-2 victory and clinched the Division 2 state championship.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Head coach John Barata called a timeout with about five minutes to play and OA’s chances of a state title dwindling. Barata made the decision to move senior center back Hector Bucio into an attacking role. The change paid off almost immediately as Bucio got on the end of a service from sophomore Craig Churchill and headed it off a defender and into the back of the net for a 77th minute equalizer.

“We’ve trained it all year, if we ever go down we’re going to put Hector up,” Barata said. “And then we wanted to keep pressing, pressing, pressing. Because once the momentum shifts, they’ll be nervous. We found a great ball over the top, Casey flips it over the goalie, and the rest is history.”

With just seconds to play, it looked like Bucio’s goal was enough to send the Tigers and the Hillers into overtime. But OA kept its foot on the gas and pushed forward again.

This time it was senior center back Jake Williams on the service as he lifted a ball over the defense and into a pocket of space occupied by sophomore Casey Milliken. Milliken used a class touch to lift it over the keeper and just under the bar to make it 3-2 in the 79th minute.

“There were so many emotions,” Milliken said. “I was scared, happy, thrilled, disappointed, confused…every word you could imagine. We really just fought through it and I think we deserve it. I can’t process it all right now, but I’m just proud of the boys because we deserve it.”

A scoreless half tilted in OA’s favor in terms of possession and chances as Hopkinton only threatened with a couple of long throw-ins. So it was a little bit of a shock when the Tigers — who had only allowed two goals in its first four playoff games, and only 12 goals through its first 22 contests — surrendered the first goal.

Just under two minutes into the second half, Sean Golembiewski was able to sneak into space behind the defense, and latched onto a ball over the top, taking a touch before depositing a low shot in for a 1-0 lead.

Oliver Ames battled back into the contest, finally getting on the board in the 62nd minute. After a handful of good chances throughout the first hour of play, the Tigers pulled level. It started with another strong defensive challenge from sophomore Luke Churchill, and transitioned into offense.

Junior Ryan Linhares took possession and played a ball wide for Joey Carney, who was able to shield off a defender and carry to the end line before firing in a low cross. Milliken found space in the defense and one-timed a shot into the back of the net to make it 1-1.

It looked like the Tigers were on track to take the lead when Hopkinton created one of their few attacking chances. This time, Golembiewski kept the ball in along the end line and his low service was smashed home in front by Peter DeMichele, giving keeper Drew HAll no chance at a save.

“There’s always that little bit of doubt because I thought we should have scored many chances before then,” Barata said. “We were worried on the sidelines, is this not our luck? In the tournament, you need a lot of things to go your way. But the guys weren’t really worried, even with four minutes left.

“For this group with the sophomores and juniors, and our two seniors that start, to be mature enough to come back was amazing. In the last five minutes, we just said give it your all. We worked so hard all season to get to this point. They wanted this. We couldn’t give it away, try to the end so you know you gave it your all.”

OA’s chances started early, just five minutes in Carney laced a volley that looked good but was blocked by a defender. Sophomore Andrew Martins had a good look in the eighth minute on a feed from classmate Jackson Mercieri but his low shot at the near post was saved.

Linhares found Carney in the 24th minute, and after cutting back across the middle, Carney’s blast forced a diving stop. four minutes later, Milliken set up Churchill for a blast that skipped just wide.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

And just before halftime, outside back Diego Rivera sent a big switch to Mercieri, who found Carney on a through ball. His low shot clanked off the post and stayed out to send the teams into the break level.

“All of the seniors, both on and off the field, they all led us this year and we can’t thank them enough,” Milliken said. “This was the least we could do for them, they all deserve it.”

Oliver Ames boys soccer finishes the season at 20-1-2 and with its second Division 2 crown since 2015.

Oliver Ames Blanks Plymouth North To Reach State Final

Oliver Ames boys soccer Luke Churchill
Oliver Ames sophomore Luke Churchill (6) celebrates his goal in the 19th minute, which proved to be the game winner. (Ryan Lanigan/
 MARSHFIELD, Mass. — Oliver Ames sophomore Luke Churchill almost always has a pass-first mentality.

But with Plymouth North defenders refusing to leave their marks, Churchill had nothing but space to work with.

His run started in his own half after working with twin brother Craig to dispossess an attacking member of the Eagles. And it ended with a left-footed shot from just inside the area that eluded the keeper in the 19th minute for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

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Churchill’s strike, along with an insurance tally from Andrew Martins late in the second half and another strong defensive effort from OA’s back line led the top-seeded Tigers to a 2-0 decision over #12 Plymouth North and earned a spot in the Division 2 state championship on Saturday against Hopkinton.

“I was originally trying to pass to Jason [Zalis] out wide but his guy slid and I saw a bunch of space behind,” Luke Churchill said. “I decided to go for it, it was a lucky goal but I’ll take it. My first thought is usually to find someone, I’m not the best shooter so I feel like if I can find them, they can take a better shot.

“This has been a fun ride through the playoffs hopefully we can get the ‘chip.’”

Oliver Ames typically strings together multiple passes as they build up in the attack but a physical Plymouth North defense stunted the Tigers’ offense. Although they were whistled for fouls, the Eagles prevented the Tigers from finding a fluid offensive rhythm.

Reduced to mostly set pieces in the attack, OA couldn’t quite connect. Chances from distances saw services go without an answer on the other end while shots from free kicks couldn’t find the frame to test the keeper.

Just before the midway point of the first half, Luke and Craig Churchill combined on a tackle to take over possession. Luke carried into the attacking half, getting past a sliding attempt from a defender. With space in the middle, Churchill carried into the heart of the pitch, and just a step into the area, he unleashed a left-footed shot into the back of the net.

It marked Churchill’s second goal of the season, and first since a brilliant first half strike against Stoughton in the first week of play in early September, another left-footed goal for the right-footed player.

“They were so worried about the other attackers so he had the space to go in, if they give you that space, we want him to go,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “They were worried about the other guys and stuck with them which gave him space. And he’s only a sophomore, first year with us so he’s done phenomenal for us.”

While OA carried the play, the Eagles’ main source of offense came with long balls over the top. Senior captains Jake Williams and Hector Bucio continued to anchor the back line and were quick to handle anything in the air. Outside backs Diego Rivera and Jackson Mercieri also played well in thwarting any chances going forward from Plymouth North.

The Tigers continued to use restarts to try and ignite the offense, and nearly double their advantage five minutes after Churchill’s opener. Sophomore Casey Milliken drew a foul — about one of the dozen he was able to draw — and had a free kick from a step outside the area, but his right-footed blast dipped a little late and went just over the bar.

“Today wasn’t the most crisp for us, it wasn’t our best game but we’ll take it,” Barata said. “Their disruption of play, they were stopping us from getting into a rhythm, that was their strategy. We were able to adjust and I’m proud of the guys for that. Hey, it’s the playoffs and you have to find a way to win — that’s it.

It was more of the same in the second half and OA came close in the opening moments to getting their second. A free kick from junior Ryan Linhares from the left flank bounced in the area before Bucio latched on but his blast was knocked down by the Plymouth North keeper.

A minute later, another service from Linhares was flicked on Milliken, but it skipped just wide at the far post.

“We knew that’s how they’d play, we expected them to slow everything down with fouls,” Barata said. “We were prepared for it, so we knew we’d have to be creative on our opportunities to score. Kudos to coach John [Tocci], they were prepared. To be fair, we weren’t threatened much, just the corner kicks and one shot on goal, however, it’s the danger of the one-goal game and how that changes the dynamics.

“They had a great game plan, and they were prepared but at this point, we were also prepared so we were able to survive.”

The Eagles had their best push into the attack in the 67th minute, drawing a foul just outside the box. Ben Young’s blast was knocked down by the wall, and his rebound bid was also blocked by a defender. Two minutes later, Malachi Val used a nice flick to get the ball in behind but sophomore goalie Drew Hall was alert off his line and handled it before Young could get there.

Oliver Ames finally grabbed a second with less than 10 minutes to go. Linhares was able to poke a ball free and Martins was able to get a quick touch forward past the defender, who lounged at it and clipped the sophomore just outside the box. Martins took it himself and ripped a blast over the wall and under the bar to make it 2-0 in the 72nd minute.

It marked Martins’ fourth goal in the last three playoff games.

“Andrew’s really been a go-to guy,” Barata said. “There was a lot of talk in the season about being a one-man show but we have a plethora of players that can play and we can move the ball around. They were working hard on their strategy, that’s a good team so we’re happy to get this one.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Oliver Ames now turns its attention to Saturday for their fourth Division 2 final since 2014. The Tigers also made it in 2014 and 2017 and won in 2015. Hopkinton, who is the #2 seed, has had a dramatic run to the finals. They picked up overtime wins over Fitchburg and Sharon, won in penalties over Wayland, and knocked off Bedford, 4-3, in the state semis.

“It’s a nice feeling to dictate our play, our season ends on Saturday no matter what, I’ve been blessed to get to this point four times in my 14 seasons,” Barara said. “We’re going to enjoy this moment and this opportunity and then prepare for a very, very good Hopkinton team.”

Oliver Ames boys soccer (19-1-2) will play in the second game of a doubleheader at Walpole High School with the OA girls team, who are playing Silver Lake in the Division 2 championship game at 3:15. The boys are scheduled to start against Hopkinton at 5:30.

Oliver Ames Outlasts Longmeadow For Spot In Semis

Oliver Ames boys soccerByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 NORTH EASTON, Mass. — Throughout a dominant regular season, the Oliver Ames boys soccer team didn’t have to play from behind very often.

So it was a bit of an unfamiliar scenario when visiting Longmeadow took the lead less than five minutes into the Division 2 state quarterfinal matchup at Muscato Stadium on Sunday night.

But there was no panic in the young Tigers, who equalized less than five minutes late, took the lead before halftime, added a key insurance goal early in the second half, and then held off a last-ditch push from the Lancers for a 3-2 win.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The win moves top-seeded Oliver Ames into the D2 state semifinals against #12 Plymouth North.

“We were prepared, we don’t talk about it a lot but we talked about if we go down early to just bounce back and keep playing,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “The bounce back was superb. We could have had one or two more in the first half and the game would have been over but this is the playoffs, and nothing is going to be easy.

“I think playing the games against Concord-Carlisle and Needham, we went down and had to come back in those. It’s hard to judge the value of those games but I feel those games helped us in this situation against a dynamite team. I give [Longmeadow] credit, they were a fantastic team.”

Barata and the Tigers were wary of the Lancers’ long throws and for good reason. Longmeadow cashed in in the fourth minute of action, using a long throw into the area. It was initially headed down, and the follow-up bid was blocked but it went to the foot of Ronald Lin and his low shot found its way through traffic and in to make it 1-0 early.

Even though the Tigers only start two seniors, and had just one more come off the bench, the hosts stayed composed and came right back at the Lancers.

Three minutes later, a service from outside back junior Diego Rivera was partially cleared by Longmeadow but only as far as junior Ryan Linhares, who quickly put a shot/cross back into the area. The ball deflected off a defender at the back post and right to sophomore Andrew Martins. Martins latched onto the bounce with the outside of his right foot and his low shot found the back of the net to make it 1-1.

“We reacted really well after they scored, we just kept pushing,” Martins said. We knew [the long throw] was coming but we just had to bounce back…the underclassmen, we’ve all been playing together for a long time so we have a lot of chemistry.”

OA had a good chance at taking the lead in the 28th minute when Mirray Dasilva earned a penalty kick after being taken down by a defender. A long ball from Luke Churchill was tapped on by Linhares, and Dasilva used his speed to get to the ball first, getting a touch before the goalie’s slide.

A yellow forced the keeper to the sideline but OA’s penalty kick bid was denied by Joseph Tranghese as the Lancers seized the momentum.

But it didn’t last long. The Tigers kept the pressure on and took their first lead three minutes later. A header from center back Hector Bucio found Linhares, who carried up the left flank. He left it for sophomore Casey Milliken and he dropped a perfectly weighted ball over the top of the defense. Martin sprinted onto it and hit a shot on the slide that clanked off the crossbar. He quickly got back to his feet and headed in the rebound into the open net to make it 2-1 in the 31st minute.

“He’s been great for us all year but everyone focuses on Casey, and Casey is great but Andrew was our second-leading scorer and one of the top scorers in the league,” Barata said. “Casey’s movement opens a lot of opportunity for others but Martins is a baller, a great finisher.”

Oliver Ames had a bright start to the second half to extend their lead. Rivera looped a ball forward down the right flank that was tracked down by junior Joey Carney. Carney used a nice touch to cut past the defender and set himself up on his left, and his low blast skipped past the keeper and just inside the far post for a 3-1 lead in the 44th minute.

Sophomore Drew Hall made a key save just minutes later. Longmeadow had a dangerous free kick just outside the box from Frederic Koran but it was knocked down by Craig Churchill in the wall. The rebound fell to Lin but his bouncing shot was parried away by a diving stop by Hall.

The Lancers didn’t have too many ventures into the attacking third but cashed in on one of their few corner kick chances. Christopher Koran curled in a corner that Braden Costas rose up and nodded in to cut the deficit to 3-2.

Hall came up with a big save in the 74th minute on a shot from Chris Koran, and then OA survived a long throw in chance in the 77th minute after a big clearance from Rivera.

In the final seconds, Christopher Koran flicked in a ball behind the defense with Frederic Koran racing onto it but Hall came off his line and scooped it up and OA held on for the win.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“It took a lot [defensively],” Barata said. “The challenge of getting the wind in the second half was a disaster in this game against a team of that quality to send the ball like they can. What a save by Drew at the end, coming out to hold his ground.

“This is a young group so this is great to get to this point in the tournament.”

Oliver Ames (18-1-2) will square off with #12 Plymouth North (15-3-3) on Wednesday at 6:00 at Marshfield High School.

Oliver Ames Rolls Past Walpole To Reach Quarterfinals

Oliver Ames boys soccer Braeden Blass
Oliver Ames junior Braeden Blass takes a shot in the second half against Walpole. (Ryan Lanigan/
 NORTH EASTON, Mass. — No MVP, no problem.

With sophomore sensation and league MVP Casey Milliken restricted to just a handful of first half minutes, the Oliver Ames boys soccer team didn’t miss a beat in a dominant win over Walpole.

Junior Joey Carney scored a pair of goals while sophomore Andrew Martins and senior Mirray Dasilva each found the back of the net once as the top-seeded Tigers advanced to the state quarterfinals with a win over the 17th-seeded Timberwolves, the sixth postseason meeting between the two sides since 2012.

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“I think the guys were eager to show we aren’t a one-man team,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “The good thing is, they appreciate all of [Casey’s] accolades and they all look at it like a team achievement. We had other guys step up and do things well. We’ve created a family culture and I think that was really prominent today.”

Milliken set a single-season program record with 23 goals and 21 assists to earn All-American honors but missed the final half hour of OA’s playoff opener after suffering an injury.

It didn’t take very long for the Davenport division champions to answer the question of how they’d perform down a starter.

Carney found the back of the net in the 10th minute and Martins doubled the hosts’ advantage with a super strike just two minutes later. Dasilva tacked on a key insurance tally just past the midway point of the second half and Carney capped the scoring with 10 minutes to go.

Meanwhile, the Tigers’ back line of Diego Rivera, Jake Williams, Hector Bucio, and Jackson Mercieri, plus center midfielders Luke Churchill and Craig Churchill, made it an easy night for sophomore goalie Drew Hall, who had to deal with one corner and mostly came off his line to keep possession for the Tigers. He did not record a save, the lone shot from the Timberwolves coming in the final minutes with OA’s second unit in.

“That was a great effort overall,” Barata said. “The team defense was outstanding and that’s what we have to continue to do because the challenge in the playoffs is being able to defend. I thought the guys really came out to play today. We moved the ball, we created chances, and we conceded zero shots until the last couple of minutes with the second unit in.

“Playing Walpole is always tough. Lee [Delaney] has them well-prepared and disciplined, they are hungry, and they just want to go through you. We knew that’d be their game so we had to try and counter that.”

Junior Ryan Linhares whipped in a corner that was cleared but only as far as Rivera, who put in a low service that was one-timed in front by Bucio. The keeper made a quick reaction save but the rebound fell to Carney and he looped a volley into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

OA quickly doubled its lead just two minutes later. Martins put in a low service on a free kick from 35 yards out but it was quickly cleared by the Walpole defense. The ball came right back to Martins, who settled and took a touch with his right foot to set up a blast from 30 yards out that hit the crossbar and went in to make it 2-0.

“That was a collegiate-level goal,” Barata said. “He’s a Hockomock League All Star for a reason, he can play. He took that on a dime and buried it. We’ll take those, we didn’t get those against Reading. And hopefully, we have a couple more because our next opponent [Longmeadow] is a beast.”

OA kept the pressure up throughout the opening half. Milliken did make a brief appearance following Martins’ strike, and nearly found the back of the net in the 19th minute but his first shot was blocked on a slide tackle from the defender, and his rebound bid was parried away by the keeper.

Dasilva had another chance in the 31st minute but his shot from in close went high and just before halftime, Craig Churchill linked up with Mike MacAdam for a shot from 25 yards out that was gobbled up.

After a bit of back-and-forth long balls for the opening 15 minutes of the second half, the visitors thought they had cut the deficit in half on a header off a free kick but it was ruled offside.

OA regained control of the game and the Tigers were able to play their style again. In the 62nd minute, Craig Churchill intercepted a clearance attempt from the Timberwolves and it fell right to junior Braeden Blass, and his blast forced a one-handed save from the keeper that resulted in a corner.

On the ensuing corner, Linhares whipped in a cross that was headed down by Bucio, and after hitting off a Walpole player, Dasilva was first to pounce on it and buried his chance to make it 3-0 in the 63rd minute.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Carney put a cherry on top with just over 10 minutes to go. He latched onto a loose ball just over midfield and carried possession all the way to the box. He split a pair of defenders, touched to his left, and slotted a low shot between a third defender’s legs to the far post to make it 4-0.

“Joey’s been fantastic,” Barata said. “He missed seven or eight games with an injury but he’s been playing like this towards the end of the season. When we had a lot of our big goal games, he wasn’t out there. The last two games, he’s really come to life and really stepped up tremendously for us.”

Oliver Ames boys soccer (17-1-2) is set to play #9 Longmeadow (10-5-5) on Sunday. Longmeadow, which beat Mansfield in the opening round, reached the state semifinals last year and won the Division 1 state championship in 2019.

Lovell’s OT Game-Winner Lifts Franklin Over Belmont

Franklin boys soccer Trey Lovell
Franklin senior Trey Lovell, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime, makes a pass in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/
 FRANKLIN, Mass. — Even in his 52nd year at the helm of the Franklin boys soccer program, legendary head coach Fran Bositis still gets nervous for playoff games.

Finally, in the 87th minute, he was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Senior Trey Lovell scored on a left-footed shot from 25 yards out in the seventh minute of the first overtime to give the 10th-seeded Panthers a 1-0 win over upset-minded #23 Belmont.

“I knew right away,” Lovell said of his shot, which floated over the reach of the outstretched Marauder’s keeper. “We didn’t have a lot of shots in the game so we were just trying to do what we could to get a shot off. We got the one that counted so that’s all that matters.”

Junior Andrew O’Neill carried possession over midfield before spraying it out wide to the right wing to senior Will Kryzak. Kryzak carried forward before four Belmont players ascended on him, defending in numbers like they had all game. Kryzak cut back and hit a square pass to Lovell, who used a touch with his right to set up his left-footed blast that found the back of the net for the winner.

“It was a hell of a strike,” Bositis said. “I thought we did a pretty good job with the wind in our face in that first overtime and we were fortunate to have Trey get that shot, and it was a beautiful shot that’s for sure.”

The win sends Franklin into the Division 1 Round of 16 against #26 Leominster, who upset Framingham in penalty kicks.

The game went into sudden-victory overtime and 80 scoreless minutes of regulation. The first 40 minutes featured a lot of pace from both sides, and a lot of challenges and changes in possession, but not a ton of genuine scoring chances by either side.

Of the few chances in the opening half, Franklin junior goalie Jack Perlman had the highlight stop. In the 15th minute, Belmont’s Sachil Kenkre danced his way into space before lacing a shot that looked destined to find its way just inside the post and in but Perlman made a strong diving stop to parry it out.

“I thought Belmont worked hard and pressured us,” Bositis said. “They restricted our time and space and I thought we handled it as well as we could have.”

For the first half hour of the second half, Franklin established control of the play, dictating the pace of play. It took less than two minutes for the hosts to register a good scoring chance.

Sophomore Garret Scagliarini used the outside of his right foot to play a ball down the right flank and Kryzak ran onto it with speed, smashing a hard shot just wide of the far post, inches from the opener.

Just over 15 minutes into the second half, the Panthers found more success down the right side. Junior Bradley Herndon stepped up to win a challenge in the middle third and made a good run forward, connecting with Kryzak for a quick 1-2 before firing a shot at the near post that forced a save.

Scagliarini set up Franklin’s final good chance of regulation, coming away with a clearance attempt from the Marauders, setting it down before laying off a pass to Lovell for a shot but it tailed wide at the far post.

After controlling play for 30 minutes, the Panthers suddenly found themselves on the back foot for the final 10. Belmont continued to get forward, getting the ball over the top and getting a handful of chances in the area.

Franklin’s defense, which had Scagliarini and junior Gustavo Martinez on the outsides, Herndon and Will Klawson man-marking in the middle, and junior Rex Cinelli as a sweeper, dealt with the chances though there were some nervy moments, including a wide-open bid from the Marauders that went wide in the final moments.

“I thought our team played well defensively,” Bositis said. “I don’t know what happened for the last five minutes…but I thought Rex did a really good job in the back. We made one adjustment because early on in the first half, with their two front runners, we were giving them too much time and space. We just took Will Klawson and Bradley [Herndon] and just had them mark them and Rex essentially played as a sweeper. We pushed Noah [Cain] into the midfield instead of playing at the six.

“It seemed to help with our marking but we just never really got on track offensively. We didn’t take a lot of shots, and Belmont had a lot to do with that.”

Overtime went without many chances for the first five-plus minutes, though the Panthers got good work out of junior Hansy Jacques up top. Paxton Rosen came in to play goal and handled anything that came over the top of the defense.

Franklin boys soccer (15-3-1) will host Leominster later this week, currently scheduled for Thursday at 6:00.