Hornets Drop Heartbreaker In Double Overtime

Mansfield girls soccer
Mansfield’s Sydney Mulkern fights for a loose ball against Newton South in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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PLYMOUTH, Mass. – Time after time, the Mansfield defense thwarted long throws and corners kicks from top-seeded Newton South.

In the first overtime period alone, the Hornets fended off five long throws from the Lions’ throw-in specialist Larissa Williams.

While the Hornets limited Newton South’s restarts in the offensive third in the second overtime, the Lions finally got a throw-in in the final minute and cashed in. Williams’ long throw-in was cleared back to her on the sideline, and she delivered a service into the area that Audrey Lavey headed into the net, giving Newton South a 3-2 win over Mansfield.

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“We kept bending, bending, never breaking but the last one they finally find the free header,” said Mansfield head coach Kevin Smith. “Hats off to [Newton South], they are a fantastic team. The corners, the long throws….they were very dangerous and put us under pressure. We just couldn’t find that release pass. We had opportunities, we had a couple open nets we just couldn’t put it away.”

Mansfield had a pair of leads in the game, but the Lions had an answer each time, the second strike coming just seconds after the Hornets had regained the lead.

In the first overtime, the Lions applied the majority of the pressure with five long throw-ins, but the back line of Emily Vigeant, Mikaela Maughn, Erin Daniel, and Kerina Geminiani did an admirable job of handling it in front of keeper Caty DeMassi.

Newton South also had a pair of corner kicks in the first 10-minute span of golden goal, which is how the Lions tied the game in the second half, but Mansfield’s defense did its job.

While playing compact in the back, Mansfield’s best chances came on the counter attack. In the 86th minute, Sydney Mulkern nearly played Steph Kemp in behind but a nice play by the Newton South keeper cleared it away.

In the second overtime, Kemp made a nice run to the outside, got a touch around her defender and delivered a tempting ball into the area but there weren’t any Hornets in the vicinity.

“That’s the only thing you can do,” Smith said of the counter attack. “We couldn’t find a way to release the pressure in the midfield. When we got the ball up front, we were trying to make the pass too quickly and we weren’t there because it’s a 60 yard run with tired legs.”

The Lions nearly had the game-winner in the 94th minute when Cassie Lee snuck in behind the defense but DeMassi was quick off her line to thwart the opportunity.

Mansfield had a bright start to the match, having the majority of possession and keeping the ball in its attacking half. In the 12th minute, Daniel nearly opened the scoring with a well-taken one-timer from 30 yards out but the ball smacked off the cross bar, and Katie Garvin’s header on the rebound was saved.

The pressure paid off in the 28th minute as the Hornets Tok the lead. Cassidy McMahon delivered a corner kick to the far post and Melissa Reef rose up and headed the ball back across the goal inside the post for a 1-0 lead.

But the lead only lasted four minutes, as the Lions took advantage of a Mansfield miscue. In the defensive third, a miscommunication allowed Lee to get in between the defender and the keeper, blocking the clearance. The loose ball popped back to Lee’s foot and she buried her chance, sending the teams into half tied 1-1.

Mansfield regained the lead just over 10 minutes into the second half. Bryn Anderson settled a throw from Geminiani and gained just enough space to launch a high cross to the far post. McMahon skied into air and headed the service under the bar and into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.

Similar to the first lead, it didn’t last long. Newton South quickly marched up field and earned a corner kick, and Lucy Jenks nodded in a cross from Maia Madison to make it 2-2 in the 52nd minute.

In the 67th minute, DeMassi made a terrific play off her line to deny the Lions of a partial breakaway.

In the 70th minute, Mansfield nearly went ahead again. Kemp played McMahon wide, and she centered her pass but Anderson couldn’t get her foot on the cross in front and Mulkern saw her chance for over the bar at the far post.

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And in the 75th minute, the Hornets had a free kick from straight away from 20 yards out but couldn’t get the shot on frame.

“After their first goal, you could tell we were deflated and they had some momentum going for them,” Smith said. “We just couldn’t find our energy. We got it back at halftime and scored the goal to go up. I didn’t think we dropped after their second goal, I thought we still had opportunities, we just couldn’t find it. Their keeper made some nice plays, their defense was smothering. Our defense played great too. But they found that last one.”

Mansfield girls soccer (15-3-4) graduates 19 seniors from this year’s team, a group that made its mark on the program. The Hornets won three straight Kelley-Rex division titles, the first three in program history. In their four years, the varsity team went 54-12-12.

“It’s a special group, I’ve known most since they were 5 or 6 years old, since they were little kids,” Smith said. “They are like my daughters.”

Collins Volleys Foxboro Past Medfield in Playoff Opener

Foxboro girls soccer
Foxboro sophomore Jordyn Collins hits a volley off a corner with nine minutes left in the D2 South opener to lift the Warriors past Medfield and into the second round. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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SOUTH EASTON, Mass. – Two years ago, Foxboro was on the verge of beating Medfield before a late goal forced overtime and eventually Medfield won on penalties. It was the third straight year that Foxboro’s season ended at the hands of Medfield. On Saturday afternoon at Southeastern Regional, the two teams squared off again, with Foxboro seeking a measure of revenge.

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In the 71st minute, sophomore forward Jordyn Collins made a near post run and met Katelyn Mollica’s corner kick with a textbook volley. The ball arrowed into the top corner and Foxboro held on for the final nine minutes to secure a 1-0 victory and a spot in the Div. 2 South quarterfinal.

“I told them at one of the timeouts, if we get another chance at a corner kick, put it in the net,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “I don’t do too many set plays on corners. Jordyn just happened to be there and a perfect finish.”

Following Collins’ goal, Medfield came storming back upfield, as was expected from a physical game that featured end-to-end action. Foxboro survived a dangerous free kick in the attacking third and a number of attempts to play the ball in behind the defense.

At the final whistle, the players swarmed to goalie Morgan Sylvestre (four saves) to celebrate the latest in a long line of battles between two perennially strong programs.

“It was scary,” senior defender Alex Stamatos said of the minutes after taking the lead. “It was actually very nerve-wracking, but we were able to pull through and get the win.”

The first half featured a number of scoring chances for both teams. It started just two minutes into the game when Lizzy Davis turned a corner on goal only for Medfield keeper Izzy Brown to make the save. Two minutes later and it was Medfield’s turn, with Marissa Gorog forcing a save out of Sylvestre.

Mackenzi Fraser was next to test the keeper after a nice touch took her past the defender but forced her into a tight angle. Kendra Wentling had a shot from inside the box charged down and the rebound fell to Collins, but she sent it over the crossbar.

Medfield looked dangerous on the counter and from set pieces. In one sequence, Stamatos was forced to head a corner over from the shadow of her own goal and then the following corner was nodded on frame, but Sylvestre was quickly down to her right to parry it. The rebound was prodded just wide of the post.

“At first we just weren’t playing our game,” Stamatos explained. “The ball was in the air a lot and we just needed to keep it on the ground and we just needed to stay with their speed.”

Fraser had another chance running onto a through ball from Davis in the left channel but her shot was saved. Medfield nearly got on the board when Stamatos, under pressure, slipped while trying to clear but Emma Keating couldn’t keep her shot down.

Grace Ferguson forced a save with a shot from 20 yards and then Alyssa VandenBoom nearly fashioned an opening with a cross from the left that flashed across goal but couldn’t be turned home at the back post by Jackie Dizney.

“Especially the beginning of the first half, their intensity was so high and they were winning almost every ball,” Stalcup said of Medfield. “We started to pick up our intensity towards the end of the half.”

When asked if this was a learning experience for a young roster, Stalcup replied, “I think it was a slap in the face because last year a lot of them were freshmen and sophomores and it was the preliminary round and we got beat pretty bad. This was a hard-fought battle. I think they saw that they had to bring just as much intensity to get any momentum.”

In the second half, the field tilted as Foxboro took control of the midfield. Wentling and freshman Kailee McCabe were starting to dictate play and get the ball out to Mollica and Davis on the wings. Collins, Fraser, and freshman Kaitryn Franchino all made strong runs at the Medfield defense.

Despite the pressure that the hosts were exerting, the only real scoring chance that they fashioned came in the first 10 minutes of the half. Collins was close to breaking the deadlock when she got free on the right side but Brown made a diving, one-handed stop to keep the game scoreless.

In the 71st, Collins had another chance and this time gave Brown no chance to make the stop, sealing the win and Foxboro’s place in the next round.

“I was really excited. It was great. I knew that she could do it,” Stamatos said. “We just all worked together throughout the whole game and worked hard to do our thing.”

Stalcup added, “It’s huge. It gives us even more confidence going into the next round and I feel like we have nothing to lose at this point. We have this huge momentum and I’m nothing but excited about it.”

Foxboro (15-1-3) will host Notre Dame Academy on Tuesday at a time and location to be determined.

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Taunton’s Wentworth Finds a Home In the Endicott Goal

Kayla Wentworth
Taunton grad Kayla Wentworth has found a home at Endicott College and that translated into a strong season in goal, earning second-team all-conference honors. (David Le/Endicott College Athletics)

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It has been a winding road for Kayla Wentworth since she graduated from Taunton High. After helping the Tigers make not only their first-ever playoff appearance but also earn their first-ever state tournament victory, the talented goalkeeper had the opportunity to play Div. I college soccer.

Playing for a Div. I program is the dream of just about every high school player that laces up their boots each fall, but the reality of playing at that level and the singular focus that many, if not most, Div. I programs require of their student-athletes isn’t for everyone.

Sometimes, you just need to find the place where you feel comfortable and happy.

After a year at Iona College (New Rochelle, N.Y.), where she admitted struggling with the coach, Wentworth gave Div. I a second chance with a transfer closer to home to play at UMass Lowell. She stayed for one semester in Lowell before making a second switch, heading to Beverly in the spring of 2018 to attend Endicott College.

It is a move that has worked out on and off the pitch.

“It’s good to find a home,” said Wentworth in a phone call ahead of Endicott’s Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) tournament opener against Western New England. “Here I have a great group of friends, soccer is just the right amount, our coaches are really good, really supportive, academics are great, everything is here is more like home than my other schools.”

Wentworth has certainly made the most of her time with the Gulls, earning a second team all-conference nod after leading the league with a 0.72 goals against average. She recorded six clean sheets in her first season with the Gulls and led Endicott to the top seed in the CCC tournament.

“I think it’s really important to just be yourself in order to play better,” she explained. “If you’re not comfortable where you are, then you’re not going to play well.”

When asked about the demands of playing at the Div. I level, Wentworth, who is a psychology major and wants to attend med school, noted that everything took a backseat to soccer. As much as she loves the game, she also had to be realistic about where her career was headed and the important of academics.

“I love soccer, so that wasn’t really part of it, but when you play Div. I you find that’s your life,” she said. “Realistically, after college I’m not going to go play professionally, so there was no reason for that to be the only thing in my life.”

Unlike when she transferred to UMass Lowell, Wentworth joined Endicott in the spring. It afforded her the time to get acclimated with the campus, her classes, and with her new teammate. She took advantage of the extra time to become comfortable with her situation.

She also benefited from being the lone goalie in the spring, with the Gulls adding two freshman to the roster this fall. For the first time since leaving Taunton, Wentworth had control of the No. 1 jersey and was between the posts for every game. All soccer players, but particularly goalkeepers, rely on confidence to perform at their best and Wentworth felt the confidence growing with each appearance.

“The other two goalies with me are freshmen, so I knew that I had a shot at the job, but I still had to work for it,” she said. “The goalie position is more mental and knowing that they have the confidence to put me on the field every game definitely boosted my confidence. It makes me play better.”

At the time of the interview, Wentworth was preparing for the tournament opener and she was counting on her high school experiences to help her handle playoff pressure. Wentworth was the goalie for the only Taunton girls’ team to make the postseason and she helped the Tigers go on the road to beat Wellesley for the program’s first playoff win.

It is an experience that still resonates for the players that were part of it.

“We’re all still really good friends and looking back on it I even cry sometimes,” she said. “I don’t think Taunton will ever see another team that was that much of a family and that determined to get to the playoffs and get the job done. We made history and that’s something I’m never going to forget.”

Unfortunately, Endicott didn’t experience the same success in the tournament. The Gulls were beaten on penalties after 110 scoreless minutes, despite putting eight shots on goal and holding WNE to just one. It was the fourth straight year that the Gulls had the season end at the semifinal stage.

It wasn’t the ending that Endicott was looking for, but Wentworth knows that the team is in a good place and, more importantly that she is too. After two years of searching for the right place to play, the best fit for her, Wentworth has found a home in Beverly and she is brimming with confidence after a successful fall.

“Coming in I did have a lot of goals for myself because I had played at two other schools,” she reflected, “and I obviously didn’t have the chance to earn those honors there. Looking back, I’m kind of surprised with myself because I actually did it and my confidence shot up.”

She added, “Coming into a team that was already successful was very nerve-wracking, but I’ve definitely succeeded here and I think it’s gratifying to see that and know that those changes were the right decision. It’s nice to be able to step back and reflect and see that it all worked out.”

Hornets Finish Off KP to Advance Past First Round

Mansfield girls soccer
Mansfield senior Bryn Anderson (5) drives forward with KP junior Faye Veilleux (21) in close pursuit during Saturday’s D1 South first round matchup. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield won its third straight league title this fall, and its first outright championship in program history, so the Hornets are no stranger to regular season success. But, in the state tournament, Mansfield has been knocked out in the first round each of the past two seasons.

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This group of seniors (of which there are 19 on this year’s roster) had not seen the second round since they were freshman year and they were hungry to add a playoff run to their league accomplishments. That hunger was intensified by Saturday evening’s opponent in the Div. 1 South opener at Alumni Field, as King Philip upset the Hornets in overtime two seasons ago.

The Hornets scored twice against the wind in the first half (and arguably against the run of play) and held on with a typically stout defensive performance to shutout the Warriors 2-0 and advance to the South quarterfinal.

“We definitely wanted to win,” said Mansfield senior Steph Kemp. “We weren’t willing to leave this field without a win. All of us seniors, the whole team, everyone worked together. We didn’t want this to be our last game and it showed.”

King Philip (12-5-2) opened the game with the wind at its back and the Warriors used it to put the hosts on their heels early on.

Inside the opening 10 minutes, Abby Baker had the first chance of the game for KP. A throw in from the left side went off the shoulder of Mansfield defender Mikaela Maughn and Baker forced keeper Lauren Whitman into the first of her six saves. Just two minutes later, Avery Snead threaded a pass to Ally Stanton, who laid it into the path of Chloe Layne but the shot lacked power and Whitman saved.

“We had some great chances, but didn’t finish,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “That’s the tale of this game. I thought we dominated in the first half and didn’t get anything from it and they had two shots and put them in. That’s the difference in the game.”

Despite the pressure from the Warriors over the opening half hour, it was Mansfield that got the game’s first goal with its first shot on target. Kemp battled KP defender Olivia Berry on the right side of the box and managed to squeeze it loose into the middle where Cassidy McMahon ran onto it and was able to side-foot it past keeper Taylor Butler.

The Warriors came right back with a series of chances. Snead rose highest to head a long free kick from Makayla Griffin but Whitman was there for the save, then right back Lauren Anderson fired a long pass up top to Layne, who flicked it into the path of Jenna Hitchen on the left side but again it was saved. In the 37th minute, KP’s forwards combined again – Stanton to Snead to Layne, but the junior’s finish was just wide.

Two minutes later and the lead was doubled. A throw in from the left side was flicked by Sydney Mulkern to Melissa Reef at the corner of the box. The senior midfielder spun past her marker and onto her right foot before curling an unstoppable shot into the top corner for a 2-0 advantage.

“That’s a goal that she’s been staying after practice for a whole week just to work on,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith explained. “She says that she gets so many of them and to see her hard work pay off is really cool.”

Mansfield got the wind in the second half and it almost paid immediate dividends when Bryn Anderson got to the end line and cut it back for Kemp, who blazed over the bar.

Even into the wind, the Warriors looked dangerous in attack. Baker touched one on to Layne, who fired over and then she had a second chance with a half-volley from a Faye Veilleux throw in but couldn’t get enough power on it to beat Mansfield’s second half keeper, Caty DeMassi. Hitchen set up Snead in the middle but she also sent her shot over the bar.

In the 62nd minute, Anderson drove forward from midfield but her shot from the edge of the box was inches over the crossbar.

In the final 20 minutes, Mansfield locked down on the defensive side. Maughn and fellow center back Emily Vigeant were keeping a constant eye on Snead in the middle of the field, while freshman Katie Miller was tasked with following Layne as closely as possible. Reef added to the defensive shape from midfield and outside backs Mulkern and Kerina Geminiani were always on the cover.

“Wow,” Smith said about the complete defensive performance of his team. “We had to be very organized.” Pichel added, “The wind was against us [in the second half] and they did a great job defending. It was a hard hole to climb out of.”

Both coaches raved about the play of their opponents and both admitted that Saturday did not feel like a first round game. “Two giants went at it and one is left standing,” said Pichel. Smith said, “It felt like a sectional final.”

The Hornets allowed a league-low eight goals this season and that defensive strength was evident as they closed out the game and protected a two-goal cushion. At the final whistle, the whole team raced to the far end of the field to celebrate the win.

“It’s definitely relieving and it’s exciting,” Kemp said. “We haven’t been in this position since freshman year and even then not a lot of girls were on the field, so it’s our first time being through this all 19 of us senior together. We’re excited to just go on and see what it feels like to be in the rest of the tournament.”

She added, “I was tired from coming off the field but I managed to make that sprint all the way to Cat.”

Mansfield (14-2-4) will travel to face No. 4 seed Bridgewater-Raynham on Monday in the sectional quarterfinal.

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Hockomock Girls Soccer Playoff Seeds & Matchups

Below are the seeds and matchups for the Hockomock girls soccer teams in the MIAA playoffs. We will update this post with any changes that are made.

D1 South
#5 Mansfield (13-2-3) will host #12 King Philip (12-4-2) on Saturday, 11/3 at a time to be announced.
#8 North Attleboro (12-2-4) will host #9 Weymouth (13-4-1) on Saturday, 11/3 at 4:00.
#11 Franklin (10-2-5) will travel to #6 Hingham (12-1-5) on Saturday, 11/3 at 5:15.
#13 Oliver Ames (11-4-3) will travel to #4 Bridgewater-Raynham (14-3-1) on Saturday, 11/3 at 3:00.

D2 South
#3 Foxboro (14-1-3) will host the winner of #14 Medfield (9-7-2)/#19 Milton (12-4-2) on Sunday, 11/4 at 3:00 at Southeastern Regional.
#17 Canton (8-8-2) will travel to #16 Silver Lake (8-7-3) on Friday, 11/2 at 4:00.