CANTON, Mass. – Over the weekend, Canton played a tough, physical game against division rival Oliver Ames. It was Canton’s first loss of the season. Just a few days later, on Wednesday night at WWII Veterans Memorial Field, the Bulldogs had another competitive, physical encounter against division-leading Franklin.
This time, the Bulldogs started the game without leading scorer Emily McCabe. The senior forward was nursing an injury and would likely only be able to play a half, so head coach Idris Senyonjo left her out of the starting lineup. Canton struggled without the focal point of its attack, but McCabe emerged in the second half and sparked a massive turnaround.
With McCabe up front for the final 40 minutes, Canton put the pressure on the Panthers, rallying from a goal down for the second time in a week and pulling out a 2-1 victory.
“She hasn’t trained all week, so I was going to either play her first half or second half,” Senyonjo explained. “Bringing her on in the second half would give them something different to think about. Em gives them a whole different dimension of what they’re going to have to worry about.”
It didn’t take long for McCabe to make her presence felt. She immediately charged at the Franklin back line and pressed center backs Norah Anderson and Lily Deforge (who was playing in the middle in place of injured junior Maddie Horton). McCabe added a different dimension to the attack, drawing attention and freeing up space on the wings, as both Emma Cahill and Caira McKinney looked dangerous after the break.
Twelve minutes into the second half, it was McCabe that would get the equalizer. She clipped a ball up over the defense from just outside the penalty area and then burst through a pair of defenders to get clean through on goal. She was just able to get a toe on the loose ball and poke it past onrushing Franklin keeper Rachel Welch.
“We knew it was going to be an aggressive game and we had to stick to the game plan,” Senyonjo said. “The idea was, if we could put their defense under pressure, we’re going to force them to make mistakes.”
Not only had Canton stemmed the tide of Franklin attacks, which was the story of the opening 40 minutes, but now the Bulldogs were taking control of the action in the midfield through Paige Sullivan and Mekhala Costello.
McCabe nearly created the go-ahead goal in the 56th minute. She slipped a pass into the path of Cahill, who was tripped up on the edge of the box. Canton cried out for a penalty but the official spotted the ball just outside. Costello’s free kick was on target, but right at Welch.
Ten minutes later, Costello would score the winner. Welch came out of the box to clear a ball over the top. Her clearance was in the middle of the field and Costello pulled it down about 40 yards from goal. The junior took a look, saw the keeper racing back to her line, and fired a shot into the unguarded net. It was her second game-winner in the past three games.
“I just feel bad for Rachel,” Franklin coach Tom Geysen explained. “She got caught too far out and there was nobody back there to help her, nobody. She feels like crap because the goal was scored on her, but where were her defenders? And that’s something I’ll make sure she understands.”
Franklin didn’t give up and battled right to the final whistle. The Panthers wrested some control back in the midfield down the stretch and had a series of free kick opportunities for Anderson, Deforge, and midfielder Bridget Leo to put the ball into the box.
With two minutes to play, the Panthers nearly snatched a point. Leo sent an angled ball to the edge of the area and Kelly O’Connor rose well to head the ball down across the penalty area. Right winger Olivia Costa raced in at the far post and appeared to get a touch to it, but Canton keeper Marissa Staffiere was off her line quickly and smothered the chance, saving the win.
Senyonjo loved the way his team was able to bounce back from the loss to OA, and that his team gave him a nice present for his birthday on Thursday.
“It’s huge,” he said. “Saturday was an emotional game. The girls were disappointed but super motivated to come and play today and it’s a huge win, at home against probably the top team in the other division right now.”
The game was physical throughout with neither team giving an inch, but in the first 40 minutes the chances almost all fell to the Panthers. Only three minutes in, striker Anya Zub found space running down the left channel and forced Staffiere into a save at the near post.
O’Connor was a constant menace on the left wing. She was able to turn away from her marker and chipped a pass for Zub to race onto, the forward’s clever outside of the foot chip again forcing Staffiere to make the stop. Three minutes later, the duo combined again with O’Connor getting a chance to test the keeper.
In the 22nd minute, Franklin’s pressure finally paid off. Leo’s outswinging corner dropped to the foot of Selene Hammad about eight yards from goal. She scuffed her first attempt at a shot but on her second attempt lashed the ball inside the post, giving Staffiere no chance.
Chances kept coming for the Panthers. This time it was a Katie Ewald corner that was headed clear by Sullivan. The ball dropped for Leo on the half-volley but her shot went over the bar. After a turnover at the back, O’Connor played a near-perfect angled, low cross to Costa at the back post, but Staffiere read it well and dove out to stop the pass hitting its target.
“We just ran out of gas,” Geysen said. “That’s the best effort we’ve had this season. They really worked their butts off tonight. I said, if you keep playing the way you played tonight, you’re going to win a lot of games. You got unlucky tonight, the soccer gods weren’t looking your way.”
Canton (6-1-1) won’t have much time to celebrate the win, as the Bulldogs will be on the road on Friday against Foxboro. Franklin (5-2-0) can expect another physical encounter on Friday when it travels to Attleboro.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Canton senior Emily McCabe has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for Sept. 12 through Sept. 18. McCabe is the second player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2022-23 school year.
McCabe has been on a tear at the beginning of the season, scoring at least once in all four of Canton’s games this season, including a four-goal game and a brace, to help the Bulldogs jump out to a 3-0-1 start. She has a league-high eight goals already and has scored the game-winner in all three of the team’s wins.
“She’s been unplayable,” Canton coach Idris Senyonjo said about McCabe’s form this season. “I ask a lot of her as a player and a captain. I ask her to translate the message to players, but on the field she’s a workhorse. She would play with one leg if she had to, that’s the kind of player she is and I’m happy to have coached her the last couple of years.”
McCabe wasted no time getting on the score sheet, carrying her form over from last fall, as she tallied the opening goal in a 3-0 win over North Attleboro. On Tuesday, McCabe netted four times in a 5-2 win over Sharon. She had a first-half hat trick to put the Bulldogs into a commanding halftime lead and then ended Sharon’s comeback hopes by scoring the final goal late in the second half. Two days later, McCabe was at it again. She scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Taunton. On Saturday, she was able to salvage a point for the Bulldogs in a road game against Norwell. McCabe equalized in the final five minutes to earn a draw against the defending Div. 3 state champs. She is already more than halfway to her career-best total of 14 goals, which she scored last season.
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.
CANTON, Mass. – For about 77 minutes, Stoughton had yet to put a foot wrong. The Black Knights were organized, compact, and keeping Canton’s dynamic attack at arm’s length. Unfortunately for Stoughton, all it took was three minutes for the Bulldogs to finally find a way through and pull out an unlikely victory.
Stoughton led Monday’s game at WWII Veterans Memorial Field for more than 50 minutes following Shayla Ford’s opener, but in the closing moments Emily McCabe finally found space in behind the defense to equalize. With nearly the last kick of the game, McCabe played a one-two with Mekhala Costello, who curled a shot inside the far post to break Stoughton’s hearts and snare a 2-1 victory.
“I think it was good that we fought all the way to the end and we were able to grind a result out,” Canton coach Idris Senyonjo said. “That’s the league, the games are coming thick and fast now and you have to respond to what’s in front of you and hope that you can get a good result out of it.”
The Black Knights have shown a lot of resiliency so far this season, having lost close games to Oliver Ames and King Philip, and came into Monday on the back of two straight wins. They were intent on making sure it wouldn’t be easy for Canton, which went with a rotated lineup as the Bulldogs were playing their fifth game in 10 days.
Canton still had some good early moments. Gisella Berardi played a nice cross from the wing that found Lauren Shatkin in the middle, but the shot went wide. A minute later, Caira McKinney cross clipped off the head of a Stoughton defender and fell to Shatkin, but the shot was blazed over the bar.
In the 21st minute, the visitors went in front. A clearance out of defense was played up the far sideline towards Ford. The senior speedster felt the defender on her back and was able to spin her, racing onto the ball and into space in the right channel. With a full head of steam and at an acute angle, Ford fired her shot just inside the near post.
“I’m waiting for a team to realize you can’t play high on her and you’ve got to drop somebody back,” said first-year Stoughton coach Jon Grant. “Canton did have somebody dropping back in the first 10-15 minutes but I think they got antsy, they wanted to push, push, push, and Shayla was able to turn that girl and get past her.”
The goal gave the Black Knight confidence with Emma Tran pulling the strings in midfield and Ford and Cook regularly combining. Sofia Issa had a go from distance, but Staffiere was right behind it for the save.
Canton went to some of its regular starters following the goal, notably McCabe and Costello, to try and turn the tide. McCabe, who came into Monday with eight goals in her first four games, nearly equalized with her first touch. Shatkin’s ball into the box ricocheted off a pair of defenders before falling to McCabe, who poked a shot just wide.
Emma Cahill passed the ball from the left wing to Shatkin, whose nice first touch played the ball into the path of McCabe, but Stoughton keeper Katrina Varnum was off her line quickly and bravely got down at the forward’s feet to deny the shot.
“We stayed organized for I’d say 77 minutes and they kind of caught us with that last three minutes,” Grant explained. “They played great coming out of the gates, staying organized, shutting them down, not letting them through us. They got around us, a few dangerous crosses, but other than that we played a great first half.”
The game started to fall into a familiar pattern. Canton was able to have the lion’s share of the possession, while Stoughton worked hard to keep its shape and not allow any great chances. Costello nearly opened things up with a cross from the right to McCabe but Emma Tremblay got across to block.
Tran tried to double the lead with a long free kick, but it was right at Staffiere, who held onto it comfortably. Two minutes later, McCabe was given a chance with a 30-yard free kick, but Varnum used her long reach to safely tip it over the bar.
“They boxed all our forwards in in the right areas and they knew exactly what to do and when to do it,” Senyonjo said of the Stoughton defense. “The goalkeeper is also very commanding in the air, so nothing was going past her easily, which is credit to them.”
Costello played a ball into McKinney, who teed it up for Han Hong, whose second attempt was held by Varnum. It was hardly one-way traffic, as Stoughton showed its ability to counter quickly. Ella Derby played a give-and-go with Tran to find room to run in the right channel, but as she bore down on goal Kristina Keefe recovered to make the block.
McCabe had a shot closed down by Isabella Rodrigues on one end and on the other Tran’s free kick was glanced wide by Makenzie O’Connor. Stoughton had one golden chance to double the lead with four minutes to play. Ford broke free again, getting behind the Canton defense but Staffiere closed the angle and was able to make the kick save. The ball came out to O’Connor, who spun and fired but curled it just wide.
Grant said, “Shayla had that opportunity and then it bounced out and Kenzie was able to get a shot off as well that just went wide. Even after they scored, right off the kickoff, we went back down and I love that mentality they have, let’s just go.”
After being so close to sealing the win, it was shocking to see what happened next. Costello played an angled ball in behind the Stoughton back line. McCabe ran onto it, getting the slightest touch to take it past Varnum, and then slid in to get the ball across the line ahead of two Stoughton defenders.
“The middle was so clogged up,” Senyonjo said. “I just said let’s move Mekhala somewhere else because you know she’s going to be dangerous wherever you put her and as long as there’s half a chance in the box you know Emily will take it.”
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors. As time was just about out, Costello passed it into McCabe on the edge of the box and she slid a perfect pass inside the right back. Costello collected it, picked her spot, and coolly bent her shot around Varnum and into the bottom far corner to win it.
“The nature of the game, coming off the game we played Saturday (against Norwell), how well everyone played, the morale was up,” said Senyonjo. “This would’ve deflated us going into the next couple games, but the way they fought until the end could actually elevate us even a little bit more.”
MANSFIELD, Mass. – For the first time in the opening 25 minutes, Foxboro found a path into the Mansfield penalty area. Neve Taylor ran onto a looped pass from Lauren Miley in the left channel. The sophomore forward squared up her marker, cut into the box on her right foot, and fired a shot into the left bottom corner.
It was Taylor’s third goal in two games this season and proved to be the decisive moment, as Foxboro held on for a 1-0 win on Tuesday night at Alumni Field.
“She is just that outside-mid force that is just our secret weapon that no one is ready for all the time,” first-year Foxboro coach Jen Lippolis said of Taylor, who has scored all the Warriors’ goals so far this season.
“Milford was a little shock to a lot of the girls because it was their first time ever playing in a varsity game and experiencing that level of physicality. They were ready today and they pushed back today.”
Foxboro’s goal came against the run of play, as Mansfield started brighter in what turned out to be a combative, competitive, hard-fought battle between two teams with league title aspirations.
The Hornets had a good chance after seven minutes, when Jill Koppy intercepted a pass and fed Alexis O’Keefe in the center of the pitch. O’Keefe laid a pass into the path of left winger Olivia Homsi, who won possession back immediately after it was stolen and curled a shot wide of the far post.
Ten minutes later, Mansfield was on the attack again. Lyla Nappa slipped a pass in behind the Warriors back line and freshman Alexandra Fernandes hit a shot across the front of goal that Foxboro keeper Allie Sougaris held onto. Following the goal, Fernandes had another good look from the center of the box but Sougaris was able to get down quickly to her right to tip the shot past the post.
“When you’ve got young kids, four freshman, a lot of new sophomores, even some juniors who’ve never played varsity before, right from the preseason they’ve been bringing it,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith said about his young attackers. “They brought it tonight and we had tons of shots and opportunities but just couldn’t score.”
Foxboro gained confidence from its goal and started to get a larger foothold in the match. Part of that was the move of Erin Foley into the center of midfield, where her physicality and composure were vital to the Warriors getting forward.
“She sets the tone for the team and everyone sort of follows her pace,” Lippolis said. “I’ll take the fouls at the 40 just to sort of push back because sometimes you have to. She never shies away.”
At the half hour mark, freshman Morgan Riley was able to deflect a ball into the path of classmate Shea Dorney for a shot that forced Mansfield’s Olivia Salisbury into a save. Sophomore Meghan McCann showed her strength to earn Mansfield a chance, winning the ball in the box and cutting it back to freshman Lauren Signoriello for a shot just wide.
With nearly the last kick of the half, Foxboro was nearly two goals in front. Foley won the header in midfield and Miley played another perfect through ball into the channel for Taylor. This time, her left-footed shot flashed just wide of the far post.
Mansfield came out of the break on the front foot and had two early chances to equalize. McCann again was able to win a duel with her marker to gain possession in the box but her shot from the left was across the face of goal. Two minutes later, freshman Olivia Dunham stepped up from center back to win the ball. O’Keefe’s one-touch pass sprung Reagan Trout down the left wing. After a 50-yard run, Trout’s shot was charged down by Lindsey Resnick.
The pattern continued midway through the half. Sophomore Aniela Diieso was able to win the ball on the right edge of the box and cut the ball to Gabby Seifert making a late run from midfield. The first-time shot was just wide. Brooke Penney then got the ball to Fernandes on the wing and she cut inside to create space, but her shot was right at Sougaris.
“Lindsey, this is her third year starting at center back so she’s calm,” Lippolis said about her team’s defensive effort. “Having her see the whole field and directing everyone, and they listen to her, which is great. And Allie behind her in net, the two of them are such a force.”
Foley nearly put the game away with five minutes to play. She ran onto Dorney’s corner and hit a cushioned volley on target, but Salisbury came up with a full-stretch save to deny the Foxboro junior a stunning goal.
As time wound down, there was a moment of controversy. Fernandes again cut into the box from the left and held possession against tight marking. A whistle came from across the field. Although the play was in the box at the time of the call, the official on the far side ruled that the foul started outside the box and awarded a free kick right on the line. Dunham curled her shot over the wall, but Sougaris (seven saves) was able to get two hands to it and was fouled in the attempt to collect it fully.
There was still time for Taylor to have another chance. This time she got in behind the Mansfield defense, which was pressing forward to try and tie the game, but Salisbury (five saves) was able to get a palm to the clipped shot and keep the deficit at one.
“We just couldn’t finish,” Smith explained. “Credit to their defense, credit to their goalie. She made some great saves and they were able to put us off a step or two there to hit some wide, fingertip to some.”