The first time, the Warriors saw the Bulldogs erase a pair of one-goal deficits to earn a draw. The second meeting saw the Warriors come back from a goal down, but couldn’t add a second despite nearly a dozen scoring chances.
This time around, ninth-seeded Foxboro made sure history didn’t repeat itself. After eighth-seeded Canton cut the deficit to just one goal in the second half, the Warriors went on and finished the game strong with two more goals and registered a 4-1 over the Bulldogs.
“It was a great result,” said Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino. “We came in with confidence, the kid put the work in. Credit to the boys, I thought we were the better team. Now we have to focus on the next one.”
Foxboro came out with its foot on the gas with two big chances inside the opening 10 minutes. Shane VandenBoom left a ball behind to Ryan Kelley in the third minute, but Kelley’s blast was over the bar.
Four minutes later, senior Hussein Kafel found VandenBoom in behind the defense, but Canton center back John Agnitti did well to recover, slide and get just enough of a block on the shot to make it a comfortable save for Bulldog keeper Abe Garber.
But after play evened out some, the Warriors capitalized on a free kick opportunity. In the 24th minute, sophomore Dylan Barreira whipped a service to the back pose and Kelley rose up above his mark and nodded in the opener.
Neither side hag a legitimate scoring chance in the first half until the final seconds when Canton’s Paolo Ruggeri sent in a left footed shot from distance but Foxboro goalie Bobby Harrison covered nicely.
While the first half was limited to just a handful of chances, the second half opened up with opportunity after opportunity.
The Bulldogs nearly leveled the match just two minutes into the second half when the Hockomock League’s regular season leading scorer Paul Corcorantracked down a loose ball and had his shot partially blocked, forcing Harrison to make a save while backtracking.
A minute later, VandenBoom had his back towards goal inside the area, releasing a shot while turning but Garber made the stop.
Foxboro broke through again in the 46th minute. Junior Matt Garcia played a ball wide for Kelley, and the senior drove a low cross the near post. VandenBoom made the run and got just enough of a touch to tap it in for a 2-0 lead.
The Warriors’ two-goal cushion didn’t last long. Three minutes later, the Bulldogs earned a free kick from just over 40 yards out on the left sideline. Junior Griffin Roach stepped up and ripped a curling shot into the upper corner at the near post, eluding Harrison’s diving effort, to bring Canton back within one.
But unlike the previous meetings, Foxboro made sure to put this game away.
Kafel came close to adding Foxboro’s third with a near post bid two minutes later, but Garber made the low save. Five minutes later, Kelley dribbled his way past two defenders and had a golden chance but Garber came sliding out for the huge stop.
Harrison was called upon to make a stop in the 50th minute, saving Corcoran’s hard shot from 30 yards out towards the post.
Foxboro added the big insurance goal midway through the second half when sophomore Joe Cusack helped turn defense into offense, quickly linking up with Kelley, who took little time depositing a through ball behind the defense that VandenBoom ran onto and calmly finished alone on goal.
“I think that’s one Bobby wants back,” Franchino said of Canton’s goal. “I think the boys felt like we didn’t give one up, we let one in. But everyone responded and we kept going. Once we got the third one, it was lights out. Everyone played great, I only made a couple of subs.”
Canton continued its pressure, earning a free kick from 25 yards out that senior Jake Verille placed around the wall, but Harrison made a terrific diving save to get a hand to it and push it out for a corner.
Foxboro put the finishing touches on the match in the 78th minute when Cam Cass took possession along the right side, put in a centering pass that VandenBoom dummied to draw the defender, leaving Kafel open to finish alone on goal.
“I think a difference has been Ryan Kelley, he’s just an engine in there,” Franchino said of the offense clicking. “At the beginning of the year we had him so much deeper and then we pushed him above the other two center midfielders and he just finds that gap. He’s been the link between the forwards and the midfield, he was tremendous.”
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