FOXBORO, Mass. – With the wind at its back, Foxboro boys soccer had nearly a dozen legitimate scoring chances in the second half alone, but walked away from Sam Berns Community Field with a 1-1 draw against visiting Canton.
The strong wind helped dictate the play in both halves. Canton benefitted in the first half, while Foxboro took advantage in the second half.
“That was one of those games,” said Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino. “We were banging on the door, just not getting one of them in. [Soccer] can be a brutal game, and we ended up with just the point.”
Canton came out strong despite being on the road. It took less than two minutes for the Bulldogs to register a scoring chance as Simon Cruz set Griffin Roach up for a chance just inside the area, but Roach’s shot went wide at the far post.
Four minutes later, the Bulldogs created another chance and this time, chased in. A deflected clearance fell right back into the area and Canton junior Paulo Ruggeri did well to use his body to shield some space, taking the ball down and placing it in from close range to make it 1-0.
Bulldogs senior keeper Abe Garber made one of his several stellar saves in the eighth minute, denying Foxboro sophomore Dylan Barreira at the near post after being sent in behind the defense by Shane VandenBoom.
Canton nearly doubled the lead in the 17th minute when junior Paul Corcoran found Cruz atop the area, but Foxboro goalie Bobby Harrison – who was well off his line — got just a touch to the shot and the ball was cleared away.
Foxboro found the equalizer in the 18th minute. After a throw from Matt Garcia found its way over the top of Canton’s defense, Foxboro senior Ryan Kelley barreled his way through traffic, eventually getting the last touch off the front of his head and in from close range to tie it 1-1.
“To give up a goal within the first 10 minutes and then to get it back in the first half is a lot of credit to the guys,” Franchino said. “They kept fighting and didn’t give in, even against the wind.
“We had the chances in the second half, but it can be a brutal game sometimes.”
With the wind making it difficult for Canton to clear its own zone, Foxboro put the pressure on to try and score the go-ahead goal.
In the 38th minute, Hussein Kafel served a cross from the left side that VandenBoom ran onto at the near post, but his touch was over the bar.
Kelley nearly found a second tally when he got his head to Barreira’s corner in the 39th minute, but the senior couldn’t get all of it.
Just two minutes later, Garber robbed Kelley of his second goal. Kelley dribbled past a pair of Canton defenders and ripped a shot at the near post, but Garber did well to get down and make the stop.
Nic Beigel had his chance just four minutes later when he weaved his way through the defense and had a go, but once again Garber was in great position to knock the shot away at the near post.
In the 69th minute, VandenBoom hooked up with Barreira once again, but the sophomore’s shot at the near post was just inches over the bar. VandenBoom had a chance himself a minute later when he tracked down a ball over the top, but he couldn’t get over his volley and his shot was just high.
Foxboro finally had Garber beat in the 77th minute when an errant header found Barreira, who placed his shot at the far post outside the reach of Garber. However, Canton defender Mike Mazzola was in the right spot and got a touch on it, with Garber smothering the rebound.
The Warriors had a final chance in the 78th minute when Garcia placed a perfect service into the area that VandenBoom got his head to, but Garber grabbed his final save to preserve the point.
“On the day, I didn’t think it was much of a contest in the second half,” admitted Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “They played very well, kudos to Foxboro. I thought they were the better side, we were unable to find any part of our game…we couldn’t connect passes, we weren’t winning challenges.
“Abe was the one positive I thought. He was very clean and bailed us out a couple of times. But kudos to Foxboro, that’s a hard working group. They changed the point of attack well and we didn’t open our mouths on defense. We have a lot to work on.”
Both sides came into Tuesday’s contest with a mathematical chance at the Davenport, but North Attleboro clinched the division with a win at Milford. Foxboro boys soccer (10-4-3 overall, 8-4-3 Hockomock) will host the Rocketeers on Thursday night to close the regular season.
“We want to make a deep run in the tournament,” Franchino said. “There was a lot of hype for that game, and even though it’s not for the title anymore, they can make a statement going into the playoffs. We fought to the end today, but it didn’t turn out in our way. We were so close though.”
Canton (8-4-4, 7-4-4) will entertain Stoughton on Friday before heading to Marshfield on Monday to conclude the regular season.