By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – When the referee flashed a yellow card for a foul with 15 minutes left in a 1-1 game, it seemed this would be the impetus for Stoughton to complete the comeback and take the lead on the road at Attleboro.
Instead, it was the Bombardiers that got the go-ahead goal. Senior Emily Houle danced around a few defenders to create space on the right side of goal and she flicked a shot past Stoughton keeper Kara Ploss into the far post.
Arms and stick raised, Houle and the Bombardiers celebrated what turned out to be the final goal in a 2-1 victory over the Black Knights at Tozier-Cassidy Field.
“She’s such a strong leader,” said Attleboro coach Lindsay Antunes. “It made sense that it would come from her. It made sense that she’d be the next to step up.”
Stoughton coach Dan Mark rued the missed opportunity to pick up two more points towards getting Stoughton into the tournament.
“Then their best player gets a five-minute sit out and they go and score with,” he said. “That shouldn’t happen…but the kids played well… They played hard.”
Attleboro jumped out to a perfect start to the game with Allie Pierce opening the scoring just 1:14 into the game. Quincy Harding picked up the assist on the opener and for most of the half Harding, Pierce, Houle, and Grace Mayer were putting the pressure on the Black Knights back line.
Stoughton started to get into the game, but most of the play was right in front of Ploss, who needed to make several saves to keep her team within a single goal.
After halftime, the game changed and Stoughton started to push back. Seven minutes after the break and it was 1-1 when a penalty corner was played out to Angela Connolly. She gave it back to Olivia Schlehuber who fired it past Isabelle Maragnano to tie the score.
“Anytime we play anyone on turf, it’s a disadvantage at first,” said Mark, “but then once we get settled we tend to play okay, but it’s definitely a disadvantage in the beginning of the game.
“We play enough on it, but they definitely have to adjust.”
The adjustment period was over and Stoughton kept the momentum on its side for the next 10 mminutes. Ashley Chipman and Kelly Corrigan were able to break quickly and put pressure on the Bombardiers, but Maragnano made a series of saves to keep Attleboro in the game.
Mark said, “The Attleboro goalie played well. She made a lot of great saves. I don’t know how she made some of them.”
With fewer than 15 minutes remaining, Harding was shown a yellow card for a foul on the sideline and Attleboro was forced to continue down a player for five minutes. The Bombardiers rallied and the momentum swung to the team with only 10 on the field.
“Typically we haven’t been a two-half team,” explained Antunes, “so we had that timeout and told them to reset and get their heads back in it because we couldn’t let down. Clearly, because they scored the tying goal.”
“We needed them to get back in it and they did.”
With 10:52 left, Houle sprinted forward with the ball, dragged it past three defenders and found a sliver of room on the right side of the goal. It was half-shot, half-cross, but it was all goal as it lopped over the defenders and past Ploss.
The final 10 minutes were back and forth with Stoughton trying to find space past the Attleboro defense, but the Bombardiers consistently blocked the Black Knights counter attacks and cleared the ball to run out the clock.
“I was really proud of the girls,” Antunes said. “This team has the capabilities and I don’t think that they always feel that way about themselves.”
“They’re a great team and sometimes they rely a little too heavily on one or two players, but they all truly have the skills.”
Attleboro (7-3-1, 6-3-1) has a tough week ahead starting with Davenport co-leader Oliver Ames on Tuesday. Stoughton (7-4-1, 5-4-1) will try to get another two points closer to tournament qualification against Pembroke on Saturday.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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