King Philip scored a pair of goals in a flawless first half, kept Oliver Ames at bay for the first 20 minutes of the second half and held of a furious charge at the end to pick up a 2-1 win over the Tigers. KP’s win snapped Oliver Ames 25-game unbeaten streak that spanned the entire 2015 season and the start of this year.
“It was all on the players, it wasn’t any coaching changes,” King Philip head coach Nick Gale said. It was a simple elevation in energy and focus. These guys are coming off back to back games, it’s their sixth game in 14 days, so they thoroughly exhausted and they emptied the tank today, with whatever they had left. That’s probably the best first half we’ve played this season. It was hard to find anything wrong with it.”
The Warriors had full control in the first half, with the majority of possession and chances. KP was content to keep possession in its own third but worked nicely into the midfield and into the final third to create chances.
The first chance came in the 6th when Jack Bush found Colby Koch, whose cross was touched to Tyler Mann in the center of the area, but his shot was deflected wide. Two minutes later, Thomas Lugten and Koch combined for a 1-2 but OA goalie Ben Kemp stopped Lugten’s point blank shot.
OA’s best chance in the first half came in the 18th minute when junior Cam Vella was able to find some space at the top of the area but his shot flashed wide.
King Philip continued the pressure and was able to breakthrough in the 26th minute. Bush, from his outside back position, was able to get up field and had time on the ball. He picked out Koch with a perfect pass and Koch used a class one-time finish with his left foot to find the back of the net to put the Warriors up 1-0.
Koch clanked the post with a shot from just inside the area in the 32nd minute but less than a minute later, the Warriors doubled the lead. Mann, who was dropped deeper in a midfielder role rather than his normal striker spot, lifted a perfect ball over the top of the defense, finding a streaking Larsen Keys – KP’s other outside back – and the junior calmly finished one on one with the keeper to make it 2-0.
“We got two points coming from outside backs, which is phenomenal.” Gale said. “It was something we thought they were going to take away from us but we found a way to get around it and get some points. The thing I was most proud of in the first half was our focus on finishing, which is something that against a phenomenal team I thought we were going to struggle with and we found a way to get it done. I’m proud as hell of my guys.
“Tyler had a phenomenal ball on the backside to Larsen and Larsen did what he’s done in the past and he finished it. He picked his spot nicely and finished it from 20 yards out. Jack Bush’s cross, he picked out Colby and it was an absolute class shot. We found a way to get it done which is the most important thing against one of the best teams in the state.”
Oliver Ames amped its pressure up to start the second half. After Mike Rowe had his shot in the 48th minute saved by Kemp for KP’s first chance of the second half, Oliver Ames’ Thomas McCormick registered the Tigers’ first scoring chance of the second half, but his shot hit the crossbar and stayed out.
Ten minutes after McCormick hit the bar, Oliver Ames had another chance in the 69th minute when Matt Campbell’s corner found Vella, but his header was saved by KP keeper Eli O’Neill, who went full stretch to get the stop.
The Tigers finally broke through in the 75th minute, as Campbell played James Gillespie in alone on goal and the junior finished to pull OA within one.
OA kept the pressure up the final five minutes, but KP’s defense was able to clear off the danger.
“They cashed in on two chances, which is what they wanted to do and they were successful.” Barata said. “We have a lot to work on but we’re young, we’re figuring it out, it’s still a young season. I think we’re in a good position. I think the last 20 minutes – if that’s how we play, I think a lot more teams will be concerned about playing us. Right now they’re not because we’re soft but we’re young, I’m not too worried about it.
“It will be nice for us to get another chance at them at home. I think it will be a little bit different. But we’ll see how it goes – they are a very good team, and today the better team won.”
Gale’s decision to drop Mann into the midfield paid big dividends as the junior paired with classmate Connor Mullins to help the Warriors control the midfield. Meanwhile, KP’s center back pair of Ryan Coulter and Cam Mullins helped the Warriors keep possession along with Keys and Bush.
“I told our guys before the game that whoever could win the midfield would win the game today,” Gale said. “I dropped Tyler back in there to kind of complete it. I wasn’t sure what they were going to do to try and take Tyler out of the game either but Tyler is such a versatile player we could drop him in the midfield to solidify it. I thought at least in the first half, we definitely played better in the midfield and I think that showed. Tyler was a big impact player for sure.”
King Philip boys soccer (6-0-1, 4-0-1) moves into a tie with Mansfield for first place in the Kelley-Rex division. The Warriors will be back in action on Monday when they host Taunton. Oliver Ames (3-1-1, 3-1-1) will try to bounce back the same day with a trip to Attleboro.