MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield took the lead just under 10 minutes into the contest but Foxboro was able to level the score early in the second half as the teams each opened their seasons with a 1-1 draw.
The Hornets came out of the gates with a lot of pressure, resulting in a pair of corners and a handful of throw-ins in the attacking third. Because of senior Max Gurnon and junior Sam Hyland, those chances turn into set piece opportunities with long throw-ins that find the area.
The Hornets were able to cash in numerous times a season ago using long throws and it worked again in the first 10 minutes of this season.
Gurnon launched a throw into into the center of the area, just near the edge of the six yard box. The ball was touched down but the Warriors were unable to clear it. Hyland pounced on it and buried it into the back of the net in the 10th minute.
Neither team was able to produce a serious scoring chance for the final half hour of the first half. Both teams tried to use set pieces, mainly corners and long throw ins, to get the offense in gear but neither could register a threatening chance.
Foxboro came out on the front foot in the second half, controlling more of the possession with senior Anthony Barreira dropped from his striker role to the center of the midfield. Similar to what Mansfield did in the first half, Foxboro worked the ball forward, earning attacking throws.
Senior Jeff Melo was the go-to guy on the throws for Foxboro. In roughly the same area as Gurnon’s throw in the first half, Melo tossed the ball to the back post, eluding a pair of airborne Mansfield defenders and find the head of sophomore Matt Garcia. Garcia directed it on frame and into the back of the net for his first career goal.
“We got a little tired,” Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan said of the change in the second half.
“And I can’t believe that we did. I think they might have been too hyped up for the first game and the start of the season, I don’t know. I didn’t expect us to get tired and we did.”
Foxboro kept the pressure up following Garcia’s goal. Just over the halfway mark of the second half, the Warriors earned a corner kick. Barreira’s first attempt was low and cleared back out. Melo dished it back to Barreira, who quickly curled in a cross to the near post and Garcia got his head to it again, but it went just over the bar.
Both teams relied on set pieces for the majority of the second half as both defenses stood tall in the run of play.
“We should have cashed in on more [set pieces],” Sheridan said. “We were close. I don’t know if we were just too amped up for the season, our last scrimmage was a week ago. The first half I liked, we were good in the first half. In the second half, we got a little tired, a little relaxed and we reverted back to some back habits, which I wasn’t happy to see. But we’ll the the point, its a starting point.”
The Hornets had one final chance in the final minute as the ball popped out to junior Jackson Murphy. Murphy played it back into the area towards the far post but Foxboro goalie Aaron Wentling got a hand to it and pushed it wide.
Mansfield boys soccer (0-0-1) is back in action on Saturday when it hosts New Bedford at 7:00 at Alumni Field. Foxboro (0-0-1) is back in action next week when it hosts King Philip on Tuesday at 4:00.
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