CANTON, Mass. – It was a frustrating Monday night for the Davenport division leaders at WWII Veterans Memorial Field. Canton was pressing forward, trying to find an equalizing goal that would maintain its unbeaten start to the season, but the Bulldogs kept running into the wall of the Oliver Ames defense.
As the clock ticked down under three minutes remaining, sophomore Emily McCabe collected a loose ball 30 yards from goal and let fly. The shot dipped down just under the crossbar and just over the fingertips of OA keeper Emily Meyers, securing a 1-1 draw and a point that pushes the Bulldogs back above Foxboro at the top of the league standings.
“Emily’s job was to make those runs into the final third and hopefully we’d have doubled up numbers to see if we could get more people shots,” said first-year Canton coach Idris Senyonjo. “We closed the gaps and give them no time on the ball then we were able to create more chances in the final third.”
It was typically hard-fought game between two rivals who were used to battling for the Davenport crown until the Tigers moved into the Kelley-Rex division for four seasons. Both teams pressed high up the pitch, compressing the space and giving little time on the ball for anyone to take an extra touch.
“They have two DI players up top and I thought with did a really nice job on them,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “Defensively, I was happy with what we did. We just couldn’t hold on for those last few minutes.”
Elisa Diletizia had a good early chance for Canton, after a Sarai Costello through ball, but the forward shot wide with a defender on her back. Lucinda Cotter set up Carly Gibson for a good chance in the middle of the Canton penalty area, but Allie McCabe charged down the shot.
OA grabbed the lead in the final minute of the first. Madeleine Taylor touched the indirect kick, teeing it up for Lauren Sellmayer to have a go from 35 yards. The ball was smashed just inside the post, giving Canton keeper Marissa Staffiere no chance.
The Bulldogs tried to answer early in the second. Olivia Rodman played the ball into the middle to Diletizia, who slipped a pass into the right channel for Gabriella Herivaux. With defenders racing over to try and block the shot, Herivaux hit it early but sent it narrowly over the bar.
As the half wore on, the Tigers seemed to be taking control of the tempo and the style of the match. Jenna Gilman intercepted a clearance and nearly set up Alexa Lane, but she couldn’t bring it under control in the six-yard-box.
Midway through the second, Camryn O’Connor had a steal in midfield, raced forward nearly 30 yards and then played in Reese Pereira, but her shot went just wide. With two minutes to play in the half, Sellmayer played a cross from the right that O’Connor knocked down for Emma Pereira, but the shot was over the bar from the edge of the box.
“Just getting in the final third and making their goalie make a great save, we just kicked some field goals and Reese had a chance that just went wide,” said Sellmayer. “Cam didn’t score for us but she had some great through balls, which we’ve been working on.”
The third quarter was largely a stalemate. Neither team was able to create a clear-cut scoring chance for the first 18 minutes. Mia Gilmore nearly changed that with a late free kick that she flashed just across the face of goal and just past the outstretched toe of Diletizia sliding in at the back post.
With 20 minutes to go and trying to avoid a first defeat, Canton started pressing into the attack and the OA defense started soaking up more and more pressure.
Senyonjo said, “We started playing too much of their game. I told them we have to stop that because if we do that then we’re not going to get a goal. We had to stay composed on the ball and our chances would come.”
Just three minutes into the fourth, Costello picked out Diletizia in the middle but her shot was over the bar. Seven minutes later, Gilmore had a go from 30 yards and that too was just over the top. Gilmore also had a free kick opportunity in the 73rd minute, but Meyers was able to make the save and it looked like Canton’s chance at staying alone in first place was gone.
Then McCabe stepped up to save the day and get an important point for the hosts, while the Tigers remained unbeaten as well, but had to settle for a fifth draw this season.
“One of the things I tell them all the time is if you keep playing and keep fighting hard then the chances are going to come,” Senyonjo explained. “The hardest lead to keep is a 1-0 lead because the more pressure you put on the other team, the more they just try to keep the lead instead of scoring a second goal. If we can keep moving then it will give us a chance to put some shots on target.”
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