As the first half was coming to a close, North Attleboro was producing scoring chance after scoring chance, but the Rocketeers couldn’t break through before the halftime whistle.
And then three minutes into the second half, Taunton used a bright start to find the back of the net and just like that, the Tigers held a 1-0 lead.
That goal seemed to give the Rocketeers a bit more urgency, and they capitalized. North Attleboro scored three straight goals inside a 10 minute span to earn a 3-1 win over Taunton.
“Our preseason had been very similar to this,” North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess said. “We went down to both Feehan and Dighton-Rehoboth and came back both times to tie it. We kind have been confident enough, even if we go down, to know we can score goals and come back from a mistake like we made.”
The Rocketeers had a handful of chances in the first half, with a majority coming off set pieces and crosses. John Brennan had an early chance off a free kick from Gabe Pinhancos but his header went over the par. Pinhancos had a chance two minutes later when he cut back to his left foot but his bid was right at the keeper. Noah Barney had his chance in the 32nd minute cleared at the far post by a defender.
North’s two best chances came in the 33rd and 40th minutes. First, Brennan sent a long ball into the area with Conor Danahey rising up to meet it, putting a header on target but Taunton goalie Tim Gambaradella got a paw to the ball and pushed it just. In the final seconds, a failed clearance bounced to junior Andrew Fontaine but his half volley clanked off of the crossbar and stayed out.
The Tigers got things started in the second half with a long run from Dan DeAndrade out of the back, putting the pressure on North’s defense. Hasan Farahat ended up with possession at the top of the 18 and quickly played Raffaele Corbelli wide. The senior took a touch and fired a shot that snuck in at the near post to give Taunton a 1-0 lead.
“I thought we dominated the game in the first half, I thought we created a bunch of chances, like five or six open headers on set pieces,” Burgess said. “We had some chances through the run of play too. But the goal we scored to equalize was one of the best ones we’ve scored.”
Seven minutes after Taunton took the lead, Barney found himself in possession of the ball in the attacking third. He delivered a perfectly weighted ball into the area and Danahey ran onto it and tucked his header into the near post corner.
The Rocketeers continued the pressure as senior Leo Charlebois ran onto the ball along the right sideline, just inside the area. His touch was enough to get some space but he was taken down in the area for a penalty kick. Charlebois took the penalty himself, going low and to the goalie’s left to give North Attleboro a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute.
North capped the scoring just two minutes later. Pinhancos gained possession and carried into the final third before playing a perfect through ball, splitting a pair of defenders. Charlebois ran onto it and calmly finished against an oncoming Gambaradella to make it 3-1.
Although it was Pinhancos’ first assist, it could have been his fourth or fifth. He was responsible for setting up the majority of North’s chances in the first half as well.
“He was the guy for us last year too but he was only a sophomore,” Burgess said of Pinhancos. “Now he’s a year older, a little bit more confident and bigger and stronger. I think that has made a huge difference in his confidence level as well. In practice and in games.”
Burgess was also pleased to see other players step up around Pinhancos with Charlebois scoring twice, Danahey scoring once and Barney registered an assist.
“I think last year he felt he had to do it all by himself,” Burgess said. “Now he realizes there some pieces around him that can make good things happen, for him as well. We have a good mix of size and speed. I’m hoping this is going to be a good year for us, we’ve had a rough go it lately but I think this group has the ability to score.”
For Taunton, it’s a matter of putting together a complete game. Head coach Taylor Whitters said, “It’s just a matter of work ethic. We need to have the 100% work ethic, 100% of the time. So those little moments where we get a little lax, we suffered for it. But we’re working on it, we’re going to keep working hard at it.”
North Attleboro (1-1-0) will take a trip to North Easton on Friday to take on Oliver Ames. Taunton (0-2-1) will try to earn its first win of the season when it welcomes Milford to town on Saturday at noon.
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