NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Both King Philip and North Attleboro boast some of the top goal scorers in the area, all-league caliber defenders, playmaking midfielders, and goalies capable of making game-changing saves.
It’s no wonder the sides played to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday afternoon.
“I thought North came out wanting it a bit more than us in the first half,” said King Philip head coach Gary Pichel. “And then we wanted it a bit more in the second half and North seemed to settle back a little bit trying to protect their lead.”
The Rocketeers were indeed on the front foot in the first half. After King Philip had a pair of possible chances inside the first two minutes, the majority of play belonged to the home side.
North nearly opened the scoring on a corner kick in the ninth minute, when Ashlyn Gaulin’s left-footed service was tipped on by KP keeper Emma Durant, falling to Kayla Pasquel but her volley effort went over the bar.
But a minute later, the Rocketeers did break through on another corner attempt. Gaulin’s service was knocked down, bouncing out to Leah Jette. She quickly put the ball back into the mix in front of net and senior Haley Guertin buried from close range to make it 1-0.
Snead had a pair of chances six minutes later. First, she was able to get in behind the defense but strong work from North’s Rachel LaBonte forced a tough angle shot that was saved by Noreck. A minute later, Snead was put in behind the defense but Noreck was quick off her line and won the race to the ball.
In the 25th minute, Emma Gaulin won possession along the touchline and ripped a shot at the near post, but Durant knocked it down for the save. Emma Gaulin had another chance on a rebound bid eight minutes later on a service from sister Ashlyn but Durant sprawled to make another stop.
Durant made one more big stop in the first half, denying Jette’s bid from outside the area.
“I thought both keepers played excellent today,” said North Attleboro head coach Bill Wallace. “They both made some very good saves. This is the first time in two years that I’ve changed things up formation wise to game plan for a team. And they did great. Sam Hawkins did an awesome job on Chloe [Layne]. We knew restarts would be tough. Haley Ferrin did a nice job on the corner kicks marking Avery [Snead].”
North Attleboro’s defense doubled both Layne and Snead often, with Labonte and Hawkins shadowing one of the two around.
“[King Philip] is definitely not a two-trick pony though, he’s got a good side,” Wallace added. “But those two are really dangerous, all you have to do is look at the stat sheet. Big games like this, the big players step up. Haley and Avery score the goals, the defenses were good. The league is as balanced as I can remember, anyone can take a point in any given game.”
The Warriors put the pressure on in the second half, pushing the majority of play into their attacking third.
Just eight minutes into the second half, KP nearly found the equalizer when Ally Stanton drove a shot from just outside the area that looked destined for the back of the net, but Noreck made a diving save to push it wide.
KP had its second and third corners come in a 10-minute span during the second half but North’s defense did well to clear it away. In the first meeting between the two teams, in a non-league game, the Warriors scored twice on corner kicks to win 4-2.
The visitors finally found the equalizer in the 64th minute. Corcoran delivered a free kick from just over midfield that found the head of Layne. She flicked the service on, and Snead latched onto it and looper her header over the keeper and into the net.
“Emma Corcoran, off of set pieces, has so many assists to Avery or Chloe it’s not even funny,” Pichel said. “She can find them in the middle of the pack and they do their work. I don’t think there is anyone who can head the ball better than Avery, and Chloe is just a magician with the ball.”
North Attleboro had a final shot at finding a winner when Gaulin played a through ball for Jette, but Durant came out and cut down the angle, knocking down the shot at the near post to keep the game level.
“I thought North played really, really well today,” Pichel added. “That’s their second straight big game against a first-place team. With Mansfield, I think the three of us are neck-and-neck. All three teams are going to be tough in the playoffs.”
King Philip girls soccer (12-1-1 overall, 9-1-1 Hockomock) begins the final stretch of the season with five straight Kelley-Rex games, starting with a visit from Attleboro on Friday. North Attleboro (7-2-2 overall, 7-1-2 Hockomock) entertains Canton on Friday in a key division battle — the two sides are separated by just two points with five league games left.