Strong Defensive Effort Leads Foxboro Into State Semi

Foxboro girls soccer
Jordan Carman scored the only goal of the game and Foxboro recorded its third straight clean sheet this postseason to reach the final four. (Josh Perry/

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FOXBORO, Mass. – With all of the goals that Foxboro has scored this season, it is sometimes easy to overlook the defense that the Warriors have played, but on Saturday afternoon in the Div. 3 quarterfinal at Sam Berns Community Field it was the effort that Foxboro put into the defensive end of the field that secured a place in the final four.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Jordan Carman’s first half goal put the Warriors in front against No. 23 seed Ursuline Academy, but the Bears came with a different energy level after the break and put the hosts on their heels. Foxboro stayed strong, defended with all 11 players, got key stops from keeper Allie Sougaris, and walked away with a 1-0 win.

It was the third straight clean sheet for the Warriors in the postseason.

Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup explained, “That’s just what they’ve done all season, kept their composure, and did what they needed to do and worked together as a team and always believed. They just always believe they can and they do.”

Foxboro played the game without senior Kailee McCabe, who left the Round of 16 game with an injury and was unable to go on Saturday. It didn’t stop the Warriors from creating chances in the first 40 minutes, as they consistently put pressure on the Ursuline penalty area.

Right back Meghan Burke, who scored the final penalty in the shootout against Newburyport in the last round, had the first chance with an early shot from distance. A long free kick by Lindsey Resnick then fell to Grace Riley in the box, but her shot slammed off the bar before the official’s flag went up for offsides.

The chances kept coming. Left back Kylie O’Keefe had a half-volley from the edge of the area after a half-cleared corner, but it went over the bar. A few minutes later, Burke was at it again, stealing the ball and letting fly with a 25-yard strike that hit the bar and landed a foot from the goal line. Riley tried to get onto the rebound but wasn’t able to get a clean header.

Carman had her first look with a 20-yard free kick but it cleared the bar and then Brooke Barreira cleared an Ursuline set piece out to Riley on the left wing. She played the ball into Neve Taylor, who had a run at the last defender but slipped just as she was lining up a shot.

It took the visitors half an hour to get a good look at goal. Jenelle Murphy and Katherine Heavey had been finding dangerous pockets of space in front of the Foxboro back line but Heavey’s shot from distance that Sougaris tipped over the bar was the first chance of note.

Only a minute after that save, Foxboro jumped in front. Riley took a throw on the left wing and found Carman in space. She took a touch and then drove towards the left corner of the box. With the Ursuline defender giving space to avoid having Carman run past, she was able to let fly with a left-footed shot that keeper Claire Egan got fingertips to but couldn’t keep out.

“Not having Kailee, it definitely hurts us a little bit,” said Stalcup, “but JoJo has so much energy and intensity and competitiveness that she’s willing to just put it on her back and take it.”

Foxboro nearly made it two right after the break. It was Carman again in the left channel after a steal. She got into the box and had a good look with her left foot, but slid the shot just past the bottom far corner.

A second goal would’ve been a nice cushion for the Warriors because the second half was largely played in their end of the field. Ursuline looked more confident in the final 40 minutes and Foxboro started to sink back towards its goal. The back line of Resnick, Burke, O’Keefe, and Sophia Auclair with help from midfielders Erin Foley and Lauren Miley largely kept the Bears out of the box but Sougaris had to be on her toes to deal with a host of long-range shots.

As the sweeper, Resnick, a sophomore, acts a quarterback for the defense and a vocal leader at the back.

“She not only cleans things up, she organizes, and I can even hear her encouraging the other girls,” said Stalcup about Resnick’s influence. “When they’re going in for a tackle, I can hear her say, ‘You’ve got this Kylie!’ Cheering them on, while backing them up. It’s just awesome how the defense works together.”

Murphy set the tone with an early shot from distance that Sougaris held. Nine minutes into the second half, Heavey played a nice ball into the path of Murphy in the right channel and she forced Sougaris to get down quickly to her right to make the stop.

Much like the final minutes in the first round against Cardinal Spellman, opposition possession didn’t cause panic for the Warriors, who calmly cleared ball after ball down the stretch. They even had a couple chances to double the lead. Miley had the best look when Carman’s corner hit Foley at the near post and the ball was flicked back for Miley to hit on the half-volley just a foot over the bar.

Not every win has to be pretty at this stage of the season, you also have to be able to grind out results and the Warriors showed on Saturday they are capable of that too. Stalcup said, “Final four, it’s amazing. This is such a special team.”

Foxboro (16-1-4), the No. 2 seed, will face No. 5 Dedham, which beat Groton-Dunstable 5-0, on Tuesday at a neutral location for a chance to play for the state title.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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