FOXBORO, Mass. – Nine minutes into the second half, the game had seemed over. Freshman Sophia DiCenso beat the Ashland goalie under the bar and Foxboro held an 8-2 lead as the Clockers were forced to take a timeout.
But the Warriors only won four draw controls in the game and ever girls’ lacrosse coach will tell you that whoever wins the draws wins the game. The Clockers turned the game on its head with four goals in the next nine minutes to cut the lead to two and set up a frantic few minutes for Foxboro’s young attack.
With Ashland double-teaming the ball at every opportunity, Foxboro looked nervous and a little hesitant, until DiCenso picked out sophomore midfielder Catherine Luciano cutting through the middle for the goal that calmed everyone down and allowed the Warriors to hold on for a 9-6 victory.
“We panicked,” admitted Foxboro coach Brittany Sherry. “I think at that point I had three or four freshmen out there in attack, so we’re young and they need to realize get the ball moving and avoid the double, don’t let it come to you.
“Once that goal happened, we were like okay we can break it.”
DiCenso was once again Foxboro’s key player. The freshman has stepped right into the lineup for the defending league champions and she scored five goals and had that clutch assist in the closing minutes to lead the Warriors.
“She’s obviously our go-to,” said Sherry about DiCenso. “She gets it done on both ends of the field. When she’s on then everyone is on and she’s also a great feeder – she sees the open people and she gets it to them and she gets the ball moving.”
DiCenso got the scoring started three minutes into the game with a shot on the run and then added a second a few minutes later off a free position. She then forced a turnover on the ride and fed it to Ally Curran who ran straight to goal and scored with a backhanded shot.
Freshman Caroline McGeary had an overhand finish to make it 4-0 with 11:30 left in the half and Foxboro seemed to be cruising despite not having won any of the first five draws. The Warriors defense had been stalwart through the opening half, allowing only a few chances for the Clockers.
Defenders Annie McGeary and Hallie Canfield were aided by good pressure from DiCenso and Luciano and fellow midfielders Lauren Flahive and Mackenzie Cusack.
Sherry said, “We were struggling [on draws] and that’s when they were getting their opportunity and thankfully Ashland wasn’t able to capitalize on their offensive possessions but yeah defense kept us in the game in the first half.”
After Ashland got on the board, DiCenso cut through the middle and scored her third of the day. Melissa Lynch (five saves) came up with a big stop on an eight-meter chance and with only two seconds left in the half Curran scored on her eight-meter chance to make it 6-1.
Ashland started the second half with a goal, but Foxboro answered back quickly to regain the momentum. DiCenso scored on an assist by Luciano before Lily Feeney had a goal disallowed for a player in the crease. The Clockers then had a goal taken off the board because of an illegal stick and DiCenso scored her fifth to make it 8-2 with 15:52 left.
Sherry said of the way her team played the opening 40 minutes, “Coming out and getting the shots on net; defense came out strong with sticks up and putting the pressure on them to make the right move; our transition looked the best it’s probably been since the start of the season.”
She added, “I think we played about 35 minutes today, so we need to get to 50.”
The Clockers scored twice from eight meters and once in transition to cut the lead down to three. With 6:07 left and Ashland’s defense scrambling to pressure whoever touched the ball, the visitors tacked on another with a good passing sequence to make it 8-6 and force Foxboro into a timeout.
“We kind of got complacent with our possessions,” Sherry explained, “and we didn’t have that urgency any more. The draws – if you win the draws, then you win the game and thankfully we kept possession longer in attack but they had the momentum going forward for sure.”
Curran nearly got her hat trick with a bouncing shot that clipped off the post and the Warriors started to settle down. Nerves were noticeably calmed when DiCenso flicked a pass over an onrushing double team to a wide open Luciano and the sophomore finished from close-range.
Foxboro (8-2, 5-0) was able to run out the clock and preserve its third straight win. The Warriors will travel to Attleboro on Wednesday.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.