ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For nearly the entire first half, the young, inexperienced Bombardiers of Attleboro High not only just keeping pace with the visitors from Mansfield, they were going toe-to-toe with the Hornets.
But if you give these Hornets an inch, they’ll take a mile — and in a blink of an eye too.
First, it was a short burst from the Hornets in the final moments of the first quarter that prevented the hosts from boasting a surprising lead through eight minutes.
And then when it looked like it would be a close game going into the halftime break, the Hornets stung the Bombardiers with a game-changing run that led to an advantage that never went below double digits the rest of the way.
In the end, Mansfield left with an 80-58 decision over Attleboro in the first matchup between the two teams this week.
“I thought the pace of play started to lean in our direction,” offered Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan, in the midst of his 17th year at the helm of the Hornets.
Mansfield erased a five-point second quarter deficit to pull even with the hosts, entering the final two-plus minutes knotted at 29-29. With the pace of play in their control, the Hornets closed the quarter with a 14-2 run.
Senior Matt Boen was once again a handful on the offensive end (30 points) and on the boards (six of his 10 rebounds coming on the offensive glass), and was the catalyst for the run. It was his steal and fast-break layup that got things started. He scored six straight to start the run, getting assists from Brian See (12 points) and Matt Hyland (12 points, seven rebounds, four assists) with the latter a traditional three-point play.
Brendan Foley hustled to track down his own miss, finding Hyland for a key three in the final minute, and Hyland returned the favor by hitting Foley on the break to cap the 14-2 run and give Mansfield a 43-31 lead at halftime.
“They missed a couple of easy ones, had some turnovers, and we came down and made some shots,” Vaughan said. “I thought Attleboro handled our pressure well so we went back to our base defense because I felt like we were giving up too many baskets without scoring. Once we got into more of our staple defense, we got the stops we needed and turned those into baskets.”
Attleboro senior Justin Daniels (16 points) played a big role in helping his squad get off to a strong start, hitting a pair of threes in the opening quarter and adding another in the second. In the second, the Bombardiers showed no fear attacking the basket as sophomore Trevor White (13 rebounds, four assists, four blocks) scored seven of his 13 points, Alvin Harrison (six boards) had six of his 11 points, and Joe Francois-Annevil added two more with a strong take to the rim, his bucket making it 29-29 late in the second.
“I saw them play their two games against Milford and I came away thinking that team could beat anyone on any given night,” Vaughan said. “They have guys that can shoot, they have good guard play. The big kid [White] is impressive, he must have had five or six blocks, all of which looked like uncontested layups and he came out of nowhere. And he blocks to keep it in bounds so it’s almost like a block and a steal at the same time. They have some good pieces.”
Mansfield picked up the second half where it left off at the break. See sank a triple and sophomore Chris Hill took a freed from Hyland and drained one from downtown. Despite missing a three, Boen followed his shot came flying in for the offensive board, and converted the putback while being fouled for a three-point play, and a 53-34 lead.
On top of it all, the Hornets created the separation without their second-leading scorer in TJ Guy, who went out in the second quarter with an existing injury.
“Their transition game really took over,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle, a 26-year veteran on the Bombardier bench. “That’s one thing when you play against them, you have to be careful to not get into too much of a transition game. You have to take your opportunities when you get them, but you can’t let them get out and run. They can spread you out and they can shoot the ball. Matty [Boen] had a terrific game. They rallied around TJ when he went down.
“Their defense in the second quarter, the pressure…they decided to run and jump a little bit in the half court. It’s tough to simulate that in practice and that kind of put us a little bit on our heels.”
While it looked like the game was out of reach, the Bombardiers never quite quit and clawed their way back into the game over the next eight minutes. Helped along by a couple of big blocks from White on the defensive end, Francois-Anvil scored on the other end, and a breakaway dunk from White kept the hosts around.
Evan Houle hit two free throws and White completed a traditional three-point play at the buzzer of the third quarter to keep things interesting with Mansfield holding a 62-49 lead going into the fourth.
The Bombardiers were in the bonus for the entire fourth and free throws from Daniels and Alec Eaton early followed by a corner three from Chris Holcomb made it 66-56 with just over five minutes to play.
But instead of getting any closer, Mansfield slammed the door shut with yet another 14-2 run to close the game. Boen hit a pair of three-pointers while See and Hyland converted at the rim with Attleboro bringing double teams. The Bombardiers were held without a field goal the rest of the way.
“It’s a great challenge to play in this league and play against teams like Mansfield,” Houle said. “We’ve been successful recently and it’s because we play hard. I thought our effort was there tonight, we just made too many mistakes collectively.”
Attleboro (2-1, 2-1) on Thursday night at 7:00.
Following a free throw by Emma Reilly put Attleboro up one with less than 20 seconds to play at the Albertini Gym, the Hornets got the ball on the side with three-quarters of the court to go. The play was designed to get the ball into the hands of sophomore Abby Wager and the athletic guard was supposed to drive and get to the rim.
The play worked exactly as planned.
Wager beat her defender, got to the basket for a layup with eight seconds to play, and put Mansfield ahead by one. When Reilly’s last-second three bounced off the rim, the Hornets celebrated a 54-53 victory.
“She just made me look like a hell of a coach because that’s what we wrote up. She made us look good,” McPherson said of Wager, who finished with a team-high 14 points and four steals and impacted the game on both ends of the court down the stretch.
Attleboro coach Marty Crowley added, “They made one more play than we did. I’m very proud of our effort. The kids we had (Lindsey and Hailey Perry were out for the game) played hard tonight and it came down to one play. It was a typical Mansfield/Attleboro game.”
The Bombardiers stunned the home crowd by dominating the first quarter and holding Mansfield, which scored 39 in the first half against North Attleboro over the weekend, to just one made field goal and three points. Attleboro’s quickness and length made it tough for Mansfield to run its sets.
On the other end, the Bombardiers were moving the ball to get good looks. Gabby Bosh (nine points and four steals) started the game with a theft and a layup, Reilly (13 points) drove for two, Meghan Gordon (game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds) banked in a jumper, and freshman Narissa Smith drained a deep three.
It certainly didn’t look like a game that was going to come down to the wire, as Mansfield trailed 15-3, but the Hornets turned the game around in the second.
Anna Darlington proved to be a spark off the bench, scoring only two points but grabbing four steals and slowing down Smith. McPherson said of Darlington’s impact, “She crushed it. Smith is very athletic, so quick, and Anna shut her down.”
Trailing 20-10, Ashley Santos (14 points and 10 rebounds) scored six straight points to get Mansfield right back into the game. The Hornets were starting to pass the ball well and break the press. Darlington scored on a putback and Wager drove to the basket to make it a two-point game.
Reilly answered with a pull-up jumper to put stem the tide, but Olivia Salisbury banked in her only points of the game and Kara Santos banked in a short jumper to send the teams into the break tied 24-24.
“They’re so athletic,” McPherson said about Attleboro, “but we just talked about playing good defense and getting those stops and playing a simple game. I think the big difference offensively was that one more pass. We weren’t hitting it in the first quarter and then it slowly started to come together.”
Both teams came out firing to start the second half, combining for 35 points in the third quarter. Kayla Vine (seven points) drilled a three off an Ally Prentis pass put the Hornets ahead for the first time in the game, 29-28.
Attleboro answered right back. Gordon rose above everyone for an impressive putback that made it 34-31. After a step-back three by Smith (six points and three assists), the Bombardiers were up 42-35 and threatening to pull away again. Mansfield closed the quarter on a 6-0 run, including a Vine basket in the dying seconds to make it a one-point game heading to the fourth.
Neither team could grab more than a five-point lead in the final eight minutes. A tough finish in traffic by Kayla Goldrick, who absorbed the contact and still got the ball to the rim, made it 47-43 for Attleboro.
Crowley said, “Our kids kept our composure tonight. We fought hard right to the end. It’s tough when someone makes a run on you like that, puts up 21 points in a quarter, which isn’t typical of our defense.”
Ashley Santos started to take over offensively, while Wager made plays on the defensive end. Santos knocked down a jumper then converted a Wager steal and long outlet into a three-point play that put the Hornets up 48-47 with 3:45 on the clock.
McPherson said, “Ashley was big. We’re kind of looking for her to get her momentum and she needed a game like this. She runs the floor well, she sees the floor, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”
Wager then got another steal and assist on a Vine layup and blocked a Smith layup attempt, winning the ball back for the Hornets. Sarah Dooling (six points) scored with a drive to make it 52-47.
After a timeout, Attleboro settled down and got back into it. Gordon made two at the line and then stepped back to drill a three right in front of the bench that tied the game at 52 with 1:39 to play.
“That’s the thing about this team, any night it’s a different person,” said Crowley. “Meg hit some shots, Narissa made some big threes, Emma played very well again tonight. I feel for the kids because they work so hard but in less than two days we’re back at it again.”
With the clock winding down, Reilly went to the line and put Attleboro ahead, but Mansfield had one more chance and took advantage.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The new rule modifications in place this season are meant to limit physical contact between players, but once Monday night’s game at Alumni Field kicked off neither Attleboro or Mansfield was going to shy away from a challenge or give their opponents an inch.
It led to a competitive, hard-fought match with chances to win it at both ends of the field. In the end, Eleanor Graber’s third quarter strike matched Amira Walcott’s second quarter opener and the teams walked away with a point apiece following a 1-1 draw.
Attleboro dominated the opening few minutes of the match, as Mansfield worked to meet the aggressiveness of the visitors. In the third minute, Emily Dunlea slid a pass into the run of Isabella Salviati but the Attleboro forward dragged her shot through the box.
Once the hosts settled down, Mansfield started to assert itself and take control of the game. Tarynn Smith had the first good look for the Hornets after nine minutes but Alexis Campbell was there for the save. Following a corner, Carly Devine teed up Cathryn Cooney but her shot was wide of the far post.
Cooney almost created an opener with a cross from the left but it was deflected out to defender Kayla Doherty, whose shot from distance was blocked into the path of Kaylee Smith. The senior took a touch and put a shot on target from eight yards, but it was right at Campbell.
“It was just a matter of weathering their first adrenaline rush and maintaining our compactness in the middle and at the back and absorbing it and completing a pass going out,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith explained. “Once we did we were able to get a foothold in the game.”
In the 27th minute, Attleboro got a look for Briley Harnois but the senior’s shot from 25 yards out went wide of the post.
Mansfield took the lead in the 33rd minute. Campbell went up in traffic to collect a long free kick from Maria Sevastos, but couldn’t handle it cleanly and Walcott was in the right place to knock in her second of the season.
The Hornets had several chances to double their lead before halftime. Cooney had an indirect kick inside the box blocked at the near post by Olivia Calderone and then Katie Miller played Tarynn Smith behind the right back but Campbell came up with a big save, palming the shot over the bar.
“We started off okay and we got away from our style of play and more into their style of play,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos, “and it felt like were trying to defend the long ball and the races, so we dropped our defense back a little bit in the second half and got a little more composed and the flow of the game got a little bit better.”
Campbell came up with another big stop to keep it a one-goal deficit in the 51st minute. A ball over the top picked out Abby Jean on the run. The Mansfield sophomore decided to cut it back onto her right foot and bring it to the center of the box, forcing a full-stretch save down to the keeper’s right.
Santos said, “Lexi played well. She came out at the right times, made a key save when we needed it. She just got unlucky on that transition bringing the ball down.”
That save proved to be crucial as just five minutes later Attleboro was level. Mansfield keeper Olivia Salisbury had an outlet pass intercepted by Graber just outside the box. The Attleboro midfielder drove forward and made the turnover count with a shot into the bottom corner.
“That was a great hustle play by Eleanor,” Santos said. “She was in the right spot at the right time, made the right moves, and finished it.”
Much like Campbell, Salisbury had the chance to atone for her mistake and came up with the save of the game. Graber picked out Cossandra Stuger in the middle, who split the lines with a pass into Harnois on the left side of the box. The Attleboro forward was clean through on goal but Salisbury came sliding out to make a game-saving block.
“We talked about that in the intermission (between quarters),” said Smith. “We said, alright so we made a mistake and it cost us a goal. What do we want to do? React. So, we want to have a good, positive reaction and I thought everyone did.”
Mansfield started to regain control after Attleboro’s post-goal surge, putting pressure with a series of long free kicks by Sevastos and freshman defender Kara Santos. Bridget Hanley’s through ball sent Devine free, but the shot was held by Campbell. Attleboro created one more notable chance after Graber and Jessica Gates played a one-two and Gates set up Harnois in the box but again Salisbury was held onto the shot.
Smith said, “We had a lot of good pressure, a lot of possession, and a lot of good passing movements, and once we broke that down in the second half then they started coming back at us. Then you get that goal, but the last 10 minutes we recovered.”
On Monday afternoon, the Hornets took heed of their coach’s request.
After scoring four goals in its opening four games, the Mansfield boys soccer team equaled that output as four different Hornets found the back of the net in a 4-0 win on the road over Attleboro in the HockomockSports Game of the Week.
The Hornets wasted little time, scoring a pair of goals in the first quarter to jump ahead early and then tacked on goals in each the third and fourth quarters to get their fourth win of the season.
“Our forwards are finally starting to shoot,” Sheridan said. “I think we had more shots today than we’ve had all season. We’ve got a couple of guys that are finally starting to get it. I’ve been screaming since we started to take more shots. We spend more time on shooting in practice and then we get to a game and we don’t take them. We took them today, I was happy with how we played today.”
Mansfield scored a pair of signature goals, pushing numbers into the area and cashing in on loose chances in the area. But the Hornets also showed some versatility in their offense as junior Matt Hyland and senior Tommy Lanzillo scored on class shots from distance.
Just over five minutes into the contest, a clearance popped out to Mansfield senior Michael Jeans, who popped a service high back into the box. Attleboro’s keeper was unable to catch it cleanly and Mansfield junior Sagar Koul was exactly where he needed to be, following up the loose ball and roofing his touch just under the bar for a 1-0 lead.
Attleboro nearly equalized on a pair of occasions in the next two minutes but both chances were denied. Jayden Lockhart linked up with Hugo Henriquez, who turned and played Joey Soucy into space but his low shot was saved on Mansfield keeper Jack Lasbury-Casey.
And a minute later, Jackson Singer found Soucy, who got a touch to the ball before Lasbury-Casey and then followed up on the loose ball in the area but a slide from Ethan Scholes and a block from Jeans kept the ball out.
“We played very well, I like my defense, Evan [Eames] and [Michael] Caridi played phenomenal back there, especially in the second half,” Sheridan said. “Michael [Jeans] saved a bunch of balls back there. We finally got our three center midfielders [Lanzillo, Colin True, Sullivan] to start working together. They weren’t communicating enough. But now they’re talking, they know whos making a run up and who needs to drop back, moving side to side together. It’s basically what’s connected everything, us starting to communicate.”
Mansfield’s pressure paid off just before the end of the first quarter. Sophomore Aidan Steele forced a giveaway, junior Dan Rowe quickly squared a pass to Hyland, who let the ball come across his body before blasting a shot from just over 30 yards out, catching the keeper off his line as it floated just under the bar.
“We were missing heart,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “Mansfield played their game which is boot, boot, boot and they capitalized on some of those. We weren’t disciplined enough to play our game which is touch. We had no offense today. [Our players] want to blame the ref for everything but we had two of the best in the league today so you can’t say it’s the ref. We just lost our cool and could never get going.
“They run at you and they create some crazy stuff. They play the long balls and there’s a bounce here or there and they capitalize on them. They played their game better than we played ours. But we see them in two days and hopefully, it will be a little bit different.”
The second quarter was mostly played between the two 18-yard lines, the best chance coming off the foot of Steele. Both Steele and Rowe pressured the Bombardier defense, resulting in a turnover and a low shot from Steele but Attleboro backup keeper Cody Abreu, who took over the middle of the period, handled the bounce well.
Mansfield added to its lead in the 49th minute, again capitalizing on numbers and high pressure in the area. Lanzillo whipped in a cross from the left wing and Hyland was there to meet it after making a near post run but his touch hit the post and stayed out. It bounced right to Grady Sullivan, who touched it over to Scholes for the finish and a 3-0 lead.
“For us, it’s important to attack in numbers,” Sheridan said. “And that’s why we can’t have anyone taking a play off. We need everyone to keep doing. We have the numbers to put different guys in. With the new rules with 20 minute quarters, I don’t expect to have to sub too often but I can if I have to. We want them to go really hard for 8-12 minutes and then we’ll get someone fresh in there.”
Attleboro looked to answer five minutes alter as Henriquez and Singer combined to create for the Bombardiers, the result a shot from Justin Lurssen but his bid was partially blocked and bounced harmlessly to Lasbury-Casey.
Mansfield added one more goal in the 64th minute. Lanzillo played a ball into the area that was cleared away but Lanzillo alertly tracked down the loose ball and put his laces through a bouncing ball that curled into the near post from 30 yards out.
Mansfield (4-1) will host the Bombardiers (0-3) in a rematch on Wednesday night at 6:45.