With both teams still hoping to make a late push for the state tournament, the teams split the points after trading a pair of second half goals.
The point keeps Mansfield’s (2-7-4) playoff hopes alive but they don’t have any breathing room the rest of the way. The Hornets have to win their final five games but have three straight home games to start out, hosting Franklin on Friday.
Attleboro (3-6-2) has a little bit more flexibility, but not that much room for error. The Bombardiers have to pick up 10 points with seven games left on their schedule in order to qualify for the D1 South tournament.
“We’ll take any points here,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “We’re taking it one game at a time. We were supposed to get two points today but we’ll take the one and move onto the next game. It’s not an easy league, everyone is a top team.”
The hosts took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes and nearly found the game-winner in the final moments but a shot rang off the post and stayed out.
Mansfield had control for the opening 40 minutes but had nothing to show for it. The Hornets pulled level eight minutes after Attleboro’s opener but couldn’t tack on a second over the final 20 minutes.
“We have to win out to make the tournament, and we’re going to do it, that ball hit the post at the end,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan. “That was a sign right there.
“We were all over them in the first half but this has been the story of the season [not scoring]. We have to find somebody that wants to score goals. The effort is there, we played hard, we just have to convert.”
Despite not finding the back of the net in the first half, Mansfield had plenty of chances. The Hornets put two shots on Attleboro keeper Zackary Brown in the opening three minutes, including a take from junior Colin True from 25-yards out.
Attleboro’s first chance of the half came in the 6th minute on a free kick from just under 30 yards out. Senior Nathan LaPlume curled a shot over the wall, trying to tuck a shot inside the near post but his bid was wide.
The Bombardiers’ other serious chance came off the foot of senior Joshua Smith, who latched onto a loose ball from distance and ripped a low shot, but his chance was right at Mansfield keeper Anthony Salisbury, who handled the chance.
Mansfield’s Cam Eddy got on the end of a corner kick in the 22nd minute but saw his header go over the bar. Sophomore Matt Hyland whipped in a corner four minutes later but Brown did well to intercept and quickly handled the loose ball.
“We’re a touch team and those long balls kind of kills that momentum and it’s tough to bring the ball down and start it all over again, and they keep coming at you,” Pereira said.
“Mansfield was a little bit more hungry than we were today, they won a lot of the balls. We waited too long to start pushing. The last 15 minutes was mostly us. We let them into the game and they were on us in the first half. Their confidence builds and they start believing they can beat you.”
A long throw from Smith set the Bombardiers up for the opening strike in the 48th minute. His throw was partially cleared but only as far as LaPlume at the top of the area. The senior didn’t get all of his half volley bid and the ball fell right to the feet of sophomore Emilio Ticos, who quickly fired an open look into the back of the net.
Mansfield found the equalizer on its first real chance of the second half. The Hornets went with a set play on a corner kick, having at least a half a dozen players come crashing into the area from outside the area. Dan Rowe’s in-swinger was met by Eddy, who sprinted in, jumped, and smashed a header into the back of the net.
“That was a beautiful goal, it was nice to come back,” Sheridan said. “It was a play we brought back from last year, we just brought it back a couple of days ago. That was [assistant coach] Tommy [Giannouloudis], that was his creation and he suggested bringing it back, and it worked.”
The game was mostly played between the 18-yard boxes for the next 20 minutes before some final fireworks in the final five minutes.
Mansfield tried to hit on the counter right after but Smith did a nice job of shielding Sagar Koul to allow Brown to come off his line and scoop up the pass.
In the 78th minute, Eddy was the first to a long throw from sophomore Dylan Buchanan but this time his header flashed wide.
Attleboro was inches away from the winner in the final minute. Smith linked up with Soucy, who took a couple of touches towards the end line before firing a low cross. Junior Emilio Amaya met the service with a one-timer to the far post but the shot hit the post and stayed out. The Bombardiers believed there was a hand ball in the area before the clearance but there was no whistle.
“We had it go off the post and it went off the kids’ hand but neither ref saw it, unfortunately,” Pereira said. “The last 15 minutes was us but we needed to start 15 minutes before that. But it’s been tough, it’s been a tough season.”
WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip has been without senior forward Avery Snead for the past week, as she recovered from an ankle injury. The Warriors welcomed the two-time league MVP back into the lineup against Attleboro on Tuesday evening at Macktaz Field and the Providence College-commit showed how important she can be over an impressive six-minute stretch of the second half.
Snead scored three goals in quick succession, starting just seconds after the break, to turn a one-goal game into a comfortable 4-0 victory for the hosts, who remain unbeaten on the season.
“When we broke for halftime, I said let’s do a quick strike here, break their spirits, but I didn’t expect three in six minutes,” joked KP coach Gary Pichel. “That was a glorious comeback for [Avery]. It’s a major relief to have her back and healthy again. It’s always nice when you have one of the top players in the league, if not Massachusetts, back in your lineup.”
Inside the first minute of the second half, Snead showed quick feet to slip past the center of the Attleboro defense and she breezed down the middle of the box and coolly slipped a shot inside the post to make it 2-0. Three minutes later, Snead took advantage of a ball from Jenny Montville that bounced past the Attleboro back line for another easy finish.
In the 46th minute, Snead rose highest to get on the end of a pinpoint Makayla Griffin free kick and flicked it past the onrushing keeper for her third of the night and the team’s fourth.
“They’re just two great players and you can only try so much to keep them off the board,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos of Snead and fellow forward Chloe Layne. She had a nice first game back. She was excited. I think after she got one, she got the taste back.”
The first half was dominated by the home team. KP controlled possession and create a host of scoring chances, only to have Attleboro keeper Ashley Macia come through with 11 of her 14 saves before the break.
“It’s the dynamic duo is what it is and they’re back together again this year and it’s been pretty nice,” said Pichel about pairing Snead and Layne up top again. “It puts the other teams back on their heels a little bit.”
Snead and Layne wasted no time in combining for a chance, as Layne, the league’s leading scorer this season, created space on her right foot and forced a diving save after only five minutes. Two minutes later, Layne was set up by Ally Stanton but her left-footed drive was tapped up onto the bar.
KP found its breakthrough in the 12th minute on a set piece. Griffin delivered a perfect free kick from near midfield that landed on the head of Layne, who flicked it past Macia.
A minute later, Griffin picked out Stanton, whose header was saved. Stanton had another good chance in the 22nd minute after Layne drew a crowd and opened shooting space on the edge of the 18 only to have Macia made another strong stop.
“We came in a little bit hesitant,” Santos admitted. “The first 10 minutes after they scored that goal, we settled in a little and created some opportunities but we needed that final ball. We worked the ball out wide and tried to do this switch, but it was a low roller that they took and counterattacked.”
The chances kept coming for the Warriors. Snead opened space for Stanton, but she wasn’t able to make clean contact and the shot was gathered by Macia and then Kiera Lindmark gave Ava Tormey a chance on goal but again the shot was saved.
When asked if he was worried about having only a one-goal cushion heading into the break, Pichel responded, “I wasn’t that nervous because I knew that we carried play pretty well in that first half and it was just a matter of time before we did something here…I just didn’t realize it would be that quick.”
Attleboro struggled to create clearcut chances. After intercepting a throw-in, Gabrielle Lauzier sent an angled cross into the box that was just out of the reach of Ashley Dame and was collected by KP keeper Taylor Butler, who had otherwise been a bystander for most of the half. Attleboro forwards Isabella Salviati and Briley Harnois were largely quiet, forced to drop deep to get onto the ball.
“Their tempo is fast, their decision-making is fast and they’re hungry for the ball and all you can try to do is pack it back and hope the game plan works,” Santos said about defending KP. “I think we came in a little intimidated but it was a good test for us. I told them, if we qualify for tournament this is what you have to be ready for.”
After Snead turned the game on its head in the opening six minutes of the second half, the game settled into mostly a midfield battle with few chances on either side.
Layne played Montville in behind the Attleboro defense in the 55th minute but the shot was saved and Jillian Anderson combined with Makenzie Shandley but Attleboro back-up keeper Alexis Campbell was there to make the stop. Meghan Panzer had a half-volley effort that went close for the best chance for the Bombardiers after the break.
A couple of seasons ago, the University of Rhode Island football program was an afterthought not only in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), but nationally. When Attleboro High grad Kyle Murphy was a freshman, the Rams finished 2-9 and lost several games by lopsided margins. Murphy’s first collegiate start was against perennial power James Madison. The Rams lost 84-7.
But over the past three years, URI has become a program on the rise. The Rams went 6-5 last season and enter 2019 eyeing an elusive playoff spot and expecting to challenge for a CAA title. It has been quite a turnaround.
“Just looking back when my 2020 class came in, we really set the foundation and we’ve all matured, and we’ve all grown so much and it’s nice to see how much hard work can turn a program around,” said Murphy. “It even made us closer, telling each other how far we’ve come and how far we can go not only as players but as people.”
Murphy has also come a long way from his debut three years ago. He has developed into one of the top offensive linemen not only in the CAA but also in the country. He started 10 games at left tackle last season (and one at center to fill in for an injury) earning first team All-CAA honors. With Murphy leading the line, the Rams rushed for more than 120 yards per game, their highest total in six seasons, and scored 15 rushing touchdowns, which was the highest in 11 years.
Ahead of the new season, the 6-foot-4, 302-pound tackle was named to several preseason All-American teams. Pro scouts are now being spotted at the new Meade Stadium turf and at preseason camps and workouts looking at URI players.
“They’ve seen the strides we’ve made and they know we have the talent here,” Murphy said. “It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come and how much attention we’ve drawn.”
Murphy was a standout at Attleboro, earning 2013 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors and being named to this site’s awards as a defensive lineman in 2014 and an offensive lineman in 2015. When he made the decision to go to URI, Murphy decided to focus on the offensive side of the ball.
He explained, “I started to grow such a passion for playing offensive line. It’s a different kind of bond you have with the five guys you’re playing with. I love coming in everyday, playing with the guys, and just competing with each other.”
Of course, the leap from high school to college was a challenge. No longer was Murphy the biggest guy on the field and he had to match the speed of the game and of the players that he was trying to keep out of the backfield. To meet the demands of the collegiate level, Murphy focused on his technique.
He progressed from a raw talent into a regular starter at multiple positions across the line. He started all 11 games as a sophomore, six at left guard and five at right tackle. By his junior season, he was the team’s starting left tackle.
“Everybody’s going to be as strong as you or as fast as you and you really need to rely on your techniques when it’s crunch time in a game or when you’re going up against someone that’s bigger or stronger than you,” he said. “If you have better technique, that beats anything all day.”
These are lessons that were ingrained in Murphy during his time at Attleboro. Working under the Bombardiers line coach Chris Burns, who played four years at Northeastern University, Murphy knew what he was prepared for the challenges he would face at URI.
“He taught me how to be a physical player, how to guide the guys around me, and all the coaches in high school taught me how to have good character and how to have a mentality to never quit,” Murphy reflected.
The hard work continues to pay off. Although the Rams started the season with a pair of losses, at Ohio and in triple overtime to Delaware, there is a new confidence in the program and high expectations for the season. The ultimate goal is to get into the postseason picture, bringing even more recognition and attention to the program.
“We just need to build on finishing game and the little things like mental errors and getting stupid penalties, but we’re looking good,” Murphy said. “It’s only the little things that we need to critique. Our structure and everything is looking solid.”
Being named to the all-conference team, being on the New England Football Writer’s Association All-New England team, and having national publications put him on preseason All-American lists has not diminished Murphy’s desire to improve.
“It was just a wake up call for me that I had the potential to be one of the best in the conference and even one of the best in the nation,” he said. “It gave me a lot of confidence but also gave me more motivation to keep striving for more and more and set my goals even higher.
“I’m a humble guy and I’m hard on myself, but this year I set my goals even higher because I know I can reach them.”
As a team captain and as the senior leader of the offensive line group, Murphy is spreading that message to all his teammates this season. Never a very vocal leader, Murphy is trying to set the example with his effort and desire for improvement because he knows that can be contagious.
While his focus remains on this season and finishing his collegiate career on a high, the possibility of being able to extend his football career beyond college is impossible to ignore. It has been a long journey from the Pop Warner fields in Attleboro.
“I remember just wanting to play football for the fun of it and then realizing that I maybe had the chance to get a scholarship and play in college,” Murphy said. “It does hit me sometimes to see how far I’ve come and see how much more I can do.
“Honestly, it’s shocking sometimes to realize how I never even thought about playing at the next level but these last couple years have changed my mind about everything. It’s exciting to see what the future ahead of me holds.”
The teams went back-and-forth with all five goals coming in the second half. Twice the hosts took a one-goal lead, and twice the Bombardiers erased the deficit to tie the game. But OA junior Jimmy Keane nodded in the game-winner goal inside the final five minutes to secure the 3-2 win for the Tigers.
OA opened the scoring just over 10 minutes into the second half but Attleboro equalized six minutes later. The Tigers once again went ahead but that lead lasted just a minute when the Bombardiers equalized just over 60 seconds later.
The winning tally came in the 76th minute after a free kick from junior Matt Nikiciuk. Nikiciuk’s service from just beyond midfield dropped into the center of the area, was originally knocked up in the air, drawing the keeper out. The ball was partially cleared but only as far as Keane, who looped a header over the scrum and into the open net.
“We were able to play with a strong team, we were happy to play with them and compete, and that we could score against them,” said Oliver Ames coach John Barata. “And it was nice to see that we could bounce back after a couple of mental letdowns, and we continued to bounce back too. It was a good maturity test for the guys because we really haven’t had that yet.”
The Tigers dominated the opening 40 minutes but had nothing to show for it after the teams went into the halftime break scoreless. While the second half was a bit more even, Oliver Ames still created chances early and was able to break through in the 51st minute.
Junior Colin Milliken collected the ball and quickly switched fields, playing classmate Kevin Louhis in behind the defense. Louhis’ speed forced the keeper off his line, and he quickly cut inside around the charging keeper and centered to classmate Anthony DaCosta, who got his shot off just before a defender could get there to bury it into an open net for a 1-0 lead.
The hold up play of Attleboro junior Jackson Singer helped the Bombardiers find the equalizer. His ability to hold possession allowed Joey Soucy to make a run in and Singer found him streaking into the area. Soucy was fouled right on the edge of the box, giving Attleboro a penalty kick.
Senior Michael Russo confidently buried his chance from the spot to bring the visitors level at 1-1 in the 57th minute.
The Tigers continued to press though and went back ahead in the 61st minute. After a corner was cleared, Nikiciuk tracked it down and found Milliken on the sideline, who dropped a cross to the far post and Louhis finished on the bounce at the post to make it 2-1.
“We had dominated the entire first half, outshot them by a large margin and have a couple balls cleared off the line,” Barata said. “If you can stay in the game, you get more confident and comfortable so it was good for us to come out and get some goals in the second. We were kind of stretched trying to go for the goals so it opened the game up and it went back and forth.
“It was a good game for us, [Attleboro] is a very good team that I think will do very well. I thought it was a good game for the boys, I was happy with how we played we just have to make some adjustments.”
But Attleboro was back level just a minute later. The Bombardiers earned a throw in the attacking third, and senior Josh Smith launched a toss to the six yard line. With the keeper coming out to play the ball, it was deflected to the back post and freshman Esvin Morales was all alone to nod the ball in to make it 2-2 in the 62nd minute.
“That was a good thing, we came back and we hung around,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “After they scored, we came back, and we did it a second time so that was a positive. But they were a better team than we were today. Hopefully next time we are more organized and play our game. These were critical points.
“First half, [Oliver Ames] was all over us, they were playing their game. In the second half, we adjusted and were playing better balls to feet and we created some opportunities. A couple of mistakes cost us a couple of goals and their speed hurt us too. They have more experience and they have some depth that we don’t have.”
OA’s chances in the first half started early when Keane blasted a shot from in close off Milliken’s corner that had the keeper beat but Russo was positioned on the line to block his bid. Five minutes later, Louhis connected with Milliken open in the area and he tucked a header inside the post, but was ruled offside.
The best chance of the first half came in the 17th minute when Milliken labeled a free kick for the upper 90 but Attleboro keeper Zackary Brown made a terrific leaping one-handed stop to keep it out.
Keane saw another chance blocked by an Attleboro defender, this time Kevin Raczkowski came up with the goal line stop.
Attleboro had its best chance in the final 10 minutes of the opening half as a pass from Nathan LaPlume ended with a volley from Morales that forced OA keeper Drew Nickla to make a low diving stop to keep the game scoreless heading into the half.