McCormick, Alvarado Lead Oliver Ames Past Walpole

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames’ Nathaniel Cardoza challenges for a ball against Walpole keeper Devin Moore in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
WALPOLE, Mass. – Oliver Ames knew it had a tough test to start its 2016 postseason run with a visit to Walpole, the Bay State Conference’s Herget Division champions.

The Tigers passed the test with flying colors.

Oliver Ames senior Thomas McCormick and junior Matt Alvarado each scored a pair of games – both finding the back of the net once in each half – and the 11th seeded Tigers rolled to a 4-1 win over #6 Walpole.

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“Early on in the season, we had a lot of trouble with scoring but the last seven games or so we’ve turned it on,” OA head coach John Barata said. “We’re peaking at the right time and we started to score some goals, hopefully we continue to score them because we’ll need them. We’re playing some big boy teams, Walpole is a great team, that was quite the battle.”

It took less than a minute for Oliver Ames to show off its offensive talents against the Rebels. McCormick laid the ball off to junior Nathaniel Cardoza, who wasted little time before unleashing a shot that Walpole keeper Devin Moore just got a paw to it to push it over the bar.

The Tigers kept up the pressure and it paid off in the 12th minute. After McCormick drew a free kick on the right sideline, junior Mason Galbato drove a service right onto the doorstep of Walpole’s net. Pressure from Cardoza forced Moore into a save but the ball popped loose and McCormick was in the right perfect spot and placed it into the back of the net.

The lead only lasted a minute though. After OA failed to clear a cross, Walpole senior Adedamola Ojuolape ripped a shot that clanked off the near post. The rebound fell to senior Jonathan Sarkis and he made no mistake about it, finding the far corner to level the score in the 13th minute.

Despite surrendering the tying goal in such short time, Oliver Ames didn’t waver. Minutes after coming off the bench, Alvarado put the Tigers back ahead with a terrific strike. As OA entered the attacking third, McCormick found Cardoza on an overlapping run and Cardoza quickly found Alvarado alone in the center of the pitch. Given time and space to turn, Alvarado did just that, taking a touch before uncorking a beautiful shot into the upper 90 from 30 yards out, leaving Moore no chance at a save and putting OA up 2-1.

“I think the challenge is we have to learn maturity,” Barata said. “We’re a junior-heavy team so they’re learning still. A lot of them weren’t starters last year so they are learning to be the main players. It took us some time to get there. We had a simple mistake, we gave them a goal and we could have turned over. But I think we’ve matured over the year and we were able to bounce back there.”

Eight minutes after OA went up a goal behind Alvarado’s strike, the junior nearly grabbed his first assist of the game. Walpole had a free kick from less than a yard outside the area but the shot went into the wall. The ball was quickly played up to Alvarado, who beat a defender and raced towards goal, eventually sliding the ball back across to Jack Sheldon, but his shot was gobbled up by Moore.

The Tigers, who continually dealt with Walpole’s long ball style of offense, came through with a key goal early in the second half. In the 56th minute, Cardoza played a through ball for Alvarado to run onto. Alvarado got to the ball just before Moore did as he came charging out, forcing the keeper to bobble the ball. The ball eventually fell to the foot of McCormick, who once again buried the rebound for a 3-1 Tiger lead.

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“Tommy has been a senior leader for us, especially during the second half of the season he’s really stepped up and taken over the team with his calm, cool demeanor,” Barata said. “He’s one of the best players in the league, easy. He really took control of the team for us to take this next step.

“Alvy’s a good player, he’s been good for us throughout the year. He hasn’t scored the amount of goals that he’s wanted to but I’m happy he’s doing it in the playoffs. He brings creativity and he’s a dynamic player for us. What a bomb – that was one of the best goals of the year.”

Walpole had its best chances in a five minute span late in the second half. Justin Burns saw his free kick from 30 yards out sail just over the bar in the 68th minute. In the 70th minute, Aidan Murray hit a half volley that forced a diving save from OA keeper Jack Carroll.

In the 73rd minute, Carroll was forced into another save, but this time his frantic dive led to a handball outside the area, and a yellow card. The yellow card forced a substitution with Ben Kemp coming in to face a Walpole free kick from just outside the area. The shot was deflected but Kemp did well to cover the ball.

Two minutes later, the Tigers found their fourth and final goal. Cardoza jumped on a loose ball near midfield and used a Maradona move to spin past a pair of oncoming defenders. The junior delivered a pass wide to Alvarado, who was open on the left wing. Alvarado took two touches and ripped a shot that hit the underside of the crossbar and went in.

“Huge senior play by Ben Kemp,” Barata said of the save. “He’s played a lot of games this year. We have a goalie with playoff experience in Jack Carroll but Ben – calm and cool – made the save, it could have been very difficult off that deflection. Kemp saved the day because if they score, it’s 3-2, against Walpole it can easily be 3-3 then overtime and they could win so it was a big play.”

Oliver Ames boys soccer (10-4-3) advances to the D2 South Quarterfinal for the fourth straight year and will travel to #3 Dartmouth (14-1-3) on Wednesday at 5:00.

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Oliver Ames Earns Playoff Berth In Barata’s 100th Win

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames’ Nathaniel Cardoza (left) and Ned Donovan (right) go up for a ball with Attleboro’s Ahijah Joseph. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSportscom)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Each year, Oliver Ames head John Barata says goal number one for his squad is to make the tournament.

The Tigers can check that off the list for 2016.

Oliver Ames scored a pair of second half goals and senior Ben Kemp made a couple of big saves as the Tigers landed a 2-0 win over Attleboro. The win gives Oliver Ames 17 points on the season, qualifying them for the D2 MIAA South Tournament. The win was also Barata’s 100th career win.

“We’re happy, we finally got in,” Barata said. “It took a little longer than I think I might have expected after I saw us play early in the season. But we struggled to score goals. On a positive note, it’s good to start getting these goals as we’re going into the tournament, it’s better than peaking too soon. We’re pretty happy with the way it worked out and very happy to be in the tournament now.”

In a relatively even first half, both OA and the visiting Bombardiers had decent scoring chances. A corner kick in the 11th minute fell to the feet of OA senior Joe LaBrosse but his low chance was blocked by a defender at the post.

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In the 18th minute, Attleboro senior Tyler Treichler denied OA of two solid scoring chances. First, it looked as though OA sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza would have an open look from the left side of the area but a slide tackle from Treichler denied the bid. Less than a minute later, LaBrosse had a chance from inside the area but once again Treichler got his leg in the way.

In the 23rd minute, OA’s Matt Campbell played a ball over the top for Thomas McCormick, who tried to chip the keeper but Attleboro’s Nick Hasenfus got a paw to it and pushed it wide.

Attleboro registered it’s first real chance in the 29th minute as Nick Lawrence was given some space for a shot from just outside the area but Kemp got a piece of it and smothered the rebound. A minute later, McCormick had a go from just outside the area but OA but Hasenfus was quick to get down and handle it.

Oliver Ames was content to sit back for the majority of the half, and did so to start the second half. The team’s patience paid off less than 10 minutes into the second half, as Oliver Ames saw an opportune time to press.

Cardoza chested down a clearance and took a touch towards the final third. He was able to push the ball past a defender towards the touchline, forcing Hasenfus to come out. Cardoza slipped the ball back to the middle where McCormick was able to tap it in to make it 1-0.

“I think the challenge is they don’t expect it from OA, because we’ve always pressed high and kind of run and gun and get forward, possess a little bit and then get forward again. By us sitting back, opponents have to make adjustments,” Barata said. “We like it because control the tempo, we can go slow, we can go fast, we can go in between. The best part about is, teams just give it to us sometimes because they try to go over the top or through the middle and then our guys are good when we have the ball. It can be frustrating to try and beat. So far, we’ve been successful doing it.

“We talk about trigger points on when to press, when to get forward. It’s not me shouting out when to press, it’s the kids recognizing triggers. It wasn’t perfect but it’s added an element to our game.”

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Attleboro sophomore Will Halben had a chance to level the game a minute later, taking a shot from the left side of the area. Kemp got a piece of it and Chris Lawrence cleared the loose ball.

“We have everything but the final third,” Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira said. “We can’t get the ball up and find the guys there. I have some of young guys trying to do some running but the final third, nothing got going. First half was kind of an even game. Second half they came out a little bit hungry, they had a couple of chances and they took it to us. We’re not a team that can come back, we don’t have the fire power. We can win the close ones but once they got the second goal, it was difficult to come back.”

The Bombardiers had their best chance in the 57th minute. Zach White’s free kick spilled to the right side of the area where senior Harry Lancaster was able to track it down. He launched a service back in front of goal where freshman Michael Russo put a header right on frame but Kemp came flying back into position to stop it.

“Ben made a huge save for us there,” Barata said. “He came out several times to deny some chances too, he has been great all season. All of our seniors have been great. They have really worked hard and helped accomplish our first goal, which is to qualify for the tournament.”

Oliver Ames doubled the lead just four minutes later in the 61st minute. Lawrence launched a throw in in the attacking third that found Cardoza in the area. The junior flicked the ball on, right to the head of classmate Cam Vella for an easy header into the net.

“We’re happy to put that [set piece] away,” Barata said. “The kids were joking how it was such a great sub because Vella had just gone in, it was his first touch. It’s something we’ve tried to work on, so many teams in this league can do it, and we have some kids who can too. So might as well work on a flick and it worked out for us tonight.”

Attleboro drops to 5-5-5 overall, with 15 points. The Bombardiers need to get 18 points to qualify for the postseason and have three games left to get those three points.

“We need three points in three games,” Pereira said. “We should be able to get it but everyone wants points now. The kids are working are, I’m sure we’ll do it. We’ve played all the big boys now we need to get some points from the final games.”

Oliver Ames boys soccer (7-4-3) is headed back to the postseason after going to the D2 State Final the last two years – winning it all a year ago. The Tigers’ seventh win of the season was also Barata’s – and assistant coach Fred Kurtz’s – 100th career win.

“I’m thrilled because it’s about parent support, school support – the administrators have been very supportive – and then my boys,” Barata said. “The kids are awesome, it’s their wins, they’ve won 100. I’m here to guide them along the way. Coach Kurtz and I have been here for almost eight seasons. It’s a wonderful honor for the school, for the kids and for the Easton soccer program. It’s a wonderful milestone but now it’s over with but it’s been a lot of fun.”

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Strong First Half Helps King Philip Snap OA’s Streak

King Philip boys soccer
King Philip junior Larsen Keys scores his first goal of the season in the first half against OA. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
WRENTHAM, Mass. – It’s no secret that if you want a chance at beating a top team in the state, you have to play a near perfect game.

King Philip scored a pair of goals in a flawless first half, kept Oliver Ames at bay for the first 20 minutes of the second half and held of a furious charge at the end to pick up a 2-1 win over the Tigers. KP’s win snapped Oliver Ames 25-game unbeaten streak that spanned the entire 2015 season and the start of this year.

“It was all on the players, it wasn’t any coaching changes,” King Philip head coach Nick Gale said. It was a simple elevation in energy and focus. These guys are coming off back to back games, it’s their sixth game in 14 days, so they thoroughly exhausted and they emptied the tank today, with whatever they had left. That’s probably the best first half we’ve played this season. It was hard to find anything wrong with it.”

The Warriors had full control in the first half, with the majority of possession and chances. KP was content to keep possession in its own third but worked nicely into the midfield and into the final third to create chances.

The first chance came in the 6th when Jack Bush found Colby Koch, whose cross was touched to Tyler Mann in the center of the area, but his shot was deflected wide. Two minutes later, Thomas Lugten and Koch combined for a 1-2 but OA goalie Ben Kemp stopped Lugten’s point blank shot.

OA’s best chance in the first half came in the 18th minute when junior Cam Vella was able to find some space at the top of the area but his shot flashed wide.

King Philip continued the pressure and was able to breakthrough in the 26th minute. Bush, from his outside back position, was able to get up field and had time on the ball. He picked out Koch with a perfect pass and Koch used a class one-time finish with his left foot to find the back of the net to put the Warriors up 1-0.

Koch clanked the post with a shot from just inside the area in the 32nd minute but less than a minute later, the Warriors doubled the lead. Mann, who was dropped deeper in a midfielder role rather than his normal striker spot, lifted a perfect ball over the top of the defense, finding a streaking Larsen Keys – KP’s other outside back – and the junior calmly finished one on one with the keeper to make it 2-0.

“We got two points coming from outside backs, which is phenomenal.” Gale said. “It was something we thought they were going to take away from us but we found a way to get around it and get some points. The thing I was most proud of in the first half was our focus on finishing, which is something that against a phenomenal team I thought we were going to struggle with and we found a way to get it done. I’m proud as hell of my guys.

“Tyler had a phenomenal ball on the backside to Larsen and Larsen did what he’s done in the past and he finished it. He picked his spot nicely and finished it from 20 yards out. Jack Bush’s cross, he picked out Colby and it was an absolute class shot. We found a way to get it done which is the most important thing against one of the best teams in the state.”

Oliver Ames amped its pressure up to start the second half. After Mike Rowe had his shot in the 48th minute saved by Kemp for KP’s first chance of the second half, Oliver Ames’ Thomas McCormick registered the Tigers’ first scoring chance of the second half, but his shot hit the crossbar and stayed out.

Ten minutes after McCormick hit the bar, Oliver Ames had another chance in the 69th minute when Matt Campbell’s corner found Vella, but his header was saved by KP keeper Eli O’Neill, who went full stretch to get the stop.

The Tigers finally broke through in the 75th minute, as Campbell played James Gillespie in alone on goal and the junior finished to pull OA within one.

OA kept the pressure up the final five minutes, but KP’s defense was able to clear off the danger.

“They cashed in on two chances, which is what they wanted to do and they were successful.” Barata said. “We have a lot to work on but we’re young, we’re figuring it out, it’s still a young season. I think we’re in a good position. I think the last 20 minutes – if that’s how we play, I think a lot more teams will be concerned about playing us. Right now they’re not because we’re soft but we’re young, I’m not too worried about it.

“It will be nice for us to get another chance at them at home. I think it will be a little bit different. But we’ll see how it goes – they are a very good team, and today the better team won.”

Gale’s decision to drop Mann into the midfield paid big dividends as the junior paired with classmate Connor Mullins to help the Warriors control the midfield. Meanwhile, KP’s center back pair of Ryan Coulter and Cam Mullins helped the Warriors keep possession along with Keys and Bush.

“I told our guys before the game that whoever could win the midfield would win the game today,” Gale said. “I dropped Tyler back in there to kind of complete it. I wasn’t sure what they were going to do to try and take Tyler out of the game either but Tyler is such a versatile player we could drop him in the midfield to solidify it. I thought at least in the first half, we definitely played better in the midfield and I think that showed. Tyler was a big impact player for sure.”

King Philip boys soccer (6-0-1, 4-0-1) moves into a tie with Mansfield for first place in the Kelley-Rex division. The Warriors will be back in action on Monday when they host Taunton. Oliver Ames (3-1-1, 3-1-1) will try to bounce back the same day with a trip to Attleboro.

Oliver Ames Captures First Ever State Championship

Oliver Ames captains Max Bamford, Chris Romero, Keegan Nutt and head coach John Barata with the D2 State Championship. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
Oliver Ames captains Max Bamford, Chris Romero, Keegan Nutt and head coach John Barata with the D2 State Championship. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Click here to purchase photos from OA’s celebration.
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

LYNN, Mass. – When last year’s Div. 2 state title game ended, Oliver Ames players grabbed the runner-up trophy and raised it high in celebration of reaching the program’s first ever championship game.
When OA took the pitch on Saturday morning at Manning Field for this year’s state title game against Masconomet, the Tigers were not going to be happy settling for second place again.
The experience of last season paid dividends. OA bounced back from an early Masco goal to defeat the Chieftains 3-1 on three well-executed set pieces and clinched the program’s first state championship.
“Since we came here once, we knew how to play this game,” said OA coach John Barata. “It’s different; it’s a one-game season against a top team from the North.
“It’s a great feeling to win because it would’ve been horrible to come back-to-back years and lose again. The guys worked hard and they deserved it. We earned that win.”
Masco jumped into the lead in the 12th minute. A long throw from Alex Spaulding reached Josh Polakiewicz on the corner of the six-yard box and he flicked a header up over OA keeper Jack Carroll.
OA had lost the momentum after a decent start, but the Tigers utilized the experience of two straight runs to the South title and stayed in the game.
Senior Chris Romero equalized in the 19th minute when the Tigers were awarded a free kick just outside the box. It may have been a harsh call, but Romero did not mind as he curled his 20-yard shot past the despairing dive of Steven Heitzelman.
“They had all the momentum,” said Romero, “and we really needed the quick goal to get the momentum back, so I think it helped us pushing forward.”
Just five minutes later OA took the lead. Romero played an in-swinging corner kick that Heitzelman failed to hold. The ball dropped to the foot of sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza, who was in the right place at the right time to tap it in.
Cardoza also had the winning goal in overtime to win the South title for the Tigers. Barata said of the midfielder, “He is a very good player, diligent player. He’s a DI school’s dream and he’s only a sophomore. I’m very lucky to have him.”
Masco coach Jared Scarpaci noted, “The first [set piece], you don’t get a better free kick than that and you just tip your hat. The second one, I think we could have done a little bit better on that and that’s really when the momentum shifted.”
The Chieftains, who won the title in 2013 and have reached the state title game in three of the past four seasons (the last two in Div. 2), had their chances to equalize before the break. Shane Collins could not take advantage off of a poor clearance by Carroll to score into an empty net and then he set up Bryan Gilbert, who scuffed a shot while all alone in the box.
“They missed a couple of sitters that could have changed the game,” said Barata. “That’s the way soccer goes; I’ll take it.”
Carroll also came through with a big save to deny Blaise Romanowski in the final five minutes of the half, tipping over the Masco striker’s close-range effort off a free kick.
Seven minutes after the break, Romero showed his defensive prowess by heading out a Andrew Musiak corner underneath his own crossbar.
Barata explained, “You can see why he’s an all-state player. He starts on the left wing, scores a beautiful goal, he plays forward, and then we move him to the back and he was excellent at the back.”
In the 57th minute, OA sealed the title with another set piece that was straight off the training ground. Instead of playing an angled free kick into the box, Romero played the ball straight into the path of Matt Alvarado and the sophomore sent an inch-perfect cross into the box to a wide open Thomas McCormick, who nodded home the Tigers’ third.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Romero. “Alvarado down the line and crosses it for Thomas to head it in…perfect play.”
Barata credited the week of between games for allowing his team to work on set pieces and, as he explained, it “paid off” of Saturday.
“It worked like a charm today,” he said about the routine for the third goal. “We’ve done that a number of times and it’s gone over the bar, off the bar, off a defender, but today it was destined.”
Romero and the rest of his teammates charged towards the traveling OA fans at the final whistle, celebrating the first state title with friends and family. The Tigers reached their first sectional title in 2013, won the South for the first time last year, and now have won the state championship.
It has been a long and successful career for the OA captain and, when asked how it felt to get to this level, Romero responded succinctly, “It’s pretty awesome. It’s awesome to be a state champ.”
Click here to purchase photos from OA’s celebration. 
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.