MILFORD, Mass. – As the clock was winding down, the desperation to find an equalizing goal ratcheted up from the stands to the fans lining the fence behind the Milford bench to the players, coaches, and alumni on the sidelines to the players trying to make it happen on the pitch.
Every move to create space was met with a roar, every perceived Walpole infraction met with arms thrown into the air and calls for a whistle, and every time the ball went into the box the cheering turned from words (in several languages) into a single, unintelligible sound trying to will the ball into the back of the net.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, every one of the chances that they created in a frenetic final 20 minutes on Wednesday night in the Div. 2 South quarterfinal was cleared, blocked, saved, or just trickled wide and Walpole’s second half penalty kick held up as the winner. The Rebels, who eliminated Oliver Ames in the first round, advanced to the sectional semifinal with a 1-0 victory.
“Frustrating is putting it lightly,” said Milford coach Brian Edwards after the game. “Frustrated at this result and how this game went. I’m proud of how our guys played. I think we stayed true to our style. I thought we played the kind of soccer we’ve been playing all year and unfortunately it came down to a PK call.”
After an evenly-matched opening half, which saw Milford have a goal called back for offsides, Walpole started the second half brightly, putting the Hawks on their heels and pinning Milford back on the edge of its own penalty area. Alex Maclean was peppering the Milford back line with a succession of long throws that forced center backs Tiago Filadelfo and Joao Boaventura to constantly be on their toes.
The Hawks took 14 minutes of the second half before creating anything of note going forward and it was a long-range effort by Jordan Borges that was comfortably saved. Walpole answered right back with a great chance of its own, but Tom Walsh blazed over the bar from only a few yards out.
In the 57th minute, Milford nearly grabbed the lead. Boaventura played the ball out of the back to Leo Coelho, who managed to get a toe on the ball and redirected it into the path of JJoey Madden making one of many forays down the right wing. Madden got all the way to the end line and cut it back to Walisson de Oliveira but the junior couldn’t generate enough power and his first-time shot was saved.
Three minutes later, the Rebels got on the board. Another long throw came in but was allowed to bounce in the penalty area, with the ball striking the hand of Joao Vitor Neiva. The officials deemed it enough to call a handball and a penalty. Aidan Murray got Josh Orellana to go the wrong way and knocked in his shot from the spot to make it 1-0.
“We’ve seen it a few times this year,” Edwards said about the challenge of defending Walpole’s set pieces. “We knew the game plan they had coming in, we stuck to ours and I thought we executed it well. I thought we didn’t finish our chances, but I thought we played well enough to win.”
The majority of the time remaining would be spent in the attacking third for Milford, as Walpole sat deeper and deeper, defending in numbers, to protect its advantage. de Oliveira, the team’s leading scorer and one of the top scorers in the Hock this season, fashioned a chance with skillful footwork in the box but the Walpole defense charged it down and blocked the shot.
In the 70th minute, Anthony Salvador drove into the box from the left and he went to ground under a challenge that the officials ruled was fair. The ball rolled into the path of Lucas Da Silva but his shot through traffic was well-saved by Walpole keeper Dennis Crowley.
A minute later and it was Dan Santos that found himself with room to try a shot. His left-footed effort got through the crowd of players in front but was cleared off the line at full stretch by Sebastian Pignone. Three minutes later, Salvador worked enough space to get off a shot but it was deflected and easily grabbed by Crowley.
A long throw by Madden reached de Oliveira but his header went just wide of the post. in the 80th minute, as the Walpole bench was pleading for a clearance and/or the final whistle, another Madden throw caused a panic in the box. Several Milford players got a touch and the ball seemed to pinball off everyone’s legs before rolling inches wide of the bottom corner.
It would be the game’s final chance. The whistle sounded and the Davenport division champions dropped to the ground in disbelief.
Edwards said, “I told my guys that I’m proud of how they played, but soccer is like that – you can play a good game and lose.”
Milford (13-2-5) won the program’s first Hockomock League title this fall, so there was plenty to celebrate, but on this night there was only the feeling that the Hawks season ended prematurely.
“These guys have done more than any Milford team in the last two decades, so of course I’m extremely proud of them but we felt like we could do a lot more,” said Edwards.
He added, “I’m sure the guys who are coming back are going to use this as motivation because they’re going to feel very angry with how this game was decided.
But that’s not what head coach Brian Edwards told his team.
Edwards told his team it was a must-win in order to become Davenport champions.
“We didn’t want to share,” Edwards said.
His team responded, using a goal in the final five minutes to earn a dramatic 3-2 win over the visiting Bulldogs. It marks Milford’s first ever Hockomock Davenport division title, and the program’s first league title since 1999 when it won the Mid-Wach A crown.
“I told them before the game they had to play for the win, and they are all about that,” Edwards said. “I thought this was one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen in a long time. I thought both teams just played incredibly hard, played good soccer…you saw contrasting styles but either team could have won this game.”
It was only fitting that the game had a dramatic ending after it was filled with goal scoring chances, terrific saves, solid defense, and timely goals.
The build-up started just before midfield at the beginning of the 77th minute with junior Jordan Borges electing to keep possession instead of forcing anything up field. He found sophomore Leo Coelho on the right flank, and Coelho quickly switched fields to senior Tiago Carvalho.
Carvalho slid a pass back up the middle to Borges, who used a deft touch with the outside of his right foot to get free from a defender. The junior took a touch towards goal and ripped a hard, dipping shot that found the side netting on the far post for a 3-2 lead in the final moments of the game.
“It was a great ball, my teammates put me in a great spot and I just happened to finish it,” Borges said. “Everybody has their chances on this team, we play together as a team, this was my chance. When I hit it, I knew right away when it came off my foot, it was pretty sweet.
“Our goal was to win the league title after we got into the playoffs. Coming in today, we knew Canton was a tough team so we felt like it was a must win. It was the best feeling to get the goal late and win the game.”
It was Borges’ third goal of the season, giving him seven points on the season.
“What a baller,” Edwards said of Borges. “That’s the kind of goal we expect froma Jordan. He’s the kind of player who does all of that hard work, like Tiago Carvalho and Joao Boaventura, those three guys do so much work and don’t get a ton of headlines. They don’t always show up in the scoresheet…but Jordan deserves that goal. He’s a three-year varsity player, he works tirelessly. He watches film more than I do, he’s always trying to improve. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
The final goal was the fifth of the second half alone. The teams played a scoreless 40 minutes to begin the game before the fireworks began in the second half.
Corcoran whipped in a service but the ball eluded a pair of Canton runners. However, it was enough to freeze Milford keeper Josh Orellana (eight saves) and the ball hit off the far post and in for a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.
Canton saw its advantage evaporate just minutes later as the Hawks pulled even with an immediate response. In the 46th minute, senior Joey Madden used a long throw-in into the area and the Canton clearance was knocked down by Joao Vitor Neiva. The block went right to the feet of sophomore Lucas Da Silva all alone at the far post and he blasted his shot in for make it 1-1.
“It was important just to kind of take a little gas out of their engine,” Edwards said of replying right away. “They’re already a great team, and when they get up on you, they can be incredible because they are so confident and the style they play can be difficult to come back against so coming back so quickly was vital.”
The chances continued for both sides as Ruggeri saw his shot go just over the bar in the 48th, and Borges had a header saved in the 50th minute.
Back on the other end, Griffin Roach latched onto a long throw from Corcoran behind a defender, made a nice move by another Scarlet Hawk, and ripped a low shot that was turned aside by Orellana. The rebound fell right back to Roach and he put hit his shot into the what appeared to be an open goal but Da Silva positioned himself perfectly on the goal line and cleared it away to keep the game level.
Milford capitalized on the goal line stop three minutes later to take its first lead of the game. After a nice combination from Walisson de Oliveira and Neiva, the latter was dispossessed by a nice tackle from Avery Minkin atop the area. Before Canton could clear, de Oliveira jumped onto the ball, raced to the end line and played a low cross back into the area and Neiva slid in-between a trio of Canton defenders to tap it in at the near post.
Similar to how Milford erased Canton’s lead in moments, the Bulldogs returned the favor by tying the game just two minutes later. Again it was a long throw from Corcoran that got things started. His throw was knocked down in the area right to the foot of senior Simon Cruz and he quickly one-timed a shot just inside the post to make it 2-2.
The next scoring chance was Borges’ game-winner in the 77th minute.
“We settled down a bit at the end,” Edwards said of the final 15 minutes of the game. “We really didn’t play our style for most of that game, we kind of got caught up in the moment and I think our inexperience in this type of game showed. We have experience but not in a game like this. Beside the last game of last year against Nipmuc, this is the closest thing we’ve had to a playoff game. I thought we were a bit too direct at times but we settled it down at the end and as you saw, good things happened.”
While the first half didn’t have any scoring, it wasn’t for a lack of chances. The first half had just as many scoring opportunities as the second half, and even saw Canton find the back of the net only for a whistle to take it off the board.
In the 19th minute, Cruz latched onto a loose ball and looked to play Roach in. Cruz was taken down on the play and as Roach turned and hit a shot that found the back of the net, the ref whistled for a foul on the play against Cruz.
Canton nearly scored on the ensuing free kick as well. Roach ripped his shot over the wall but Orellana came up with a key one-handed stop to keep it out.
“First off, hats to Milford for winning the Davenport, they deserve it,” said longtime Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “They are a great team and they are a real dangerous team, I’m real impressed with them. Having said that, I thought we played really well in the first half. I thought we dominated the entire half and I was really disappointed that we scored a goal that really would have made a difference and the referee had blown the whistle early. It happens, ref’s are fallible, it happens. That goal would have a big difference for us. But Milford put us under a lot of pressure the last 15 minutes of the game and they deserve to win that game. I’m real proud of my kids. We didn’t lose the Davenport today, we lost it over the last couple of weeks when we didn’t get some of the results we needed.
“When we wake up tomorrow and can worry about the future, today will have helped us. But it stings right now.”
Milford raced down the other end and nearly opened the scoring. After beating a couple of defenders, de Oliveira’s shot was blocked by a slide from Corcoran. The ball popped into the air and de Oliveira was first there, getting a head that went over the keeper but Canton senior Mike Mazzola covered perfectly, heading the chance off the line and out.
In the 33rd minute, the Bulldogs had a pair of great chances, again starting with a free kick from road. Roach drilled a dipping shot from 30 yards out that forced a low save from Orellana. The rebound fell to the feet of Alejandro Correal and he put a good shot on goal but Orellana got up and made a spectacular sprawling effort to get in the way to keep the shot out.
“We could have been down 3-0 in that first half if not for the play of Josh Orellana,” Edwards said. “He made some outstanding saves to keep us in that game. Thankfully he did because that could have been a very different game.”
Milford’s two best chances of the first half came in the final five minutes. Coeleho linked up with de Oliveira in the area but the junior’s header glanced just wide in the 36th minute. And in the final minute of the half, de Oliveira worked his way past a pair of Canton defenders before playing Neiva in alone. Neiva was forced a touch wide by keeper Dylan Coyne and sophomore Matt Giglio recovered to block the shot.
Milford boys soccer (10-1-5 overall, 9-1-5 Hockomock) returns to action on Friday against non-league rival Hopedale, and finishes the season on Monday at Stoughton. Canton (9-4-4, 8-4-3) closes the regular season out on Saturday against Foxboro.
That changed in a big way on Monday night in a rainy contest on the turf at Val Muscato Stadium.
Milford had a dominant showing, scoring four first half goals on its way to a convincing 5-0 win. It marked the Scarlet Hawks’ first win over the Tigers since joining the league, snapping a 10-game winless streak.
“We talked about coming out strong in this game,” said Milford head coach Brian Edwards. “Some of our previous games, we started out weak and were fortunate to get points out of them because of the way we started. So it was a point of focus the last couple of days, and I was very happy with the energy level.
“This is going in the right direction. I still think we have a ways to go in all honestly, but today and the Foxboro game, our approach and the way we came out of the gate, and attention to detail was great. Tonight, the defense and the effort from our outside mids, that allows us to play well. The work we put in off the ball defensively allowed us to do what we did with the ball. If we keep working like that, I think we’ll keep getting better.”
It was all Hawks from the get-go, registering their first scoring chance just over 60 seconds into the contest.
Sophomore Leo Coelho played a perfectly weighted through ball on the ground that found junior Walisson de Oliveira right inside the area, but his touch was smothered by OA keeper Jacob Lerman. Although de Oliveira had his first chance denied, it was far from the last time he would factor in.
In the 5th minute, de Oliveira blasted a free kick from 35 that went just high and wide at the near post. In the 8th minute, Coelho made a darting run out of the back, combining with de Oliveira to eventually find Joao Vitor, but his shot went just over the bar.
The visitor finally converted in the 12th minute. Jordan Borges played a long ball out of the back that skid on the turf past the defense. Miscommunication between the OA defense and keeper allowed Vitor to come streaking in and get a touch past the keeper. de Oliveira was in the perfect spot and cleaned up the loose ball, burying it into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
OA had a nice spell of play over the next 10 minutes, nearly drawing level of two chances. First, sophomore Colin Milliken took a feed from classmate Jimmy Keane and ripped a dipping shot from 25 yards. The ball nearly skipped in front and almost slipped through Milford keeper Josh Orellana’s hands, but the senior positioned himself well to cover.
Just seconds later, Milford’s Anthony Salvador traced down the left flank, centered to Vitor and his curling shot from just before the 18-yard line found the back of the net despite a partial save.
“It could have been a totally different game,” Edwards admitted. “Once we went up 1-0, I thought we were fortunate because [Oliver Ames] had a nice spell of play. If they score there and it’s 1-1, this is a totally different game. The score was a bit misleading. So that’s an area we still have to get better because we can’t afford to slow down.”
After going up 2-0, Milford continued to apply a heavy dose of pressure while controlling possession of the game. In the 32nd minute, de Oliveira really put the Hawks in the driver’s seat. The junior used a nice cut to get past a defender, took a touch towards goal and fired a laser from 25-yards out that went just under the bar for a 3-0 lead.
The Hawks added to their lead with another terrific goal just two minutes later. An attack throw from Tiago Carvalhoj was flicked on by de Oliveira to sophomore Lucas Da Silva. Da Silva took a touch to get the ball on his right foot and then ripped a volley to the far post for a terrific goal, giving Milford a 4-0 lead heading into halftime.
“Wally is a beast, first and foremost,” said OA head coach John Barata. “But today was the first time our inexperience really showed to be honest. It’s not an excuse, but it really showed today. And on top of that, we gave up two bad goals to start. We had a miscommunication on the first one and the second one was unfortunate. When you go down two to them, you have to come out and go for it. We played great for 15 minutes, and then they put in two in two minutes.
“You make mistakes we like we did against that team, you’re going to get punished. They have guys that can play, I think that’s the best playing team in the Hock that I’ve seen.”
The second half featured fewer scoring chances for both sides, but quality chances nonetheless. de Oliveira had a free kick from 40 yards out tipped over the bar from OA sophomore keeper Drew Nikla.
In the 49th minute, Milliken curved a free kick to the far post from 25 yards out, but Orellana covered nicely to deny the shot. Two minutes later, Carvalho had a long clearance bounce over the OA defense. Vitor ran onto it, but Nikla came well off his line and blocked the shot with his body outside of the area.
Milford capped the scoring in the 65th minute when Salvador got his second assist, setting up de Oliveira’s hat trick. Salvador sent a ball into space between two OA defenders. de Oliveira made a diagonal run to beat his defender and latched onto a shot from inside the area that found the back of the net.
“The work rate that I’m seeing from these guys is what I want to see,” Edwards said. “That’s how we want to play, we want to play pretty soccer and play from the back to front. We don’t want to be too direct, we want to move the ball.”
Milford boys soccer (5-1-2 Hockomock, 5-1-2 overall) is back in action on Thursday in a big division clash against Canton at 6:30. The Bulldogs sit two points ahead of Milford with one more game played. Oliver Ames (3-1-4, 3-1-4) will try to bounce back from its first loss when it hosts King Philip on the same day at 3:45.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2018 Davenport Boys Soccer Preview
2017 Record: 10-5-4
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Danny Erickson
The Bulldogs have been one of the top offensive teams over the past two seasons, and that trend will likely continue with the personnel returning this season. The goal this season is to equal that success on the defensive end of the field.
“We have had lots of success the past two seasons in scoring goals but we have not been stingy enough with allowing goals,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson.
Hockomock League leading scorer Paul Corcoran is back for his senior season and has been one of the top producers in the final third over the past two seasons. His nine goals in 2016 helped earn him HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors and last year he led the Hock with 15 goals and 23 total points. He is joined by HockomockSports.com Best XI selection Griffin Roach in the midfield. Roach is one of the best two-way players in the league and will undoubtedly be relied upon to help both the offense (10 goals, five assists last year) and the defense. Simon Cruz is another player with a good amount of varsity experience that will likely factor in.
While the offense looks to be in good shape, shoring up the defense won’t be easy after losing starting goalie Abe Garber and center back John Agnitti. However, Erickson can rely on Paolo Ruggeri to lead the way in the back. Ruggeri has a ton of varsity experience and will be the quarterback of the defense, organizing and keeping the back four in shape. Junior Alejandro Correal will step in as the starting keeper.
2017 Record: 11-5-4
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Joe Franchino
Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino isn’t afraid to talk about how confident he is in this year’s team.
“The Hockomock title is coming to Foxboro,” Franchino said.
Although Foxboro graduated a dozen seniors, the players that the Warriors do return are the reason why Franchino is so confident in this group. Starting up top, Foxboro has both of its strikers back, including leading scorer Shane VandenBoom. Last year, VandenBoom was second in the league in the regular season with 21 points, scoring 12 goals and adding nine assists. He will be joined up top by Dylan Barreira, who had a strong sophomore season.
In the midfield, everything will run through junior Joe Cusack. There aren’t many midfielders that have the poise on the ball that Cusack does and he will likely be the engine for the team. He isn’t the biggest player on the pitch but his vision is among the best and his ability to play balls over the top and through the defense make Foxboro’s offense very dangerous. Nic Beigel will complement Cusack in the middle to give the Warriors a solid 1-2 combo.
Defensively, the Warriors are hoping to see more of the same after only allowing 15 goals through 18 regular season games. The good news is that Foxboro has plenty of experience returning in the back with Matt Garcia, Brian Gardner, and Will Regan back in the fold. Franchino stressed that the team must put defense first and buy into the system, and then the team can go forward — an area the Warriors are very confident in.
2017 Record: 7-8-3
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brian Edwards
After missing out on the postseason by just one game, the 2018 Scarlet Hawks are laser-focused on making it into the state tournament and having a run at the division title.
Third-year head coach Brian Edwards saw his team go from four wins to seven over the first two years and is hoping that upward trend will continue in 2018.
“We are looking to build upon the lessons learned last year,” Edwards said. “We want to work on maintaining focus and closing games out this season. With many players coming back for their third varsity season we are hopeful that our experience helps us work towards our goals this season.”
One big reason for optimism is junior Walisson De Oliveira, who exploded as one of the best offensive threats in the league in the second half of the season. After playing in the midfield for half the year, Edwards moved De Oliveira up top and the move paid off big time. The striker scored 14 goals (second most in the Hock) and had three assists.
In the midfield, the Hawks boast a trio of talented and experienced players. Tiago Carvalho, Joao Boaventura, and Jordan Borges have all shown improvement over the offseason and will be counted on to handle the middle of the pitch. Seniors Joey Madden and Zach Brown return to anchor the defensive unit in front of senior goalie Cam Doherty.
2017 Record: 11-2-6 (Davenport Division Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Geoff Burgess
Despite graduating over a dozen seniors from last year’s Davenport division-winning squad, North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess believes his team will be ready to defend its league title.
The Rocketeers will have to find a replacement for HockomockSports.com Best XI selections Gabe Pinhancos (center mid) and Brendan Matracia (goalie), as well as the entire back line, but Burgess does have options to fill the voids.
“I’m excited to see what this group can accomplish,” Burgess said. “We have a good nucleus of talented players and high expectations.”
Senior striker Joe Hilf was second on the team in points last year after scoring six goals and adding two assists and Big Red also has junior midfielders Dylan Corrigan (four goals, three assists) and James Sale back in the fold. All three have plenty of varsity experience and should be major factors for North this season. Junior Joey Coscarella will see more playing time as well this season.
Senior captain Evan Rosenberg will step in at center back to anchor the new back four. Burgess is also optimistic about his options in net with junior Kyle Briere taking over as the starter.
2017 Record: 5-9-4
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Bryan Kelly
Only one year removed from winning the Davenport title, Sharon is hoping its versatility will help get them back to the top of what is shaping up to be a very competitive division.
“We have some dynamic players this year which gives us the ability to use different formations making it difficult for teams to plan for us,” said Sharon coach Bryan Kelly. “We have a rotation of players who can play two or more positions and play them well. If we stick to our game plan, we will be a tough team to reckon with.”
The Eagles have a strong core of returning players that Kelly can build off of. Ethan Kantor is back for his third year in goal and will be the leader of the defense. Alex Dias returns from a torn ACL to take up one of the outside back positions. Kelly expects Brendan Arnold and Daniel Gunduz to step up on defense this season.
In the midfield, junior Michael Baur (HockomockSports.com Second XI selection) will be a key piece and help the Eagles transition from defense to offense. Baur is also one of the more dangerous free kick takers in the league. Baur will work with the speedy Isaiah Stessman and Norway-transfer Viktor Schneider on the wings in the midfield.
Kelly is looking for junior Brian Higgins and Daniel Lillenfeld to form a dynamic partnership up top while Antonio Elkoury and Eli Berkowitz can step in and provide depth in both the midfield and up front.
2017 Record: 1-16-1
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Joshua Aubin
After three straight years in the playoffs, the Black Knights had a down season a year ago but new head coach Joshua Aubin is anxious to get Stoughton back into playoff contention.
“This is definitely a team that is not afraid to get down and dirty,” Aubin said. “We’ve got some scrappy players who will not be backing down from the challenges ahead.”
Stoughton will be relying on its 10 seniors to set the pace this season, starting with captain Fabi Ponce de Leon. In his fourth year on varsity, Ponce de Leon will be the engine in the middle of the field and help facilitate things for the Black Knights. Aubin is looking for some new faces to step up around Ponce de Leon to take some pressure off the senior and give him some space. Fellow captain John Ortiz will be a leader for a defensive group that is looking to improve on last season.
All-Hockomock selection Carter Gerome returns as the starting goalie for the Black Knights.
“We do have a lot of athletes where we hope to be able to maximize on their individual abilities,” Aubin said. “We have a little bit of everything – some height, some speed, some strength, some physicalness, and some finesse.”
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017 Davenport Boys Soccer Preview
2016 Record: 8-7-5
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Danny Erickson
After playing a good handful of juniors and sophomores during the 2016 season, the Bulldogs look to be an experienced group heading into this year. Leading the way will be senior and two-time captain Jake Verille, who leads the Bulldogs from the middle of the pitch. Fellow captain Abe Garber is back for another year in net and senior captain John Agnitti with anchor the defensive line.
Verille, a HockomockSports.com Best XI selection last season, has been one of the top playmakers the past two years. On top of Verille’s offensive ability, Canton also returns junior Paul Corcoran – the team’s leading scorer (nine goals) and the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. Alongside Corcoran, the Bulldogs have a slew of juniors with varsity experience including Griffin Roach, Simon Cruz, Paulo Ruggeri and Avery Minkin that will all factor into the attack.
“We are confident that we will be able to keep the ball and attack this year,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “The chances should be created, but we will need to finish. We will also need to defend as a group of 11 MUCH better than we did last season.”
2016 Record: 6-9-4
2016 Finish: Reached D3 South First Round
Coach: Joe Franchino
After graduating just five seniors last season, head coach Joe Franchino brings back the majority of squad that had just one loss in its last eight regular season games in 2016. However, two of those five players – Anthony Barreira (two-time Best XI selection) & AJ Bubencik (now playing at Mass. Maritime) – were four year players and will be tough to replace.
The good news is that while the Warriors were young a year ago, a good portion of the team has at least a season of varsity experience under its belt. Senior captain Shawn McNamara, now in his fourth year starting for the Warriors, will lead the way along with fellow captains Matt Rongione and Ryan Kelley. Senior Cam Cass also has plenty of experience and will be relied upon as a playmaker. Junior Shane Vandenboom had a strong sophomore season and will be an important piece in the midfield along classmate Nic Beigel and senior Hussiein Kafel.
Seniors Bobby Harrison will be the starting goalie for the Warriors.
“Coming into my third year, I am confident the team has bought into the system and I’m really looking forward to see how they compete,” Franchino said. “We have experienced senior and junior classes with a couple of sophomores to watch out for. We may not have a target on our back but when it’s all said and done, I believe we have the team to win! I believe in this group and really excited to see what they accomplish.”
2016 Record: 4-10-4
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brian Edwards
The Scarlet Hawks are looking to take the next step in year two with Brian Edwards at the helm. After just four wins a season ago, Edwards is hoping that the experience gained by his younger players will translate into more success this time around.
Midfielder Andre Oliveira will be a key piece for Edwards and the Scarlet Hawks, helping both the offense and defense. Oliveira’s ability to transition from defense to offense will be key for the Scarlet Hawks this season. On the defensive side of the ball, senior Jacob Balzarini is back in the center of the defense. After getting plenty of time in that spot last season, Balzarini will be the anchor of the backline this year. On top of Oliveira and Balzaini, Edwards is looking for new players to step up and make an impact.
“I’m looking for us to be a team that stresses balance,” Edwards said. “I am hopeful that the experience many of these guys gained last year translates into more success in the standings. I am also excited to see what the new guys bring to the squad. There are a bunch of hungry young players that want to make their mark on this team and in this league.”
2016 Record: 2-10-6
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Geoff Burgess
North Attleboro boasts over a dozen seniors on the 2017 version of the Red Rocketeers and head coach Geoff Burgess is hoping that experience will translate into success on the field.
Leading the way will be senior and 2016 HockomockSports.com Second XI selection Gabe Pinhancos, who has been Big Red’s field general for the past couple of seasons. Josh Rodriguez and Ryan Pasquel are also back this season to help bolster the midfield. Junior Joe Hilf and senior Jeff Gale will be relied upon to pace North Attleboro’s offense.
Big Red’s biggest strength could be in the back, having a defensive unit with plenty of experience. Noah Barney and Zach Matracia both saw significant time and will be joined by classmates Andrew Fontaine and Kevin Aguilar. That defensive unit will be in front of senior goalie Brendan Matracia.
“I am hoping that we are going to be a team on the rise this year,” said Burgess. “I have a strong senior class and we’ve had a good summer and an even better preseason.”
2016 Record: 11-4-4 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Bryan Kelly
The defending Davenport division champs will boast a large senior class (14) but will also rely on some younger players as they look to win back-to-back Hock titles.
The Eagles’ tri-captains will provide leadership in each part of the pitch, with senior center back Shubo Roy-Chowdury on the back line, senior Tyler Hippler leading the midfield and senior Spencer Hall up front. Sharon’s attack will bolstered by seniors Marques Benton and Andy Reyes-Jones, who both saw plenty of time up top a year ago. Meanwhile, sophomore Michael Baur is back after a standout freshman season and classmates Isaiah Stessman, Brian Higgins and freshman Brice Nathan will all play a role in helping the Eagles go forward.
Maybe the biggest advantage the Eagles have is returning keeper Ethan Kantor. The junior had a terrific season in net a year ago and will be the backbone of the team’s defense.
“With a solid defense that is smart and has speed, we should be able to keep up with fast offenses while not losing the capability to support a potent offense,” said SHS head coach Bryan Kelly. “Overall, we are solid from goal to forwards, it just depends on if we can put the ball in the back of the net.”
2016 Record: 8-9-2
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Chris Suchorski
Stoughton will be looking to make it back again to the postseason, this time under first-year head coach Chris Suchorski. The Black Knights just made it in a season ago but it marked the third straight year for the program.
Suchorski is tasked with replacing 12 seniors that graduated from last year’s team. However, all of the players he is returning all saw varsity time last season and that should soften the blow dealt by graduation. Senior Tyler Melo (six points) is back and will likely be a vital part of the Black Knights’ midfield and attack. Junior Fabio Ponce de Leon (six points) begins his third season on varsity and will once again be one the Black Knights’ top offensive options. Brian Peoples also returns as one of the team’s top playmakers.
The biggest question could come with the back four, as the Black Knights must find a replacement for 2016 Best XI selection Goddy Fombe, who anchored the back line the past two season the sweeper position.
CANTON, Mass. – In a game that featured aggressive pressing in the midfield and disciplined back lines that maintained their shapes and proved hard to break down, scoring chances were always going to be at a premium.
Canton took advantage of a set piece opportunity to take the lead in the first half, as Paolo Ruggeri flicked home a free kick for the lead, and the Bulldogs got a full stretch save from Abe Garber with eight minutes remaining to pull out a 1-0 victory on Saturday evening against Milford at World War II Veterans Memorial Field.
“I thought we played really, really well,” said Canton coach Danny Erickson. “Milford played a lot of guys at the back…they were very disciplined and were hard to break down…I thought goals were going to be hard to come by after 10-15 minutes and we were right.”
The Bulldogs had the game’s first chance in the opening two minutes but Jake Verille‘s shot from distance was deflected and easily held by Milford keeper Danny Zwonik. Five minutes later, Milford had its first shot on goal when Marcello Panno’s header from a corner was tipped over the bar by a back pedaling Garber.
In the ninth minute came the break through. Canton had started the game well and pushed the Hawks back, which led to a foul on the left side of the box. Griffin Roach served the ball into the box and it was side footed towards goal by Ruggeri. The ball hit the underside of the bar, landed and then was headed home by Ben Waterhouse, but the official said that the initial shot had crossed the line.
“We worked on restarts yesterday, so we’re really happy about that,” said Erickson.
The game settled into a midfield stalemate for the majority of the first 40 minutes. Milford absorbed the Canton pressure and kept the Bulldogs from getting the ball into dangerous areas. In the 25th minute, Verille sent in a corner that was met at the far post by Dillon Anderson but his shot was saved by Zwonik. Two minutes later Zwonik got down well to his left to keep a long free kick attempt by Verille from sneaking inside the post.
Milford had one great chance with three minutes to halftime. Garber’s mis-hit goal kick surprised his defender Matas Leveckis and allowed Mike Webber to cut in and intercept. The Milford forward pulled his shot just wide of the post.
The Hawks started to find more space in the second half with Pedro Sampaio, Tiago Carvalho, and Panno getting on the ball more often and being able to create. Milford also started to find success with diagonal balls towards the fullbacks that got its playmakers in one-on-one situations rather than the crowded midfield.
A long throw by Joey Madden in the 47th minute was headed on by Panno but Carvalho nodded his shot wide from the middle of the box. In the 69th minute, Panno again rose above the defense but his headed chance from Sampaio’s corner was easily held by Garber.
Canton’s two best chances to that point in the second half had both fallen to Roach but he had sent his shots narrowly past the post with Milford keeper Luke Capobianco at full stretch both times. In the 71st minute, the Bulldogs had another opportunity when left back John Agnitti’s long diagonal found Paul Corcoran on the edge of the box. After a touch to create room, Corcoran’s shot was saved by Capobianco.
According to first-year head coach Brian Edwards, Milford’s defensive effort was the perfect response to the six goals that the Hawks gave up to Stoughton on Tuesday.
“I have no complaints defensively,” Edwards said. “After the performance we had on Tuesday, this was a completely different team. I’m happy with the performance if not the result…These guys have great character, so I wasn’t surprised by the reaction.”
Milford would create its best chance of the game in the 72nd minute. A throw-in on the near sideline (at a spot that was disputed by the Canton bench) found Sampaio, who turned his defender and found room on his left foot at the edge of the box. He unleashed a shot that looked destined for the bottom corner until Garber dove to his left and got a strong hand to turn it around the post.
“Great, great save by the keeper,” said Edwards.
Erickson added, “They certainly could have had a goal at the end but Abe came up with a big save. Abe didn’t have to do anything until he needed to and that’s what you need from a goalkeeper.”
Canton was able to run out the clock and take home the two points, but the losing coach was pleased with what he saw from his team, particularly in the second half.
“I actually thought we played really well,” Edwards said. “We weren’t able to get the ball in the net but I thought we created a good number of chances. At first we had a hard time dealing with the physicality they brought but I thought we adjusted…we just weren’t able to finish today.”
That changed in a hurry on Tuesday afternoon as Stoughton netted the opening inside the first two minutes, doubled its lead before the halfway mark of the first half and added four more goals in the second half in 6-2 win over Milford.
Stoughton caught Milford off guard to start the game, with goalie Matt Gallagher’s clearance eventually bouncing into the area. Senior Jordan Asnes took a touch was given time and space, allowing him to despot his left footed shot into the net for a quick 1-0 lead, just 75 seconds in.
Asnes had another chance with a shot from the top of the 18 and Marco Antunes had his low cross picked off, both inside the first 10 minutes. Five minutes later, the Black Knights broke through. Antunes corner to the far post was batted around between multiple players before falling to the feet of Marcio Dos Santos inside the six and the junior made no mistake, using the outside of his right foot to find the back of the net.
Milford found the back of the net for the first time in the 35th minute. Left back Lucas Caetano delivered a through ball that Pedro Sampaio ran onto. Sampaio cut across the face of goal but was ruled to have been fouled before he could get a shot off, earning a penalty kick. Sampaio calmly finished, tucking his shot into the low left corner to make it 2-1 just before half.
“The boys were good today,” head coach Aaron Salter said. “But they didn’t react as well as they should have after conceding a goal because they were so on top of the game, it was sort of a bit of a shock. I told them at halftime what they had been doing was right, we just need to go back to how we were playing.”
Stoughton quickly found its groove again to start the second half. Inside the first three minutes, the Black Knights earned a corner that Antunes drove to the near post. Dos Santos had his bid stopped on a nice save from Luke Capobianco but Stoughton senior Loubensky Lucas pounced on the rebound to make it 3-1.
The Black Knights’ offense rolled from there. In the 50th minute, Lucas dropped one over the drop that Asnes took possession of inside the area and again finished at the back post for a 4-1 advantage.
Five minutes later, Goddy Fombe made a nice run from the back, finding Lucas, who used a class turn to get free and was taken down from behind, earning a penalty. Lucas took the penalty himself, going low to his right for a 5-1 lead.
Stoughton capped its scoring just one minute later in the 15th minute when a service bounced off a defender and Asnes hit it first time to complete the hat trick.
“It was nice to see the forwards show up for the game. The last couple of games, we’ve created chances but the ball hasn’t been hitting the net,” Salter said. “It was nice to see Jordan get a hat trick as well. And then Loubensky got two which I hope will kickstart him for the rest of the near and we can push on.”
Salter also had praise for Antunes, who was dominant in his spot on the right wing and was responsible in creating the majority of Stoughton’s chances.
“Marco was brilliant,” Salter said. “I talked with him before the games and told him ‘You’ve done the right things, but your final ball is something you’ve had to work on.’ We haven’t had much practice because of so many games but he’s obviously been working on it on his own. I always tell the boys to breath before they cross or shoot just to relax themselves.”
“I don’t know if that goal really changed much,” Milford head coach Brian Edwards said of Stoughton’s early goal in the second half. “I think our performance, top to bottom, was forgettable at best and we have to move on. We just have to be better. You could tell from the beginning of the game until the end, we weren’t in it. It doesn’t matter who you play, if you play like that you’ll get embarrassed and that’s what happened.”
Salter is hoping this win can turn into more positive results going forward, saying, “The key thing today is the boys looked like they had fun. We haven’t had fun in any of our games this year so it was great to see them enjoying it with smiles on their faces.”
The field is among the widest in the Hockomock and the Warriors showed they’re willing to use as much space as they have at their disposal.
KP scored a pair of first half goals less than 10 minutes apart, coming away with a 2-0 win over Milford. KP’s first goal came using a counter attack on the wings and the second was finished off of a corner kick.
“We attacked heavily through our width and at the end of the day, it opens up our spine, which is where all of our strength is,” KP head coach Nick Gale. “We do work with the width well but we also have to be able to adapt if a team takes away the wings, we have to recognize that and play through the middle. I think we’re balanced enough to do it but today I thought we exposed the wings very nicely.”
The Warriors were on the attack from the opening whistle, combining nicely down both wings before trying to penetrate Milford’s defense. The breakthrough came in the 13th minute, when a blocked pass fell to the feet of senior Colby Koch on the left wing just over midfield. Koch took a couple of touches forward before springing junior Tyler Mann with a through ball. Mann reached it with a diagonal run, took a touch toward goal and tucked it under the oncoming keeper for the first goal.
“He’s very creative in his runs, he’s a strong player, and he creates a lot of gaps for other players to work in behind him,” Gale said of Mann.
King Philip kept its foot on the gas, with sophomore Anthony Bozza’s shot from the top of the area forcing Milford goalie Danny Zwonik into a diving save. On the ensuing corner kick, junior Connor Mullins sent a service to the back post where his brother, senior Cam Mullins, headed it back across the goal and into the far corner to make it 2-0 in the 20th minute.
“We have a lot of offensive minded kids that are willing to attack forward and we link up well,” Gale said. “We’re not afraid to transition, just as much as we do south to north, we’re looking to go east to west as well. We have the players to transition quickly.”
The Warriors kept possession for the majority of the first half, but the teams battled evenly for most of the second half. The Warriors nearly added onto their lead in the 47th minute after a corner kick was bounced around in the area, eventually deflected onto frame but Zwonik was positioned well and made the top.
King Philip threatened once more in the 65th minute when Koch chipped a ball into Thomas Lugten, who quickly flicked a header on behind him to Michael Rowe but Zwonik was quick to cut the space down and covered.
“Danny Zwonik played great, he kept us in this game honestly,” said first-year Milford head coach Brian Edwards. “I thought the second half we played a little better and limited their chances but we have some things we need to improve on. I’m not too worried, it’s the first game out and there’s a lot of room to improve. These guys have a good attitude and they didn’t give up – that’s very promising as a coach.
“Part of that was we weren’t ready, we weren’t prepared. I have to do a better job of getting these guys ready and we need to be more focused on the road. King Philip is a really skilled team and they can punish you. Their #10 [Tyler Mann], that kid is the real deal, that was a real tough finish. You just can’t give guys like that chances. They were very organized and credit to them and their coaching staff, they’re really talented and well coached.”
King Philip boys soccer (1-0-0) will look to make it two straight to start the season with a trip to Foxboro (0-0-1) on Tuesday. Milford (0-1-0) will try to earn their first points of the season when Franklin (1-0-0) makes a visit on Wednesday.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2016 Davenport Boys Soccer Preview
2015 Record: 3-10-4
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Danny Erickson
For the first time in a decade, the Bulldogs missed out on the postseason last year but with a large group of experienced players returning, the 2016 team is looking to start a new playoff streak. Canton graduated just two starters from last year’s team and looks to be in the mix for the Davenport division title this season.
Canton will look to its four captains for guidance with the quartet spread out nicely on the field. Junior Jake Verille and senior Ben Waterhouse will bring skills and versatility to the midfield. Senior Danny Hartnett is experienced and will anchor the back line while classmate Sammy Papakonstantino will be relied upon to be a catalyst up top for the Bulldogs.
“We think we have the technical ability this fall to play some good soccer,” head coach Danny Erickson said. “We were competitive last Fall but couldn’t figure out how to get the ball in the back of the net and get a result. I’m confident that we are ready to take the next step and see the positive results come this Fall.”
Erickson added there is a battle for the starting goalie spot right now between senior Sean Mitchell and junior Abe Garber.
2015 Record: 15-2-3
2015 Finish: Reached D3 South Semifinal
Coach: Joe Franchino
It will be far from easy for Foxboro to replace the 2015 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Devante Teixeira (20 goals, 16 assists), who graduated, and two-time league all star Joe Morrison (eight goals, 15 assists), now playing full-time with his academy team. But senior Anthony Barreira (18 goals, 12 assists) is back for his fourth year on varsity and the Warriors get former league all star Jeff Melo back to bolster the back line, which will make the transition easier.
Barreira is set to be a top striker in the league and Melo showed during his sophomore year that he can be one of the best defenders in the area. AJ Bubencik’s conversion from a defender to a midfielder will be key for the Warriors this season as well. Sophomore Nic Beigel had a great rookie campaign and will be a key piece for Foxboro this season along with juniors Shawn McNamara and Ryan Kelley. Aaron Wentling and Bobby Harrison will fight for the starting spot in net this season.
“We are not the same team as last year but the quality is still here and my expectations are to win games,” head coach Joe Franchino said.
2015 Record: 4-13-1
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brian Edwards
Milford had a strong debut when it joined the Hockomock League in 2013 but were able to capture just seven league wins over the past two years. Brian Edwards has taken over at the helm of the Scarlet Hawks and is looking for a bounce back season in his first year.
The Scarlet Hawks will be relying upon its three captains to make the turnaround. Senior Marcello Panno is one of the most versatile players in the league with Edwards referring to him as a ‘swiss army knife.’ Edwards expects Panno to play roles both offensively and defensively. Defensively, senior Danny Mendoza is going to be tasked with handling top strikers from around the league. Edwards credited Mendoza’s work rate and his ability to make those around him better. Junior Andre Oliveira will be a major part of Milford’s attack this season. Oliveira will be one to watch, especially on the counter attack.
“We expect to see a focus on technical skill and ball movement as opposed to direct play,” Edwards said. “This is an attack which will be geared towards moving the ball in tight spaces against high pressure.”
Edwards also noted the team will focus on a team defensive effort, with an effort to deny opponents space in the final third.
2015 Record: 1-14-3
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Geoff Burgess
After a rough couple of years, the North Attleboro Rocketeers are hoping a switch to the Davenport Division could be the perfect platform to launch a turnaround. With a good amount of players that saw either starting minutes or valuable time off of the bench back, the Rocketeers will look to ramp up their play, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Juniors Noah Barney and Zach Matracia saw a lot of minutes as outside backs last year and will look to bring that experience back this year. Senior John Brennan will try to anchor the back line from the center of the pitch while the Rocketeers look to find the right fit in the middle to complete the defense. Junior Brendan Matracia will occupy the goalkeeper spot with a good amount of minutes played from his sophomore year under his belt.
“We have gone from being young and green to being a group of seasoned varsity players,” head coach Geoff Burgess said. “It should be a resurgence for the program.”
Offensively, senior captains Leo Charlebois and Conor Danahey will be two of the main options up top. Burgess noted that junior Josh Rodriguez had a strong summer and will be a playmaker this year. In the middle of the pitch, junior Gabe Pinhancos will be complemented by classmate Ryan Pasquel and sophomore Marcus Costa.
2015 Record: 10-7-1
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Second Round
Coach: Bryan Kelly
Even though Sharon lost a strong group to graduation, the Eagles are relying on a new crop of seniors to lead them in 2016. The Eagles also expect to get contributions from juniors, sophomores and freshmen in different areas of the field.
Senior captains Ian Camilli and Shali Patel will lead from the heart of the field at center midfield while fellow captain Benjamin Stamm will be a viable attacking option. Sophomore Ethan Kantor will take over the starting job for Andrew Filipkowski, a 2015 HockomockSports.com Best XI selection that graduated. Shubojit Roy-Chowdhury will be the anchor of the back line as a center defender. Head coach Bryan Kelly is looking for breakout seasons from Oliver Hu, Jacob Tevin, Jeremy Cabral, Marques Benton Jr., Spencer Hall, Andrew Reyes-Jones and Michael Baur.
“[On top of our seniors and juniors] there will be several sophomores and freshman called up throughout the season who will only add to the strength of the team,” Kelly said.
2015 Record: 9-8-3
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Second Round
Coach: Aaron Salter
After another successful campaign, the Black Knights are hoping to push their postseason streak to three straight years. Stoughton will face the challenge of graduating seven seniors, including some key pieces from each part of the field, but there the group of returning players should give the Black Knights plenty of optimism.
Stoughton has scored over 30 goals in back to back seasons (38 in 2014, 31 in 2015) and will look to make their offense a strong suit again this year. The Black Knights are returning three of their top four scorers, including sophomore Fabio Ponce De Leon (eight goals, two assists), Jordan Asnes (five goals, five assists) and Loubensky Lucas (five goals, one assist). Lucas has been finding the back of the net for three years and head coach Aaron Salter notes he’s had a strong preseason thus far.
“I felt last year we didn’t kill off enough games and left teams with life still in them,” Salter said. “This year we will be hoping to close out games much easier.”
Defensively, the Black Knights are hoping experience will help anchor the back line. Tyler Melo will be a factor in the midfield while Goddy Fombe and Noah Schulze both emerged as strong options on defense last season. Salter admitted there were players in new spots last year but now with a year under their belts, they have developed the awareness and look strong in the preseason.