Mansfield Blanked By Brockton In South Quarterfinals

Mansfield boys soccer
Mansfield’s Dylan Buchanan battles for possession against Brockton in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – In the second half, the Mansfield boys soccer team applied plenty of pressure against Brockton, creating chances off corner kicks and throw ins.

But the Hornets couldn’t break through, and the pressure came just a bit too late as #11 Brockton used a pair of first half goals and added a third one on a counter attack midway through the second half to secure a 3-0 victory over #3 Mansfield.

The Boxers, a team much better than your typical #11 seed, had complete control over the first 40 minutes of the game. Brockton had a lion’s share of the possession and neutralized Mansfield’s attempts to get up field.

“They have a hell of a lot of talent over there,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan.

While the Boxers didn’t create a ton of goal scoring chances, they did capitalize on the opportunities they did have. After controlling the game of the opening 15 minutes, the visitors found the back of the net to go ahead.

After earning a free kick along the right flank, Brockton’s Luis Spinola served the ball to the near post to teammate Leonardo Teixeira. Teixeira had his first touch blocked down but tracked it down and fired in a shot at the near post on a tough angle to make it 1-0.

While Mansfield began to work its way into the game some, earning its first corner and first real attacking throw in, the Boxers struck again in the 33rd minute. Vanilton Xavier and Teixeira combined to get Xavier out wide. After using a cut back to avoid two defenders and centered it back to Teixeira, who headed in a ball he played up to himself.

“They played a little bit more aggressive,” Sheridan said, as compared to the regular season meeting between the clubs. “They were passive the first time, they didn’t play aggressive until the second half. In this game, they came out from the get go with a lot more gusto than the first time. We came out timid but we settled down. After the lightning break, we took it too them. We just couldn’t put the ball in the net.”

Mansfield’s lone chance of the opening half came off the foot of junior Colin Caridi, who blasted a low shot from 20 yards out but it slid wide at the far post.

“First, we had to keep the ball,” said Brockton head coach Herminio Furtado about defending Mansfield. “As long as you keep the ball, you’re safe. Second, don’t give them throw ins, they love that. We’d rather play from the back and if we lose it, just try to win it back instead of playing it out and giving them throw ins. It was about possessing and being conservative.”

The second half came to an abrupt halt just over minutes in because of a lightning delay. After the teams cleared the field, play resumed 36 minutes later. After the delay, the Hornets ramped up the pressure.

Mansfield had three straight conner kicks in the 38th minute, but only the final one had a chance on goal with Luke Savoie’s header saved on a bounce.

While Teixeira didn’t play a lot of minutes for Brockton in the second half, he did have a chance in the 51st minute but Mansfield junior keeper Cam Bovey made the stop.

While the Hornets pushed numbers forward, the chances on goal didn’t pile up. Instead, the Boxers were able to strike on a quick counter attack. Edson Lopes played Joel Arsenault wide but as soon as Lopes released the ball, he took off sprinting forward and was rewarded for his run as Arsenault slipped a ball in behind and Lopes touched it around the keeper for a 3-0 lead in the 60th minute.

“They only [broke us down] a couple of times.” Sheridan said. “The third goal, we were pushing numbers up and had less guys in the back…2-0, 3-0, 4-0…didn’t matter, we had to go for it.”

Mansfield’s best chance of the game came a minute later as Luke Devine flicked a ball in behind on a header and Savoie fired a hard low shot across the goal but it hit off the far post and rolled across the goal line, somehow staying out and keeping the Hornets scoreless.

Mansfield boys soccer finishes the season 13-3-5.

Franklin Beats Brockton Behind Strong Defense

Franklin football
Franklin’s Ryan Driscoll makes a leaping catch over a Brockton defender in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Throughout the regular season, the headlines have focused on Franklin’s high-power offense and all of the different skill guys it uses.

In the first round of the Division 1 South tournament, the Panthers’ defense took center stage.

#4 Franklin’s defense prevented #5 Brockton from getting in the end zone, adjusted to limit the Boxers’ run game, came away with three interceptions and anchored the Panthers to a 26-3 win.

After Brockton’s offense combined for 97 yards and three points on its first two drives of the game, the Panthers’ defense limited the Boxers to just 66 yards the rest of the way. Of Brockton’s final seven drives, three ended with interceptions, one with a safety, and two turnover on downs.

“Our defense has been pretty good all year in all of our wins,” said Franklin head coach Eian Bain. “It’s been pretty solid all year and in the second half, they won us that game. They put the nail in the coffin and sealed it for us.

“I love coaching and all that but the kids do all the work. From day one, they bought in. We’ve taken our bumps and we’ve grinded along the way but these guys earned everything they’ve gotten so far. I think we have great athletes but these guys have everything in their power to develop as people and as football players. That’s really shown this year.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Brockton’s offense had its lone success of the first two drives of the game. After a good return, the Boxers offense quickly marched 47 yards — all on the ground — into the Franklin red zone on the first drive of the game. But the visitors couldn’t convert as Franklin’s Nolan McLaney and Austin Jordan combined for a tackle for loss on second down, and Brockton fumbled on third, meaning they had to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Carlens Jean.

It took Franklin just over two minutes to respond, finding the end zone in just six plays on its first drive of the game. Junior quarterback Nick Gordon (11/16, 178 yards, two touchdowns) converted a third down by finding junior Jake Davis up the seam for a 36-yard gain – the only stopping him from going the distance was his own momentum.

After two plays without a gain, Franklin converted another third down, this time Gordon finding a streaking Jack Nally up the middle for a 32-yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead with 2:08 left in the first quarter.

The Boxers nearly struck back with an immediate response of their own. Brockton junior running back Ahmik Watterson broke free for a 50-yard scamper to get inside the Franklin 10-yard line. Another run from Watterson put the ball at the 1-yard line. Franklin’s defense came up with a key stop and Brockton was whistled for a dead fall foul, pushing them back to the 15-yard line.

Two plays later, Jean’s 25-yard field goal attempt was just wide left and Franklin’s offense took over.

“They had a pretty cool set early where they where they were unbalanced one way with a power-I going the opposite,” Bain said of Brockton’s early running success. “You have to adjust the front while also maintain some integrity on the back and be gap sound. Once we settled down we felt OK.”

The Panthers marched up field, going 74 yards to get into scoring territory at the Brockton 6-yard line. The drive was highlighted by a 27-yard catch from Sean Leonard and a terrific leaping 30-yard catch from Ryan Driscoll on third down. But Brockton’s defense was up to the task, not letting Franklin get any closer.

The Panthers settled for a 23-yard field goal from Parker Chevrant and a 10-7 advantage with 6:55 to play in the second quarter.

Although Brockton’s defense just had a big stop to get some momentum, Franklin’s defense stole it right back. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Brockton quarterback Michael Norman was intercepted by Driscoll near midfield and he returned it all the way into the red zone at the 18-yard line.

Four plays later, on fourth and 2 from the 10-yard line, Bain elected to go for it and Gordon linked up with Leonard, who just got his feet down, in the end zone for a 17-3 advantage with 4:29 left in the first half.

“Any game you can really boil it down to about a half dozen moments and for us, that stretch was certainly one of them,” Bain said. “We’ve put a lot of stock in our kids and we really trust them. We went up to the line with a dummy call, we weren’t going to run a play but Leonard is a three-year guy, Gordon has stepped in the clutch all year so we let them do their thing.”

Brockton started its drive inside its own 20-yard line and junior linebacker Evan Wertz made a big tackle on third down to force the Boxers to punt. But the snap sailed high on the punter, and by the time he was able to pick it up he stepped out of bounds in the back of the end zone while under pressure from McLaney, resulting in a safety and a 19-3 lead for the Panthers.

Franklin had a chance to add onto that lead before half, getting to the Brockton 30-yard line on the ensuing drive but a fumble ended the drive.

Brockton moved 30 yards to get into Franklin territory in the final minute of the first half but Owen Palmieri came away with an interception to send the teams into the locker rooms for half.

“For us, our strength is our back end, our strength is our athletes,” Bain said. “I think we have very good linemen but we’re always going to be outsized, that just the way it is here. But we’re fast and athletic, so we if we can get a team to play to our strengths, we’re in a better spot. We wanted to make them throw it some and get out of their comfort zone.”

The second half featured a battle of ground games trying to solve two strong defensive fronts. Brockton had 20 plays in the second half with a total of 29 yards.

Franklin’s offense didn’t fare much better as it tried to get its ground game going and keep the ball away from the Boxers. The Panthers offense had 30 plays for a total of 57 yards.

“We like we had some opportunities to run, that was what they were giving us,” Bain said of keeping the ball on the ground for the majority of plays in the second half. “We didn’t want to give them a short field or anything. They have the athletes to get back in the game in one strike. I don’t want to say we were conservative, we truly believe they were the right play calls but hopefully we can have some more success on the ground next week.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The big play of the second half came when Franklin’s defense once again thwarted the Boxers trying to throw the ball. Midway through the fourth quarter, a sack from senior Adam McMorrow forced the Boxers into a 3rd and 15 scenario inside their own 20 yard line.

Norman tried to link up with a receiver down field but McLaney stepped in front for the interception. The senior returned it 26 yards to the 1-yard line, setting the Panther offense up.

After being stuffed on the first two tries on QB sneaks, Gordon took the next snap in shotgun and pushed his way up the middle for a 26-3 lead with 5:39 to play.

Franklin football (6-2) advances to the D1 South Semifinal and will take on top-seeded Xaverian (6-1) on Friday night at 7:00 in Westwood. The Hawks beat BC High 17-0 in the opening round.

Mansfield Knocks Out Boxers to Win South Title

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield won its first South sectional title in five years with a strong performance against Brockton at Taunton High. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – There are a lot of programs that would love to have the level of consistent success that Mansfield has enjoyed over the past several seasons, but heading into Friday night’s Div. 1 South final at Taunton High the Hornets were not thinking about all the games that they had won in the last five years.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Hornets, especially the senior class, were thinking about the two sectional finals they had reached in the past three seasons, including last year’s loss to Needham on the same court, and focusing on ensuring that the third time would be the charm to bring home the program’s third South title. It was.

Mansfield put in another dominant performance on both ends of the floor to beat Brockton 79-65. The Hornets used a 15-0 run in the second quarter to break the game open, led by as many as 24 points, and the 14-point final margin was the closest that the Boxers got in the second half.

“We’ve lost it twice and our senior year we wanted to go out on top and win the South sectional final,” said senior point guard Sam Hyland after the game. “We’re not done yet, but that was awesome. It meant a lot to win it.”

Senior John McCoy added, “We want to win the state [tournament]. We had three goals at the beginning of the season – to win the Hock, win the South sectional finals, and to win the state title – so far we’ve done two of those three.”

When Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan was asked about what drove the Hornets to get over the hump and bring home the title, he replied, “Last year, when we lost to a very good Needham team, the guys who played last year felt that pain, they wanted to get back here and represent the South in the state tournament.”

Few teams are playing as well as Mansfield at this point in the season and even fewer teams are as good when facing a team for a second time. The Hornets avenged one of their two losses by beating BC High by 13 in the quarterfinal and rolled past Newton North for the second time this season in the semifinal. After beating the Boxers by five in a tight game a little more than two weeks before, Mansfield made sure this meeting was nowhere near as close.

One of Mansfield’s strengths is the balance it has on offense and in the first quarter six different Hornets scored, including Tommy Dooling who drilled a three after a scramble for a loose ball fell to Ryan Otto and he swung it over to the junior guard. The three put the Hornets up 19-15 after one.

“I know my job,” said Hyland about the team’s depth. “I’ve got to get the ball over half-court and let someone make a play. Vine hit a couple shots, Damani was huge obviously, Tommy Dooling hit the biggest shot of the year for him, and Johnny has always been huge.”

McCoy answered a Brockton basket to start the second, but the Boxers got a layup off an inbounds pass to cut the lead back down to just two. The Hornets scored the next 15 and never looked back.

Senior Justin Vine (11 points) started the run with a straightaway three off another of Otto’s five assists on the night. Damani Scott also started to get going with a basket off an offensive rebound and a transition basket after a Hyland steal. After the Boxers finally ended the run with a runner, Vine added another three, this time from the corner off a Tyler Boulter feed. Mansfield went into the break leading 41-26.

“The thing I like about this team right now is they’re really engaged with the game plan,” said Vaughan. “They’re executing what we’re putting in; they’re executing the little things in the game we need to do to win.”

Brockton came out for the third quarter energized but, similar to the game against Newton North, the Hornets always seemed to have an answer to prevent a comeback. The Boxers cut the lead to 15, but Otto (nine points) chased down an offensive rebound and Hyland moved it over to Boulter for a big three in the corner.

Despite the Brockton full-court press, the Hornets continued to get the ball into the offense thanks in large part to Hyland keeping turnovers to a minimum. He explained, “[Coach] told me before the game tonight that when they’re pressing you have to be like a boxer. You can’t let them keep pounding you, you’ve got to try and attack them.”

Boulter would score seven of his 10 points in the third to help stretch the lead, while McCoy continued to take over the game with his ability to get to the rim. The senior, who was greeted by “MVP” chants by the Mansfield crowd after every basket, scored six in the third on his way to a game-high 23. He also pulled down nine rebounds, had a pair of steals, and dished out three assists.

“It was almost like he was pacing himself early, letting the game come to him and we said to him at halftime of the last game you need to put your will on the game,” said Vaughan of McCoy. “There’s reasons why basketball has superstars and he played like a superstar the other day and tonight was no different. He’s a game-changer on both ends of the floor.”

In the fourth quarter, Mansfield made sure the game stayed out of reach with stellar ball movement to find open looks. Scott caught fire on the fourth, scoring 10 of his 21 in the final quarter. He buried a pair of threes from essentially the identical spot right in front of the Hornets fans and he capped a near-perfect night for the Hornets with a steal and dunk that put Mansfield up by 24.

“We’re just excited to be able to close the loop on the South and put our name back in there,” said Vaughan, who has now won three South titles as coach (2011 and 2013 being the others). “It’s been a while since we’ve gotten this so we’re excited to be back here and now we’ve got more work to do starting tomorrow morning.”

Although there is still work to be done, the players were definitely enjoying the moment on the floor. As the crowd was being urged to disperse, Hyland stood at midcourt cradling the South championship trophy. When asked how it felt at that moment, he said, “It feels pretty awesome right now. This thing feels pretty great in my hands right now.”

Mansfield (25-2) will play the North champion, either Everett or Lawrence, at the TD Garden in the state semifinal on Monday night at 7:30.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Brockton’s Defense Overwhelms Attleboro In Opener

Attleboro boys basketball
Attleboro junior Mason Houle drives to the basket in the first half against Brockton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BROCKTON, Mass. – For the first 16 minutes of the game, the 13th-seeded Attleboro Bombarders went punch for punch with the third-seeded Brockton Boxers.

But the second half was a different story.

The Boxers amped up their defensive pressure, leading to turnovers and transition baskets and a 71-48 win in the opening round of the D1 South tournament.

Attleboro trailed by as much as five but held a 9-8 lead at the midway point of the first, and used a late three to knot the game 15-15 at the end of one.

Sophomore Bryant Ciccio (13 points) scored six straight for Attleboro early in the second quarter, each bucket erasing a deficit to tie the game.

A banked three from junior Mason Houle gave the Bombardiers a 24-23 edge, and two free throws from senior Nate Douglas (eight points) put Big Blue back in front 26-25 at the midway point.

But late in the first half, the Boxers switched their defense up to apply a halfcourt trap. From that point, Attleboro scored just two points over the final four minutes, a bucket down low off the hands of sophomore Qualeem Charles (eight points, nine rebounds).

Although trailing 32-28 at half, the Bombardiers seemed to be in a good spot, shooting nearly 50% from the floor despite missing some transition layups.

“We were okay at halftime,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “I thought if we came out in the second half and played a little bit better…we did some really good things in the first half we just had to hit some transition baskets on our own side. But we really never put the pressure on them to keep it close. Their defense in the second half just swarmed us. Even our good looks didn’t seem as good.”

“I just said to Coach Houle that I thought [Attleboro] controlled the game in the first half,” said Brockton head coach Bob Boen. “We were playing at their pace, we were doing what they wanted to do. I thought we were lucky to be ahead by four the way the first half went. I just decided we couldn’t play that way any longer, we had to get out and start pressing and pressuring in the half court.

Unfortunately for Attleboro, it was the Boxers who dominated the second half.

The halfcourt trap continued to bother Attleboro, who had more turnovers (seven) than field goals made (five) in the third quarter. Brockton’s active pressure led to easy transition buckets.

“[The pressure] made the difference,” Boen said. “It really got us lively and kind of took them out of their offense. They made a couple of threes against us but not much else. We did a real nice job with it, we were active and covered up when they made good passes.”

Kevin Velazquez hit an early triple to cut the deficit to three, and Douglas drained one from deep to get the Bombardiers within six with five minutes left in the third. But Attleboro couldn’t find consistency in its offense due to the trap and Brockton rattled off eight straight points over the next two and a half minutes.

“We did some good things early in the game obviously,” Houle said. “Even in the first half we had some opportunities to get them out of the 1-3-1 but we missed some shots and missed on some inside outs. We had a couple of chances in transition to really kind of force them into some different things. I thought if we got a couple of baskets against the 1-3-1 early on they might not have stayed in it, it definitely gave us fits there.”

Charles snapped the run with a putback of his own miss to get it back to 10, but Brockton created plenty of separation with a 9-3 run to finish the quarter, taking a 57-41 lead into the final quarter.

“They are long, they are quick and they got into the passing lanes, and we didn’t come to the ball,” Houle said. “When we did have opportunities to make plays, we didn’t play with as much confidence in the second half. I think that’s what it came down to. We were a little less confident as the game went on.”

It was more of the same in the fourth for Attleboro. The Bombardiers only managed seven points in the final quarter and didn’t score until two minutes left in the game. Ciccio hit two free throws, Lorenzo Wilson scored in the paint and Jornell Abadia drained a three.

“One of the things we had to do tonight was play through contact, and we didn’t do that,” Houle said. “And they had their run outs, and we didn’t want to let them get out in transition. So two things right there hurt us, especially in the third quarter. That opened the lead a little bit.”

Attleboro boys basketball finishes the season 13-10.

Strachan Steps Up in Big Spot, Attleboro Edges Brockton

Attleboro girls basketball
Attleboro senior Julia Strachan knocked down a long jumper with 57.4 remaining in the game for what turned out to be the game-winning points in a 63-58 playoff victory against Brockton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Entering the state tournament, Attleboro had been struggling to find the consistent form that got the Bombardiers off to an 8-0 start to the season. Blown leads and close losses in rematches against Franklin and North Attleboro in the final week highlighted what was a 7-7 run over the last 14 games.

In the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s playoff opener against Brockton, it seemed like Attleboro would once again struggle to pull out a win in a close game. The Boxers rallied from as many as nine points down in the second half to take the lead on a Jade Wilt (10 points) jumper with a minute remaining.

This time, Attleboro did not fold. Senior guard Julia Strachan capped off a 24-point night by driving up the court and pulling up for a jumper with her toe on the three-point line that put the Bombardiers ahead 59-58 with 57.4 on the clock.

A pair of free throws from Sam Pierce (11 points, six rebounds) and two from Jordyn Lako (six points) sealed a 63-58 victory for Attleboro, which avenged a first round playoff loss to the Boxers in 2014 and sets up a third meeting with league champion Mansfield, the top seed in Div. 1 South.

“I thought they did a great job handling the adversity this time,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. “When Brockton took the lead, we didn’t wilt. Strachan came down and made a big shot.”

Patch was asked about the difference it makes for Attleboro when Strachan (five three-pointers) starts knocking down shots from the outside. He responded, “Just for her to get her confidence like that, she is a bona fide shooter. She likes to shoot the ball, she’s very good at it and she feels like she can’t be stopped.”

He added, “That’s a kid who wants to win and who is an offensive threat inside and out.”

The Bombardiers needed Strachan to be on fire early, as Attleboro was slow out of the gates against an aggressive Brockton team that dominated on the glass and in hustle plays for much of the first half. Strachan had nine of Attleboro’s 14 first quarter points, but the Boxers held an 18-14 lead after one.

In the middle of the quarter, Patch called a timeout and laid into his team to try and wake the Bombardiers up. He explained, “We were getting beat to every loose ball, every rebound. They must have had six offensive rebounds in the first four minutes and that was the discouraging part. We called timeout to challenge them.”

The challenge was not accepted right away and, after a layup by freshman Alexandra Giannaros (team-high 14 points), Brockton led 28-20 in the closing stages of the second quarter. Attleboro finally responded with eight straight points to end the half tied.

Pierce drilled a three and scored off a nice bounce pass by Grace Mayer (three assists). Pierce then assisted on a basket by Sarah Deyo, who added a free throw to even the scores.

“As a staff, we were going into half thrilled that it was 28-28,” said Patch. “Last time we played them, they were up two. We knew if we could come out in the second half and get two or three positive possessions it would help.”

The Bombardiers came out of halftime determined to grab the lead and to gain control of the glass. Deyo scored 10 of her 18 points in the third, twice scoring on offensive rebounds and also a three-point play on another Mayer assist. Deyo started to dominate the boards and finished with 19 rebounds.

“Sarah is literally a rebounding machine,” Patch said. “She gets anything within six or eight feet of her, which is great. It’s what I was emphasizing to everyone else to just get your five rebounds this half, get the rebound.”

Strachan nailed her third three to put Attleboro ahead by five, then Pierce scored off an inbounds pass by Mish Logie, and Madison Brown came off the bench to snag her only rebound and turn it into her only basket to push the Bombardiers in front by as many as nine.

The lead was six heading to the fourth, as the Boxers just would not go away. Jalani Jackson (12 points) assisted on a three by Makayla Robinson to start the final quarter, but that was quickly answered by a long-range shot by Strachan, who also matched a three by Wint to keep the lead at eight points.

Brockton crept back into the game at the line. The Boxers went on a 9-0 run to take the lead for the first time in the second half and were helped by going 7-for-8 at the line, including two clutch free throws by Giannaros that cut the Attleboro lead to one.

Strachan provided the heroics for the Bombardiers and sent Attleboro into the next round for a heavily-anticipated third meeting with Mansfield. The Hornets won both meetings in the regular season and there is little mystery between these rivals.

“The good thing is we have one day to prepare for them and we’ll see what happens,” said Patch. “We have our work cut out for us.”

He smiled when asked if there was anything specific that the Bombardiers would try to do differently the third time around. “Score more points than they do,” he quipped.

Patch added, “We’ve tried a lot of different things and the last couple times they seemed to be a step ahead of us, so we expect a great challenge ahead of for sure.”

Attleboro (16-7) will travel to Albertini Gym on Thursday night at 6:30 to face Mansfield (18-2).