Mansfield Slips Past Sharon For First Win

Sharon’s Brian Higgins (7) tries to avoid a tackle from Mansfield’s Tommy Lanzillo (left) in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Behind a new-look defensive unit, the Mansfield boys soccer posted its first shutout of the season, which helped the Hornets break into the win column for the first time in 2019.

After surrendering an uncharacteristic nine goals through the first three games, Hornets’ head coach Steve Sheridan elected to put junior Evan Eames into a sweeper role and senior captain Colin Caridi in front of him as a stopper.

Flanked by Cam Eddu on the left side, and juniors Ethan Scholes and Stephen Saba alternating at right back, and all-league goalie Anthony Salisbury behind them, the duo anchored Mansfield to their first shutout in a 1-0 win over visiting Sharon.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“The biggest difference for me was the defense,” Sheridan said. “We’ve been having trouble with that and we tried a different group today. I took Colin out of the middle and put him in the back. And Evan has played everywhere for me this year and I just haven’t found a spot but I think we did today.”

After losing junior Michael Jeans to an injury in the season opener, Sheridan has shuffled pieces in the back before going with the duo of Eames and Caridi in the heart of the defense. That duo helped limit Sharon to a handful of quality chances.

The lone goal of the contest came just before the midway point of the season second. With a long throw in the attacking third, the Hornets loaded the box with attacking players. Eddy launched a long throw from the right sideline. Senior Peter Oldow got just enough of a touch to redirect the ball onto goal, where it hit off the post and just crossed the goal line to make it 1-0.

The teams took turns controlling the game, with the hosts dictating the pace early on. Mansfield sophomore Dylan Buchanan saw his shot from a tough angle go wide at the near post in the 8th minute, and two minutes later, he flashed a header just wide off service from Tommy Lanzillo.

The Hornets’ best chance of the opening half came off the foot of Caridi. With some space just over midfield, Caridi ripped a shot from distance that hit the crossbar and bounced out.

Sharon took control over the final 10 minutes of the first half and nearly took the lead. With seniors Brian Higgins, Isaiah Stessman, and Michael Baur combining in the midfield, the Eagles were able to move the ball and generate its best offense.

In the 37th minute, Baur connected with Stessman, who held used strong hold up play to allow the Eagles to get upfield. Higgins latched onto a loose ball forcing Salisbury into a save on the bounce.

And just before halftime, Stessman connected with Viktor Schneider, who set up Higgins for a blast on the volley but his shot whistled wide and the refs whistled for halftime.

The Eagles started the second half strong as well, as Schneider ripped a shot just wide a minute in, and Stessman and Higgins combined to force Salisbury into a diving save.

“Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t finish,” said Sharon coach Bryan Kelly. “We got caught up playing kick and run soccer. We dominated the end of the first half by keeping the ball on the ground and we lost that in the second half. We have a couple of guys that are hurt, and on a field like this, when you try to run as fast as you possibly can constantly, it’s tough. We slowed it down in the first half and that’s why we had the advantage.

“In all honesty, their only game is kick and run, long throws, and corners. That’s the only thing that team has to it. You don’t see any build-up play in the middle, you don’t see guys making effective runs in.”

Sharon freshman goalie Matthew Baur made a stop on a Mansfield corner kick in the 48th minute, smothering a redirection. But the Hornets cashed in with a long throw in the 56th minute.

“We draw up the plays, we go over them one day and they have to know them,” Sheridan said of the long throws. “We very rarely work on them in terms of practice. We will go over sometimes at the end of practice to make sure they know them. We have a couple of guys that can throw it long this year so we can move Dylan into the box and have a dangerous striker there.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Both teams had chances over the final 20 minutes. In the 64th minute, Lanzillo hit a free kick from 20 yards out that looked destined for the top corner but Baur made a leaping one-handed stop to keep the deficit at one.

And in the 75th minute, Sharon nearly found the equalizer. Higgins played a free kick quick to Michael Baur, who took a touch and uncorked a bullet but the shot from distance went just over the crossbar.

Mansfield boys soccer (1-2 Hockomock, 1-3 overall) is back in action on Monday when they visit Franklin. Sharon (0-3-0, 0-3-1) will look to break into the win column with a trip to North Attleboro on Tuesday.

Second Half Comeback Lifts Taunton Over Sharon

Taunton boys soccer
Taunton’s Mateusz Hagemajer fends off Sharon’s Isaiah Stessman late in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – The Taunton boys soccer team didn’t win the battle of possession or have the most chances in the game, but it did have the advantage where it mattered most: the score.

The Tigers weathered a strong attack from Sharon, countering with two second half goals, including the game-winner in the final five minutes, to pick up a 2-1 win.

“For this team, it’s about a belief system,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters. “They have to really believe in what they are capable of, because they are capable of a lot, this team has a lot of talent. It’s about being confident. This team in particular, they don’t give up. They are really embracing the “we” mentality over “me” and I think thats’ carrying them through.

“They are determined and resilient, and that showed today. We can’t come out flat like we did. But I couldn’t be prouder of the whole team for staying with it.”

With the game tied 1-1, Taunton senior Brett Beaulieu won a one-on-one battle on the left flank, dribbled into open space and drove a perfectly weighted cross into the senior. Junior Mateusz Hagemajer was in the right spot, heading it just under the bar through the keeper’s hands for the game-winner.

Sharon had the majority of the play, especially in the first half. The Eagles applied a ton of pressure in the opening 20 minutes but couldn’t solve the Tigers’ defense, anchored by Evan Melo and Liam Crowley, or goalie Nolan Melo (10 saves).

Senior Antonio El-Khoury had a nice rip from 25 yards out sail just over the bar, junior Isaiah Stessman drove a low shot from the top of the box off the post, and the Eagles had a couple of crosses go without an answer.

The Eagles finally broke through in the 26th minute when Stessman tucked a header just inside the far post off a nicely taken corner from senior Eli Berkowitz.

Before the end of the half, Taunton settled in some and developed a pair of chances on their own. In the 33rd minute, Hagemajer hit a half volley that was smothered on the bounce by Sharon keeper Ethan Kantor. Five minutes later, hard work from Jared Roderick nearly led to a chance for Hagemajer in the box but Sharon’s Daniel Gunduz interjected and cleared.

After some back and forth play in the early second, Taunton came up with the equalizer just over the midway point of the half. Beaulieu came up big again, gaining possession just over half and linking up with Colby Fernandes in the final third.

Fernandes took a touch into space before taking a shot from 25 yards out. The shot deflected off a player and hit off the inside of the post, just outside the reach of the diving keeper, to make it 1-1. It was Beaulieu’s first of two assists on the night.

“We rely on Brett a lot,” Whitters said. “He’s a very smart player and he’s very tactically aware. He’s very versatile so I can have him go in the middle to calm things down or he can be an attacking option out wide. He really sets a positive tone for us, he’s a workhorse out there.”

Sharon nearly responded right away when Berkowitz was played in alone in the 67th minute but Melo made a terrific one-on-one stop to keep the game level. Eight minutes later, Hagemajer had the winner.

“It’s deflating. We completely dominated that game, dominated the chances,” said Sharon head coach Bryan Kelly. “I’m in shock…we stopped running the last 10 minutes of the game. It was unlucky [Taunton’s] first goal took that deflection. But a break like that gives a team like that hope. We’re not a bad team…I know we’re 0-3-3 but we’ve dominated almost every single game we played.

“We’re missing by just inches and then we give up two lousy goals. It just completely annihilates us. We’re working our butts off, we’re dominating the midfield, we’re getting through balls but with no results. Their goalie was busy but we were missing the frame a lot. Everything was just a few inches off here and there. But give [Taunton] credit, they played their butts off and showed a lot of heart. They had no quit in them.”

Taunton boys soccer (1-1-2 Hockomock, 1-2-2 overall) is back in action on Monday night when it visits Franklin. Sharon (0-2-3, 0-3-3) is in action the same night, taking on Canton in its first ever night game at Sharon High.

Boys Soccer: 2018 Davenport Division Preview

2018 Davenport Boys Soccer Preview
North Attleboro’s Joe Hilf (right) and the rest of the Rocketeers are ready to defend the division title. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Davenport Boys Soccer Preview

Canton

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.

Foxboro

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.

Milford

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.

North Attleboro

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.

Sharon

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.

Stoughton

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.”

Stessman’s Brace Helps Sharon Double Up On Attleboro

Sharon boys soccer
Attleboro’s Devin Andre avoids a challenge from Sharon’s Andrew Reyes-Jones in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
SHARON, Mass. – Sharon head coach Bryan Kelly didn’t hide his excitement in the preseason for the group he had this season, including a handful of younger players.

But because of an injury, sophomore
Isaiah Stessman was stuck on the bench for the team’s first three games, and the Eagles were limited to just three goals so far.

Stessman made a splash in his season debut, scoring a goal in each half, including the game-winner in the final 10 minutes as Sharon recorded a 4-2 win over visiting Attleboro.

“His presence in the middle is huge,” Kelly said. “He’s young but he’s smart. With him and [Michael] Baur in the middle, we’re dynamic.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

It took the Eagles less than 10 minutes to take the lead over the Bombardiers. Using one of their most reliable options, senior
Tyler Hippler launched a long throw-in inside the attacking third that went over Attleboro’s keeper, deflected off sophomore
Michael Baur, off the post and in for a 1-0 lead.

Attleboro registered its first chance of the game in the 18th minute when
Devin Andre tracked down a long punt from keeper
Nick Hasenfus, touched it wide for sophomore
Michael Russo but his bid went just over the bar.

Big Blue’s momentum didn’t last long though. Just three minutes later, the Eagles doubled their lead. Sharon senior
Marques Benton found some space at the top of the area, turned and ripped a shot that forced a diving save by Hasenfus. But Stessman pounced on the loose ball and buried it to make it 2-0.

“That’s the offense we’ve been expecting,” Kelly said. “During the OA game, we were kind of stagnant in our midfield and weren’t moving the ball well. So yesterday during practice we focused on moving the ball and keeping our formation and it showed today. We kept the ball on the ground, we were stringing together some passes together.”

The Eagles nearly added another tally in the 31st minute when
Andrew Reyes-Jones laid a pass off for sophomore
Brian Higgins but his bid on net was saved.

Attleboro had a last minute chance in the first half when
Connor Dunn struck a half volley inside the area, but Sharon junior goalie
Ethan Kantor made an acrobatic save to preserve the two goal lead at the break.

Sharon came close to adding a third just over five minutes into the second half but Hasenfus had a big answer. Sophomore
Viktor Schneider’s low cross found the feet of Baur inside the area, but a tackle from
Nathan LaPlume forced it free. Hippler jumped on the loose ball and placed his shot in the upper corner but Hasenfus timed his jump perfectly and knocked it away.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The save proved big for Attleboro as the Bombardiers cut the deficit in half just four minutes later. Russo launched a big clearance off a Sharon corner and junior
Will Halben was able to flick the ball behind the defense. Halben then tracked down the loose ball, taking advantage of a miscommunication between a Sharon defender and Sharon goalie, touched it wide and finished into the open net to make it 2-1.

The Bombardiers nearly pulled level three minutes later when
Aidan Lanc put a half volley on goal, but Kantor was positioned well.

Two minutes after Andre had his floating header stopped by Kantor, the Eagles found the game winner. After a first corner we cleared away, Baur whipped a cross into the near post and Stessman – who was on the bench for the majority of the second half as he eases into game form – made the run and connected with a header to make it 3-1.

“We have a bunch of young players so when we can score off a set piece, it’s a bonus,” Kelly said. “Our second goal and our last goal to ice it, those are the goals we want to see. But set pieces are big too, a lot of teams score on set pieces in this league. If you’re not scoring on them, you could be down. You take away the set piece goals and it’s a 2-2 tie.”

With Attleboro pushing almost all of its players forward, Sharon’s
Antonio El-Khoury took advantage and tucked his shot into the far corner in the 80th minute.

On the final play of the game, Attleboro sophomore
David Medeiros hammered home a corner from junior
Eli Araujo to make it 4-2.

Sharon boys soccer (2-1-1 overall, 2-1 Hockomock) is back in action on Friday when it opens its Davenport schedule with a visit from Foxboro. Attleboro (0-2-1) is on the road for the second straight game, visiting King Philip on Friday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Boys Soccer: 2017 Davenport Division Preview

2017 Davenport Division Preview
Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Davenport Boys Soccer Preview

Canton

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.”

Foxboro

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.”

Milford

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.”

North Attleboro

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.”

Sharon

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.”

Stoughton

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.

Missed Opportunities Hurt Sharon in Loss to Pembroke

Sharon boys soccer
Sharon’s Ben Stamm challenges for a long throw-in in the second half against Pembroke. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com
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SHARON, Mass. – The opportunities were there, but unfortunately the finishing wasn’t for Sharon on Sunday afternoon.

The Eagles had the advantage in possession and chances created but couldn’t take advantage. Meanwhile, Pembroke was efficient in the offensive third, making the most of their opportunities and picked up a 3-1 win over the Eagles.

While both sides had chances early on – Pembroke’s Cory Arscott’s header pushed aside by Sharon keeper Ethan Kantor in the 5th minute and Sharon’s Andrew Reyes-Jones having his shot blocked by a scrambling Pembroke keeper Dan O’Neill both inside the first 10 minutes – it took until after the Titans to score for the Eagles to settle in.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“They capitalized on our mistakes, I thought we controlled the majority of the possession,” Sharon head coach Bryan Kelly said. “But sometimes that third or final pass wasn’t there and that’s where they got us a couple of times. They didn’t have much in the midfield, they were all about counter attacks and that’s where they scored. They weren’t a possessive team, they liked to get one or two passes and then get it up and they caught us on our heels a couple of times.”

After Sharon had an offensive possession thwarted, Pembroke jumped out on the counter with Nathan Horner grabbing possession on the right sideline. After a couple of touches to get into the attacking third, Horner launched a shot to the far post that just eluded Kantor’s leap and found the side netting to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The Eagles used long throw-ins from Tyler Hippler to generate some chances but a handful of opportunities bounced through the area without a Sharon player getting a clean touch. In the 37th minute, Sharon freshman Michael Baur did get on the end of a throw from Hippler but O’Neil did well to stop the chance.

“We had so many opportunities in the first half…balls right in front of the goal,” Kelly said. “Their goalie was outstanding, he made some great saves. If we finished…I mean I think we had way more opportunities going to goal than they did but it was just one of those games we couldn’t find the back of the net. I have to give it to my players, they played hard, they played great. But the name of the game is putting it in the back of the net.”

While Sharon had a strong start to the second half, Pembroke grabbed the all-important next goal in the 50th minute. Christian Pulselli played a through ball behind the defense to Sal Perrotto. Kantor made the initial stop charging out but the rebound went right back off Perrotto and found the back of the net.

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Sharon nearly responded immediately when O’Neil dove out to punch a corner kick from Baur. The ball ended up at the feet of Ian Camilli, who uncorked a shot from inside the area but O’Neil was back in position and handled the strike.

Pembroke iced the game in the 60th minute when Roman Frattasio was able to generate some space along the left wing and hit a shot that snuck in at the near post.

The Eagles pushed numbers forward at the end and were able to draw a penalty kick in the final minute. Jeffrey Gao, who drew the foul, buried the penalty to the bottom left to make it 3-1.

Sharon boys soccer finishes the season at 11-4-4 and as the 2016 Hockomock League Davenport Division Champions. It was the program’s first league title since 1994.

“We’re getting better every year. My first year and second year we had away games for playoffs, this year we had a home game,” Kelly said. “Hopefully next year we get that first round win that’s eluded us. This program is great, this team was great this year. Our season was awesome, first time in a long time we won a league title. They have all of that to be proud of.”

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Sharon Escapes Stoughton With Win, Davenport Title

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STOUGHTON, Mass. – Sharon didn’t have the majority of possession or chances on the road at Stoughton on Tuesday afternoon. But the Eagles did walk away with the most important thing: two points.

Those two points clinched a share of the Davenport division title, and by the end of the night, because of Foxboro’s win over Canton, Sharon clinched the title outright.

The 2-0 win over Stoughton gave Sharon its first ever boys soccer Davenport title and first league title since 1994.

“It was tough conditions today. The wind, the shorter field, the narrower field,” Sharon head coach Bryan Kelly said. “They clearly knew how to play the field – I’m going to chalk it up to that. As far as possession, we had to change formations a couple times to find the right one and we found it in the second half and we started to get possession a little better. They definitely had it in the first half, luckily we got that early goal and it kind of led us to victory. Once we established in the 4-4-2, we were set.”

Stoughton set out to use the wind to its advantage in the first half but Sharon registered the first two chances on goal. In the 6th minute, Ben Stamm sprayed Jake Teven wide along the right sideline. Teven put in a service over the Stoughton keeper the died in the area but Andrew Reyes-Jones’ close bid hit off the far post.

Just two minutes later, the Eagles once again were able to escape the pressure from the Black Knights. Stamm found himself on the right sideline wish possession and again, floated a ball that fell to the back post where Reyes-Jones redeemed himself with the close tap in to make it 1-0.

It looked like Stoughton would pull one back immediately as Loubensky Lucas used a nice move to get into the area along the touchline and had his cross knocked down on a handball. However, Sharon sophomore keeper Ethan Kantor used a diving save – his feet stopping the shot down the middle to keep the Eagles up.

For the rest of the first half, Stoughton was on the front end of things but couldn’t convert a dozen crosses into the area. Conor Kavanaghhad one cross hit off the crossbar and cleared and then another fall right through the area without a recipient latching on to it. Rami Hourabidelivered a tempting free kick right into the area but again, Stoughton couldn’t pounce on the loose ball in the area.

The pressure continued into the second half, despite the Black Knights playing against the wind. Noah Schulze connected with Lucas, who had a neat touch to put Jordan Asnes into the area but his bid rolled just wide at the far post in the 45th minute.

In the 58th minute, Goddy Fombe found Kavanagh in the area but his tight angle shot found the side netting on the outside at the near post. One minute later, Kantor had his biggest save in the run of play, robbing the Knights of the tying goal.

Asnes stayed patient as he gained possession in the attacking third, allowing runs to develop and finding a streaking Fabio Ponce De Leon up the middle. Ponce De Leon unleashed a shot that look destined for the back of the net but Kantor made a leaping save, punching the ball clear.

“He’s 3-for-4 on penalty kicks this year, he’s a dynamite goalie,” Kelly said. “I’m glad I have him for another two years too. He’s only a sophomore, he’s been lights out for us all year long and he continued to be today.”

Stoughton continued the pressure as Ponce De Leon connected with Kavanagh for a cross to Lucas, for a touch to Asnes, only for the shot to be partially blocked and smothered by Kantor.

“I don’t know what it is but the final decision, I don’t know what it is,” Stoughton head coach Aaron Salter said. “Not sure if it’s that we just need that one point to get into the tournament or what. We just have had so many games this year where we’ve dominated we just can’t seem to get…I don’t want to say luck, we just can’t seem to get it done.

“We’ve scored enough goals this year but the last few games, I can’t put my finger on it. The boys played well today – I can’t be too upset. We dominated the game. We needed to use the conditions in the first half. I just wish we put our second half performance in the first half and I think the outcome we have been different. To be fair to Sharon, they had two chances and they took them well. That’s what happens in soccer.”

Sharon had a pair of chances on the counter in the 63rd and 65th minutes but both shots were turned away by Stoughton keeper Matt Gallagher.

The Eagles iced the game in the 72nd minute, using the counter to play the ball over the top of Stoughton’s high line. Spencer Hall sprang Marques Benton in alone and he made the most of his chance with a shot into the back left corner.

Sharon boys soccer improves to 9-3-4 overall, and 8-3-3 in the Davenport. The Eagles will conclude the season with a home and home series with Milford, first visiting the Scarlet Hawks on Thursday. Stoughton falls to 8-8-1 overall. The Black Knights will need to get at least a point when they host Canton on Thursday in order to qualify for the state tournament.

Eagles Win at Canton to Clinch State Tournament Berth

Sharon boys soccer
Andrew Reyes-Jones celebrates the game-winning goal against Canton on Saturday afternoon that sealed a state tournament berth for the Eagles. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Two days of rain forced the game to be moved from its home field, but Sharon did not seem bothered by having to play at Canton for a second time or to be without two of its starting midfielders.

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The Eagles locked down defensively, with keeper Ethan Kantor largely untroubled by the Canton attack, and got second half goals from Andrew Reyes-Jones and Ben Stamm to walk away with a 2-0 victory that clinched a spot in the state tournament and extended Sharon’s lead in the Davenport division to four points over the Bulldogs.

“We’ve been talking about the importance of getting these two points,” said Sharon coach Bryan Kelly. “This puts us in. That’s great; now we’re playing for seeding.”

The weather forced the game to be played on Canton’s turf pitch rather than the grass at Sharon and that decision looked prescient when the skies opened up during warmups and the pitch was deluged by rain through almost the entire first half.

The downpour had its effect on the opening 40 minutes with the ball skidding around and both teams struggling to create any scoring chances from open play. Both teams relied on set pieces to get the ball into the attacking third with Sharon’s TTyler Hippler sending in a number of long free kicks and long throws into the box.

Canton’s best chances fell to Jake Verille in the 19th minute and to Sam Papakonstantino a minute later but the first effort sliced wide and the second was easily held by Kantor. That would be the lone save that the Sharon keeper was forced to make.

“We had no attack today,” admitted Canton coach Danny Erickson. “They pressured very well and we didn’t handle it. Tackles were all Sharon, everything in both boxes were Sharon and they clearly deserved to win today.”

The best chance of the opening half came on a Hippler throw that fell to Jeffrey Gao, who managed to flick a shot to the far corner where Canton keeper Abe Garber was able to tip it around the post. On the ensuing corner Shalin Patel headed over.

The sun came out just before halftime and the Eagles seemed to gain energy from the changing weather. The second half saw Sharon push forward and look far more dangerous in the attacking third.

“We’ve been looking for the diagonal ball and we haven’t been hitting it, so we just need to continue to do that and win the ball,” said Kelly about the second half surge. “We weren’t doing much in the first half and once we started to do that in the second half the game really changed.”

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That change in momentum created the opening goal nine minutes after the break. Hippler squared a pass from the right into Stamm on the edge of the box and he turned his defender before laying the ball into the path of Reyes-Jones. The junior took a touch past his marker before firing a shot inside the far post for what turned out to be the game-winner.

“Ben Stamm was the difference tonight,” Kelly explained. “Getting that solid touch, the first-time ball, nice turn on it to Andy and Andy put it home. Without Ben in the middle there, it’s a different game.”

Six minutes after the goal, Reyes-Jones nearly played provider with a through ball to Spencer Hall but his shot was saved by Garber. Canton had only one clear chance from the run of play in the second half when Griffin Roach turned on the edge of the box after a Paul Corcoran throw but his shot slid wide of the post.

The only chances that Canton was able to manage came on free kicks and corners with Matas Leveckis having a couple of headers in the box that he was not able to put on target.

Erickson said, “Our only chances were on set pieces and we never really got any test on them. It was a tough one for us today.”

With the game winding down, Canton was caught with everyone up field and a quick ball played over the top sprung Stamm, who was onside because he started the run in his own half. Stamm beat Garber to the ball, touched it past the keeper and then walked it in for the goal that settled the game.

When asked if he felt a little better after the second goal, Kelly laughed and responded, “Absolutely, that second one was, thank you…thank you.”

Sharon qualified for the postseason for the third straight season. The past two years have seen the Eagles get knocked out on the road in the opening round and Kelly said that the team is intent on changing that this fall.

He said, “The important thing is my boys aren’t focused on that first game. We want to get through that first game, we don’t want it to end in the first game this year.”

Sharon (8-3-3, 7-3-3) will step outside the league on Monday to face Norwood, before getting back into Hockomock play against Stoughton the following day. A win against the Black Knights would clinch at least a share of the Davenport crown for the Eagles, the program’s first league title since back-to-back championships in 1993 and 1994.

Canton (6-5-4, 5-5-3) needs two points to clinch a spot in the postseason and will next face Foxboro on Tuesday night.

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Stamm’s Brace Helps Sharon Pick Up Win Over Franklin

Sharon boys soccer
Sharon’s Michael Baur (left) goes up for a header in the second half against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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SHARON, Mass. – Sharon senior Ben Stamm scored once in each half and the Eagles’ defense was able to limit Franklin in a 2-0 win on Friday afternoon.

The Eagles didn’t waste much time to seize the lead, finding the back of the net inside the opening five minutes. Sharon then iced the game with just over 10 minutes to play. Both goals came off long throw-ins.

“We haven’t used the long throw-in at all,” Sharon head coach Bryan Kelly said. “Two goals off of long throws is really nice. And on those direct kicks, if could get on the end of some of those, we could have scored more but it’s something we’ve got to work on. This season is the most we’ve scored on set pieces since I’ve been here.”

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In the fourth minute, Shubojit Roy-Chowdhury launched a long throw from the attacking third into the area. The ball fell to Stamm, who had his first shot blocked. The senior kept with it and got another shot, this one was partially blocked but trickled in at the far post to put Sharon up 1-0.

“We’ve been working on possession and switching the field a lot since the KP game,” Kelly said. “Some of the pieces fell into place today. Getting that early goal, just that little poke in, it gave us confidence to ride. We lost a little composure after that but I have a good group of seniors that can get it back for us. And I have a lot of subs at my disposal and we don’t get any worse.

“We’re deep, we’re fast and when we play the way we know how to play, we come out on top.”

Franklin had the only other scoring chance of the first half. In the 16th minute, Matt Poirier launched a service from the right sideline, just a few steps over half. The ball was deflected and bounced through Sharon’s area and found Farley Asmath, but his bid went over the bar at the far post.

Chances were aplenty in the second half, the first just two minutes into the stanza. Spencer Hall worked to get some space on the left sideline and hit a service to the back post. Oliver Hu elected to have a go on a one-time volley but his bid went high.

In the 55th minute, the Panthers had a free kick from midfield that Asmath met with his head to flick on. Kevin Hall ran onto the ball at the back post but his touch went just over the bar. Two minutes later, Sharon had a chance when Alex Romantz flicked the ball to Andrew Reyes-Jones in the area but Franklin keeper Freddie Beckmann was first to the ball to end the chance.

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Ten minutes later, Sharon’s Marques Benton played a ball into Reyes-Jones but once again Beckmann was quick off his line to gobble the ball up. In the 68th minute, a free kick from Franklin’s Liam Kapples found the head of Hatim Brahimi in the area but Sharon keeper Ethan Kantor smothered the loose ball before a Panther could latch onto it.

Finally in the 69th minute, the Eagles cashed in on another long throw. Tyler Hippler tossed the ball into the area and a scoffed clearance from the Panthers defense led to an open opportunity for Stamm and he buried it at the far post to make it 2-0.

“In practice, we emphasized making sure, even if we lose the ball, we don’t stop playing,” Kelly said. “We have to keep playing until we get the ball back. When we have players start to buy into the system, that’s what we see. We have a great defense this year too. With Shalin [Patel] at stopper and Shubojit at sweeper, we hopefully shut down the best player on the other team.”

With the win, Sharon boys soccer (6-3-2) moves into a tie atop the Davenport division with Canton – both 5-3-2 in league play. The Eagles have three straight home games, starting with a visit from Foxboro on Monday.

After picking up five wins in its first six games, Franklin (5-6-2, 4-5-2) has now gone winless in its last seven games. The Panthers will try to bounce back with a trip to Oliver Ames on Monday.

“I don’t have any answers, it’s a funny team,” Franklin head coach Fran Bositis said. “We’re just finding ways to lose games. It’s been a combination of things. I don’t think it’s from a lack of effort but I don’t know what it is, I can’t figure it out.”

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King Philip Reigns Supreme In Battle of Division Leaders

King Philip boys soccer
King Philip’s Cam Mullins (in front of #2) heads in his second goal of the game against Sharon. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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WRENTHAM, Mass. – In a battle of division leaders, King Philip reigned supreme with a dominating performance and a convincing 5-0 win over Sharon.

The Kelley-Rex division leading Warriors netted a pair of first half goals a minute apart and then tacked on three more goals in the second half to take down the Davenport division leading Eagles.

“I have to give major props to my midfield,” King Philip head coach Nick Gale said. “I thought Connor [Mullins] had an awesome, awesome game. Our goal was to build up through our midfield whenever possible and Connor’s a huge cog to that. And he had three assists today. He was a major factor today in our success today.

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“I thought our ability to keep possession against obviously a good, first-place Davenport team, our guys tried to meet that challenge. I told the guys we had to start to focus on what we do well and to do it consistently. I thought our possession game was phenomenal and they built it up really well and created a lot of opportunities in the final third.”

Mike Rowe registered the first shot of the game, his tough angle shot by Sharon keeper Ethan Kantorin the 4th minute. A nice sequence between Tyler Mann and Anthony Bozza in the 13th minute resulted in another save from Kantor at the near post. Thomas Lugten latched onto a shot in the 21st minute but Kantor notched another save.

“I thought a lot of our offense had to do with Colby [Koch], Lugten and Bozza starting to build a lot of chemistry together,” Gale said. “I don’t know what the shot totals were but I thought we attacked their goalie quite a bit. I thought the guys did an awesome job start to finish.”

Finally in the 29th minute, the Warriors broke through. Connor Mullins dropped a corner kick onto the six yard box that Kantor dove out and got a paw to off the bounce. The ball went right to Cam Mullins, who buried it with his head for a 1-0 lead.

Exactly a minute later, Connor Mullins played a ball over the top to senior Colby Koch. Koch took a touch and blasted a shot from just inside the area to double King Philip’s lead in the 30th minute.

“One goal makes a huge difference in a game, for the opponent as well as for you,” Gale said. “Once we scored one, I don’t know it was a burden lifted but I think it was a self-belief they could go out there and have that success. Right off the bat, they were hungry for a second one and I think we scored within two minutes. You obviously like to see that, since you build a first half lead. It helps set the tone.”

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Sharon’s first chance came in the 34th minute when Oliver Hu‘s touch beat charging KP keeper Eli O’Neill but senior defender Ryan Coulter cleared it away before any harm could be done.

The Warriors took advantage of another corner in the 52nd minute with the Mullins’ brothers linking again. Connor’s service found the head of Cam, who looped his header to the far post and under the bar to make it 3-0.

Less than 10 minutes later, junior outside back Larsen Keys was first to a 50/50 ball and his touch turned into a perfect through ball. Mann ran onto the ball alone and buried his shot at the far post to put King Philip up 4-0.

“Going into the latter half of the season and into the tournament, you have to balanced team,” Gale said. “You have to be able to score in the run of play and off of set pieces, whether it be a long throw, a direct kick or corner. We have the size to take advantage of them but we haven’t done it a ton yet this year so it was nice to see a couple of set pieces work out for us today.”

King Philip capped the scoring in the 76th minute, cashing in on another set piece. Cam Mullins’ service from midfield found the head of Coulter at the far post but Kantor made an acrobatic save to keep it out. However, the rebound fell to Cameron McGovern, who tucked his shot into the side netting from close range to make it 5-0.

“They’re extremely disciplined,” Sharon head coach Bryan Kelly said of KP. “They know where they are supposed to be at all times, they know where each other are and they use one, two touch passes. It’s stuff we’ve been working on the last few weeks. We haven’t played since last Wednesday and then we had two days off this week for the Jewish holidays, we can’t practice then – that really hurts. It’s tough to get the game mentality back. I’m not going to take anything away from KP. My guys didn’t step up today.”

King Philip boys soccer (11-0-1, 9-0-1) now has a four point lead in the Kelley-Rex division and will travel to North Attleboro for a league match on Thursday. Sharon (4-3-2, 4-3-2) hold a one point lead in the Davenport division and will return to action on Monday when they host Norwood for a non-league contest.

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