Scoring Struggles Continue For Sharon At Gillette

Matt Lowerre
Matt Lowerre (8) goes up for a header against Shepherd Hill on Monday at Gillette Stadium. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FOXBORO, Mass. – Sharon dominated the ball for long stretches of the second half of Monday night’s non-league matchup with Shepherd Hill at Gillette Stadium but managed only two shots on target and neither shot troubled the Rams keepers.

Frustration mounted on the Sharon sidelines as head coach Bryan Kelly stood with his hands on his head after another attack dwindled away on the sidelines or another free kick failed to make its way into the box.

The Rams may not have had the ball much, but they were dangerous when they did get it with rapid counterattacks and long punts into the Sharon box that created several scoring chances, including one in the final seconds of the first half that produced the winner.

One mistake at the back, one moment of indecision, was all it took for Shepherd Hill to walk away with a 1-0 victory.

“The fact is we make a mistake a game or two mistakes a game,” said Kelly. “We’re solid but the fact of the matter is if we put the ball in the back of the net then we’re not facing these dilemmas.”

He added bluntly, “This team needs to start scoring.”

The first half was a contrast in styles with Sharon looking to keep the ball down and play through the midfield, which is one of the reasons Kelly moved senior Dan Bender into the back four alongside Sam Weidig. The Rams wanted to move it quickly from front to back and looked for long angled balls into striker Mark Wilding.

It only took six minuted for the Rams to show the effectiveness of the strategy when a long pass found Wilding in behind the defense but Andrew Filipkowski got a piece of the shot, which was then cleared off the line.

Chances for either team were few and far between. Sharon forced two saves, but both were comfortable ones on shots from distance.

On the brink of halftime, the game changed. Ben Boudreau sent a long ball over the top and there was hesitation between the back four as well as Filipkowski. Tyler Fagan took advantage to sneak in and then finish it over the top of the keeper for a 1-0 lead with practically the last kick of the half.

“It kind of deflated us,” admitted Kelly. “We knew they were going to just kick and run and that’s where they got all their chances from was kicking it as far as they could and running on to their fast striker. It hurt us.”

“He had one chance, we made a mistake, and they capitalized. That’s the name of the game; that’s soccer.”

The Eagles came out with renewed vigor in the second half and dominated possession and pushed the Shepherd Hill defense back into its defending third of the pitch. It was there that every attack seemed to break down. The ball would cycle to Sonny Somdah down the left touchline or Lucas Allaria on the right and the ball failed to get into the middle where Kelly argued the Eagles are their most potent.

“I think this big, wide field hurt us to be honest with you,” Kelly explained. “We’re a middle of the field kind of team and that’s where our strength is and we kept pushing to the sideline, pushing to the sideline and then we had nothing to do with it.”

“That’s not where we score from – we score in the middle of the field.”

The Eagles kept the ball well with James Dunlea, Matt Lowerre, and Stephen Higgins consistently winning the ball back and getting it back into the attack, but they failed to find openings to take a shot. It was not until the 71st minute off a free kick that Sharon managed to test the keeper in the second half.

“They wanted to keep running straight,” said Kelly. “We talk about making angled runs all the time – looping around your defender, making overlapping runs and we just didn’t do that tonight.”

The best chance of the second half actually fell to the Rams who once again created havoc with a ball over the top of the defense. This time it was Widing that got on the end of it after beating Weidig in the air, but his shot was narrowly over the bar.

Despite pushing to the final whistle, Sharon could not find the chance it needed for an equalizer. The Eagles (4-6, 3-5) will return home to face Taunton on Wednesday

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Romero’s Disputed Goal the Winner for OA at Sharon

Chris Romero
OA senior Chris Romero scored the lone goal at Sharon as the Tigers improved to 6-0 on the season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Click HERE for a photo gallery from the game.

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

SHARON, Mass. – As Shalin Patel chased the ball over the top in the 38th minute, he had position on Oliver Ames forward Chris Romero and it seemed as though the chance was gone for the Tigers.

Then the Sharon right back went to ground, seemingly after having his heel clipped. But the whistle never blew and Romero never hesitated on his path to the ball before coolly finishing it under the bar.

The Eagles bench exploded, arguing that it  was a clear foul on the defender. The referees came together for a quick conversation at midfield but there was no changing the call and the goal stood.

It turned out to be enough for the Tigers for a 1-0 road victory. OA’s record improved to 6-0 and the Tigers have allowed only one goal all season, but in the team talk after the final whistle OA coach John Barata let his team know that there was plenty of room for improvement.

“It wasn’t our best game, by any means, but at least we were able to get a result,” he explained. “We’ve got a lot to build on but we’re just focused on the present.”

Sharon coach Bryan Kelly was pleased with his team’s performance, if not what turned out to be the decisive moment. He said, “They had the one chance and that’s all they needed. We played really well and I thought we controlled the tempo in both halves.”

Sharon started the game with most of the possession on its familiar grass field. The Tigers were backing off to protect the box and then countered quickly and created a number of good chances in the opening 40 minutes, while the Eagles did not put a shot on target in the first half.

The first chance fell to Romero, who was left unmarked in the box and was picked out with a cross by Thomas McCormick but headed wide. McCormick had the next chance off a pass by Keegan Nutt but his shot sailed over the bar.

Vella had another chance int he 21st minute. His shot from the edge of the box was spilled by Filipkowski but the Sharon keeper was quick to block the rebound chance by Tylor Jones. Three minutes later, he was off his line quickly again to make a sliding save on Cam Vella.

“Andrew is just solid,” said Kelly, while also praising his back four, including three-year starter Samuel Weldig. “My defense in front of him is really strong, but Andrew has been a rock back there.”

In the 38th minute, the game changed with the Tigers taking the lead. Barata said, “Yes, we had plenty of chances. We didn’t give up a lot of chances but in soccer it’s the one who finishes that wins and we got one…finally.”

The halftime team talk was crucial for the Eagles and seemed to work as Sharon came out of the break with renewed energy. Midfielders Dan Bender, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, and James Dunlea got the ball into the channels quicker to give Sonny Somdah the chance to run at the OA defense.

Three minutes into the second half, Somdah created Sharon’s first real scoring chance when he raced to the byline and cut it back to Lucas Allaria, but his shot from six yards went wide.

“He’s a player to watch as we come down the end of the season,” said Kelly. “He hurt his ankle early this season but he’s starting to create chances.”

OA managed a pair of chances to double its lead on the counter. Romero quickly played the ball forward to Nutt who found Matt Campbell, but his shot flew over the bar. Romero then took advantage of a misplayed back pass to create space for his left foot but again the shot was narrowly off frame.

In the 68th minute, Sharon had its best chance of the game. Somdah was again the player that the opportunity fell to when he ran onto a through ball but OA keeper Jack Carroll came off his line to smother the chance.

“That’s the fun thing about a goalkeeper,” said Barata. “You can have nothing for 60 minutes but when you’re called upon that one moment are you going to make the save? And he made the save.”

Kelly remarked, “When we pass it we can spin people around. I have no complaints about the way we played. But it’s all about putting the ball in the net and that was shown again today.”

Two minutes after Carroll’s save, Filipkowski came up with another huge stop when he was down low to his left to stop a shot from Nutt with 10 minutes remaining.

It was a sixth straight win for the Tigers to start the season, but Barata admitted that his team had to grind out Thursday’s result.

He said, “It’s always wonderful to see these teams go at it and I always tell people that this is good tournament prep. The Hock may not win all the championships but we are ready to go come tournament time because of games like this.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Boys Soccer: 2015 Davenport Division Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Canton

2014 Record: 9-7-2
2014 Finish: Reached MIAA D2 South First Round
Coach: Danny Erickson
The Bulldogs punched a ticket to the postseason for the 9th straight year and 2014 and with a good crop of returning and experienced players, a 10th straight trip is in the cards. Seniors Pat Hession and Joey Basile both have a good amount of experience and were key contributors to last year’s squad.
Although the Bulldogs will have the fill the void left with Hockomock League MVP Damian Kozak graduated, coach Danny Erickson seems to always have his team playing at a high level. Junior Sam Papakonstantino emerged as a strong threat last year and sophomore Jake Verille had a breakout rookie season and could become a top target for the Bulldogs.
Erickson said he hopes to keep possession better in 2015 and aim to pressure high to force mistakes from opponents. Sophomore Ben Waterhouse is someone who would be a big player this season while freshmen Griffin Roach and Paul Corcoran could make an impact in their first season.

Foxboro

2014 Record: 15-5-1
2014 Finish: Reached MIAA D3 South Semifinal
Coach: Joe Franchino
With only two starters from last year’s Davenport Division winning team gone, the Warriors are in good position to repeat and make a deep playoff push.
Foxboro has a new coach in Joe Franchino, who made 162 appearances for the New England Revolution, but don’t expect a lot to change with the Warriors. The 2014 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Joe Morrison is back to control the midfield and has the chance of being the best player in the league this year.
“I’ve inherited a great squad and they have worked really hard so far,” Franchino said. “They are making it difficult for me to pick a starting squad.”
The entire back four is back with Jeff Melo and Rob Lowey anchoring the middle while two-time Hockomock League All Star Devante Teixeira and his speed and skill will make it very hard for opponents to handle both him and Morrison. Franchino expects that they will get everyone’s best effort this year but with so much returning talent and a couple new faces, the Warriors are in good shape.

Milford

2014 Record: 5-11-2
2014 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Jim Asam
The Scarlet Hawks started off last season by going undefeated in the first four games but only earned two more wins the rest of the way. With a strong group of seniors set for this season, Milford will look to get back in the playoff picture.
Mike Da Silva returns for his fourth year patrolling Milford’s net and two-time captain Justin Borges, who is one of the more versatile players in the league, will be a player team’s will have to worry about coming forward from the midfield. On defense, senior Luis Goncalves is back to help and try limit the opportunities from opposing offenses.
Milford will also get Sttarley Flores back after missing the entire 2014 season with an injury while seniors Matt Fornaciari and John Martins and junior Marcelo Panno will all play vital roles for coach Jim Asam.

Oliver Ames

2014 Record: 13-6-2
2014 Finish: Reached MIAA D2 State Finals
Coach: John Barata
After reaching the D2 State Finals in 2014, the Tigers have plenty of returning talent back for this season. Chris Romero is one of the more tenured players in the league and is also one of the most versatile while fellow captain senior Keegan Nutt showed just how skilled he was last season in his first year.
“We are hoping to get into the MIAA tourney and we expect every game to be an all out battle,” head coach John Barata said. “We hope to compete well and get better everyday.”
Another experienced player back this season is junior Thomas McCormick, who has seen varsity time since his freshman year, as well as seniors Max Bamford, Jared Mallers and Max Ahearn. Sophomores Nathaniel Cardoza, Cam Vella, Matt Campbell and Jack Sheldon all saw a good amount of time as freshmen, with Cardoza emerging as one of OA’s best players. Although Foxboro is the favorite for the Davenport, the Tigers will likely be in the mix right until the end.

Sharon

2014 Record: 7-8-4
2014 Finish: Reached MIAA D2 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Bryan Kelly
After just two wins two years ago, the Eagles made it to the playoffs in coach Bryan Kelly’s first year in charge. With a good amount of returning talent, the Eagles will have a chance to compete for the Davenport title.
“This year we have a wealth of experience in all positions and returning players will be a major contributing factor,” head coach Bryan Kelly said. “We are a team that doesn’t have just one star but rather has 23 guys that will sub a lot and not lose skill in any position. This year will be an exciting year for Sharon soccer.”
The Eagles are hoping to improve their offense as they struggled to find consistency when it came to finding the back of the net. Senior captain Daniel Bender is back after missing all of last year and his presence in the center of the midfield could be a huge boost. Senior James Dunlea will also big a factor in the midfield and senior Sam Weidig will anchor the defense in the middle. HockomockSports.com Second Team goalie Andrew Filipkowski is back for his senior year while fellow varsity returnees Lucas Allaria and Mark Bloom will look to add some scoring punch. Kelly is hoping their speed will help give opponents fits while juniors Jake Teven, Ian Camilli and Shalin Patel are all new faces that could make a big impact.

Stoughton

2014 Record: 11-8-1
2014 Finish: Reached MIAA D2 South First Round
Coach: Aaron Salter
Over the past couple of seasons, the Black Knights have been headed in the right direction with the team making the playoffs last year for the first time in a decade. Aaron Salter takes over the program this year and will look to continue the push.
Salter will have a lot of experienced weapons back this season to continue the program’s upward trend. Goalie Kyle Silverman is back and Josh Mitchell, Will Peoples and Goddy Frombe will be key pieces in the middle of the field. All three have a lot of varsity minutes and their experience could be vital for Stoughton. Loubensky Lucas, who had an injury plagued sophomore year, will look to return back to the form he had during his freshman year (five goals). Another player to keep an eye on is Noah Schulze, who played a little bit of everything last year and could take on a much bigger role this year.
The Davenport is full of talent and might be one of the most competitive years since the split happened, but the Black Knights have enough talent that they won’t get lost in the mix.