Team: Milford Boys Soccer
2019 Davenport Division Champions
2019 Division 2 State Finalists
Some of the most talented individual players to compete in the Hockomock League together came together as a team and orchestrated one of the best seasons on the soccer pitch this decade.
The 2019 Milford boys soccer team was full of gifted players that formed one of the most dangerous attacking groups over the past 10 seasons. One question coming into the season was the defense but throughout the season, the Hawks got better and better on the defensive end and only allowed one goal in four South sectional tournament games. The combination of a deadly offense and a solid defense propelled the Hawks to their first state final appearance in two decades.
“I think the thing that made this team very different was the fact they really enjoyed playing the game together,” said head coach Brian Edwards. “In training, they would typically have a lot of fun and while it was sometimes very challenging to keep them on task, they genuinely enjoyed the game. More importantly, they genuinely enjoyed helping one another achieve something. They are a very special group of guys and their work rate was something that always blew me away.”
The Hawks went unbeaten throughout the regular season, which didn’t feature any non-league games. Milford rallied for a last-minute goal to tie Foxboro and battled to a 1-1 draw with North Attleboro late in the season; Milford picked up 14 wins including one over a talented Oliver Ames squad and went on to win the Davenport division title for the second straight season.
The likes of Pedro Araujo, Joao Pedro Da Silva, Jordan Borges, Lucas Da Silva, and Hockomock League MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Leo Coelho helped the Hawks average over three goals per game, notching a league-best 56 goals in the regular season. On the flip side, senior Dan Santos anchored a defensive line along with classmate Nuno Mestre and new faces freshman Gabriel Godoy and sophomore Chris Tocci. Senior Carlos Terrinha was one of the most reliable players sitting in the six role. Leo Oliveira and Kevin Gomes split time in net, allowing just one goal per game in the regular season.
“Another thing that made them special was their belief in themselves and one another,” Edwards said. “They had a level of confidence that I loved to see as a coach. One other piece of the puzzle was their ability to tackle one challenge at a time. They did a great job of not looking ahead and getting distracted. As a coach who is slightly obsessive over preparation, it was something that made my job a lot easier. I think about the Nauset game and the preparation that went into it. We scouted them three times and we put together a game plan that I felt gave us a very good chance of beating them. The guys really committed themselves to proving that they could beat a team that many people felt was one of the best in the country. We weren’t surprised that we beat them because we knew we had the ability to execute a plan that we felt was solid.”
The postseason featured a 6-0 blasting of Catholic Memorial, a hard-fought 2-0 decision over Dartmouth, and Coelho gave the Hawks a 1-0 win over Bishop Feehan in overtime. In the South Sectional Final, the Hawks hosted perennial state power and nationally ranked Nauset. Despite giving up a late equalizer in regulation, the Hawks prevailed. After switching goalies for overtime and penalties, Leo Oliveira made a terrific save in the shootout and the Hawks made all five attempts with the freshman Godoy scoring the winner as Milford advanced to the state final.
“One of my favorite memories of the season is the moment Leo Oliveira made the PK save on the fourth Nauset attempt,” Edwards said. “It was the single most exciting moment of a soccer game I can remember. I think the last time I lost my mind like that was when [Adam] Vinatieri hit the 45 yard game-tying kick against the Raiders in the Blizzard Bowl back in January of 2002. Leo stepped up in the middle of Double Overtime in a Sectional Final and made the play of the game.”
After an incredible run through the south sectional, the Milford boys soccer team had an uncharacteristic showing in the final, surrendering five goals (including the game-winner in overtime) in a goal-heavy 5-4 loss to Winchester.
Below are the official 2019 Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Leo Coelho, Milford
Hockomock League All Stars
Michael Russo, Attleboro
Joshua Smith, Attleboro
William Keefe, Canton
Joseph Cusack, Foxboro
Dylan Barreira, Foxboro
William Morrison, Foxboro
Samuel Stowell, Franklin
Donald Tappin, Franklin
Jacob Cummings, Franklin
Matthew Clarke, King Philip
Evan McEvoy, King Philip
Evan Eames, Mansfield
Leo Coelho, Milford
Pedro Araujo, Milford
Jordan Borges, Milford
Daniel Santos, Milford
Anthony Salisbury, Mansfield
Kyle Briere, North Attleboro
James Sales, North Attleboro
Matthew Mordini, North Attleboro
Colin Milliken, Oliver Ames
Matthew Nikiciuk, Oliver Ames
Kevin Louhis, Oliver Ames
Isaiah Stessman, Sharon
Nolan Gerome, Stoughton
Nolan Melo, Taunton
WORCESTER, Mass. – Every time that Milford went forward, it looked capable of scoring a goal, but every time that Winchester lined up an attacking set piece on the other end of the field it looked just as likely to find the back of the net.
It made for a thrilling, end-to-end Div. 2 state championship game at Worcester State’s Coughlin Field. In the end, it also meant heartbreak for the Hawks.
Winchester got a free kick on the left side of the Milford box seven minutes into the first overtime period. The first ball in was half-cleared but Aras Kaya reacted quickest and was able to knock in the game-winner, handing the Sachems a 5-4 victory and the state title. It was the fourth goal that Winchester had scored from a set piece and denied Milford its first ever state championship in its first appearance in the final in 21 years.
“Winchester played really good today,” said Milford coach Brian Edwards. “They were very proficient, they were very effective in what they did and we were not. We were uncharacteristically sloppy with set piece defense.”
He added, “I’m really proud of how hard my guys played this season, but we didn’t deserve to win this game given how we played.”
Milford grabbed control of the ball right from the opening whistle and had the game’s first good looks at goal. Joao Pedro Da Silva hit a long, angled ball behind the Winchester left back to free Pedro Araujo, but the senior forward was unable to hit the target under pressure from the last defender. Just a minute later Lucas Da Silva went close with a shot to the near post.
Although it was the Hawks with the early chances, it was Winchester that grabbed the first lead. William Hofheinz hit a long free kick that went all the way through the box to Diego Diaz at the back post. Diaz had time to bring it down, look up, and slide a shot to the far corner.
The Sachems held onto the one-goal lead for 20 minutes, nearly doubling it when Kevin Gomes was forced into a diving save on a 25-yard shot by Ben Von Halle.
In the 34th minute, Milford sprung into life. Araujo got free on the right side and hit a cross into Leo Coelho that was cleared by the last defender. A minute later, Araujo again went to his right and skipped past his marker. This time he loped into the box and got all the way inside the six before chipping a shot over the keeper and into the corner.
Just about a minute later, the Hawks jumped in front for the first time. Joao Pedro Da Silva raced down the left side, leaving his defender in his wake, and then hit a deft toe poke that left the keeper stranded and snuck in off the far post to make it 2-1.
Jordan Borges had a chance down the right side to add to the lead just before halftime, but the Hawks went into the break with the lead.
“In the first half, I thought we were very disorganized,” Edwards explained. “We fought back, we fought back, scored those two goals at the end of the first half to make it a game but I don’t think we started playing well until we got to the end of the second half.”
That lead only lasted three minutes into the second half. Hofheinz curled a 30-yard free kick to this near post and the ball snuck in after the keeper lost track of his positioning in the goal and, thinking the shot was going wide, allowed it to bounce past him.
Milford came right back just five minutes later and regained the advantage. This time it was Lucas Da Silva on the left and he got all the way to the end line and was brought down as he tried to cut a pass back into the middle. The ref pointed to the spot and Araujo stepped up to score his second of the game and put the Hawks up 3-2.
In the 53rd minute, the Hawks were again guilty of not clearing a set piece and allowed Winchester to equalize. This time the bouncing ball went in off a Milford player at the back post.
Four minutes later, the Sachems were in front. Von Halle created the chance when he jumped on a poor clearance and he sent a ball in from the right side that Diaz was able to bring down at the far post. The forward roofed his shot, giving backup keeper Leo Oliveira no chance.
Injuries cropped up for the Hawks throughout the game, as Coelho, the league MVP, was forced to the bench and senior right back Nuno Mestre also missed a bulk of the second half. Eduardo Castro and freshman Arthur Tome played well off the bench, but those were key pieces that Milford was without down the stretch.
The Hawks went into desperation mode in the closing minutes and played some of their best attacking soccer of the game. It took until the 74th minute, but the pressure paid off. A long throw from Dan Santos bounced in the box and was met by Carlos Terrinha, who was able to turn it in first-time from close range.
Edwards said, “These guys have a lot of guts, otherwise they wouldn’t be here today. They’re here for a reason. This has been the best team I’ve ever coached and not just for their playing ability but for their character and their tenacity and their grit.”
With the joy of an equalizer and a raucous fan section at that end of the field, Milford found a second gear for the final few minutes. A Chris Tocci long throw to Araujo almost turned into a winner, only for the Sachems to crowd out the chance. Joao Pedro Da Silva had a great look off a corner, but his goal-bound shot was blocked at the last second.
“The last 10 minutes were how we should’ve been playing the whole game,” Edwards admitted, “and it wasn’t enough because when you play a good team like that you can’t wait 70 minutes to start playing good soccer.”
Borges forced a save from the Winchester keeper five minutes into the OT period and Milford looked the more likely to score at that stage, until the Sachems earned a free kick. After defending set pieces well all tournament long, the Hawks couldn’t find a way to stop one last chance and fell just short of winning an elusive first title.
“Any set piece near the area, a team that is big and strong they’re going to have chances and unfortunately we didn’t do a good enough job denying the chances and we didn’t do a good enough job defending them. We didn’t execute,” said Edwards.
Milford finished the season at 18-1-2, outscoring teams 71-22 along the way. Edwards, a former soccer player at Milford, called it a historic season despite the loss in the final.
“It’s nice to give the town something to talk about,” he said. “We take the name on the front of the jersey very seriously. We take a lot of pride in how we represent ourselves, how we represent the town, and how we represent our school.”
MILFORD, Mass. – Milford junior goalie Leo Oliveira stood on his goal line face-to-face with the next Nauset penalty kick shooter and took his right hand and pointed in that direction a handful of times.
Oliveira, who was a spectator from the bench for 90 minutes in the snow and cold, was suddenly thrust into action in the second overtime, and now in the midst of a penalty kick shootout with one of the top teams in the country.
With each team converting their first three attempts, Oliveira stepped back in net and pointed to his right as Nauset’s senior captain Spencer Rushnak placed the ball on the spot.
It worked as Rushnak fired his shot in that direction and Oliveira made the diving stop. Three attempts later, Milford freshman Gabriel Godoy calmly deposited his chance into the back corner to give the Hawks a 5-4 edge in penalties, a 2-1 win in the match, and the program’s first-ever D2 South Sectional Championship.
It’s the program’s first sectional title since 1999 when it won the D1 Central crown, and Nauset’s first loss since 2017, snapping a 44-game unbeaten streak. The Warriors’ last loss came to Oliver Ames in the sectional semifinals, which also went to penalty kicks and was played on the same Milford High turf field.
“I told him to go right and he did, and I was ready for it and I saved it,” Oliveira said. “All I heard was the crowd cheering my name, it was amazing. The best moment of my life so far.”
Sophomore Kevin Gomes, who had a strong game in net through regulation and the first overtime, came out between overtime periods due to illness. While Milford was planning to go with Oliveira if it went to penalties, he was thrust into the game in the second sudden-victory overtime period.
“It’s hard sitting on the bench in the cold weather but I’m always ready just in case something happens to Kevin, and I was ready tonight,” Oliveira said. “During the playoffs, we’ve been practicing them for around 30 minutes at the end of practice, and I’ve been able to save them there. When you have guys like Pedro [Araujo] and Leo [Coelho] who barely miss, it’s hard to save them. Nauset, they are amazing, but I was able to come up with the big save.”
Milford head coach Brian Edwards wasn’t surprised that Oliveira was ready for the big moment.
“Leo is our best goalie for PKs,” Edwards said. “We were planning to make the change in overtime and then Kevin in-between overtime periods wasn’t feeling well so we told [Leo] to go in and he delivered. He’s the hero of the hour. He doesn’t really get nervous, he just shows up and plays. He isn’t really fazed [by the moment].”
Nauset went first in penalty kicks and junior Ben LaBranche slotted a low shot into the bottom left corner past the reach of Oliveira’s save. Milford boys soccer senior captain and center back Dan Santos answered with a low to the left of his own.
Nauset senior captain Sebastian Headrick put the Warriors back ahead with a low shot to the left despite Oliveira getting a fingertip to it. Milford sophomore center back Chris Tocci blasted a shot into the upper left corner giving the keeper no chance to make it 2-2.
The Warriors scored again as junior Anthony Lovati was the first to go in the other direction, hitting his shot into the right side. Milford senior and the Hockomock League’s leading score Pedro Araujo went up the middle with the keeper diving to the side to make it 3-3.
Oliveira’s mind games worked to get the big stop, and Milford senior Jordan Borges blasted a hard shot off the underside of the crossbar and in to give the Hawks’ a 4-3 lead.
“It was very scary when it hit the bar but it ended up going in so I was happy,” Borges said. “For Leo, it’s all theatrics before the kick. He just gets guys nervous, throws them off. We’ve practiced them before just in case we go to penalties and it paid off.”
Nauset junior center back Ethan Boyle kept the match alive with a nice shot to the left side but Godoy, despite being a freshman, placed a left-footed shot into the back corner to give the Hawks the win.
“Our JV coach Antonio Pinto has been working with these guys on PKs for a while so I asked who he thought the best five guys were, he told me and I went with those,” Edwards said. “A lot of these decisions aren’t mine, they make me look smart. We have a whole crew of coaches and the players have an input too.
“It was awesome, I lost my mind when he made that save, I knew that was it because I have complete faith in our five guys to make their kicks. When Leo made that save, I knew we were going to win it.”
Not only did Milford have to weather a strong Nauset attack in overtime, the Hawks had to do so without Coelho, who had to miss the extra period due to injury. Then the Hawks lost Joao Pedro Da Silva to an injury for the second overtime period. Senior outside back Nuno Mestre also missed some time in the extra period but was able to return.
“We’re just confident at all times,” Borges said. “We believe in ourselves, we believe in our teammates and that’s what it’s all about. When we believe, I think we have a chance to win at anything. We have that team mentality, the next guy up. Anybody can step in and do the job. Of course we don’t want to see guys go out but everybody on the bench is ready to go in there and make a difference.”
It was a scoreless first half that saw both sides have a share of strong play, but the Warriors ended with the two most dangerous chances on goal. In the 7th minute, Rushnak smacked the crossbar on a free kick and Milford senior Carlos Terrinha was well-positioned to block the rebound chance.
Rushnak also flashed a header just wide in the 20th minute of a corner from Patrick Pinto and then smacked the crossbar for the second time off a well-hit volley from distance that knuckled and dipped before hitting the woodwork in the 34th minute.
Milford had its fair share of chances too as Coelho, who started up front along Araujo, took advantage of some space before rifling a left-footed shot from 25-yards out just wide in the 13th minute. In the 26th minute, Araujo sprang Coelho free with a perfect through ball but Nauset keeper Jack Avellar played it perfectly off his line and came charging to block the shot just inside the box.
Gomes made a strong save on a chance from Boyle in the 42nd minute, pouncing on a header in the area. Two minutes later, the Hawks opened the scoring.
Coelho drew a foul near the corner of the area on the right wing, and then took the free kick himself. He lofted a perfectly weighted ball to the far post to an open JP Da Silva, who nodded the ball just inside the post for a 1-0 lead.
Edwards was frank when asked if he could believe it that his side had beaten Nauset.
“I do, I do believe it because they are high school kids just like anyone else,” Edwards said. “Regardless of how you look, how you dress, how you put your bags in a row…your high school kids and so are we. We believe in who we can beat and bring them on, we’ll play anyone.
“It was just belief…belief in each other, belief in ourselves. This team is very confident but we know how good Nauset is. They are a top 10 team in a country but we did our homework, we knew what we needed to do. Thankfully we got the job done. I can’t be prouder of them right now.”
Araujo played junior Lucas Da Silva in on the right side seven minutes later but his bid was denied by Avellar, and he was unable to pounce on the rebound bid. Nauset nearly drew level in the 59th minute as Shavar Champagnie broke free at the near post but flashed his header just wide.
Araujo had three chances over a two-minute space but wasn’t able to double the Hawks’ lead. He was played in off a flick from Borges but Avellar was quick off his line and just got to the ball first just inside the box. Still in the 63rd minute, Borges delivered a ball over the top but Araujo’s shot on goal was saved.
A minute later, Araujo nearly got his touch past an oncoming Avellar, but the ball popped up and the keeper did very well to recover and hang on.
Nauset cashed on in the final five minutes of the match after earning a free kick along the left sideline. Boyle dropped a service to the near post and LaBranche was left open and he buried his shot into the bottom left corner to make it 1-1.
“Nauset has one of the best attacks I’ve ever seen,” Edwards said. “They are deliberate in what they do, you know exactly what they are going to do, and regardless of that they still generate scoring chances. They are that good, they are that well-coached, they are great soccer players. Our defense was superb tonight I thought. I thought we minimized the throw-ins for the most part.
“We got in trouble with the free kicks, that’s where their goal came from. I was very proud of our backline and I was very proud of our goalie, I thought Kevin played a stellar game. Nauset is a hell of a team, that’s the best team I’ve seen in 11 years of coaching soccer.”
Gomes was forced into an early save on Champagnie two minutes into the first overtime but the best chance of the first extra period was from Borges. After a win at midfield, Borges received a pass and ripped a shot from 30-yards out that Avellar had to backtrack and then tip over the bar.
Neither side had a genuine scoring threat in the second overtime.
“It’s been two decades since we’ve been in a game like this,” Edwards, an MHS graduate, said. Milford boys soccer reached the state final in 1998, the year after Edwards graduated. “We know whoever we’re going to play is going to be a tough test. We’ll try to make our league play and do what we can do, and hopefully, get the job done.”
Milford boys soccer (18-0-2) will play North sectional champion Winchester (14-3-5) in the D2 Final on Saturday with the time and location to be determined.
Edwards moved Coelho from his defensive center mid spot to striker, and the decision paid dividends nearly immediately.
Coelho scored the lone goal of the game just under 90 seconds into the sudden-victory overtime period, handing the second-seeded Hawks a 1-0 verdict over #6 Bishop Feehan.
“I was playing through an injury and it felt like nothing was going to go my way, I felt like it was probably one of my worst games,” Coelho said. “I asked coach if I could play up top in overtime, and he had the trust and confidence to put me there, and I was able to get it done.”
Milford went to work quickly in the extra session, applying pressure as it had done for the majority of the 80 minutes of regulation. This time, the Hawks were able to find the back of the net.
Senior Pedro Araujo hustled to a ball down the right flank, battling a defender off to earn possession. He got the ball on his right foot and fired a cross/shot that was parried away by Feehan keeper Thomas Potenza.
But the ball fell right to the feet of junior Joao Pedro Da Silva, who was quickly surrounded by a trio of Shamrock defenders. Da Silva calmly carried away from goal before sliding a pass to Coelho at the far post, and the junior let the ball come across his body before depositing a shot into the back of the net for the game-winner.
“We had to change something up, the ball wasn’t going in,” Edwards said. “I trust him and he rewarded our faith in him. He played a tremendous game, I thought everyone did. But we couldn’t get the ball in the net. Thankfully we made the play when we needed to.”
While the ball wasn’t going in, it wasn’t for a lack of possession or chances. The Hawks controlled the game from start to finish, putting nearly a dozen shots on frame while limiting the Shamrocks to just two chances, both coming within seconds of each other.
Coelho registered the first serious chance for either side in what was a rare foray into the attacking third. The junior midfielder controlled a clearance, took a touch towards goal, and fired a shot from 25 yards out but his bid clanked off the top of the crossbar and stayed out in the 14th minute.
JP Da Silva took a pass from Lucas Da Silva and forced a save from Potenza, but the Hawks couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing chance. Two minutes later, Coelho found Jordan Borges but his chance went over the bar.
Bishop Feehan’s best three chances all came in the final 15 minutes of half. A cross to the far post eluded the Milford keeper but Chris Tocci was in position to head the first ball up, and Dan Santos cleared the second ball to keep the game scoreless.
The Shamrocks nearly jumped ahead in the final moments of the first half. A lackadaisical play on a loose ball afforded Feehan’s Zach Stephenson possession. He used his speed to get past the Hawks’ defense and rifled a shot alone with the keeper but Milford sophomore Kevin Gomes made the leaping stop.
The rebound bounced to the Shamrocks’ left wing and to the feet of Samir Kassel, who had a good look to bury the rebound, but his chance was denied by Gomes as well to keep the game scoreless
“Kevin has done a good job, we didn’t ask him to do a lot tonight (two saves) but he actually did a nice job coming off his line tonight,” Edwards said. “He snuffed out some chances and he was very decisive when he came off his line. And that’s important against a team like this that’s relying on you to make a mistake defensively so Kevin was big for us.”
Milford continued to control possession in the second half but the Shamrocks often had five or more players behind the ball, making life difficult for the Hawks’ offense that likes to connect on short passes.
The chances still came though as Borges saw his shot go just over the bar in the 44th minute, and Araujo’s header at the far stick was handled in the 50th minute. Potenza came up with a save on a low strike from Borges in the 57th minute and had plenty of time to recover and handle the loose rebound.
“They could have been wearing red and white (North Attleboro),” Edwards said of Feehan, comparing their defense-first approach to that of the Rocketeers. “They played so well defensively. From what we saw leading up to this game, they gave us a very different look. Credit to their coaching staff and players, they were able to adopt a very different strategy against us that was very effective.
“I think we were more frustrated that it wasn’t going in. I think we generated more chances in the second half. I wasn’t happy with the first half, especially defensively, but we adjusted. I thought we were better in the second, and I think we kept our composure.”
After Feehan made a push into the offensive third, Milford countered with one of its best chances. With more space than usual, Coelho pushed forward with possession, using a nice stepover move to get past a defender. He unleashed a shot from 30 yards out that froze the keeper, but it smacked off the post and stayed out in the 58th minute.
“The first half, I think we were all being a little too selfish,” Coelho said. “We were a little too excited, everyone was trying to be the hero. We talked at halftime about playing our game, and if we do that, we can get the job done. They definitely played like North Attleboro, behind the ball, and we had some difficulty breaking it down.”
Milford had a flurry of chances late in the game but couldn’t unlock the Shamrocks with a final product. Potenza made a leaping stop but the rebound was deflected right off Borges’ foot, too hard for him to control in short range.
Tocci’s cross found the feet of Araujo and he tested the keeper with a low shot but Potenza smothered it. A minute later, Araujo beat his defender to the touchline and fired a low cross across the face of goal to Borges at the far post, but the ball found his weaker foot and was cleared after the first touch, and regulation ended scoreless.
Coelho’s winner sends the Hawks to their first-ever D2 South Sectional Final. The last final appearance for Milford boys soccer was in 1999 when they played in the D1 Central Final.
With Milford as the predetermined site for the sectional final, the Hawks (17-0-2) will end up “hosting” Nauset but as the away team, on Sunday at 3:30.
MILFORD, Mass. – In last year’s playoff, Milford was considered one of the teams to beat in Div. 2 South but ran into a physical, direct Walpole team in the quarterfinal and were knocked out. On Wednesday night, almost a year to the day after that loss, the Hawks faced another tough quarterfinal against Dartmouth with the chance to show what they have learned.
Milford scored once in each half, dominated possession throughout, and overcame the physical battle to secure a 2-0 win and a spot in the sectional semifinal.
“Some teams think we’re soft, we’re a finesse team, but we can be hard,” said Milford coach Brian Edwards. “I thought the guys responded really well physically, especially in the second half when it got nasty because it was a really intense, exciting soccer game and I thought my guys responded. It wasn’t our best performance, but we did what we had to do.”
Dartmouth played direct balls over the top of the defense and tried to take advantage of their size on set pieces, particularly on long throws in the attacking third. The Milford back line held firm, especially center backs Dan Santos and Chris Tocci, and sophomore goalie Kevin Gomes looked adept at controlling the box against the Indians’ aerial threat.
“It’s vital because we work as a unit,” said Santos. “We defend well and we attack just as well, so we sent a message out to the other teams. [Our confidence] is through the roof.”
In fact, it was Milford that looked more dangerous at dead ball opportunities. An early corner from Lucas Da Silva was met by Santos at the near post and had to be cleared off the line by Luke Sylvia. The Hawks used another free kick to grab an early lead.
Pedro Araujo, the Hockomock League’s top scorer this season, curled in a teasing ball that found Santos at the back post. The senior defender knocked the loose ball towards goal and it snuck just past the keeper and just over the line. The Dartmouth players chased after the official claiming the ball went through a hole in the side of the net, but the goal stood.
“It was huge, just for confidence,” Edwards explained. “It really put them under pressure. You could see it in the second half when they switched formation that we were really able to get some more looks.”
A free kick from Leo Coelho in the 18th minute almost made it 2-0, when the ball was spilled and both Araujo and Jordan Borges had shots blocked. Araujo came close again nine minutes later off yet another corner, but his first-time hit from the edge of the box after a weak clearance was blazed over the bar.
Dartmouth’s best chance of the half came off a Sylvia long throw that was met by Matt Furtado, but his lefty shot was wide of the mark. Araujo and Borges combined well on the edge of the box to open space and Araujo played in Eduardo Castro down the right but his shot to the bottom corner was well saved.
Holding a precarious one-goal lead at the break, Milford set out in the second half to try and add an insurance goal. The Hawks would have a number of chances to double the lead and the frustration and concern for an equalizer was growing as the opportunities were spurned.
Edwards said, “I had a feeling where it could be one of those games where you don’t get a second goal and they tie it late because it felt like it was going to be that way, but thankfully we got that second goal from JP.”
Araujo almost played provider in the 48th minute when he was able to work space for a right-foot cross by neither Da Silva was able to get a foot on it. A minute later, Araujo hit a free kick straight at the keeper. Da Silva flicked a header to Borges, but his volley went over the bar and then Da Silva split the defense with a through ball to Araujo but the keeper was out quickly and blocked the shot with his trailing foot.
Dartmouth sent a warning with a Sylvia long throw that was met by Mitchell Taradash, but his shot went over the crossbar. It was a reminder to the Hawks to keep pressing for a second to make things more comfortable, although the combination of Coelho and Carlos Terrinha was protecting the back four and keeping the Indians largely at bay.
“Those two guys have been big for us all year,” said Edwards. “There’s a reason why Leo is league MVP, he’s an animal. Carlos is an absolute beast. Those guys put in really strong performances. They don’t end up on the scoresheet but without those two guys we don’t win this game.”
With the visitors switching to a back three to try and get more numbers forward, Milford started to find more space for Araujo to operate along the right flank. He rose up to nod a header to Joao Pedro Da Silva but the Dartmouth keeper was able to block the close-range shot and then Araujo cut inside a pair of defenders onto his left and forced a solid diving stop.
In the 75th minute, the Milford pressure finally paid off. Borges sent a long free kick into the box and a Dartmouth defender headed it sideways rather than out. Da Silva reacted first, cutting straight down the box and the side-footing the ball into the corner for a critical two-goal lead.
Edwards said, “JP’s been our iceman all year. He’s the finisher, he’s our closer. Joao Pedro’s a real special, clutch kid. He just shows up and plays a great game.”
“I’m proud of the boys,” Santos added. “They’re very hard-working, we went over it at practice all week and we got the outcome we wanted.”
Milford (16-0-2) will take on No. 6 seed Bishop Feehan in the semifinal on Tuesday at Sandwich High.
Attleboro, 4 @ Taunton, 3 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Attleboro scored three first half goals, adding a fourth in the final 15 minutes that proved to be the game-winner. The Bombardiers opened the scoring just minutes in when junior Jackson Singer found space inside the 18-yard box for a one-timer. Taunton answered 10 minutes later as junior Hunter Cabral finished one a breakaway to bring the score level. Attleboro jumped back in front in the 16th minute when Liam Bischoff was fouled inside the area and senior Josh Smith calmly buried a penalty kick. Just before the break, Attleboro scored on a free kick. With the Tigers setting up their wall, Hugo Henriquez deposited his free kick into the open far post to make it 3-1. The Tigers, which played the entire second half down a man, got within one with a great combination goal. Kevin Monteiro won a challenge, Cabral played Alec Nunes wide, and Nunes delivered a hard, low cross to Travis Nunes, who made a strong run to the near post for a one-timer. Freshman Esvin Morales delivered what would be the game-winner in the 66th minute, firing a rocket from distance that snuck under the bar and in for a 4-2 lead. Travis Nunes grabbed his second of the game in the 72nd minute with a strong individual effort inside the area.
North Attleboro, 3 @ Canton, 1 – Final
Sharon, 0 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final
Franklin, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – Franklin scored once in each half, including a late insurance goal, to pick up an impressive win on the road at Oliver Ames. “It was a very good game for us, we finally played for the full 80 minutes,” said Franklin head coach Fran Bositis. Sophomore Terry O’Neill finished off a free kick from Sam Stowell to put the visitors up in the 11th minute. Ben Moccia sealed the win with a goal in the 74th minute, assisted by Donny Tappin.
King Philip, 0 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – Mansfield scored inside the first 10 minutes of each half to earn its third straight win, keeping its postseason hopes alive. Freshman Aiden Steele put the Hornets ahead, finishing off a pass from Tony Salisbury after a throw from Cam Eddy. Salisbury, the Hornets’ starting keeper, got the nod up top alongside fellow keeper Sean Moody. Eddy’s throw led to the Hornets’ second goal, this time with Colin Caridi finishing off the throw in the 48th minute. Cam Bovey shined in net with the shutout while Sam Clayman had a stellar game at center back. “All of the seniors played awesome tonight,” said Mansfield goal Steve Sheridan.
Milford, 3 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – After a scoreless first half, Milford found the back of the net three times to secure two points on the road. Dan Santos netted his fifth goal of the season, finishing a corner kick from Pedro Araujo to open the scoring. Araujo doubled the lead off a terrific set up from Jordan Borges. Leo Coelho made it 3-0 by scoring on a penalty kick, drawn by Gabe Alvarenga. Carlos Terrinha had a strong game in the midfield for the Hawks while Chris Tocci played well defensively.
Taunton, 0 @ Attleboro, 4 – Final – Attleboro scored three times in the second half to win on senior night and keep its playoff hopes alive. Ashley Macia stopped a breakaway early in the game to keep it scoreless and it took 34 minutes before Attleboro was able to make a breakthrough. Jessica Gates opened the scoring on an assist from Emily Khang. Six minutes after the break, Briley Harnois made it 2-0 and then Isabella Salviati (from Ashley Dame) got the third. Jolie Casali finished the scoring on an assist by Emily Dunlea. Attleboro coach Steve Santos said, “Proud of the effort from all of our seniors!”
Canton, 3 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – Elisa Diletizia scored twice (her fourth and fifth goals in the last two games) and Olivia Rodman added one for the Bulldogs, who clinched a spot in the tournament with the win. The game was tied 1-1 at halftime before the Bulldogs scored twice in the second half to get the victory. Steph McKenna had the North goal, assisted by Ari Rice. Kyla Rodrigues, Lily Adams, and Siobahn Weir all played well as North chased the game in the second half and Melissa McDermott and Alex Moulson had late chances go just wide for the Rocketeers.
Foxboro, 5 @ Sharon, 1 – Final – Foxboro scored a pair of early second half goals and went on to finish with four goals after halftime to pick up two points on the road. Katelyn Mollica (assist), Kendra Wentling (assist), Grace Ferguson, Lizzy Davis (assist), and Caroline Rongione each scored for the Warriors in the win.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Franklin, 2 – Final – Sydney St. Marie broke a scoreless deadlock seven minutes into the second half and the goal held up as the game-winner for the Panthers. Carly Alston assisted on the opening goal and then sealed the game with a goal of her own 10 minutes later, assisted by Chloe Barca. Breanna Atwood made seven saves to earn the clean sheet, while OA goalie Emma O’Donnell made eight saves in the loss. Leah Johnson and Emma Pereira and Olivia Carroll had strong games for OA.
Mansfield, 0 @ King Philip, 4 – Final – King Philip found the back of the net three times in the second half to pull away from the visiting Hornets. Avery Snead scored 10 minutes into the game on an assist from Chloe Layne but that would be the only goal of the first half as the Warriors took a 1-0 lead into halftime. Snead grabbed her second of the game in the 45th minute, taking a ball over the top from Grace Lawler before blasting a shot into the top corner. Chloe Layne (from Lawler) made it 3-0 with a goal in the 63rd minute, and Makenzie Shandley added another six minutes later, finishing off a pass from Paulina Baczkowski.
Stoughton, 1 @ Milford, 7 – Final – Milford’s Ashleigh Starks exploded for four goals to lead the Scarlet Hawks to a win, the hosts qualifying for the state tournament with the two points. Juliana France, Brianna Guerreiro, and Brianna Franzini each scored once in the win while Maddie Boyle had four assists.
North Attleboro, 0 @ Bishop Feehan, 0 – Final
Stoughton, 0 @ Milford, 5 – Final – Milford senior Jordan Borges notched three first half assists as the Hawks picked up a win over visiting Stoughton. Senior Dan Santos finished off a corner from Borges to open the scoring early in the first half, and Pedro Araujo scored off a feed from Borges minutes later to make it 2-0. Lucas Da Silva made it 3-0 with Borges collecting his third helper. Araujo scored on a free kick to make it 4-0 and sophomore Dan Desa scored his first career goal in the second half (from Leo Coelho) to cap the scoring. Da Silva had a strong showing in the midfield while Chris Tocci played well defensively for the Hawks.
Taunton @ Attleboro – Postponed to Monday, Oct. 21 at 3:45.
Attleboro @ Taunton – Postponed to Monday, Oct. 21 at 3:45.
Taunton @ New Bedford – Postponed to Saturday, Oct. 19 at 10:00.
MILFORD, Mass. – Prior to Friday afternoon’s game with Oliver Ames, Milford coach Brian Edwards was joking about his team’s lack of a long throw. The Hawks used one in the defensive zone to occasionally relieve pressure but rarely utilized a throw in the attacking third.
With the game tied 2-2 and the clock winding down inside the final two minutes, Milford won a throw on the near touch line. Sophomore defender Chris Tocci had made a rare foray forward and he grabbed the ball, stepped back, and unleashed a throw into the middle of the OA penalty area.
It pinballed around, taking several deflections off both teams before finding the foot of junior Joao Pedro Da Silva, who fired a low, hard shot through traffic and into the back of the net. That goal proved decisive for the Hawks, who pulled out a 3-2 victory in a playoff-like atmosphere worthy of two teams that entered Friday unbeaten and leading their respective divisions.
“We’re talking about how neither of us have a long throw and I was like, well Tocci has one but we only use it deep in our own end to get it out of there,” Edwards joked. “He just happened to be up there and said I’ll take it. Not how we drew it up but it was quite a finish.”
He added, “I told the guys after they tied it, ‘You have nine minutes. We’ve been here before. I’m not nervous now because I feel like you can score a goal or two.’ Overall I thought we played a good game, but they’re an awesome team. Anytime you get to play OA you get to test yourself, and I thought we rose to it today.”
The first half was an even contest with both teams creating chances. Milford junior Leo Coelho skimmed the post and found the side netting with a shot from 20 yards, then OA nearly grabbed the lead when junior Colin Milliken slipped a pass behind the defense for classmate Anthony DaCosta, but Milford keeper Leo Oliveira was out quick to smother the chance.
In the 14th minute, the Hawks took the lead. Senior Pedro Araujo created the opportunity with a slick through ball to Da Silva, but OA keeper Drew Nickla was off his line to block the shot. The ball flicked high in the air and had to be cleared off the line. The rebound effort was also sent goalwards but went off the arm of an OA defender.
Araujo, the league’s leading goal scorer, stepped up to the spot and slipped his shot under the dive of Nickla (five saves).
Milford had a couple of good chances to double its advantage before the break. Coelho latched onto a bad clearance, heading past the defender, but he skied a shot when clean through on goal. Jordan Borges set up Lucas Da Silva in the OA box, but his shot was skewed wide.
The Tigers had their own moments to try and get on the board in the first half, only to be denied by Oliveira (four saves). Milliken had the best chance but his curling free kick was palmed away by the keeper at full stretch. The junior almost grabbed a goal with another set piece from a tight angle but just missed the top corner. Jonathan Freeman also tested Oliveira with a long free kick that the keeper was forced to punch clear of the OA attackers.
“That’s the best game Leo’s played,” said Edwards. “He made some big saves. It was tough in the first half cause the sun was in his eyes and the wind in his face. I thought he played great and he’s come a long way because he’s working hard and he’s grinding.”
Just a minute after the break, OA was inches from equalizing. Brady deVos made a slide tackle on the far sideline, taking possession and driving towards the right side of the box. He hit a perfect cross to the back post where it was met by Kevin Louhis, but somehow Oliveira managed to get across and deny the shot in the bottom corner.
Five minutes later, Milford led 2-0. Araujo swung in a line drive corner to the near post and Dan Santos got across his marker to flick in the header, his second goal in as many games.
The Hawks seemed in control, but the Tigers took advantage of a defensive lapse to get right back into the game. Milliken sent in a corner and deVos was wide open in the middle of the box for a simple, close-range header.
“They kept working hard. They’re learning,” said Oliver Ames coach John Barata about his team’s ability to fight back after falling behind. “We gave up some really soft goals on set pieces, really poorly defended, so we have to learn, but it was good to see them come back. It was a good test and good to see them come back again and again.”
Leading by one, Milford had a series of chances to try and put the game away. Borges looped a cross into the box that landed directly on top of the crossbar and then he sprung Araujo on a break that was only stopped when Matthew Nosalek somehow got back in front and blocked the shot with a sliding tackle.
A minute after that chance, Borges whipped a free kick into the top corner from 30 yards, only to have it wiped away because the call had been for an indirect kick. With 10 minutes remaining, Araujo again cut in on his left foot and again was denied a goal, this time by the post. The rebound was put back on frame but Harrison Ahearn cleared it off the line.
The missed chances proved costly, as the Tigers kept going and managed to find an equalizer with nine minutes left to play. Mathias Taylor found himself in acres of space on the right and he hit a low cross to Milliken, who coolly finished over the onrushing keeper.
After letting the Tigers come back from two goals down, Milford could have settled for a draw, but instead fought back to find a winner and extend its lead in the Davenport title race to five points.