NORTH EASTON, Mass. – There might not be a state tournament this season, but Monday night’s game between Oliver Ames and Canton certainly felt like a playoff game.
Oliver Ames boys soccer
Both teams entered the Davenport heavyweight clash undefeated but only one, the Tigers, walked out still without a loss. Oliver Ames built a two-goal lead and added a key insurance strike in the fourth quarter to earn a 3-1 decision over the Bulldogs.
The battle between the top two teams in the Davenport division delivered with high intensity throughout, stout defensive efforts, a pair of class goals, and some fourth quarter drama.
“It was like a playoff game, a great game,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “They were well prepared, they came out with a very playoff tactic to get the win. We came in with our tactic to win, we were both playing this game to win no doubt about that. They don’t let you play your game, and we didn’t let them play their game so maybe it wasn’t the best either team has played…it was very intense, but that’s what Canton OA is right? We haven’t had this energy or feel in other games. And we expect the same type of vibe there.”
Oliver Ames scored early in the second quarter and doubled its lead with a goal just minutes into the second half but the Bulldogs took advantage of an opportunity in the 55th minute to get back into the game, halving the deficit.
That goal seemed to give the visitors some life and resulted in Canton’s best passing sequence of the game. Senior Abdul Barrie combined with sophomore Jorge Sanchez, the former getting some space in the corner and whipped a service in. Junior Jacob Crugnale got a touch to the cross but his bid was inches off, hitting off the far post and staying out, keeping the hosts ahead 2-1.
Oliver Ames boys soccer
A minute later, the Tigers built quickly out of the back with senior Colin Milliken carrying possession into the middle third, springing classmate Dillon Cupples out wide on the left. Cupples connected with senior Kevin Louhis, who worked around a defender to get to the corner of the area and Louhis blasted a curling shot inside the far post to make it 3-1 just seconds after the Bulldogs nearly tied it.
“Oliver Ames is a great team, they are strong everywhere on the field, really well organized,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “We knew we’d have to play a rather mistake-free game to beat them and we didn’t. We played great moments, I was really proud of our work ethic but we kind of drifted in moments and let them take the game.
“The game really came down to moments, some bounces and some weird mistakes cost us the game. We had a brilliant opportunity with probably our best build up of the game, three of four great passes in a row that led to a great opportunity that hit the far post, and then as soccer goes, a good team will make you pay for missing opportunities and they went down and Kevin scored a banger.”
The game started as expected with two of the best defenses in the Hockomock League this year. OA entered the contest having surrendered just one goal while the Bulldogs had just two goals against. Both defenses shined in the opening 20 minutes, taking away chances and denying passing lanes.
Canton boys soccer
Canton looked to get in behind the defense on a great ball from Colton Mirlianiy but OA senior Ben Cohen, who had a very strong game at outside right back, did very well to recover and thwart the chance.
Canton boys soccer
Meanwhile, Canton keeper Giovanni Ruggeri was up to the task on a low shot from distance from Cupples in the 12th minute, and Barrie intercepted a pass in the area, taking away a combination between Milliken and Cupples.
OA opened the lead in the 23rd minute on a free kick from Matthew Nikiciuk after he drew the foul. On a direct kick from just over 30 yards out, Nikiciuk blasted a low shot that skipped into the area and senior Brady deVos made a run right to the penalty spot and got a touch to it, changing the direction just enough to catch the keeper going the wrong way.
The Tigers went on to double their lead just minutes into the second half. Anthony DaCosta touched the corner into play and Milliken drove a cross into the area that hit off a Bulldog defender and into the net for an own goal.
Canton got on the board late in the third quarter after high pressure resulted in a turnover. Crugnale applied a lot of pressure, getting a piece of a pass out of the back to knock it free. Mirliani latched onto it, taking a touch with his left to set up a blast from 30 yards out that caught the keeper off the line and snuck under the bar to make it 2-1.
The Dogs nearly had the equalizer just before the third quarter came to a close. On a free kick from straight away from just over 25 yards out, Mirlinani touched to Barrie, who skipped on shot on goal that was spilled on frame but junior Dylan Baird’s bid on the rebound was just over the bar.
Canton boys soccer
Canton continued to press in the fourth but Louhis was able to put the game away with his strike in the 67th minute.
“The maturity factor of the seniors is finally paying off for us,” Barata said. “We allowed them to get in and Abdul whipped a wonderful ball in and it ricocheted off the post and suddenly it’s 2-2 and the momentum has shifted. Sometimes with younger kids, you might panic but our senior experience showed today.
“Danny has them well prepared, they know how to play tactically and they are well prepared and ready to go. We didn’t put them away early when we had the chance and it became a much tougher game in the second half. But it was great to have Kevin put in that third goal because then it was done.”
The two teams will clash again on Wednesday as Oliver Ames (7-0) travels to Canton (4-1-2) on Wednesday for a 6:15 PM kickoff. The Tigers can clinch at least a share of the Davenport title with a draw, and can clinch it outright with a win.
“We hadn’t talked about [the division title] until today, we talked about today being a championship game for us, Canton coming in undefeated,” Barata said. “But whenever you play Danny and Canton, you know they will be prepared so it’s a good game to get ready for the tournament, but this is like a tournament game for us this year.”
2019 Record: 6-9-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Peter Pereira
One more goal scored or one goal less allowed could have changed the entire outcome of the 2019 season for the Bombardiers, who suffered six one-goal losses and three draws. Now with more varsity experience under their belts, Attleboro is aiming to surprise some teams in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division title this season.
Longtime head coach Peter Pereira is counting on that experience to translate into leadership on and off the field. Senior goalie Zackary Brown is back in net for the Bombardiers and is showing more confidence inside the area. Senior Joey Soucy is making the transition to defense and will play alongside classmates Jayden Lockhart and Andrew Fasoldt. Junior Cashel Stuger is also back in the mix defensively while seniors Henry Marini and Alejandro Jimenez could factor into the defensive unit as well.
Jackson Singer emerged as a strong option in the midfield in his first season with the Bombardiers and should be a big piece again this year. Singer will pair up with Hugo Henriquez to give Attleboro an experienced duo in the heart of the pitch. Seniors Ben Fasoldt, Emilio Amaya, and Tyler Sar will all be apart of the midfield while juniors Tom Russo and Emilio Ticas should see valuable minutes for the Bombardiers. Freshman Alex Vecchioli has shown a lot of versatility so far and could play in a variety of roles.
Up front, Attleboro will be relying on a combination of speed, tough, and work effort as they challenge opposing defenses. Depending on the pairing, Attleboro will be able to attack in a variety of ways. Seniors Justin Lurssen and Connor Paquin as well as juniors Liam Bischoff and Yianni Skordas will all see time in the attack. Sophomore Esvin Morales emerged as one of the top attacking threats a year ago and will be among the top finishers in the league.
“We have a good group of seniors and hope that this experience will pay off,” Pereira said. “We believe we will have a more competitive, more mature, and more balanced team.”
2019 Record: 4-12-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Danny Erickson
The Bulldogs were very young during the 2019 season with just a half dozen seniors on the squad, but that meant plenty of young players were able to gain valuable on-field experience at the varsity level. Now the Bulldogs will be looking to contend in a very competitive Davenport division in the shortened 2020 season.
The defense will be the backbone of the team this season as the Bulldogs have a lot of experience at the centerback position. Senior captain Matt Giglio is back for his third year with the squad after being a key piece in each of the previous two years. He will be joined in the middle of the defense by Will Keefe, who anchored the Dogs’ backline last year and earned All-Hockomock honors.
Junior Dylan Baird had a breakout sophomore season and will be one of the main pieces in the midfield. After a down season for Canton on the offensive end as a whole last year, Baird’s presence in the midfield will help create opportunities going forward. Up front, the Bulldogs are counting on senior Colton Marliani to be a go-to scoring threat.
Canton already suffered a big blow as senior captain TJ McCabe, who has been with the squad since he was a freshman, will miss the season due to injury. On the flip side, the Bulldogs are getting a boost with the addition of Abdul Barrie. Barrie played in the youth leagues in Canton but will make his CHS debut this fall and could make a big impact for the Dogs.
“I think the rule modifications will challenge us all equally,” said longtime Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “But after a week or so of training, to me, it’s still soccer.”
2019 Record: 7-8-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dan Ambrosio
The Warriors had a sour taste in their mouth at the end of last season, losing the last game of the year to miss out on the playoffs. While Foxboro won’t have the chance to get back to the postseason this year, the Davenport division title is certainly in reach.
Foxboro graduated a couple of stalwarts (Joe Cusack, Dylan Barreira, Will Morrison) that were important pieces of the squad in each of the last couple of seasons, but there are plenty of experienced players back from last year’s seven-win squad plus a handful of new faces anxious to make their mark. Seniors Max Beigel and PJ Frost will give the Warriors plenty of leadership and experience, especially in the midfield and attacking third. Foxboro will look to play quick, using the counterattack to hit on the break.
After giving up nearly two goals a game a season ago, the Warriors are aiming to tighten up the back as they navigate through a very competitive Davenport division. First-year head coach Dan Ambrosio is also counting on new players like John Hollis and Ryan Flaherty to make an impact during the shortened season.
“We are a tight-knit group who like to have fun playing the game and look forward to representing our school and town,” Ambrosio said.
2019 Record: 9-7-4 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Fran Bositis
With returning players in most areas of the pitch and a trio of top midfielders in the Hockomock League, the Panthers should be in the mix for the Kelley-Rex title, although it could be one of the most competitive seasons since the league split into two.
With just 10 games and all six teams in the Kelley-Rex possible contenders, there is little margin for error. The Panthers will be put to the test right away as they take on Milford, who won the Davenport two years in a row and went to the D2 State Final last season, in the opening week. But longtime head coach Fran Bositis has plenty of talent on his roster to try and make a push for the division title. It all starts in the midfield with a trio of returning starters in Ethan Cain, Tyler Powderly, and last year’s HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Terry O’Neill.
All three bring something different to the table which will make Franklin’s midfield among the most dynamic in the league. Powderly’s speed on the wings will give defenses fits while Cain will bring plenty of creativity as the Panthers push forward. O’Neill won’t be able to dominate in the air like he did a season ago thanks to the new modifications that ban headers, but the junior is also such a calming presence with the ball at his feet and will help Franklin keep possession. Ben Moccia, who started in the midfield a season ago, is moving up top to the number 9 spot, while Charlie Amante, Ryan Witt, Jack Moran, and Kevin Proenca will also see time in the attack.
The Panthers have some new faces in the defensive unit. Will Fox is the lone returning starter and has impressed in the early stages of the season. Sam George, Robbin Tappin, and Karl Gruseck will all factor into the Panthers’ defense while Aidan Griffith, Nelson Martinez, and Connor Scagliarini will be options for Bositis to play either defense or in the midfield. Newcomers Trey Lovell and Rex Cinelli could see valuable minutes right away. Former Panther standout goalie Freddie Backmann, who is without a season at Regis College, is mentoring Luc Boudreau, this year’s starting keeper for Franklin.
“I think that we have a very good group of athletes (soccer players) who have worked real hard in preparation for this season,” Bositis said. “I know that they are all excited to be playing and that they are looking forward to competing against the other Kelley-Rex teams and putting themselves in a position to challenge for a league championship.”
2019 Record: 8-5-6 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Mike O’Neill
King Philip was the surprise team of the 2019 season, overcoming a large amount of inexperience to take third in the Kelley-Rex and qualify for the state tournament. While the Warriors won’t sneak up on anyone this season, the skill and experience they return should put them in the mix for the division title.
Second-year head coach Mike O’Neill has strong players in all areas of the pitch, starting with senior captain Evan McEvoy. A four-year player with the program, McEvoy is coming off a breakout season in 2019 and will be among the top midfielders in the league. He will control the pace for the Warriors from the center of the pitch, working with fellow captain Alex Leon, who will use his speed to patrol the wings and get in behind the defense. Both Caleb Waxman and Stephen Griffin made an impact last season and should see expanded roles in the shortened 2020 season. Sophomore Matt Crago is a new face that could make a splash in his first year.
The Warriors should have one of the top defenses in the league again this season. Senior captain Aidan Lindmark is back in goal and his distribution skills will factor in heavily to how KP plays out of the back. Jeremy White had a strong 2019 season at center back and will bolster the Warriors’ backline when he returns from injury. In the meantime, four-year player Ajae Olsen, who is normally patrolling the wing or up top, will have his versatility on display as he slides into the centerback spot.
“Our players and coaches are thankful that we are at the point where we can have a season,” O’Neill said. “So much work and sacrifice have gone into getting the Hockomock League schools to this moment. I’m looking forward to some excellent and competitive soccer. I expect every game to be extremely competitive – there are no easy games in the Hock. Five wins may win the division.”
2019 Record: 6-7-5 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Sheridan
With just 10 games scheduled for the season, every game – from the first to the last – is going to be important. No one understands that more than the 2020 Hornets, who came up just short of the state tournament last year. After a slow start, Mansfield became one of the toughest teams to beat down the stretch, finishing on an eight-game unbeaten streak that featured an upset of division champion Oliver Ames but came just one point shy of postseason play.
With the postseason not in the picture for this year, the focus shifts on the division title. The Hornets are hoping to carry the momentum from the end of last season into this year. Mansfield will have a mix of veterans and inexperience in its defensive unit. Senior captain Evan Eames will be the centerpiece of the group alongside classmate Michael Jeans, who missed all of last season due to injury. Sophomores Grady Sullivan and Nate Kablik round out the Hornets’ back four while senior captain Eric Sullivan will take over starting in goal.
Senior captain Tommy Lanzillo will run the show from the center of the pitch, helping the Hornets transition from defense to offense. Lanzillo is strong with the ball at his feet and will help distribute as the Hornets hit on the counter. Senior Colin True and juniors Matt Hyland and Dan Rowe will join Lanzillo in the Hornets’ midfield. Junior Dylan Buchanan is back for his third year with the squad and will play up top alongside Aiden Steele.
2019 Record: 18-1-2 2019 Finish: D2 State Finalists Coach: Antonio Pinta
Milford arrives in the Kelley-Rex division with a huge target on its back. Coming off back-to-back Davenport division titles and a trip to the D2 State Final a season ago, the Hawks enter their new division as the favorite. But game in and game out, Milford can expect to get everyone’s best.
First-year head coach Antonio Pinto might be new to the varsity position but has been with the program during this successful run as an assistant and JV coach. It will all start with the reigning HockomockSports Player of the Year and Hockomock League MVP Leo Coelho, who can play just about any position on the pitch at a high level. If there is a need to shut down a high-powered offense, you might see Coelho playing defense. Or if the Hawks need a boost offensively, he can just as easily move up front and provide creativity in the final third.
The Hawks are far from a one-trick pony with both Lucas Da Silva (eight goals, seven assists) and Joao Pedro Da Silva (six goals, three assists) back in the mix this season. Replacing the Hockomock’s leading scorer in Pedro Araujo (25 goals, 11 assists) will be tough but we saw the Hawks do just that when Araujo took over for former HockomockSports Player of the Year Wallison de Oliveira.
Defensively, the Hawks will be strong up the middle. Junior Kevin Gomes returns to start in goal for the Hawks after getting valuable experience there during last year’s season and deep playoff run. And junior Chris Tocci is back in the heart of the defense at centerback after a breakout sophomore campaign. While the new regulations will certainly challenge the Hawks defensively with heading and slide tackling banned, Milford should have a big advantage offensively because of their strong possession skills.
“I’m very excited to be out there with the guys this season,” Pinto said. “We are ready to play no matter what the rules and conditions are! We’re ecstatic to have a season.”
2019 Record: 9-7-4 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Geoff Burgess
The Rocketeers and head coach Geoff Burgess have found a recipe for success over the past couple of seasons and will be looking to replicate that again this year. Defense always comes first for the Rocketeers, who allowed just 0.68 goals per game last year. While every team is being forced to make changes because of the new modifications due to COVID-19, the Rocketeers might be affected more than most with heading, slide tackles, and shoulder-to-shoulder challenges banned.
But the Rocketeers have adjusted during the preseason and will be relying on defense and goalkeeping once again this season. Replacing two-time HockomockSports Best XI selection Kyle Briere in net won’t be easy but the North Attleboro is turning to junior David Floyd, who is one of the most athletic players on the team this season according to Burgess. The Rocketeers also boast one of the best centerback combinations in the league with seniors Justin Silva and Donovan Carter back in the fold this year. With a season of experience playing together, it will be tough for teams to find ways to get by the defense anchored by that duo.
While defense remains a top priority for the Big Red, that doesn’t mean North isn’t a dangerous team in the attacking third. As they’ve shown over the past two seasons, speed can kill. Relying on the counterattack and set pieces for the majority of their offensive chances, North brings back senior forward Matt Conley (one goal, five assists) to try and beat defenses with his speed and skill. Junior Connor Ward will have a lot to say about the pace the Rocketeers play at as he orchestrates the team from the center of the pitch.
“With an abbreviated season and a large senior class, we hope to challenge OA for the league title,” Burgess said. “This will obviously be a huge challenge but our defense will be tough to breakdown and you can’t lose if the other team does not score.”
2019 Record: 15-4-0 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal Coach: John Barata
Oliver Ames has reached the D2 State Final three times since 2014 and with a large group of experienced and skilled players back from last year’s team that went 15-4, another trip to the finals might have been in the cards for 2020. But with postseason canceled due to COVID-19, the Tigers are looking to make as big of an impact as they can.
After a four-year stint in the Kelley-Rex, one that included a pair of division titles (2017 and 2019), the Tigers are back in the Davenport division where they won five titles in the first six years after the Hockomock split. OA brings back nine players that either started or saw a good amount of minutes on the pitch last year, highlighted by HockomockSports Best XI selections Colin Milliken, Brady deVos, and Kevin Louhis. Milliken will help the Tigers transition from defense to offense from his center mid spot, Louhis will be a go-to option on the offensive end, and deVos is back to anchor the defense for the second straight season.
The Tigers will have plenty of options to go along with Milliken (10 goals, 14 assists) and Louhis (4 goals, 9 assists) in the attacking third. Jimmy Keane (six goals, one assist) bolsters the midfield while Anthony DaCosta (six goals, one assist) has improved each of the past two seasons and will be a handful for opposing defenses. Senior Matthew Nikiciuk really emerged as a force in the middle of the pitch last season and will be a big part of the offense, especially through set pieces. Both Mathias Taylor and Dillon Cupples burst onto the scene a year ago and will be in the mix as the Tigers push forward.
Senior goalie Drew Nickla returns in net after a strong year in 2019. The Tigers graduated the most from the defensive unit so the early challenge will be developing chemistry quickly in the backline. Head coach John Barata is also looking for Ben Cohen, Michael Haikal, and Hector Bucio as viable options for the Tigers while sophomore Jake Williams and freshmen Ryan Linhares, Joey Carney, and Diego Rivera are new faces to keep an eye out for.
“We are looking forward to competing this fall and enjoying the opportunity to grow as people and players,” Barata said. “This is a unique situation for a very unique group of players and we are going to make the best of it and play the best soccer we can. These young men are fantastic and we are going to have a great time this season regardless of the on field results…but we hope to have a few of those too!”
2019 Record: 6-7-5 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Scott Nathan
The Eagles enter the 2020 campaign with a chip on their shoulder, coming up just one point shy of the state tournament a year ago. While Sharon can’t make up for that with a tournament appearance this year with the playoffs canceled due to COVID-19, the Eagles can certainly make some noise while challenging for the Davenport division title.
Sharon said goodbye to a handful of experienced veterans including Michael Baur, Brian Higgins, and Isaiah Stessman, but first-year head coach Scott Nathan has a group of proven players plus a bunch of news faces eager to make their mark. Senior captain Bryce Nathan and junior captain James Zhang will lead the way both on and off the pitch this year as the Eagles compete for the Davenport crown.
Bryce Nathan is one of the most versatile players in the league, playing anywhere from defense to striker during his tenure with the Eagles. Zhang, fresh off an impressive sophomore campaign, is very confident with the ball at his feet and does a nice job distributing from the center of the pitch. Sophomore Matthew Baur is back in goal after getting a varsity season under his belt. Rhys Davis and Brandon Mauricio highlight a list of returners defensively while Coby Jacobson, Samid Khandaker, Adam Landstein, Aaron Livshin, and Daniel Zagoren are all back with varsity experience as well.
The Eagles will focus on a sound defense first before transitioning into offense. Patience will be key this year as Sharon looks to make the most of each opportunity as they push forward. Brady Daylor, Malachi Diaz, Adam Eastman, Daniel Fishman, Amjad Kordab, Jack Landstein, Rohan Prakash, Elliot Pototsky Nicholas Rincon, Aaron Tamkin, Jeffrey Xiang, and Tony Yang are new to the varsity level and will be looking to make an impact on the pitch for the Eagles in 2020.
“The game will be different…for players, coaches, referees, and fans,” Scott Nathan said. “I am just happy for the boys that they have the opportunity to play the game they love!”
2019 Record: 3-13-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jon Grant
With a year of experience under coach Jon Grant, the Black Knights are aiming to have a bounce back year and compete with the top teams in the Davenport division.
There were plenty of bumps in the road during the 2019 season but Stoughton certainly showed some bright spots, including wins over Mansfield and Canton. Now the Black Knights will try to compete in each game and string some results together. Captain Nolan Gerome returns in goal for Stoughton and is among the best keepers in the league. Opposing head coaches have raved about saves Gerome has made over the past couple of seasons and he will be the anchor of the Black Knights’ defensive unit.
Playing in front of Gerome will be senior captain Ryan Sears and junior Owen Roddy, who both played valuable minutes last year. With a good amount of experience and skill in the back, Stoughton is hoping defense will be a cornerstone for the 2020 season. Grant is looking for Rhuan Carvalho to be a top playmaker for the Black Knights, distributing from the center of the pitch to create some offensive chances.
“Our goal for this year to improve on last season,” Grant said. “This year the players came in to the short season fairly well conditioned and with a great attitude. All the players are so grateful to have this opportunity to be back out on the field. This will definitely help us in this short season.”
2019 Record: 2-9-7 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
It’s easy to look at Taunton’s record from a season ago and make assumptions, but upon further review, the Tigers were in just about every game they played. Five of the nine losses were decided by just one goal and the Tigers had a league-high seven draws; one goal either way and the Tigers were that close to a spot in the tournament. It goes to show how competitive the league was and how important each goal is.
With a strong nucleus of players back from last year’s squad, the playoffs wouldn’t have been such a far reach for Taunton this season. But with the postseason not in play, the Tigers will shift focus on being a darkhorse in the Kelley-Rex division title hunt. The new modifications will make it tough for all teams when it comes to defending, but it will also benefit something that Taunton has plenty of: speed. The Tigers plan on utilizing their pace on both ends of the pitch, getting behind the defense on one end while using their speed defensively to fend off opposing offenses.
Taunton will be strong up the middle with senior Travis Nunes back in the heart of the pitch and sophomore Riley Rebello back to anchor the defense. Senior Hunter Cabral will give the Tigers flexibility by playing in both the midfield and up front. Head coach Taylor Whitters is looking for sophomores Joseph Renquinha Jr., Aidden Fitting, Quincy Jones-Sylvia, Jonathan Trinh, and Nathan Keenan to all be in the mix this season.
“Despite everything that has occurred in recent months, we have one of the most versatile and technically sound teams that Taunton High School Boys Soccer has seen in a long time,” Whitters said. “This group of young men have the number one factor in the success of any team: chemistry. They have the willingness to play for the team, not for themselves. I feel with their talents, abilities, and desire to work together as a unit, we will be a team to watch in our division this season.”
“I think the season has gone really well, the boys have worked hard,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata, who has taken the team to the playoffs every year since he took over in 2009. “We’ve overcome some adversity and some challenges. Look at today, if you work hard luck can go your way. I think we learned you have to keep going. The first goal was a bit of a gift, to be honest, after [Canton] had done well defending and playing. The season has gone very well, we’re working hard and getting better.”
The first 50 minutes of the game was loaded with chances with each team coming inches from the opener. The Tigers hit the post and had a couple of point-blank chances turned away by Canton keeper Gio Ruggeri. The Bulldogs saw a good chance hit off the crossbar and stay out, and another bid cleared off the line by an OA defender.
The first goal finally came in the 51st minute on an unlucky play by the Bulldogs. After Ruggeri made the initial stop on a shot from OA junior Jimmy Keane, a Canton defender went to clear the loose ball but the kick ricocheted off of a teammate and into the open net for an own goal and a 1-0 lead for the hosts.
As it often can, the goal changed the game. From there on out, it was almost all Tigers. Oliver Ames scored a pair of goals inside a five-minute span later in the second half to secure the two points and the division title.
“We played a really good first half, I thought we both had the same amount of chances by halftime,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson, now in his 27th year at the helm of the Bulldogs. “We decided to give them most of the possession and the field because I think that was the way the game was going to go anyway. We didn’t completely hunker down, we just gave them their half and wanted to counter a little bit. I thought it worked out pretty good in the first half and maybe 10 minutes into the second half.
“When you give them a lot of the field, you take chances that fluke things can happen. We gave up a fluke own goal and I think that kind of took the wind out of our sails. I thought we were good up to that moment and then we struggled against a very good team, hats off to [Oliver Ames].”
Oliver Ames kept applying pressure following the first goal of the game and found a second 11 minutes later. Junior Kevin Louhis was able to find space between two defenders and laid off a perfectly weighted through ball into the area. Junior Colin Milliken made a diagonal run onto the ball and used a simple touch to beat the keeper and find the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Milliken had his second and the Tigers had a 3-0 lead. Senior Jonathan Freeman blasted a clearance up field. Louhis was able to keep possession over two defenders, playing Milliken in again. Ruggeri was first to the ball at the top of the area but Milliken tracked down the loose ball in the area and tucked it away for a 3-0 lead.
“We had a lot of chances, we had balls go through the six, had some shots blocked [in the first half],” Barata said. “Once that went in, it felt like there was a relief of the pressure. The guys were just playing, not every shot was to win the World Cup Final. Canton is a great team, Danny has done a great job with a young team. They are going to be very good in the future.”
Both sides had good chances in the first half, starting with Milliken’s blast from 20 yards out that was smothered by Ruggeri. Three minutes later, Canton freshman Jorge Sanchez put a free kick into the mixer and the rebound fell to sophomore Jacob Crunagle, but he couldn’t get over the ball and a shot on target.
OA responded when junior Anthony DaCosta won a battle on the sidelines, connected with Louhis who fired a left footed shot just wide at the far post. Two minutes later, the Tigers had a great combination play with Harry Ahearn linking up with Mathias Taylor. Taylor found Keane, who in turn played DaCosta in behind the defense but the final shot skipped wide.
Canton nearly took the lead in the 32nd minute. Senior Colby Ciffolillo rose up above the defense and got his head to it, lofting it over the keeper, but the ball smacked off the crossbar and stayed out.
A minute later, Ruggeri came up with a huge stop to keep the game scoreless. DaCosta connected with Milliken and he blasted a shot on target but Ruggeri pushed it away. Ruggeri made a point black stop a minute later when Milliken set up Keane inside the area.
Oliver Ames junior Brady deVos used the outside of his foot to near give the Tigers the lead in the 35th minute but his shot clanked off the post and went out. On the other end, deVos robbed Canton of a goal with a goal line clearance, heading away another bid from Ciffolillo in the 36th minute.
Oliver Ames boys soccer (12-1-0 Hockomock, 12-1-0 overall) returns to action on Tuesday with a night game at Mansfield. Canton (3-9-1, 3-9-2) will take on Sharon at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday night in the second half of a double header with the girls teams playing first.
CANTON, Mass. – The field seemed to be tilted towards the far end zone all night. In the first half of Thursday night’s game at WWII Veterans Memorial Field, King Philip threatened with every attack, creating a number of chances, and putting Canton on the back foot. After the break, the hosts turned the game around and suddenly had the Warriors on their heels.
When you’re on top in the game, you have to find the back of the net. KP managed it once, junior Tadhg Keller tapping in a rebound in the 14th minute, and that turned out to be just about enough, as the back line held up against the Canton pressure and held on for a 1-0 win.
“They had a lot of momentum,” said KP coach Mike O’Neill about the pressure his team faced to preserve the lead in the second half. “I’m really happy. It’s a character win, these guys really grinded it out. It was close, it was touch-and-go for a while, but I’m proud of how my boys stuck to it.”
Canton had the game’s first shot on target, but it would end up being the only save that KP starting keeper Aidan Lindmark had to make in the first half, as the Bulldogs struggled to manufacture consistent offense in the opening 40 minutes.
KP grabbed control by exploiting the edges of the Canton defense. Junior Alex Leon had a bright start down the left and he slipped a pass into the channel for Andrew Robinson to have a shot just six minutes into the game. Five minutes later, Leon quickly turned on his defender and had a go from inside the box but hit the side netting.
In the 14th minute, KP got a free kick opportunity from about 25 yards out. Sophomore Caleb Casseta-Waxman curled a shot that seemed destined for the back of the net only for Canton keeper Alejandro Correal to fly across and get a fingertip to it and put it off the bar. The rebound fell to Keller, who took a touch to settle it before slamming the ball into the goal.
“I thought we played a relatively complete game today,” said Canton coach Danny Erickson, “but soccer comes down to moments and we fell asleep admiring our goalkeeper’s save. They didn’t fall asleep and they buried a rebound and that’s what happens.”
Just a minute later, the lead was very nearly doubled. This time KP attacked down the right. Wesley Orzell and Owen Teixeira played a one-two to get Orzell into space and he burst past the defender on the end line. The senior looked up and slid a pass to Casseta-Waxman, who was unmarked in the six-yard-box. Only a heroic intervention by freshman Carson Eagles kept the goalbound shot from hitting the back of the net.
The chances kept coming for the visitors. Evan McEvoy teed up Teixeira in the right channel and his shot flashed into the side netting, confusing some in the crowd, on the KP bench, and the scorekeeper who all thought it had gone into the top corner.
Stephen Griffin managed to hold possession against several Canton defenders and he set up McEvoy for a 20-yard strike that Correal held for one of his five first-half saves. A long cross from right back Matthew Clarke picked out Keller for a free header with just minutes to go before halftime, but the shot was easily grabbed by Correal.
Whatever was said at halftime seemed to work for the Bulldogs. Canton came out of the break inspired and instantly started to put pressure on the KP defense.
“I’d love to take massive credit for an inspirational halftime speech,” Erickson joked, “but I thought we were showing signs of really good stuff in the first half and we focused on those things. Honestly, they started winning some battles and feeling good about themselves and that results in good things.”
Just three minutes into the second half, Dylan Baird had a shot from a long way out that new KP keeper Grant Orzell had to collect at the second attempt, just in front of Jacob Crugnale. Five minutes later, Crugnale had a go from distance that took a touch off a KP boot before going over the bar. From the resulting corner, Colby Cifolillo rose highest but his goal-bound header was deflected wide of the post.
“We’re still a team that’s struggling to create chances and finish and that’s something that we’re going back to the drawing board to keep working on,” Erickson said.
Midway through the second half, freshman Jorge Sanchez set up Crugnale for a one-time hit but Orzell was able to get behind it. TJ McCabe had several shots from the edge of the box that the defense had to charge down. Despite the chances they were able to create, the Bulldogs just couldn’t find a way through and the KP back three of Clarke, Jordan Hoyle, and Jeremy White held firm.
“They are the core of this team and they are the rock, the wall we build, and we really rely on them,” said O’Neil of his defense. “In addition to be excellent defenders, they’re really skilled, composed, and they know what they’re doing.”
KP had a couple of chances on the break to try and put the game away. The best chance came for Anthony Zappala, but his curling effort from distance was collected by Canton back-up goalie Giovanni Ruggeri.
King Philip (3-1-2, 2-1-2) will get nearly a week off before traveling to division rival Attleboro on Wednesday. Canton (1-3-2, 1-3-1) will try to end its three-game losing streak when it hosts Sharon on Monday.
In 1961, then Sharon High principal James Dowd brought in a young science teacher and handed him the reigns to the school’s boys basketball program. The new coach, who held the Westport High scoring record of 1,529 points and played at the University of Rhode Island, would spend 23 years on the Sharon bench and amass an impressive record of 328-114, turning the Eagles into a perennial power not only in the Hockomock League but across the state and making Sharon basketball games must-attend events for the whole school.
Under his guidance, the Eagles won five league titles, made the tournament 19 times, reached 10 semifinals, and the got to the finals four times. He stopped coaching after the 1982-83 season and six years later was inducted into the Mass. Basketball Coaches Association (MBCA) Hall of Fame. On top of his coaching duties, he also spent nearly 30 years as the school’s athletic director and oversaw numerous changes in Sharon’s sports programs, including the introduction of a football program and the expansion of girls’ sports offerings.
But the legacy of Dudley Davenport extends far beyond the basketball court and even beyond the town of Sharon. His legacy encompasses the entire Hockomock League, which he promoted for five decades, and the countless people that he impacted in his roles as coach, teacher, athletic director, camp counselor, and league executive secretary. Even more than his accomplishments in sports, what most people mention is his sense of humor, his larger than life persona, and the encouragement he exuded.
On May 15, Davenport passed away unexpectedly in his Westport, Mass. home at the age of 81. It is a loss not only for Sharon but for the whole Hockomock community.
“Dud was a Hockomock League giant in just about every way,” said Canton athletic director Danny Erickson, who knew Davenport from his days as a player, as well as coach and AD. “You can’t meet Dudley and not be impressed with the magnitude of the person and personality that he is. He makes everybody feel valued and he makes everybody feel good.”
Joel Peckham came to Sharon a couple years after Davenport, who had already established himself as the varsity basketball coach. Peckham took over the baseball program from Davenport (who joked at Peckham’s final home game in 2015 that the job had been stolen from him) and also joined the basketball staff as coach of the freshman team. “I was the wise young guy who showed up who they had to put in my place,” Peckham said this week about Davenport and fellow assistant coach Basil Cronin (who passed away last summer). “He was a tremendous figure, in some ways a father figure for me. It’s an incredible loss.”
Former Mansfield High boys basketball coach Stu Hershman played for Davenport during those heady days when Sharon was a consistent presence in the annual Tech Tournament and made several trips to the Boston Garden, including a state final appearance in 1972. His family also ran the Sharon Country Day Camp where Davenport spent summers as the athletic director.
“He wasn’t just a coach,” said Hershman. “He was a teacher and a friend and he really cared about you. You felt it. After the basketball games, it was like a big family and he would invite everybody back to the house, parents, everybody, and it was just a nice atmosphere.”
The Hornets qualified for the tournament under Hershman in the days when teams needed to win 70 percent of their games to get in and Davenport attended the first playoff game that Hershman coached. “When I got into coaching, I wanted to be just like him,” Hershman said. He added with a laugh, “It didn’t turn out that way with the record.”
“He was king and he had so much success,” Peckham said. What he recalled most was all the fun moments that the coaches had getting together after every game at Davenport’s house, win or lose. “Always with good cheer, even in some of the worst losses, where we would lose big games, we would laugh and have a good time,” he explained.
Former Sharon field hockey and girls lacrosse coach Peg Arguimbau has been connected with the Davenport family for decades. Her father was James Dowd, who hired Davenport at Sharon High. She had Davenport as a science teacher as a freshman, was a babysitter for the Davenport’s children, was a counselor with Davenport at the Sharon Country Day Camp, and he even convinced her to begin officiating basketball and field hockey, something that she continued for more than 20 years. Their relationship was closer to family.
“He just had an upbeat positive outlook,” Arguimbau said. “He had a great basketball record and people respected that but I think they also respected just how he treated people.” When asked what he was like as an athletic director, she replied, “As a coach, you need someone to support you when you hit the bumps in the road, whether it be athletes or parents or other coaches or whatever, and you could always go to him. His door was always open.”
She explained that Davenport would do things like grow his hair out until the team qualified for the tournament and would walk the halls with a “shaggy buzzcut.” It was the little things that endeared him to the school community. “It was a good time to be involved and he was the head of it,” she said. “I was just fortunate to be able to know him on so many different levels.”
Oliver Ames principal Wes Paul first met Davenport while playing in the Championship Basketball School, which Davenport was a counselor at during the summers. When Paul got into administration at OA, Davenport was the league’s executive secretary and Paul leaned on him for historical perspective and guidance when making decisions that would impact the league. “The Hockomock League was great not because of us,” he said. “It was on the backs of Dudley’s generation and before. He’s been in this room, he needs to be heard, and he needs to weigh in on this.”
When the league made the decision to expand in 2011, adding Attleboro first and then Taunton and Milford the following year, the athletic directors and principals decided to honor Davenport’s impact on the league by naming the small-school division in his honor. “It was absolutely a slam dunk,” said Paul. “It was like, that’s not even enough, but it’s a great start to pay tribute to his legacy.”
Former Franklin athletic director Brad Sidwell was one of the leading proponents for the naming of the Davenport division, crediting Davenport for explaining the league’s traditions to the young ADs. “He was always just very positive,” Sidwell said. ”He was just a great guy who got it. He really enjoyed the camaraderie between the ADs and the schools and the communities.”
Erickson also praised Davenport for setting him straight when he came into the league wanting to make instant changes. “He was not ever opposed to change but he made someone like me, who was really anxious to make some moves, really take a breath and go about things in a more thoughtful way,” Erickson said. “Looking back on that years later, he was a big part in my own growth on how to implement change in a positive way.”
Even up until a few days before he passed, Dudley Davenport was sharing messages, commenting, and liking posts on Facebook, remaining in touch with the numerous people who he had come into contact with during his long career. He continued to be a presence, a “giant” that the league would greatly miss.
“He was just a really good example of someone who believes that athletics are very educational and they are great for our kids,” said Sidwell. Paul added, “It’s hard to find the complete package and that’s why he’s a legend. He had the focus on others, not on himself and that’s a really special quality.” Hershman said, “It wasn’t just the coaching. There was something about him that made him special. He’s a great role model. It wasn’t about him, it was always about the kids.”
While talking about Davenport’s legacy, Peckham paused, taking a second to reflect on his time with his friend and said simply, “I miss him.”
Peckham continued, “He was a close friend and a really wonderful supporter. He helped me a lot. He helped me grow up. I came here as a young guy, full of piss and vinegar, and Dud was the one to suggest to me that I could be a little different at times.
“His legacy is one that no one will ever completely live up to. Others may establish their own, but he had it all going for him.”
(Editor’s Note – Donations in Dudley Davenport’s memory can be made to the Davenport Scholarship Fund c/o Sharon Credit Union, 30 Pond St. Sharon, MA 02067.)
MILFORD, Mass. – Heading into Thursday evening’s matchup with Canton, the Milford boys soccer team needed just one point to clinch at least a share of its first Davenport division title.
But that’s not what head coach Brian Edwards told his team.
Edwards told his team it was a must-win in order to become Davenport champions.
“We didn’t want to share,” Edwards said.
His team responded, using a goal in the final five minutes to earn a dramatic 3-2 win over the visiting Bulldogs. It marks Milford’s first ever Hockomock Davenport division title, and the program’s first league title since 1999 when it won the Mid-Wach A crown.
“I told them before the game they had to play for the win, and they are all about that,” Edwards said. “I thought this was one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen in a long time. I thought both teams just played incredibly hard, played good soccer…you saw contrasting styles but either team could have won this game.”
It was only fitting that the game had a dramatic ending after it was filled with goal scoring chances, terrific saves, solid defense, and timely goals.
The build-up started just before midfield at the beginning of the 77th minute with junior Jordan Borges electing to keep possession instead of forcing anything up field. He found sophomore Leo Coelho on the right flank, and Coelho quickly switched fields to senior Tiago Carvalho.
Carvalho slid a pass back up the middle to Borges, who used a deft touch with the outside of his right foot to get free from a defender. The junior took a touch towards goal and ripped a hard, dipping shot that found the side netting on the far post for a 3-2 lead in the final moments of the game.
“It was a great ball, my teammates put me in a great spot and I just happened to finish it,” Borges said. “Everybody has their chances on this team, we play together as a team, this was my chance. When I hit it, I knew right away when it came off my foot, it was pretty sweet.
“Our goal was to win the league title after we got into the playoffs. Coming in today, we knew Canton was a tough team so we felt like it was a must win. It was the best feeling to get the goal late and win the game.”
It was Borges’ third goal of the season, giving him seven points on the season.
“What a baller,” Edwards said of Borges. “That’s the kind of goal we expect froma Jordan. He’s the kind of player who does all of that hard work, like Tiago Carvalho and Joao Boaventura, those three guys do so much work and don’t get a ton of headlines. They don’t always show up in the scoresheet…but Jordan deserves that goal. He’s a three-year varsity player, he works tirelessly. He watches film more than I do, he’s always trying to improve. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
The final goal was the fifth of the second half alone. The teams played a scoreless 40 minutes to begin the game before the fireworks began in the second half.
It took Canton less than five minutes into the second half to get on the scoreboard. Senior Paolo Ruggeri drew a foul on the left flank and senior Paul Corcoran stood over ready to deliver a cross.
Corcoran whipped in a service but the ball eluded a pair of Canton runners. However, it was enough to freeze Milford keeper Josh Orellana (eight saves) and the ball hit off the far post and in for a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.
Canton saw its advantage evaporate just minutes later as the Hawks pulled even with an immediate response. In the 46th minute, senior Joey Madden used a long throw-in into the area and the Canton clearance was knocked down by Joao Vitor Neiva. The block went right to the feet of sophomore Lucas Da Silva all alone at the far post and he blasted his shot in for make it 1-1.
“It was important just to kind of take a little gas out of their engine,” Edwards said of replying right away. “They’re already a great team, and when they get up on you, they can be incredible because they are so confident and the style they play can be difficult to come back against so coming back so quickly was vital.”
The chances continued for both sides as Ruggeri saw his shot go just over the bar in the 48th, and Borges had a header saved in the 50th minute.
Back on the other end, Griffin Roach latched onto a long throw from Corcoran behind a defender, made a nice move by another Scarlet Hawk, and ripped a low shot that was turned aside by Orellana. The rebound fell right back to Roach and he put hit his shot into the what appeared to be an open goal but Da Silva positioned himself perfectly on the goal line and cleared it away to keep the game level.
Milford capitalized on the goal line stop three minutes later to take its first lead of the game. After a nice combination from Walisson de Oliveira and Neiva, the latter was dispossessed by a nice tackle from Avery Minkin atop the area. Before Canton could clear, de Oliveira jumped onto the ball, raced to the end line and played a low cross back into the area and Neiva slid in-between a trio of Canton defenders to tap it in at the near post.
Similar to how Milford erased Canton’s lead in moments, the Bulldogs returned the favor by tying the game just two minutes later. Again it was a long throw from Corcoran that got things started. His throw was knocked down in the area right to the foot of senior Simon Cruz and he quickly one-timed a shot just inside the post to make it 2-2.
The next scoring chance was Borges’ game-winner in the 77th minute.
“We settled down a bit at the end,” Edwards said of the final 15 minutes of the game. “We really didn’t play our style for most of that game, we kind of got caught up in the moment and I think our inexperience in this type of game showed. We have experience but not in a game like this. Beside the last game of last year against Nipmuc, this is the closest thing we’ve had to a playoff game. I thought we were a bit too direct at times but we settled it down at the end and as you saw, good things happened.”
While the first half didn’t have any scoring, it wasn’t for a lack of chances. The first half had just as many scoring opportunities as the second half, and even saw Canton find the back of the net only for a whistle to take it off the board.
In the 19th minute, Cruz latched onto a loose ball and looked to play Roach in. Cruz was taken down on the play and as Roach turned and hit a shot that found the back of the net, the ref whistled for a foul on the play against Cruz.
Canton nearly scored on the ensuing free kick as well. Roach ripped his shot over the wall but Orellana came up with a key one-handed stop to keep it out.
“First off, hats to Milford for winning the Davenport, they deserve it,” said longtime Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “They are a great team and they are a real dangerous team, I’m real impressed with them. Having said that, I thought we played really well in the first half. I thought we dominated the entire half and I was really disappointed that we scored a goal that really would have made a difference and the referee had blown the whistle early. It happens, ref’s are fallible, it happens. That goal would have a big difference for us. But Milford put us under a lot of pressure the last 15 minutes of the game and they deserve to win that game. I’m real proud of my kids. We didn’t lose the Davenport today, we lost it over the last couple of weeks when we didn’t get some of the results we needed.
“When we wake up tomorrow and can worry about the future, today will have helped us. But it stings right now.”
Milford raced down the other end and nearly opened the scoring. After beating a couple of defenders, de Oliveira’s shot was blocked by a slide from Corcoran. The ball popped into the air and de Oliveira was first there, getting a head that went over the keeper but Canton senior Mike Mazzola covered perfectly, heading the chance off the line and out.
In the 33rd minute, the Bulldogs had a pair of great chances, again starting with a free kick from road. Roach drilled a dipping shot from 30 yards out that forced a low save from Orellana. The rebound fell to the feet of Alejandro Correal and he put a good shot on goal but Orellana got up and made a spectacular sprawling effort to get in the way to keep the shot out.
“We could have been down 3-0 in that first half if not for the play of Josh Orellana,” Edwards said. “He made some outstanding saves to keep us in that game. Thankfully he did because that could have been a very different game.”
Milford’s two best chances of the first half came in the final five minutes. Coeleho linked up with de Oliveira in the area but the junior’s header glanced just wide in the 36th minute. And in the final minute of the half, de Oliveira worked his way past a pair of Canton defenders before playing Neiva in alone. Neiva was forced a touch wide by keeper Dylan Coyne and sophomore Matt Giglio recovered to block the shot.
Milford boys soccer (10-1-5 overall, 9-1-5 Hockomock) returns to action on Friday against non-league rival Hopedale, and finishes the season on Monday at Stoughton. Canton (9-4-4, 8-4-3) closes the regular season out on Saturday against Foxboro.
“More importantly than the goal, he defended their best player,” Pereira said. “We were trying to find someone to finish, we tried subbing too. It was good for Josh to get it. He’s a solid player, he’s not a flashy player but he’s very smart.”
For the majority of the game, Smith was tasked with dealing with a Bulldogs’ offense that scored four goals in their season opener just days earlier against Marshfield. But he was able to give Attleboro the lead just inside the final 10 minutes.
After a free kick was partially cleared by the Bulldogs’ defense, junior Michael Russo delivers a service back into the area. Sophomore Joey Soucy ran onto it and fired a one-time shot from in close. Canton keeper Alejandro Correal made a terrific first save but the rebound popped loose and Smith was there to tap it in for a 1-0 lead.
“It was a good win, the kids are excited,” Pereira said. Attleboro was the last of the 12 Hockomock teams to kickoff its 2018 campaign. “They’ve been ready to go, everyone else has been playing. They were nervous in the first half but then we settled down and it was a totally different team out there for us in the second half.”
The game was loaded was chances for both sides but it wasn’t until Smith’s goal in the final 10 minutes either side broke through.
With Canton down a goal and pushing for an equalizer, Attleboro senior Will Halben gained possession just over half after a turnover. He went at the defense with pace, getting by his mark and rifling a shot into the far corner to make it 2-0 in the 77th minute.
“Towards the end of the game, when you’re up by a goal, he can be deadly,” Pereira said of Halben, who has been the Bombardiers’ leading scorer for the past two years. “He had a couple of chances earlier too and he’ll get a couple of those each game, but it was nice to have him finish.”
The Bulldogs had the better of play for the first 40 minutes but couldn’t find the back of the net. Griffin Roach had a header off Paul Corcoran’s throw-in saved by Attleboro keeper Andre Menard in the opening 15 minutes.
The best chance came off the foot of TJ McCabe. After winning possession near midfield, the sophomore beat off two defenders to gain some space before ripping a hard shot from 25 yards out that just sailed over the crossbar.
“You can’t play 40 minutes of the first half where you’re really on your front foot dominating and not score a goal and think you’re going to win a game, you can’t do that in the Hockomock League,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson, now in his 26th season at the helm of the Bulldogs.
“Attleboro is too good a team for that. I thought we played great soccer today, pretty much start to finish. I thought the second half was even, we both had some chances. I thought we dominated the first half but Attleboro was clean with a couple finishes in the end and that was the difference. But that was a great Hockomock League game. We could have come out on top but Attleboro deserved it today.”
The first half hour of the second half was full of goal scoring chances, including two from Canton inside the first 15 minutes. Corcoran linked up with McCabe, who found Cruz but his chance was turned aside. Two minutes later, Roach once again got his head on a throw by Corcoran but it went just over the bar.
Attleboro countered two minutes later when Brady Holander’s service connected to Justin Lurssen but Correal made a nice diving save to keep the game level.
The Bombardiers next best chance came 10 minutes later when Eli Araujo played Halben into space behind the defense and the senior got past Correal but was forced wide enough by the keeper where his tough angle shot went high.
“The first half, they had the play and then in the second half I thought we outplayed them a little bit,” Pereira said. “They are a good team, they play physical, they play quick, they have size. That was a good game. You knew whoever got the first goal was going to get the win. We ended up with two nice ones.”
Attleboro boys soccer (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) faces another stiff challenge on Wednesday when it welcomes Mansfield (2-0) to Tozier-Cassidy Field. Canton (0-1, 1-1) will try to bounce back when it hits the road to take on Foxboro on the same day.
2017 Record: 10-5-4 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Danny Erickson
The Bulldogs have been one of the top offensive teams over the past two seasons, and that trend will likely continue with the personnel returning this season. The goal this season is to equal that success on the defensive end of the field.
“We have had lots of success the past two seasons in scoring goals but we have not been stingy enough with allowing goals,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson.
Hockomock League leading scorer Paul Corcoran is back for his senior season and has been one of the top producers in the final third over the past two seasons. His nine goals in 2016 helped earn him HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors and last year he led the Hock with 15 goals and 23 total points. He is joined by HockomockSports.com Best XI selection Griffin Roach in the midfield. Roach is one of the best two-way players in the league and will undoubtedly be relied upon to help both the offense (10 goals, five assists last year) and the defense. Simon Cruz is another player with a good amount of varsity experience that will likely factor in.
While the offense looks to be in good shape, shoring up the defense won’t be easy after losing starting goalie Abe Garber and center back John Agnitti. However, Erickson can rely on Paolo Ruggeri to lead the way in the back. Ruggeri has a ton of varsity experience and will be the quarterback of the defense, organizing and keeping the back four in shape. Junior Alejandro Correal will step in as the starting keeper.
2017 Record: 11-5-4 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Joe Franchino
Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino isn’t afraid to talk about how confident he is in this year’s team.
“The Hockomock title is coming to Foxboro,” Franchino said.
Although Foxboro graduated a dozen seniors, the players that the Warriors do return are the reason why Franchino is so confident in this group. Starting up top, Foxboro has both of its strikers back, including leading scorer Shane VandenBoom. Last year, VandenBoom was second in the league in the regular season with 21 points, scoring 12 goals and adding nine assists. He will be joined up top by Dylan Barreira, who had a strong sophomore season.
In the midfield, everything will run through junior Joe Cusack. There aren’t many midfielders that have the poise on the ball that Cusack does and he will likely be the engine for the team. He isn’t the biggest player on the pitch but his vision is among the best and his ability to play balls over the top and through the defense make Foxboro’s offense very dangerous. Nic Beigel will complement Cusack in the middle to give the Warriors a solid 1-2 combo.
Defensively, the Warriors are hoping to see more of the same after only allowing 15 goals through 18 regular season games. The good news is that Foxboro has plenty of experience returning in the back with Matt Garcia, Brian Gardner, and Will Regan back in the fold. Franchino stressed that the team must put defense first and buy into the system, and then the team can go forward — an area the Warriors are very confident in.
2017 Record: 7-8-3 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Brian Edwards
After missing out on the postseason by just one game, the 2018 Scarlet Hawks are laser-focused on making it into the state tournament and having a run at the division title.
Third-year head coach Brian Edwards saw his team go from four wins to seven over the first two years and is hoping that upward trend will continue in 2018.
“We are looking to build upon the lessons learned last year,” Edwards said. “We want to work on maintaining focus and closing games out this season. With many players coming back for their third varsity season we are hopeful that our experience helps us work towards our goals this season.”
One big reason for optimism is junior Walisson De Oliveira, who exploded as one of the best offensive threats in the league in the second half of the season. After playing in the midfield for half the year, Edwards moved De Oliveira up top and the move paid off big time. The striker scored 14 goals (second most in the Hock) and had three assists.
In the midfield, the Hawks boast a trio of talented and experienced players. Tiago Carvalho, Joao Boaventura, and Jordan Borges have all shown improvement over the offseason and will be counted on to handle the middle of the pitch. Seniors Joey Madden and Zach Brown return to anchor the defensive unit in front of senior goalie Cam Doherty.
2017 Record: 11-2-6 (Davenport Division Champions) 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Geoff Burgess
Despite graduating over a dozen seniors from last year’s Davenport division-winning squad, North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess believes his team will be ready to defend its league title.
The Rocketeers will have to find a replacement for HockomockSports.com Best XI selections Gabe Pinhancos (center mid) and Brendan Matracia (goalie), as well as the entire back line, but Burgess does have options to fill the voids.
“I’m excited to see what this group can accomplish,” Burgess said. “We have a good nucleus of talented players and high expectations.”
Senior striker Joe Hilf was second on the team in points last year after scoring six goals and adding two assists and Big Red also has junior midfielders Dylan Corrigan (four goals, three assists) and James Sale back in the fold. All three have plenty of varsity experience and should be major factors for North this season. Junior Joey Coscarella will see more playing time as well this season.
Senior captain Evan Rosenberg will step in at center back to anchor the new back four. Burgess is also optimistic about his options in net with junior Kyle Briere taking over as the starter.
2017 Record: 5-9-4 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Bryan Kelly
Only one year removed from winning the Davenport title, Sharon is hoping its versatility will help get them back to the top of what is shaping up to be a very competitive division.
“We have some dynamic players this year which gives us the ability to use different formations making it difficult for teams to plan for us,” said Sharon coach Bryan Kelly. “We have a rotation of players who can play two or more positions and play them well. If we stick to our game plan, we will be a tough team to reckon with.”
The Eagles have a strong core of returning players that Kelly can build off of. Ethan Kantor is back for his third year in goal and will be the leader of the defense. Alex Dias returns from a torn ACL to take up one of the outside back positions. Kelly expects Brendan Arnold and Daniel Gunduz to step up on defense this season.
In the midfield, junior Michael Baur (HockomockSports.com Second XI selection) will be a key piece and help the Eagles transition from defense to offense. Baur is also one of the more dangerous free kick takers in the league. Baur will work with the speedy Isaiah Stessman and Norway-transfer Viktor Schneider on the wings in the midfield.
Kelly is looking for junior Brian Higgins and Daniel Lillenfeld to form a dynamic partnership up top while Antonio Elkoury and Eli Berkowitz can step in and provide depth in both the midfield and up front.
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.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – With the wind at its back, Foxboro boys soccer had nearly a dozen legitimate scoring chances in the second half alone, but walked away from Sam Berns Community Field with a 1-1 draw against visiting Canton.
The strong wind helped dictate the play in both halves. Canton benefitted in the first half, while Foxboro took advantage in the second half.
“That was one of those games,” said Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino. “We were banging on the door, just not getting one of them in. [Soccer] can be a brutal game, and we ended up with just the point.”
Canton came out strong despite being on the road. It took less than two minutes for the Bulldogs to register a scoring chance as Simon Cruz set Griffin Roach up for a chance just inside the area, but Roach’s shot went wide at the far post.
Four minutes later, the Bulldogs created another chance and this time, chased in. A deflected clearance fell right back into the area and Canton junior Paulo Ruggeri did well to use his body to shield some space, taking the ball down and placing it in from close range to make it 1-0.
Bulldogs senior keeper Abe Garber made one of his several stellar saves in the eighth minute, denying Foxboro sophomore Dylan Barreira at the near post after being sent in behind the defense by Shane VandenBoom.
Canton nearly doubled the lead in the 17th minute when junior Paul Corcoran found Cruz atop the area, but Foxboro goalie Bobby Harrison – who was well off his line — got just a touch to the shot and the ball was cleared away.
Foxboro found the equalizer in the 18th minute. After a throw from Matt Garcia found its way over the top of Canton’s defense, Foxboro senior Ryan Kelley barreled his way through traffic, eventually getting the last touch off the front of his head and in from close range to tie it 1-1.
“To give up a goal within the first 10 minutes and then to get it back in the first half is a lot of credit to the guys,” Franchino said. “They kept fighting and didn’t give in, even against the wind.
“We had the chances in the second half, but it can be a brutal game sometimes.”
With the wind making it difficult for Canton to clear its own zone, Foxboro put the pressure on to try and score the go-ahead goal.
In the 38th minute, Hussein Kafel served a cross from the left side that VandenBoom ran onto at the near post, but his touch was over the bar.
Kelley nearly found a second tally when he got his head to Barreira’s corner in the 39th minute, but the senior couldn’t get all of it.
Just two minutes later, Garber robbed Kelley of his second goal. Kelley dribbled past a pair of Canton defenders and ripped a shot at the near post, but Garber did well to get down and make the stop.
Nic Beigel had his chance just four minutes later when he weaved his way through the defense and had a go, but once again Garber was in great position to knock the shot away at the near post.
In the 69th minute, VandenBoom hooked up with Barreira once again, but the sophomore’s shot at the near post was just inches over the bar. VandenBoom had a chance himself a minute later when he tracked down a ball over the top, but he couldn’t get over his volley and his shot was just high.
Foxboro finally had Garber beat in the 77th minute when an errant header found Barreira, who placed his shot at the far post outside the reach of Garber. However, Canton defender Mike Mazzola was in the right spot and got a touch on it, with Garber smothering the rebound.
The Warriors had a final chance in the 78th minute when Garcia placed a perfect service into the area that VandenBoom got his head to, but Garber grabbed his final save to preserve the point.
“On the day, I didn’t think it was much of a contest in the second half,” admitted Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “They played very well, kudos to Foxboro. I thought they were the better side, we were unable to find any part of our game…we couldn’t connect passes, we weren’t winning challenges.
“Abe was the one positive I thought. He was very clean and bailed us out a couple of times. But kudos to Foxboro, that’s a hard working group. They changed the point of attack well and we didn’t open our mouths on defense. We have a lot to work on.”
Both sides came into Tuesday’s contest with a mathematical chance at the Davenport, but North Attleboro clinched the division with a win at Milford. Foxboro boys soccer (10-4-3 overall, 8-4-3 Hockomock) will host the Rocketeers on Thursday night to close the regular season.
“We want to make a deep run in the tournament,” Franchino said. “There was a lot of hype for that game, and even though it’s not for the title anymore, they can make a statement going into the playoffs. We fought to the end today, but it didn’t turn out in our way. We were so close though.”
Canton (8-4-4, 7-4-4) will entertain Stoughton on Friday before heading to Marshfield on Monday to conclude the regular season.
“I was proud that we bounced back,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson after going down a goal inside the final 15 minutes. “I thought that we gave up two soft goals today. Foxboro played really hard and really tough had a had a great first half. They really challenged us and we had to change some things at halftime and I thought we did and got on our front foot. They took their chances though.”
The Bulldogs cashed in less than 10 minutes into the game, taking advantage of a long throw from junior Paul Corcoran. The service found its way into the area, and after a scrum in front of the goal, senior Jake Verille found the back of the net to go up 1-0.
“It definitely could have gone one of two ways,” admitted Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino after the early deficit. “We could have put our heads down but the guys fought back and got the goal back within about 15 minutes or so. The guys stuck together. Then they continued to fight all game. We didn’t get the result we wanted but we fought hard all game.”
Canton nearly doubled its lead in the 15th minute when a loose ball fell to Griffin Roach just inside the area. The junior connected his boot to the ball on the bounce, sending a shot destined to go right under the bar but Foxboro senior goalie Bobby Harrison made a last second class save, tipping the ball over for a corner.
That save proved beneficial for the Warriors, as they leveled the match just over five minutes later. After most of the play was in Foxboro’s defensive third, the Warriors broke out on the counter.
Foxboro senior Cam Cass sent a service to the far post, and an errant header from Canton put the ball right at the feet of sophomore Dylan Barreira and he buried his close-range bid to level the match.
The Warriors put another one in just minutes later on a training ground routine on a corner kick. The corner was played short and let through on a dummy, allowing Ryan Kelley to place his shot to the far post but Cantons senior goalie Abe Garber was quick to get down and make the stop.
Foxboro started the second half on the right foot, as Cass nearly set up another tally. This time, he sent a low service to the near post that found Shane VandenBoom but he was defended perfectly by Canton’s Chris Milne and he blocked the touch at the near post.
Canton had an immediate response and nearly re-took the lead in the 50th minute. Roach made a darting run with possession into the area and ripped a shot to the near post. Harrison made the initial save but it looked as though the Bulldogs had a chance to bury the rebound, but Foxboro’s Matt Rongione made the clearance.
It was the Warrior’s turn for a chance in the 54th minute when sophomore Joe Cusack laid a perfect ball over the top for Kelley, but his near side bid hit off the post and stayed out.
Ten minutes later, Foxboro was finally able to break through again. A Canton clearance was blocked down and the ball fell right to VandenBoom, who took a couple touches forward before lofting a perfectly weighted ball over Garber and just under the bar to make it 2-1.
Foxboro nearly put the game away just moments later when Cusack sprang Kelley in, but Garber did nicely to stop the shot at the near post.
After a Canton free kick was cleared, Milne released a shot from distance that forced Harrison to tip the ball over the bar. On the ensuing corner kick, it looked as though the service was going to go over everyone and out for a throw.
But instead, Corcoran tracked it down, using an acrobatic bicycle kick to keep the ball in and keep possession with the Bulldogs. The ball ended up back with Roach at the top of the area but his shot was blocked. However, the ball fell right to the feet of Corcoran on the six-yard line and he made no mistake about his chance from close, making it 2-2.
“That was great hard word by Pauly to get us that goal,” Erickson said. “I thought overall it was pretty good performance. We had some tired legs, we played yesterday. It’s not an excuse, but you could tell. We weren’t very clean in the final third. Foxboro was good on the day, it was a good game and I think the result was fair.”
“We can learn from today, we’ve seen them now too so that helps,” Franchino added. “I think the only thing they were dangerous on was the log throw and they have some big guys up front. But for the most part, I thought we were the better team.
“Bobby made some big saves. And then we had some few chances ourselves. So it was back and forth, so 2-2 is a fair result.”
Rongione had one final chance just before the final whistle, ripping a shot from distance but it just sailed over the crossbar.
Canton boys soccer (4-2-2 overall, 3-2-2 Hockomock) finishes up its first trip through the Davenport schedule with a trip to Stoughton on Monday. Foxboro (4-2-2, 3-2-2) also wraps its first trip through the division schedule with a trip to unbeaten North Attleboro.