Boys Soccer: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2018 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview
Taunton’s Colby Fernandes and Franklin’ Nitin Chaudhury battle for possession last season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 4-9-5
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Peter Pereira

Attleboro is aiming to use a strong nucleus of returning players to get back into the state tournament after a couple of years of being on the outside looking in.

“We are excited about the team and looking forward to doing well in the Hockomock, which is not an easy task since there is a lot of talent and good teams in the league,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira.

The Bombardiers bring back a seasoned group of defenders that will hopefully give them stability in the back. Colin Levis brings the most varsity experience to the group and will be joined by Connor Dunn, Josh Smith, and Nathan LaPlume. Senior transfer Aaron Flynn and classmates Jared Cooper and Alex Naughton give the Bombardiers a solid group of veterans in the back. Seniors Andre Menard and Tyler Biller are candidates for the starting goalie position.

Pereira has a lot of options to work with in the midfield, including senior Aidan Lancaster. Lancaster has experience playing defense as well so can provide an extra layer of defense when needed. Another familiar face back in midfield will be Michael Russo, who showed flashes of great skill during his sophomore season. Russo and Lancaster will be joined by Brady Holander, Hugo Henriquez, Kevin Raczkowski and Patrick Raczkowski.

There will be another familiar face up front as Will Halben returns as the feature striker. Halben has been Attleboro’s leading scorer the past two seasons and will be a major factor up front again this year. Eli Araujo, Joey Soucy, Justin Lurssen, and Guilherme Machado are expected to provide help up top as well.

Franklin

2017 Record: 5-9-4
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Fran Bositis

After going through some growing pains throughout the 2017 season, the Panthers are looking to make it back to the state tournament.

It all starts with the Panthers’ three senior captains, who will be relied upon to help Franklin compete in a very talented Kelley-Rex division.

Nitin Chaudhury, Nick Barry, and Sam Stowell are all veteran players and will be joined by 10 other returners from last year’s team that got better as the season went on. The Panthers must replace talented goalie Freddie Beckmann but head coach Fran Bositis is expecting good things from junior Jack Rudolph because of his excellent athletic ability.

Chaudhury will once again be the engine of the team from the midfield position while Stowell is back for his third year in the heart of the Panthers’ defense. Jacob Cummings will be another weapon for Franklin in the midfield while senior Tim Duval and junior Donny Tappin return up top.

“As always we are looking forward to competing in the very competitive Hockomock League,” Bositis said.

King Philip

2017 Record: 11-8-2
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Nick Gale

The Warriors have had back-to-back successful seasons and are looking to make it three straight, despite losing six experienced starters to graduation.

While King Philip certainly has some shoes to fill, head coach Nick Gale has a lot of options to work with and is aiming to make another appearance in the state tournament.

Senior captains Zac White, Tony Bozza, and John Cullen have all seen plenty of varsity minutes over the past couple of seasons and are ready to lead the 2018 Warriors. White and Cullen will be major factors in the midfield while Bozza gives the Warriors some pace up top. White and Cullen will be joined in the midfield by a trio of sophomores – Evan McEvoy, Camron Lawrence, and Ajae Olsen – all of whom saw some minutes as freshmen a year ago.

KP’s defense has been among the best in the league over the past two seasons but will need some new faces to step up to continue that trend this year. The Warriors do have some experience with senior Andrew Thompson and juniors Brian McCarthy and Wesley Orzell all expected to step up in the back for KP.

“We’re a much smaller team this year, but we haven’t lost our willingness to fight while defending,” Gale said. “Our focus will be on improving team defending and our ability to press intelligently. We have defenders returning with varsity experience and they’re committed to working together to ensure we’re organized and defending as a team.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 10-3-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Steve Sheridan

Although Mansfield graduated over a dozen seniors, and the majority of its starting lineup, the Hornets have a strong presence in the middle of the pitch and are looking to build off that to compete for the Kelley-Rex title.

The Hornets bring back EMass All Star Sam Nugent at center back and he’ll be joined by Ethan Brill-Cass, who had a bright sophomore season but missed all of last year due to injury. Mansfield’s defense will feature all seniors as Derek Meuth and Matt O’Donnell fill out the back four for the Hornets. Tony Salisbury and Cam Bovey are competing for the starting spot in goal.

Mansfield also has seniors Luke Savoie and Luke Devine back in the center of the pitch to patrol the midfield. Both Savoie and Devine were key pieces for last year’s Hornets team, which came within one point from earning a share of the league title with OA. One spot that Mansfield is looking for new faces is up top, but options include Colin Caridi, Owen Mullahy, and Raffi Marzella.

“Having to fill the loss of 14 seniors from last season is going to be challenging,” said MHS head coach Steve Sheridan. “We have a variety of guys on offense that I’ll be expecting big things from, time will tell who will step up.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 15-3-4 (Kelley-Rex Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D2 State Final
Coach: John Barata

It’s not often a team graduates its entire starting lineup and then some, but that’s the situation defending Kelley-Rex champions Oliver Ames finds itself in.

The Tigers lost a whopping 20 seniors to graduation and return just four players from last year’s roster so it there will be a completely new look for OA in 2018. But that doesn’t mean the standards will be any lower for the Tigers, who have made three state final appearances in the last four years.

“We have a completely new team and we are looking forward to working hard,” said OA head coach John Barata. “Our primary objective is to get better every day and try to compete in a very difficult and talented Hockomock League.”

OA’s defense was among the best in the entire state last season, allowing just 15 goals in 22 games played. Barata will be looking for Aaron MacDonald, Andrew Leite, Harry Ahearn, Matthew Nosalek, and Jon Freeman to step up and fill in the spots along the back line. Senior Jacob Lerman and sophomore Drew Nickla are battling for the starting spot in goal.

On the offensive side of the ball, Barata is looking for contributions from Colin Milliken, Anthony DaCosta, Matt Nikiciuk, Sean Flaherty, Niko Byron, Kevin Louhis and Haendal Louhis to carry to load.

Taunton

2017 Record: 3-14-2
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Taylor Whitters

A solid nucleus returning from last season and more cohesiveness are two of the top reasons for optimism for the Taunton High boys soccer team.

The Tigers have players back all over the field and are hoping that the combination of experience and some fresh faces leads to a competitive season in a very competitive division. Junior Nolan Melo made a splash last season when he took over as starting keeper and looks to be one of the top players at that position in the league.

Senior Evan Melo will be tasked with anchoring the defense from his center back position while Taunton will look for some new faces to step alongside him. Colby Fernandes returns to his defensive midfield spot and Liam Crowley is back as the attacking midfielder in the middle to give the Tigers a nice steady presence up the center of the pitch.

Leading scorer Brett Beaulieu (nine goals, four assists) is back as the featured striker while Alec Nunes can either pair with Beaulieu up top or drop into the midfield when needed. Kyle Aubin is another returning midfield option for the Tigers.

“We have seven returning starters this season and a team with solid technical ability as well as great team chemistry and athleticism,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters.

OA Breaks Through Late To Earn Draw With Mansfield

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames’ Matt Alvarado (left) takes a shot past Mansfield’s Derek Mueth while goalie Nick Ferraz looks on. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Oliver Ames head coach John Barata was starting to run out of fingers to count his side’s chances in the second half alone.

And as the chances went calling, and the minutes ticked by, Barata began to wonder if his side would be shut out for the first time in league play this year.

“I’ll be honest, we didn’t know if it was just going to be one of those nights,” Barata said. “I believe in these kids, but I wasn’t sure if it just was going to be one of those nights. Mansfield is a very good team but I believe we were the better team tonight.

“We had an unbelievable amount of chances. They cleared some off the line, they blocked shots in the area. It was a high-intensity atmosphere. Steve [Sheridan] does a great job, they’re such a good team.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Tigers had complete control of the match for the first 25 minutes of the second half, but all they had to show for it was four corner kicks and four long attacking throws that were thwarted by Mansfield defense. And a 1-0 deficit to the Hornets, who scored midway through the first half.

But finally in the 68th minute, on the team’s fifth long throw in the attacking third, there was a breakthrough. Chris Lawrence’s toss was cleared away by Mansfield’s defense, but only to just outside the top of the area. OA senior Mason Galbato put his laces on the ball, driving a low line drive through traffic and into the back of the net, helping OA finish 1-1 with the Hornets.

“It was a great tie,” MHS head coach Steve Sheridan said. “I was hoping to get two points, but they pressuring too much in the second half so we’ll take the point. [Oliver Ames] is a great team.”

The first half was a bit more even, with Mansfield even having the better chances in the opening half hour. Senior Sean Lanzillo tested OA early, ripping a right footed shot in the fourth minute from just outside the area but Tigers’ goalie Jack Carroll was up to the task at the near post.

OA registered its first chance 10 minutes later, when the Tigers forced a turnover in the attacking third. James Gillespie was quick to play senior Nick Bloumbas, and Bloumbas’ shot from distance forced a diving save.

Mansfield finally broke through in the 21st minute. Nick Wisnieski centered a pass that was partially cleared by OA, but not past Mansfield senior Sam Hyland just a step inside the area. When the ball fell to him, he buried his shot into the upper corner at the far post, giving the Hornets a 1-0 lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Hornets nearly doubled their lead inside the same minute when Lanzillo dropped a pass in behind OA’s defense, leaving Hyland in alone on goal. But Carroll came out and made the big stop, with Colin Evin first to the rebound to make the clearance.

The Tigers had a chance just before half, again on the back of a long throw from Lawrence. This time senior Michael Nikiciuk got a touch at the near post but Mansfield’s Jackson Murphy did well to clear the loose ball.

“It’s a great tie,” Barata said. “The boys weren’t happy with the tie because we felt we were the better team. However…on the road, a D1 team, they are undefeated, we go down early. Coming back showed a lot of maturity.”

The second half was full of chances for OA.

In the 44th minute, Nathaniel Cardoza – who shined in midfield for OA – got his head to a throw, but it was over the bar.

In the 54th minute, Jack Sheldon played a short corner to Matt Alvarado, but his low shot to the near post was saved by Mansfield keeper Nick Ferraz.

In the 56th minute, Cam Vella got his head to a long throw, giving Gillespie a chance inside the box but Mansfield’s Derek Mueth came up with a key block.

Three minutes later, a long throw put the ball into the area but both Cardoza and Alvarado had shots from inside the area blocked away.

In the 66th minute, Gillespie played a low cross to the near post that found Matt Campbell, but his bid was blocked by right in front by Mansfield’s Sam Nugent.

“We did good defensively,” Sheridan said. “I have to look at the tape to see exactly what happened on their goal. My goal was to stay undefeated after tonight, and we still are. So we still control our own destiny.”

Oliver Ames finally broke through two minutes later on Galbato’s strike.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Each team had a chance in the final five minutes. For OA, Campbell played a low cross to the near post, but Ferraz made the charging save before Cardoza could get a touch.

And for Mansfield, Mueth played a ball in behind the OA defense but the spin on the bounce fooled Carroll and ended up just wide at the far post.

Oliver Ames boys soccer (6-1-2 overall, 6-0-2 Hockomock) returns to action on Wednesday when it starts the second half of its crossover games with Milford coming to visit. Mansfield (6-0-3, 6-0-2) will entertain Sharon on Wednesday afternoon.