Below are the official 20020 Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Kelley-Rex Division MVP
Leo Coelho, Milford
Kelley-Rex Division All Stars
Joey Soucy, Attleboro
Jackson Singer, Attleboro
Ethan Cain, Franklin
Terry O’Neill, Franklin
Evan McEvoy, King Philip
Aidan Lindmark, King Philip
Ajae Olsen, King Philip
Evan Eames, Mansfield
Tommy Lanzillo, Mansfield
Michael Jeans, Mansfield
Leo Coelho, Milford
Lucas Da Silva, Milford
Chris Tocci, Milford
Davenport Division MVP
Colin Milliken, Oliver Ames
Davenport Division All Stars
Giovanni Ruggeri, Canton
Jacob Crugnale, Canton
Abdul Barrie, Canton
Erik Valdovinos, Canton
Max Beigel, Foxboro
Justin Silva, North Attleboro
Kevin Louhis, Oliver Ames
Colin Milliken, Oliver Ames
Brady deVos, Oliver Ames
Mathias Taylor, Oliver Ame
Matt Nikiciuk, Oliver Ames
Anthony DaCosta, Oliver Ames
Bryce Nathan, Sharon
Alex Vecchioli, Attleboro
Jorge Sanchez, Canton
Matthew Angelini, Foxboro
Ben Moccia, Franklin
Cole Breen, King Philip
Eric Sullivan, Mansfield
Leo Oliveira, Milford
Matthew Conley, North Attleboro
Drew Nickla, Oliver Ames
Matthew Baur, Sharon
Nolan Gerome, Stoughton
Riley Rebello, Taunton
Oliveira had to exit the game with an injury early in the fourth quarter and in stepped Gomes, who came up with a colossal save on an indirect kick from inside the area as Milford claimed the cup with a 2-1 win on the road to finish the season undefeated.
“We know they are a powerhouse, always a top team, always a state championship contender…so this game to me is like a district final,” said first-year Milford head coach Antonio Pinto. “For me, these were the two best teams in Eastern Mass. and they put on a show. It was a back-and-forth game, chances both ways, full of excitement, and I couldn’t be more proud of Milford, and couldn’t be more proud of OA for the battle they put up.”
The Hawks scored twice in the opening 10 minutes of the second half but the Tigers pulled one back before the end of the third quarter to set up the frantic finish.
A low cross from Oliver Ames’ Brady deVos in the 78th minute was first touched by a Milford defender before Gomes handled it, giving the Tigers an indirect kick inside the box near the end line on the right side, about 10 yards from goal. Colin Milliken touched the ball in play and Matthew Nikiciuk blasted a rocket from close range but Gomes stood tall and pushed the ball over the bar to keep the Hawks ahead.
Milford boys soccer Oliver Ames boys soccer
“Me and Leo love each other, we practice together every day,” Gomes said. “Right when I saw he was hurt, I knew I had to do it for him. Because last year against Nauset, he did the same for me. He won it for us. He was upset from the injury but I wanted him to leave happy so I told him I got this, I was going to do it for him. I just had to be confident, calm down, and play my game.
“It was a close play but the angle they were in, there was only one way they could try and get it in and it was all power. So I had my teammates marking, lining up in front where they could and I just had to be confident and be strong when I approached it. It was the best feeling after saving that.”
The ensuing corner bounced around the box twice but was finally cleared away. OA had another attacking free kick a minute later but the service sailed wide. Chris Tocci came up with key clearances in the final seconds as OA continued to press.
Milford boys soccer Oliver Ames boys soccer
“It was a great game, a lot of fun,” said OA head coach John Barata. “Just one or two things separate the teams in a game like this. We hit the crossbar, they cleared a ball off the goal line and the game changes completely if those go in. Two nice goals [from Milford] but not goals we’ve given up all year. The challenge for us is the way it happened. The loss isn’t bad because it was a fantastic game, definitely a state final atmosphere, and we’ve been in them before so we know, and that team is excellent.
“The boys are a little more disappointed because of the errors. It wasn’t that they were dominated…sometimes it’s better to lose a game being dominated and not one that at times, you were on the front foot and better. But they have special players…their two best players put the two daggers in.”
After a scoreless opening 40 minutes, the Hawks took the lead less than five minutes into the second half. Senior Leo Coelho helped the Hawks transition into offense by splitting a pair of defenders and feeding a pass to Lucas Da Silva, who took a touch and was fouled five yards outside the box.
Coelho took the free kick, bending a left-footed shot towards the far post and just under the bar and out of the reach of OA keeper Drew Nickla.
Just six minutes later, the visitors tacked on another goal. A big clearance from Julio Dasilva was tracked down by Lucas Da Silva, and he was able to beat a defender along the right sideline before launching a high arching ball that eluded the keeper and fell just under the bar into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Milford boys soccer Oliver Ames boys soccer
“Two phenomenal goals from two phenomenal players,” Pinto said. “They can flip a switch and turn the game around in a second. If Leo gets half a chance, he can make it a goal. And Lucas scored from no angle, he didn’t have any options inside so just chipped it.”
Nickla came up with a big stop on a Coelho free kick in the 54th minute and the Tigers came back down and found the back of the net on the other end. After being dispossessed, OA senior Kevin Louhis tracked back to steal the ball back. He took one touch forward before unleashing a rocket that found the top left corner from 35 yards out to make it 2-1 in the 58th minute.
Although neither team scored in the first half, there were still chances from both sides. Milliken unleashed a blast in the 7th minute that was swallowed up by Oliveira. And minutes later, Milliken put another shot on goal that was denied and Dillon Cupples had a bid on goal but Avi Seri was there for the Hawks to clear it off the line.
Just seconds later, Nikiciuk rifled a free kick from 40 yards out that hit off the crossbar and stayed out.
“We knew they’d be a top team…we said if we could give them a game we’d be happy and I think we did more than give them a game but we’re not happy [with the result],” Barata said. “It’s sad for the seniors but ultimately, if you have to end this year…when we look back, we went 12-1, won the division, and played the team who was probably picked to win it all this year. And we had a chance to play, what a blessing.”
Milford boys soccer finishes the season without a loss at 10-0-3, with two of the draws coming on cancellations. Oliver Ames finishes the season at 12-1.
King Philip, 2 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – King Philip scored twice in the fourth quarter to secure two points on the road, grabbing a victory at Attleboro. Evan McEvoy opened the scoring after a short corner, taking three touches towards goal before blasting a shot into the side netting. With two minutes left, McEvoy set up a key insurance goal with a long ball over the top. Caleb Casetta-Waxman raced onto the ball and beat the oncoming keeper, lobbing a volley that found the back of the net.
Oliver Ames, 2 @ Canton, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames clinched the Davenport division title outright with a 2-0 decision on the road over the Bulldogs. Colin Milliken gave the visitors the lead, converting a chance from Anthony DaCosta in the first half. Milliken then set up Matt Nikiciuk for a goal in the second half. Drew Nickla had the shutout in net, getting help from Ben Cohen, Hector Bucio, Jimmy Keane, Brady deVos and Mathias Taylor.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – North Attleboro broke the deadlock midway through the third quarter to earn two points on the road. With the score tied 1-1, North Attleboro senior Eddy Mendoza took a pair of touches before dishing off to Matt Conley, who one-touched Mendoza through on a textbook give-and-go and Mendoza finished in alone on the keeper to make it 2-1. The Rocketeers took the lead in the opening quarter when Connor Ward smashed a 30-yard bomb off the crossbar that bounced down and deflected off the keeper and in. Foxboro drew level in the second quarter when freshman John Hollis played Max Beigel into space and he cut his shot past a defender from just inside the 18-yard line. Big Red keeper David Floyd had a strong day in net, making two big saves in the fourth to preserve the win.
Mansfield, 0 @ Franklin, 0 – Final – A well-played, competitive match ended up with both Mansfield and Franklin earning a point on Wednesday night. Both coaches praised the work ethic from both sides and agreed it was a hard-fought match from both squads. Eric Sullivan earned the shutout in net behind a strong defensive performance from the Hornets. Franklin’s Luc Boudreau picked up his first shutout, earning the praise of head coach Fran Bositis for his continued improvement throughout the season.
Sharon, 2 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Sharon scored a pair of second half goals to earn a pair of points on the road with a win over the Black Knights. Playing under the lights on the new turf at Stoughton, the Eagles peppered the Black Knights with a handful of good chances in the third quarter but Stoughton goalie Nolan Gerome stood on his head to keep Sharon off the board. Finally in the 56th minute, senior Bryce Nathan rifled a shot from distance that went just under the bar for a 1-0 lead. In the fourth, junior James Zhang took advantage of time and space atop the area and placed a perfectly weighted shot into the top corner to make it 2-0.
Attleboro, 1 @ King Philip, 0 – Final – Attleboro scored midway through the first quarter and put in a solid defensive performance to get the road win and split the series with KP. Meghan Panzer got credit for the game’s only goal, when her cross deflected off a KP defender and into the back of the net. KP coach Gary Pichel said of Attleboro, “They played great defense all game long.”
Canton, 3 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames took an early lead but Canton responded with three unanswered goals to earn the win on the road. Lauren Sellmayer (from Emma Pereira) scored in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Elisa Diletizia scored a pair of goals and Mia Gilmore had a goal and an assist to bring the Bulldogs back on the road and keep Canton atop the Davenport division. Marissa Staffiere saved a penalty kick late in the second half to keep Canton ahead by two. Sarai Costello added an assist in the win.
Foxboro, 3 @ North Attleboro, 0 – Final – Jordyn Collins scored twice and assisted on another, as Foxboro swept the season series with North and kept the pressure on league-leading Canton. Collins had a hand in all four goals that Foxboro scored against North this week. She opened the scoring in the third quarter, assisted by Jordan Carman, and doubled the lead in the fourth, assisted by Kailee McCabe. In between the first two goals, North nearly equalized. Steph McKenna struck the crossbar and the ball went straight down but not over the line. Collins also set up McCabe for the third goal that sealed the points and keeps Foxboro within a point of Canton heading into two games against the Bulldogs next week. North coach Bill Wallace said that Summer Doherty, Charlotte Moynihan, and Jordyn Sullivan played well defensively.
Stoughton, 0 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – Stoughton went on the road and earned its first point under first-year coach Hermes Lima. Shayla Ford moved from striker into defense for most of the game to try and slow down the Sharon attack. Lima said, “Shayla was by far my best player on the field today and played a heck of a game. We had our chances but could not capitalize but I am proud of the way the girls played today!” He also highlighted Isabella Rodrigues for her play moving from center mid to forward.
Stoughton, 6 @ Sharon, 2 – Final
Franklin, 154 @ Mansfield, 145 – Final – Mansfield set a new home course record and finished undefeated against division opponents, clinching the Kelley-Rex division title outright with a win over Franklin. Mansfield senior Ryan Dow fired a two-under par round of 33 to pace the Hornets to the division title clinching win while Cian Goulet added a 36, and both Nate Morreale and Jason See shot 38. Franklin’s Nolan Norton shot an even par round of 35 while Pat Dolan added a 38 and Jack Paterson shot a 39.
Sharon, 181 @ Stoughton, 179 – Final – Stoughton earned its first win of the season with a two-stroke decision over Sharon at Easton Country Club. Max Huminik led the way for the Black Knights with a team-low round of 44. Anthony Hern, Jake Curtis, and Patrick Smith all chipped in with a 45. Eric Carter was the match medalist, leading Sharon with a low round of 42. Nathan Daley added a round of 45 for the Eagles.
King Philip, 149 @ Attleboro, 163 – Final
Oliver Ames, 166 @ Canton, 145 – Final – Canton completed an undefeated regular season with its second straight win over Oliver Ames. Nate MacDonald was the match medalist, shooting a low round of 35 to pace the Bulldogs. Thomas Singleton added a 36 while Will Gefteas and Ryan Doucette each shot a 37. Noah Isleib and David Rodgers led the way for OA, each carding a round of 41.
Foxboro, 154 @ North Attleboro 150 – Final – North Attleboro senior Aidan Weir and sophomore Dillon Harding both a great day on the links at Heather Hill Country Club, leading the Rocketeers to a win over visiting Foxboro. Weir and Harding split match medalist honors, shooting a one-over round of 36. Sam Gallagher and Tyler DeMattio each shot 39 in the win. Foxboro’s Dylan Quinn, Jack Watts, and Dylan Pothier each shot 38 while Mat Sullivan and Matt Fossella finished at 40.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – A late goal from North Attleboro nearly led to the end of Oliver Ames’ season during last year’s playoffs.
It’s safe to say the Tigers learned their lesson.
In last year’s D2 South Sectional quarterfinal matchup, Oliver Ames boys soccer saw a lead disappear in the final minutes of regulation before pulling out a victory in the extra rounds of penalty kicks.
Fast forward to the first game of the 2020 season, and while the on-field product certainly looks a bit different under the current circumstances, the Tigers found themselves in the same situation: control of the game but only a 1-0 lead to show for it.
Oliver Ames’ experience was on full display as the Tigers made sure to slam the door shut this time around, opening the season up with a 3-0 win over the Rocketeers.
Similar to a year ago, Oliver Ames jumped in front with a goal inside the opening 20 minutes but couldn’t solve the Rocketeers’ defense and keeper David Floyd over the next two quarters — yes, soccer in 2020 means four quarters.
When North Attleboro finally found itself with some time in the attacking third, the Tigers turned the tables by doubling their lead on the break to make it 2-0, and tacked on an insurance goal five minutes later.
“[North Attleboro] is very disciplined,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “Geoff [Burgess] does a phenomenal job organizing the back four and then they have another line in front of that, so two lines of defense…they are very good at it. We have to do a lot of training to try and find a way to break them down. But then you throw the new rules in, and you throw in that it’s the first game of the season, this was a good first run at it in a real competitive environment.”
The first 60 minutes (or three quarters) belonged to the Tigers, with the Tigers knocking on the door in the 13th minute (a hard shot from Mathias Taylor denied by Floyd) and in the 17th minute (a Colin Milliken shot from inside the area turned aside by Floyd) before the hosts were able to breakthrough.
Milliken’s quick switch — taking a feed from the right side of the pitch and quickly changing the point of attack to the left side — put the ball at the feet of senior Kevin Louhis, who took advantage of the space he was given and deposited a low hard shot inside the far post for a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.
“Honestly, the ball that killed us in the first half was a ball that normally could have been cleaned up with a header,” said North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess. “They played it every time and got Kevin in behind us and how do you defend it? I knew that’s how they’d play so I thought we had a good game plan to try to slow him and we kind of kept him under wraps but the way they move the ball so quickly from side to side, even as organized as we were with our back six, they were just too fast.”
OA continued to pressure but without anything to show for it. Anthony DaCosta had a shot from atop the area saved and then a combination between Michael Haikal and Louhis resulted in a shot from the latter that forced a diving save from Floyd; North Attleboro’s Kyle Robinson was first to the ball to clear it.
North Attleboro’s best chance of the first half came after a miscue from the Tigers in their own defensive third. Ryan Adams-Lopez was quick to intercept a pass out of the back but his bid on net was handled by OA keeper Drew Nickla.
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” Barata said of the effect the modifications have. “It feels like there’s a different intensity level in these games, we’re trying to get the guys to up their urgency. It almost seems that since they can’t challenge hard without it being a foul, they are almost holding back a little bit. But, that aside, once we’re out there playing, it’s great to watch them play even if it’s different. And we have a good style for this opportunity so we’re okay with it.”
North Attleboro Boys Soccer
Oliver Ames Boys Soccer
It didn’t take long for OA to threaten in the second half as Matthew Nikiciuk rocketed a shot off the post a minute in, and Taylor’s cheeky touch over a defender forced a fingertip stop from Floyd in the box.
North Attleboro’s defense made life difficult for the Tigers, who had a majority of the possession but spent a lot of time trying to find a way past the Rocketeers’ packed in defensive group. North’s Donovan Carter had a pair of big plays just minutes apart, winning a one-on-one battle to stop a chance on goal and blocking a shot moments later. Carter’s centerback partner Justin Silva denied a through ball attempt right after as OA continued to push forward.
“The gameplan was to park the bus and we wanted to create through our outside guys but the problem was we couldn’t hold the ball long enough to create anything,” Burgess said. “But credit to [OA], they create a hurried energy so you’re under stress all the time. But I’m starting eight seniors, there should be some composure there and we should be able to pull that off. Not that we have a lot of time to prepare for them Wednesday, but we need to be able to execute that going forward.”
The Rocketeers finally got their offense going at the start of the fourth quarter as junior Brody Rosenberg played speedy senior Matt Conley into some space but his centering pass in the area went without an answer.
North earned a corner moments later but a miscue resulted in a quick counter for the hosts. Taylor quickly cleared the ball up to Louhis, who played it to a streaking DaCosta. DaCosta carried the ball with pace, forcing the lone defender to commit before sliding it back to Louhis, who finished under the sliding keeper for a 2-0 lead in the 66th minute.
“We needed more offense but they don’t let you sustain it for very long with their pressure,” Burgess said. “The kid in the middle [Nikiciuk], he’s just so quick to the ball. He’s so good at disrupting, he does a good job of ruining plays we want to run. We knew what we wanted to do, we just couldn’t execute it which is a credit to them.”
Five minutes later, freshman Joey Carney combined with DaCosta off of a kick-in, the former using a fake to fool the defender before dropping a perfectly placed cross to Milliken, who positioned himself between three defenders. Milliken took the ball down off his chest and use a deft touch with the outside of his right foot to find the back of the net for a 3-0 advantage in the 71st minute.
“We’re very confident that no one is going to give us space because we know that if they do, we can most likely take advantage of it,” Barata said. “We just have to find a way to beat teams when they pack it in a bit. We want the space, we want to be able to run a bit and we’re hoping teams will try to run with us.
“[North] is very good in transition, they are good fast going forward. I just think that we did a good job of pinning them back in their own half for close to 90% of the game. We were definitely on the front foot in this game but we know they’ll make some adjustments and they’ll challenge us again Wednesday.”
Oliver Ames (1-0 Davenport, 1-0 overall) will travel to North Attleboro (0-1, 0-1) for a rematch on Wednesday night at 6:00.
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.”
Franklin, 68 vs. Charlestown, 59 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Franklin used a 14-6 run over the final 3:34 of the third quarter to create a double-digit lead and made enough plays down the stretch to earn the win in the first round of the Larry Fisher Holiday Tournament held at Bridgewater-Raynham. Senior Steven Karayan scored eight of his team-high 18 points during that run, hitting a pair of three-pointers. Senior Brayden Sullivan also drained a pair of threes in that stretch, finishing with a career-high 11 points. Senior Chris Edgehill helped the Panthers take a lead after one quarter (21-14) and kept his side in the game by halftime (down 36-35) by scoring 14 of his 16 points in the first half. Jack Rudolph (nine points) had a key three in the fourth quarter and Thomas Gasbarro scored five of his seven points in the final frame. Franklin will play host B-R in the final of the tournament on Sunday at 7:00.
Mansfield, 75 vs. BC High, 52 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Mansfield hit 10 three-point field goals and shot over 50% from the floor while playing strong defense to secure a convincing win over visiting BC High. The Hornets scored 20 points in each of the first two quarters to build a 40-28 lead at halftime. Despite not hitting a three-pointer in the third, Mansfield added six points to its lead by holding the Eagles to just 10 points in the third quarter. Mansfield sank five threes in the final quarter, including two in a row from Jason See early on, to run away with the win. Senior Sam Stevens shined on the offensive end, pouring in 28 points on 67% shooting from the field, while hauling in eight rebounds. Juniors TJ Guy (six rebounds, three assists) and Matt Boen (eight rebounds, six assists, three steals) each had 13 points for Mansfield and junior Cincere Gill (eight points) played well off the bench in the win.
Oliver Ames, 76 vs. Classical (R.I.), 71 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Oliver Ames and Classical High (RI) went back and forth, battling in what was mostly a one-possession game for the entire second half before the Tigers made just enough plays down the stretch to get the win. Beyond OA’s early five-point lead in the first minute of the third, and it’s four-point lead in the final minute of the game, the team’s weren’t more than three points apart for 14 of the 16 second half minutes. The Tigers made their run in the final four minutes of the game with Ryan Burkett (16 points, 10 rebounds) coming up with a handful of plays that changed the game. His bucket on a feed from Owen Friel gave OA a 62-61 lead, and he scored again to push the advantage to 64-61. Classical cut it to one but junior Amari Brown (career-high 24 points, five assists) sliced through the lane for two then sank a three with 2:24 left to put OA up 69-63. Classical answered with five straight and got a stop on another OA shot but Burkett flew in and converted a putback with a minute to go to keep OA up, 71-68. Burkett intercepted a pass on the defensive end, leading to a free throw from Drew Nickla to make it a four-point game. OA senior Jay Spillane (career-high 25 points) iced the game with a pair of free throws while Burkett added two more off an inbounds play after Classical hit a late three.
Taunton, 69 vs. Brighton, 47 – Final – Taunton junior Tyler Stewart and sophomore Trent Santos each scored nine points in the second quarter, helping the Tigers turn a six-point lead after eight minutes into a 39-21 advantage by halftime. Stewart finished with a career-high 23 points, scoring eight more in the second half, while Santos had 14 total points in the win. Sophomore Tristan Herry got Taunton off to a good start with eight points in the opening quarter, including one of the Tigers’ two three-pointers in the game. Junior Josh Lopes added 13 points in the win for Taunton, who will take on host Durfee in the Skip Karam Final on Saturday at 6:30.
Attleboro, 37 @ Bishop Feehan, 67 – Final – The Bombardiers trailed by just six at the end of the first quarter but the Shamrocks pulled away in the second, building a 19-point advantage by halftime. Nyah Thomas scored 18 points in the exclusion game loss.
Mansfield, 52 vs. Newtown (Conn.), 65 – Final – Mansfield fell behind 20-4 in the opening quarter against the visitors from Connecticut and were never able to recover. Ashley Santos was the top scorer for the Hornets with 13, while Kayla Vine added nine and Abby Wager had seven. Mansfield will face Fontbonne in the consolation round of the holiday tournament.
Stoughton, 25 vs. @ Rockland, 55 – Final – Junior Mackenzie Manning was the leading scorer for the Black Knights with eight points. The Black Knights will take on Hanover on Monday at 1:00 in the consolation game of the Rockland Holiday Tournament.
Taunton, 68 vs. Durfee, 43 – Final – The Tigers bounced back with a big win against Durfee. Kameron St. Pierre continued her strong rookie season with a game-high 20 points and Sonya Fernandez added 12 for Taunton.
Franklin, 3 vs. LaSalle Academy (PA), 2 – Final (OT) – Franklin junior Joey LeBlanc deposited the game-winner in overtime to help the Panthers upend LaSalla Academy. For MIAA purposes, the game goes down as a 2-2 tie but for the Mount St. Charles Holiday Faceoff, the game went into overtime. LeBlanc’s winner means Franklin will take on host Mount Saint Charles at 8:00 on Saturday night. Franklin took the lead in the first on a goal from Shea Hurley on an assist from Dylan Marchand but LaSalle scored twice in the second to take the lead. Tommy Tasker brought the Panthers level on a goal midway through the third on an assist from Sean Connolly.
North Attleboro, 2 vs. Moses Brown (RI), 1 – Final
Foxboro, 3 vs. Barrington (RI), 2 – Final (SO)
Canton, 4 vs. Medfield/Norton, 1 – Final – Canton exploded for three goals in the opening period, adding a fourth in the second to skate away with a win over Medfield. Maria Femia (assist), Ellie Bohane, and Tess Khoury (assist) each scored in the first to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 advantage. Freshman Olivia Maffeo netted one in the fourth to give the hosts a 4-0 lead.
Lowell Tournament (Canton, Franklin, Stoughton, Taunton), 9:00
Marshfield Tournament (Mansfield, North Attleboro, Oliver Ames, Sharon), 10:00
Framingham Tournament (King Philip, Milford), 10:00
Franklin, 132.7 @ Taunton, 128.65 – Final – Sophomores Kate Rudolph (34.2) and Caroline Woelfel (32.25) took first and second, respectively, in the All Around as the Panthers picked up a win over Taunton. Rudolph was first for Franklin in the vault, bars, and floor while Lexi Lupien earned a first place finish in the beam. Woelfel took second in both the vault and floor while taking third in the bars.
Results: Vault – Kate Rudolph 9.0, Caroline Woelfel 8.75, Maddie McGuire 8.65, Lexi Lupien 8.4; Bars – K. Rudolph 8.3, Emma Nelson 8.1, C. Woelfel 7.3, M. McGuire 7.1; Beam – L. Lupien 8.5, E. Nelson 8.4, Olivia Reagan 8.2, K. Rudolph 8.1; Floor – K. Rudolph 8.8, C. Woelfel 8.6, L. Lupien 8.3, E. Nelson 8.2.
Attleboro, 54 @ Durfee, 46 – Final – Senior Tim Callahan sank the Bombardiers’ first three-pointer of the game with just over a minute left to push the visitor’s lead to four, helping Attleboro earn a non-league win on the road. Senior Qualeem Charles dominated the paint with 19 points and 14 rebounds, senior Bryant Ciccio added 10 points, and both Callahan and senior Jason Weir chipped in with nine points for Attleboro.
Foxboro, 67 @ Bishop Feehan, 60 – Final – Foxboro senior Brandon Borde scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second half and classamte Donald Rogers dropped a career-high 20 points to help the Warriors pick up a non-league win on the road at Bishop Feehan. After just one field goal in the opening half, Borde exploded for 10 points in the third and added eight more in the fourth to help the Warriors close the game. Rogers hit a three in each the first and second quarters as the visitors claimed a 30-27 lead by the break. The Warriors scored 18 points in the third, getting buckets from Ryan Hughes (11 points) and Kevin Gallagher (nine points), to extend the lead to 48-38 going into the fourth.
Franklin, 63 @ St. Peter Marian, 53 – Final – The Panthers used a strong first half to go on the road and secure a win over a potential playoff foe in St. Peter Marian on Monday evening. Franklin put up 16 points in the first quarter and then outscored the Guardians 19-8 in the second frame to take a 35-19 advantage into the halftime break. Eight different players scored in the opening half to help the visitors create the double-digit lead with Chris Edgehill (16 points) scored five in the first, Brayden Sullivan (eight points) added four in the first, and both senior Steven Karayan (11 points) and Declan Walmsey (six points) hit a pair of second quarter three-pointers to give Franklin the lead. Andrew Byfield scored eight of his 10 points in the opening half as well. Edgehill sank a pair of fourth quarter triples to help the Panthers keep the lead.
King Philip, 46 @ Plymouth North, 58 – Final – King Philip held Plymouth North to just 10 points in each the third and fourth quarters, owning a double-digit advantage in the second half but the Warriors were unable to overcome a 24-point second quarter by the hosts, falling on the road without leading scorer Alex Fritz. King Philip managed just 15 first half points with senior Andrew McKinney scoring six of his nine points in the opening 16 minutes. Senior Owen Conlin finished with a team-high 12 points while senior Tommy Donahue added 11 points.
Mansfield, 71 @ Lynn English, 79 – Final (OT) – Mansfield junior Matt Boen knocked down a three with 10 seconds left in regulation, and Lynn English missed a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds left to send the game to overtime but the Bulldogs outscored the Hornets 12-4 in the extra period to get the win. The defending state champions led by as much as nine in the second half but Boen, who scored a career-high 32 points, scored eight straight at the end of the third to keep the visitors in the game. The Hornets committed 30 turnovers in the loss. Boen hit on five three-pointers and went 7-for-7 at the free throw line, hauling in eight rebounds. Junior Jason See added 15 points and five rebounds while junior TJ Guy chipped in with 11 points.
Oliver Ames, 75 vs. Barnstable, 22 – Final – The Tigers’ smothering defense didn’t allow the Red Raiders into double-figures in any quarter while the offense combined to score 51 points between the second and third quarters to blow the game open. Oliver Ames held an 11-6 lead after eight minutes before dominating the second, scoring 28 points while surrendering just one field goal and three points total to grab a 39-9 lead at halftime. OA poured in 23 points in the third quarter to take a 62-16 lead into the fourth. Junior Amari Brown scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the second quarter while Solomon Fife, Jay Spillane, Will Whiteside, Kevin Duggan, Owen Friel (10 points), and Evan Craig all added to the 28-point second quarter. Adam Cann drained a third quarter three while Ryan Burkett and Drew Nickla scored to highlight the big third quarter. The Tigers had 13 players score in the win.
Sharon, 69 @ Archbishop Williams, 80 – Final – Sharon erased an early nine-point deficit to get within two at halftime (37-35) and only trained 56-51 heading into the final quarter but the Bishops had their best offensive quarter (24 points) in the fourth to pull away for the win. Senior Andrew Burton scored six points in the second and seven more in the third to keep the Eagles in the game, finishing with a team-high 18 points. Senior Aidan Kane sank three three-pointers to added 16 points while Caleb Gayle had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Eagles.
Stoughton, 82 vs. Fenway, 55 – Final – Stoughton bounced back from a close loss on Friday to Attleboro with a big win at home against visiting Fenway. Senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell paced the Black Knights with 19 points and six assists while classmate Obinna Ugwuakazi finished with 18 points in the win.
Attleboro, 78 vs. Durfee, 42 – Final – Nyah Thomas scored a career-high 30 points to lead the Bombardiers to their first win of the season. Liv McCall added 12 points and Jackie MacDonald had 10 as Attleboro dominated the visiting Hilltoppers.
Franklin, 44 @ Holy Name, 40 – Final – The Panthers trailed by as many as eight at several points but were able to rally in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. Erin Quaile came up with the big defensive play in the final 10 seconds, stealing the ball and making a pair of free throws to seal the win. Ali Brigham scored 24 points to lead Franklin, while Olivia Quinn added 11.
Foxboro, 1 @ Silver Lake, 2 – Final
Mansfield, 5 @ North Attleboro, 2 – Final
Stoughton, 1 @ Bellingham, 3 – Final
Taunton, 5 vs. Durfee, 0 – Final – Five different Tigers found the back of the net as Taunton skated to a dominating 5-0 win over the Hilltoppers. Taunton held a 59-4 advantage in shots on goal while Michael Lucier, Noah Gravel, Colton Scheralis, Loran Corcoran, and Michael Albert each found the back of the net. Jack DeMoura added three assists in the win.
King Philip, 0 vs. Duxbury, 2 – Final
Franklin, 48 @ Ashland, 19 – Final
Applin Team Tournament (King Philip), 10:00 (@ Montachusett Tech)
Franklin, 136.75 @ Norton, 122.6 – Final – Franklin sophomore Kate Rudolph took All-Around honors for the second straight meet, helping the Panthers pick up a non-league win over Norton. Rudolph was the top Panther in each event, earning All-Around score of 35.4.
Results: Floor – Kate Rudolph 8.9, Caroline Woelfel 8.5, Ashley Hammann 8.3, Lexi Lupien 8.15; Beam – K. Rudolph 8.8, A. Hammann 8.4, L. Lupien 8.15, Elizabeth Schirduan 8.2; Bars – K. Rudolph 8.5, Emma Nelson 8.3, A. Hammann 8.3, E. Schirduan; Vault – K. Rudolph 9.2, L. Lupien 9.1, C. Woelfel 8.9, Maia Keohane 8.3.
STOUGHTON, Mass. – With a couple of Hockomock League schools in the process of either planning or building a new high school, here’s a small bit of advice: don’t schedule the Oliver Ames boys basketball team for your first game.
For the second time in five years, the Tigers played spoiler inside a brand new gymnasium. After beating Franklin in its first game of its new gym in 2014, Oliver Ames used a suffocating second half defensive effort to earn a win over Stoughton in the Black Knights’ first game in their brand new school.
The excitement of the first basketball game in the new gym carried onto the court as the Black Knights raced out to a 14-5 lead, holding the visitors to just a pair of field goals over the first eight minutes.
But that momentum did not carry over to the second quarter as the Tigers clawed their way back into the game, and it all but disappeared in the second half as Oliver Ames poured in over 20 points in each the third and fourth quarters to pull away.
Not only did Oliver Ames’ active zone defense limit the hosts to 15 total second half points, but it also led to easy baskets in transition that seemed to spark the OA offense.
“That looked like a first game [early on], which you worry about a little bit,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron, who started his 11th year at the helm of the Tigers with a win. “We had some shots that were makable and didn’t make them, and it snowballs a little bit and it gets contagious with the five guys who are out there. But getting a couple near the end [of the half], a little spurt to get us in shouting distance. When that happened, we were able to settle them a little bit and we were okay.
“And then we just came out and played like we’re capable of playing in the second half. I think we’re going to be a pretty good shooting team and we just didn’t show it in the first half. We showed more of it in the second half.”
Stoughton senior Donte Tyler came off the bench and got a steal and easy layup to push Stoughton’s lead to 22-9 but the Black Knights were unable to really pull away.
OA junior Will Whiteside answered with the Tigers’ lone triple of the half, senior Evan Craig scored a baseline jumper off a feed from classmate Owen Friel, senior Jay Spillane (career-high 18 points) finished off a layup after a Black Knight turnover, and Ryan Burkett (career-high 18 points, nine rebounds) had an easy two after a nice layoff from junior Drew Nickla to complete a 9-2 spurt for the Tigers, getting with six down 26-20 at the break.
“At the half, even though we were up six, we felt like we blew an opportunity because we got selfish,” said Stoughton’s John Gallivan, who is in his 16th year as head coach. We had a chance to blow it open, [OA] was struggling to score at the time, and we had four or five really bad possessions in a row. We always talk about surviving runs and when they made their run, it was like a deer in the headlights. We couldn’t punch back.”
OA came out flying in the third quarter, using its active zone to get a lot of deflections and turnovers as the Knights tried to penetrate or find Ugwuakazi or Gates Brown in the post. Spillane took advantage of a pair of offensive rebounds, first with a quick putback and then again with his first triple of the game.
OA junior Amari Brown (career-high 17 points, three steals) came up with a steal and finished on the break to put the Tigers ahead for the first time with 4:44 left in the third but Gates Brown answered for the Black Knights. Burkett continued his strong game with a nice finish at the time off of a nice pass from Friel. And another turnover from Stoughton led to another fast break finish from Brown, and OA took a 33-30 lead on the back of an 11-2 run.
“I thought it was a good defensive effort in the second half,” Byron said as the Tigers forced 10 second-half turnovers. “It’s not sexy, a lot of the top defensive teams and they are usually up in your face. But we did a good job of covering the things we need to cover. They threw a couple of different looks at us, and the first game out, you don’t know everything they run, so I thought the kids reacted well.”
Stoughton missed on two chances and Spillane made them pay on the other send, draining a high arching triple and the Tigers’ defense came up with another turnover and Brown finished off a traditional three-point play for a 40-31 advantage. Spillane made his three triple of the game to extend the lead to 43-33 but Jahed sank three free throws late to cut the deficit to seven.
The OA lead stayed at seven for the first three minutes of the final quarter before the Tigers finally pulled away. Burkett finished in close, Brown score on another fast break, and Spillane sank his fourth three on his fourth attempt of the half for a 54-39 advantage with just over three minutes to play.
“We kept throwing the same type of passes to the same exact spots, and OA…they are smart kids, they are anticipating,” Gallivan said. “Now they get a couple of easy ones, Brown got a couple of easy ones. We didn’t get anything easy in the entire second half. [OA] was the better team, they deserved to win.”
It was a breakout night for Burkett, who kept the Tigers afloat with his nine first half points. He was 7-for-10 from the field overall and hauled in a team-high nine rebounds against a relatively tall Stoughton team.
“He’s going to sneak up on people a little bit,” Byron said of Burkett. “He’s just got a knack in the lane. He’s a quick jumper, plays bigger and longer than he is, gets his hands on a lot of things. His game reminds me of Cedric Maxwell, everything is from eight feet in. And he’s really good around the hoop, he finishes well.”
Oliver Ames boys basketball (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) hits the road on Tuesday to take on Taunton while Stoughton (0-1, 0-1) welcomes North Attleboro to town on the same night.
2018-2019 Record: 18-5 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Mark Houle
Attleboro fulfilled high expectations last year with a terrific regular season but had its postseason run cut short in the opening round of the tournament. With an experienced, battle-tested, and deep group of seniors, the Bombardiers are hoping to take the next step during the 2019-2020 season.
The Bombardiers have seven seniors on the roster with six having plenty of valuable minutes at the varsity level. It all starts with a pair of four-year varsity players and captains Bryant Ciccio and Qualeem Charles. Both have played over 60 games for head coach Mark Houle and earned HockomockSports.com First Team honors a year ago. Ciccio (14.7 ppg, 3.2 apg) is like a coach on the floor and Charles (13.8 ppg, 11.2 rpg) is a matchup nightmare and one of the most dominant post players in recent years.
But there is much more to the Bombardiers, such as senior captain Tim Callahan. Callahan had a strong junior season with 7.7 points per game and can change a game with his outside shooting. He will also be relied upon to anchor the defense. Guard Nick McMahon and forward Lorenzo Wilson provided a spark off the bench last season and will be key pieces this season. And senior Jason Weir is back in the mix after missing last year due to injury. Weir showed flashes during his sophomore season, a versatile player that can play in the post or step outside and knock down a three.
Attleboro has a variety of weapons on the offensive end and that will make them difficult to defend. They have a couple of good weapons that can score down low and then a handful of shooters, so the inside-out game will be a big part of the game plan. Charles gives the Bombardiers protection around the rim while all five players are the court will have to contribute on the boards to eliminate second-chance points.
“We will rely on a battle-tested group of seniors, but we will need our underclassman to continue to develop and be ready to step in and play important roles on the team,” said head coach Mark Houle. “We have a hard-working group of players who compete and challenge each other every day in practice.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-10 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Ryan Gordy
After winning back-to-back Davenport division titles, the Bulldogs know it will be a grind to try and get a third with a big target on their backs.
Gone is the program’s all-time leading scorer and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Devin Foster, who was one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league over the past two seasons. That means there is going to be a lot of opportunities for new players to step up for the Bulldogs. Canton head coach Ryan Gordy said this year’s team will be a “much more space and paced” orientated team. Gordy is expecting a more spread out opportunistic approach that will feature contributions from anyone who checks in.
While Foster graduated, the Bulldogs do have a handful of talented and experienced players back on the roster. Senior Kyle Fitzgerald is the top returning scorer from a year ago, netting double figures in six contests. He is also a workhorse on defense and will be one of the leaders on the court. Robbie Gallery, Matt Giglio, and Eric Mischler were all starters at some point during the 2018-2019 season so Gordy will have some veterans to lean on during the year. Gallery, Giglio, and Mischler all showed the ability to come up with a big shot at any time and will help space the floor.
Defensively, the Bulldogs are looking at their versatility and depth to give them flexibility. Gordy believes he has a strong mix of players that will allow him to switch things up and adjust each and every game. Sophomore Lanse Dorcelus earned minutes for the final month of last season and could be a key piece this season.
“We feel like our program is healthy and players have made a commitment to growth,” Gordy said. “This season we are going to focus on the process and maximizing the strengths of our players. Our culture and direction has been a bright spot as we focus on the player person and team development each practice and game. We’re excited to see where we are and where we can get too.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Jon Gibbs
There is good news and bad news when it comes to the Foxboro boys basketball team this season. The good news is that the Warriors expect to once again be one of the toughest defensive teams in the league. The bad news is for the rest of the Hockomock League as Foxboro boasts an improved offense, and combined with their traditional tough defense, has the Warriors in position for a Davenport division title.
With four of their five top scorers back this season, including senior Brandon Borde (team-high 15.3 ppg) and junior Kevin Gallagher (12.9 ppg), the Warriors are looking to ride a balanced approach on offense to improve their scoring after finishing 10th in scoring in the Hockomock League last season (54.4 points per game). Borde is one of the most experienced players back in the league and has the ability to create his own looks as well as lead the team as the floor general. Gallagher had a breakout sophomore season and can really fill up the scoring column, especially from deep.
Borde and Gallagher will also get help from senior Will Morrison, who can catch fire from deep, and senior Ryan Hughes, who can give opponents trouble in the paint. All four players are returning starters from a season ago, so that gives Foxboro an advantage, especially defensively. Head coach Jon Gibbs called the defense the “foundation” of the team. Foxboro has consistently been very fundamentally sound and disciplined on the defensive end.
Seniors Dylan Barreira, Michael Devlin, Liam Devlin, and Donald Rogers all played important minutes last season and will provide a lot of depth for Foxboro.
“We have been making progress each day,” Gibbs said. “Practices have been very competitive so far as guys work hard to carve out a role for themselves by earning the trust of their teammates and coaches. If we stay hungry, humble, and unselfish, it has the potential to be a very successful season.”
2018-2019 Record: 17-6 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 Central Quarterfinal Coach: CJ Neely
Ever since the Hockomock League split into two divisions, Franklin has entered each season as one of the top teams in the Kelley-Rex and that looks to be the case yet again this year.
As it does each and every season, defense comes first for the Panthers. Franklin was the best defensive team in the Hockomock League last year, allowing just 48.9 points per game. Not only did the Panthers lead the league in that category, they were the lone team to keep opponents under 50 points on average. It’s the second straight year they’ve had the best defense in the division and third straight year they are in the top three. There are a lot of talented individual defenders on the team but year in and year out, Franklin’s team defense gives them a chance to win.
Offensively, the Panthers boast the top returning scorer in the league in three-year starter Chris Edgehill. Edgehill, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark last season, is an absolute handful to deal with on the offensive end of the court. He can score in a variety of ways, and on top of that, he is very good at getting teammates involved (four assists per game last year). Seniors Jack Rudolph and Steve Karayan are also back after playing valuable minutes last season and will be relied upon on both ends of the floor.
“We have a lot of guys who worked really hard in the offseason to improve and are excited to get on the court,” said head coach CJ Neely. “It’s a great group of people who have a lot of fun together. We need to stay aggressive and share the ball. We hope that strong team defense will continue to be something that defines our program.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-13 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dave DeStefano
With a solid group of players returning from last season, second-year head coach Dave DeStefano is hoping to guide his Warriors back to the state tournament for the first time since 2015.
The Warriors showed flashes throughout last year, including an upset win of Kelley-Rex champions Mansfield on the road. But they were also on the wrong end of a handful of close games, losing five games by five or fewer points. With a year of experience in DeStefano’s system, and for a lot of players their first year of varsity under their belts, King Philip is hoping to turn those close games into wins.
KP boasts two returning starters in Alex Fritz and Andrew McKinney, both standing at 6’3. Fritz had a breakout junior campaign and was the fourth-highest scorer in the Hockomock League with 15.5 points per game. He was able to score in a variety of ways, including through contact at the rim, and will be a vital piece this year. McKinney was fifth on the team in scoring last year, scoring in double-figures in five contests, including a career-high 19 points at Stoughton. Senior Tommy Donahue looks to give the Warriors a strong presence in the post while classmates Owen Conlin and Chris Roy look to be in the mix. Seniors Robbie Jarest and Tom Weir are back in the mix after a year away from the program.
Defensively, King Philip will be relying on its size and physicality. While Donahue (6’5) will be the main rim protector, having long guards and forwards will help KP make life difficult for opponents. The Warriors will need to improve on the defensive end after surrendering a division-high 63.7 points per game last year. DeStefano is looking to get some contributions from junior juniors Donte Barros, Cole Breen, Joe Cullen, Evan Stephens, Will Kinney, and Jake Silveria while sophomores Charlie Grant and Braeden Sottile will likely be in the mix too.
“The boys have really worked hard this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The practices have been really competitive and physical. For us to be successful we will need to make a big commitment on the defensive end of the floor. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops. On offense we are looking to have a balanced attack and create great scoring opportunities as a team.”
2018-2019 Record: 22-5 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Mike Vaughan
The Hockomock League continues to run through Mansfield.
The Hornets have won the Kelley-Rex division title in eight of its nine years, and it looks like Mansfield will be the team to beat again this year. Three players that burst onto the scene last year – Sam Stevens, TJ Guy, Matt Boen – are now three of the top players in the Hock heading into this season. Mansfield certainly graduated a lot of talent in Tommy Dooling, Damani Scott, and Khristian Conner, but with those three starters back plus seniors Drew Rooney and Makhi Baskin, as well as a handful of newcomers ready to make an impact, Mansfield is poised for another deep tournament run.
Stevens (11.2 ppg) will be one of the toughest players to stop with his ability to finish around the rim as well as deadly three-point shooting, Guy (10.9 ppg) is very good in the post on both ends of the floor, and Boen (9.5 ppg) can score in a variety of ways. All three are capable of filling up the stat sheet on any given night. Baskin provides a lot of energy and can change the game with his effort while Rooney showed last year that he can matchup with some of the top players in the league on the defensive end.
Juniors Brian and Jason See are both strong shooters that work tirelessly on both ends of the floor and should be in the mix for the Hornets this year. Juniors Jack Colby and Brendan Foley will be looking to bring a spark off the bench while sophomore Matt Hyland and freshman Chris Hill are promising young players that could contribute right away.
“I think our depth and ability to play different styles will be a strength of this team,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I’m excited to see where this team can get to as they continue to work hard in practice and mix their individual talents to form our team identity. Transition play, scoring inside and out will be strength on offense. Playing solid man to man and uptempo defense with our depth could create some issues for our opponents.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-12 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Paul Seaver
After a season of ups and downs, the Milford Scarlet Hawks are hoping last year’s growing pains transition into a playoff berth this season.
With a large group of returnees, the Hawks will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport division title. While head coach Paul Seaver returns the majority of his team, he will need some of the those players to step up on the offensive end the fill the void left by graduation. The Hawks graduated its top three scorers, including the second-highest scorer in the league in Brendan White (18.2 ppg). That means there will be a lot of opportunities for new players to step up and contribute.
Junior Jordan Darling (7.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and senior Colby Pires (6.1 ppg) are the top two point producers back this year while junior Dom Schofield also returns after starting as a sophomore. Darling started 19 games this year and was selected to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassman team after a strong season on both ends of the court. Pires is a leader both on and off the court and plays well in all aspects of the game, and Schofield gives Milford a strong post presence on the defensive end, recording a team-high 38 charges taken last season.
Ralph Franklin Jr., Matty Varteresian, Tyler Whetherbee, and Ben Blanchard all saw time throughout last season and could all be in line for bigger roles this season.
“Our depth will matter, our balance will matter, our chemistry is this group’s most important attribute,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “We were the youngest team in the league last season and this group has a lot of players back who are attacking this year with a chip on their shoulder. This group defines what Milford basketball is and that’s a testament to who these kids are hard workers and higher character individuals. I could not be any more excited to coach and work with these kids on a daily basis.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-11 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
There are going to be a lot of new faces dawning the Big Red uniform this winter. After losing nine seniors to graduation, head coach Sean Mulkerrins has just three players back from last year’s nine-win squad.
With a large amount of new players comes a large amount of opportunities. The Rocketeers graduated its two top scorers but bring back senior Ethan Friberg (7.0 ppg) and junior George Ladd (7.4 ppg) to lead the charge offensively this year. Friberg, standing at 6’5, can cause problems in the paint but also van step out and play along the perimeter. Ladd had a breakout sophomore season and was named to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassman team. He is a little of a throwback player that is very fundamentally sound on the offensive end. Senior Josh Porter, the third returner, saw an expanded role at the end of last season and played well.
Defensively, the Rocketeers will be focusing on limiting opponents to one shot per possession. With some size in the frontcourt, North will try to make it difficult to finish at the rim, and with all five players committed to rebounding, try and minimize second-chance points.
“There will be a lot of new faces with opportunities to make an impact on this year’s team,” Mulkerrins said. “There will definitely be some growing pains and the sooner the new faces adjust to the rigors of varsity basketball, the better we will be.”
2018-2019 Record: 10-12 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Don Byron
Last season, Oliver Ames came up just one game shy of the state tournament. Goal number one for the 2019-2020 season is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
With a strong mix of experienced players and hungry new additions, Oliver Ames is ready for the grind that is the Kelley-Rex division and the Hockomock League.
“The expectation is to always get [to the tournament], that’s our first goal,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “We’re pretty optimistic but we know it’s going to be a grind, you have to show up every night, you can’t take a night off.”
Byron has been impressed with his guard play so far this preseason, and that will likely mean featuring three guards in the lineup for the majority of the time. Senior Jay Spillane is a returning starter while classmate Owen Friel and junior Amari Brown were top options off the bench a season ago. Spillane can score in bunches, especially from the outside, while Friel combines a solid shooting game with a hard-nosed defensive approach. Friel’s ability to guard a variety of position makes him a valuable piece in the lineup while Brown is a crafty player that does a nice job getting teammates involved.
Senior center Evan Craig (6’5) will be joined by classmate Ryan Burkett (6’2) in the frontcourt. Both picked up valuable minutes at the varsity level last year and Byron is hoping that will help with their expanded roles this year. Senior guard Adam Cann and junior forwards Trey Buggs and Drew Nickla will provide depth for the Tigers.
“It takes some time to get accustomed to the varsity speed and what we expect at this level,” Byron said. “All of these kids gained experience with us last year, and that year of experience is invaluable.”
2018-2019 Record: 3-17 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrew Ferguson
After a couple of down seasons, the Eagles will be making a strong push to get back into the state tournament for the first time since 2016.
Sharon boasts a number of players who gained varsity experience that will be looking to help the program bounce back. The first being senior Aidan Kane, the team’s leading scorer last season with 11.5 points per game. When he’s on from keep, Kane is one of the top three-point shooters in the league. He has the ability to change a game very quickly if he gets hot from deep. Senior Andrew Burton emerged as one of the Eagles’ top players last year and could be poised to have a breakout year. Sophomore John Baez will start at the point after joining the varsity team for the final month and a half last season.
The Eagles will be relying heavily on its frontcourt to step up on both ends of the court. Senior Caleb Gayle is a traditional post player that will compete hard on both ends of the court, senior Cam Baker is fundamentally sound and a reliable option and junior Hank Ward picked up valuable minutes as a sophomore and will be an important part of the rebound game as well as defensively. Senior Aaron Karten will be in the mix as well, giving the Eagles an athletic frontcourt.
Junior Jordan Barboza should give the Eagles a spark off the bench this year and head coach Andrew Ferguson will look for him as an important defensive piece. Kiran Chandrasekaran had flashes of the strong play off the bench last year and should see an expanded role this year, while junior transfer Matt Baskin could provide a needed scoring punch.
“This group has worked tremendously hard in the offseason and the preseason and is looking to translate that into success throughout the regular season,” Ferguson said. “Many of the players have gained valuable experience at the varsity level over the past two years and our senior class are tremendous leaders who provide a great example for our younger players.”
2018-2019 Record: 10-11 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Preliminary Round Coach: John Gallivan
Stoughton ended its playoff drought last season and with a good amount of those players back again this year, the Davenport division title and a deep playoff run could be in the forecast this season.
The Black Knights have their leading scorer back in 6’5 senior forward Obinna Ugwuakazi, who averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game with nine double-doubles last year. His athleticism and ability to finish through contact made him a tough matchup for opponents, and he will be at the forefront of the Stoughton offense again this year. Fellow senior Tahkwan Gates Brown, who also stands at 6’5, is also back and we could see the duo play together at times which will certainly make life tough for opponents.
Senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell is back for his third year on varsity. After improving each of the past two seasons, the 2019-2020 season could be a breakout year for Grigalunas-Powell, who can score from three-point range but is also a crafty finisher attacking the rim. Ahmad Jahed had flashes of strong play last year and will be back in the mix again this year, and the same goes for Tommy Sanda. Juniors Brett Pendenza and Jake Queeney are also back after earning some minutes last year.
“We feel like we can score this year both from downtown and from down low,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan. “And with our size in the paint, we hope to make it difficult for opponents to score consistently.”
2018-2019 Record: 15-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Charlie Dacey
After a strong regular season, the Taunton boys basketball team flipped a switch in the tournament and made a run to the D1 South Semis, nearly knocking off powerhouse Mansfield. With a taste of postseason success, the Tigers are hoping to replicate that success this year with another impressive playoff stretch.
The Tigers boast speed, skill, and depth this season and will be in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division title this season. While Taunton lost a lot of production from last year (Lou Vendrell, Mike Quinn, John Martins, Wesner Charles), there are a handful of players battling to earn their chance at minutes in the Tigers’ lineup. One constant in that lineup over the past couple of years is senior Dante Law, who enters his fourth year with the varsity group. Law was Taunton’s leading scorer a year ago with 14.1 points per game but none of the other returners were over five points a game, meaning there will be plenty of opportunity for new players to step up.
Seniors Fabio Goncalves (6’6) and Aiden Pelot, as well as junior Tyler Stewart (6’6) make up the frontcourt for the Tigers. All three played at the varsity level last year and will be key pieces at helping the Tigers defend and win the battle on the boards. Law will be joined by junior Josh Lopes, who showed flashes during his sophomore season, DaeDae Kenion, and sophomore transfer Tristan Herry as key pieces of the offense.
The Tigers are also excited about the depth on the team this year. Junior Danny MacDougall earned starting minutes last year and is a reliable option in a variety of roles while Trent Santos, Logan Lawrence, and Jonathan Torres will all be in the mix for Taunton.
“With this team, press and run should be ‘Plan A’ although there are skills available to play at a slower pace,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey.
SANDWICH, Mass. – The Oliver Ames boys soccer team entered Thursday night’s D2 South Semifinal with a tall task against unbeaten Nauset.
Despite a spirited second half effort and a saved penalty kick, the Tigers were unable to complete their upset bid, suffering a 1-0 loss to the Warriors after a late goal.
The top-seeded Warriors extended their unbeaten streak to 44 straight games to advance to the D2 South Final against Milford. The last time Nauset lost was in the D2 South Semifinals in 2017 via penalty kicks to OA.
“I think the second half was much better than the first,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “I think they took it too us for about 50% of the [first] half, then the rest of it was a little more back and forth. We had some chances but they had more dangerous chances. They are a strong team. They are fast, they want to impose their style of play and they were able to do that. They a very good team, John [McCully] has done a great job. They are #8 in the country for a reason, they are no joke.
“I thought we played very well and have a lot of guys that will learn from this experience. They’ll remember how this felt, and the extra work that it takes. We had one or two bad mistakes and they punished us for it. Overall, I thought it was a great second half for us.”
The lone goal came in the 73rd minute of play. A ball over the top found Nauset’s Anthony Lovati, who controlled the ball and took a touch forward despite OA’s plea for handball. Lovati connected with Shavar Champagnie in the area, who was quickly met with a pair of OA defenders on his back.
Champagnie alertly played the ball back to the top of the area where senior Sebastian Headrick calmly ran onto it and placed a shot through traffic and into the bottom corner for the eventual game-winner.
The Tigers quickly switched to three in the back, throwing numbers and services forward, but the Nauset backline used its height to prevent any balls in behind. OA had a corner in the final seconds and put all of the players in the box, including the keeper, but were unable to get on the end of it before a Nauset clearance.
“For the most part we dominated,” said Nauset head coach John McCully. “Don’t get me wrong, Oliver Ames made it difficult for us. It was very difficult for us to get any rhythm today because we’re used to ball dominance. We didn’t have a lot of that, even though we controlled at times. And 0-0…it would have been a crying shame [if we didn’t win].”
OA keeper Drew Nickla was called into action in the 12th minute when Nauset’s Connor Cushing delivered a service to the back post that was met by Lovati but Nickla was perfectly positioned and tipped the bid over the bar.
While changes were hard to come in the first, Oliver Ames’ best opportunity came in the 19th minute. Anthony DaCosta played classmate Kevin Louhis wide on the left flank. Louhis used his speed to beat his defender before poking a cross to the edge of the six-yard box, but the service was in-between DaCosta and Dillon Cupples and a Warrior defender was quick to clear.
Nauset had two golden chances before the end of the half but couldn’t convert. William Schiffer got on the end of a throw-in from Lovati but his chance smacked off the crossbar. Just under 10 minutes later, Nathan Watring set Schiffer up right in front but his shot was over the bar.
Louhis had the first good chance of the second half in the 54th minute. After working his way around a pair of defenders, he cut near the top of the 18 and ripped a left-footed shot but a Nauset defender was able to reach out and make the block. OA’s lone shot on goal came off the foot of Louhis with a low shot from distance that was saved.
“We actually built up in the midfield well at times, but the challenge was then you run into a wall of six in the back,” Barata said. “And they weren’t soft, they come through hard. Ultimately I thought we did well, I am pleased with the guys. I am sad for the seniors because they’ve done a lot of good work for the program. But I thought they went out in a great blaze. It was a close game, they scored with seven minutes left in the game. Problem was, there was no time to bounce back. We pressed, we put everyone up for that last corner but they have a lot of big bodies in there.
“I think the guys did a really good job playing the game and they should leave here with their heads held high. They’ll learn and then we’ll come back, we’ll bounce back.”
“We were a little worried with the long throws and set pieces against a strong team but today he was pretty outstanding and stellar on all the throws and set pieces,” Barata said of Nickla. “And the PK was a great save.”
Just under 10 minutes after the penalty stop, the Warriors cashed in for the lone goal of the game.