Stoughton had four players rush for a touchdown and its defense put together a stellar performance as raw Black Knights christened their new home turf field with a 29-7 win over neighboring Oliver Ames.
“Four years…four long years…finally. It’s incredible,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke, who has been at the helm since 1990. “We were nervous early, that’s just the nature of the beast but we finally got it going and our defense played tough. We battled, we have some new kids upfront and they were working hard and then we got things going. There’s still room for improvement, had a couple of screw ups but first game, I’ll take it. We got everyone out, no one got hurt.”
It was a slow start for both offenses with the Black Knights stifling the Tigers on their rushing attempts, shutting the visitors out on third down conversions for the entire game (0-for-10). On the flip slide, the Tigers were up for the challenge while Stoughton certainly didn’t help itself with a handful of first quarter penalties.
The first score of the game came on the first drive of the game but it wasn’t in favor of Oliver Ames, who received the opening kickoff. A false start put the visitors in third and long and Stoughton senior Christian Georges (four sacks) came flying in for a sack. On fourth down, the snap to the punter was high and the ball went through the back of the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead.
Stoughton carried that 2-0 lead into the second quarter but quickly added onto its lead with its first touchdown on its new turf. Georges had another third-down sack and OA’s punt didn’t travel far, setting the Black Knights up with first down at the Tigers’ 28-yard line.
On the first offensive play, Georges bulldozed his way through traffic and raced away for a touchdown. Jonah Ly hit his first of three extra points on the night and the Black Knights took a 9-0 with 11:01 left in the first half.
Oliver Ames went three-and-out on the ensuing possession as Anthony Girolamo and Sproul Derolus limited the Tigers to one yard on third down. Stoughton had an incomplete pass on first but senior Christopher Ais broke through a handful of would-be tacklers and sprinted the distance for a 51-yard touchdown and a 16-0 advantage with 8:11 left in the first half.
“We know we can rely on our defense, and we know the Wing-T as well as anybody because we run it, so we know the goods and bads,” Burke said of the defense playing well as the offense got going. “They caught us on a couple but not many. We don’t have a ton of size defensively but we have a lot of speed so even if we make a mistake then we can rally. And it felt like we got a bunch of sacks too.”
Stoughton football Oliver Ames football
The Tigers earned their first first down on the next drive when quarterback Jake Grimaldi kept it on fourth and short, getting a friendly push from sophomore Chad Silva. But the drive didn’t last much longer and Georges added yet another third down sack with just under three minutes left to get Stoughton the ball back.
Stoughton brought a lot of pressure on OA’s punt and it didn’t travel far. The Black Knights took advantage of the short field and on the third play of the drive, Girolamo forced his way past a pair of defenders and into the end zone for a 7-yard score, extending the lead to 23-0 just before halftime.
“They run hard, their guys are tough and physical, super athletic and well-coached…they’ve got the whole thing going on over there,” said OA head coach Ed DeWitt on the Black Knights. “We’re not quite there yet but we’re working towards it. There’s a lot of talk about the switch to the Davenport, but there’s no let up in the league. It’s not a step down, I’ve seen most of these teams and they are good, it’s just different opponents [than the Kelley-Rex]. But we have to focus on our improvement each week.”
It was more of the same in the second half. Senior quarterback John Burke opened the first drive with a 20 yard run of his own the Knights picked up right where they left off. Christian Ais ripped off runs of 11-yards and 30-yards, Christopher Ais took back-to-back carries for 17 yards, and two plays later, Christian Ais plunged in untouched from 1-yard out to make it 29-0.
Stoughton football Oliver Ames football
Christopher Ais led the way with 104 yards on nine carries, Christian Ais had 63 yards on five carries, and Georges had 43 yards on four carries.
“We have three or four guys that can get it done, and that’s why our offense works well,” Burke said. “You give them all the ball and then they are involved with blocking and fakes. With Chris Ais and Christian Ais and we have Georges too…we have different guys to give it to or to use for blocking.”
The Black Knights got the ball back after forcing another three-and-out but OA came up with a big stop on a third down sack from senior Dante Cocivera.
Stoughton turned to Girolamo and Ly for their fourth quarter offense, marching down the field on a lengthy drive but couldn’t add any points after missing on a 39-yard field goal attempt.
Oliver Ames orchestrated its best drive of the game to end the contest. The Tigers marched 80 yards on 13 plays, finding the end zone with under a minute to go.
Stoughton football Oliver Ames football
Silva (14 carries, 58 yards) ripped off a 19-yard rush on second down and the Tigers got their first of two fourth down conversions on the drive on another keeper from Grimaldi. Senior Jadon Ricci carried for seven yards and 14 yards to put the Tigers in a position to score but a sack from Stoughton’s Shawn Fargher put OA into a fourth and 18 situation.
Grimaldi floated a pass to the corner end zone and senior Pete Bosader was able to reach out in front of the defender while falling backwards, hauling in a 27-yard touchdown. Drew Nickla split the uprights for the extra point.
“Our guys are fighting and we preach playing four quarters,” DeWitt said. “It was nice to get guys fighting at the end, making a play, that’s exciting to see, that shows the mentality we’re looking for but obviously we want to do it sooner. We thought we were physical enough early but we have to keep that going for four quarters and not just find it at the end.”
Stoughton football (1-0) will stick around Veteran’s Memorial Stadium for another home game next week, hosting Foxboro on Friday at 5:00. Oliver Ames (0-1) will have its home opener on the same night against Canton at 5:00.
Sharon, 50 @ Milford, 62 – Final – Six players in a game-changing second quarter as Milford turned a close game into a comfortable lead that it never relinquished. The Hawks had a 10-6 lead after eight minutes before exploding for 24 points in the second quarter with Ben Blanchard scoring seven of his 13 points and Jordan Darling netting seven of his 16 points to help Milford get the win. Wes Solomon and Max Martin each connected from three-point range while Ralph Franklin Jr. and Brady Olson each scored in the second to give the Hawks a 34-15 lead at halftime. Blanchard added two more threes and Darling connected from three in the third as Milford carried a 48-35 lead into the fourth quarter. Sharon had 10 players get into the scoring column as Rohan Prakash came off the bench to tie for a team-high eight points.
Stoughton, 53 @ Oliver Ames, 62 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Oliver Ames overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to pick up a win over Stoughton, clinching sole possession of the Davenport division title. The Black Knights had a great start, putting up 17 points in the first quarter and 19 more in the second to build a 36-26 lead at halftime. But OA’s defense limited the visitors to 13 points in the third and just four in the fourth, and on the offensive end the Tigers cashed in on 23 offensive rebounds to get the win. OA exploded for 26 points in the third to take a 52-49 lead into the fourth. With points hard to come by in the fourth, Stoughton got possession back down 56-53 with 1:35 to play but an issue with the official book resulted in a technical foul on the Black Knights. OA sank both free throws, snapping a 3:30 scoreless drought. OA got a big stop and Amari Brown (23 points) scored in transition to ice the win. Drew Nickla (16 points, 11 rebounds) was the catalyst behind the offensive rebounding surge while Drew Baxter added nine points and six rebounds and Will Whiteside had seven points and 14 rebounds. Stoughton junior KC Ugwuakazi had 16 points and eight rebounds while senior Waseem Sablon added 13 points.
Taunton, 59 @ Attleboro, 56 – Final – Taunton got just enough stops down the stretch, including a go-ahead three-point attempt from Attleboro with five seconds to go, to earn the win on the road and keep its division title hopes alive. Senior Tyler Stewart scored six of his 20 points in the final frame and junior Tristan Herry hit a huge three with just over four minutes to go to put the visitors up 56-54. Attleboro tied the game off a Taunton turnover with senior Justin Daniels, who scored a career-high 29 points, converted a layup with three minutes to go. Stewart put Taunton ahead with a free throw and the Tigers blanked the Bombardiers the rest of the way. Junior Trent Santos added 13 points and junior Faisal Mass had 11 points in the win for the Tigers. Evan Houle and Alec Eaton chipped in with nine points apiece for Attleboro.
Mansfield, 74 vs. Lowell Catholic, 57 – Final – Holding a six-point lead at halftime, Mansfield dropped 21 points in the third quarter to turn its advantage into 57-42 going into the final quarter. Brendan Foley, Jack Colby, and Matt Hyland all hit from three-point range and had five points apiece in the third to help the Hornets pull away for the win. Senior Matt Boen led the offensive charge with 20 points along with nine assists and six rebounds. Hyland finished with a career-high 17 points an eight assists while Foley had 12 points and Colby chipped in with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Oliver Ames, 63 @ Stoughton, 15 – Final – Oliver Ames completed a perfect 10-0 season with a win on the road over Stoughton. Caroline Peper led the balanced scoring attack for the Tigers with 12 points while Kelsey Yelle added 10 points and Caroline Flynn chipped in wit nine points. Freshman Jasmyn Cooper finished with eight boards in the win.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The defensive game plan for the North Attleboro boys basketball team was clear and concise: try and stop Amari Brown.
Short of the kitchen sink, the Rocketeers threw everything — and nearly everyone — at trying to stop the senior guard. The plan worked enough for the hosts, who made just enough plays down the stretch on the offensive end to earn a 48-43 win over Oliver Ames, handing the Tigers their first loss of the season.
“Amari is one of the best players in the league, he’s tremendously dangerous in transition, even on made baskets and he’s able to score before your defense is set,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “And then even in the half court he’s so quick, he can make the three, and the element of his game that gets overlooked is he’s so strong, even at whatever he’s at height-wise, he’s able to get guys in the box and score. Our game plan was pretty straight forward, we wanted to build a wall and really pack it in around him. And we had to get back on transition defense and rebound because OA does a great job crashing.
Brown, one of the top players in the Hockomock League and one of the leading scorers this season, accounted for over half of the Tigers’ points (24) in the first meeting between Oliver Ames and North Attleboro, a win for the former back at the start of January.
North Attleboro boys basketball
In order to prevent an encore performance, North Attleboro sprinted back on defense to prevent transition opportunities, brought double teams to contest three-point looks, and built a “Big Red” wall with up to three or four players in the way on the defensive end to try and prevent one of the most dynamic guards in the league for getting to the rim.
Oliver Ames’ defense was up to the task as well, holding the hosts to just seven points in the second quarter and 17 total first half points. Both teams started to pick it up offensively in the third and North’s offense had just enough of a run in the final quarter to create enough separation to hold on.
“I thought out guys were focused defensively and that was the difference,” Mulkerrins said, holding the visitors to just three made three-pointers and forcing the Tigers into 15 turnovers. “We definitely weren’t in cruise control on offense but I felt like our defense was so solid that our offense would figure it out and we have a lot of high IQ guys that will make plays for us. And we made just enough of them to get the win.”
North Attleboro nearly matched its first half offensive output in the third quarter, turning a one-point deficit through 16 minutes of action into a three-point edge going into the final frame.
North Attleboro boys basketball
Gavin Wells, one of eight Rocketeers to hit a field goal, opened the quarter with a corner three, and senior Jason Rodriguez drove hard to the rim for a layup and then got out in transition, resulting in two free throws and a 38-32 lead two minutes into the fourth.
Brown (eight points) hit a free throw to cut the deficit to five but North Attleboro senior George Ladd (19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists) came back with back-to-back field goals to give the hosts their largest lead, 42-33, and forced an OA timeout with 4:41 to play.
Different faces stepped up for OA as the Tigers grinded their way back into the game. Jake Grimaldi came off the bench for two in the post, Brown hit another free throw, and Drew Nickla added two more from the line to make it 42-38 with three minutes left.
Wells hustled to earn the Rocketeers a second chance on the offensive board before the teams traded turnovers, the latter a steal from Brody Rosenberg that resulted in a layup from Casey Poirier.
With under a minute to play, Drew Baxter (13 points) earned a trip to the line and sank both chances and Oliver Ames’ full court resulted in a traveling call to get the ball back. Will Whiteside got an open look from straight away and drained it and what was once a nine-point lead shrunk to just one, 44-43, with 40.4 seconds to play.
“That’s not a lot of difference between that game and what we’ve been doing all year,” said OA head coach Don Byron. “We’ve managed to be on the right side of the games before this but they’ve all been around this. It wasn’t that much out of character. I think sometimes the thought of a big game, doesn’t necessarily get you nervous but you get caught standing around waiting for something to happen. I think we did a lot of that early on. Defensively we were still pretty good, put ourselves in a position to win.”
The Tigers were whistled for an off ball foul in the post and Ladd sank both attempts of his one-and-one from the line with 27.5 to go. OA launched two threes to try and tie the game but couldn’t convert and Ladd came down with the second miss, went to the line again, and iced the game with two more free throws.
“I never felt like the game got away from us, OA’s defense is so solid, they are bumping cutters, and so much of our offense is dictated by moving the ball, moving people, moving defenders, and they were doing such a good job grabbing and holding, matching wanting what we wanted to do,” Mulkerrins said. “We never got really going offensively but I had faith we could make plays down the stretch.”
North got off to a strong start with Edan Kelley hitting his first shot in his first game back and Ladd going for six straight and an 8-0 lead. OA responded with strong defense, forcing Rocketeer turnovers into layups for Whiteside and Brown while Trey Buggs added a three to get within three, 10-7, after a quarter.
The Tigers’ strong defense continued into the second quarter, limiting the hosts to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting from the field with four turnovers. That gave the visitors enough of a chance to claw their way through North’s tough defense. Baxter hit an early three and then drove to the basket for two, Jaden Krowski cut to the basket to beat the shot clock, and Nickla scored the final four points of the quarter as OA staked an 18-17 halftime lead.
North Attleboro hit on six of its nine field goal attempts in the third quarter to jump back ahead. Jared Vacher sandwiched a pair of buckets around a putback from Ladd, Tommy Onorato drained a three-pointer when Ladd was triple-teamed in the post, and then Ladd himself stepped out of his comfort zone and sank a rare corner three.
“Eight guys got into the scoring column for us, which was great to see,” Mulkerrins said. “We know what George is going to bring and that he’s going to get a lot of attention. We just keep preaching movement off the ball and cutting to the rim. I have a lot of faith in everyone on this team.”
Oliver Ames (6-1, 6-1) travels to rival Sharon on the same day.
Attleboro, 44 @ Franklin, 60 – Final – Franklin established a lead after a quarter, built on it by halftime, and pulled away with a dominant third quarter to avenge its loss to Attleboro. The Panthers were up 31-20 at the halftime break before winning the third quarter, 20-4, to put the game away. Declan Walmsley (13 points) hit a pair of threes in the third, Andrew Byfield (11 points) added five points and both Jake O’Brien and Zach Harvey added four as the Panthers took a 51-24 lead into the final frame.
Oliver Ames, 51 @ Stoughton, 47 – Final – Oliver Ames senior Drew Nickla beat the shot clock with a spinning shot in the lane with just over a minute to go and the Tigers hung on for a win over the Black Knights. Nickla scored eight of his career-high 20 points as the Tigers raced out to a 21-6 lead through eight minutes, and carrie a 29-17 advantage into halftime. OA led by 10 (42-32) going into the fourth but a late 7-0 run from the Knights made it a two-point game in the final minutes, setting up Nickla’s big basket. Amari Brown added 11 points for OA in the win. Brett Pendenza scored a team-high 18 points for Stoughton while KC Ugwuakazi chipped in with 10 points.
Mansfield, 74 @ Milford, 36 – Final – After a close first quarter, Mansfield extended its lead to double-digits by halftime and never looked back in a win over Milford. The Hornets held a slim 10-8 lead after a quarter, pushed the advantage to 30-16 at halftime, and went off for 22 third quarter points for a 52-30 edge going into the final frame. Senior Matt Boen led the way with a team-high 30 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two assists, junior Chris Hill added 15 points, five rebounds, and four steals, and senior Brendan Foley finished with 10 points.
King Philip, 55 @ Taunton, 84 – Final – Taunton’s offense was too much too handle for the visiting Warriors as the Tigers scored 40 first half points and exploded for 29 points in the third quarter to pull away. The Warriors kept pace with the hosts through the first eight minutes, trailing by just two, 21-19, after the first. Taunton’s offense kept rolling with 19 more points in the second for a 40-28 lead at halftime before its 29-point third made it 69-43. Junior Trent Santos scored 10 of his team-high 18 points in the third. Tyler Stewart added 16 points, Josh Lopes finished with 13 points, Nigel Choate chipped in with 11 points and Danny MacDougall scored 10 points for Taunton. Sophomore Will Laplante led KP with a game-high 20 points.
Franklin, 47 @ Attleboro, 28 – Final – Franklin closed out is second straight unbeaten regular season with a sweep of the Bombardiers. Olivia Quinn led the Panthers in all 10 games this season, including 16 points against Attleboro. Elizabeth Wilson, who recently committed to Endicott College, chipped in with nine points for the Panthers.
Sharon, 22 @ North Attleboro, 65 – Final – North celebrated senior night with a strong defensive performance and a big win. All four seniors hit double digits for the Rocketeers. Amanda Kaiser led the way with 19, including 12 in the opening quarter. Lydia Santos added a dozen, Siobhan Weir had 11 points, and Cailyn Maxcy scored a career-high 10. North led 40-16 at halftime, but allowed only six points after the break and North coach Nikki Correia praised her team’s pressure defense for creating easy baskets on the other end of the floor.
Stoughton @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to TBD.
Milford, 41 @ Mansfield, 61 – Final – All 10 Hornets scored for Mansfield on Thursday, as the Hornets pulled away for a big win. Olivia Salisbury scored nine point to pace Mansfield, while Abby Wager and Kayla Vine each scored eight points. Jillian Michelson was Milford’s top scorer with 10 points.
Stoughton, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 2 – Final – Oliver Ames avenged its loss to the Black Knights on Wednesday evening with a 2-1 win on Thursday afternoon. Freshman Jack Corey scored his first career goal while classmate Andy Livingstone scored the game-winner late in the third for the Tigers.
Stoughton, 54 @ Canton, 59 – Final – Stoughton whittled down a double-digit deficit to just two with under a minute to play but Canton got a big stop and held on for the win. Canton exploded for 21 points out of the gate and took a 35-26 lead into halftime and a 43-36 advantage in the fourth. Stoughton junior KC Ugwuakazi scored nine of his team-high 11 points in the final frame, helping make it a 56-54 game but the Black Knights saw the go-ahead three go in-and-out. Canton sealed it with a defensive rebound and a quick push up court for a quick two from senior Eric Mischler (eight points). Canton senior Will Keefe accounted for half of the Bulldogs’ eight threes, finishing with a career-high 14 points to lead the way. Ryan Connerney (three triples) added 12 points and Steven Burbank scored seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Stoughton senior Elisha Claude added 10 points, all in the second half, for the Black Knights.
Sharon, 54 @ Foxboro, 53 – Final (OT) – Foxboro sank the game-tying three in the final seconds to force overtime but its look at the game-winner was just off the mark in overtime as Sharon picked up a win on the road to open the season. The Eagles held a 50-47 lead late but Foxboro junior Dylan Gordon hit the tying shot from downtown just before the buzzer to force the extra period. After getting a stop, Sharon senior Kiran Chandrasekaran (career-high 15 points) scored on a tough take to the basket and on the next possession, junior Sam Cohen (career-high 16 points) intercepted a pass and went in for two and that was enough offense for the Eagles, who saw Foxboro’s last second go-ahead shot hit off the back of the iron off a floater in the lane. The Warriors held a slim lead through each of the first (16-14) and second (30-27) quarters before the Eagles tied things up after three (39-39), getting three-pointers from Chandrasekaran and Cohen in third quarter. Will Hippler and Jordan Barboza each hit a big three-pointer in the fourth for the Eagles. Foxboro sophomore Alex Penders dropped a career-high 17 points to lead all scorers.
North Attleboro, 40 @ Oliver Ames, 42 – Final – Oliver Ames outscored the visiting Rocketeers 16-3 in the second quarter to take the lead and the Tigers never trailed the rest of the way, holding off as North Attleboro’s last second chance was just off the mark. Drew Nickla (career-high 15 points) converted a traditional three-point play off an offensive rebound with two minutes left to put the Tigers ahead 39-33 but a three from North’s Brody Rosenberg (10 points) kept the visitors in it. Nickla added a free throw to push it to 40-36 but Casey Poirier answered with a nice take to the basket. Trey Buggs hit a pair of free throws for OA with under a minute to go to make it 42-48 but Jimmy Caraballo answered to cut it back to two. After a missed free throw, the Rocketeers raced the length of the court but their layup attempt just before the buzzer just missed. OA senior Amari Brown shined in the game, tying a career-high with 24 points to lead all scorers. North Attleboro senior George Ladd had a team-high 12 points.
Foxboro, 56 @ Sharon, 19 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from the game. Three players reached double figures to power Foxboro to a season-opening road win. Freshman Erin Foley scored 13 points in her varsity debut and Katelyn Mollica added 13 of her own along with five assists and five steals. Aislinn Servaes chipped in with 12 points and three steals. Foxboro led 11-4 after the first quarter and broke the game wide open with a 19-2 second quarter. After the Warriors took the third quarter 15-4 to extend the lead to 35, Sharon kept battling and had its best quarter in the fourth (11-9). Freshman Rachel Hager led the way for the hosts with eight points, including a pair of threes in the fourth quarter. Foxboro freshman Camryn Collins also impressed in her debut, scoring seven points, dishing out four assists, and recording three steals.
Franklin, 51 @ Milford, 22 – Final – Franklin opened the season with a big win on the road. Olivia Quinn scored a game-high 19 points to pace the Panthers, while Brigid Early and Kayleigh Houlihan each added eight in the win.
Mansfield, 2 @ King Philip, 4 – Final – King Philip lit the lamp three times in the second period, including two straight in the final six minutes, to skate to a season-opening win over Mansfield. After a scoreless first period, KP senior Conor Cooke put the Warriors ahead early in the second. Mansfield answered when junior Brayden Purtell found the back of the net. The Warriors struck twice late in the period, Cooke returning the favor to freshman Brad Guden for his first career goal to make it 2-1, and sophomore James Boldy (from Guden and Shea Cunningham) adding another two minutes later for a 3-1 lead. Guden scored his second goal of the game (fourth point) on a feed from David Lawler to make it 4-1. Mansfield’s Dillon Benoit scored with 6:36 left in the game to make it 4-2. KP sophomore Kyle Abbot made 25 saves to earn his first career win in net.
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.”