CANTON, Mass. – Foxboro and Canton have finished as the top two teams in the Davenport division in each of the past three seasons. The Warriors won two of those three titles, but the largest margin that has separated the teams at the end of the year has been three points. This year is no different.
Once again the two rivals entered Tuesday night’s title showdown at WWII Veterans Memorial Field as the top two teams in the Davenport and with the Bulldogs holding a slim two-point edge. Both teams would have four league games remaining after Tuesday and none would be against teams with winning records, so this felt like Foxboro’s best chance of trying to catch the league leaders.
The Warriors got off to the perfect start, playing like a team that knew it needed the win, and jumped out to a one-goal lead, but the Bulldogs turned the game around in the second half and it finished 1-1. That leaves Canton holding its own title destiny entering the final two weeks of the regular season.
“We took a few minutes to get going,” admitted Canton coach Chrissy O’Connor. She noted that things changed after the break, “Totally felt like we had a little momentum. We were correcting some of the things we had gotten wrong. We made some adjustments and overall I was happy with how we played, but unfortunately with Foxboro things end in a tie.”
Canton had a couple of early looks with a cross through the crease and a chance for Shayna Johnson that the senior had bounce off her foot right in front of goal, but the first half largely belonged to the visitors.
Nine minutes into the game, the Warriors took the lead. Jaime Notarangelo created the opening with a run down the right side, something that would become a theme of the half, and she squared it into the middle. After a couple of deflections, the ball dropped to Brooke Connolly and she knocked it in.
The Bulldogs struggled to contain Notarangelo and the Warriors looked to get her the ball on the right wing as often as possible. After the senior midfielder raced past players on both teams, she cut inside and forced a save out of Canton goalie Riley O’Connor (seven saves). A minute later Mikayla Cloherty had a go from distance that was kicked away as well.
“Jaime played out of her mind,” said Foxboro coach Melissa Bordieri. “She was phenomenal. You could see how much she was digging and kept trying. Her ball control tonight was outstanding.”
Inside the final 10 minutes of the half, Canton started to stem the tide and gain a foothold in the game. Maria Femia opened up a chance for Erin Lane, but her shot just went wide and couldn’t be held in at the end line by Ellie Bohane.
The momentum that the home team built at the end of the first half carried over at the start of the second.
It only took four minutes after the break for Canton to find the tying goal. After a corner was cleared by Foxboro, the Bulldogs charged back at the goal again and Kaitlyn Goyetch found room in the left channel. Her backhand effort flicked up over Trombly’s shoulder and the goalie could not keep it out.
“It’s that extra spark of energy,” said O’Connor about Goyetch. “She’s able to flip that switch and when she does and when she gets to that second gear then everyone follows and it raises the level of play on the field.”
Canton took control of the game in the second half. The hosts had the ball in front of Trombly for seemingly the entire 30 minutes, but Foxboro had a handful of chances as well. Notarangelo created the opening with another run down the wing and her cross to Mya Waryas at the back post was kept out by O’Connor, who then scrambled the rebound off the line. Ella Waryas then set up Notarangelo in front but the redirection was blocked by the goalie at close range.
Bordieri said, “They put serious pressure on. I couldn’t even see the play, just saw the ball come flying out of the circle, so defense came up big in a lot of places. But, it has to be consistent. We didn’t play 60 minutes tonight and it resulted in another tie.”
Femia was the primary creator for Canton and was a constant menace when in possession. She nearly created the winner with a run up the left side and a cross to Grace Nourse at the back post, but Lauren Foster got in the way to deny the chance.
“She’s a gamer,” O’Connor said about Femia. “She’s a game time player and she wants to get it done and usually she makes things happen. I thought we were in the right positions, I thought the offense was there, we were right there, but they were right there with their defensive stands.”
Riley O’Connor was forced to come up with one more big stop before the end, as Nicole Bubencik had a shot through traffic that was sneaking inside the post until the goalie stuck out a toe to keep it out.
“A tale of two halves,” said Bordieri. “They came out flying in the second half and found us flat. I just felt like we couldn’t find that momentum we had in the first half, we couldn’t continue it and they did a really good job of taking that momentum and running with it.”