FRANKLIN, Mass. – Timing is everything, especially in the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the seventh-seeded Franklin boys soccer team, it was the 10th-seeded BC High Eagles that were on the right end of things.
The Eagles scored a goal in the final seconds of the first half to level the match, and then just minutes after Franklin had a golden chance, BC High scored the go-ahead goal and earned a 2-1 decision on the road at Pisini Field.
“It was frustrating but we had our chances to score too, and it was frustrating that we didn’t finish there. I think in the end, probably the better team won, they were bigger and more athletic than we were. But I thought our kids played really hard and gave it their best shot. I’m really happy with the team and the season. They really turned it around the second half of the season, which I hope will give the returning players motivation to build off of next year.”
While BC High came out with all the energy, it was Franklin that struck first, opening the scoring just over 15 minutes into the contest.
In just their second foray into the attacking third, the Panthers cashed in. Junior Lucas Moura collected a clearance attempt and alertly played the ball in behind a pair of defenders. Senior Ethan Bowenmade the run onto the ball, getting a touch to the ball just as the BC High keeper came sliding out. The keeper got a piece of the shot but not enough as Bowen’s touch found the back of the net and gave Franklin a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.
After the Eagles had controlled the game, the goal from the Panthers seemed to instill some confidence and the game equaled out in terms of possession and chances as halftime approached.
In fact, best chance over the next 20 minutes belonged to the host Panthers. In the 29th minute, senior Nick Barry switched the field of play with a nice cross to an open Tim Duval but his shot from atop the area went over the bar.
Just as it looked liked the Panthers would take a lead into the halftime break, the Eagles leveled the match. Off a corner kick in the final minute, BC High had its initial bid parried away by junior keeper Jack Rudolph but the rebound fell to the feet of Eagles’ senior Luke Reid and he buried the loose ball to knot the score.
“There’s no question, our goal clearly changed things,” Bositis said of his team getting confidence from the first goal. “There’s no doubt we played with more confidence after that. But giving up the goal right before halftime, that was the killer for me. Giving up a goal with 30 seconds in the half, that’s a big momentum swing.”
While BC High gained some momentum at the break, the Panthers quickly reasserted themselves in the game, having their best three chances of the second half in the first 20 minutes of the frame.
In the 45th minute, Duval found junior Donny Tappin and his first touch put him through a pair of defenders but his off balance bid was over the bar.
Two minutes alter, the Panthers continued to apply the pressure as Barry ripped a hard cross that forced a diving save in the area from the keeper to prevent the ball from finding a recipient.
And then in the 58th minute, Franklin had its best chance to take the lead back. Duval battled his way past a defender on a long ball from Nitin Chaudhury to get into the area. He beat another defender and cut past the oncoming keeper to have a look at the net but his bid with the outside of his foot rolled wide of the frame.
The Panthers found themselves on the end of an unlucky call just minutes later after the ref in front of the play allowed the play to continue, but the official on the opposite side of the field called Franklin for a foul.
The Eagles sent the free kick into the area and a scrum ensued before Anatoliy Berezyuk got the final touch on it for a 2-1 lead.
Franklin boys soccer made a push in the final minutes, pushing all players forward in search of services from junior Sam Stowell, but the Panthers couldn’t create a chance on target.
The Panthers finish the season 10-7-2.
“Our goal was to get into the tournament,” Bositis said. “I wasn’t sure how many games we’d win but I was very happy for them to get 10 wins. The first half of the season didn’t go as we expected, I thought we’d be a bit better. But at the halfway point, they turned it around and went 7-1-1 down the stretch, they had some really good games. And they worked their butts off tonight too.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. – In a game that featured hectic action in the midfield and few chances from open play, Franklin got a huge double save and a pair of goals from set pieces to beat King Philip 2-0 in the mist on Wednesday night at Pisini Field, earning the Panthers their first two points in the league this season.
“It was a good win,” said Franklin coach Fran Bositis. “I have a tremendous respect for (KP coach) Nick Gale. I think his teams are always well-coached, they play hard, play good soccer, and it’s been a while since we beat KP (since Oct. 2015), so it was a really good win for us.”
Not surprisingly, the game started with the ball largely confined to the midfield area. It took nearly 15 minutes before either team would fashion a shot on goal and it was the Warriors who had the first good chance.
Senior Anthony Bozza dropped deep into the space in front of the Franklin back line and played an inch-perfect through ball to John Cullen. Franklin goalie Jack Rudolph was quick off his line to cut down the angle and was able to block Cullen’s first chipped shot and then also get a hand to keep out the rebound.
“Tony brought it from a wide area in and John made a nice backside run and we got him in,” said Gale. “Everybody says that the first goal probably changes the game, so John maybe could’ve changed the game if he had scored that.”
A minute later, KP had another go from the edge of the area with a low drive by junior Matthew Clarke, but Rudolph was able to get behind it and make the save.
Franklin took its time getting into the game but soon was closing down all over the pitch, compressing the space and not giving KP much time on the ball, particularly outside backs Kevin Flynn and Matt Szczepanowski. The pressure eventually paid dividends when the Panthers earned a corner with a half hour gone in the match.
Junior Donny Tappin played a cross into the center of the box and freshman defender Terry O’Neill nodded the ball down into the turf and over sprawling KP keeper Nick Beltramini. It was O’Neill’s second goal in as many games and he has already shown his worth on the defensive side too, forming a solid partnership with junior Sam Stowell.
“He definitely doesn’t play like a freshman,” said Bositis of O’Neill, who also scored Franklin’s goal in the loss to Milford last time out. “He’s just very steady.”
The Panthers added a second goal 12 minutes into the second half. A free kick from just inside the KP half by Stowell angled towards the edge of the box. Beltramini came a long way to get the ball, but senior Nick Barry rose highest and was able to get his head to the pass just before the keeper was able to punch. The brave flicked header doubled the Franklin lead, but Barry took a blow from the keeper in the process and was unable to return to the game.
“We’re going to have to be more disciplined giving up throws or set pieces deep in our own end,” Gale said about the defending on set pieces. “We’re going to have to do a better job recognizing where we are on the field and giving up fouls deeper in their end, not ours.”
Beltramini kept the Warriors in the game down the stretch as Lucas Moura tested him with a one-timer following a turnover and another free kick was headed down by Jacob Cummings into the path of Sam Molloy, who forced a diving save from the KP keeper.
The Warriors were struggling to create scoring opportunities for most of the second half. While the ball flowed through midfield, particularly through the feet of Zac White, the ball did not get to the forwards very often.
“I ask my guys to be courageous in trying to play our style and really dissect defensive structures,” Gale explained. “I really want them to see the game in a different way, but at the same time we find that we’re over-patient. Then you’re not really creating any chemistry up top, whether playing the ball in behind or into the strikers, so we struggled doing that for most of the game.”
KP did create a couple of chances late in the game to try and cut into the deficit. Sophomore Evan McEvoy fired a shot from long distance that drew a save from Rudoplph and then had another go from outside the box with two minutes to play, but it was also saved.
While content with the win, Bositis admitted that there is still a lot for the Panthers to work on. He said, “We’re still very much a work in progress, but I feel like everyone in the league feels the same way. We’ve missed a lot of practice time or its been cut short…because of the weather. We had a good game tonight.”
Franklin (2-1-0, 1-1-0) will travel to Canton on Friday night, while King Philip (1-2-0, 1-1-0) will be on the road to face Milford.
2017 Record: 4-9-5 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Peter Pereira
Attleboro is aiming to use a strong nucleus of returning players to get back into the state tournament after a couple of years of being on the outside looking in.
“We are excited about the team and looking forward to doing well in the Hockomock, which is not an easy task since there is a lot of talent and good teams in the league,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira.
The Bombardiers bring back a seasoned group of defenders that will hopefully give them stability in the back. Colin Levis brings the most varsity experience to the group and will be joined by Connor Dunn, Josh Smith, and Nathan LaPlume. Senior transfer Aaron Flynn and classmates Jared Cooper and Alex Naughton give the Bombardiers a solid group of veterans in the back. Seniors Andre Menard and Tyler Biller are candidates for the starting goalie position.
Pereira has a lot of options to work with in the midfield, including senior Aidan Lancaster. Lancaster has experience playing defense as well so can provide an extra layer of defense when needed. Another familiar face back in midfield will be Michael Russo, who showed flashes of great skill during his sophomore season. Russo and Lancaster will be joined by Brady Holander, Hugo Henriquez, Kevin Raczkowski and Patrick Raczkowski.
There will be another familiar face up front as Will Halben returns as the feature striker. Halben has been Attleboro’s leading scorer the past two seasons and will be a major factor up front again this year. Eli Araujo, Joey Soucy, Justin Lurssen, and Guilherme Machado are expected to provide help up top as well.
2017 Record: 5-9-4 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Fran Bositis
After going through some growing pains throughout the 2017 season, the Panthers are looking to make it back to the state tournament.
It all starts with the Panthers’ three senior captains, who will be relied upon to help Franklin compete in a very talented Kelley-Rex division.
Nitin Chaudhury, Nick Barry, and Sam Stowell are all veteran players and will be joined by 10 other returners from last year’s team that got better as the season went on. The Panthers must replace talented goalie Freddie Beckmann but head coach Fran Bositis is expecting good things from junior Jack Rudolph because of his excellent athletic ability.
Chaudhury will once again be the engine of the team from the midfield position while Stowell is back for his third year in the heart of the Panthers’ defense. Jacob Cummings will be another weapon for Franklin in the midfield while senior Tim Duval and junior Donny Tappin return up top.
“As always we are looking forward to competing in the very competitive Hockomock League,” Bositis said.
2017 Record: 11-8-2 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Nick Gale
The Warriors have had back-to-back successful seasons and are looking to make it three straight, despite losing six experienced starters to graduation.
While King Philip certainly has some shoes to fill, head coach Nick Gale has a lot of options to work with and is aiming to make another appearance in the state tournament.
Senior captains Zac White, Tony Bozza, and John Cullen have all seen plenty of varsity minutes over the past couple of seasons and are ready to lead the 2018 Warriors. White and Cullen will be major factors in the midfield while Bozza gives the Warriors some pace up top. White and Cullen will be joined in the midfield by a trio of sophomores – Evan McEvoy, Camron Lawrence, and Ajae Olsen – all of whom saw some minutes as freshmen a year ago.
KP’s defense has been among the best in the league over the past two seasons but will need some new faces to step up to continue that trend this year. The Warriors do have some experience with senior Andrew Thompson and juniors Brian McCarthy and Wesley Orzell all expected to step up in the back for KP.
“We’re a much smaller team this year, but we haven’t lost our willingness to fight while defending,” Gale said. “Our focus will be on improving team defending and our ability to press intelligently. We have defenders returning with varsity experience and they’re committed to working together to ensure we’re organized and defending as a team.”
2017 Record: 10-3-6 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Steve Sheridan
Although Mansfield graduated over a dozen seniors, and the majority of its starting lineup, the Hornets have a strong presence in the middle of the pitch and are looking to build off that to compete for the Kelley-Rex title.
The Hornets bring back EMass All Star Sam Nugent at center back and he’ll be joined by Ethan Brill-Cass, who had a bright sophomore season but missed all of last year due to injury. Mansfield’s defense will feature all seniors as Derek Meuth and Matt O’Donnell fill out the back four for the Hornets. Tony Salisbury and Cam Bovey are competing for the starting spot in goal.
Mansfield also has seniors Luke Savoie and Luke Devine back in the center of the pitch to patrol the midfield. Both Savoie and Devine were key pieces for last year’s Hornets team, which came within one point from earning a share of the league title with OA. One spot that Mansfield is looking for new faces is up top, but options include Colin Caridi, Owen Mullahy, and Raffi Marzella.
“Having to fill the loss of 14 seniors from last season is going to be challenging,” said MHS head coach Steve Sheridan. “We have a variety of guys on offense that I’ll be expecting big things from, time will tell who will step up.”
2017 Record: 15-3-4 (Kelley-Rex Champions) 2017 Finish: Reached D2 State Final Coach: John Barata
It’s not often a team graduates its entire starting lineup and then some, but that’s the situation defending Kelley-Rex champions Oliver Ames finds itself in.
The Tigers lost a whopping 20 seniors to graduation and return just four players from last year’s roster so it there will be a completely new look for OA in 2018. But that doesn’t mean the standards will be any lower for the Tigers, who have made three state final appearances in the last four years.
“We have a completely new team and we are looking forward to working hard,” said OA head coach John Barata. “Our primary objective is to get better every day and try to compete in a very difficult and talented Hockomock League.”
OA’s defense was among the best in the entire state last season, allowing just 15 goals in 22 games played. Barata will be looking for Aaron MacDonald, Andrew Leite, Harry Ahearn, Matthew Nosalek, and Jon Freeman to step up and fill in the spots along the back line. Senior Jacob Lerman and sophomore Drew Nickla are battling for the starting spot in goal.
On the offensive side of the ball, Barata is looking for contributions from Colin Milliken, Anthony DaCosta, Matt Nikiciuk, Sean Flaherty, Niko Byron, Kevin Louhis and Haendal Louhis to carry to load.
2017 Record: 3-14-2 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
A solid nucleus returning from last season and more cohesiveness are two of the top reasons for optimism for the Taunton High boys soccer team.
The Tigers have players back all over the field and are hoping that the combination of experience and some fresh faces leads to a competitive season in a very competitive division. Junior Nolan Melo made a splash last season when he took over as starting keeper and looks to be one of the top players at that position in the league.
Senior Evan Melo will be tasked with anchoring the defense from his center back position while Taunton will look for some new faces to step alongside him. Colby Fernandes returns to his defensive midfield spot and Liam Crowley is back as the attacking midfielder in the middle to give the Tigers a nice steady presence up the center of the pitch.
Leading scorer Brett Beaulieu (nine goals, four assists) is back as the featured striker while Alec Nunes can either pair with Beaulieu up top or drop into the midfield when needed. Kyle Aubin is another returning midfield option for the Tigers.
“We have seven returning starters this season and a team with solid technical ability as well as great team chemistry and athleticism,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters.
TAUNTON, Mass. – If you needed any proof that the final score doesn’t always reflect how the game was played, look no further than Franklin’s 2-0 win on the road at Taunton.
Despite playing arguably its best game of the season, and creating nearly a dozen good scoring chances, Taunton couldn’t find a way to find the back of the net.
And Franklin, who was on the defensive for a solid hour of the game, weathered the storm and push from the Tigers, evened the play over the final 20 minutes of the game and netted both of its goals in that same span.
“We were very fortunate,” said Franklin head coach Fran Bositis. “We should have down maybe four goals at halftime. They outplayed us in the first half completely.
“I thought that Taunton was controlling the game. Then all of a sudden it just changed. I’ll give my guys credit for staying with it.”
After a free kick chance early for the Panthers, it was all Taunton for the next 35-plus minutes.
In the fourth minute, sophomore Alec Nunes split his way between two Panthers defenders before centering a pass to junior Evan Melo. Melo had a go from outside the area but his bid was comfortably saved by Franklin keeper Freddie Beckmann on the bounce.
Taunton center back Derek DeSantis plays a long ball over the top in the 18th minute with Beaulieu tracking down and sending a cross to the far post. Senior Liam Crowley had his shot blocked with the rebound falling to Aubin, but his low shot was pushed aside on a diving save from Beckmann.
Nunes had a bid in the 31st minute when Beaulieu centered a pass on the turf, and Nunes latched onto it at the top of the area but his hard shot skidded wide at the far post. Two minutes later, Beaulieu found Melo but his header at the back stick was wide as well.
Franklin had one chance in the final minute of the half when Nitin Chaudhury and Liam Kapples combined at midfield with the result springing Kapples free. However, DeAndrade did well to track back and his slide tackle blocked Kapples’ bid inside the area.
The Panthers also had the first chance of the second half but Andrew DiLeo’s shot was tipped wide by Taunton keeper Nolan Melo for a corner.
Taunton kept the pressure up to after that chance but still couldn’t find the back of the net. Nunes sprayed a pass wide to Crowley, who whipped a cross to the far post but Beaulieu’s effort to center the ball again was smothered by Beckmann.
Two minutes later, Nunes found Crowley again, who linked up with Aubin in the middle, but his bid went wide as he was pressured heavily by Franklin’s center backs. Inside the same minute, junior Liam Crowley stepped into a shot from atop the area, but it was wide.
In the 49th minute, Nunes’ free kick went right at Beckmann, and in the 53rd minute, Nunes’ corner was headed by Daeshawn Duffie but Aubin’s half-volley attempt just looped over Beckmann and the bar.
DeAndrade, pushed up to an attacking spot, found his classmate Crowley on the left side but his chance from a touch angle went wide at the near post.
“I felt like we were outplaying them for about a good hour, and especially in the first half,” said THS head coach Taylor Whitters. “We just didn’t finish, and that’s how you win games. You have to finish.
“It’s a growing pain for us. We have an awesome team, they have a positive attitude, they are hard working. But they just have to believe. That’s the next step, it’s the confidence piece. Just believing they can do it.”
Once the hour mark struck, the Panthers seemed to settle in and their pressure helped create chances. While the majority of play took place in Taunton’s attacking third up until this point, Franklin’s pressure suddenly made it a challenge for the Tigers’ defense to get out of its own defensive third.
In the 61st minute, Jacob Cummings played Chaudhury wide and he found Tim Duval inside the area, but his point black shot was knocked down Melo and eventually cleared.
Franklin finally broke through in the 68th minute on the counter-attack. Kapples sprayed a pass wide for sophomore Donny Tappin. Tappin cut back inside the area to create some space before placing a shot on target. It was nearly stopped by a Taunton defender but found its way into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
A minute before the Panthers officially made it 2-0, Franklin had a golden chance denied by Melo. Beckmann launched a long punt that bounced over the defender with Tappin running onto it, but his shot was turned away by the Taunton keeper.
However, a minute later, a blocked clearance went looped right to Chaudhury at the back post, and he headed his shot just over the line before Taunton’s defense could clear it.
“Believe me, we’re very happy with the win,” Bositis said. “I’m happy they were able to stay with it and find a way to get it done. It’s a real good thing for the underclassman too, and we have a lot of them.”
Taunton had one final chance in the 77th minute when Beaulieu connected with Crowley on the left wing, but his bid at the near post was tipped over by Beckmann.
“We’ve been competing a lot more this season, and we’re giving some teams a run for their money…but if you can’t finish…you know, goals win games, simple as that,” Whitters said.
Franklin boys soccer (5-7-3 overall, 5-6-2 Hockomock) will try to continue to keep its postseason hopes alive when it travels to Mansfield on Thursday. Taunton (2-11-2, 1-10-2) will look to bounce back when it hits the road to visit King Philip on the same day.
2016 Record: 8-6-6 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Peter Pereira
Even though Attleboro graduated some key pieces, the Bombardiers have a lot of experienced and talented players back for the 2017 season. The biggest challenge will be replacing center backs Harry Lancaster (Best XI selection) and Tyler Treichler (Second XI selection) in the heart of the defense.
Juniors Colin Levis and Aidan Lancaster are both back on the defensive line after gaining plenty of experience a season ago. They’ll look to work with Brandon Lewis and Connor Dunn to solidify the back four in front senior goalie Nick Hasenfus (2016 Best XI selection). In the midfield, Zach White is back and will be relied upon as one of the team’s top playmakers once healthy. He’ll have the help of Brady Holander, Nathan LaPlume, Devin Andre, Eli Araujo and Keith Thompson.
After breaking out as one of the league’s bright young stars a season ago, Will Halben is back to lead the attack alongside sophomores Mike Russo and David Medeiros.
“We are hoping to do a bit better than last year with a bit more depth,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira.
2016 Record: 6-9-3 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Fran Bositis
It looks like there is a chance of growing pains in the forecast for the 2017 Panthers. After graduating over a dozen seniors from last year’s team, there will be some inexperience in the lineup for Fran Bositis.
Senior Freddie Beckmann returns as the team’s starting goalie to give the defensive end some familiarity, but it will be a brand new back four in front of him. Sophomore Sam Stowell saw some minutes a year ago and will anchor the defense alongside senior Andrew DiLeo. Senior Connor O’Rourke, who also played some last year, will man the outside along with junior Sam Malloy.
In the midfield, Nitin Chaudhury will take over as the holding mid in the center of the pitch but could also move around depending on need. He’ll have the help of sophomores Jacob Cummings and Donny Tappin. Up front, there are mainutes up for grabs with junior Tim Duval in the running to likely grab one of the spots.
“We’re going to be young and inexperienced,” Bositis said. “We have a handful of seniors back but a youth movement is happening. But overall, the kids are really working hard and have great attitudes. We’re looking for improvement each day.”
2016 Record: 17-2-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champion) 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Nick Gale
It will be hard to top the historic season the Warriors had a year ago, winning the division title and allowing just eight goals all season. But Nick Gale and his squad are focused on 2017, not last Fall.
Even though 2016 Best XI selections Cam Mullin and Colby Koch, and Second XI selections Ryan Coulter and Eli O’Neill all graduated, the Warriors still return some of the top talent in the league this year. Tyler Mann, the 2016 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, is just one of many talented players back for Gale. Senior Connor Mullins will be a key piece in the midfield, senior Larsen Keys started all of last year on the back line and senior Mike Rowe is a dangerous player inside the 18. Thomas Lugten, Anthony Bozza and Zac White are all back as well after playing plenty of minutes last year.
Junior Nick Beltramini and sophomore Tristan Stephani are battling for minutes in goal.
“Our focus continues to be on developing players and improving our team,” Gale said. “We understand that opposing teams will be after us, but we won’t take our attention away from training, competing, and focusing on the smaller details that will help us continue to move forward. The league will be good, and we know we will need to be as well.
2016 Record: 11-5-3 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Steve Sheridan
Mansfield will be relying on a mix of experience and new faces in an effort to get back to the postseason for another year. The Hornets have the challenge of trying to fill the shoes of two-time Best XI selection Max Gurnon, and as well as the void left by the injury to Ethan Brill-Cass, a two year varsity starter.
However, with Sean Lanzillo, Nick Hyland, Sam Hyland and Harry Braidt back, the Hornets have a solid core to work on. Lanzillo’s speed makes him one of the toughest marks in the league while Sam Hyland emerged as a top midfielder last season. Nick Hyland and Braidt will be back to anchor the back line. Head coach Steve Sheridan expects junior Sam Nugent to step in and make an impact early on defensively, as well as junior midfield Luke Savoie on the offensive end.
Senior Nick Ferraz is battling with sophomore Anthony Salisbury for the starting position in net.
“I’m hoping some of the younger guys can step up on offense, and with the departure of Max along with the injury to Ethan and graduation of Jed in goal, our defense is going to have some new faces,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan.
2016 Record: 10-5-3 2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: John Barata
Oliver Ames returns plenty of talent and will be looking to challenge King Philip for supremacy in the Kelley-Rex division. Two-time HockomockSports.com Best XI selection Nathaniel Cardoza is back to anchor the Tigers from the middle of the field. His ability to play defense, as well as get forward, gives OA a boost.
Other returning starters back this year include Matt Campbell, Matt Alvarado, Cam Vella, Mason Galbato and Jack Sheldon. Mike Braga and Chris Lawrence bring experience to the back line in front keeper Jack Carroll, who is in his third year in net.
With the graduation of three-year starter Thomas McCormick, the Tigers have a void to fill at the striker position. Senior James Gillespie saw time last year off the bench and proved a capable option up top while Alvarado also showed his ability to finish. Senior Brandin Osborne transferred in from Coyle and will also be an attacking option for OA. Nick Bloumbas, Sean Flaherty and Niko Byron will all likely see time off this season as well.
“We are looking to build a solid team that will play well in a very competitive environment,” OA head coach John Barata said. “We know that to succeed we will need to play our best soccer everyday. The boys are working hard – we need to turn our effort into results. I feel confident that we will find our way and make an effort to qualify for the MIAA State tourney.”
2016 Record: 1-16-2 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
Taunton brings back eight starters from last year’s team and head coach Taylor Whitters is hoping that experience will translate into an improved season in 2017. On top of of those eight starters, the Tigers will have Marc deSousa back in net after a missing his junior season battling cancer.
Senior Liam Crowley is back again with more experience to anchor the back line along with junior Kyle Aubin. DaeShawn Duffie and Hasan Farahat both return to give the Tigers a solid duo in the middle of the pitch while junior Liam Crowley also adds experience to the midfield. Jake DeAndrade, Brett Beaulieu and Alec Nunes are also back in the mix this year as well.
The Tigers got a boost from their rival as Ian Soderbom traded his Warrior blue and gold in from Coyle for Tiger black and orange. Soderbom will be a key piece on defense while Francois Hennaux, an exchange student from Belgium, will add depth to Taunton’s offense.
“Our team is already looking stronger and better,” said Whitters. “They say the tougher the set back the stronger the comeback. We are going to be one of those teams.”
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin celebrated its 15 seniors before its game with Taunton on Wednesday but neither side could celebrate two points after the game as the teams finished with a 1-1 stalemate.
Taunton came into the game hungry for its first league win, and they played like it, getting their first scoring opportunity off of a corner just one minute into the game. However, a save from Franklin goalkeeper Joe Kroon kept the game scoreless.
Franklin had an opportunity of their own at the four minute mark, when a Farley Asmath shot was saved by Taunton keeper Tim Gambaradella, who had a huge night for the Tigers and was essential in helping them earn a point.
In the 10th minute, Taunton threatened again, but a big defensive play from senior defender Sean Kilcoyne helped Franklin force a turnover and go back on the offensive
The Panthers thought they had broken through in the 16th minute, celebrating a goal that ended up being waved off due to an offsides call. Franklin stayed on the attack though, and in the 25th minute had another great scoring opportunity, but a big save by Gambaradella kept the Panthers off the board.
Franklin, after plenty of missed scoring chances, finally broke through in the 39th minute, when a deep pass from Sam Stowell found Farley Asmath in stride, and he chipped on over the goalie’s head, putting Franklin up 1-0.
Taunton didn’t take very long to respond, and in the 40th minute junior Daeshawn Duffie put one in the back of the net to knot the score up at 1-1.
Franklin head coach Fran Bositis was unhappy with his team’s performance, especially in the first half, saying, “We squandered many scoring opportunities, especially in the first half, and then we gave up what I think is an unforgivable goal at the end of the first half that never should have happened, it was careless marking.”
The second half started off back and forth, with both teams jockeying for position. In the 65th minute, Franklin finally broke through with a real scoring opportunity off of a corner, but it was well-defended by Taunton. Taunton turned Franklin’s next corner into a counter attack, creating an opportunity to score, leading to a shot from Hatim Brahimi that just went over the crossbar, keeping the game tied up.
In the 70th minute, Franklin had their best scoring opportunity of the half, but Kevin Hall’s header was played beautifully by Gambaradella, who made a huge save to preserve the tie.
Taunton had one final scoring opportunity of its own in the 72nd minute, but a leaping save from Kroon killed the attack.
Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters was very happy with her team’s performance, saying, “We are finally moving forward, building momentum, and breaking through where we know we can be and where we should be.
“Their mindset was a lot different tonight, and that’s what it takes, a positive mindset.”
For Taunton (1-13-2), they’ll look to carry their momentum into a Friday night home matchup against KP. Franklin (6-6-3) will look to avenge their early season loss to Mansfield this Friday.
SHARON, Mass. – Sharon senior Ben Stamm scored once in each half and the Eagles’ defense was able to limit Franklin in a 2-0 win on Friday afternoon.
The Eagles didn’t waste much time to seize the lead, finding the back of the net inside the opening five minutes. Sharon then iced the game with just over 10 minutes to play. Both goals came off long throw-ins.
“We haven’t used the long throw-in at all,” Sharon head coach Bryan Kelly said. “Two goals off of long throws is really nice. And on those direct kicks, if could get on the end of some of those, we could have scored more but it’s something we’ve got to work on. This season is the most we’ve scored on set pieces since I’ve been here.”
In the fourth minute, Shubojit Roy-Chowdhury launched a long throw from the attacking third into the area. The ball fell to Stamm, who had his first shot blocked. The senior kept with it and got another shot, this one was partially blocked but trickled in at the far post to put Sharon up 1-0.
“We’ve been working on possession and switching the field a lot since the KP game,” Kelly said. “Some of the pieces fell into place today. Getting that early goal, just that little poke in, it gave us confidence to ride. We lost a little composure after that but I have a good group of seniors that can get it back for us. And I have a lot of subs at my disposal and we don’t get any worse.
“We’re deep, we’re fast and when we play the way we know how to play, we come out on top.”
Franklin had the only other scoring chance of the first half. In the 16th minute, Matt Poirier launched a service from the right sideline, just a few steps over half. The ball was deflected and bounced through Sharon’s area and found Farley Asmath, but his bid went over the bar at the far post.
Chances were aplenty in the second half, the first just two minutes into the stanza. Spencer Hall worked to get some space on the left sideline and hit a service to the back post. Oliver Hu elected to have a go on a one-time volley but his bid went high.
In the 55th minute, the Panthers had a free kick from midfield that Asmath met with his head to flick on. Kevin Hall ran onto the ball at the back post but his touch went just over the bar. Two minutes later, Sharon had a chance when Alex Romantz flicked the ball to Andrew Reyes-Jones in the area but Franklin keeper Freddie Beckmann was first to the ball to end the chance.
Ten minutes later, Sharon’s Marques Benton played a ball into Reyes-Jones but once again Beckmann was quick off his line to gobble the ball up. In the 68th minute, a free kick from Franklin’s Liam Kapples found the head of Hatim Brahimi in the area but Sharon keeper Ethan Kantor smothered the loose ball before a Panther could latch onto it.
Finally in the 69th minute, the Eagles cashed in on another long throw. Tyler Hippler tossed the ball into the area and a scoffed clearance from the Panthers defense led to an open opportunity for Stamm and he buried it at the far post to make it 2-0.
“In practice, we emphasized making sure, even if we lose the ball, we don’t stop playing,” Kelly said. “We have to keep playing until we get the ball back. When we have players start to buy into the system, that’s what we see. We have a great defense this year too. With Shalin [Patel] at stopper and Shubojit at sweeper, we hopefully shut down the best player on the other team.”
With the win, Sharon boys soccer (6-3-2) moves into a tie atop the Davenport division with Canton – both 5-3-2 in league play. The Eagles have three straight home games, starting with a visit from Foxboro on Monday.
After picking up five wins in its first six games, Franklin (5-6-2, 4-5-2) has now gone winless in its last seven games. The Panthers will try to bounce back with a trip to Oliver Ames on Monday.
“I don’t have any answers, it’s a funny team,” Franklin head coach Fran Bositis said. “We’re just finding ways to lose games. It’s been a combination of things. I don’t think it’s from a lack of effort but I don’t know what it is, I can’t figure it out.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The clock was winding down and Oliver Ames continued to press forward in search for a winning goal. After a number of missed opportunities, including free headers sent wide, shots from the edge of the box that were just outside the post, and chances kicked aside by the Franklin defense, the breakthrough finally came with just two minutes left to play.
The Panthers were unable to decisively clear the first ball in from a long throw on the near side of the field. The ball was won back by the OA midfield, which had taken over in the second half, and cycled out to the right to Jack Sheldon. He fired in a pinpoint cross to the back post where Thomas McCormick was all alone to nod the ball past Freddie Beckmann.
The late goal stood up as the winner on Tuesday evening. OA handed Franklin a 1-0 loss at Pisini Field to end Franklin’s unbeaten start while extending its own unbeaten run to 25 games stretching back to 2015.
“We did a lot of pressure in the second half and we kept winning the ball back,” said OA coach John Barata. “We have good players and we can play a bit. We’re learning and we’ll figure it out, but that’s why it’s important to get a good win like this.”
It was a result that could have been far more comfortable after a dominant performance by the Tigers in the second half. Nathaniel Cardoza, Mason Galbato, Cam Vella, and McCormick consistently won the ball back for OA and pushed the Tigers into the attack.
Franklin was pinned back for long stretches of the second half and but for consistent play by center backs Connor SanClemente and Alex Chitarra and holding midfielder Nitin Chaudhury and missed chances by the visitors kept the game tied.
“I think we gave them a little too much respect,” said Franklin coach Fran Bositis. “We were just a nightmare in terms of putting passes together and just controlling the ball…We defended well. Defending we couldn’t do much better, except at the end there.”
McCormick had a good chance one minute into the second half but his shot on the turn was saved by Beckmann at the near post. Three minutes later Vella had space but his shot went wide of the far post and he missed a second chance on a near post header off a throw. With 11 minutes to play, Matt Campbell had a back heel chance saved and McCormick flashed a header wide when left free inside the six-yard-box.
“Very nervous,” admitted Barata about the feeling in the second half, “because we just came off a game where we outshot a team like 25-5 and tied. And then you see them come down and they had two class act chances. All of a sudden we go from a good performance on one end and we could be losing.”
The misses could have led to a defeat for OA but for a miss by Franklin and junior goalie Jack Carroll.
Midway through the second half, Franklin could have taken the lead when James LeVie met a cross from Cam LeBlanc only to blaze it over the bar. With five minutes left, Franklin finally got out of its defensive third and won a free kick that Hatim Brahimi took quickly and forced Carroll into a save. The keeper could only parry it and the ball rolled to Kevin Hall, but Carroll recovered to block with his legs.
“That one save at the end…that’s the game,” said Barata. “We would be talking about how it was a good performance and unfortunately we lost 1-0.”
Bositis added, “We had some chances. We certainly didn’t control play like they did, but we had some chances that we probably…I mean we should have had a goal at the far post and that changes everything.”
Franklin looked much more dangerous in the first half with striker Farley Asmath causing problems as an outlet for the midfielders. Showing strength and speed, Asmath created openings for Brahimi to spring Hall but Carroll was able to save comfortably.
With 27 minutes gone, Asmath opened up the OA defense with a great turn in the box and he tried to pick the far corner only to have Carroll deny him with a kick save. At halftime, OA chose to push higher up the pitch and despite a switch from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 Franklin could not recover and get the ball up top.
“Second half we just had to play higher up the pitch and possess in the attacking third and try to bury them here because their one outlet, a very strong outlet, is No. 9 (Asmath),” said Barata. “Today it worked.”
Despite the loss, Bositis was still positive about the way the Panthers have started. He explained, “I’m very pleased with the start of the season. They’ve done very well. We’ll see if they have a short memory and we bounce back to be ready for Taunton on Thursday.”
Franklin (4-1) will travel to Taunton on Thursday, while Oliver Ames (3-0-1) will travel to King Philip on Friday afternoon.
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. – For the Franklin boys soccer team Friday night, defense was the name of the game, especially late at Pisini Field as the Panthers snuck by the Foxboro Warriors for a hard fought 2-1 win.
Coming into the game, Franklin coach Fran Bositis knew that Foxboro would be a tough team to beat and tailored his game plan accordingly.
“We felt that for us to be successful, we needed to win all the 50-50 balls, reduce the time in space they had to play with the ball, and not only win the 50-50 balls, but to win the second and third balls, and I think we did a good job of that,” Bositis said.
Early on in the game, Franklin — namely senior forward Farley Asmath — produced numerous scoring chances only for Foxboro goalie Bobby Harrison to make a save keep the game scoreless.
On the other side, the Warriors had their fair share of opportunities as well, but Franklin’s defensive unit, led by senior backs Connor SanClemente and Alex Chitarra, along with junior goalie Freddie Beckmann stepped up to deny any Foxboro scoring chance.
Late in the first half, Franklin broke through. In the 30th minute, Cam LeBlanc saved the ball from going out of bounds on the endline and crossed it over to a wide open Kevin Hall who headed in the first goal of the game and his third of the young season
Bositis was happy with the way his offense kept at Foxboro despite getting denied early, saying, “We kept looking at it, and I’m pleased with what they did and how they played, and I’m certainly pleased about the final result.”
In the 44th minute, Foxboro’s early second half scoring opportunity was thwarted when Anthony Barreira’s cross was intercepted by Beckmann. For the next twenty minutes, neither team could break through.
Finally, in the 60th minute, Asmath found junior midfielder Connor O’Rourke open in the front of the net for a header, but quick reflexes from Harrison kept the score at 1-0. Just two minutes later, Foxboro’s Brady Gardner’s shot was saved by a diving Beckmann, who used all of his 6’4 frame to deny Gardner.
In the 66th minute, Asmath again set the table, this time for Hall who put one past the Foxboro keeper to give Franklin a 2-0 lead.
Down 2-0, Foxboro got more and more aggressive on the offensive end, and Barriera’s perfectly placed shot in the 73rd minute found the corner of the net to cut Franklin’s lead in half.
In the final 10 minutes it was the defense again that reigned supreme, as Franklin forced Foxboro into taking tough shots to try to tie the game up.
“I think the defense did a nice job stepping up, and we needed them to step up,” Bositis said. “I think Connor SanClemente and Alex Chitarra, and really all of the back five played well, and especially at the end there they really stepped up.”
Franklin boys soccer (3-0, 3-0), will try to remain unbeaten when they face Oliver Ames, another unbeaten side, on Tuesday. Foxboro (0-2-1, 0-2-1) will look for its first win when they return home on Tuesday against Sharon.
2015 Record: 4-10-3 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Peter Pereira
Attleboro is only returning three starters from last year’s squad but the Bombardiers are hopeful that its incoming players will keep them competitive in the Kelley-Rex this season.
Senior captain Harry Lancaster will anchor the back line, showing his versatility by playing yet another position in his fourth year on varsity. Senior captain Ahijah Joseph will see time at both forward as well as some time in the midfield, alongside junior Zach White, another returnee. Junior Nick Hasenfus will take over as the starting goalie while seniors Tyler Treichler and Nick Lawrence will also emerge as key contributors this season. Head coach Peter Pereira also expects to get contributions from underclassmen including sophomore Will Halben and freshmen Mike Russo and Nathan LaPlume.
“We will be a hard working team that should get better every game,” Pereira said. “I think we will surprise some teams.”
2015 Record: 12-7-1 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Fran Bositis
Franklin has some big holes to fill around the field but returning nearly a dozen varsity players is a good start. Around 10 returning players saw valuable varsity minutes last season and that is something the Panthers will rely on.
The Panthers have to find replacements for midfielders Austin Kent and Nick Parent, along with defender Dan Geraci and goalie Henri Guilmette. However, Franklin doesn’t need to find any replacements for its strikers with both Farley Asmath and Kevin Hall back this year. Hall was second on the team with seven goals a season ago and Asmath is speedy, strong player that could add a lot to the attack. Hatim Brahimi (five goals, three assists in 2015) is one of the top returning players in the league and will lead the midfield for the Panthers this season. Franklin’s defense will consist of a rotation of five or six players, including Wesley Kozil and Noah Scafati. Senior Joe Kroon and junior Fred Beckmann will battle for the starting goalie spot.
“We’ve got a bunch of great athletes that are pretty good soccer players that work really hard,” head coach Fran Bositis said.
2015 Record: 8-8-3 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Second Round Coach: Nick Gale
The Kelley-Rex division title race expects to be a very contested one and King Philip looks like they’ll be right in the mix this season because of a strong balance of returning players.
Senior captains Cam Mullins and Ryan Coulter are returning to anchor the back line, which had a strong showing in 2015 with the fourth least goals surrendered in the Hockomock. Both have proved in the past to be reliable defenders, especially in the air against set pieces. Although the Warriors will have to replace the versatile Joe Kellett, KP has a handful of young players that saw valuable minutes on varsity and can make an impact this year. Tyler Mann will lead the attack, a year after scoring a team-high eight goals as a sophomore. Senior Colby Koch has shown his versatility in the past and will also be a factor for KP again this this. Juniors Connor Mullins, Larsen Keys and Mike Rowe also will be key players for the Warriors this season after each of them played meaningful minutes as sophomores.
“Our goal is to build off last year’s successes, continue to improve everyday, and compete hard,” head coach Nick Gale said.
“We know what we want, but we also know we have to earn it.”
2015 Record: 13-4-3 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Steve Sheridan
The defending Kelley-Rex champions will look to try to win back-to-back league titles for the first time in program history and they have a large amount of returning players that could help accomplish that goal.
Captain Max Gurnon, a 2015 HockomockSports.com Best XI selection, returns for his senior campaign to anchor an experienced back line that allowed just 15 goals last season. While Mansfield must overcome the graduation of Chris Elsner, juniors Nick Hyland and Harry Braidt both started on the back line last year while sophomore Ethan Brill-Cass looks to be the final piece to the defense. Mansfield will have to find a replacement for goalie Mike Kirejczyk but head coach Steve Sheridan said senior Jed Tolbert and junior Nick Ferraz will battle for the starting spot.
“As far as our strengths go, our defense should be strong,” Sheridan said. “Losing [Chris] Elsner is a big loss, but Ethan [Brill-Cass] saw a lot of time as a freshman last season and learned a lot from Chris. I’m hoping our offense is much improved over last season.”
The Hornets finished fifth in the league in scoring last year and graduated its top four scorers. However, there is a group of attacking players back that saw plenty of minutes. Senior captain Brendan Sullivan will be a speedy option up top while classmates Kevin Bouck and Ryan Amaral will figure into the offense. Senior captain James Chotkowski will lead a midfield unit along with Jackson Murphy, Cullin Anastasia and Sean Lanzillo.
2015 Record: 18-0-3 (Davenport Division Champions) 2015 Finish: Division 2 State Champions Coach: John Barata
Oliver Ames has had a target on its back for the last couple of years as they claimed four of the last five Davenport titles but after winning the program’s first ever Division 2 State Title last Fall, it’s bigger than ever.
The Tigers will have to replace two All-State players in Chris Romero and Keegan Nutt, as well as three seniors from their league-best defense last season. However, OA does return a good chunk of starters as well as experienced bench players from the state championship team.
Senior Thomas McCormick has been causing havoc for defenses for two years and will be relied upon to do so again this year. Nathaniel Cardoza, the 2015 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, will be back to control the middle of the pitch alongside Cam Vella, who showed his ability to get forward last season. Juniors Matt Campbell, Matt Alvarado, Jack Sheldon and Mason Galbato all saw time in the midfield last season and look to be contributors this year. Junior Jack Carroll is back in net again this year.
“We will try to be competitive this season and make another run at qualifying for the postseason,” head coach John Barata said. “Our path to the state tourney is extremely difficult this season as we join the Kelley-Rex. We look forward to a great season and hope to be in a position to qualify for the state tournament in late October.”
Barata noted that losing the back line, one that surrendered just 12 goals all season, will be a major challenge for the Tigers this season.
2015 Record: 2-13-2 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
With a new coach at the helm in Taylor Whitters, the Taunton Tigers are looking to build a new foundation for years to come. Whitters, who was previously the boys freshmen coach, is hoping the Tigers can rise up to the challenge of the very talented Kelley-Rex division.
Two key returning players include sophomore Hasan Farahat and junior Daeshawn Duffie. Both players possess strong soccer skills and will be vital parts for Taunton both ways as they patrol the midfield. Senior Sean Crowley will be tasked with pacing the scoring for the Tigers while freshman Colton Madeira, senior Dan DeAndreade and junior Jake DeAndrade will all be factors as Taunton pushes forward. Junior Liam Crowley will factor into Taunton’s defense and sophomore Liam Crowley will play a role in Taunton’s midfield.
“We are going to rise up in our league with respect, integrity,encouragement, unity and pride,” Whitters said.