FOXBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro started the dual meet season 4-4, as a young roster tried to acclimate to competing at the varsity level against some of the top teams in the state. The Rocketeers have progressed over the course of the season and entered Wednesday night’s meet at Foxboro having won 10-of-12 meets.
The development of the North team was on full display against the Warriors, as the Rocketeers earned five pins as a team, won five straight matches through the middle weights to pull away, and took home a 44-21 victory that clinched a third straight Davenport title and fifth straight Hockomock dual meet championship overall.
“Beating Mansfield and now beating Foxboro in consecutive dual meets shows how hard my kids have worked and how much they’ve improved and that’s the most important thing,” said North coach Geoff Burgess. “I’m very proud of these guys and how they’ve gotten better and steadily improved over the course of the season.”
North got off to a 6-0 start, as Tanner Ferguson earned a 9-4 win at 106 pounds, scoring five unanswered points in the third period to take the victory, and Alex Yan won a 3-0 decision over T.J. Whitehouse at 113.
The 120-pound match, although only the third match of the night, was the turning point. Foxboro was counting on big points from Adam Lanctot, who is one of the top wrestlers in the state at that weight class, but he struggled to put away Ethan Smith. Leading 7-6 in the third period, Lanctot aggressively went after more points and Smith caught him, went on the attack, and got a pin that drew the loudest reaction of the night from the North bench.
“That was it,” Burgess said. “That match right there pretty much swung it. There were a bunch of coin flips but that wasn’t, they had the advantage. It’s one thing to catch a kid and put him on his back but to stick him, that was huge. That was a nine-point swing in our favor and it’s a different match if they win right there.
Foxboro coach Billy Ivatts admitted, “The match at 120 was pretty deflating. It was a tough matchup for us, a tough loss obviously there. We had a couple close matches that we thought may go the other way and really they won all the close matches.”
North responded right away. Mike Burns got a second round pin at 145 to make it 18-15 and Mike Edmonds followed with a dominating match at 152, getting three back points in the final second to earn a tech fall and the bonus points. Montrel Jackson added a pin in the first minute at 160 to put the visitors ahead 29-15.
The run continued at 170, as Max Warsofsky used a late surge to pull away for a 6-1 win and then Liam Risk pinned his opponent at 182 to make it 38-15 and seal the win and the title for North Attleboro.
“I knew it was going to be a tough task going in and it really was,” said Ivatts. “We’d love to beat North one of these times but they’ve just got the horses this year. Hopefully, we can learn from it. The season isn’t over…we’ve still got a long way to go.”
“He’s the insurance policy. As long as we’re within five points, we know we can win. I’ve never had a wrestler like Mateusz. He also has improved dramatically, even if he doesn’t always get to show how much he’s improved.”
Burgess appreciated that the rivalry, which has gone back decades, is once again decisive for the league title. He said, “The last three years it has come down to us wrestling them and we’ve been fortunate to get the best of them, but they’re always tough, they’re always well-coached.”
North Attleboro (15-6, 5-0) will head to the Div. 2 duals this weekend and Foxboro (22-5, 4-1) will wrestle at the Div. 3 duals at Ashland.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For nearly 80 minutes, Attleboro continue to knock on the door, but couldn’t break through.
And in a flash, just when it looked like the Bombardiers had a chance to find a way in, North Attleboro delivered a knockout punch on the counter attack, scoring the lone goal of the game in the 79th minute to secure its fourth straight Leach and Garner Cup.
In the 34th addition of the rivalry game between Big Blue and Big Red, it was the hosts that had a lion’s share of possession, though not a tremendous amount of scoring chances.
It looked like they might have something going with an attacking free kick late in the game. The service came in from the right flank but North Attleboro junior goalie Kyle Briere came flying out to punch the ball free.
The Rocketeers quickly cleared the ball up field, where senior Joe Hilf did his job by holding the ball up right at midfield. That allowed North sophomore Matt Conley to come flying down the wing. Hilf played a ball in behind and Conley tracked it down. The sophomore delivered a hard cross to the far post where junior Alex Pfeffer connected on a one-timer. The shot bounced right off the ground and bounced over the outreach of Attleboro keeper Andre Mendard for the game-winning strike.
“When we started thinking about that situation was against Mansfield,” said North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess of the quick counter against opponents’ set pieces. “We knew when they go forward for set pieces, they push everyone but one defender up. And I think our chances with a 1-v-1 and if we get Matt Conley or one of the other guys on the outside running hard, not many teams are going to get enough numbers back in time. We hit Mansfield a couple of times with that exact situation so we started talking about using it more. Kyle knows when he comes out and catches a ball, find Joe and then everyone runs and we hit the counter.
“The first 10-15 minutes we played really well and moved the ball well but the first time we played them, we dropped hard and sat deep, and they ran out of ideas. They kept bombing it forward, we’d win the second ball and counter. And that’s how that game continued to go. It worked really well in the first game. This is what we’ve decided to play like because we’re pretty fast up front, Matt Conley on the outside is lightning, Joe Hilf is lightning. [Goalie] Kyle Briere is a stud back there, we trust him and we play out of his hands a lot. So we’ve bought into a defense first mentality so it’s just kind of what we expect now.”
While playing the counter is a dangerous weapon for the Rocketeers, it allows their opponents to mostly control the game. And that’s exactly what the Bombardiers did.
In the 18th minute, junior defender Josh Smith ventured into the offensive third and latched onto a cross from Colin Levis, but the difficult shot was wide. Six minutes later, the Bombardiers had their first bid on goal when Brady Holander placed a free kick from 30 yards out on frame but it was right at Briere.
While Attleboro controlled the play, North Attleboro nearly stole the lead right before half. On a corner from Joey Coscarella, a low service was dummied before Hilf ran onto it and delivered a hard shot on frame. Menard, who was going the other way, made a diving save back to his left and made a one-handed save to keep it out.
Hilf had another chance on the next corner but Menard pushed the header over the bar.
While Hilf had a pair of chances to find the back of the net, it was ultimately his hold up play late in the game that led to the game-winning, something that the senior has worked on to add to his game this year.
“He’s been working really hard on that,” Burgess said. “He’s a player that prefers the flicks and touches to himself but we’ve been working hard on having him bring it down, let the other guys come forward and playing it. He does a nice job with his flicks to keep the offense honest but having him bring it down and let the offense run up, we can create some chances that way.”
In the 63rd minute, Attleboro’s Aidan Lancaster saw his low shot from atop the area roll wide. North nearly countered an Attleboro corner in the 70th minute when Hilf played Matt Mordini in behind the defense by Menard came charging off his line for the clearance.
Attleboro senior Will Halben had a bid saved by Briere in the 72nd minutes, and two minutes later Levis’ low shot off a corner kick went just wide of the post.
“That’s been our entire season,” said Attleboro coach Peter Pereira. “We’ve outplayed a lot of teams but we don’t have a true finisher. We had some shots but nothing too dangerous. This is like the sixth game where we’ve made one mistake, in this case not coming back to cover, and we lose. It’s tough because the kids were looking forward to this one. Second half I thought we were better, played some good soccer but they have a good defense, a good goalie…they hold on, hold on, and then they get the break at the end but that’s why you play 80 minutes.”
North Attleboro boys soccer (6-3-8 overall, 5-3-7 Hockomock) finishes the regular season at home against Sharon on Tuesday afternoon as it tries to improve its seeding for the D2 South bracket. Attleboro (5-9-3, 5-8-3) closes its season on Monday afternoon against New Bedford.
“We think we’ll be a tough out in the tournament,” Burgess said. “We don’t give up many goes and if we can counter and hit you once, it could be enough. It’s real important to know we can strike late. I was selling this style at the beginning of the year and now they’ve bought into. So now they have the confidence they can sit, play defense and then all they need is one chance and it can be a game-winner.”
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – When the calendar turns to October, teams start keeping an eye on their rivals in the league standings and two points become even more important. North Attleboro started the night just three points back of Davenport-leading Canton, which was playing second place Milford, so the Rocketeers understood the importance of two points on Thursday night at Beaupre Field.
North dominated the first half, scoring twice, and then held off a Foxboro charge after the break, keeping the Warriors off the board until the final two minutes of the game, to walk away with a 2-1 victory that moves within one of the Bulldogs and Hawks in the league standings.
“Especially going forward, we’ve got an idea where we want to go with it now,” said North coach Geoff Burgess. “We have a plan and in the first half we executed it really well. We were able to counter them quickly, with speed.”
The hosts took that to heart on Thursday and gave an early warning to the Foxboro defense when Joe Hilf played Matt Conley in behind the Foxboro left back just two minutes into the game. There was contact, but not enough for the official to give the penalty. Hilf almost opened the scoring a minute later but dragged his shot from the edge of the box just wide.
Both teams settled into their styles after that, with North loading the midfield and looking for the quick outlet in transition and the Warriors trying to play out of the back. It was the Rocketeers that controlled the action in the opening half, limiting Foxboro to only a couple of weak shots on goal and constantly putting pressure on the visitors’ back line.
Hilf sparked North into the lead after 19 minutes. He made a long run down the far sideline, rode a sliding challenge from Brian Gardner, and got free on the right side of the box. His cut back into Conley was blocked by a couple of Warriors but the ball popped out to Alex Pfeffer in the middle and he side-footed his shot into the empty net.
Just four minutes later and the Rocketeers doubled the lead. This time it was Matt Mordini that got free down the right channel. The junior cut it back into middle for Hilf, who was left free on the edge of the box, and he hit it first time into the far corner.
Foxboro’s best look of the opening half fell to Shane Vandenboom, who hit the outside side-netting with a curling effort from 18 yards. It was about all the North defense gave up in the opening half, as center backs Evan Rosenberg and Gavin O’Malley kept the Warriors out of dangerous areas.
“They’re a great partnership,” said Burgess. “Evan especially, he was JV last year, didn’t play a minute, and I think he’s now one of the best center backs in the league. The way he plays positionally, he’s always covering in the right places, he’s quarterbacking the team.”
Foxboro coach Joe Franchino admitted, “Everybody was just on their own page…We weren’t shooting in the first half, just lumping balls in and playing right into their hands.”
In the 29th minute, North could have put the game away when James Sales’ free kick from 28 yards came back off the crossbar. Hilf almost sealed the win in the 35th minute when he nodded a long clearance by right back James Bush past his marker and got a free run on goal, but his shot went over the bar.
“He had a really good matchup in the first half,” Burgess said of Hilf. “Normally, I’d yell at him for trying to flick it snd take it himself but I think he realized that it was probably the right play. Everything kind of revolves around a target and he’s embraced that.”
Foxboro needed to make some changes at halftime and came out with more intensity, but Hilf nearly hit the Warriors on the counter when his clever dummy beat his marker, but Foxboro keeper Nick Penders was out quick to smother it.
The visitors started to get a foothold going forward, particularly through midfielder Joe Cusack, who kept popping up in between the lines and finding pockets of space where he could dictate play. He had Foxboro’s first good look that went just wide.
Chances started to flow for the Warriors. A throw-in from the left found Vandenboom, who laid it off for Daniel Basler, but his shot from 20 yards went high. A minute later, a long free kick from Daniel Lowey found Dylan Barreira’s head in the box and he nodded it down to Nic Beigel but the shot was saved.
Barreira also forced North keeper Kyle Briere into a save with a 28-yard free kick. Briere made his best stop just a few minutes later to deny Cusack at full stretch at the midway point of the half. It kept Foxboro off the board when the Warriors were clearly on top in the game.
Burgess said of his keeper, “Kyle is this great safety blanket we have because he does come up with the good when we need him to. Today he was mostly calm but he had that one good one.”
Cusack had a free kick from just outside of the box that was saved comfortably and Foxboro nearly fashioned an opener with five minutes left when Matt Garcia played the ball through to Barreira, whose header found Vandenboom but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
“Even at Franklin, we go down a goal, two goals, and we’re trying to fight back into the game,” Franchino said. “The game’s only 80 minutes long, so you’ve got to start quicker and it’s just not happening right now.”
North had one more chance with a late free kick that was played straight across the box by Joey Coscarella, but Pfeffer couldn’t put his shot on frame when he met it at the far post.
Foxboro did get one to make for an interesting final two minutes. Beigel’s free kick from the left corner of the box went through a sea of bodies in front, and possibly got a touch off a North defender, before sneaking in the far side. But, it turned out to be only a consolation for the Warriors.
“The loss Friday to Canton woke us up a little bit,” said Burgess. “We lost 3-1 but in the second half we had four almost breakaways and didn’t convert on any of them. It was very much a winnable game but I think they realized if they don’t go out and actually put the ball in the back of the net, 0-0 isn’t going to get it done.”
North Attleboro (4-1-6, 4-1-5) will next face Kelley-Rex leader Mansfield on Wednesday, while Foxboro (3-5-1, 3-5-1) will be back in action on Saturday at Bishop Feehan.
2017 Record: 10-5-4 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Danny Erickson
The Bulldogs have been one of the top offensive teams over the past two seasons, and that trend will likely continue with the personnel returning this season. The goal this season is to equal that success on the defensive end of the field.
“We have had lots of success the past two seasons in scoring goals but we have not been stingy enough with allowing goals,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson.
Hockomock League leading scorer Paul Corcoran is back for his senior season and has been one of the top producers in the final third over the past two seasons. His nine goals in 2016 helped earn him HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors and last year he led the Hock with 15 goals and 23 total points. He is joined by HockomockSports.com Best XI selection Griffin Roach in the midfield. Roach is one of the best two-way players in the league and will undoubtedly be relied upon to help both the offense (10 goals, five assists last year) and the defense. Simon Cruz is another player with a good amount of varsity experience that will likely factor in.
While the offense looks to be in good shape, shoring up the defense won’t be easy after losing starting goalie Abe Garber and center back John Agnitti. However, Erickson can rely on Paolo Ruggeri to lead the way in the back. Ruggeri has a ton of varsity experience and will be the quarterback of the defense, organizing and keeping the back four in shape. Junior Alejandro Correal will step in as the starting keeper.
2017 Record: 11-5-4 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Joe Franchino
Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino isn’t afraid to talk about how confident he is in this year’s team.
“The Hockomock title is coming to Foxboro,” Franchino said.
Although Foxboro graduated a dozen seniors, the players that the Warriors do return are the reason why Franchino is so confident in this group. Starting up top, Foxboro has both of its strikers back, including leading scorer Shane VandenBoom. Last year, VandenBoom was second in the league in the regular season with 21 points, scoring 12 goals and adding nine assists. He will be joined up top by Dylan Barreira, who had a strong sophomore season.
In the midfield, everything will run through junior Joe Cusack. There aren’t many midfielders that have the poise on the ball that Cusack does and he will likely be the engine for the team. He isn’t the biggest player on the pitch but his vision is among the best and his ability to play balls over the top and through the defense make Foxboro’s offense very dangerous. Nic Beigel will complement Cusack in the middle to give the Warriors a solid 1-2 combo.
Defensively, the Warriors are hoping to see more of the same after only allowing 15 goals through 18 regular season games. The good news is that Foxboro has plenty of experience returning in the back with Matt Garcia, Brian Gardner, and Will Regan back in the fold. Franchino stressed that the team must put defense first and buy into the system, and then the team can go forward — an area the Warriors are very confident in.
2017 Record: 7-8-3 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Brian Edwards
After missing out on the postseason by just one game, the 2018 Scarlet Hawks are laser-focused on making it into the state tournament and having a run at the division title.
Third-year head coach Brian Edwards saw his team go from four wins to seven over the first two years and is hoping that upward trend will continue in 2018.
“We are looking to build upon the lessons learned last year,” Edwards said. “We want to work on maintaining focus and closing games out this season. With many players coming back for their third varsity season we are hopeful that our experience helps us work towards our goals this season.”
One big reason for optimism is junior Walisson De Oliveira, who exploded as one of the best offensive threats in the league in the second half of the season. After playing in the midfield for half the year, Edwards moved De Oliveira up top and the move paid off big time. The striker scored 14 goals (second most in the Hock) and had three assists.
In the midfield, the Hawks boast a trio of talented and experienced players. Tiago Carvalho, Joao Boaventura, and Jordan Borges have all shown improvement over the offseason and will be counted on to handle the middle of the pitch. Seniors Joey Madden and Zach Brown return to anchor the defensive unit in front of senior goalie Cam Doherty.
2017 Record: 11-2-6 (Davenport Division Champions) 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Geoff Burgess
Despite graduating over a dozen seniors from last year’s Davenport division-winning squad, North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess believes his team will be ready to defend its league title.
The Rocketeers will have to find a replacement for HockomockSports.com Best XI selections Gabe Pinhancos (center mid) and Brendan Matracia (goalie), as well as the entire back line, but Burgess does have options to fill the voids.
“I’m excited to see what this group can accomplish,” Burgess said. “We have a good nucleus of talented players and high expectations.”
Senior striker Joe Hilf was second on the team in points last year after scoring six goals and adding two assists and Big Red also has junior midfielders Dylan Corrigan (four goals, three assists) and James Sale back in the fold. All three have plenty of varsity experience and should be major factors for North this season. Junior Joey Coscarella will see more playing time as well this season.
Senior captain Evan Rosenberg will step in at center back to anchor the new back four. Burgess is also optimistic about his options in net with junior Kyle Briere taking over as the starter.
2017 Record: 5-9-4 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Bryan Kelly
Only one year removed from winning the Davenport title, Sharon is hoping its versatility will help get them back to the top of what is shaping up to be a very competitive division.
“We have some dynamic players this year which gives us the ability to use different formations making it difficult for teams to plan for us,” said Sharon coach Bryan Kelly. “We have a rotation of players who can play two or more positions and play them well. If we stick to our game plan, we will be a tough team to reckon with.”
The Eagles have a strong core of returning players that Kelly can build off of. Ethan Kantor is back for his third year in goal and will be the leader of the defense. Alex Dias returns from a torn ACL to take up one of the outside back positions. Kelly expects Brendan Arnold and Daniel Gunduz to step up on defense this season.
In the midfield, junior Michael Baur (HockomockSports.com Second XI selection) will be a key piece and help the Eagles transition from defense to offense. Baur is also one of the more dangerous free kick takers in the league. Baur will work with the speedy Isaiah Stessman and Norway-transfer Viktor Schneider on the wings in the midfield.
Kelly is looking for junior Brian Higgins and Daniel Lillenfeld to form a dynamic partnership up top while Antonio Elkoury and Eli Berkowitz can step in and provide depth in both the midfield and up front.
After three straight years in the playoffs, the Black Knights had a down season a year ago but new head coach Joshua Aubin is anxious to get Stoughton back into playoff contention.
“This is definitely a team that is not afraid to get down and dirty,” Aubin said. “We’ve got some scrappy players who will not be backing down from the challenges ahead.”
Stoughton will be relying on its 10 seniors to set the pace this season, starting with captain Fabi Ponce de Leon. In his fourth year on varsity, Ponce de Leon will be the engine in the middle of the field and help facilitate things for the Black Knights. Aubin is looking for some new faces to step up around Ponce de Leon to take some pressure off the senior and give him some space. Fellow captain John Ortiz will be a leader for a defensive group that is looking to improve on last season.
All-Hockomock selection Carter Gerome returns as the starting goalie for the Black Knights.
“We do have a lot of athletes where we hope to be able to maximize on their individual abilities,” Aubin said. “We have a little bit of everything – some height, some speed, some strength, some physicalness, and some finesse.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – With the division title picture already wrapped up, Thursday night’s showdown between Foxboro and North Attleboro wasn’t about league standings, but instead a preview of what’s to come in the postseason.
The two teams traded a pair of second half goals, finishing level, 1-1, at Sam Berns Community Field.
In years past, North and Foxboro wouldn’t cross paths once the regular season ended. But the new alignments implemented this season have both Big Red and the Warriors in the Division 2 South tournament.
“Under the lights, on the turf, on a cold Fall night…that’s pretty much what we’re going to be seeing as we go forward in the tournament,” said North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess. “We’ll probably be on the road a good portion of us. So this was great mentally for us, especially to score first. If we can just find a little composure to close games out…the same thing happened on Tuesday [against Milford].”
Foxboro was fresh off a 1-1 draw on Tuesday against Canton. The Warriors had nearly a dozen scoring chances go begging in the second half against the Bulldogs.
The Warriors picked up right where they left off on Tuesday, even attacking the same goal. But unfortunately, it was more of the same. Foxboro continued to build offense and register chances, but failed to find the back of the net in the opening 40 minutes.
Just over five minutes in, sophomore Dylan Barreira’s flick put senior Matt Rongione in behind on the right flank, but his low service towards the back post went without a recipient and rolled just wide.
In the 15th minute, Ryan Kelley got in behind the defense and went alone at the keeper, but North’s Brendan Matracia came charging out of his net to make the sliding stop.
North’s first chance came just before the half hour mark. Senior Ryan Pasquel’s free kick just over half was batted around at the edge of the area before Zach Matracia got a shot off, but it went well over the bar.
Foxboro had back-to-back chances in the 31st and 32nd minutes. First, Barreira’s corner kick was met by Mike Moses’ header near the penalty spot and then left back Will Regan launched a shot from distance, but Matracia made comfortable saves on both bids.
“They dominated us in the first half, we had really nothing going on,” Burgess said. “I thought we had a better run in the second half, we decided to kind of sit and counter, which is our play usually. We noticed they were only defending with really four guys and I thought if we could get on the counter a few times we could create some opportunities, and we did.
“I thought we had some really good chances, I thought we should have had a PK – it was close. I give them credit, Barreira and [Shane] VandenBoom, those kids are great with those flicks and the through balls. And No. 15 [Nic Beigel] played an outstanding game, the defensive midfielder.“
North’s first chance on the counter came in the 55th minute when outside midfielder Josh Rodriguez sprinted onto possession near the top of the box. Rodriguez cut back to create some space but his shot was partially blocked and Foxboro keeper Bobby Harrison came up with the stop on the bounce.
Just a minute later, the Rocketeers had a shout for a penalty when sophomore James Sales played Jeff Gale into the the area, but Ryan Kelley’s tackle got just enough of the ball to allow for an easy stop by Harrison.
Big Red finally broke through in the 67th minute after earning a free kick close to the corner on the left flank. Noah Barney dished a low service into the area that was touched by Zach Matracia back to Sales right in front for the easy tap in and a 1-0 lead.
Foxboro nearly responded immediately in the 68th minute when Beigel and Kelly combined atop the area, the former ripping a low shot that clanked off the left post and right back into the grasp of Matracia.
But Foxboro continued to apply the pressure and broke through in the 71st minute. Once again, Beigel and Kelley combined, sending Beigel into the area. But before the junior could unleash a shot, North’s Andrew Fontaine came through with a great tackle.
The ball rolled right to junior Hussein Kafel and he tucked his shot in at the back post to bring the Warriors level.
“We just really didn’t get a lot of our offense going,” Burgess said. “We tried to possess but they are very physical and that kind of takes you out of your game and I they got into our heads a little bit. Every time we went into a challenge, we started looking for them and instead of watching for the ball, we’re looking for the Foxboro kid.
“That back line is all seniors,” Burgess added. “And then sitting in front of them, Sales and Pasquel, are the keys. Sales is only a sophomore and he doesn’t get a lot of credit. He’s really solid back there. If I can get him to sit a bit deeper and play a little wiser, no one is going to get behind us. That 4-3-2-1 counter-attacking style, and those two guys really protect Kevin [Aguilar] and Andrew [Fontaine] in the center. We don’t make a lot of mistakes, we just had one really bad games where we laid an egg. Brendan Matracia had about six or seven great saves, stopped a couple breakaways.”
Foxboro finishes the season at 10-4-4 overall, and 8-4-4 in league play. Seeds for the tournament will be released on Wednesday.
North Attleboro boys soccer finishes its league record at 9-1-6 and its first-ever Davenport division title, which it clinched with a win on the road at Milford on Tuesday. The Rocketeers (10-1-6 overall) will wrap up its season at home in a non-league clash with Attleboro in the annual Leach and Garner Cup.
2016 Record: 8-7-5 2016 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Danny Erickson
After playing a good handful of juniors and sophomores during the 2016 season, the Bulldogs look to be an experienced group heading into this year. Leading the way will be senior and two-time captain Jake Verille, who leads the Bulldogs from the middle of the pitch. Fellow captain Abe Garber is back for another year in net and senior captain John Agnitti with anchor the defensive line.
Verille, a HockomockSports.com Best XI selection last season, has been one of the top playmakers the past two years. On top of Verille’s offensive ability, Canton also returns junior Paul Corcoran – the team’s leading scorer (nine goals) and the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. Alongside Corcoran, the Bulldogs have a slew of juniors with varsity experience including Griffin Roach, Simon Cruz, Paulo Ruggeri and Avery Minkin that will all factor into the attack.
“We are confident that we will be able to keep the ball and attack this year,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “The chances should be created, but we will need to finish. We will also need to defend as a group of 11 MUCH better than we did last season.”
2016 Record: 6-9-4 2016 Finish: Reached D3 South First Round Coach: Joe Franchino
After graduating just five seniors last season, head coach Joe Franchino brings back the majority of squad that had just one loss in its last eight regular season games in 2016. However, two of those five players – Anthony Barreira (two-time Best XI selection) & AJ Bubencik (now playing at Mass. Maritime) – were four year players and will be tough to replace.
The good news is that while the Warriors were young a year ago, a good portion of the team has at least a season of varsity experience under its belt. Senior captain Shawn McNamara, now in his fourth year starting for the Warriors, will lead the way along with fellow captains Matt Rongione and Ryan Kelley. Senior Cam Cass also has plenty of experience and will be relied upon as a playmaker. Junior Shane Vandenboom had a strong sophomore season and will be an important piece in the midfield along classmate Nic Beigel and senior Hussiein Kafel.
Seniors Bobby Harrison will be the starting goalie for the Warriors.
“Coming into my third year, I am confident the team has bought into the system and I’m really looking forward to see how they compete,” Franchino said. “We have experienced senior and junior classes with a couple of sophomores to watch out for. We may not have a target on our back but when it’s all said and done, I believe we have the team to win! I believe in this group and really excited to see what they accomplish.”
2016 Record: 4-10-4 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Brian Edwards
The Scarlet Hawks are looking to take the next step in year two with Brian Edwards at the helm. After just four wins a season ago, Edwards is hoping that the experience gained by his younger players will translate into more success this time around.
Midfielder Andre Oliveira will be a key piece for Edwards and the Scarlet Hawks, helping both the offense and defense. Oliveira’s ability to transition from defense to offense will be key for the Scarlet Hawks this season. On the defensive side of the ball, senior Jacob Balzarini is back in the center of the defense. After getting plenty of time in that spot last season, Balzarini will be the anchor of the backline this year. On top of Oliveira and Balzaini, Edwards is looking for new players to step up and make an impact.
“I’m looking for us to be a team that stresses balance,” Edwards said. “I am hopeful that the experience many of these guys gained last year translates into more success in the standings. I am also excited to see what the new guys bring to the squad. There are a bunch of hungry young players that want to make their mark on this team and in this league.”
North Attleboro boasts over a dozen seniors on the 2017 version of the Red Rocketeers and head coach Geoff Burgess is hoping that experience will translate into success on the field.
Leading the way will be senior and 2016 HockomockSports.com Second XI selection Gabe Pinhancos, who has been Big Red’s field general for the past couple of seasons. Josh Rodriguez and Ryan Pasquel are also back this season to help bolster the midfield. Junior Joe Hilf and senior Jeff Gale will be relied upon to pace North Attleboro’s offense.
Big Red’s biggest strength could be in the back, having a defensive unit with plenty of experience. Noah Barney and Zach Matracia both saw significant time and will be joined by classmates Andrew Fontaine and Kevin Aguilar. That defensive unit will be in front of senior goalie Brendan Matracia.
“I am hoping that we are going to be a team on the rise this year,” said Burgess. “I have a strong senior class and we’ve had a good summer and an even better preseason.”
2016 Record: 11-4-4 (Davenport Division Champions) 2016 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Bryan Kelly
The defending Davenport division champs will boast a large senior class (14) but will also rely on some younger players as they look to win back-to-back Hock titles.
The Eagles’ tri-captains will provide leadership in each part of the pitch, with senior center back Shubo Roy-Chowdury on the back line, senior Tyler Hippler leading the midfield and senior Spencer Hall up front. Sharon’s attack will bolstered by seniors Marques Benton and Andy Reyes-Jones, who both saw plenty of time up top a year ago. Meanwhile, sophomore Michael Baur is back after a standout freshman season and classmates Isaiah Stessman, Brian Higgins and freshman Brice Nathan will all play a role in helping the Eagles go forward.
Maybe the biggest advantage the Eagles have is returning keeper Ethan Kantor. The junior had a terrific season in net a year ago and will be the backbone of the team’s defense.
“With a solid defense that is smart and has speed, we should be able to keep up with fast offenses while not losing the capability to support a potent offense,” said SHS head coach Bryan Kelly. “Overall, we are solid from goal to forwards, it just depends on if we can put the ball in the back of the net.”
2016 Record: 8-9-2 2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Preliminary Round Coach: Chris Suchorski
Stoughton will be looking to make it back again to the postseason, this time under first-year head coach Chris Suchorski. The Black Knights just made it in a season ago but it marked the third straight year for the program.
Suchorski is tasked with replacing 12 seniors that graduated from last year’s team. However, all of the players he is returning all saw varsity time last season and that should soften the blow dealt by graduation. Senior Tyler Melo (six points) is back and will likely be a vital part of the Black Knights’ midfield and attack. Junior Fabio Ponce de Leon (six points) begins his third season on varsity and will once again be one the Black Knights’ top offensive options. Brian Peoples also returns as one of the team’s top playmakers.
The biggest question could come with the back four, as the Black Knights must find a replacement for 2016 Best XI selection Goddy Fombe, who anchored the back line the past two season the sweeper position.
CANTON, Mass – After two straight away games to open the 2016 season, the Canton Bulldogs were ripe for some home cooking.
Canton was on the front foot from the opening whistle in its home opener at World War II Veterans Memorial Field on Tuesday night and walked away with its first win of the season, a 2-0 decision over North Attleboro.
“This team is filled with a lot of veterans from last year’s team and I think we played pretty well on our first two games on the road and didn’t get any results,” Canton head coach Danny Erickson said. “I think our guys were just very excited to get out on our home field today and get into the Davenport and see what we could do.”
The Bulldogs were in control for the first 10 minutes of the match, putting constant pressure on North’s midfield and backline but couldn’t test North goalie Shawn Watters. North had the first shot on goal in the 12th minute off a shot from Leo Charlebois but Canton goalie Abe Garber made a comfortable save.
In the 16th minute, Canton kept its pressure up and it paid off. John Agnitti launched a service into the area after a short throw and his cross was met by a charging header from Griffin Roach but Watters was up to the task, pushing it down. North’s defense was unable to get a clean clearance and the loose ball fell to the center of the area where junior Jake Verille uncorked a shot but once again Watters made a terrific save.
The loose ball fell to the feet of an open Paul Corcoran and the sophomore was able to tuck his shot inside the near post for opening goal of the season and the Bulldogs’ first of the season.
“It was 15 minutes into the game but I thought we could have scored five before that,” Erickson said. “I thought we were really on the front foot. The thing about soccer, if we don’t score there, you really don’t know what’s going to happen in that game. It really sets the rest of the game up for us. North Attleboro played very steady so kudos to them but I thought we had the better of the play tonight.”
North’s best chance of the half came in the 28th minute after a deflected throw in fell to the center of the area but Gabe Pinhancos’ strike fired right over the bar.
Canton took a 1-0 lead into halftime but it didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to double to advantage when the second half started.
Inside the first minute, Garber’s punt was flicked on at midfield by Simon Cruz but Watters came off his line and covered before Canton could pounce. But a minute later, Verille took possession at midfield and sent a through ball that found Corcoran in behind the defense. The sophomore calmly slid his shot into the net for his second goal and to make it 2-0.
“That’s part of our motto here, part of our key moments. We preach the first and last five minutes of each half. If you can’t play well in the first five minutes of each half or the last five, you’re not going to win your games,” Erickson said. “We went to KP last week, played a great first half 0-0 and then came out gave them a goal two minutes into the second half and that was it. We came out tonight, up 1-0, and we want that goal badly and we got it and I thought that put us in control of the game.”
North Attleboro got its offense in gear over the final 20 minutes of the game. Josh Rodriguez beat a pair of defenders but his cross went unanswered as it skipped through the area. In the 72nd minute, Pinhancos played Rodriguez along the wing and his cross was met by a touch from Charlebois, but Garber dove to his right and palmed the shot out.
“It’s the Canton formula, they win every ball in the air and then boom it over the top of the defense and wait until the backline falls asleep and it kills us every time,” North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess said. “Once they got the second goal and sat back a little bit, we actually found ourselves on the ball and we looked fantastic. The last 20 minutes , that’s the time I was hoping would have showed up in the first half but at that point, the game was already over. We’ll figure them out though and we will get a chance to see them again.”
Canton boys soccer improves to 1-2 on the season, both overall and in league play. The Bulldogs are back in action on Saturday as they host Milford in the opener of a doubleheader with the girls to follow. North Attleboro (1-2-1, 1-2-1) will try to bounce back on Thursday in a non-league affair with KP before hosting Sharon on Friday.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – As they say, one goal can change a soccer game.
As the first half was coming to a close, North Attleboro was producing scoring chance after scoring chance, but the Rocketeers couldn’t break through before the halftime whistle.
And then three minutes into the second half, Taunton used a bright start to find the back of the net and just like that, the Tigers held a 1-0 lead.
That goal seemed to give the Rocketeers a bit more urgency, and they capitalized. North Attleboro scored three straight goals inside a 10 minute span to earn a 3-1 win over Taunton.
“Our preseason had been very similar to this,” North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess said. “We went down to both Feehan and Dighton-Rehoboth and came back both times to tie it. We kind have been confident enough, even if we go down, to know we can score goals and come back from a mistake like we made.”
The Rocketeers had a handful of chances in the first half, with a majority coming off set pieces and crosses. John Brennan had an early chance off a free kick from Gabe Pinhancos but his header went over the par. Pinhancos had a chance two minutes later when he cut back to his left foot but his bid was right at the keeper. Noah Barney had his chance in the 32nd minute cleared at the far post by a defender.
North’s two best chances came in the 33rd and 40th minutes. First, Brennan sent a long ball into the area with Conor Danahey rising up to meet it, putting a header on target but Taunton goalie Tim Gambaradella got a paw to the ball and pushed it just. In the final seconds, a failed clearance bounced to junior Andrew Fontaine but his half volley clanked off of the crossbar and stayed out.
The Tigers got things started in the second half with a long run from Dan DeAndrade out of the back, putting the pressure on North’s defense. Hasan Farahat ended up with possession at the top of the 18 and quickly played Raffaele Corbelli wide. The senior took a touch and fired a shot that snuck in at the near post to give Taunton a 1-0 lead.
“I thought we dominated the game in the first half, I thought we created a bunch of chances, like five or six open headers on set pieces,” Burgess said. “We had some chances through the run of play too. But the goal we scored to equalize was one of the best ones we’ve scored.”
Seven minutes after Taunton took the lead, Barney found himself in possession of the ball in the attacking third. He delivered a perfectly weighted ball into the area and Danahey ran onto it and tucked his header into the near post corner.
The Rocketeers continued the pressure as senior Leo Charlebois ran onto the ball along the right sideline, just inside the area. His touch was enough to get some space but he was taken down in the area for a penalty kick. Charlebois took the penalty himself, going low and to the goalie’s left to give North Attleboro a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute.
North capped the scoring just two minutes later. Pinhancos gained possession and carried into the final third before playing a perfect through ball, splitting a pair of defenders. Charlebois ran onto it and calmly finished against an oncoming Gambaradella to make it 3-1.
Although it was Pinhancos’ first assist, it could have been his fourth or fifth. He was responsible for setting up the majority of North’s chances in the first half as well.
“He was the guy for us last year too but he was only a sophomore,” Burgess said of Pinhancos. “Now he’s a year older, a little bit more confident and bigger and stronger. I think that has made a huge difference in his confidence level as well. In practice and in games.”
Burgess was also pleased to see other players step up around Pinhancos with Charlebois scoring twice, Danahey scoring once and Barney registered an assist.
“I think last year he felt he had to do it all by himself,” Burgess said. “Now he realizes there some pieces around him that can make good things happen, for him as well. We have a good mix of size and speed. I’m hoping this is going to be a good year for us, we’ve had a rough go it lately but I think this group has the ability to score.”
For Taunton, it’s a matter of putting together a complete game. Head coach Taylor Whitters said, “It’s just a matter of work ethic. We need to have the 100% work ethic, 100% of the time. So those little moments where we get a little lax, we suffered for it. But we’re working on it, we’re going to keep working hard at it.”
North Attleboro (1-1-0) will take a trip to North Easton on Friday to take on Oliver Ames. Taunton (0-2-1) will try to earn its first win of the season when it welcomes Milford to town on Saturday at noon.
2015 Record: 3-10-4 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Danny Erickson
For the first time in a decade, the Bulldogs missed out on the postseason last year but with a large group of experienced players returning, the 2016 team is looking to start a new playoff streak. Canton graduated just two starters from last year’s team and looks to be in the mix for the Davenport division title this season.
Canton will look to its four captains for guidance with the quartet spread out nicely on the field. Junior Jake Verille and senior Ben Waterhouse will bring skills and versatility to the midfield. Senior Danny Hartnett is experienced and will anchor the back line while classmate Sammy Papakonstantino will be relied upon to be a catalyst up top for the Bulldogs.
“We think we have the technical ability this fall to play some good soccer,” head coach Danny Erickson said. “We were competitive last Fall but couldn’t figure out how to get the ball in the back of the net and get a result. I’m confident that we are ready to take the next step and see the positive results come this Fall.”
Erickson added there is a battle for the starting goalie spot right now between senior Sean Mitchell and junior Abe Garber.
2015 Record: 15-2-3 2015 Finish: Reached D3 South Semifinal Coach: Joe Franchino
It will be far from easy for Foxboro to replace the 2015 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Devante Teixeira (20 goals, 16 assists), who graduated, and two-time league all star Joe Morrison (eight goals, 15 assists), now playing full-time with his academy team. But senior Anthony Barreira (18 goals, 12 assists) is back for his fourth year on varsity and the Warriors get former league all star Jeff Melo back to bolster the back line, which will make the transition easier.
Barreira is set to be a top striker in the league and Melo showed during his sophomore year that he can be one of the best defenders in the area. AJ Bubencik’s conversion from a defender to a midfielder will be key for the Warriors this season as well. Sophomore Nic Beigel had a great rookie campaign and will be a key piece for Foxboro this season along with juniors Shawn McNamara and Ryan Kelley. Aaron Wentling and Bobby Harrison will fight for the starting spot in net this season.
“We are not the same team as last year but the quality is still here and my expectations are to win games,” head coach Joe Franchino said.
2015 Record: 4-13-1 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Brian Edwards
Milford had a strong debut when it joined the Hockomock League in 2013 but were able to capture just seven league wins over the past two years. Brian Edwards has taken over at the helm of the Scarlet Hawks and is looking for a bounce back season in his first year.
The Scarlet Hawks will be relying upon its three captains to make the turnaround. Senior Marcello Panno is one of the most versatile players in the league with Edwards referring to him as a ‘swiss army knife.’ Edwards expects Panno to play roles both offensively and defensively. Defensively, senior Danny Mendoza is going to be tasked with handling top strikers from around the league. Edwards credited Mendoza’s work rate and his ability to make those around him better. Junior Andre Oliveira will be a major part of Milford’s attack this season. Oliveira will be one to watch, especially on the counter attack.
“We expect to see a focus on technical skill and ball movement as opposed to direct play,” Edwards said. “This is an attack which will be geared towards moving the ball in tight spaces against high pressure.”
Edwards also noted the team will focus on a team defensive effort, with an effort to deny opponents space in the final third.
After a rough couple of years, the North Attleboro Rocketeers are hoping a switch to the Davenport Division could be the perfect platform to launch a turnaround. With a good amount of players that saw either starting minutes or valuable time off of the bench back, the Rocketeers will look to ramp up their play, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Juniors Noah Barney and Zach Matracia saw a lot of minutes as outside backs last year and will look to bring that experience back this year. Senior John Brennan will try to anchor the back line from the center of the pitch while the Rocketeers look to find the right fit in the middle to complete the defense. Junior Brendan Matracia will occupy the goalkeeper spot with a good amount of minutes played from his sophomore year under his belt.
“We have gone from being young and green to being a group of seasoned varsity players,” head coach Geoff Burgess said. “It should be a resurgence for the program.”
Offensively, senior captains Leo Charlebois and Conor Danahey will be two of the main options up top. Burgess noted that junior Josh Rodriguez had a strong summer and will be a playmaker this year. In the middle of the pitch, junior Gabe Pinhancos will be complemented by classmate Ryan Pasquel and sophomore Marcus Costa.
2015 Record: 10-7-1 2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Second Round Coach: Bryan Kelly
Even though Sharon lost a strong group to graduation, the Eagles are relying on a new crop of seniors to lead them in 2016. The Eagles also expect to get contributions from juniors, sophomores and freshmen in different areas of the field.
Senior captains Ian Camilli and Shali Patel will lead from the heart of the field at center midfield while fellow captain Benjamin Stamm will be a viable attacking option. Sophomore Ethan Kantor will take over the starting job for Andrew Filipkowski, a 2015 HockomockSports.com Best XI selection that graduated. Shubojit Roy-Chowdhury will be the anchor of the back line as a center defender. Head coach Bryan Kelly is looking for breakout seasons from Oliver Hu, Jacob Tevin, Jeremy Cabral, Marques Benton Jr., Spencer Hall, Andrew Reyes-Jones and Michael Baur.
“[On top of our seniors and juniors] there will be several sophomores and freshman called up throughout the season who will only add to the strength of the team,” Kelly said.
2015 Record: 9-8-3 2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Second Round Coach: Aaron Salter
After another successful campaign, the Black Knights are hoping to push their postseason streak to three straight years. Stoughton will face the challenge of graduating seven seniors, including some key pieces from each part of the field, but there the group of returning players should give the Black Knights plenty of optimism.
Stoughton has scored over 30 goals in back to back seasons (38 in 2014, 31 in 2015) and will look to make their offense a strong suit again this year. The Black Knights are returning three of their top four scorers, including sophomore Fabio Ponce De Leon (eight goals, two assists), Jordan Asnes (five goals, five assists) and Loubensky Lucas (five goals, one assist). Lucas has been finding the back of the net for three years and head coach Aaron Salter notes he’s had a strong preseason thus far.
“I felt last year we didn’t kill off enough games and left teams with life still in them,” Salter said. “This year we will be hoping to close out games much easier.”
Defensively, the Black Knights are hoping experience will help anchor the back line. Tyler Melo will be a factor in the midfield while Goddy Fombe and Noah Schulze both emerged as strong options on defense last season. Salter admitted there were players in new spots last year but now with a year under their belts, they have developed the awareness and look strong in the preseason.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Sophomore keeper Brendan Matracia was playing JV for most of the season, but had to be called up when senior captain Rob Heaney went down with a concussion. On Thursday afternoon, in the fourth round of the penalty shootout, he became the hero when he guessed right and stayed still to save Justin Andrade’s shot down the middle.
North Attleboro’s other co-captain Matt Coscarella put the ball down on the spot with a chance to beat Attleboro and win the Leach and Garner Cup. He stepped up, buried his shot, and wheeled towards the visiting bench to celebrate North’s fifth cup win in the past six years.
“Being able to win, even in PKs, anytime that you beat Attleboro it’s great,” said North Attleboro coach Geoff Burgess.
“I think we had more to play for. Only one win on the season and not really finding our way until the end…this was our championship game really.”
The game had little drama in regulation with both teams struggling to create clear-cut scoring opportunities. Attleboro had the first real chance in the eighth minute when junior Nick Lawrence struck the crossbar with a shot from 20 yards out. Two minutes later Harry Lancaster had a shot that ricocheted off the football crossbar.
Lancaster had another chance at the half-hour mark when he danced through a sea of Rocketeers but his shot was easily saved. Just two minutes before the break, North had its first real chance when Leo Charlebois turned the corner on the left back and fired a shot that Tyler Stowe held at his near post.
Early in the second half and Coscarella had a go from 20 yards following an interception in the attacking third, but his curling effort was saved by a diving Stowe.
“That’s really a synopsis of our season,” said Burgess. “We’ve been this close in a bunch of games.”
In the 58th minute, Junior Coca had his second good chance of the second half when he got on the end of a clearing header by Noah Barney from Khaled Hantash’s cross from the right. Coca took a touch but his shot was off target.
“Even though we dominated the game 90 percent,” said Attleboro coach Peter Pereira, “we couldn’t finish and if you don’t finish then you can’t win.”
“It came down to penalty kicks and then it’s anyone’s game.”
North’s defense was solid, limiting the Bombardiers mostly to chances from distance, Barney, who moved up from outside back to play stopper, and sweeper John Brennan, who played football for the past two season, were rocks at the back and Burgess credited the duo for helping to improve North’s defensive record.
“We’ve stopped giving up as many goals,” he said. “We gave up 39 in the first 15 or however many games and we’ve given up three in the last five.”
“We’ve improved dramatically and I’m really proud of the guys for not quitting on the season. I think this is payback for all of that.”
The game headed to penalties immediately after the final whistle. Charlebois opened it with a goal for North followed by Zach Rodrigues for Attleboro. The game went back and forth until North took a 4-3 lead.
The following shot was saved by Matracia, who stood his ground in the middle of the goal, and Coscarella had the chance to close out his season, and his North career, with silverware.
The winning goal was an experience that Coscarella shares with several North captains in the recent past.
“I always do that every year that we’ve won,” said Burgess. “I always put my senior captain at the end because they’ve earned that moment.”
Pereira remarked, “This year neither of us is going to the playoffs, so it’s a good end of the year game. That’s why I started the cup 30 years ago.”
He added, “It’s a big rivalry game and winner takes it all…and today they took it all. They stayed in the game and they did what they had to do.”
Coscarella and Rodrigues were named the game’s MVPs.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.