North Earns Another Clean Sheet, Advances to Quarters

North Attleboro boys soccer
Matt Mordini (7) celebrates his first half goal against Somerset-Berkley, which turned out to be the game-winner for North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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SOMERSET, Mass. – North Attleboro allowed only 13 goals in 18 games during the regular season and that disciplined, organized defense was on full display again on Monday afternoon at Somerset-Berkley in the first round of the playoffs.

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The Rocketeers held the hosts to only two shots on goal, as North keeper Kyle Briere was largely untroubled in earning his ninth clean sheet of the season (and third in a row). With the defense in control, Matt Mordini’s first half strike turned out to be all North needed to beat the Raiders 1-0 and set up a quarterfinal against Hock rival Oliver Ames.

“I thought we played our brand of soccer and we had to possess a little more than we normally do and I thought we did a really nice job,” said North coach Geoff Burgess. “We’re still missing the timing of our runs forward to get in behind, but that’s always been a work in progress. We defended well. I think they had one legitimate chance where they go in behind us.”

The hosts started the game well, moving the ball around and keeping possession, but failed to generate any chances, whether it was a shot or just putting the ball into the penalty area. The North back line of Jeremy Folan, Donovan Carter, Justin Silva, and James Bush kept everything in front of them and bottled up the Somerset-Berkley forwards.

Defending began in the midfield, where the Rocketeers kept up the pressure and consistently stymied attacks high up the pitch.

Burgess explained, “That has come from our preparations for Milford. We know how good their midfield is so we worked really hard on our midfield defending. If we can hang with that midfield, there isn’t a midfield that is going to outrun us or outperform us.”

North’s offense was relying on quick transitions to get the ball to Mordini up top. It proved to be effective, as the Rocketeers had several chances to grab the lead in the opening 20 minutes.

Joey Coscarella played a ball into Andrew Tolfa in the center of the field and his pass to Matt Conley on the right wing caused confusion between the defender and goalie. Conley nearly pounced on the loose ball but the keeper was able to dive on it and cover. Two minutes later Mordini was played in behind the left back by an Alex Pfeffer flick, but his shot was sliced well wide.

In the 31st minute, North had a deserved lead. It came from a quick break out to Conley on the righthand side. He cut inside of the fullback and teed up Mordini on the edge of the box. The striker took a touch before finding the bottom corner.

“Mordini is a work in progress,” Burgess said. “He was playing outside left early on and we moved him to that striker position and kind of moved some pieces around. I think he’s a budding striker. He has good instincts and he’s got a pretty good shot.”

Somerset-Berkley closed the half with a flurry, registering its only two shots on goal. Briere had to be out quick to block a chance for the forward in the right channel and then was able to make a diving stop on a powerful header off a corner. The ball pinballed around in the box for a minute and the Raiders started to celebrate a goal only to have it wiped away for a foul.

North could have been excused for trying to lock things down in the second half and just hold onto its one-goal lead, but instead the Rocketeers dominated the ball and had numerous opportunities to double the advantage. Burgess admitted that it was nerve-wracking watching chance after chance go by without a second goal.

“You know how that goes, a missed opportunity down here turns into a set piece or something down there and what happens, you give up that lead you’ve had all game long,” Burgess joked. “I was proud of the boys.”

The first chance fell to Mordini, who rose highest to meet a Tolfa free kick, but his header flashed wide of the post. Three minutes later James Sales played a give-and-go with Coscarella on the edge of the box to create shooting space, but he dragged his shot inches wide. The duo combined again just minutes later with Sales forcing a save from the keeper.

Mordini ended up with North’s best chance of the second half when the Raiders defender and keeper allowed a ball to bounce between them. He nicked the ball away and had a wide open goal to aim for, but only found the side netting.

Coscarella took advantage of a poor goal kick to have a left-footed shot that was saved, Tolfa tried his luck from 30 yards and his dipping shot flew narrowly over the bar, and Conley got in behind the left back only to have two players run offsides as he tried to pass it across the goal.

It turned out the one goal was enough and North Attleboro (9-6-4) celebrated a playoff victory and the chance to take on the Kelley-Rex division champion Oliver Ames on Thursday night.

Burgess said, “I’m excited about Thursday because we play them tough and these guys are motivated.”

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North Attleboro Denies Foxboro Postseason Berth

North Attleboro boys soccer
North Attleboro’s Joey Coscarella passes the ball past Foxboro’s Ronnie MacLellan. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The state tournament doesn’t start until next week, but the North Attleboro boys soccer team got a head start in its final week of the regular season.

The Rocketeers’ final two opponents — Foxboro and Mansfield — head into their season finale’s needing points to qualify for the state tournament. The Warriors, who visited Beaupre Field on Tuesday afternoon, needed one point (a draw or win) while Mansfield needs a win on Thursday afternoon.

North Attleboro passed its first test, scoring a goal in each half to secure a 2-0 win over Foxboro and deny the Warriors a postseason berth.

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“You go down against them, how many goals have they’ve given up all year? Not many,” said Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino. “They stay compact and keep it tight. To be fair, they were the better team. Our passing was just a little bit off, I think our intensity from the start wasn’t there. So give credit to them, they came out and beat us today.”

The hosts, who entered the contest with a playoff berth secured via a second-place finish in the Davenport, learned a valuable lesson from their first matchup with Foxboro. Despite taking an early lead, North Attleboro saw the Warriors score back-to-back goals to earn a comeback win.

“We’ve had moments where we scored first, like we did against them last time, and fell asleep,” Burgess said. “So we’ve been really conscious about that. But when we [get a lead] and decide to park the bus, we’re pretty confident. We knew they were going to push because they had to, and as soon as we scored that just kind of fed right into the game plan.

“We saw on film where there were moments that [Foxboro] defended with two guys. I know [Matt] Mordini is faster than half of the defenders in the league, and I know [Matt] Conley is faster than all the defenders in the league. So that gives us a great chance to surprise people.”

This time around, the Warriors need to score played right into the game plan of the hosts. With a defense-first mentally, the Rocketeers’ counter-attack style led to a handful of breakout chances, mostly in the second half after taking a 2-0 lead.

Despite missing out on a golden chance three minutes into the game, the Rocketeers did jump in front on their second chance which came in the 24th minute. Goalie Kyle Briere launched a deep ball over the top of the Foxboro defense that Joey Coscarella made a run onto. The bounce eluded Coscarella, but the run drew a defender free of Matt Mordini, who was able to just get his shot off before the oncoming keeper, placing it into the top corner for a 1-0 lead.

Foxboro’s best chances of the opening half came off free kicks. Junior Dylan Barreira put a shot on goal from 20 yards out but Briere (eight saves) was in position for the stop. Joe Cusack set up the other chance in the 34th minute, putting a free kick into the area but Tim Behn’s bid was over the bar.

“It seemed like we were building out of the back in the first half and we just couldn’t find that final pass,” Franchino said. “They were putting a lot of pressure on our back four. I think we were off in completing passes, breaking lines in the middle third. We didn’t try to play direct, there was some space behind but we didn’t have the intensity. But give credit to North, they came and played well today.”

The game really opened up after North Attleboro doubled its lead just under four minutes into the second half. Mordini played a ball wide to Matt Conley, who got a touch to center the ball and Coscarella latched onto a half volley, finding the bottom right corner to make it 2-0.

From that point on, the Rocketeers had a handful of chances to add to its lead but couldn’t solve Foxboro keeper Dylan Tierney (10 saves). Foxboro had its share of chances but only came up with a pair of serious threats against Briere.

Just minutes after the second goal, another long ball from Briere found Mordini but Tierney made a big one-on-one stop and the rebound fell back into the keepers’ arms. Six minutes later, North senior Alex Pfeffer got a hold of a clearance that forced Tierney into a terrific diving save.

Foxboro junior Jeremy Neale kept the game at a two-goal deficit in the 55th minute by clearing a chance off the line. After Tierney made the initial stop on Coscarella, Mordini’s follow up chance was inches away from crossing the line until Neale intervened.

A change in formation led to more chances for Foxboro over the final 20 minutes. Cusack found Barreira at the back post on a free kick, but Barreira’s high touch was corralled by Briere. Two minutes later, Barreira had back-to-back free kick chances but the first was saved by Briere and the second just skipped wide at the post.

With Foxboro pushing, North’s counter-attack was on as Conley got in behind on a partial breakaway but Tierney came up with another big stop.

Barreira, who was almost always surrounded by a sea of red jerseys, had a shot blocked in the 67th and the loose ball fell to Will Morrison, but his blast went over the bar in the 67th minute. Max Beigel played a quick 1-2 with Barreira but his shot from atop the area was gobbled up in the 75th minute.

Briere put an exclamation point on the shutout with a terrific diving save in the 78th minute, robbing Barreira on a free kick from just outside the area.

“That was a big part coming in, we knew they’d come at us full boar cause they needed the game, they needed a point,” Burgess said. “Mansfield is in the same situation on Thursday so we have a chance to treat both of these games like playoff games. I think it’s great preparation going forward.

“We focused on taking Barreira out of the game, we moved [James] Sales to a different position, he was playing the six instead of the 10. Every set piece, he was always around Barreira, because he killed us last time as he probably he does a lot of teams.”

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With Foxboro needing just a point entering the game, Franchino was asked if there was any thought about playing a similar defensive-first style that North plays, but the head coach noted the team was looking for a win to get in.

“That’s not the style we play, we could have had a draw to go through but for me, I was looking to not play the number one seed and get over [North Attleboro], that was my mentality, that’s always my mentality,” Franchino said. “We could have [sat back from the beginning], but I think we if set back, and with the intensity we didn’t have, we would have gotten bombarded. I want to win the game, want to be confident and try to instill that in my players.”

North Attleboro (8-5-3 Hockomock, 8-6-3 overall) will host Mansfield in both teams’ regular season finale on Thursday. The Hornets are unbeaten in seven straight with four straight wins and need a fifth straight in order to qualify for the state tournament. Foxboro finishes the season at 7-8-3.

Milford Slips Past North With Early Second Half Goal

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Milford’s Jordan Borges winds up for a shot in the second half against North Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – It was a clash of styles on Wednesday evening at Beaupre Field as North Attleboro hosted Milford boys soccer in a battle of two of the top teams in the Davenport division.

The Hawks are one of the top offenses in the league with a handful of skilled players that can break down opposing defenses at will at times. On the flip side, the Rocketeers emphasize defense first with plenty of numbers behind the ball and then look to hit on the counter.

The game played out accordingly as Milford controlled the majority of possession but didn’t create a ton of chances against North’s strong defense. And the Rocketeers’ best chances came counter trying to get in behind the Hawks’ defense.

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The difference came just moments into the second half as Milford capitalized on a North Attleboro miscue defensively to score the only goal and grab a 1-0 win on the road.

“Kudos to Geoff [Burgess], his team is so well-coached and so well organized, you have to be on your toes the entire game,” said Milford head coach Brian Edwards. “If you make one mistake, they will capitalize. We were fortunate they didn’t score on that header right before half, and if they do it’s 1-0 and we probably don’t win that game.

“They are a really tough team to move the ball against. They are athletic, they are disciplined, they don’t give you any good chances. They all communicate well and they all tackle well. That’s the best team we’ve seen all year easily.”

The best chance for each side in the opening half came in the final five minutes. Junior Leo Coelho connected with senior Pedro Araujo, and the Hawks’ striker played the ball wide for freshman Nick Ribeiro. Ribeiro got to the ball first, beating the keeper lower but his shot clanked off the near post and his rebound bid went over the bar.

North nearly struck in the 40th minute when senior Joey Coscarella whipped in a cross from the right sideline and classmate Matt Mordini elevated over his defender but his header was just off target to keep the game scoreless.

After a lack of real chances in the first half, Milford came out in the second half and had three real good chances. Milford capitalized on the first one, just seconds in, as Araujo pounced on an errant pass between North defenders, getting just enough on his shot to North keeper Kyle Briere and the ball trickled over the line for the lone goal.

“You know what they want to do, but we know what we are and we’re a team that’s best going forward,” Edwards said. “We trust our players to not make a mistake that will let them punish us. We weren’t going to change how we play because of their game, we just made some adjustments. They really force you to be focused the entire game.

“They give you some space and you want to take that extra touch, and you want to try and break them down, but sometimes it’s really difficult when you have that space because you fall into that trap. But I thought we did a good enough job today, even without getting many quality chances. They always have three or four guys behind the ball so its tough to create a lot.”

Milford’s offense got some life from the goal as Coelho was able to create some space and rip a left-footed blast that was just high, clanking off the football goal post and bouncing into the net. And in the 43rd minute, Lucas Da Silva took a pass from Coelho and blasted a shot from inside the area but it was wide at the far post.

North Attleboro coach Geoff Burgess called a timeout to relax his squad, and the break worked out as the Rocketeers returned to form, with a stingy defense and wing players streaking down the sideline on the counter.

Coscarella combined with classmate James Sales, playing Sales in behind the defense but Milford keeper Kevin Gomes was quick off his line to thwart the bid. The duo combined again five minutes later but the shot rolled wide.

“I thought after the start of the second half, I thought we upped our level of play,” Burgess said. “We had one mistake [defensively]. We had a couple of chances with through balls, with Sales and Coscarella linking up, and the offsides call was pretty close. Those were three great chances there. I don’t think too many teams are breaking down them like that because they have the four backs plus the holding [midfielder] in front.”

Briere did well to come off his line in the 65th minute to deny a connection from Coelho to Araujo, forcing the shot to go wide.

The Rocketeers thought they had the equalizer in the 66th minute as Matt Conley laid a pass off for Sales, who beat the keeper, but it was ruled Sales was in an offside position.

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“Our mantra is stay disciplined, keep the ball in front, intercept passes, and get out on the break,” Burgess said. “That was what we did tonight, and you saw, once we get rolling we can be pretty dangerous. We just have to put it in the back of the net.”

Both teams had chances in the final moments as Araujo flashed a header wide a the near post after a service from Gabe Alvarenga for Milford, Conley had his header go over the bar off a free kick from Andrew Tolfa, and North defender Jeremy Folan won a key challenge in the box in the final minute.

Milford boys soccer (5-0-1 Hockomock, 5-0-1 overall) travels to Taunton on Friday while North Attleboro (3-3-0, 3-3-0) visits Franklin the same day.

Big Red Pins Down Win at Foxboro and League Title

North Attleboro wrestling
North Attleboro senior and UVA-commit Mateusz Kudra capped off North’s win over rival Foxboro with a pin at 285 pounds. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

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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.”

Cam Hassett edged Griffin Gouck 5-4 at 126 pounds to get Foxboro its first points of the night and the Warriors got back-to-back pins from Shayne Kerrigan (132) and Tommy Gallagher (138) to grab its only lead of the night.

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.”

Aidan Dow won 5-1 for Foxboro at 195 and William Ogbebor won 3-1 in a battle with John Kummer at 220, but North finished on a high. Mateusz Kudra, the University of Virginia-commit, got a pin at 285 to wrap up the meet.

“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.

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Rocketeers Counter Late To Claim Leach & Garner Cup

North Attleboro boys soccer
Attleboro’s Nathan LaPlume and North Attleboro’s Joe Hilf battle for possession in the 34th annual Leach and Garner Cup. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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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.

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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.

The challenge was the Attleboro couldn’t solve the Rocketeer back line of Remy Folan, Gavin O’Malley, Evan Rosenberg, and James Bush.

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.
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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.

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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.”

Strong Start Lifts North Past Foxboro in Divisional Battle

North Attleboro Boys Soccer
Joe Hilf (11) celebrates what turned out to be the game-winning goal for North Attleboro in a big 2-1 victory over Foxboro at Beaupre Field. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

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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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Boys Soccer: 2018 Davenport Division Preview

2018 Davenport Boys Soccer Preview
North Attleboro’s Joe Hilf (right) and the rest of the Rocketeers are ready to defend the division title. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Davenport Boys Soccer Preview

Canton

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.

Foxboro

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.

Milford

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.

North Attleboro

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.

Sharon

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.

Stoughton

2017 Record: 1-16-1
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Joshua Aubin

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.”

Rocketeers, Warriors Finish Level In Playoff Preview

North Attleboro boys soccer
North Attleboro’s Jeff Gale (left) and Foxboro’s Will Regan track down a loose ball in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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].”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Boys Soccer: 2017 Davenport Division Preview

2017 Davenport Division Preview
Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Davenport Boys Soccer Preview

Canton

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.”

Foxboro

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.”

Milford

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

2016 Record: 2-10-6
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Geoff Burgess

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.”

Sharon

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.”

Stoughton

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.

Corcoran’s Brace Lifts Bulldogs To First Win

Canton boys soccer
Canton’s Jake Verille (11), Pat McLaughlin (4) and Paolo Ruggeri (right) celebrate with Paul Corcoran (second from right) after his opening goal. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
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.

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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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.