Below are the official 20020 Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Kelley-Rex Division MVP
Leo Coelho, Milford
Kelley-Rex Division All Stars
Joey Soucy, Attleboro
Jackson Singer, Attleboro
Ethan Cain, Franklin
Terry O’Neill, Franklin
Evan McEvoy, King Philip
Aidan Lindmark, King Philip
Ajae Olsen, King Philip
Evan Eames, Mansfield
Tommy Lanzillo, Mansfield
Michael Jeans, Mansfield
Leo Coelho, Milford
Lucas Da Silva, Milford
Chris Tocci, Milford
Davenport Division MVP
Colin Milliken, Oliver Ames
Davenport Division All Stars
Giovanni Ruggeri, Canton
Jacob Crugnale, Canton
Abdul Barrie, Canton
Erik Valdovinos, Canton
Max Beigel, Foxboro
Justin Silva, North Attleboro
Kevin Louhis, Oliver Ames
Colin Milliken, Oliver Ames
Brady deVos, Oliver Ames
Mathias Taylor, Oliver Ame
Matt Nikiciuk, Oliver Ames
Anthony DaCosta, Oliver Ames
Bryce Nathan, Sharon
Alex Vecchioli, Attleboro
Jorge Sanchez, Canton
Matthew Angelini, Foxboro
Ben Moccia, Franklin
Cole Breen, King Philip
Eric Sullivan, Mansfield
Leo Oliveira, Milford
Matthew Conley, North Attleboro
Drew Nickla, Oliver Ames
Matthew Baur, Sharon
Nolan Gerome, Stoughton
Riley Rebello, Taunton
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan has pleaded for his players to start shooting more when they have opportunities in the final third.
On Monday afternoon, the Hornets took heed of their coach’s request.
After scoring four goals in its opening four games, the Mansfield boys soccer team equaled that output as four different Hornets found the back of the net in a 4-0 win on the road over Attleboro in the HockomockSports Game of the Week.
The Hornets wasted little time, scoring a pair of goals in the first quarter to jump ahead early and then tacked on goals in each the third and fourth quarters to get their fourth win of the season.
“Our forwards are finally starting to shoot,” Sheridan said. “I think we had more shots today than we’ve had all season. We’ve got a couple of guys that are finally starting to get it. I’ve been screaming since we started to take more shots. We spend more time on shooting in practice and then we get to a game and we don’t take them. We took them today, I was happy with how we played today.”
Mansfield boys soccer
Mansfield scored a pair of signature goals, pushing numbers into the area and cashing in on loose chances in the area. But the Hornets also showed some versatility in their offense as junior Matt Hyland and senior Tommy Lanzillo scored on class shots from distance.
Just over five minutes into the contest, a clearance popped out to Mansfield senior Michael Jeans, who popped a service high back into the box. Attleboro’s keeper was unable to catch it cleanly and Mansfield junior Sagar Koul was exactly where he needed to be, following up the loose ball and roofing his touch just under the bar for a 1-0 lead.
And a minute later, Jackson Singer found Soucy, who got a touch to the ball before Lasbury-Casey and then followed up on the loose ball in the area but a slide from Ethan Scholes and a block from Jeans kept the ball out.
“We played very well, I like my defense, Evan [Eames] and [Michael] Caridi played phenomenal back there, especially in the second half,” Sheridan said. “Michael [Jeans] saved a bunch of balls back there. We finally got our three center midfielders [Lanzillo, Colin True, Sullivan] to start working together. They weren’t communicating enough. But now they’re talking, they know whos making a run up and who needs to drop back, moving side to side together. It’s basically what’s connected everything, us starting to communicate.”
Mansfield boys soccer
Mansfield’s pressure paid off just before the end of the first quarter. Sophomore Aidan Steele forced a giveaway, junior Dan Rowe quickly squared a pass to Hyland, who let the ball come across his body before blasting a shot from just over 30 yards out, catching the keeper off his line as it floated just under the bar.
“We were missing heart,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “Mansfield played their game which is boot, boot, boot and they capitalized on some of those. We weren’t disciplined enough to play our game which is touch. We had no offense today. [Our players] want to blame the ref for everything but we had two of the best in the league today so you can’t say it’s the ref. We just lost our cool and could never get going.
“They run at you and they create some crazy stuff. They play the long balls and there’s a bounce here or there and they capitalize on them. They played their game better than we played ours. But we see them in two days and hopefully, it will be a little bit different.”
The second quarter was mostly played between the two 18-yard lines, the best chance coming off the foot of Steele. Both Steele and Rowe pressured the Bombardier defense, resulting in a turnover and a low shot from Steele but Attleboro backup keeper Cody Abreu, who took over the middle of the period, handled the bounce well.
Mansfield added to its lead in the 49th minute, again capitalizing on numbers and high pressure in the area. Lanzillo whipped in a cross from the left wing and Hyland was there to meet it after making a near post run but his touch hit the post and stayed out. It bounced right to Grady Sullivan, who touched it over to Scholes for the finish and a 3-0 lead.
“For us, it’s important to attack in numbers,” Sheridan said. “And that’s why we can’t have anyone taking a play off. We need everyone to keep doing. We have the numbers to put different guys in. With the new rules with 20 minute quarters, I don’t expect to have to sub too often but I can if I have to. We want them to go really hard for 8-12 minutes and then we’ll get someone fresh in there.”
Attleboro looked to answer five minutes alter as Henriquez and Singer combined to create for the Bombardiers, the result a shot from Justin Lurssen but his bid was partially blocked and bounced harmlessly to Lasbury-Casey.
Mansfield added one more goal in the 64th minute. Lanzillo played a ball into the area that was cleared away but Lanzillo alertly tracked down the loose ball and put his laces through a bouncing ball that curled into the near post from 30 yards out.
Mansfield (4-1) will host the Bombardiers (0-3) in a rematch on Wednesday night at 6:45.
Attleboro, 1 @ Milford, 4 – Final – Milford’s Victor Botelho scored on each side on halftime to help the Scarlet Hawks pick up two points against visiting Attleboro. Milford opened the scoring when Lucas Da Silva finished off a feed from Arthur Tome but Attleboro equalized on a goal from Jackson Singer (assisted by Hugo Henriquez). Botelho put the Hawks back ahead on an assist from Leo Coelho to make it 2-1 going into halftime. Da Silva set Botelho up to make it 3-1, and Coelho (from Da Silva) added an insurance tally for the 4-1 win.
Canton, 1 @ Sharon, 1 – Final
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Foxboro, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames moved to 3-0 on the season with its third shutout, this time going on the road and beating Foxboro. Senior Colin Milliken scored once and set up three more to lead the way for the Tigers. Milliken set up Kevin Louhis for the opening goal and then assisted on back-to-back goals from Mathias Taylor. Taylor set up Milliken prior to those goals to make it 2-0. OA senior Gage Fritchman scored his first career goal on a penalty kick.
Mansfield, 2 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Mansfield scored a pair of fourth quarters to earn two points on the road against Taunton. After three scoreless quarters, the Hornets finally broke through in the 64th minute. Connor Palinski earned an assist after showing great hustle to track down a loose ball, centering to find Sagar Koul right at the six yard box for the finish. Mansfield doubled its lead five minutes later when Koul settled a pass from Tommy Lanzillo and blasted a shot in from a step inside the area. Eric Sullivan earned his second shutout of the season for Mansfield.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – North Attleboro senior Matt Conley bagged a brace as the Rocketeers broke into the win column with a 2-0 road victory over Stoughton. Conley scored the Big Red’s first goal of the season in the 10th minute of the contest, beating the keeper 1-on-1 after latching onto a through ball from Connor Ward. The Rocketeers doubled their lead in the 55th minute as Jaad Ismail found Conley streaking in behind the defense and he finished into the far corner. David Floyd (nine saves) played well for North to record the shutout.
Milford, 0 @ Attleboro, 2 – Final – Briley Harnois scored twice for the Bombardiers, who picked up a win in their delayed season opener and senior day. Jessica Gates added an assist and Alexis Campbell earned the clean sheet in goal. Attleboro coach Steve Santos was proud of his team’s start after having to wait an extra week to get on the field, saying the Bombardiers created a number of early chances against a Milford team that battled throughout.
Sharon, 0 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Olivia Rodman, Gabriella Herivaux, and Elisa Diletizia each scored once to lift Canton to a third straight win to start the season and into a one-point lead in the division. Rodman opened the scoring with a rocket from outside the box in the first quarter and Mia Gilmore then set up Herivaux with a through ball to get a second before halftime, but Sharon was resilient and kept battling. Wendy Wooden nearly halved the deficit right before the break with a tight angled shot but it went over the bar and landed on the roof of the net. The score stayed 2-0 until late in the fourth quarter when Diletizia blasted one just under the bar for Canton’s third. Sharon goalie Cass Barbera played well in the loss and Mekhala Costello finished with two assists for the Bulldogs.
Foxboro, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 2 – Final – The Warriors battled back from a 2-0 deficit, scoring twice in the second half to come away with a point. Trailing by two goals at the break, Foxboro had a goal disallowed early in the third quarter, but Grace Ferguson scored off a Kailee McCabe assist to cut the deficit to one and then McCabe scored an unassisted goal to secure the draw. Sophomores Mary Cross and Jenna Gilman scored to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. Emma Pereira had an assist while senior Madeleine Taylor and junior Alexa Lane had strong games for OA.
Taunton, 0 @ Mansfield, 0 – Final – Olivia Salisbury and Kelsey Hubler combined for the shutout and helped the Hornets get their first point of the season. Mansfield coach Kevin Smith praised his defense for limiting Taunton’s chances and added that the Tigers played well in their defensive third, blocking shots and coming up with a lot of big saves.
Stoughton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 7 – Final – Steph McKenna scored a hat trick and Emma Pratt scored twice to lead North Attleboro to its first win of the season, keeping the Rocketeers unbeaten through three matches. Caroline Ferrin and Tess Collins also scored for North, with Collins adding an assist. Maggie O’Brien, Ari Newth, Clara Giuliano, Brayden Rice, and Jordyn Sullivan also had assists for North. Kaylah Seavey and Maddie Ferrin split time in goal to get the clean sheet. First-year Stoughton coach Hermes Lima praised his team’s start to the game, as it was scoreless after the first, and explained that he needs the team to not get down after a mistake and let teams break the game open. He said, “We were chasing almost the whole middle quarters and that cannot happen.”
Canton, 2 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – Canton’s Meghan LaBelle scored twice as the Bulldogs went on the road and earned two points on the grass at Sharon.
Mansfield, 3 @ Taunton, 3 – Final – Mansfield and Taunton traded goals back and forth, the latter scoring in the final minutes as the squads settled for a point each in a draw. Ashley Amaro scored a pair of goals for the Tigers, both assisted by Kylie Thorpe, while Alana Tavares added an unassisted goal. Jocelyn Pagliuca and Skylar Rheaume played well defensively in front of junior Emily Gannon (16 saves) for Taunton.
Foxboro, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – Oliver Ames overcame an early deficit with three straight goals to knock off visiting Foxboro. The Warriors took the lead less than three minutes into on a goal from Dylan Rappoli but the Tigers responded less than two minutes later when Sofia Anestam set up Georgia Costello to make it 1-1. Costello put the Tigers ahead in the second quarter with an unassisted goal just 33 seconds into the frame. Julia Maclaine secured the win for the Tigers with a second half insurance goal set up by Erin Cottam. Peyton Phillips made seven saves for OA and had an outstanding second half in the cage. OA coach Sharon Lawrence lauded the performances of Abbey Boyce, Emily Han, and Maggie Woods.
Attleboro, 175 @ Milford, 179 – Final – Brendan Raymond was the match medalist, helping the Bombariders pick up a win on the road at Hopedale Country Club. Raymond shot a match-low round of 36 while Milford’s top performers were Dave Pacella (42) and Jacob Hipolito (43).
Canton, 148 @ Sharon, 173 – Final – Canton’s Mike Leonetti earned match medalist honors and Nate MacDonald shot an even par to help the Bulldogs pick up a victory at the Cape Club of Sharon. Leonetti carded a two-under par round of 34 while MacDonald shot a 36 for the Bulldogs. Will Gefteas added a 38 and Owen Donovan carded a 40 for Canton. Nathan Daley led the Eagles with a one-over round of 37 while Eric Carter added a 41 for Sharon.
King Philip, 163 @ Franklin, 158 – Final – Franklin’s depth proved pivotal in a close win at home over visiting King Philip. The Warriors’ Jared Curran was the match medalist with a 37 while Mike Matheson shot a 39 for KP. But Franklin’s top four all finished within four strokes of one another, led by Jack Paterson’s 38. Sean Connelly added a 39, Nolan Norton shot a 40, and Brian Sandham chipped in with a 41 in Franklin’s win.
Taunton, 191 @ Mansfield, 148 – Final – All four of Mansfield’s scorers shot under 40 at Norton Country Club as the Hornets picked up a win over Taunton. Ryan Dow led the way with a match-medalist round of 35, Brian See added a round of 37 while both Cian Goulet and Nate Morreale each shot a 38 in the win.
North Attleboro, 172 @ Stoughton, 181 – Final – Jake Gaskin and Sam Gallagher split medalist honors as the Rocketeers recorded a win at Easton Country Club over Stoughton. Both Gaskin and Gallagher shot 42 to lead the Big Red to a win. Anthony Hern also shot a 42 to earn medalist honors while Joe Mark added a 43 for the Black Knights.
Foxboro, 160 @ Oliver Ames, 153 – Final – Oliver Ames picked up an important win over division foe Foxboro on the links at Pine Oaks in Easton. Senior Logan Domenico and junior Jake Kaplan each shot a 37 to lead the Tigers, with Domencio sinking a birdie on the eighth hole. Senior Will Gianni added a 39 in the win and freshman Sean Kearns finished with a 40.
Canton @ Sharon, 3:45
Oliver Ames, 15 @ Foxboro, 50 – Final – It was a clean sweep for the Tigers, taking the top scoring spots to earn a big win over Foxboro. Kyle Sarney won the race for the Tigers while Owen McMorrow and Nate Reservitz rounded out the top three. Nicolas Olson clocked in at 19:14 and was Foxboro’s top runner while Jared Ciora ran a PR (19:37) and was second for Foxboro.
North Attleboro @ Stoughton, 3:45
Canton @ Sharon, 3:45
Oliver Ames, 17 @ Foxboro, 43 – Final – The Tigers took the first three spots in the race en route to a victory on the road over Foxboro. Katie Soberaij was the winner with teammates Jojo Holmes and Hailey Goldman taking second and third, respectively. Foxboro’s Aine Fitzpatrick finished in 22:05 for fourth place overall while Mabel Linck took seventh for the Warriors.
2019 Record: 6-9-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Peter Pereira
One more goal scored or one goal less allowed could have changed the entire outcome of the 2019 season for the Bombardiers, who suffered six one-goal losses and three draws. Now with more varsity experience under their belts, Attleboro is aiming to surprise some teams in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division title this season.
Longtime head coach Peter Pereira is counting on that experience to translate into leadership on and off the field. Senior goalie Zackary Brown is back in net for the Bombardiers and is showing more confidence inside the area. Senior Joey Soucy is making the transition to defense and will play alongside classmates Jayden Lockhart and Andrew Fasoldt. Junior Cashel Stuger is also back in the mix defensively while seniors Henry Marini and Alejandro Jimenez could factor into the defensive unit as well.
Jackson Singer emerged as a strong option in the midfield in his first season with the Bombardiers and should be a big piece again this year. Singer will pair up with Hugo Henriquez to give Attleboro an experienced duo in the heart of the pitch. Seniors Ben Fasoldt, Emilio Amaya, and Tyler Sar will all be apart of the midfield while juniors Tom Russo and Emilio Ticas should see valuable minutes for the Bombardiers. Freshman Alex Vecchioli has shown a lot of versatility so far and could play in a variety of roles.
Up front, Attleboro will be relying on a combination of speed, tough, and work effort as they challenge opposing defenses. Depending on the pairing, Attleboro will be able to attack in a variety of ways. Seniors Justin Lurssen and Connor Paquin as well as juniors Liam Bischoff and Yianni Skordas will all see time in the attack. Sophomore Esvin Morales emerged as one of the top attacking threats a year ago and will be among the top finishers in the league.
“We have a good group of seniors and hope that this experience will pay off,” Pereira said. “We believe we will have a more competitive, more mature, and more balanced team.”
2019 Record: 4-12-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Danny Erickson
The Bulldogs were very young during the 2019 season with just a half dozen seniors on the squad, but that meant plenty of young players were able to gain valuable on-field experience at the varsity level. Now the Bulldogs will be looking to contend in a very competitive Davenport division in the shortened 2020 season.
The defense will be the backbone of the team this season as the Bulldogs have a lot of experience at the centerback position. Senior captain Matt Giglio is back for his third year with the squad after being a key piece in each of the previous two years. He will be joined in the middle of the defense by Will Keefe, who anchored the Dogs’ backline last year and earned All-Hockomock honors.
Junior Dylan Baird had a breakout sophomore season and will be one of the main pieces in the midfield. After a down season for Canton on the offensive end as a whole last year, Baird’s presence in the midfield will help create opportunities going forward. Up front, the Bulldogs are counting on senior Colton Marliani to be a go-to scoring threat.
Canton already suffered a big blow as senior captain TJ McCabe, who has been with the squad since he was a freshman, will miss the season due to injury. On the flip side, the Bulldogs are getting a boost with the addition of Abdul Barrie. Barrie played in the youth leagues in Canton but will make his CHS debut this fall and could make a big impact for the Dogs.
“I think the rule modifications will challenge us all equally,” said longtime Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “But after a week or so of training, to me, it’s still soccer.”
2019 Record: 7-8-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dan Ambrosio
The Warriors had a sour taste in their mouth at the end of last season, losing the last game of the year to miss out on the playoffs. While Foxboro won’t have the chance to get back to the postseason this year, the Davenport division title is certainly in reach.
Foxboro graduated a couple of stalwarts (Joe Cusack, Dylan Barreira, Will Morrison) that were important pieces of the squad in each of the last couple of seasons, but there are plenty of experienced players back from last year’s seven-win squad plus a handful of new faces anxious to make their mark. Seniors Max Beigel and PJ Frost will give the Warriors plenty of leadership and experience, especially in the midfield and attacking third. Foxboro will look to play quick, using the counterattack to hit on the break.
After giving up nearly two goals a game a season ago, the Warriors are aiming to tighten up the back as they navigate through a very competitive Davenport division. First-year head coach Dan Ambrosio is also counting on new players like John Hollis and Ryan Flaherty to make an impact during the shortened season.
“We are a tight-knit group who like to have fun playing the game and look forward to representing our school and town,” Ambrosio said.
2019 Record: 9-7-4 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Fran Bositis
With returning players in most areas of the pitch and a trio of top midfielders in the Hockomock League, the Panthers should be in the mix for the Kelley-Rex title, although it could be one of the most competitive seasons since the league split into two.
With just 10 games and all six teams in the Kelley-Rex possible contenders, there is little margin for error. The Panthers will be put to the test right away as they take on Milford, who won the Davenport two years in a row and went to the D2 State Final last season, in the opening week. But longtime head coach Fran Bositis has plenty of talent on his roster to try and make a push for the division title. It all starts in the midfield with a trio of returning starters in Ethan Cain, Tyler Powderly, and last year’s HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Terry O’Neill.
All three bring something different to the table which will make Franklin’s midfield among the most dynamic in the league. Powderly’s speed on the wings will give defenses fits while Cain will bring plenty of creativity as the Panthers push forward. O’Neill won’t be able to dominate in the air like he did a season ago thanks to the new modifications that ban headers, but the junior is also such a calming presence with the ball at his feet and will help Franklin keep possession. Ben Moccia, who started in the midfield a season ago, is moving up top to the number 9 spot, while Charlie Amante, Ryan Witt, Jack Moran, and Kevin Proenca will also see time in the attack.
The Panthers have some new faces in the defensive unit. Will Fox is the lone returning starter and has impressed in the early stages of the season. Sam George, Robbin Tappin, and Karl Gruseck will all factor into the Panthers’ defense while Aidan Griffith, Nelson Martinez, and Connor Scagliarini will be options for Bositis to play either defense or in the midfield. Newcomers Trey Lovell and Rex Cinelli could see valuable minutes right away. Former Panther standout goalie Freddie Backmann, who is without a season at Regis College, is mentoring Luc Boudreau, this year’s starting keeper for Franklin.
“I think that we have a very good group of athletes (soccer players) who have worked real hard in preparation for this season,” Bositis said. “I know that they are all excited to be playing and that they are looking forward to competing against the other Kelley-Rex teams and putting themselves in a position to challenge for a league championship.”
2019 Record: 8-5-6 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Mike O’Neill
King Philip was the surprise team of the 2019 season, overcoming a large amount of inexperience to take third in the Kelley-Rex and qualify for the state tournament. While the Warriors won’t sneak up on anyone this season, the skill and experience they return should put them in the mix for the division title.
Second-year head coach Mike O’Neill has strong players in all areas of the pitch, starting with senior captain Evan McEvoy. A four-year player with the program, McEvoy is coming off a breakout season in 2019 and will be among the top midfielders in the league. He will control the pace for the Warriors from the center of the pitch, working with fellow captain Alex Leon, who will use his speed to patrol the wings and get in behind the defense. Both Caleb Waxman and Stephen Griffin made an impact last season and should see expanded roles in the shortened 2020 season. Sophomore Matt Crago is a new face that could make a splash in his first year.
The Warriors should have one of the top defenses in the league again this season. Senior captain Aidan Lindmark is back in goal and his distribution skills will factor in heavily to how KP plays out of the back. Jeremy White had a strong 2019 season at center back and will bolster the Warriors’ backline when he returns from injury. In the meantime, four-year player Ajae Olsen, who is normally patrolling the wing or up top, will have his versatility on display as he slides into the centerback spot.
“Our players and coaches are thankful that we are at the point where we can have a season,” O’Neill said. “So much work and sacrifice have gone into getting the Hockomock League schools to this moment. I’m looking forward to some excellent and competitive soccer. I expect every game to be extremely competitive – there are no easy games in the Hock. Five wins may win the division.”
2019 Record: 6-7-5 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Sheridan
With just 10 games scheduled for the season, every game – from the first to the last – is going to be important. No one understands that more than the 2020 Hornets, who came up just short of the state tournament last year. After a slow start, Mansfield became one of the toughest teams to beat down the stretch, finishing on an eight-game unbeaten streak that featured an upset of division champion Oliver Ames but came just one point shy of postseason play.
With the postseason not in the picture for this year, the focus shifts on the division title. The Hornets are hoping to carry the momentum from the end of last season into this year. Mansfield will have a mix of veterans and inexperience in its defensive unit. Senior captain Evan Eames will be the centerpiece of the group alongside classmate Michael Jeans, who missed all of last season due to injury. Sophomores Grady Sullivan and Nate Kablik round out the Hornets’ back four while senior captain Eric Sullivan will take over starting in goal.
Senior captain Tommy Lanzillo will run the show from the center of the pitch, helping the Hornets transition from defense to offense. Lanzillo is strong with the ball at his feet and will help distribute as the Hornets hit on the counter. Senior Colin True and juniors Matt Hyland and Dan Rowe will join Lanzillo in the Hornets’ midfield. Junior Dylan Buchanan is back for his third year with the squad and will play up top alongside Aiden Steele.
2019 Record: 18-1-2 2019 Finish: D2 State Finalists Coach: Antonio Pinta
Milford arrives in the Kelley-Rex division with a huge target on its back. Coming off back-to-back Davenport division titles and a trip to the D2 State Final a season ago, the Hawks enter their new division as the favorite. But game in and game out, Milford can expect to get everyone’s best.
First-year head coach Antonio Pinto might be new to the varsity position but has been with the program during this successful run as an assistant and JV coach. It will all start with the reigning HockomockSports Player of the Year and Hockomock League MVP Leo Coelho, who can play just about any position on the pitch at a high level. If there is a need to shut down a high-powered offense, you might see Coelho playing defense. Or if the Hawks need a boost offensively, he can just as easily move up front and provide creativity in the final third.
The Hawks are far from a one-trick pony with both Lucas Da Silva (eight goals, seven assists) and Joao Pedro Da Silva (six goals, three assists) back in the mix this season. Replacing the Hockomock’s leading scorer in Pedro Araujo (25 goals, 11 assists) will be tough but we saw the Hawks do just that when Araujo took over for former HockomockSports Player of the Year Wallison de Oliveira.
Defensively, the Hawks will be strong up the middle. Junior Kevin Gomes returns to start in goal for the Hawks after getting valuable experience there during last year’s season and deep playoff run. And junior Chris Tocci is back in the heart of the defense at centerback after a breakout sophomore campaign. While the new regulations will certainly challenge the Hawks defensively with heading and slide tackling banned, Milford should have a big advantage offensively because of their strong possession skills.
“I’m very excited to be out there with the guys this season,” Pinto said. “We are ready to play no matter what the rules and conditions are! We’re ecstatic to have a season.”
2019 Record: 9-7-4 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Geoff Burgess
The Rocketeers and head coach Geoff Burgess have found a recipe for success over the past couple of seasons and will be looking to replicate that again this year. Defense always comes first for the Rocketeers, who allowed just 0.68 goals per game last year. While every team is being forced to make changes because of the new modifications due to COVID-19, the Rocketeers might be affected more than most with heading, slide tackles, and shoulder-to-shoulder challenges banned.
But the Rocketeers have adjusted during the preseason and will be relying on defense and goalkeeping once again this season. Replacing two-time HockomockSports Best XI selection Kyle Briere in net won’t be easy but the North Attleboro is turning to junior David Floyd, who is one of the most athletic players on the team this season according to Burgess. The Rocketeers also boast one of the best centerback combinations in the league with seniors Justin Silva and Donovan Carter back in the fold this year. With a season of experience playing together, it will be tough for teams to find ways to get by the defense anchored by that duo.
While defense remains a top priority for the Big Red, that doesn’t mean North isn’t a dangerous team in the attacking third. As they’ve shown over the past two seasons, speed can kill. Relying on the counterattack and set pieces for the majority of their offensive chances, North brings back senior forward Matt Conley (one goal, five assists) to try and beat defenses with his speed and skill. Junior Connor Ward will have a lot to say about the pace the Rocketeers play at as he orchestrates the team from the center of the pitch.
“With an abbreviated season and a large senior class, we hope to challenge OA for the league title,” Burgess said. “This will obviously be a huge challenge but our defense will be tough to breakdown and you can’t lose if the other team does not score.”
2019 Record: 15-4-0 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal Coach: John Barata
Oliver Ames has reached the D2 State Final three times since 2014 and with a large group of experienced and skilled players back from last year’s team that went 15-4, another trip to the finals might have been in the cards for 2020. But with postseason canceled due to COVID-19, the Tigers are looking to make as big of an impact as they can.
After a four-year stint in the Kelley-Rex, one that included a pair of division titles (2017 and 2019), the Tigers are back in the Davenport division where they won five titles in the first six years after the Hockomock split. OA brings back nine players that either started or saw a good amount of minutes on the pitch last year, highlighted by HockomockSports Best XI selections Colin Milliken, Brady deVos, and Kevin Louhis. Milliken will help the Tigers transition from defense to offense from his center mid spot, Louhis will be a go-to option on the offensive end, and deVos is back to anchor the defense for the second straight season.
The Tigers will have plenty of options to go along with Milliken (10 goals, 14 assists) and Louhis (4 goals, 9 assists) in the attacking third. Jimmy Keane (six goals, one assist) bolsters the midfield while Anthony DaCosta (six goals, one assist) has improved each of the past two seasons and will be a handful for opposing defenses. Senior Matthew Nikiciuk really emerged as a force in the middle of the pitch last season and will be a big part of the offense, especially through set pieces. Both Mathias Taylor and Dillon Cupples burst onto the scene a year ago and will be in the mix as the Tigers push forward.
Senior goalie Drew Nickla returns in net after a strong year in 2019. The Tigers graduated the most from the defensive unit so the early challenge will be developing chemistry quickly in the backline. Head coach John Barata is also looking for Ben Cohen, Michael Haikal, and Hector Bucio as viable options for the Tigers while sophomore Jake Williams and freshmen Ryan Linhares, Joey Carney, and Diego Rivera are new faces to keep an eye out for.
“We are looking forward to competing this fall and enjoying the opportunity to grow as people and players,” Barata said. “This is a unique situation for a very unique group of players and we are going to make the best of it and play the best soccer we can. These young men are fantastic and we are going to have a great time this season regardless of the on field results…but we hope to have a few of those too!”
2019 Record: 6-7-5 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Scott Nathan
The Eagles enter the 2020 campaign with a chip on their shoulder, coming up just one point shy of the state tournament a year ago. While Sharon can’t make up for that with a tournament appearance this year with the playoffs canceled due to COVID-19, the Eagles can certainly make some noise while challenging for the Davenport division title.
Sharon said goodbye to a handful of experienced veterans including Michael Baur, Brian Higgins, and Isaiah Stessman, but first-year head coach Scott Nathan has a group of proven players plus a bunch of news faces eager to make their mark. Senior captain Bryce Nathan and junior captain James Zhang will lead the way both on and off the pitch this year as the Eagles compete for the Davenport crown.
Bryce Nathan is one of the most versatile players in the league, playing anywhere from defense to striker during his tenure with the Eagles. Zhang, fresh off an impressive sophomore campaign, is very confident with the ball at his feet and does a nice job distributing from the center of the pitch. Sophomore Matthew Baur is back in goal after getting a varsity season under his belt. Rhys Davis and Brandon Mauricio highlight a list of returners defensively while Coby Jacobson, Samid Khandaker, Adam Landstein, Aaron Livshin, and Daniel Zagoren are all back with varsity experience as well.
The Eagles will focus on a sound defense first before transitioning into offense. Patience will be key this year as Sharon looks to make the most of each opportunity as they push forward. Brady Daylor, Malachi Diaz, Adam Eastman, Daniel Fishman, Amjad Kordab, Jack Landstein, Rohan Prakash, Elliot Pototsky Nicholas Rincon, Aaron Tamkin, Jeffrey Xiang, and Tony Yang are new to the varsity level and will be looking to make an impact on the pitch for the Eagles in 2020.
“The game will be different…for players, coaches, referees, and fans,” Scott Nathan said. “I am just happy for the boys that they have the opportunity to play the game they love!”
2019 Record: 3-13-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jon Grant
With a year of experience under coach Jon Grant, the Black Knights are aiming to have a bounce back year and compete with the top teams in the Davenport division.
There were plenty of bumps in the road during the 2019 season but Stoughton certainly showed some bright spots, including wins over Mansfield and Canton. Now the Black Knights will try to compete in each game and string some results together. Captain Nolan Gerome returns in goal for Stoughton and is among the best keepers in the league. Opposing head coaches have raved about saves Gerome has made over the past couple of seasons and he will be the anchor of the Black Knights’ defensive unit.
Playing in front of Gerome will be senior captain Ryan Sears and junior Owen Roddy, who both played valuable minutes last year. With a good amount of experience and skill in the back, Stoughton is hoping defense will be a cornerstone for the 2020 season. Grant is looking for Rhuan Carvalho to be a top playmaker for the Black Knights, distributing from the center of the pitch to create some offensive chances.
“Our goal for this year to improve on last season,” Grant said. “This year the players came in to the short season fairly well conditioned and with a great attitude. All the players are so grateful to have this opportunity to be back out on the field. This will definitely help us in this short season.”
2019 Record: 2-9-7 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
It’s easy to look at Taunton’s record from a season ago and make assumptions, but upon further review, the Tigers were in just about every game they played. Five of the nine losses were decided by just one goal and the Tigers had a league-high seven draws; one goal either way and the Tigers were that close to a spot in the tournament. It goes to show how competitive the league was and how important each goal is.
With a strong nucleus of players back from last year’s squad, the playoffs wouldn’t have been such a far reach for Taunton this season. But with the postseason not in play, the Tigers will shift focus on being a darkhorse in the Kelley-Rex division title hunt. The new modifications will make it tough for all teams when it comes to defending, but it will also benefit something that Taunton has plenty of: speed. The Tigers plan on utilizing their pace on both ends of the pitch, getting behind the defense on one end while using their speed defensively to fend off opposing offenses.
Taunton will be strong up the middle with senior Travis Nunes back in the heart of the pitch and sophomore Riley Rebello back to anchor the defense. Senior Hunter Cabral will give the Tigers flexibility by playing in both the midfield and up front. Head coach Taylor Whitters is looking for sophomores Joseph Renquinha Jr., Aidden Fitting, Quincy Jones-Sylvia, Jonathan Trinh, and Nathan Keenan to all be in the mix this season.
“Despite everything that has occurred in recent months, we have one of the most versatile and technically sound teams that Taunton High School Boys Soccer has seen in a long time,” Whitters said. “This group of young men have the number one factor in the success of any team: chemistry. They have the willingness to play for the team, not for themselves. I feel with their talents, abilities, and desire to work together as a unit, we will be a team to watch in our division this season.”
Franklin, 1 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – Attleboro used a strong second half to earn its third straight win. Mike Russo scored a pair of goals and Jackson Singer found the back of the net once for the Bombardiers. Ethan Cain scored for Franklin on an assist from Donny Tappin.
Canton, 0 @ Milford, 3 – Final – Milford senior Pedro Araujo scored his league-leading 25th goal of the season and added a pair of second half assists to help the Hawks finish undefeated in the regular season (14-0-2) for the first time in school history. Araujo set up Jordan Borges and Lucas Da Silva for second half strikes.
Mansfield, 1 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Mansfield won its fourth straight and extended its unbeaten streak to seven to keep its postseason hopes alive heading into the final game of the season. Sophomore Matt Hyland scored the lone goal of the game in the 37th minute while Anthony Salisbury had the shutout in net. Hyland took a feed from Dan Rowe, who originally handled a long throw in from Cam Eddy.
Stoughton, 0 @ Sharon, 3 – Final – Sharon took the lead midway through the first half and added a pair of second half goals to keep its postseason hopes alive. Viktor Schneider set up Brian Higgins for the opening goal just before the midway point of the first half. Schneider then assisted on a goal from Michael Baur in the second half to make it 2-0. Rhys Davis secured the win by making it 3-0 off an assist from Ben Nathan.
North Attleboro, 0 @ Foxboro, 3 – Final – Jordan Sullivan, Lydia Hershey, Lily Adams, and Abi Slaney played well for the Rocketeers.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip completed its undefeated season (18-0-0) behind three second half goals at home against OA. Chloe Layne scored the opening goal in the 55th minute, finishing off a ball over the top from Jenna Hitchen. Layne returned the favor six minutes later, linking up with Hitchen for a one-timer inside the area to make it 2-0. Makenzie Shandley capped the scoring with a blast from 25 yards out in the 65th minute with Layne getting the assist.
Taunton, 0 @ Mansfield, 3 – Final – Tarynn Smith scored twice and assisted on the third Mansfield goal to put the Hornets within two points of tournament qualification with one game remaining in the regular season. Meg Krone had the third goal for the Hornets and Olivia Salisbury made three saves to secure her eighth clean sheet of the season.
Sharon, 2 @ Stoughton, 6 – Final – Stoughton ended its season on a high note with a big win at home over visiting Sharon. Junior Mackenzie Manning and freshman Shayla Ford each had three goals in the win. Hannah Papagno, Rebeca Desousa, Isabella Rodrigues, Sabrina Rodrigues, and Maggie Veliotis each registered an assist in the win.
Canton, 3 @ Quincy, 0 – Final – Canton picked up its 17th win in its regular season finale, picking up a 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-21) sweep on the road at Quincy. Taylor Harris led Canton with 18 kills and five digs, Liz Bickett had 11 kills and 10 digs, and Jackie Morrissey added 32 assists, nine digs and a pair of aces. Angie Elias, Shannon Malloy and Claire Quinn were strong at the net while Steph Trendell and Nikki Desjardins played great defense for the Bulldogs.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Points are at a premium at this point in the season, and both Attleboro and Mansfield earned a hard fought one in a 1-1 draw on Wednesday afternoon.
With both teams still hoping to make a late push for the state tournament, the teams split the points after trading a pair of second half goals.
The point keeps Mansfield’s (2-7-4) playoff hopes alive but they don’t have any breathing room the rest of the way. The Hornets have to win their final five games but have three straight home games to start out, hosting Franklin on Friday.
Attleboro (3-6-2) has a little bit more flexibility, but not that much room for error. The Bombardiers have to pick up 10 points with seven games left on their schedule in order to qualify for the D1 South tournament.
“We’ll take any points here,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “We’re taking it one game at a time. We were supposed to get two points today but we’ll take the one and move onto the next game. It’s not an easy league, everyone is a top team.”
The hosts took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes and nearly found the game-winner in the final moments but a shot rang off the post and stayed out.
Mansfield had control for the opening 40 minutes but had nothing to show for it. The Hornets pulled level eight minutes after Attleboro’s opener but couldn’t tack on a second over the final 20 minutes.
“We have to win out to make the tournament, and we’re going to do it, that ball hit the post at the end,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan. “That was a sign right there.
“We were all over them in the first half but this has been the story of the season [not scoring]. We have to find somebody that wants to score goals. The effort is there, we played hard, we just have to convert.”
Despite not finding the back of the net in the first half, Mansfield had plenty of chances. The Hornets put two shots on Attleboro keeper Zackary Brown in the opening three minutes, including a take from junior Colin True from 25-yards out.
Attleboro’s first chance of the half came in the 6th minute on a free kick from just under 30 yards out. Senior Nathan LaPlume curled a shot over the wall, trying to tuck a shot inside the near post but his bid was wide.
The Bombardiers’ other serious chance came off the foot of senior Joshua Smith, who latched onto a loose ball from distance and ripped a low shot, but his chance was right at Mansfield keeper Anthony Salisbury, who handled the chance.
Mansfield’s Cam Eddy got on the end of a corner kick in the 22nd minute but saw his header go over the bar. Sophomore Matt Hyland whipped in a corner four minutes later but Brown did well to intercept and quickly handled the loose ball.
A final chance in the first half came on a delivery from junior Evan Eames, who put a free kick into the mixer but Graham Wells’ bid was handled and the teams entered halftime scoreless.
“We’re a touch team and those long balls kind of kills that momentum and it’s tough to bring the ball down and start it all over again, and they keep coming at you,” Pereira said.
“Mansfield was a little bit more hungry than we were today, they won a lot of the balls. We waited too long to start pushing. The last 15 minutes was mostly us. We let them into the game and they were on us in the first half. Their confidence builds and they start believing they can beat you.”
A long throw from Smith set the Bombardiers up for the opening strike in the 48th minute. His throw was partially cleared but only as far as LaPlume at the top of the area. The senior didn’t get all of his half volley bid and the ball fell right to the feet of sophomore Emilio Ticos, who quickly fired an open look into the back of the net.
Mansfield found the equalizer on its first real chance of the second half. The Hornets went with a set play on a corner kick, having at least a half a dozen players come crashing into the area from outside the area. Dan Rowe’s in-swinger was met by Eddy, who sprinted in, jumped, and smashed a header into the back of the net.
“That was a beautiful goal, it was nice to come back,” Sheridan said. “It was a play we brought back from last year, we just brought it back a couple of days ago. That was [assistant coach] Tommy [Giannouloudis], that was his creation and he suggested bringing it back, and it worked.”
The game was mostly played between the 18-yard boxes for the next 20 minutes before some final fireworks in the final five minutes.
Attleboro’s Joey Soucy connected with Hugo Henriquez on a cheeky chip, and Henriquez chested the ball down before firing a shot that forced Salisbury into a save in the 75th minute.
Mansfield tried to hit on the counter right after but Smith did a nice job of shielding Sagar Koul to allow Brown to come off his line and scoop up the pass.
In the 78th minute, Eddy was the first to a long throw from sophomore Dylan Buchanan but this time his header flashed wide.
Attleboro was inches away from the winner in the final minute. Smith linked up with Soucy, who took a couple of touches towards the end line before firing a low cross. Junior Emilio Amaya met the service with a one-timer to the far post but the shot hit the post and stayed out. The Bombardiers believed there was a hand ball in the area before the clearance but there was no whistle.
“We had it go off the post and it went off the kids’ hand but neither ref saw it, unfortunately,” Pereira said. “The last 15 minutes was us but we needed to start 15 minutes before that. But it’s been tough, it’s been a tough season.”
Attleboro boys soccer is back in action on Friday when it hosts division-leading Oliver Ames. Mansfield will try to keep its tournament hopes alive when it hosts Franklin on the same day.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – In an early-season showdown between division favorites, Oliver Ames boys soccer ended up on the winning side of a five-goal thriller against visiting Attleboro.
The teams went back-and-forth with all five goals coming in the second half. Twice the hosts took a one-goal lead, and twice the Bombardiers erased the deficit to tie the game. But OA junior Jimmy Keane nodded in the game-winner goal inside the final five minutes to secure the 3-2 win for the Tigers.
OA opened the scoring just over 10 minutes into the second half but Attleboro equalized six minutes later. The Tigers once again went ahead but that lead lasted just a minute when the Bombardiers equalized just over 60 seconds later.
The winning tally came in the 76th minute after a free kick from junior Matt Nikiciuk. Nikiciuk’s service from just beyond midfield dropped into the center of the area, was originally knocked up in the air, drawing the keeper out. The ball was partially cleared but only as far as Keane, who looped a header over the scrum and into the open net.
“We were able to play with a strong team, we were happy to play with them and compete, and that we could score against them,” said Oliver Ames coach John Barata. “And it was nice to see that we could bounce back after a couple of mental letdowns, and we continued to bounce back too. It was a good maturity test for the guys because we really haven’t had that yet.”
The Tigers dominated the opening 40 minutes but had nothing to show for it after the teams went into the halftime break scoreless. While the second half was a bit more even, Oliver Ames still created chances early and was able to break through in the 51st minute.
Junior Colin Milliken collected the ball and quickly switched fields, playing classmate Kevin Louhis in behind the defense. Louhis’ speed forced the keeper off his line, and he quickly cut inside around the charging keeper and centered to classmate Anthony DaCosta, who got his shot off just before a defender could get there to bury it into an open net for a 1-0 lead.
The hold up play of Attleboro junior Jackson Singer helped the Bombardiers find the equalizer. His ability to hold possession allowed Joey Soucy to make a run in and Singer found him streaking into the area. Soucy was fouled right on the edge of the box, giving Attleboro a penalty kick.
Senior Michael Russo confidently buried his chance from the spot to bring the visitors level at 1-1 in the 57th minute.
The Tigers continued to press though and went back ahead in the 61st minute. After a corner was cleared, Nikiciuk tracked it down and found Milliken on the sideline, who dropped a cross to the far post and Louhis finished on the bounce at the post to make it 2-1.
“We had dominated the entire first half, outshot them by a large margin and have a couple balls cleared off the line,” Barata said. “If you can stay in the game, you get more confident and comfortable so it was good for us to come out and get some goals in the second. We were kind of stretched trying to go for the goals so it opened the game up and it went back and forth.
“It was a good game for us, [Attleboro] is a very good team that I think will do very well. I thought it was a good game for the boys, I was happy with how we played we just have to make some adjustments.”
But Attleboro was back level just a minute later. The Bombardiers earned a throw in the attacking third, and senior Josh Smith launched a toss to the six yard line. With the keeper coming out to play the ball, it was deflected to the back post and freshman Esvin Morales was all alone to nod the ball in to make it 2-2 in the 62nd minute.
“That was a good thing, we came back and we hung around,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “After they scored, we came back, and we did it a second time so that was a positive. But they were a better team than we were today. Hopefully next time we are more organized and play our game. These were critical points.
“First half, [Oliver Ames] was all over us, they were playing their game. In the second half, we adjusted and were playing better balls to feet and we created some opportunities. A couple of mistakes cost us a couple of goals and their speed hurt us too. They have more experience and they have some depth that we don’t have.”
OA’s chances in the first half started early when Keane blasted a shot from in close off Milliken’s corner that had the keeper beat but Russo was positioned on the line to block his bid. Five minutes later, Louhis connected with Milliken open in the area and he tucked a header inside the post, but was ruled offside.
The best chance of the first half came in the 17th minute when Milliken labeled a free kick for the upper 90 but Attleboro keeper Zackary Brown made a terrific leaping one-handed stop to keep it out.
Keane saw another chance blocked by an Attleboro defender, this time Kevin Raczkowski came up with the goal line stop.
Attleboro had its best chance in the final 10 minutes of the opening half as a pass from Nathan LaPlume ended with a volley from Morales that forced OA keeper Drew Nickla to make a low diving stop to keep the game scoreless heading into the half.
Oliver Ames boys soccer (4-0 Hockomock, 4-0 overall) visits Foxboro on Thursday afternoon. Attleboro (2-2, 2-2) hosts rival North Attleboro on the same day.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The rivalry on the pitch between Attleboro and Mansfield is a clash of distinct styles. The Hornets press, counter quickly, and dominate teams physically on set pieces, while the Bombardiers play at a different pace, using short passing to move the ball up the field.
At the start of Tuesday night’s match at Alumni Field, it was the Hornets who imposed their will, forcing turnovers, keeping the ball in the attacking half, and putting loads of pressure on the Attleboro goal with a series of long throws and corners. Mansfield took advantage of that quick start to grab the lead, but slowly the Bombardiers worked themselves back into it and started to get hold of the ball.
After tying the game in the 15th minute, the Bombardiers took the lead for good with 10 minutes to go before halftime on an own goal after a Hugo Henriquez corner. Just four minutes after the break, Henriquez found time and space to curl in his second goal of the game before sealing the 4-1 win for the visitors six minutes later with a brilliant assist.
“Possessing the ball was the key,” said Attleboro coach Peter Pereira. “We’ve lost, we’ve won, we’ve seen it and now we’ve got to play some soccer.” He added with a laugh, “I haven’t had four goals in a long time.”
Senior Cam Eddy got the Hornets off to a great start with pressure down the left side of the field. His long throw from the near sideline had to be headed away at the far post and Raffi Marzella forced a save from Zackary Brown with his return header.
Just a couple minutes later, another throw from almost the same spot led to the game’s first goal. Eddy’s throw bounced around in the box and Colin Caridi was in the right spot to prod the ball home from six yards out to make it 1-0. The lead was almost immediately doubled but Brown got the slightest touch to a Tommy Lanzillo corner that skipped off the bar.
Pereira was forced to use a timeout to settle his team down. It seemed to work, as the Bombardiers started to get the ball on the deck and pass through midfield. Off their first corner of the night, freshman Esvin Morales, whose partnership with Henriquez was the key for Attleboro, forced Anthony Salisbury into a save on a low drive.
The tying goal came a minute later. A long ball out of the box was not headed cleanly by the Mansfield defense and Michael Russo showed off his strength and then pace to get by his marker and beat him to the ball in the left channel. Russo was able to find the bottom corner past Salisbury to make it 1-1.
Pereira explained, “That’s why I called a timeout and say, ‘Listen, you guys have to settle down and play to feet.’ It’s how we played Saturday night, 100 miles per hour, and they were really frustrated because they couldn’t get it in, so I was really hoping we could get a point or two today just to get us going.”
Justin Lurssen came off the bench to give Attleboro a lift on the right side and he combined with Jackson Singer to open space for Morales to have another go from the edge of the box. Minutes later, Russo played a one-two with Kevin Raczkowski but his shot flew over the bar. Singer flicked a ball into the path of Joey Soucy, who nutmegged the oncoming defender, but Salisbury was out quickly to force the forward wide and then made one of his seven saves.
It was not all one-way traffic. Mansfield had spells of dominance throughout the first half and continued to create pressure on the Attleboro back line. Caridi and Matt Hyland both had chances from in close off another half-cleared long throw and on the break Aidan Steele forced a near post save from Brown (his fifth of the half) with players open in the middle of the box.
With 10 minutes left before halftime, the game had changed. Henriquez played a driven corner to the front post where it caromed off the knee of a Mansfield defender, skimmed the post and nestled into the top corner to put Attleboro ahead.
“We’re snakebitten right now,” said Mansfield coach Steve Sheridan. “The first half we just couldn’t get anyone to finish. My biggest concern coming in was our defense this season but after the Foxboro game I thought we were all set but one of the guys is injured, so he’s out and that changed everything.”
The Bombardiers carried the momentum over into the second half and Russo created the next chance with good work on the left. The senior cut inside on his right foot and opened space for Henriquez on the edge of the box. He took a touch, looked up, and planted his shot into the corner.
Just six minutes later, the game was effectively over. Again the combination of Morales and Henriquez worked through the midfield. It was Henriquez that picked out the perfect pass, sliding a 30-yard through ball that split the Mansfield defense and allowed Singer to run free on goal. He coolly chipped the ball over the keeper.
“I have some kids who have touch,” said Pereira. “The little guys (Henriquez and Morales) can play to feet. It was a beautiful pass for the score. He knows if Jackson goes that he’s not going to miss too many.”
It was the second game, and second 4-1 loss, in as many days for the Hornets, but Sheridan is confident that they just need a few friendly bounces and some momentum to get things turned around. He said, “That Norton game (on Monday night) was supposed to be at the end of the month and we had to change it last minute. It is what it is. It’s early on and we’ll get these kinks out of the way and we’ll be ready come tournament time.”
Attleboro (1-1) will host Stoughton in its home opener on Friday, while Mansfield (0-3) will look to get its first win when it hosts Sharon.
2018 Record: 5-10-3 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Peter Pereira
The Bombardiers have put last year’s season in the rearview mirror and are aiming to get back to the state tournament in 2019.
Attleboro will rely on its eight returners from last year’s squad plus a good amount of new faces to try and make a push for the playoffs. Senior captains Mike Russo, Nathan LaPlume, and Josh Smith will provide leadership both on and off of the field for the Bombardiers. All three have a good amount of varsity experience with LaPlume and Smith tasked with anchoring the Bombardiers’ defensive unit. Both started a season ago so the defense should be a strength to start the season. Russo started in the midfield a year ago and will be in charge of leading that unit. Attleboro will have to fill the shoes left by leading scorer Will Halben (seven goals, five assists) but there is a strong group of forwards that includes Joey Soucy, Justin Lurssen, and Hugo Henriquez — all of whom have varsity experience — that is ready to pace the offense. Patrick Raczkowski and Kevin Raczkowski should give Attleboro help defensively, junior Jackson Singer bolted academy and should give the Bombardiers a boost in the midfield while junior Zackary Brown takes over in goal.
“I am looking to get some leadership and good play from my tri-captains and I’m hoping for a better season [than last year],” said longtime head coach Peter Pereira. “The team’s attitude has been great and we are working hard.”
2018 Record: 10-7-2 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Fran Bositis
Franklin was one of the hottest teams in the league over the second half of the season last year and the Panthers are hoping to carry that momentum into 2019.
When the calendar turned to October, the Panthers finished the regular season 7-1-1. Longtime head coach Fran Bositis has the pieces to continue that success to begin this year and contend for a league title. A strong suit for the 2019 squad will be the defensive unit, featuring returning keeper Jack Rudolph and center backs Sam Stowell and Jacob Cummings. Anytime a team returns two center backs and its keeper, especially a unit that allowed just three goals in its final nine regular seasons, it’s a big positive. Matt Szczepanowski and Trevor O’Neill, both seniors, will factor in defensively as well. Sophomore Terry O’Neill anchors the midfield from the center of the pitch after a successful freshman campaign while the addition of junior Ethan Cain should give Franklin one of the top midfielder duos, and sophomore Tyler Powderly will likely play in a variety of roles. The challenge for Franklin this season will be finding a consistent offense but there is experience up top with Donny Tappin and Lucas Moura back.
“I think we have the potential to be pretty good, but it all comes one game at a time,” Bositis said. “I think if we can score some goals consistently, we can be pretty dangerous this year.”
2018 Record: 4-12-2 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Mike O’Neill
King Philip begins a new chapter in program history as Mike O’Neill takes over after Nick Gale stepped down following a successful stint with the Warriors.
O’Neill will be looking to help the Warriors bounce back from a four-win season, the first time the squad missed the state tournament in over a decade. King Philip graduated nearly a dozen seniors from last year’s squad but have some key players back in key positions. Senior captain Brian McCarthy has a lot of varsity experience and O’Neill will lean on him to organize the midfield. Senior captains Wes Orzell and Matt Clarke anchor the back line and will be tasked with helping the Warriors keep possession by playing out of the back. Behind the defense, senior Grant Orzell and junior Aidan Lindmark are both strong options in goal. Juniors Evan McEvoy and Camron Lawrence both begin their third season on varsity and are poised to have big years at midfield.
“The team is eager to get started, the seniors want to make their mark after a tough season last year, and the juniors and sophomores are hungry to prove themselves,” O’Neill said. “We will need to stay organized and committed to team defending if we are going to be able to compete in the difficult Hockomock League.”
2018 Record: 13-3-5 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Steve Sheridan
The Hornets have won two division titles in the past four years and took second place in the other two seasons, so it’s safe to assume Mansfield will be in the mix once again this year.
In that span of success, Mansfield has been one of the best defensive teams year in and year out, average under a goal against in each of those seasons, including just 0.67 goals against in 2018. The big challenge this season will be replicating that stingy defense because the Hornets graduated their entire back four. The good news is that Mansfield has Anthony Salisbury back in net after he set the program record for shutouts while Cam Bovey serves as the backup keeper, though he is pushing for minutes this season. The strength of the 2019 squad will be in the midfield where senior captains Peter Oldow and Colin Caridi will be. Both have a good amount of varsity experience and will be joined by fellow returners Robbie Healey, Raffi Marzella, Tommy Lanzillo, Colin True, and Evan Eames. Sophomore Dylan Buchanan made a strong impression during his freshman season and will be joined up front by senior Owen Mullahy, who also picked up some valuable minutes a year ago.
“Our biggest question will be, ‘Who’s going to take over our defense that graduated?”, said head coach Steve Sheridan. “That is what I’m trying to figure out and hopefully it will iron itself out during the preseason.”
2018 Record: 8-4-5 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: John Barata
A lot of people learned last year what we already knew: Under head coach John Barata, Oliver Ames doesn’t rebuild, it reloads. The Tigers had to replace their entire starting lineup last season but still had a shot at the division title heading into the final week.
Oliver Ames has a healthy amount of returning players that either started or saw valuable minutes at the varsity level last year starting with seniors Jon Freeman and Matthew Nosalek, who will be key pieces along the back line for the Tigers. Senior Harry Ahearn is another experienced player that will factor in defensively, senior Josh LaBrosse could see time in the midfield or defense, and seniors Nick Farley and Andrew Hanna could get minutes up top. OA has a strong junior class that learned a lot during last season. Colin Milliken, last year’s HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year, will organize the Tigers from the midfield while Anthony DaCosta, Kevin Louhis, and Jimmy Keane are all strong attacking options. Drew Nickla will take over as the starting keeper this year.
“It is too early to tell what we will look like but I’m looking forward to a great season with the boys,” Barata said. “We are excited for the opportunity to compete this season in the Hock. There are lots of talented teams coming back, from the defending champions to the schools with new coaches ready to make a mark. It’s going to be one of the toughest seasons in my tenure and we hope to be competitive.”
2018 Record: 3-12-4 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
While the record might not reflect it, it felt like Taunton took a step in the right direction last year, and the Tigers are expecting to take another one this season.
One area of improvement that head coach Taylor Whitters is excited about is the defensive group. The Tigers had the most goals allowed in the Kelley-Rex division but have a reinforced back line ready to fend off the top offenses the Hockomock League has to offer. Senior Colton Medeiros, who had a terrific freshman year before missing time to academy and injury, will anchor the defense in the middle alongside freshman Riley Rebelo. Khalil Ba, a transfer in from Tolman, gives Taunton an outside back that can join in on the attack, while Nolan Melo returns as the starting keeper. Alec Nunes and Colby Fernandes are two dynamic, experienced players that can play both in the midfield or up front. Junior Travis Nunes returns from injury and classmate Hunter Cabral is a versatile player that will play in various roles.
“We have a lot of versatility this year, we’re going to be able to move guys around based on each game,” Whitters said. “No one is locked into a position, we’re going to take it game by game this season.”