TAUNTON, Mass. – Defense has been the strength for Foxboro all season long (with only 11 goals allowed in the first 21 games), helping the Warriors win the Davenport division title and then reach the program’s first sectional final on Saturday afternoon at Taunton’s Tiger Aleixo Stadium.
In the Div. 2 South final, the defense stood tall again, led by seniors Kelly Fisher and Angela Vandenboom, limiting Falmouth to only one corner and one shot over 60 minutes. Thanks to the defensive effort in front of her, junior goalie Kelli McCarthy was not forced to make a single save, as Foxboro pulled out a 2-0 victory to win the program’s first ever Div. 2 South championship.
“We stepped up defensively big time,” said Foxboro coach Melissa Bordieri. “We made adjustments based on the aerials, but we’ve seen aerials all season. Defense has been our strength and it’s kept us in a lot of games.”
While Falmouth did not get a shot on target, the Clippers did have possession in the attacking zone for stretches of the game. The Warriors stayed compact around the circle and kept everything to the outside. In addition to the defenders, Foxboro midfielders Meghan Curran, Catherine Luciano, Jaclyn Brion, and Allison Curran were always on hand to close down potential scoring chances.
“They had a lot of opportunities,” Bordieri said. “No. 7 [Ericka Meissner] is really fast, so we knew if they were to get inside the 25 they would be dangerous. We knew that to close them down in the middle and keep them to the outside would be huge.”
Foxboro was also dangerous in the attack in the first half, creating a number of chances, including four corners.
The first opportunity came in the sixth minute when Sophia DiCenso had two shots a few yards from goal but the first was cleared by Falmouth goalie Molly Duff-Still and the second bounced off the foot of Lily Daly at the back post. It started from a quick transition, Meredith Cronin hitting Emma Daly with an outlet pass to spring the attack.
A few minutes later, another quick break had Foxboro racing forward with Meghan Curran hitting Daly on the run but her shot was kicked off the line by Duff-Still before it could trickle across.
The opening goal felt imminent and in the 16th minute the Warriors made the breakthrough. Fisher’s shot off a corner was blocked but the ball caromed right back to her stick. She sent in a second shot that was settled by DiCenso right in front of goal. The sophomore turned and slid the ball past the goalie for a 1-0 lead.
Falmouth had yet to give up a goal in the playoffs, so Bordieri knew that the first score on Saturday could be decisive. She said, “We had to put a ball in the net as fast as we could. From everything I heard, they’ve scored in the first five minutes of a lot of their games so we knew that was going to be a huge opportunity for us.”
Cronin admitted that there were a few nerves for Foxboro players at the start of the game but that the opening goal calmed everyone down. She said, “It was very good. We knew we had to come out fast.”
In the 25th minute, Foxboro had a chance to double the lead. Caroline Wheatley started the break with a pass to Luciano, who fed the ball to Jenna Stamatov and on to Lily Daly one-on-one with the goalie, but Duff-Still came up with her fourth save of the first half.
With just under two minutes left in the half, Foxboro did get a second. Again it came off a corner and a hit by Fisher from the edge of the circle. Wheatley was stationed in front and cleverly lifted the ball up over the pads of the goalie for a 2-0 advantage that felt like game over to many, but not to Bordieri.
“I want to call it an insurance goal but not in the playoffs,” she said. “I know that Falmouth can score and they’ve got fast forward who have good sticks. I wasn’t super comfortable with two goals until maybe five minutes left.”
In the second half, Foxboro went into a defensive shell, keeping Falmouth to the edges of the attacking zone and it led to very few scoring opportunities for either team. The lone clear chance fell to Daly just four minutes after the break when she tipped a Cronin shot at close range but Falmouth’s Chloe Crago was able to get across and clear it off the line.
With five minutes remaining, Falmouth finally got a decent look at goal, but the shot went off the side of the net. The final minutes ticked off the clock and the Warriors stormed onto the field to celebrate their first title.
“Good, really good,” said Cronin about the feeling at the final whistle. When asked if it felt like the culmination of all the work the team has put in this year, she added, “Kind of, but we’re not done yet. We need to keep pushing through.”
Bordieri is in her 15th year in charge of the program and was clearly savoring the moment of winning a trophy.
“Fifteen years…it’s been a long time coming,” she said. “We’ve come close to doing great things for a long time, so to have this is just an amazing feeling.
“It’s such a team thing for us. This whole season has been ‘All In’ and we really mean it. It’s been everybody on the team who’s had a role, played it well and gotten us here.”
Foxboro (19-2-1) will advance to the Div. 2 state semifinal on Tuesday at Reading High and will face undefeated North champion Watertown, which is riding a national record win streak of 182 games over the past eight seasons.