By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Junior midfielder Francesca Calabraro continued her scoring surge with two goals inside of two second half minutes to break Foxboro’s resistance and lift Oliver Ames to a 3-0 win over its Davenport rival on Wednesday night at Muscato Stadium.
The win open up a six-point gap between the league leading Tigers and third place Foxboro.
The Tigers started the game on the front foot and pushed Foxboro back into its defending third, although the first shot on target was by Lily Sykes who had a go from 20 yards that was saved by Bethany Dunk. OA did not put a shot on target until the 13th minute when Delaney Benton’s 35-yard free kick was tipped over the bar at full stretch by Jalisa Allen.
Three minutes later, a corner came into the box and Allen got a touch to knock it out to the 18 where freshman Sophia Cox was lurking. She had a first-time shot that was deflected and forced another good stretching save from Allen.
Despite the OA pressure, the opening goal remained elusive. In the span of three minutes, Lauren Wright just missed the far post when played down the channel, Julia Roy had a shot from 20 yards land just outside the post with Allen stranded, and Calabraro rushed a shot from seven yards out after Jacqueline Mills worked space on the right and cut it back to her.
“We’re picking on a great player, but that’s what we talked about was having more composure,“ said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “We had the chances in the first half, but I think we just needed a little more composure in the attacking third.”
In the final two minutes of the first half, the Tigers created one more good look but Allen, who made seven of her 11 saves in the opening 40 minutes, was equal to the shot from Erin Fitzgerald.
Sykes had created a couple of shots for Foxboro in the first half and forced Dunk into three saves, but the Warriors had struggled to create clear-cut chances. That changed in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.
Hailey Maling had a left-footed shot that went over the bar and Carolyn Will tested new OA keeper Regan Benton with a fiercely struck free kick that was just tipped over the bar. Five minutes later, Will had another go and the Warriors bench erupted thinking the senior had broken the deadlock but the ball had stuck the upright and landed behind the net.
“Defensively the first 10 minutes of the second half we were up here,” said Sellmayer. “I told them to settle down.”
“This is the group I’ve been waiting for for two years. So, we can play a little more on the ground, a little more possession, but we have to have the confidence to do it. “
Sellmayer made a switch and moved Calabraro back into the midfield and moved Kiana Lozzi up top as the striker. She got a chance in the 48th minute, but again the shot went wide when clear through on goa. Three minutes later, Roy got into the box and had a penalty appeal waved away before Benton ran onto the loose ball and forced Allen into a near post save.
The game remained scoreless until the 56th minute when a corner kick was played to the near post and Allen made a terrific reaction save on a header, but the ball bounced around and eventually found its way to Calabraro about three yards from an empty net and she nodded the Tigers in front.
Only a minute later and she had her second. Freshman defender Zoe Chazan found herself up field on the right and put in a perfect cross to the back post to find an unmarked Calabraro and she made no mistake.
“We had her on the outside the first couple of games and were trying to figure a couple things out,” said Sellmayer of Chazan. “We eventually moved her into the middle and I think that’s when we started playing our best soccer.”
“She cleans up a lot for us in the back. Her first touch is always away from pressure and then she’ll put it on someone’s foot.”
One of the main weapons throughout the game was the Tigers’ speedy wingers. Mills and Wright started and were spelled by Sam Bamford and Dana Lowney to allow OA to keep the pressure on and give an outlet for when Foxboro pushed forward.
The ability to sub in fresh bodies has been a key for Sellmayer this season and the difference between the squads was exacerbated by the injuries that Foxboro was dealing with.
“When someone asks about playing four games this week, I feel like we can do that because we go deeper,” said Sellmayer.
“I’ll throw four girls at one time and remove the whole attack or whole midfield and it’s just about being team first and being able to share minutes.”
With two minutes remaining, OA wrapped up the victory. Lozzi ran at the Warriors back line and was able to dance through on goal before calmly slotting her shot past Allen and make it 3-0.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.