Oliver Ames Captures First Ever State Championship

Oliver Ames captains Max Bamford, Chris Romero, Keegan Nutt and head coach John Barata with the D2 State Championship. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
Oliver Ames captains Max Bamford, Chris Romero, Keegan Nutt and head coach John Barata with the D2 State Championship. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Click here to purchase photos from OA’s celebration.
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

LYNN, Mass. – When last year’s Div. 2 state title game ended, Oliver Ames players grabbed the runner-up trophy and raised it high in celebration of reaching the program’s first ever championship game.
When OA took the pitch on Saturday morning at Manning Field for this year’s state title game against Masconomet, the Tigers were not going to be happy settling for second place again.
The experience of last season paid dividends. OA bounced back from an early Masco goal to defeat the Chieftains 3-1 on three well-executed set pieces and clinched the program’s first state championship.
“Since we came here once, we knew how to play this game,” said OA coach John Barata. “It’s different; it’s a one-game season against a top team from the North.
“It’s a great feeling to win because it would’ve been horrible to come back-to-back years and lose again. The guys worked hard and they deserved it. We earned that win.”
Masco jumped into the lead in the 12th minute. A long throw from Alex Spaulding reached Josh Polakiewicz on the corner of the six-yard box and he flicked a header up over OA keeper Jack Carroll.
OA had lost the momentum after a decent start, but the Tigers utilized the experience of two straight runs to the South title and stayed in the game.
Senior Chris Romero equalized in the 19th minute when the Tigers were awarded a free kick just outside the box. It may have been a harsh call, but Romero did not mind as he curled his 20-yard shot past the despairing dive of Steven Heitzelman.
“They had all the momentum,” said Romero, “and we really needed the quick goal to get the momentum back, so I think it helped us pushing forward.”
Just five minutes later OA took the lead. Romero played an in-swinging corner kick that Heitzelman failed to hold. The ball dropped to the foot of sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza, who was in the right place at the right time to tap it in.
Cardoza also had the winning goal in overtime to win the South title for the Tigers. Barata said of the midfielder, “He is a very good player, diligent player. He’s a DI school’s dream and he’s only a sophomore. I’m very lucky to have him.”
Masco coach Jared Scarpaci noted, “The first [set piece], you don’t get a better free kick than that and you just tip your hat. The second one, I think we could have done a little bit better on that and that’s really when the momentum shifted.”
The Chieftains, who won the title in 2013 and have reached the state title game in three of the past four seasons (the last two in Div. 2), had their chances to equalize before the break. Shane Collins could not take advantage off of a poor clearance by Carroll to score into an empty net and then he set up Bryan Gilbert, who scuffed a shot while all alone in the box.
“They missed a couple of sitters that could have changed the game,” said Barata. “That’s the way soccer goes; I’ll take it.”
Carroll also came through with a big save to deny Blaise Romanowski in the final five minutes of the half, tipping over the Masco striker’s close-range effort off a free kick.
Seven minutes after the break, Romero showed his defensive prowess by heading out a Andrew Musiak corner underneath his own crossbar.
Barata explained, “You can see why he’s an all-state player. He starts on the left wing, scores a beautiful goal, he plays forward, and then we move him to the back and he was excellent at the back.”
In the 57th minute, OA sealed the title with another set piece that was straight off the training ground. Instead of playing an angled free kick into the box, Romero played the ball straight into the path of Matt Alvarado and the sophomore sent an inch-perfect cross into the box to a wide open Thomas McCormick, who nodded home the Tigers’ third.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Romero. “Alvarado down the line and crosses it for Thomas to head it in…perfect play.”
Barata credited the week of between games for allowing his team to work on set pieces and, as he explained, it “paid off” of Saturday.
“It worked like a charm today,” he said about the routine for the third goal. “We’ve done that a number of times and it’s gone over the bar, off the bar, off a defender, but today it was destined.”
Romero and the rest of his teammates charged towards the traveling OA fans at the final whistle, celebrating the first state title with friends and family. The Tigers reached their first sectional title in 2013, won the South for the first time last year, and now have won the state championship.
It has been a long and successful career for the OA captain and, when asked how it felt to get to this level, Romero responded succinctly, “It’s pretty awesome. It’s awesome to be a state champ.”
Click here to purchase photos from OA’s celebration. 
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Goloboy's Late Goal Gives Sharon Draw Against OA

Sharon's Jake Goloboy settles the ball in the first half against OA. Goloboy netted the tying goal late in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Sharon’s Jake Goloboy settles the ball in the first half against OA. Goloboy netted the tying goal late in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief

NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Sharon’s Jake Goloboy scored with less than 10 minutes remaining on a counter attack and the Eagles picked up a point on the road with a 1-1 tie against Oliver Ames.

The Tigers scored first, finding the back of the net in the 52nd minute to break open a scoreless stalemate but Sharon equalized in the 71st minute to earn the draw.

“I think we’re coming on here late in the season after having some rough games early on,” Sharon head coach Bryan Kelly said, adding how pleased he was to get the result against the #10 team in the state. “We’re starting to string together passes, we’re starting to play better. I didn’t even think we played that great tonight but they got into our heads a little bit. They took us out of our game but when we did possess the ball, we played well.”

Oliver Ames had the majority of the chances in both halves, including a volley from senior Chris Romero in the 13th minute that just went over the bar. Just a minute later, a long throw from Max Bamford was deflected around in the area but Sharon senior Matt Lowerre was in the right spot at the right time and cleared the ball off the goal line.

The Tigers kept up the pressure and three minutes later senior captain Keegan Nutt got a hold of a shot off a bounce that forced Sharon senior goalie Andrew Filipkowski to punch the ball over the bar. In the 29th minute, Romero took a feed from senior Joe Cucinotta and ripped a low shot with his left foot that hit the near post and stayed out. Filipkowski came up big again with just over seven minutes left in the half when sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza had a chance from just inside the area but Sharon’s keeper got his legs in the way.

“If we don’t finish, we’re not going anywhere. That’s just the fact,” Oliver Ames head coach John Barata said. ‘We totally dominated the game, they took two shots and scored one. That’s a problem for us. It was one counter attack all game. We hit the ball off the bar, we had chances inside the six, missed breakaways. It’s the same story, different night and tonight we got punished.

The home side was finally able to convert just under 12 minutes into the second half. Sophomore Cam Vella hit a one time through ball to junior Thomas McCormick, who curved bent his run perfectly down the middle. McCormick unleashed a shot from a step inside the 18 but was robbed by a kick save from Filipkowski. The rebound fell to Nutt and he placed his shot off the far post and into the back of the net to go up 1-0.

“We play a variety of formations, mostly playing 4-3-2-1. That’s a coaching mistake of mine, I should have switched to a 4-4-2 earlier,” Kelly said. “When we did switch, we capitalized. Our speed up front gave them trouble in the back and that’s where we got them. If we made that shift earlier, who knows what this game ends at. OA is a very good team, we know that. I think we did a good job tracking back on their balls over the top. They’re a very skilled team.”

OA had another chance just over 10 minutes later but an acrobatic save from Filipkowski at the near post stuffed McCormick’s tough angle big.

Finally in the 71st minute, Sharon was able to use a counter attack to catch Oliver Ames. Senior James Dunlea unleashed a logn ball from midfield up to junior Oliver Hu. Hu pulled the defender to the right side and slid his pass into the middle to an open Jake Goloboy and the senior buried his chance into the back of the net.

With just over five minutes to play, a deflected pass fell to Vella and he had a chance alone on Filipkowski but his low shot was swallowed up by Sharon’s captain.

“In all honesty, that was one of the best performances I’ve seen from a high school goalkeeper,” Kelly said. “I think he’s the best keeper in the league. He’s the backbone of our team, he’s our captain, he’s our vocal leader and he’s why we are where we are in the season.

Oliver Ames (12-0-2) remains unbeaten with two games left. The Tigers, who had a two point advantage in the Davenport Division race, travel to Milford and Foxboro next week. Sharon improves to 9-6-1 overall and will close out the regular season next week by hosting Foxboro and traveling to Canton.

Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Biegel's Late Goal Gives Foxboro Draw At Oliver Ames

Foxboro's Devante Teixeira attempts to dribble around Oliver Ames' Matt Campbell. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Foxboro’s Devante Teixeira attempts to dribble around Oliver Ames’ Matt Campbell. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Foxboro freshman Nic Biegel scored with less than five minutes to earn the Warriors a point in a 2-2 draw against Oliver Ames.
In a battle of the top two teams in the Hockomock League, Foxboro took the lead less than 10 minutes in but Oliver Ames scored twice off of set pieces to get a 2-1 lead before halftime.
Neither team found the back of the net, despite multiple chances for both sides until Biegel was able to slot home a rebound in the 76th minute.
“That’s a strength of this team, to not give up,” Foxboro first year coach Joe Franchino said. “They believe in themselves and that’s huge. If you go up 1-0 and then give up two goals it’s easy to put your head down but these guys didn’t do it.”
A neat combination play at the top of the area resulted in a little chip over the top from junior Anthony Barreira. Senior Devante Teixeira used his speed to race in and was able to get a touch to it as OA goalie Jack Carroll was also getting a hand to it. The rebound fell to Biegel and the freshman calmly placed it into the back of the net.
“I think it was a great goal, we needed it,” Franchino said. “Devante played big. We had high percentage chances right in front of the net that I couldn’t believe didn’t go in but that’s the nature of the game. I think it was a fair result 2-2 and we’ll move on.”
While it was a good comeback for Foxboro, Oliver Ames were certainly look back at some of the chances they had, specifically in the second half, that could have put the game out of reach.
In the 56th minute, Oliver Ames had a free kick put into the area that bounced around. It eventually fell to senior Keegan Nutt and he had a go from six yards out but his shot was blocked on the goal line by Foxboro senior Robbie Lowey.
In the 67th minute, the ball once again bounced around in the area before a foot from an OA player found the ball from close range but somehow Foxboro goalie Aaron Wentling was able to get a hand to it and collected the rebound.
The Tigers also had a handful of other chances, including a free kick from Cam Vella that curled just wide at the near post, but were able to add to their two goal first half.
“We had plenty of chances,” OA head coach John Barata said. “We had the ball bounce inside the six yard box close to the goal line four times. We minimized the chances from their trio [Barreira, Teixeira and Joe Morrison]. We knew they were going to score goals. The issue is that we thought we could score goals and we created a plethora of chances. Tonight we were good so I’m happy how we played overall. Disappointed we didn’t get the result but we still have five games to get better for the postseason.”
To start the game, Oliver Ames came out with the majority of the play and pressured high for the first 10 minutes but after a quick counter attack, Teixeira was able to earn a corner for Foxboro. Barreira curled in the cross and Teixeira elevated and headed the ball off the underside of the crossbar and in.
Foxboro nearly doubled the lead when Hussein Kafel was able to split OA’s defense with a pass to Barreira but the junior saw his bouncing shot go wide to the right.
Oliver Ames was able to level the scoring almost exactly 10 minutes after Teixeira’s game-opener. The Tigers were also able to earn a corner and an in-swinger from Chris Romero was hit on a side volley from junior Thomas McCormick to bring OA even.
Nearly two minutes later OA nearly took the lead when senior Joe Cucinotta used an individual effort to cut around a defender and rip a shot from 18 yards out but Wentling dove to his right for the stop and collected the rebound.
But in the 34th minute, the Tigers were once again able to use a set piece to get on the board. With a free kick on the right side, Vella and Nutt stood over the ball. Instead of a service into the area, Vella played a low ball straight ahead where sophomore Matt Campbell sprinted onto. Campbell put a low service into the area and McCormick was able to get a touch to it at the near post to put it in to make it 2-1.
“It was great, set pieces are the types of thing we need to work on for the playoffs,” Barata said. “Our goal is to do well in the playoffs and I think right now we’ve put ourselves in a position to at least compete there.”
It was the second time in less than a week that the set piece worked for OA as Campbell was able to find the back of the net against KP last Friday but the sophomore was deemed offside.
In the second half, Franchino elected to push Teixeira centrally after he had been shadowed all game. The move also allowed Morrison to take his two marks wide to create space in the midfield.
“It was a couple of mental lapses with the set pieces in the first half, giving two goals away,” Franchino said. “In the second half I thought we had some good chances. Joe Morrison was being double teamed the whole game so we tried get him to be creative and get wide to create some space in the midfield. I thought we had a better run of play in the second half so it might have worked. Overall it was a good fight by both teams.”
In the 47th minute, Barreira served in a free kick to the near post but no Foxboro player was able to get a touch to it and Carroll smothered the opportunity.
In the 60th minute, Teixeira ripped a free kick from just outside the area that he curved around the wall but Carroll was able to punched the ball over the bar. The next serious scoring chance from the Warriors turned into a goal
“We’ve only given up one clean goal all season and it was a great header from Teixeira,” Barata said. “They’re a very good team. I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win because we fought back from down 1-0 early to get the lead and I thought we played well enough to win the game.”
It was the first game Oliver Ames didn’t come out victorious in this season with their record now 10-0-1 in both the league and overall. The Tigers won’t have much time to dwell on the point as they host Stoughton, winners of four straight, on Friday. Foxboro (9-1-1, 9-1-1) will also be back in action on Friday when they host Canton.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.