WHITMAN, Mass. – For the first 40 minutes, Foxboro boys soccer kept pace with top-seeded and undefeated Nauset.
The Warriors had the advantage in corner kicks, an even number of chances created, just one less shot than Nauset, and trailed just 1-0 at the break.
But in the second half, Nauset showed why its considered one of the top teams in the state, scoring three straight goals en route to a 4-1 win in the D2 South Semifinals.
“I just think we were second to every ball,” said Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino. “Our passing was off today, we weren’t playing to feet. Our Achilles heel has been giving up goals but [Nauset] is a good side.
“We were getting beat to every ball. Give credit to [Nauset].”
While Nauset got a shot on goal in the first minute, Foxboro created an opportunity just 60 seconds later. Will Regan delivered a free kick from midfield but the ball took a strong bounce and was just out of the reach of Dylan Barreira at the post in the 2nd minute.
After applying some pressure, Nauset broke through in the 13th minute. A failed clearance fell to the foot of senior Avery Santoro and he buried his low shot from a step inside the area inside the far post.
Despite going behind a goal, Foxboro still had its chances to pull level. In the 18th minute, junior Joe Cusack lofted a free kick in behind the defense where senior Matt Garcia connected with a driving header but his bid was just over the bar.
Senior Nic Beigel had a pair of shots in a ten minute span, both forcing saves. In the 21st minute, Beigel delivered a low shot from 25 yards out and in the 30th minute, the senior got off a hard shot but both were at the keeper.
Foxboro had two more chances in the final 10 minutes of the half. Arguably the best chance came off the foot of Garcia, who delivered a tempting ball through the area to the back post but no one made a run and the ball was touched out by the keeper. On the second ensuing corner kick, Barreira’s service was cleared to Cusack, who played the ball back into the area. Tim Behn had a look from just outside the six yard box but his shot was blocked and cleared away.
“We had some chances,” Franchino said. “Matty Garcia put one into the box and we had two guys standing in the box when they should be crashing the post. If we score one, maybe it changes things.”
Once the second half began, it was all Nauset. The top-seed showed their offensive prowess and needed just over six minutes to add to the lead. Ethan Boyle played a ball over the top of the defense and Romell Brown hit a volley off the bounce that went over the hands of Foxboro freshman keeper Derek Axon and under the bar for a 2-0 advantage.
In the 55th minute, Nauset center back and All-American selection Abdel Talabi played a ball into the area, sophomore Ben LaBranche flicked it on, and senior Curtis Moore was open for a header across the line. Two minutes later, Anthony Lavoti worked his way past a defender and fired a close range shot that Axon got a piece of but the rebound bounced over the line for a 4-0 lead.
Nauset scored all three of its second half goals in a 10-minute span.
“They finished,” Franchino said of the difference in halves. “They were getting a bunch of chances, just weren’t finishing. They play very direct, lump it into the box, and get bodies onto it. They close very hard too.
“But I always tell them, you have a wait problem. Not weight, but wait problem. You can’t sit around sit around and let the game happen, go make an impact in the game. I think that was the difference today, we were on our heels a little bit and not getting after like we can.”
Foxboro got on the board in the 75th minute. Beigel dispossessed a Nauset defender and went on a break down the right side. Beigel waited until Talabi committed before sliding a pass over to Barreira and the junior tucked his right-footed shot inside the near post to make it 4-1.
Foxboro boys soccer finishes the season at 9-7-5 with a league-high 57 goals, which is the most scored in the Hock since the Warriors scored 70 in 2015.
“We had a lot of positives in the first half so we needed just to keep going,” said Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino. ” One thing we stressed was that we can’t concede goals right after we score, that was a main focus for us. We just kept going at them in the second half, started knocking the ball around out of the back.
“We knew it was going to come, we just had to stay positive and continue to knock the ball around. I thought we were the better team tonight and fortunately, we were able to put some in the back of the net.”
After a back-and-forth opening 10 minutes, Foxboro jumped ahead in the 11th minute. Nic Beigel won a ball in the area at midfield and played it up to senior Shane VandenBoom. VandenBoom took a touch and then latched onto a volley on the bounce, getting enough pace on it to catch the KP keeper just off his line for a 1-0 advantage.
But Foxboro’s lead didn’t last long as King Philip netted the equalizer in the 13th minute. Sophomore Cam Lawrence delivered a near post service, and senior Gavon Fox did a nice job challenging for it, causing the ball to bounce free. Senior John Cullen got a touch to the loose ball, forcing a low save from Foxboro keeper Nick Penders but the rebound fell right to Fox, and he buried it into the open net to make it 1-1.
“I was really impressed with our ability to respond,” said KP head coach Nick Gale. “Gavon and John did a nice job in the box to create something, and that’s something we’ve expected of ourselves but haven’t done frequently, so I was happy about that. It was just about keeping up that momentum and energy, and we didn’t capitalize on it.
“Foxboro was prepared, they found great ways of combining, getting it over us and getting it through. Set pieces are something we still obviously have to work because they exposed us there too. [Foxboro] played well and took it right too us. They scored early in both halves and the second half kind of took some life out of us.”
Although neither side found the back of the net by the time half rolled around, it wasn’t for lack of chances.
Foxboro junior Joe Cusack nearly scored twice in a two-minute span while KP’s Tony Bozza nearly gave the visitors the advantage in the final seconds of the opening frame.
In the 37th minute, Will Morrison‘s big switch to VandemBoom was partially cleared, with Cusack knocking the ball down and unleashing a shot that forced KP keeper Nick Beltramini to lunging stop. Two minutes later, after a clearance on a corner, Cusack fired a laser to the far post, but once again Beltramini was there for the top.
And in the 40th minute, KP nearly cashed in on the counter attack. Cullen took possession over midfield and found Bozza darting up field. The senior went central with his first touch and ripped a low shot from outside the area, but it slid wide of the post.
It didn’t take long for the chances to come in the second half. In the 47th minute, Cusack delivered a corner that Beltramini got his hands to but wasn’t able to clear. The ball bounced back into the middle of the area, and junior Tim Behn was the first one there and knocked his first career goal in from in close.
“Having our right back score, I think that certainly sparked us,” Franchino said. “The guys were all excited for him, and it got everyone going.”
Foxboro didn’t let King Philip come back with an equalizer this time. Just five minutes later, the host Warriors added to their lead. Cusack played VandenBoom down the left side, and he delivered a perfectly weighted cross to the penalty spot and junior Dylan Barreira one-timed his bid into the back of the net.
“Between Boom’s injury and Dylan missing a couple of games after being sent off, they haven’t played a lot together,” Franchino said. “They’re starting to gel together at the right time. Dylan had the two goals tonight, but I thought Boom had a great night, he was getting in behind and creating havoc. This was the best game I’ve seen Boom since he came back from the injury. Hopefully, we continue to roll with it.”
And seven minutes after that, Foxboro’s pressure turned into another goal. Barreira’s high press resulted in a turnover and a breakaway. KP’s defender went in with a slide tackle and got some of the ball but more of Barreira, leading to a penalty kick. Barreira got his second goal of the game by sliding his shot low right.
“Getting that second goal and coming back and scoring right away, it deflated us,” Gale said. “They did a nice job of doing what they had to do, and we need to work on that so we can prevent that from happening again.”
With the win, Foxboro boys soccer moves back to .500 overall (5-5-1, 4-5-1 Hock). The Warriors need seven points from their final seven games to qualify for the state tournament. They next play on Monday night against Milton back at Southeastern.
“Historically we’ve made good pushes at the end of the year so hopefully we can build off that and that trend will continue,” Franchino said. “It’s good to get back to .500, and hopefully, we continue to get better.”
King Philip (3-8-1 overall, 3-7-1 Hock) returns home on Friday afternoon and will entertain Franklin.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – When the calendar turns to October, teams start keeping an eye on their rivals in the league standings and two points become even more important. North Attleboro started the night just three points back of Davenport-leading Canton, which was playing second place Milford, so the Rocketeers understood the importance of two points on Thursday night at Beaupre Field.
North dominated the first half, scoring twice, and then held off a Foxboro charge after the break, keeping the Warriors off the board until the final two minutes of the game, to walk away with a 2-1 victory that moves within one of the Bulldogs and Hawks in the league standings.
“Especially going forward, we’ve got an idea where we want to go with it now,” said North coach Geoff Burgess. “We have a plan and in the first half we executed it really well. We were able to counter them quickly, with speed.”
The hosts took that to heart on Thursday and gave an early warning to the Foxboro defense when Joe Hilf played Matt Conley in behind the Foxboro left back just two minutes into the game. There was contact, but not enough for the official to give the penalty. Hilf almost opened the scoring a minute later but dragged his shot from the edge of the box just wide.
Both teams settled into their styles after that, with North loading the midfield and looking for the quick outlet in transition and the Warriors trying to play out of the back. It was the Rocketeers that controlled the action in the opening half, limiting Foxboro to only a couple of weak shots on goal and constantly putting pressure on the visitors’ back line.
Hilf sparked North into the lead after 19 minutes. He made a long run down the far sideline, rode a sliding challenge from Brian Gardner, and got free on the right side of the box. His cut back into Conley was blocked by a couple of Warriors but the ball popped out to Alex Pfeffer in the middle and he side-footed his shot into the empty net.
Just four minutes later and the Rocketeers doubled the lead. This time it was Matt Mordini that got free down the right channel. The junior cut it back into middle for Hilf, who was left free on the edge of the box, and he hit it first time into the far corner.
Foxboro’s best look of the opening half fell to Shane Vandenboom, who hit the outside side-netting with a curling effort from 18 yards. It was about all the North defense gave up in the opening half, as center backs Evan Rosenberg and Gavin O’Malley kept the Warriors out of dangerous areas.
“They’re a great partnership,” said Burgess. “Evan especially, he was JV last year, didn’t play a minute, and I think he’s now one of the best center backs in the league. The way he plays positionally, he’s always covering in the right places, he’s quarterbacking the team.”
Foxboro coach Joe Franchino admitted, “Everybody was just on their own page…We weren’t shooting in the first half, just lumping balls in and playing right into their hands.”
In the 29th minute, North could have put the game away when James Sales’ free kick from 28 yards came back off the crossbar. Hilf almost sealed the win in the 35th minute when he nodded a long clearance by right back James Bush past his marker and got a free run on goal, but his shot went over the bar.
“He had a really good matchup in the first half,” Burgess said of Hilf. “Normally, I’d yell at him for trying to flick it snd take it himself but I think he realized that it was probably the right play. Everything kind of revolves around a target and he’s embraced that.”
Foxboro needed to make some changes at halftime and came out with more intensity, but Hilf nearly hit the Warriors on the counter when his clever dummy beat his marker, but Foxboro keeper Nick Penders was out quick to smother it.
The visitors started to get a foothold going forward, particularly through midfielder Joe Cusack, who kept popping up in between the lines and finding pockets of space where he could dictate play. He had Foxboro’s first good look that went just wide.
Chances started to flow for the Warriors. A throw-in from the left found Vandenboom, who laid it off for Daniel Basler, but his shot from 20 yards went high. A minute later, a long free kick from Daniel Lowey found Dylan Barreira’s head in the box and he nodded it down to Nic Beigel but the shot was saved.
Barreira also forced North keeper Kyle Briere into a save with a 28-yard free kick. Briere made his best stop just a few minutes later to deny Cusack at full stretch at the midway point of the half. It kept Foxboro off the board when the Warriors were clearly on top in the game.
Burgess said of his keeper, “Kyle is this great safety blanket we have because he does come up with the good when we need him to. Today he was mostly calm but he had that one good one.”
Cusack had a free kick from just outside of the box that was saved comfortably and Foxboro nearly fashioned an opener with five minutes left when Matt Garcia played the ball through to Barreira, whose header found Vandenboom but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
“Even at Franklin, we go down a goal, two goals, and we’re trying to fight back into the game,” Franchino said. “The game’s only 80 minutes long, so you’ve got to start quicker and it’s just not happening right now.”
North had one more chance with a late free kick that was played straight across the box by Joey Coscarella, but Pfeffer couldn’t put his shot on frame when he met it at the far post.
Foxboro did get one to make for an interesting final two minutes. Beigel’s free kick from the left corner of the box went through a sea of bodies in front, and possibly got a touch off a North defender, before sneaking in the far side. But, it turned out to be only a consolation for the Warriors.
“The loss Friday to Canton woke us up a little bit,” said Burgess. “We lost 3-1 but in the second half we had four almost breakaways and didn’t convert on any of them. It was very much a winnable game but I think they realized if they don’t go out and actually put the ball in the back of the net, 0-0 isn’t going to get it done.”
North Attleboro (4-1-6, 4-1-5) will next face Kelley-Rex leader Mansfield on Wednesday, while Foxboro (3-5-1, 3-5-1) will be back in action on Saturday at Bishop Feehan.
2017 Record: 10-5-4 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Danny Erickson
The Bulldogs have been one of the top offensive teams over the past two seasons, and that trend will likely continue with the personnel returning this season. The goal this season is to equal that success on the defensive end of the field.
“We have had lots of success the past two seasons in scoring goals but we have not been stingy enough with allowing goals,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson.
Hockomock League leading scorer Paul Corcoran is back for his senior season and has been one of the top producers in the final third over the past two seasons. His nine goals in 2016 helped earn him HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors and last year he led the Hock with 15 goals and 23 total points. He is joined by HockomockSports.com Best XI selection Griffin Roach in the midfield. Roach is one of the best two-way players in the league and will undoubtedly be relied upon to help both the offense (10 goals, five assists last year) and the defense. Simon Cruz is another player with a good amount of varsity experience that will likely factor in.
While the offense looks to be in good shape, shoring up the defense won’t be easy after losing starting goalie Abe Garber and center back John Agnitti. However, Erickson can rely on Paolo Ruggeri to lead the way in the back. Ruggeri has a ton of varsity experience and will be the quarterback of the defense, organizing and keeping the back four in shape. Junior Alejandro Correal will step in as the starting keeper.
2017 Record: 11-5-4 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Joe Franchino
Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino isn’t afraid to talk about how confident he is in this year’s team.
“The Hockomock title is coming to Foxboro,” Franchino said.
Although Foxboro graduated a dozen seniors, the players that the Warriors do return are the reason why Franchino is so confident in this group. Starting up top, Foxboro has both of its strikers back, including leading scorer Shane VandenBoom. Last year, VandenBoom was second in the league in the regular season with 21 points, scoring 12 goals and adding nine assists. He will be joined up top by Dylan Barreira, who had a strong sophomore season.
In the midfield, everything will run through junior Joe Cusack. There aren’t many midfielders that have the poise on the ball that Cusack does and he will likely be the engine for the team. He isn’t the biggest player on the pitch but his vision is among the best and his ability to play balls over the top and through the defense make Foxboro’s offense very dangerous. Nic Beigel will complement Cusack in the middle to give the Warriors a solid 1-2 combo.
Defensively, the Warriors are hoping to see more of the same after only allowing 15 goals through 18 regular season games. The good news is that Foxboro has plenty of experience returning in the back with Matt Garcia, Brian Gardner, and Will Regan back in the fold. Franchino stressed that the team must put defense first and buy into the system, and then the team can go forward — an area the Warriors are very confident in.
2017 Record: 7-8-3 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Brian Edwards
After missing out on the postseason by just one game, the 2018 Scarlet Hawks are laser-focused on making it into the state tournament and having a run at the division title.
Third-year head coach Brian Edwards saw his team go from four wins to seven over the first two years and is hoping that upward trend will continue in 2018.
“We are looking to build upon the lessons learned last year,” Edwards said. “We want to work on maintaining focus and closing games out this season. With many players coming back for their third varsity season we are hopeful that our experience helps us work towards our goals this season.”
One big reason for optimism is junior Walisson De Oliveira, who exploded as one of the best offensive threats in the league in the second half of the season. After playing in the midfield for half the year, Edwards moved De Oliveira up top and the move paid off big time. The striker scored 14 goals (second most in the Hock) and had three assists.
In the midfield, the Hawks boast a trio of talented and experienced players. Tiago Carvalho, Joao Boaventura, and Jordan Borges have all shown improvement over the offseason and will be counted on to handle the middle of the pitch. Seniors Joey Madden and Zach Brown return to anchor the defensive unit in front of senior goalie Cam Doherty.
2017 Record: 11-2-6 (Davenport Division Champions) 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Geoff Burgess
Despite graduating over a dozen seniors from last year’s Davenport division-winning squad, North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess believes his team will be ready to defend its league title.
The Rocketeers will have to find a replacement for HockomockSports.com Best XI selections Gabe Pinhancos (center mid) and Brendan Matracia (goalie), as well as the entire back line, but Burgess does have options to fill the voids.
“I’m excited to see what this group can accomplish,” Burgess said. “We have a good nucleus of talented players and high expectations.”
Senior striker Joe Hilf was second on the team in points last year after scoring six goals and adding two assists and Big Red also has junior midfielders Dylan Corrigan (four goals, three assists) and James Sale back in the fold. All three have plenty of varsity experience and should be major factors for North this season. Junior Joey Coscarella will see more playing time as well this season.
Senior captain Evan Rosenberg will step in at center back to anchor the new back four. Burgess is also optimistic about his options in net with junior Kyle Briere taking over as the starter.
2017 Record: 5-9-4 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Bryan Kelly
Only one year removed from winning the Davenport title, Sharon is hoping its versatility will help get them back to the top of what is shaping up to be a very competitive division.
“We have some dynamic players this year which gives us the ability to use different formations making it difficult for teams to plan for us,” said Sharon coach Bryan Kelly. “We have a rotation of players who can play two or more positions and play them well. If we stick to our game plan, we will be a tough team to reckon with.”
The Eagles have a strong core of returning players that Kelly can build off of. Ethan Kantor is back for his third year in goal and will be the leader of the defense. Alex Dias returns from a torn ACL to take up one of the outside back positions. Kelly expects Brendan Arnold and Daniel Gunduz to step up on defense this season.
In the midfield, junior Michael Baur (HockomockSports.com Second XI selection) will be a key piece and help the Eagles transition from defense to offense. Baur is also one of the more dangerous free kick takers in the league. Baur will work with the speedy Isaiah Stessman and Norway-transfer Viktor Schneider on the wings in the midfield.
Kelly is looking for junior Brian Higgins and Daniel Lillenfeld to form a dynamic partnership up top while Antonio Elkoury and Eli Berkowitz can step in and provide depth in both the midfield and up front.
After three straight years in the playoffs, the Black Knights had a down season a year ago but new head coach Joshua Aubin is anxious to get Stoughton back into playoff contention.
“This is definitely a team that is not afraid to get down and dirty,” Aubin said. “We’ve got some scrappy players who will not be backing down from the challenges ahead.”
Stoughton will be relying on its 10 seniors to set the pace this season, starting with captain Fabi Ponce de Leon. In his fourth year on varsity, Ponce de Leon will be the engine in the middle of the field and help facilitate things for the Black Knights. Aubin is looking for some new faces to step up around Ponce de Leon to take some pressure off the senior and give him some space. Fellow captain John Ortiz will be a leader for a defensive group that is looking to improve on last season.
All-Hockomock selection Carter Gerome returns as the starting goalie for the Black Knights.
“We do have a lot of athletes where we hope to be able to maximize on their individual abilities,” Aubin said. “We have a little bit of everything – some height, some speed, some strength, some physicalness, and some finesse.”
CANTON, Mass. – After both regular season meetings against Canton, the Foxboro boys soccer team felt like they had let a point get away.
The first time, the Warriors saw the Bulldogs erase a pair of one-goal deficits to earn a draw. The second meeting saw the Warriors come back from a goal down, but couldn’t add a second despite nearly a dozen scoring chances.
This time around, ninth-seeded Foxboro made sure history didn’t repeat itself. After eighth-seeded Canton cut the deficit to just one goal in the second half, the Warriors went on and finished the game strong with two more goals and registered a 4-1 over the Bulldogs.
“It was a great result,” said Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino. “We came in with confidence, the kid put the work in. Credit to the boys, I thought we were the better team. Now we have to focus on the next one.”
Foxboro came out with its foot on the gas with two big chances inside the opening 10 minutes. Shane VandenBoom left a ball behind to Ryan Kelley in the third minute, but Kelley’s blast was over the bar.
Four minutes later, senior Hussein Kafel found VandenBoom in behind the defense, but Canton center back John Agnitti did well to recover, slide and get just enough of a block on the shot to make it a comfortable save for Bulldog keeper Abe Garber.
But after play evened out some, the Warriors capitalized on a free kick opportunity. In the 24th minute, sophomore Dylan Barreira whipped a service to the back pose and Kelley rose up above his mark and nodded in the opener.
Neither side hag a legitimate scoring chance in the first half until the final seconds when Canton’s Paolo Ruggeri sent in a left footed shot from distance but Foxboro goalie Bobby Harrison covered nicely.
While the first half was limited to just a handful of chances, the second half opened up with opportunity after opportunity.
The Bulldogs nearly leveled the match just two minutes into the second half when the Hockomock League’s regular season leading scorer Paul Corcorantracked down a loose ball and had his shot partially blocked, forcing Harrison to make a save while backtracking.
A minute later, VandenBoom had his back towards goal inside the area, releasing a shot while turning but Garber made the stop.
Foxboro broke through again in the 46th minute. Junior Matt Garcia played a ball wide for Kelley, and the senior drove a low cross the near post. VandenBoom made the run and got just enough of a touch to tap it in for a 2-0 lead.
The Warriors’ two-goal cushion didn’t last long. Three minutes later, the Bulldogs earned a free kick from just over 40 yards out on the left sideline. Junior Griffin Roach stepped up and ripped a curling shot into the upper corner at the near post, eluding Harrison’s diving effort, to bring Canton back within one.
But unlike the previous meetings, Foxboro made sure to put this game away.
Kafel came close to adding Foxboro’s third with a near post bid two minutes later, but Garber made the low save. Five minutes later, Kelley dribbled his way past two defenders and had a golden chance but Garber came sliding out for the huge stop.
Harrison was called upon to make a stop in the 50th minute, saving Corcoran’s hard shot from 30 yards out towards the post.
Foxboro added the big insurance goal midway through the second half when sophomore Joe Cusack helped turn defense into offense, quickly linking up with Kelley, who took little time depositing a through ball behind the defense that VandenBoom ran onto and calmly finished alone on goal.
“I think that’s one Bobby wants back,” Franchino said of Canton’s goal. “I think the boys felt like we didn’t give one up, we let one in. But everyone responded and we kept going. Once we got the third one, it was lights out. Everyone played great, I only made a couple of subs.”
Canton continued its pressure, earning a free kick from 25 yards out that senior Jake Verille placed around the wall, but Harrison made a terrific diving save to get a hand to it and push it out for a corner.
Foxboro put the finishing touches on the match in the 78th minute when Cam Cass took possession along the right side, put in a centering pass that VandenBoom dummied to draw the defender, leaving Kafel open to finish alone on goal.
“I think a difference has been Ryan Kelley, he’s just an engine in there,” Franchino said of the offense clicking. “At the beginning of the year we had him so much deeper and then we pushed him above the other two center midfielders and he just finds that gap. He’s been the link between the forwards and the midfield, he was tremendous.”
Foxboro boys soccer (11-4-4) advances to the D2 South quarterfinals to take on #1 Nauset (17-1-1) on Thursday, November 9th at 6:00. Canton finishes the season 10-5-4.
FOXBORO, Mass. – With the wind at its back, Foxboro boys soccer had nearly a dozen legitimate scoring chances in the second half alone, but walked away from Sam Berns Community Field with a 1-1 draw against visiting Canton.
The strong wind helped dictate the play in both halves. Canton benefitted in the first half, while Foxboro took advantage in the second half.
“That was one of those games,” said Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino. “We were banging on the door, just not getting one of them in. [Soccer] can be a brutal game, and we ended up with just the point.”
Canton came out strong despite being on the road. It took less than two minutes for the Bulldogs to register a scoring chance as Simon Cruz set Griffin Roach up for a chance just inside the area, but Roach’s shot went wide at the far post.
Four minutes later, the Bulldogs created another chance and this time, chased in. A deflected clearance fell right back into the area and Canton junior Paulo Ruggeri did well to use his body to shield some space, taking the ball down and placing it in from close range to make it 1-0.
Bulldogs senior keeper Abe Garber made one of his several stellar saves in the eighth minute, denying Foxboro sophomore Dylan Barreira at the near post after being sent in behind the defense by Shane VandenBoom.
Canton nearly doubled the lead in the 17th minute when junior Paul Corcoran found Cruz atop the area, but Foxboro goalie Bobby Harrison – who was well off his line — got just a touch to the shot and the ball was cleared away.
Foxboro found the equalizer in the 18th minute. After a throw from Matt Garcia found its way over the top of Canton’s defense, Foxboro senior Ryan Kelley barreled his way through traffic, eventually getting the last touch off the front of his head and in from close range to tie it 1-1.
“To give up a goal within the first 10 minutes and then to get it back in the first half is a lot of credit to the guys,” Franchino said. “They kept fighting and didn’t give in, even against the wind.
“We had the chances in the second half, but it can be a brutal game sometimes.”
With the wind making it difficult for Canton to clear its own zone, Foxboro put the pressure on to try and score the go-ahead goal.
In the 38th minute, Hussein Kafel served a cross from the left side that VandenBoom ran onto at the near post, but his touch was over the bar.
Kelley nearly found a second tally when he got his head to Barreira’s corner in the 39th minute, but the senior couldn’t get all of it.
Just two minutes later, Garber robbed Kelley of his second goal. Kelley dribbled past a pair of Canton defenders and ripped a shot at the near post, but Garber did well to get down and make the stop.
Nic Beigel had his chance just four minutes later when he weaved his way through the defense and had a go, but once again Garber was in great position to knock the shot away at the near post.
In the 69th minute, VandenBoom hooked up with Barreira once again, but the sophomore’s shot at the near post was just inches over the bar. VandenBoom had a chance himself a minute later when he tracked down a ball over the top, but he couldn’t get over his volley and his shot was just high.
Foxboro finally had Garber beat in the 77th minute when an errant header found Barreira, who placed his shot at the far post outside the reach of Garber. However, Canton defender Mike Mazzola was in the right spot and got a touch on it, with Garber smothering the rebound.
The Warriors had a final chance in the 78th minute when Garcia placed a perfect service into the area that VandenBoom got his head to, but Garber grabbed his final save to preserve the point.
“On the day, I didn’t think it was much of a contest in the second half,” admitted Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “They played very well, kudos to Foxboro. I thought they were the better side, we were unable to find any part of our game…we couldn’t connect passes, we weren’t winning challenges.
“Abe was the one positive I thought. He was very clean and bailed us out a couple of times. But kudos to Foxboro, that’s a hard working group. They changed the point of attack well and we didn’t open our mouths on defense. We have a lot to work on.”
Both sides came into Tuesday’s contest with a mathematical chance at the Davenport, but North Attleboro clinched the division with a win at Milford. Foxboro boys soccer (10-4-3 overall, 8-4-3 Hockomock) will host the Rocketeers on Thursday night to close the regular season.
“We want to make a deep run in the tournament,” Franchino said. “There was a lot of hype for that game, and even though it’s not for the title anymore, they can make a statement going into the playoffs. We fought to the end today, but it didn’t turn out in our way. We were so close though.”
Canton (8-4-4, 7-4-4) will entertain Stoughton on Friday before heading to Marshfield on Monday to conclude the regular season.
“I was proud that we bounced back,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson after going down a goal inside the final 15 minutes. “I thought that we gave up two soft goals today. Foxboro played really hard and really tough had a had a great first half. They really challenged us and we had to change some things at halftime and I thought we did and got on our front foot. They took their chances though.”
The Bulldogs cashed in less than 10 minutes into the game, taking advantage of a long throw from junior Paul Corcoran. The service found its way into the area, and after a scrum in front of the goal, senior Jake Verille found the back of the net to go up 1-0.
“It definitely could have gone one of two ways,” admitted Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino after the early deficit. “We could have put our heads down but the guys fought back and got the goal back within about 15 minutes or so. The guys stuck together. Then they continued to fight all game. We didn’t get the result we wanted but we fought hard all game.”
Canton nearly doubled its lead in the 15th minute when a loose ball fell to Griffin Roach just inside the area. The junior connected his boot to the ball on the bounce, sending a shot destined to go right under the bar but Foxboro senior goalie Bobby Harrison made a last second class save, tipping the ball over for a corner.
That save proved beneficial for the Warriors, as they leveled the match just over five minutes later. After most of the play was in Foxboro’s defensive third, the Warriors broke out on the counter.
Foxboro senior Cam Cass sent a service to the far post, and an errant header from Canton put the ball right at the feet of sophomore Dylan Barreira and he buried his close-range bid to level the match.
The Warriors put another one in just minutes later on a training ground routine on a corner kick. The corner was played short and let through on a dummy, allowing Ryan Kelley to place his shot to the far post but Cantons senior goalie Abe Garber was quick to get down and make the stop.
Foxboro started the second half on the right foot, as Cass nearly set up another tally. This time, he sent a low service to the near post that found Shane VandenBoom but he was defended perfectly by Canton’s Chris Milne and he blocked the touch at the near post.
Canton had an immediate response and nearly re-took the lead in the 50th minute. Roach made a darting run with possession into the area and ripped a shot to the near post. Harrison made the initial save but it looked as though the Bulldogs had a chance to bury the rebound, but Foxboro’s Matt Rongione made the clearance.
It was the Warrior’s turn for a chance in the 54th minute when sophomore Joe Cusack laid a perfect ball over the top for Kelley, but his near side bid hit off the post and stayed out.
Ten minutes later, Foxboro was finally able to break through again. A Canton clearance was blocked down and the ball fell right to VandenBoom, who took a couple touches forward before lofting a perfectly weighted ball over Garber and just under the bar to make it 2-1.
Foxboro nearly put the game away just moments later when Cusack sprang Kelley in, but Garber did nicely to stop the shot at the near post.
After a Canton free kick was cleared, Milne released a shot from distance that forced Harrison to tip the ball over the bar. On the ensuing corner kick, it looked as though the service was going to go over everyone and out for a throw.
But instead, Corcoran tracked it down, using an acrobatic bicycle kick to keep the ball in and keep possession with the Bulldogs. The ball ended up back with Roach at the top of the area but his shot was blocked. However, the ball fell right to the feet of Corcoran on the six-yard line and he made no mistake about his chance from close, making it 2-2.
“That was great hard word by Pauly to get us that goal,” Erickson said. “I thought overall it was pretty good performance. We had some tired legs, we played yesterday. It’s not an excuse, but you could tell. We weren’t very clean in the final third. Foxboro was good on the day, it was a good game and I think the result was fair.”
“We can learn from today, we’ve seen them now too so that helps,” Franchino added. “I think the only thing they were dangerous on was the log throw and they have some big guys up front. But for the most part, I thought we were the better team.
“Bobby made some big saves. And then we had some few chances ourselves. So it was back and forth, so 2-2 is a fair result.”
Rongione had one final chance just before the final whistle, ripping a shot from distance but it just sailed over the crossbar.
Canton boys soccer (4-2-2 overall, 3-2-2 Hockomock) finishes up its first trip through the Davenport schedule with a trip to Stoughton on Monday. Foxboro (4-2-2, 3-2-2) also wraps its first trip through the division schedule with a trip to unbeaten North Attleboro.
2016 Record: 8-7-5 2016 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Danny Erickson
After playing a good handful of juniors and sophomores during the 2016 season, the Bulldogs look to be an experienced group heading into this year. Leading the way will be senior and two-time captain Jake Verille, who leads the Bulldogs from the middle of the pitch. Fellow captain Abe Garber is back for another year in net and senior captain John Agnitti with anchor the defensive line.
Verille, a HockomockSports.com Best XI selection last season, has been one of the top playmakers the past two years. On top of Verille’s offensive ability, Canton also returns junior Paul Corcoran – the team’s leading scorer (nine goals) and the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. Alongside Corcoran, the Bulldogs have a slew of juniors with varsity experience including Griffin Roach, Simon Cruz, Paulo Ruggeri and Avery Minkin that will all factor into the attack.
“We are confident that we will be able to keep the ball and attack this year,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “The chances should be created, but we will need to finish. We will also need to defend as a group of 11 MUCH better than we did last season.”
2016 Record: 6-9-4 2016 Finish: Reached D3 South First Round Coach: Joe Franchino
After graduating just five seniors last season, head coach Joe Franchino brings back the majority of squad that had just one loss in its last eight regular season games in 2016. However, two of those five players – Anthony Barreira (two-time Best XI selection) & AJ Bubencik (now playing at Mass. Maritime) – were four year players and will be tough to replace.
The good news is that while the Warriors were young a year ago, a good portion of the team has at least a season of varsity experience under its belt. Senior captain Shawn McNamara, now in his fourth year starting for the Warriors, will lead the way along with fellow captains Matt Rongione and Ryan Kelley. Senior Cam Cass also has plenty of experience and will be relied upon as a playmaker. Junior Shane Vandenboom had a strong sophomore season and will be an important piece in the midfield along classmate Nic Beigel and senior Hussiein Kafel.
Seniors Bobby Harrison will be the starting goalie for the Warriors.
“Coming into my third year, I am confident the team has bought into the system and I’m really looking forward to see how they compete,” Franchino said. “We have experienced senior and junior classes with a couple of sophomores to watch out for. We may not have a target on our back but when it’s all said and done, I believe we have the team to win! I believe in this group and really excited to see what they accomplish.”
2016 Record: 4-10-4 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Brian Edwards
The Scarlet Hawks are looking to take the next step in year two with Brian Edwards at the helm. After just four wins a season ago, Edwards is hoping that the experience gained by his younger players will translate into more success this time around.
Midfielder Andre Oliveira will be a key piece for Edwards and the Scarlet Hawks, helping both the offense and defense. Oliveira’s ability to transition from defense to offense will be key for the Scarlet Hawks this season. On the defensive side of the ball, senior Jacob Balzarini is back in the center of the defense. After getting plenty of time in that spot last season, Balzarini will be the anchor of the backline this year. On top of Oliveira and Balzaini, Edwards is looking for new players to step up and make an impact.
“I’m looking for us to be a team that stresses balance,” Edwards said. “I am hopeful that the experience many of these guys gained last year translates into more success in the standings. I am also excited to see what the new guys bring to the squad. There are a bunch of hungry young players that want to make their mark on this team and in this league.”
North Attleboro boasts over a dozen seniors on the 2017 version of the Red Rocketeers and head coach Geoff Burgess is hoping that experience will translate into success on the field.
Leading the way will be senior and 2016 HockomockSports.com Second XI selection Gabe Pinhancos, who has been Big Red’s field general for the past couple of seasons. Josh Rodriguez and Ryan Pasquel are also back this season to help bolster the midfield. Junior Joe Hilf and senior Jeff Gale will be relied upon to pace North Attleboro’s offense.
Big Red’s biggest strength could be in the back, having a defensive unit with plenty of experience. Noah Barney and Zach Matracia both saw significant time and will be joined by classmates Andrew Fontaine and Kevin Aguilar. That defensive unit will be in front of senior goalie Brendan Matracia.
“I am hoping that we are going to be a team on the rise this year,” said Burgess. “I have a strong senior class and we’ve had a good summer and an even better preseason.”
2016 Record: 11-4-4 (Davenport Division Champions) 2016 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Bryan Kelly
The defending Davenport division champs will boast a large senior class (14) but will also rely on some younger players as they look to win back-to-back Hock titles.
The Eagles’ tri-captains will provide leadership in each part of the pitch, with senior center back Shubo Roy-Chowdury on the back line, senior Tyler Hippler leading the midfield and senior Spencer Hall up front. Sharon’s attack will bolstered by seniors Marques Benton and Andy Reyes-Jones, who both saw plenty of time up top a year ago. Meanwhile, sophomore Michael Baur is back after a standout freshman season and classmates Isaiah Stessman, Brian Higgins and freshman Brice Nathan will all play a role in helping the Eagles go forward.
Maybe the biggest advantage the Eagles have is returning keeper Ethan Kantor. The junior had a terrific season in net a year ago and will be the backbone of the team’s defense.
“With a solid defense that is smart and has speed, we should be able to keep up with fast offenses while not losing the capability to support a potent offense,” said SHS head coach Bryan Kelly. “Overall, we are solid from goal to forwards, it just depends on if we can put the ball in the back of the net.”
2016 Record: 8-9-2 2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Preliminary Round Coach: Chris Suchorski
Stoughton will be looking to make it back again to the postseason, this time under first-year head coach Chris Suchorski. The Black Knights just made it in a season ago but it marked the third straight year for the program.
Suchorski is tasked with replacing 12 seniors that graduated from last year’s team. However, all of the players he is returning all saw varsity time last season and that should soften the blow dealt by graduation. Senior Tyler Melo (six points) is back and will likely be a vital part of the Black Knights’ midfield and attack. Junior Fabio Ponce de Leon (six points) begins his third season on varsity and will once again be one the Black Knights’ top offensive options. Brian Peoples also returns as one of the team’s top playmakers.
The biggest question could come with the back four, as the Black Knights must find a replacement for 2016 Best XI selection Goddy Fombe, who anchored the back line the past two season the sweeper position.
FOXBORO, Mass. – As teams enter the final weeks of the regular season and points are at a premium, Foxboro and Attleboro settled for one apiece as they fought to a 0-0 draw at Sam Berns Community Field.
Despite dominating the majority of the first half, and recording more scoring chances in the second half, Foxboro was unable to find the back of the net, hitting the crossbar once and being stopped by Attleboro goalie Nick Hasenfus on other attempts. Meanwhile, the Bombardiers continued to be frustrated by the Warriors’ high pressure and their lone serious chance of the second half was blocked away before Bobby Harrison was forced into a save.
“We have to pick up points,” Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino said. “The guys fought hard, I thought we were the better team today. We were knocking it around, we had the possession and we had the chances. You just have to keep grinding, it’s been the nature of the season so far. The boys aren’t quitting though, it was just unfortunate we didn’t get a goal.”
After Attleboro registered the first scoring game in the 13th minute – a sequence between Aidan Lancaster and Ahijah Joseph resulting in a shot over the bar from Nick Lawrence – it was essentially all Foxboro for the final half hour of the opening stanza.
In the 25th minute, Beigel sent in a low service to the near post where freshman Joe Cusack got a touch to it but Hasenfus cut the angle down and got just enough to keep it out.
Three minutes later, after a corner was partially cleared, a service from Will Regan eventually was deflected to Barreira, who volleyed a rocket right off the crossbar and out.
The Warriors had two chances in the final minute with Spinney finding Cusack at the near post but his shot was wide and then Cusack returned the favor by playing Spinney in but Hasenfus denied his shot to send the teams into the halftime break scoreless.
“The first ten minutes is a feeling out period, looking at the formation they are playing, matching up players, have to be defensive minded in that first ten minutes,” Franchino said. “But once we got in a groove, we pushed players on and I thought we had the better play and the better opportunities.”
“We’ll take any tie because our goal is to get points,” Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira said. “We need points, we have four left so any point is great. Obviously [Foxboro] played better than we did, we got lucky because they hit the bar and they had a few opportunities. But we’re going home with a point so that’s excellent. It was one of our weakest games. We just had our best game last game and it was 0-0 then too. We dominated that game but here today, no. Foxboro was hungry, they were winning the 50/50 balls and had opportunities. The first half was all them. I don’t usually call timeouts but Foxboro was just putting pressure on us.
“The second half was more even but they still won more of the 50/50 balls. Anthony [Barreira] is deadly around the area. He’s a big boy, he’s got a good touch so he’s difficult. Harry [Lancaster] does a good job with anybody and he did with him.”
The Bombardiers registered the first chance of the second half when Austin Champagne pounced on a loose ball off a corner kick but his bid was blocked.
Foxboro’s AJ Bubencik had a shot from just outside the area saved by Hasenfus in the 57th minute and Barreira had a similar shot smothered by Hasenfus in the 61st minute.
“He’s been solid,” Pereira said of Hasenfus, who notched his sixth shutout of the season. “He talks, he gets the kids going, the kids have confidence in him now. He’s been a total surprise, I had no idea. He’s been playing JV. He’s been playing ODP for the last couple of years so he’s been getting the training and he’s been absolutely awesome for us. And with Harry [Lancaster] and Tyler [Treichler], they play solid, Harry’s been our MVP for the season.”
The Warriors continued its pressure and it resulted in another good bid. Barreira played Spinney wide but his shot just rolled wide at the far post in the 67th minute.
“I think that’s the difference from where we were at the beginning of the year to now is the pressure in the center of the park,” Franchino said. “We’re not letting teams play. It’s just getting the right mixture of the right players. Even our outside backs stepped up and our backline was pushing players on. We’re not just winning balls in the defensive third, we’re winning them in the attacking third and middle third which makes a huge difference. We just have to keep grinding.”
Attleboro had its best chance in the 70th minute when Joseph sprang Will Halbem in behind the defense but before he could uncork a shot in the area, Foxboro’s Shawn McNamara slid in and pushed the ball out for a corner kick.
Foxboro boys soccer (2-7-3, 1-7-3), which has earned at least a point in four of its last five games, will look to continue that trend when they travel to Sharon on Monday. Attleboro (5-3-4, 5-2-4) travels to Wrentham to take on Kelley-Rex leading King Philip the same day.