MANSFIELD, Mass. — The Oliver Ames boys soccer team felt it should have taken two points in its last league game, a draw at home against Stoughton, especially after carrying a lead into the second half.
The Tigers found themselves in a similar situation on Monday, and this time out made sure to put the game away.
Senior Mike MacAdam gave the visitors the lead less than 10 minutes into the game and sophomore Casey Milliken, who had the assist on the opener, buried a penalty kick late in the second half for a key insurance goal as Oliver Ames earned a 2-0 win in a key matchup with division foe Mansfield.
“Every game in the Hockomock this year is going to be that, a tough, gritty battle,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “In fairness, I thought we played well at many times tonight and I thought their goalkeeper made a number of terrific saves. Overall it was a good bounce-back game after Stoughton because we should have put that game away and we didn’t. So it was good to come here and get a gutsy win against a good Mansfield team.”
A week ago, Oliver Ames didn’t open the scoring until just before halftime. Against Mansfield, MacAdam’s opener came in the eighth minute of play. But in both contests, the Tigers controlled play and had a handful of chances to score more.
OA broke through just moments later as outside back Diego Rivera connected with Milliken in the middle, who promptly dribbled forward to attack the defense. He laid off a perfectly weighted through pass and MacAdam sprinted onto it, reaching out to blast a shot past the keeper from inside the area for an early 1-0 lead.
“Mike’s going to see a lot of minutes for us if he plays like he did today,” Barata said. “Mikey is kind of like that unsung senior that can really help us out.”
Milliken nearly had another assist in the 16th minute, connecting with classmate Andrew Martins atop the area, and Martins used a quick touch before ripping a shot that was gobbled up by Doyle off the bounce. A minute later, Milliken’s hard cross was knocked around before Hector Bucio got his right boot on it but Doyle was once again in position for the stop.
OA continued to press, this time it was sophomore Luke Churchill playing Dasilva in behind but Doyle came out and made a huge stop, pushing the bid over the bar in the 26th minute. Four minutes later, Doyle was at it again as MacAdam nearly returned the favor to Milliken, who cut it back onto his left foot inside the area only for his shot from in close to be denied and cleared by Mansfield defender Derek McGrath.
“We didn’t get into our style, [OA] runs around and cover each other all over, unlike we did,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan. “We’re young, we’re inexperienced, and we’re learning, which is good. This is what happened against Wayland, we let them dictate everything and got away from the way we should be playing. We played great for three games, got better each game, but reverted back tonight.”
Mansfield was able to get a forward a bit more in the second half and had their first two real chances just minutes apart. In the 52nd minute, senior Aiden Steele won a battle after a service from Grady Sullivan and unleashed a left-footed blast from distance but OA keeper Drew Hall handled it on the bounce.
OA finally added its insurance tally in the 70th minute. Milliken was taken down in the area to earn the pen. He stepped up and converted with a clinical finish just out of the reach of an outstretched Doyle.
“We definitely learned from Stoughton…today, we gave up very little shots from anywhere on the field, we were converging very quickly,” Barata said. “In the second half, we tried to bring them out a little bit because we wanted to play the game a little bit more. So it was a little bit of a tactical shift on our end that allowed for a lot more open play. We’re trying different things because it’s early in the season, we’ll see what works and what doesn’t.”
Oliver Ames’ back four of Mercieri, Rivera, Bucio, and Jake Williams played well in the back while Luke Churchill and twin brother Craig Churchill were vital in the midfield. Anytime the Hornets tried to build out of the back, it seemed one of the Churchills was there to thwart it. And then when it came to OA’s heavy edge in possession, it was Luke and Craig that seemed to facilitate the majority of it.
“Luke is kind of the glue that keeps us together, he’s the lynchpin for us right now,” Barata said. “It’s a lot of pressure in that position but now we have two Churchill’s doing it together, which is great because they both were fantastic today. They won’t get much press — except for maybe this — that’s just the way it works sometimes but they’re so steady, very good players.”
Oliver Ames boys soccer (2-0-1 Hockomock, 2-0-2 overall) has another huge showdown on Wednesday as the Tigers welcome league-leading Attleboro to Muscato Stadium. Mansfield (2-1-1, 2-2-1) will look to bounce back on Wednesday evening when it hosts Taunton.
2021 Record: 9-8-3 Coach: Peter Pereira
While last year’s record doesn’t jump off the page, it was a good season for the Bombardiers and a step in the right direction for the program.
There were a lot of varsity debuts a year ago, and a lot of new faces in the lineup for longtime head coach Peter Pereira. This year is the opposite as many of those players are back and looking to make a serious challenge for the Kelley-Rex division title. Highlighting a deep and talented group of returners is a trio of HockomockSports Second XI selections from a year ago: senior forward Esvin Morales, junior goalie Tyler Rocchio, and junior midfielder and last year’s HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Alex Vecchioli.
That trio gives the Bombardiers a top player in most key spots on the pitch. Vecchioli will be flanked by some familiar faces as senior Lucas Marques, junior Billy Badger, and junior Luke Hagopian are all back in the mix after starting last season. Juniors Kyle Neuendorf and Richard Ferreira provide key depth off the bench for the midfield unit. Up front, senior Steve Etienne will complement Morales at striker with juniors Nick Ticas and Clay Tyler able to provide energy off the bench.
Attleboro did graduate one of the best center backs in the league in Cash Stuger so there will be a hole to fill there but Pereira has a solid trio of experienced seniors in Jake Stomfors, Toby Smith, and Ian Miller to rely on defensively. Juniors Zack Diffenderfer and Joshua Codella are also in the mix for minutes in the back four.
“It is a hard-working group and I believe we have the potential to win some big games,” Pereira said.
2021 Record: 14-5-4 (D2 State Finalist) Coach: Danny Erickson
The Canton boys soccer team made history last year with its run to the Division 2 state final and while it will be a big ask to replicate such a special run, the Bulldogs have plenty of key pieces to at least challenge for a division title and have a go at another big run.
Canton lost the majority of its lineup from a year ago after graduating seven of the 11, but with a large, talented senior class, Hall of Fame coach Danny Erickson always has his squads ready to compete. The biggest piece back to the puzzle is senior striker Jake McCabe, a 2021 HockomockSports Best XI selection that tied for the league-lead in goals during the regular season a year ago with 13 goals.
Having 13 seniors on the squad will give the Bulldogs a boost, including veteran players like Caden Mirliani, Ashton Cetoute, Carson Eagles, and Brian Shea. Junior Zaza Francoeur picked up some valuable minutes a year ago and will be a key piece in the attack this year.
“We will certainly need to reinvent how we play after losing so many weapons but we have a great group,” said Erickson. “Lots of guys competing hard for the opportunity to contribute. That should help us compete in the always-tough league.”
2021 Record: 9-9-1 Coach: Dan Ambrosio
Foxboro has a strong core of returners back from last year’s squad that qualified for the postseason and will be looking to incorporate some young players to challenge for the Davenport division crown.
The Warriors will need to get the new players up to speed quickly because the injury bug has already hit, taking seniors Jorge Sanchez-Garcia (All Hock honorable mention last year) and starting defender Ian Foley for the season. Head coach Dan Ambrosio will lean heavily on his senior captains, striker Alex Penders and defender Marco Pacini. Penders, a standout on the hardwood for Foxboro’s basketball team, isn’t your typical striker but standing at 6’5, he’s a nightmare for opposing defenders and a dream for teammates serving the ball into the area.
Pacini is a seasoned veteran as a four-year member of the varsity team and will be the anchor of the back line. Sophomore Ryan Cotter will take over in net behind Pacini and the back line. The strength of the squad could be in the middle with a trio of juniors: John Hollis, Ryan Flaherty, and Pradyu Gubbala. All three are returners from a year ago and will be key pieces in not only helping the back line but orchestrating and organizing the attack.
“The strength of the attack lies in the ability to counter quickly, while defensive organization is a strength when without the ball,” Ambrosio said.
2021 Record: 11-5-4 Head Coach: Fran Bositis
Franklin will be looking to replicate its success from last year after the Panthers came just three points shy of the division title and earned a win in the state tournament.
The Panthers didn’t graduate a huge senior class but they did lose some key pieces like HockomockSports Best XI selection Terry O’Neill in midfield and Second XI selection Aidan Griffith on defense. But there is plenty of talent back all over the pitch for the Franklin, who will certainly be in the mix for the Kelley-Rex crown this year. Franklin’s four captains are spread throughout the field with Best XI selection Rex Cinelli back at center back, Will Kryzak up front, Trey Lovell in the middle of the pitch, and Griffin Tolonen in net.
Cinelli is coming off a very strong sophomore campaign and will join forces with Will Klawson to anchor the back line, which has impressed so far this preseason. Lovell will partner with Noah Cain at center mid to help the Panthers transition from the back, and orchestrate the offense. Juniors Hansy Jacques and Andrew O’Neill will provide depth alongside Kryzak up front. Michael Fernandez Martin, Garrett Scagliarini, and Matt Honekamp are new names to keep an eye on.
“It’s still early but our athletes are working hard and I know that we are all excited for the upcoming season,” said Hall of Fame head coach Fran Bositis. “We are looking forward to the challenge of competing in the Hockomock League.”
2021 Record: 3-13-2 Coach: Mike O’Neill
After battling through an injury-plagued 2021 season, the King Philip boys soccer team is aiming to be in the mix for the Kelley-Rex division title this year.
The Warriors boast a strong group of seniors that will be the heart and soul of the squad but will be looking to integrate some young and new faces in order to challenge in a very talented Kelley-Rex division. After scoring just 20 goals last year, the Warriors are hoping offense will be a strength this year behind a deep mix of creative and quick wing players. Senior Matt Crago returns after a terrific junior season (four goals, two assists) and will be a go-to option in the midfield and out wide. He’ll be joined by junior wing Will Bowen and junior wing Dermott Amorim.
Up top, KP will look to junior Tommy Lomuscio to find the back of the net. As a sophomore, he scored five goals and had nine assists – factoring in on just under half of the Warriors’ offense production. Senior goalie Connor O’Reilly made some huge saves a year ago and is back in net this year. Senior Tom Meader will anchor the back line at center back while senior Oliver Blackburn and sophomore Sayan Panda will lend some help to the defense from the center mid spot.
“I think the Hock is wide open this year, which is just another way of saying that there is a tremendous amount of parity,” said KP head coach Mike O’Neill. “Any win is a good win in the Hockomock League. We have strengths in our captains and our senior leadership. In order to be really competitive, we will need our younger players to contribute right away.”
2021 Record: 8-5-4 Coach: Steve Sheridan
Mansfield is looking to make a big splash in its first season competing in the Davenport division and enter the season as an instant contender.
The Hornets join the Davenport in a challenging year with Oliver Ames looking to make it three straight Davenport titles (four overall), a Canton squad fresh off of a state finals appearance, a revitalized Stoughton squad, a very skillful Sharon team, and a competitive Foxboro group. Despite losing 14 seniors from last year’s squad that went 8-5-4, Mansfield has a solid core intact for a big year.
It starts with captains Aidan Steele, Grady Sullivan, and Dan Checkoway – all three are seasoned veterans and know what it takes to compete in the Hock. Steele plays up top as a target forward while Sullivan and Checkoway patrol the midfield, along with the talented Connor Palinski. Junior Lucas DeSousa and sophomore Tyler Znoj have impressed early on in the midfield while sophomore Cooper Austin is in the mix up front.
Head coach Steve Sheridan is turning to senior Liam Doyle, who missed all of last year with an injury, to take over in net. Senior Derek McGrath will anchor the back line in front of Doyle while sophomore Matthew Sullivan has had a strong camp in the back as well.
“We don’t have as much varsity experience as I’d like, but we have a good bunch of kids that hopefully click sooner rather than later,” Sheridan said.
2021 Record: 12-4-3 Coach: Antonio Pinto
The defending Kelley-Rex champions might have some inexperience and youth in some spots in the lineup, but the Scarlet Hawks return a strong core of players ready to defend their title.
Milford has won four straight division titles, two in the Davenport and now two straight in the Kelley-Rex, and will be looking to make it five straight with another banner this year. Returning HockomockSports Best XI selection Nick Ribero is such a steady presence in the midfield and does a great job spreading the ball and finding open teammates. He will have a lot of options with Arthur Tome (seven goals, nine assists), Eduardo Santana (nine goals, five assists), and John Borges (two goals, eight assists), all back this season.
After losing Best XI selection Chris Tocci (center back) and Kevin Gomes (goalie), the Hawks will have some inexperience in their own final third. The Scarlet Hawks will turn to junior Nate Dinis to anchor the back line after he played some key minutes a season ago.
“We have a very young squad going into the season, but a tight group of kids who are together 24/7, a very family-like team here at Milford this season,” said Milford head coach Antonio Pinto. “Offensively we will have to figure out ways to score goals. Defensively we are very young and inexperienced but have a tight group of kids that will help each other out.”
2021 Record: 8-8-2 Coach: Mike Lacasse
An untimely departure from the girls’ program at North forced a bit of a shakeup in the coaching ranks as Geoff Burgess moves over to the girls and Mike Lacasse, who has coached the JV team for a number of years, moves up to take over varsity.
Lacasse and the Rocketeers will look to make some noise in a very talented Kelley-Rex division, and look to get back to the state tournament. The strength of the squad will be in the midfield as the Big Red has some familiar faces back in key spots. Senior Carson Dameron is back for his third year as a starter and will be joined by classmates Zach Smahi and Griffin Rodden. Juniors Kaden Burns and Quinn Conley will patrol the flanks while sophomore Patrick Etienvre could be poised for a breakout campaign after some impressive minutes as a freshman.
Defensively, North Attleboro has the challenge of replacing one of the better keepers in the league in David Floyd as well as HockomockSports Second XI selection Brody Rosenberg at center back. Seniors Jack Regan (outside back) and Sam Bush will try to solidify the backline with junior Owen Goeller in position to start in net. Up front, the Rocketeers will turn to senior Givany Carney, a powerful striker, and junior Bryce Newth, to produce some goals.
“We have a good mix of young talent and experience in some key positions,” Lacasse said. “I am excited to see what this team can accomplish this season, as they look to continue the progress they had toward the end of last year.”
2021 Record: 13-4-2 Coach: John Barata
For most programs, losing the league MVP plus the league’s top goal scorer would be a massive hurdle to get over. But this isn’t something new for Oliver Ames, who has won three straight division titles and eight overall since the 2011 season. While graduation will certainly hurt, the returners and new arrivals have OA right back in the mix for another title.
Despite the loss of Mathias Taylor (MVP) and Clide Neau (tied for a league-high 13 goals), the Tigers have plenty to be excited about, starting with sophomore Casey Milliken, who finished atop the points leaderboard during the regular season a year ago and earned HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year honorable mention.
On top of that, Joey Carney is back in the mix in the midfield looking to capitalize on a solid sophomore campaign (four goals, two assists), and sophomore Andrew Martins will see an increased role after impressing as a freshman. And like always for OA, they will lean heavily on the captains: senior Hector Bucio, who had a breakout year with seven goals and three assists, and senior Jake Williams. Sophomores Luke Churchill has also impressed so far this preseason.
“OA is excited to compete in the Hockomock League,” said OA head coach John Barata. “We are working to get into the tournament this season. We want to grow as a team and have a lot of fun.”
2021 Record: 6-9-3 Coach: Scott Nathan
Sharon battled its way through injury after injury last season, showing glimpses at times (wins over league champs Milford and Oliver Ames, finishing on a four-game unbeaten streak) but missed out on a spot in the state tournament.
With a host of talent returning this year, the Eagles are serious contenders to challenge for the division title in what is shaping up to be one of the deepest years in the Davenport. The Eagles look to have a strong defensive group this year anchored by HockomockSports Second XI selection Rhys Davis at center back. He’ll be joined by seniors Tyler Goodman, Brandon Mauricio, and Tony Yang to not only give the Eagles a veteran backline but one with skill and pace. Senior Matt Baur is back with the program and returns to his starting spot in net.
The Eagles also have some key pieces back in the midfield and up front. Senior captain Adam Eastman will be looking to build on his nine-goal season from last year, which was tied for fifth most in the Hock. Seniors Rishi Shetty, Malachi Diaz, and Miguel Vasconcelos provide depth up front. Cam Birnbaum and Kevin Lu are also returning players from last year’s squad that could see valuable minutes.
“The Hock is among the strongest leagues in the state,” said head coach Scott Nathan. “We look forward to getting the chance to play against so many quality teams. The boys can’t wait to get started!”
2021 Record: 0-17-1 Coach: Ruben Teixeira
Stoughton struggled through a difficult schedule last season but there is a bit of a buzz about the Black Knights entering this season.
First year head coach Ruben Teixeira, who has coached both at the high school and collegiate level, had a great turnout for tryouts and the Black Knights will be looking to bounce out of the bottom of the standings and make a serious run at the Davenport division title.
Stoughton has a good amount of returning players from a year ago, including a lot of young players that were getting their first varsity experience. Teixeira will look to his seniors to guide the way, especially early on. Senior Joao Marotti sets the tone with his hard work and will be a factor both defensively and offensively for Stoughton. His versatility will provide Teixeira with some flexibility in the midfield. Another senior to keep an eye on is Matheus Groberio, a new addition to the program that has a lot of experience and knowledge of the game. He could be an instant impact player for Stoughton this season.
2021 Record: 5-10-3 Coach: Taylor Whitters
Taunton had an excellent start last year, winning four straight to open the season but the momentum came to a halt and the Tigers finished at 5-10-3 and on the outside looking in for the postseason.
With nearly its entire squad back in the mix this season, the Tigers will be looking to replicate that start and then carry it even further and challenge for the Kelley-Rex title. Taunton was young last season as the lineup featured mostly juniors and sophomores, but now the Tigers are one of the most experienced groups and will be looking to use their speed to challenge the rest of the Hock.
Riley Ribello was a 2021 HockomockSports Best XI selection on defense but he’s shown he can play at center mid or move up top and be a dangerous attack, and it’s likely that’s where we’ll see him this season. The Tigers also have Quincy Jones-Sylvia back at center back while Josh Letourneau, Ian Robicheau, and Jonathan Trinh all saw time at outside back and will provide key defensive depth this year.
Conal Scully proved to be a top attacking option last year with the ability to score from a variety of spots on the pitch. Aidden Fitting plays with a ton of pace on the outside and the Taunton midfield will get another speedy player in Javonte Fernandes, who is back on the field after playing goalie last season. Vinicius Lira Lima and Az-Anael St. Marc provide attack depth for the Tigers.
“We have a lot of individual talent, however, it is our unmatched team chemistry and synchronicity on the pitch that will undoubtedly make this our year in the Hock,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters.
Below are a pair of press releases from Franklin High athletic director Tom Angelo and Oliver Ames athletic director Bill Matthews on the selection of Paula Lupien (gymnastics) and John Barata (soccer) as MIAA Coach of the Year.
Franklin, MA (December 08, 2021) – (Franklin Athletic Department) Franklin High School is proud to announce that Paula Lupien has been named the 2020-2021 MIAA Gymnastics Coach of the year.
“Earning this prestigious honor does not surprise me in the least. When it comes to coaching, Coach Lupien is the total package”, states Athletic Director, Tom Angelo. “I attribute the success of our Gymnastics program to Coach Lupien’s meticulous attention to detail, her love for her student-athletes, and overall dedication to the coaching profession.
The 2020-2021 winter season was Coach Lupien’s 5th year at the helm, culminating in an undefeated season, a Hockomock League title, and a 1st place finish in the Hockomock League Tournament. A professional member of USA Gymnastics, Coach Lupien’s primary goal is to build trust with her athletes and to bring out the best in themselves by setting a high bar and accomplishing their goals. “Paula is an incredible person who embodies everything that is right about the coaching profession. We are so fortunate to have her as part of our coaching staff”, states Tom Angelo.
Over the past 5 years, Coach Lupien has involved her team in various community service projects in and around Franklin, MA. Some of these projects include Blankets for Cancer, Toy/Pajamas/Blanket drive for children in foster care, a Franklin Food Pantry drive, distributing holiday wreaths, and hosting gymnastics clinics for Best Buddies, and area youth programs.
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association selects their “Coaches of the Year” based upon excellence in character, impact upon students and community, and coaching credentials.
Coach Lupien will be honored by the MIAA at a celebratory awards banquet in January.
EASTON — Superintendent Lisha Cabral and Athletic Director Bill Matthews are pleased to announce that soccer coach John Barata has been selected to receive the 2020-2021 Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Coach of the Year Award for soccer.
Award recipients are selected based upon excellence of character, impact on students and community and coaching credentials. Coach Barata was notified of his selection in November, and will be recognized at an event that is expected to be held in January 2022.
Barata has coached the boys varsity soccer team at Oliver Ames High School for 13 seasons. In that time, he has led the program to a 169-44-40 record,12 MIAA state tournament appearances, three state championship appearances and one state championship title.
The team went 13-4-2 this fall and was the Hockomock League Davenport Division champions. The team qualified for the state tournament and ultimately made it to the round of 16.
Coach Barata has been recognized by the Boston Globe, Hockomock League and Eastern Massachusetts Soccer Coaches Association a total of seven times, as well as the Mass Youth Soccer Association Girls Competitive Coach of the Year and with the United Soccer Coaches Coach of Significance Award.
His coaching philosophy revolves around guiding players along their soccer journey and helping them to reach their potential both on and off the field. He works to create a positive and player-focused environment and believes that his background as a youth minister has allowed him to use his relational ministry skills to guide players and build lifelong relationships that extend beyond the soccer field.
Under Coach Barata’s leadership, players have volunteered hundreds of hours with the Easton Youth Soccer League, Easton Lions Club and My Brother’s Keeper, a local non-profit that provides furniture donations and delivery to families throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and assistance for families in need during the holiday season.
He is also invested in players’ academic success and works to help find support for any player who would benefit from academic assistance. His teams have been recognized each year for the past seven years with the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award.
During the 2020-2021 school year, the team was also recognized by United Soccer Coaches with a Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award.
Coach Barata was nominated for the MIAA Coach of the Year Award by Athletic Director Matthews, who wrote in the nomination letter, “John has high expectations of his players on the field, in the classroom and in the community and provides them the tools and support they need to meet and exceed those expectations. Perhaps more important than the statistics and recognition above is John’s commitment to seeing his players develop into not only good players, but good citizens as well.”
He added, “It is hard to imagine anyone who loves soccer as much as John and is as invested in fostering that same love of the game in others. His enthusiasm for soccer is contagious and his ability to engage with kids of all ages is remarkable.”
As director of coach and player development for Easton Youth Soccer, Coach Barata also started a program to introduce preschoolers to soccer. Many of those children have grown up and been valuable contributors to Oliver Ames’ soccer programs and many have credited him with sparking their love for the game.
“Our Oliver Ames boys varsity soccer program has thrived under Coach Barata’s leadership and he has been a wonderful supporter of players’ successes as athletes, students and members of their community,” Superintendent Cabral said. “Coach Barata is very well-deserving of this award, and we are proud to see him recognized for his outstanding accomplishments.”
Coach Barata has also held several positions in professional and coaching associations including serving on the YMCA Board of Governors, Parish Youth Enrichment Board, Hanson Youth Soccer Board of Directors, P3 Foundation Board, Eastern MA Soccer Coaches Association Board, United Soccer Coaches Advocacy Board, United Soccer Coaches Advocacy Group (Chair), United Soccer Federation Instructor and Easton Youth Soccer Board.
In addition to his role at Oliver Ames, Barata is the director of soccer and owner at Beautiful Game Soccer Academy in Hanson, and chief executive officer at Legacy Soccer Club in Hanson. He previously served as director of operations in New England for the Club Champions League New England in Hanson and the general manager for the Real Boston Rams of the United Soccer League out of Quincy.
He also holds a Master Coach and Soccer Leaders diploma from the University of Delaware and a number of other certifications from various soccer and coaching-related organizations.
Barata has also held several positions in professional and associations including serving on the YMCA Board of Governors, Parish Youth Enrichment Board, Hanson Youth Soccer Board of Directors, P3 Foundation Board, Eastern MA Soccer Association Board, United Soccer Advocacy Board, United Soccer Advocacy Group (Chair), United Soccer Federation Instructor and Easton Youth Soccer Board.
In addition to his role at Oliver Ames, Barata is the director of soccer and owner at Beautiful Game Soccer Academy in Hanson, and chief executive officer at Legacy Soccer Club in Hanson. He previously served as director of operations in New England for the Club Champions League New England in Hanson and the general manager for the Real Boston Rams of the United Soccer League out of Quincy.
Over the past 5 years, Lupien has involved her team in various community service projects in and around Franklin, MA. Some of these projects include Blankets for Cancer, Toy/Pajamas/Blanket drive for children in foster care, a Franklin Food Pantry drive, distributing holiday wreaths, and hosting gymnastics clinics for Best Buddies, and area youth programs. Over the past 5 years, Lupien has involved her team in various community service projects in and around Franklin, MA. Some of these projects include Blankets for Cancer, Toy/Pajamas/Blanket drive for children in foster care, a Franklin Food Pantry drive, distributing holiday wreaths, and hosting gymnastics clinics for Best Buddies, and area youth programs. Over the past 5 years, Lupien has involved her team in various community service projects in and around Franklin, MA. Some of these projects include Blankets for Cancer, Toy/Pajamas/Blanket drive for children in foster care, a Franklin Food Pantry drive, distributing holiday wreaths, and hosting gymnastics clinics for Best Buddies, and area youth programs.
The Tigers jumped all over the Bulldogs from the opening whistle, scoring less than five minutes in and adding two more in the second half to secure an impressive 3-0 result.
“I think the guys were really ready to play on Thursday and then we got canceled so there was definitely some anticipation, some build up going into tonight,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “It’s no longer about the previous teams, these are the guys are taking it pretty seriously. I thought we caught Canton early, maybe a little bit surprised at how we played. I don’t think we’ll surprise them next time but I’ll take any points this year anywhere we can get them.”
OA took the opening kickoff and dumped a long ball into the attacking third, getting bodies forward to pin Canton back. It worked as the Bulldogs were unable to build out of the back and OA took control of the possession and the game.
Sophomores Ryan Linhares and Joey Carney combined to get forward before the latter sent a low cross into the area but senior Clide Neau’s cheeky chip went just over the bar in the 2nd minute.
A minute later, Linhares drove a corner to the far post where freshman Casey Milliken was located but his header hit off the top of the crossbar and stayed out.
The Tigers finally broke through in the fourth minute when Linhares carried down the right sideline before sliding a low cross into the area. The ball was deflected up and Neau was in the right spot, looping a header over the keeper and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“We had that conversation about the butterflies and the nerves yesterday,” Barata said, noting the Tigers had five underclassmen in the starting lineup. “They were almost overexcited yesterday in training, our shots were off, our passes weren’t crisp. As you saw, we’re going to try and play a little bit whereas people probably thought we’d be a bit more direct and back it in with a new team. But we can’t hide it anymore.”
Canton worked its way into the attacking third in the 11th minute and a blocked shot fell to senior Jacob Crugnale at the far post but a difficult shot on the bounce was turned aside by OA keeper Sasha Priajinski.
Oliver Ames boys soccer
OA came back down the other way and had a pair of chances just off the mark. First, Milliken set up Linhares on the right side for a bid that was off, and four minutes later, Milliken combined with Neau before taking a shot from distance that went over the bar.
The Bulldogs had their best chance of the opening half came in the 30th minute as senior Erik Valdovinos used his speed to get down the right sideline before getting a cross into the middle where Jake McCabe nodded a header down but Priajinski was well-positioned to make the stop. Canton had another crack at it in the 36th minute of a free kick just outside the box but McCabe’s curling shot was over the bar.
Just before half, Canton utilized its timeout to save time on a dangerous set-piece. McCabe was the first to it at the near post, getting a piece before the rebound fell to junior Carson Eagles, who had his half volley bid go high.
After some early back-and-forth action to start the second half, OA won a corner and cashed in. Milliken played a ball right to the penalty spot where senior Mathias Taylor rose up to meet it, smashing a header into the corner for a 2-0 advantage.
Seven minutes later, OA earned a free kick just over midfield. It was played into the box but Milliken was taken down off the ball to give the Tigers a penalty. Taylor stepped up and used power to get his shot past the keeper for a 3-0 lead in the 60th minute.
“What I really liked, once we got a couple of minutes into the game it felt like we were back, we were comfortable, we were knocking the ball around,” Barata said. “The senior leadership has been great. I know it’s early but Mathias is obviously one of the premier players in the region, Michael Haikal is coming back from an injury, [Collin] Lozano has great senior leadership, Sasha jumping into goal…all the way down, the seniors helped us calm down. And then the underclassman looked comfortable out there too. But this job just got started, there’s a lot of soccer to play but hopefully we keep getting better. They’ve set a high bar for themselves.”
Canton’s best chance of the second half came just a minute later on a free kick from distance but McCabe’s bit on target was parried aside by Priajinski.
“We had to be very conscious about conceding to them in the second half,” Barata said. “At halftime, we talked quickly about how I thought they did well in the first half and I was impressed with the level of intensity but we had to keep it up, I told them we can’t let them in. Canton came out strong in the second but we settled again and once we got the second goal, we felt more comfortable.”
Oliver Ames boys soccer (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) is on the road again on Friday when they travel to take on Franklin. Canton (1-1-0, 1-1-1) will have its first road league game of the season when it heads to Milford.
2020 Record: 2-5-6 Coach: Peter Pereira
The Bombardiers seemed to get things in gear just as last season was coming to an end, finishing the season unbeaten in its final five games. But there won’t be much carryover to this year as Attleboro only has three starters back from a team that lost 14 seniors to graduation.
It will be a lot of new faces for longtime head coach Peter Pereira, who is still trying to fit the puzzle pieces together to figure out the best combination for his Bombardiers. Senior Cashel Stuger joined the lineup last season and will be a main part of the Attleboro defense this year with Lucas Marques, Ian Miller, and John Blouin all in the mix to see minutes. Junior Esvin Morales begins his third year on the varsity level and has the most experience at this level on the team. Morales is a crafty midfielder that is very dangerous in the attack and on set pieces. Seniors Liam Bischoff and Thomas Russo have good varsity experience and should see expanded roles this year.
Sophomore Alex Vecchioli exploded onto the scene last year, scoring a team-high four goals. He’ll join Morales to solidify the Attleboro midfield but he’s no stranger to getting forward and making some noise in the attack. Sophomores Tyler Rocchio and Brady Whitmarsh are battling for the starting position in goal while Pereira is looking for the likes of Connor Adema, Yannie Skortas, and Emilio Ticas to step up in the attack.
2020 Record: 6-3-3 Coach: Danny Erickson
Canton was the main challenger to OA’s division title win last season, playing tough against the Tigers in both matches. In fact, the Bulldogs’ lone losses were to both division champs in OA and Milford, the latter coming in the semifinal of the Hock Cup.
Canton has a large chunk of those players returning to the pitch for this season and a lot of them have multiple years of experience playing at the varsity level, which means expectations are high for Canton. OA has been the team to beat in the Davenport for the majority of the past decade but it looks like that could be different this year with how much skill the Bulldogs have.
There are veteran players all over the field, starting in the back with the anchor of the defense in senior All-Hockomock selection Giovanni Ruggeri, who returns as the starting goalie. Establishing a strong defensive group in front of Ruggeri will be key but the Bulldogs have a track record of getting better defensively as the season goes on. There is a lot of firepower going forward with senior Dylan Baird being the link in the midfield, helping the Dogs transition from defense to offense. There will be a lot of options in the attacking third with both Erik Valdovinos (three goals, two assists) and Jacob Crugnale up front (goal, seven assists). Junior Jake McCabe is also back after scoring three goals and notching two helpers.
“We are so excited to head into the season,” said head coach Danny Erickson. “Our team has a very high ceiling for success and we are working hard to reach that ceiling. Couldn’t have much more difficult of an early-season schedule playing Franklin, OA, and Milford to open up the Hock so we will certainly be presented some very tall tasks right out of the gates.”
2020 Record: 4-6-2 Coach: Dan Ambrosio
Foxboro is leaning on a strong senior class, a group of talented returners, and a mix of new faces to try and make a run at the Davenport division title. The heart of the team will be with the senior class, including four-year player Derek Axon and midfielder Alex McGarry.
Axon has been on the roster since his freshman year and will start in net for the Warriors, leading the way for what head coach Dan Ambrosio hopes is a strong defensive unit. Foxboro has been on the lower half of the Davenport table in terms of goals against in each of the past two seasons but Ambrosio believes he has a strong defensive unit that will play well in front of Axon. McGarry, a three-year member of the varsity squad, will be a key piece in the middle of the pitch.
It’s not often a team gets a transfer with not only varsity experience, but experience playing in the Hockomock League. But the Warriors added Jorge Sanchez, who has two years of playing at Canton under his belt and could be a big boost for Foxboro. Senior forward Matt Angelini has improved each year with the program and will be one of the top strikers in the league while junior Alex Penders has impressed so far in the preseason. Sophomore John Hollis made a splash during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and could be poised for a breakout year for the Warriors.
“The group has done an outstanding job of coming together as a team,” Ambrosio said. “We look forward to playing the Foxboro way and competing to win the Hockomock regular season.”
2020 Record: 3-5-4 Head Coach: Fran Bositis
Hall of Fame head coach Fran Bositis is back on the sidelines for his 51st season in charge and he and his Panthers are anxious to get back to normal soccer after last year’s abbreviated season that featured rule changes that altered the game.
Bositis has liked what he’s seen so far in the preseason with the team improving after each training session and after each scrimmage. Having a trio of four-year players is an advantage that many teams won’t have so the Panthers will lean heavily on seniors Terry O’Neill, Tyler Powderly, and Aidan Griffith for their veteran leadership. There are a lot of upperclassman on the roster with seniors Jack Moran, Nelson Martinez, and Kevin Proenca all back in the mix after playing last season.
O’Neill, the 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, is the spine of the team, patrolling the middle of the pitch. We saw early on in his career his ability to get forward and become a scoring threat but he also showed he can sit back and solidify the defensive unit. Both Powderly and Griffith provide a lot of speed on the outside. Junior Trey Lovell and sophomore Rex Cinelli earned some minutes a season ago while Bositis expects junior Will Krysak and sophomore Sean O’Leary to be steady contributors this season.
“I feel the outlook is bright as long as we continue to work hard and look to make small improvements every day,” Bositis said. “I also feel that we have very good senior leadership and that this will be important in helping our younger players develop.”
2020 Record: 5-4-4 Coach: Mike O’Neill
The Warriors graduated nearly its entire starting lineup, losing a total of eight players from the starting 11, along with five more seniors from last year’s squad, but somehow KP boasts a strong returning group of players.
That’s a credit to head coach Mike O’Neill, who has shown since he took over the varsity team that he will take full advantage of the depth of his roster, getting a lot of player’s minutes each season. Last year’s abbreviated season was no different; KP has half a dozen players back with varsity experience ready to make a run at the division title.
There are four captains: Caleb Cassetta, John Pfeiffer, Sean McCarthy, and Stephen Griffin, and all four bring something a little different to the table. Cassetta can do a bit of everything, from being the maestro of the midfield, to shoring up the defense, to sliding up front to score goals. Pfeiffer plays both defensively and in the midfield and provides key leadership, McCarthy is an aggressive outside back, and Griffin is a four-year member of varsity that can play in a variety of roles going forward.
Junior Matt Cargo could be poised for a breakout year in the midfield while senior Dan Fifolt is back in the mix to give KP at outside back. Junior Andrew Seropian has had a good preseason so far while sophomores Tommy Lomusico, Will Bowen, and Dermott Amorim are all competing to try and give the Warriors a boost on the offensive end.
“I think there is going to be a lot of parity in the Hock this year,” O’Neill said. “It will be difficult (as always) to win games. We graduated 13 seniors and 8 starters last year. That is a significant loss of experience on the field, but it also provides opportunities for younger players. I am excited to see which players will step into the available roles and have a breakout year.”
2020 Record: 6-4-2 Coach: Steve Sheridan
For years, Mansfield has been known as a defensive team that sets the tone with its physicality, taking advantage of set pieces on the offensive end to win games. Things might be a little different in 2021.
While Mansfield still boasts a strong defensive group, the heart and soul of the team is in the midfield. There is a lot of creativity in the group that features senior captains Matty Hyland and Danny Rowe along with juniors Grady Sullivan and Connor Palinski. The unit has impressed in the preseason, moving the ball around, combining to get up field and attack opposing defenses. Mansfield has traditionally used a lot of subs for its forwards under Sheridan and that looks like it will be the case again this year with senior Liam Anastasia and junior Dan Checkoway both in the mix.
Four-year varsity player Dylan Buchanan will take on a new role this year, making the switch to defense. His speed will make it tough for opponents to get in behind the Hornet back line. Senior Michael Caridi is another returner and he will join Buchanan in the back in front of senior goalie Jack Lasbury-Casey.
“This is the first time in a very long time that I can honestly say that the defense is not the strength of our team, the midfield is!!”
2020 Record: 10-0-3 Coach: Antonio Pinto
The target on Milford’s back this season will be bigger than ever as the Scarlet Hawks enter the season with three straight division titles; last year’s Kelley-Rex crown and two from the Davenport prior to that. While the Hawks are certainly in the hunt to make it four straight, they’ll do so without their best player from the past two seasons.
Last year’s Hockomock League MVP and lone Massachusetts All-American selection Leo Coelho graduated alongside nine other players that helped Milford won the Hockomock Cup last season. That class also included star midfielder Lucas Da Silva and 2019 playoff hero and goalie Leo Oliveira. While it might seem like the cupboard is a bit thin, the Hawks have reloaded with some new talent eager to win a title of their own.
Kevin Gomes has been on varsity since he was a sophomore and has plenty of varsity starts in net under his belt. He came off the bench in the Hockomock Cup and came up huge to help the Hawks take the win. Milford also has veteran centerback Chris Tocci back in the fold; Tocci is not only one of the most experienced backs in the league but he’s one of the most skilled and his prowess in the air is key for the Hawks.
Senior Avi Seri and juniors Arthur Tome and Hulanger Pires all took advantage of their expanded roles last season and will be key in the offense this season.
“We have a good direct style of play,” said head coach Antonio Pinto.
2020 Record: 3-6-3 Coach: Geoff Burgess
It was a good offseason for the Rocketeers, who used their time between seasons to improve their craft. North has developed a reputation for a defense-first-minded program over the past couple of seasons and the Big Red is sticking true to its colors in 2021.
The strength of the team lies in the defense with a lot of experience in the defensive third. Senior captain Brody Rosenberg will slide into a center back role and anchor the defense from there while sophomore Kaden Burns returns to his outside back position after picking up vital experience during last year’s abbreviated season. Senior David Floyd returns in goal this year after posting a 1.50 goals against average last season.
Connor Ward has been making plays in this league for a long time and look for that to continue during his senior season Ward uses his versatility and creativeness to orchestrate the Rocketeer push forward. Sophomore Carson Dameron is another returner in the midfield unit for North Attleboro; look for senior Jaad Ismail and juniors Griffin Rodden and Givany Carney to give North’s offense a boost.
“We have a great mix of experience and talent that will hopefully lead to a successful year,” said North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess. “The team really came together this summer at Camp Manitou and they really believe in each other. They really want to work hard to improve each day and are one of the most coachable groups we have ever had. We are all really excited to get back to normal soccer and see what this season holds for us.”
2020 Record: 12-1-0 Coach: John Barata
Oliver Ames spent the majority of the last decade at the top of the mountain in the Hockomock League, winning five Davenport division titles and two Kelley-Rex crowns since the league split. The Tigers are the defending champs in the Davenport and lost just one game (Hock Cup) last year, but this will be the biggest turnover that OA has seen in a long time.
Oliver Ames graduated over a dozen players, including nearly its entire starting lineup of a team that scored a league-best 59 goals and had a league-low five goals against. Not only did the Tigers lose a talented senior class, but a majority of the players were also either two or three-year starters, so there will be a lot of new faces getting playing time at the varsity level for the first time. Senior captain Mathias Taylor is the most experienced player back for the Tigers after getting a lot of time as a sophomore and starting last fall. His versatility will be key as the Tigers carve out roles for the new players; Taylor can control the play from the middle of the pitch, move up front as a dangerous attacking option, or sit back some to help solidify the defense.
Hector Bucio is the other returner starter for the Tigers after earning some minutes after a sophomore, picking up some starts in the process, and will be a big part of the offense for OA. Michael Haikal also saw time on the field during the COVID-shortened season and will see an expanded role this year as one of the team’s captains. With new faces in the mix, OA is focusing on attacking with pace while stressing getting numbers behind the ball to defend against the tough competition in the Hockomock League.
“We are excited to be back playing regular soccer and looking forward to seeing how this very young and inexperienced team gels during the season,” said OA head coach John Barata. “We hope to win a couple games and get these underclassmen a lot of experience.”
2020 Record: 0-10-2 Coach: Jon Grant
It starts with the fundamentals for head coach Jon Grant and his Black Knights: an improved defensive effort to stay in games and better technical play to increase scoring games.
And so far, so good as Grant has seen improvement on both ends of the pitch throughout the preseason. Throughout each of the last two seasons, the Knights have shown glimpses and the goal this season is to string together consistent performances and limit the mistakes to keep Stoughton in the game. Captains Rhuan Carvalho and Joao Marotti, both seniors, give the Knights some experience up top as they battle against a tough Hockomock League schedule. Although Evan Khang and Kyle Grant as just sophomores, they saw a lot of time last season and will bring that experience and talent to Stoughton’s midfield.
Defensively, the Knights will turn to senior captain Owen Roddy to anchor the defense. He will be joined by classmate Val Pierre to try and solidify the Stoughton back line.
“Everyone is excited to be back out on the field and it will make it even sweeter as we add the competition of the season,” said Jon Grant. “This season we are looking to not beat ourselves by limiting our mistakes. This mentality will put us in a good position each game to compete. Combine that with great effort and a positive attitude and we have a pretty good recipe for success.”
2020 Record: 0-3-7 Coach: Taylor Whitters
The Tigers only played four games last fall due to COVID so there wasn’t much of an opportunity to pick up varsity experience for the younger players, which make up most of the roster for the 2021 season. The lineup will feature mostly juniors along with a group of sophomores so Taunton will lean heavily on the few players that have played at this level before.
That starts with juniors Riley Rebello and Joseph Renquinha, who both enter their third season apart of the varsity team. Rebello has seen time just about everywhere for the Tigers, including at center back, attacking mid, and up front at striker. The experience that both he and Renquinha possess will be key as the young Taunton team tackles a difficult schedule. Taunton is also looking for juniors Aidden Fitting, Quincy-Jones Sylvia, Conal Scully, and Jonathan Trinh to step into big roles right away.
Taunton will rely on a strong work ethic to try and put pressure on teams, using team speed to attack opposing defenses. The Tigers have been in a lot of close games — three of the for from last season, and 11 of their games in 2019 were decided by a goal or less. Taunton will be hoping to end up on the other end of those one-goal results this season to try and make a push for the postseason. Sophomores Javonte Fernandes, Delano Costa-Hanlon, and Joshua Letourneau, alongside junior Sete Deletoile, will be in the mix on their first year with the team.
“I am hoping for us to continue to mature this season and raise the bar a little higher each game,” said head coach Taylor Whitters.
Oliveira had to exit the game with an injury early in the fourth quarter and in stepped Gomes, who came up with a colossal save on an indirect kick from inside the area as Milford claimed the cup with a 2-1 win on the road to finish the season undefeated.
“We know they are a powerhouse, always a top team, always a state championship contender…so this game to me is like a district final,” said first-year Milford head coach Antonio Pinto. “For me, these were the two best teams in Eastern Mass. and they put on a show. It was a back-and-forth game, chances both ways, full of excitement, and I couldn’t be more proud of Milford, and couldn’t be more proud of OA for the battle they put up.”
The Hawks scored twice in the opening 10 minutes of the second half but the Tigers pulled one back before the end of the third quarter to set up the frantic finish.
A low cross from Oliver Ames’ Brady deVos in the 78th minute was first touched by a Milford defender before Gomes handled it, giving the Tigers an indirect kick inside the box near the end line on the right side, about 10 yards from goal. Colin Milliken touched the ball in play and Matthew Nikiciuk blasted a rocket from close range but Gomes stood tall and pushed the ball over the bar to keep the Hawks ahead.
Milford boys soccer Oliver Ames boys soccer
“Me and Leo love each other, we practice together every day,” Gomes said. “Right when I saw he was hurt, I knew I had to do it for him. Because last year against Nauset, he did the same for me. He won it for us. He was upset from the injury but I wanted him to leave happy so I told him I got this, I was going to do it for him. I just had to be confident, calm down, and play my game.
“It was a close play but the angle they were in, there was only one way they could try and get it in and it was all power. So I had my teammates marking, lining up in front where they could and I just had to be confident and be strong when I approached it. It was the best feeling after saving that.”
The ensuing corner bounced around the box twice but was finally cleared away. OA had another attacking free kick a minute later but the service sailed wide. Chris Tocci came up with key clearances in the final seconds as OA continued to press.
Milford boys soccer Oliver Ames boys soccer
“It was a great game, a lot of fun,” said OA head coach John Barata. “Just one or two things separate the teams in a game like this. We hit the crossbar, they cleared a ball off the goal line and the game changes completely if those go in. Two nice goals [from Milford] but not goals we’ve given up all year. The challenge for us is the way it happened. The loss isn’t bad because it was a fantastic game, definitely a state final atmosphere, and we’ve been in them before so we know, and that team is excellent.
“The boys are a little more disappointed because of the errors. It wasn’t that they were dominated…sometimes it’s better to lose a game being dominated and not one that at times, you were on the front foot and better. But they have special players…their two best players put the two daggers in.”
After a scoreless opening 40 minutes, the Hawks took the lead less than five minutes into the second half. Senior Leo Coelho helped the Hawks transition into offense by splitting a pair of defenders and feeding a pass to Lucas Da Silva, who took a touch and was fouled five yards outside the box.
Coelho took the free kick, bending a left-footed shot towards the far post and just under the bar and out of the reach of OA keeper Drew Nickla.
Just six minutes later, the visitors tacked on another goal. A big clearance from Julio Dasilva was tracked down by Lucas Da Silva, and he was able to beat a defender along the right sideline before launching a high arching ball that eluded the keeper and fell just under the bar into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Milford boys soccer Oliver Ames boys soccer
“Two phenomenal goals from two phenomenal players,” Pinto said. “They can flip a switch and turn the game around in a second. If Leo gets half a chance, he can make it a goal. And Lucas scored from no angle, he didn’t have any options inside so just chipped it.”
Nickla came up with a big stop on a Coelho free kick in the 54th minute and the Tigers came back down and found the back of the net on the other end. After being dispossessed, OA senior Kevin Louhis tracked back to steal the ball back. He took one touch forward before unleashing a rocket that found the top left corner from 35 yards out to make it 2-1 in the 58th minute.
Although neither team scored in the first half, there were still chances from both sides. Milliken unleashed a blast in the 7th minute that was swallowed up by Oliveira. And minutes later, Milliken put another shot on goal that was denied and Dillon Cupples had a bid on goal but Avi Seri was there for the Hawks to clear it off the line.
Just seconds later, Nikiciuk rifled a free kick from 40 yards out that hit off the crossbar and stayed out.
“We knew they’d be a top team…we said if we could give them a game we’d be happy and I think we did more than give them a game but we’re not happy [with the result],” Barata said. “It’s sad for the seniors but ultimately, if you have to end this year…when we look back, we went 12-1, won the division, and played the team who was probably picked to win it all this year. And we had a chance to play, what a blessing.”
Milford boys soccer finishes the season without a loss at 10-0-3, with two of the draws coming on cancellations. Oliver Ames finishes the season at 12-1.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – There might not be a state tournament this season, but Monday night’s game between Oliver Ames and Canton certainly felt like a playoff game.
Oliver Ames boys soccer
Both teams entered the Davenport heavyweight clash undefeated but only one, the Tigers, walked out still without a loss. Oliver Ames built a two-goal lead and added a key insurance strike in the fourth quarter to earn a 3-1 decision over the Bulldogs.
The battle between the top two teams in the Davenport division delivered with high intensity throughout, stout defensive efforts, a pair of class goals, and some fourth quarter drama.
“It was like a playoff game, a great game,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “They were well prepared, they came out with a very playoff tactic to get the win. We came in with our tactic to win, we were both playing this game to win no doubt about that. They don’t let you play your game, and we didn’t let them play their game so maybe it wasn’t the best either team has played…it was very intense, but that’s what Canton OA is right? We haven’t had this energy or feel in other games. And we expect the same type of vibe there.”
Oliver Ames scored early in the second quarter and doubled its lead with a goal just minutes into the second half but the Bulldogs took advantage of an opportunity in the 55th minute to get back into the game, halving the deficit.
That goal seemed to give the visitors some life and resulted in Canton’s best passing sequence of the game. Senior Abdul Barrie combined with sophomore Jorge Sanchez, the former getting some space in the corner and whipped a service in. Junior Jacob Crugnale got a touch to the cross but his bid was inches off, hitting off the far post and staying out, keeping the hosts ahead 2-1.
Oliver Ames boys soccer
A minute later, the Tigers built quickly out of the back with senior Colin Milliken carrying possession into the middle third, springing classmate Dillon Cupples out wide on the left. Cupples connected with senior Kevin Louhis, who worked around a defender to get to the corner of the area and Louhis blasted a curling shot inside the far post to make it 3-1 just seconds after the Bulldogs nearly tied it.
“Oliver Ames is a great team, they are strong everywhere on the field, really well organized,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “We knew we’d have to play a rather mistake-free game to beat them and we didn’t. We played great moments, I was really proud of our work ethic but we kind of drifted in moments and let them take the game.
“The game really came down to moments, some bounces and some weird mistakes cost us the game. We had a brilliant opportunity with probably our best build up of the game, three of four great passes in a row that led to a great opportunity that hit the far post, and then as soccer goes, a good team will make you pay for missing opportunities and they went down and Kevin scored a banger.”
The game started as expected with two of the best defenses in the Hockomock League this year. OA entered the contest having surrendered just one goal while the Bulldogs had just two goals against. Both defenses shined in the opening 20 minutes, taking away chances and denying passing lanes.
Canton boys soccer
Canton looked to get in behind the defense on a great ball from Colton Mirlianiy but OA senior Ben Cohen, who had a very strong game at outside right back, did very well to recover and thwart the chance.
Canton boys soccer
Meanwhile, Canton keeper Giovanni Ruggeri was up to the task on a low shot from distance from Cupples in the 12th minute, and Barrie intercepted a pass in the area, taking away a combination between Milliken and Cupples.
OA opened the lead in the 23rd minute on a free kick from Matthew Nikiciuk after he drew the foul. On a direct kick from just over 30 yards out, Nikiciuk blasted a low shot that skipped into the area and senior Brady deVos made a run right to the penalty spot and got a touch to it, changing the direction just enough to catch the keeper going the wrong way.
The Tigers went on to double their lead just minutes into the second half. Anthony DaCosta touched the corner into play and Milliken drove a cross into the area that hit off a Bulldog defender and into the net for an own goal.
Canton got on the board late in the third quarter after high pressure resulted in a turnover. Crugnale applied a lot of pressure, getting a piece of a pass out of the back to knock it free. Mirliani latched onto it, taking a touch with his left to set up a blast from 30 yards out that caught the keeper off the line and snuck under the bar to make it 2-1.
The Dogs nearly had the equalizer just before the third quarter came to a close. On a free kick from straight away from just over 25 yards out, Mirlinani touched to Barrie, who skipped on shot on goal that was spilled on frame but junior Dylan Baird’s bid on the rebound was just over the bar.
Canton boys soccer
Canton continued to press in the fourth but Louhis was able to put the game away with his strike in the 67th minute.
“The maturity factor of the seniors is finally paying off for us,” Barata said. “We allowed them to get in and Abdul whipped a wonderful ball in and it ricocheted off the post and suddenly it’s 2-2 and the momentum has shifted. Sometimes with younger kids, you might panic but our senior experience showed today.
“Danny has them well prepared, they know how to play tactically and they are well prepared and ready to go. We didn’t put them away early when we had the chance and it became a much tougher game in the second half. But it was great to have Kevin put in that third goal because then it was done.”
The two teams will clash again on Wednesday as Oliver Ames (7-0) travels to Canton (4-1-2) on Wednesday for a 6:15 PM kickoff. The Tigers can clinch at least a share of the Davenport title with a draw, and can clinch it outright with a win.
“We hadn’t talked about [the division title] until today, we talked about today being a championship game for us, Canton coming in undefeated,” Barata said. “But whenever you play Danny and Canton, you know they will be prepared so it’s a good game to get ready for the tournament, but this is like a tournament game for us this year.”
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – A late goal from North Attleboro nearly led to the end of Oliver Ames’ season during last year’s playoffs.
It’s safe to say the Tigers learned their lesson.
In last year’s D2 South Sectional quarterfinal matchup, Oliver Ames boys soccer saw a lead disappear in the final minutes of regulation before pulling out a victory in the extra rounds of penalty kicks.
Fast forward to the first game of the 2020 season, and while the on-field product certainly looks a bit different under the current circumstances, the Tigers found themselves in the same situation: control of the game but only a 1-0 lead to show for it.
Oliver Ames’ experience was on full display as the Tigers made sure to slam the door shut this time around, opening the season up with a 3-0 win over the Rocketeers.
Similar to a year ago, Oliver Ames jumped in front with a goal inside the opening 20 minutes but couldn’t solve the Rocketeers’ defense and keeper David Floyd over the next two quarters — yes, soccer in 2020 means four quarters.
When North Attleboro finally found itself with some time in the attacking third, the Tigers turned the tables by doubling their lead on the break to make it 2-0, and tacked on an insurance goal five minutes later.
“[North Attleboro] is very disciplined,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “Geoff [Burgess] does a phenomenal job organizing the back four and then they have another line in front of that, so two lines of defense…they are very good at it. We have to do a lot of training to try and find a way to break them down. But then you throw the new rules in, and you throw in that it’s the first game of the season, this was a good first run at it in a real competitive environment.”
The first 60 minutes (or three quarters) belonged to the Tigers, with the Tigers knocking on the door in the 13th minute (a hard shot from Mathias Taylor denied by Floyd) and in the 17th minute (a Colin Milliken shot from inside the area turned aside by Floyd) before the hosts were able to breakthrough.
Milliken’s quick switch — taking a feed from the right side of the pitch and quickly changing the point of attack to the left side — put the ball at the feet of senior Kevin Louhis, who took advantage of the space he was given and deposited a low hard shot inside the far post for a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.
“Honestly, the ball that killed us in the first half was a ball that normally could have been cleaned up with a header,” said North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess. “They played it every time and got Kevin in behind us and how do you defend it? I knew that’s how they’d play so I thought we had a good game plan to try to slow him and we kind of kept him under wraps but the way they move the ball so quickly from side to side, even as organized as we were with our back six, they were just too fast.”
OA continued to pressure but without anything to show for it. Anthony DaCosta had a shot from atop the area saved and then a combination between Michael Haikal and Louhis resulted in a shot from the latter that forced a diving save from Floyd; North Attleboro’s Kyle Robinson was first to the ball to clear it.
North Attleboro’s best chance of the first half came after a miscue from the Tigers in their own defensive third. Ryan Adams-Lopez was quick to intercept a pass out of the back but his bid on net was handled by OA keeper Drew Nickla.
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” Barata said of the effect the modifications have. “It feels like there’s a different intensity level in these games, we’re trying to get the guys to up their urgency. It almost seems that since they can’t challenge hard without it being a foul, they are almost holding back a little bit. But, that aside, once we’re out there playing, it’s great to watch them play even if it’s different. And we have a good style for this opportunity so we’re okay with it.”
North Attleboro Boys Soccer
Oliver Ames Boys Soccer
It didn’t take long for OA to threaten in the second half as Matthew Nikiciuk rocketed a shot off the post a minute in, and Taylor’s cheeky touch over a defender forced a fingertip stop from Floyd in the box.
North Attleboro’s defense made life difficult for the Tigers, who had a majority of the possession but spent a lot of time trying to find a way past the Rocketeers’ packed in defensive group. North’s Donovan Carter had a pair of big plays just minutes apart, winning a one-on-one battle to stop a chance on goal and blocking a shot moments later. Carter’s centerback partner Justin Silva denied a through ball attempt right after as OA continued to push forward.
“The gameplan was to park the bus and we wanted to create through our outside guys but the problem was we couldn’t hold the ball long enough to create anything,” Burgess said. “But credit to [OA], they create a hurried energy so you’re under stress all the time. But I’m starting eight seniors, there should be some composure there and we should be able to pull that off. Not that we have a lot of time to prepare for them Wednesday, but we need to be able to execute that going forward.”
The Rocketeers finally got their offense going at the start of the fourth quarter as junior Brody Rosenberg played speedy senior Matt Conley into some space but his centering pass in the area went without an answer.
North earned a corner moments later but a miscue resulted in a quick counter for the hosts. Taylor quickly cleared the ball up to Louhis, who played it to a streaking DaCosta. DaCosta carried the ball with pace, forcing the lone defender to commit before sliding it back to Louhis, who finished under the sliding keeper for a 2-0 lead in the 66th minute.
“We needed more offense but they don’t let you sustain it for very long with their pressure,” Burgess said. “The kid in the middle [Nikiciuk], he’s just so quick to the ball. He’s so good at disrupting, he does a good job of ruining plays we want to run. We knew what we wanted to do, we just couldn’t execute it which is a credit to them.”
Five minutes later, freshman Joey Carney combined with DaCosta off of a kick-in, the former using a fake to fool the defender before dropping a perfectly placed cross to Milliken, who positioned himself between three defenders. Milliken took the ball down off his chest and use a deft touch with the outside of his right foot to find the back of the net for a 3-0 advantage in the 71st minute.
“We’re very confident that no one is going to give us space because we know that if they do, we can most likely take advantage of it,” Barata said. “We just have to find a way to beat teams when they pack it in a bit. We want the space, we want to be able to run a bit and we’re hoping teams will try to run with us.
“[North] is very good in transition, they are good fast going forward. I just think that we did a good job of pinning them back in their own half for close to 90% of the game. We were definitely on the front foot in this game but we know they’ll make some adjustments and they’ll challenge us again Wednesday.”
Oliver Ames (1-0 Davenport, 1-0 overall) will travel to North Attleboro (0-1, 0-1) for a rematch on Wednesday night at 6:00.
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.”
Team: Oliver Ames Boys Soccer
2015 Davenport Division Champions
2015 Division 2 State Champions
The pieces fit together perfectly during the 2015 season for the Oliver Ames boys soccer team. The Tigers received key contributions from three classes all season long en route to an undefeated season and a Division 2 State Championship.
The Tigers were made up of a talented senior class full of leaders, a group of juniors ready to make the most of their opportunities, and a skillful sophomore class that wasn’t afraid of the big moment. After coming up just short in the state final the year before, the Oliver Ames boys soccer team was determined to go all the way in 2015.
“I would say preseason we knew we were all locked in to push ourselves to have another great year,” said senior captain Keegan Nutt, who went on to have a successful four-year career at Stonehill. “We ended 2014 with a loss in the state championship and told ourselves we’re not letting this happen again. We made goals before our first Hockomock game and said first we want to win the league, then we want to win the south, and best of all we want to win our first state championship.”
Up top, junior Thomas McCormick was a menace inside the area, always quick to a loose ball to punish opposing teams. Nutt and sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza directed play from the center of the pitch while sophomores Matt Alvarado, Jack Sheldon, Mason Galbato, Cam Vella, and Matt Campbell applied pressure on opponents either up top or on the wings.
Defensively, the Tigers had 14 shutouts on the season with just eight goals against during the regular season. Sophomore Jack Carroll took over in net that season and was helped along by defenders Max Bamford, Max Ahearn, and Jared Mallers.
Senior captain Chris Romero did it all for the Tigers, anchoring the defensive unit at times while also getting minutes in the attack.
“This team was special from minute one,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “They trained at a high level all the time and never gave up. These players put in the extra time and never deviated from the plan we set during our preseason goals. We wanted to be dominant in every facet of the game and made a commitment to give everything we had to this team and the season.”
Oliver Ames went undefeated in the regular season to win its fourth Davenport division crown in a five-year span. The Tigers notched 13 wins, including an impressive 1-0 result against Kelley-Rex division champion Mansfield. Besides a draw with Sharon, OA tied a talented Foxboro side twice during the year. That Foxboro squad, featuring the likes of Anthony Barreira, Devante Teixeira, and Joe Morrison, was one of the most dangerous offensive groups from the Hock this decade.
The second meeting between the two featured a late equalizer from Cardoza that gave the Tigers a point and the division title. It was only a sign of things to come as this Oliver Ames team had a flair for the dramatic, especially in the state tournament.
“Players sacrificed social lives, free time and family time to put in extra effort for the Oliver Ames program,” Barata said. “This team had the X factor – the EXTRA something that is hard to quantify. I knew after our first game this group was going to be special. However, it was the Foxboro games that convinced me that we had the potential to go far in the tournament.”
OA grinded out a gutsy win in the opening round of the tournament, knocking off a tough Milton squad 1-0. Romero provided the heroics in the next round, depositing the game-winner in double-overtime with just seconds left to play. After a rout of the #2-seed Greater New Bedford (5-0), Vella and Cardoza scored in the South Sectional Final, the latter in overtime to give the Tigers a win over Medfield.
“We were playing with three in the back with the most relentless defense I had ever seen,” Nutt added. “And our offense was clicking too and teams couldn’t figure out how to stop us or score on us. We had great team chemistry but it’s all in coach Barata. He perfected a system and way of playing that was literally unbeatable, and it paid off.”
In the state final, OA fell behind 1-0 to Masconomet but responded with three straight goals to claim the title. After going down 1-0 in the 12th minute, Romero equalized just seven minutes later. Five minutes later, Cardoza buried a loose ball in the box off a corner kick, and the Tigers added an insurance goal in the 57th minute off of the head of McCormick on a cross from Alvarado. It marked the first state championship in program history.