Oliver Ames Surges Past Canton, Clinches Division Title

Oliver Ames boys soccer Colin Milliken
Oliver Ames junior Colin Milliken tries to bend a shot around a Canton defender in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The Oliver Ames boys soccer team enters each season with the same list of goals.

The first is to qualify for the state tournament, which the Tigers accomplished for the 11th straight season earlier this season with a win on the road at Franklin.

Now the Tigers can check the next box off on that list as they clinched the Kelley-Rex division title for the second time in three years with a 3-0 decision over Canton on Sunday afternoon.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think the season has gone really well, the boys have worked hard,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata, who has taken the team to the playoffs every year since he took over in 2009. “We’ve overcome some adversity and some challenges. Look at today, if you work hard luck can go your way. I think we learned you have to keep going. The first goal was a bit of a gift, to be honest, after [Canton] had done well defending and playing. The season has gone very well, we’re working hard and getting better.”

The first 50 minutes of the game was loaded with chances with each team coming inches from the opener. The Tigers hit the post and had a couple of point-blank chances turned away by Canton keeper Gio Ruggeri. The Bulldogs saw a good chance hit off the crossbar and stay out, and another bid cleared off the line by an OA defender.

The first goal finally came in the 51st minute on an unlucky play by the Bulldogs. After Ruggeri made the initial stop on a shot from OA junior Jimmy Keane, a Canton defender went to clear the loose ball but the kick ricocheted off of a teammate and into the open net for an own goal and a 1-0 lead for the hosts.

As it often can, the goal changed the game. From there on out, it was almost all Tigers. Oliver Ames scored a pair of goals inside a five-minute span later in the second half to secure the two points and the division title.

“We played a really good first half, I thought we both had the same amount of chances by halftime,” said Canton head coach Danny Erickson, now in his 27th year at the helm of the Bulldogs. “We decided to give them most of the possession and the field because I think that was the way the game was going to go anyway. We didn’t completely hunker down, we just gave them their half and wanted to counter a little bit. I thought it worked out pretty good in the first half and maybe 10 minutes into the second half.

“When you give them a lot of the field, you take chances that fluke things can happen. We gave up a fluke own goal and I think that kind of took the wind out of our sails. I thought we were good up to that moment and then we struggled against a very good team, hats off to [Oliver Ames].”

Oliver Ames kept applying pressure following the first goal of the game and found a second 11 minutes later. Junior Kevin Louhis was able to find space between two defenders and laid off a perfectly weighted through ball into the area. Junior Colin Milliken made a diagonal run onto the ball and used a simple touch to beat the keeper and find the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.

Five minutes later, Milliken had his second and the Tigers had a 3-0 lead. Senior Jonathan Freeman blasted a clearance up field. Louhis was able to keep possession over two defenders, playing Milliken in again. Ruggeri was first to the ball at the top of the area but Milliken tracked down the loose ball in the area and tucked it away for a 3-0 lead.

“We had a lot of chances, we had balls go through the six, had some shots blocked [in the first half],” Barata said. “Once that went in, it felt like there was a relief of the pressure. The guys were just playing, not every shot was to win the World Cup Final. Canton is a great team, Danny has done a great job with a young team. They are going to be very good in the future.”

Both sides had good chances in the first half, starting with Milliken’s blast from 20 yards out that was smothered by Ruggeri. Three minutes later, Canton freshman Jorge Sanchez put a free kick into the mixer and the rebound fell to sophomore Jacob Crunagle, but he couldn’t get over the ball and a shot on target.

OA responded when junior Anthony DaCosta won a battle on the sidelines, connected with Louhis who fired a left footed shot just wide at the far post. Two minutes later, the Tigers had a great combination play with Harry Ahearn linking up with Mathias Taylor. Taylor found Keane, who in turn played DaCosta in behind the defense but the final shot skipped wide.

Canton nearly took the lead in the 32nd minute. Senior Colby Ciffolillo rose up above the defense and got his head to it, lofting it over the keeper, but the ball smacked off the crossbar and stayed out.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

A minute later, Ruggeri came up with a huge stop to keep the game scoreless. DaCosta connected with Milliken and he blasted a shot on target but Ruggeri pushed it away. Ruggeri made a point black stop a minute later when Milliken set up Keane inside the area.

Oliver Ames junior Brady deVos used the outside of his foot to near give the Tigers the lead in the 35th minute but his shot clanked off the post and went out. On the other end, deVos robbed Canton of a goal with a goal line clearance, heading away another bid from Ciffolillo in the 36th minute.

Oliver Ames boys soccer (12-1-0 Hockomock, 12-1-0 overall) returns to action on Tuesday with a night game at Mansfield. Canton (3-9-1, 3-9-2) will take on Sharon at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday night in the second half of a double header with the girls teams playing first.

Da Silva Hands Milford a Thrilling Win Against OA

Milford boys soccer Dan Santos
Milford senior captain Dan Santos heads in the Hawks’ second goal of the game in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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MILFORD, Mass. – Prior to Friday afternoon’s game with Oliver Ames, Milford coach Brian Edwards was joking about his team’s lack of a long throw. The Hawks used one in the defensive zone to occasionally relieve pressure but rarely utilized a throw in the attacking third.

With the game tied 2-2 and the clock winding down inside the final two minutes, Milford won a throw on the near touch line. Sophomore defender Chris Tocci had made a rare foray forward and he grabbed the ball, stepped back, and unleashed a throw into the middle of the OA penalty area.

It pinballed around, taking several deflections off both teams before finding the foot of junior Joao Pedro Da Silva, who fired a low, hard shot through traffic and into the back of the net. That goal proved decisive for the Hawks, who pulled out a 3-2 victory in a playoff-like atmosphere worthy of two teams that entered Friday unbeaten and leading their respective divisions.

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“We’re talking about how neither of us have a long throw and I was like, well Tocci has one but we only use it deep in our own end to get it out of there,” Edwards joked. “He just happened to be up there and said I’ll take it. Not how we drew it up but it was quite a finish.”

He added, “I told the guys after they tied it, ‘You have nine minutes. We’ve been here before. I’m not nervous now because I feel like you can score a goal or two.’ Overall I thought we played a good game, but they’re an awesome team. Anytime you get to play OA you get to test yourself, and I thought we rose to it today.”

The first half was an even contest with both teams creating chances. Milford junior Leo Coelho skimmed the post and found the side netting with a shot from 20 yards, then OA nearly grabbed the lead when junior Colin Milliken slipped a pass behind the defense for classmate Anthony DaCosta, but Milford keeper Leo Oliveira was out quick to smother the chance.

In the 14th minute, the Hawks took the lead. Senior Pedro Araujo created the opportunity with a slick through ball to Da Silva, but OA keeper Drew Nickla was off his line to block the shot. The ball flicked high in the air and had to be cleared off the line. The rebound effort was also sent goalwards but went off the arm of an OA defender.

Araujo, the league’s leading goal scorer, stepped up to the spot and slipped his shot under the dive of Nickla (five saves).

Milford had a couple of good chances to double its advantage before the break. Coelho latched onto a bad clearance, heading past the defender, but he skied a shot when clean through on goal. Jordan Borges set up Lucas Da Silva in the OA box, but his shot was skewed wide.

The Tigers had their own moments to try and get on the board in the first half, only to be denied by Oliveira (four saves). Milliken had the best chance but his curling free kick was palmed away by the keeper at full stretch. The junior almost grabbed a goal with another set piece from a tight angle but just missed the top corner. Jonathan Freeman also tested Oliveira with a long free kick that the keeper was forced to punch clear of the OA attackers.

“That’s the best game Leo’s played,” said Edwards. “He made some big saves. It was tough in the first half cause the sun was in his eyes and the wind in his face. I thought he played great and he’s come a long way because he’s working hard and he’s grinding.”

Just a minute after the break, OA was inches from equalizing. Brady deVos made a slide tackle on the far sideline, taking possession and driving towards the right side of the box. He hit a perfect cross to the back post where it was met by Kevin Louhis, but somehow Oliveira managed to get across and deny the shot in the bottom corner.

Five minutes later, Milford led 2-0. Araujo swung in a line drive corner to the near post and Dan Santos got across his marker to flick in the header, his second goal in as many games.

The Hawks seemed in control, but the Tigers took advantage of a defensive lapse to get right back into the game. Milliken sent in a corner and deVos was wide open in the middle of the box for a simple, close-range header.

“They kept working hard. They’re learning,” said Oliver Ames coach John Barata about his team’s ability to fight back after falling behind. “We gave up some really soft goals on set pieces, really poorly defended, so we have to learn, but it was good to see them come back. It was a good test and good to see them come back again and again.”

Leading by one, Milford had a series of chances to try and put the game away. Borges looped a cross into the box that landed directly on top of the crossbar and then he sprung Araujo on a break that was only stopped when Matthew Nosalek somehow got back in front and blocked the shot with a sliding tackle.

A minute after that chance, Borges whipped a free kick into the top corner from 30 yards, only to have it wiped away because the call had been for an indirect kick. With 10 minutes remaining, Araujo again cut in on his left foot and again was denied a goal, this time by the post. The rebound was put back on frame but Harrison Ahearn cleared it off the line.

The missed chances proved costly, as the Tigers kept going and managed to find an equalizer with nine minutes left to play. Mathias Taylor found himself in acres of space on the right and he hit a low cross to Milliken, who coolly finished over the onrushing keeper.

After letting the Tigers come back from two goals down, Milford could have settled for a draw, but instead fought back to find a winner and extend its lead in the Davenport title race to five points.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Barata said, “Their attack is deadly and we needed to work harder than any other game. It was a great test.”

Edwards noted, “I think you find out who you are when you play a team like that. Today, I think we took a step in the right direction.”

Milford (7-0-1, 7-0-1) will be on the road on Monday night to face Canton. Oliver Ames (8-1-0, 8-1-0) will also be on the road Monday, when the Tigers travel to face second place King Philip.

Oliver Ames Bests Attleboro In Five-Goal Thriller

Oliver Ames boys soccer Anthony DaCosta
Oliver Ames junior Anthony DaCosta gets his shot off for the first goal just before Attleboro’s Kevin Raczkowski could get a foot in. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – In an early-season showdown between division favorites, Oliver Ames boys soccer ended up on the winning side of a five-goal thriller against visiting Attleboro.

The teams went back-and-forth with all five goals coming in the second half. Twice the hosts took a one-goal lead, and twice the Bombardiers erased the deficit to tie the game. But OA junior Jimmy Keane nodded in the game-winner goal inside the final five minutes to secure the 3-2 win for the Tigers.

OA opened the scoring just over 10 minutes into the second half but Attleboro equalized six minutes later. The Tigers once again went ahead but that lead lasted just a minute when the Bombardiers equalized just over 60 seconds later.

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The winning tally came in the 76th minute after a free kick from junior Matt Nikiciuk. Nikiciuk’s service from just beyond midfield dropped into the center of the area, was originally knocked up in the air, drawing the keeper out. The ball was partially cleared but only as far as Keane, who looped a header over the scrum and into the open net.

“We were able to play with a strong team, we were happy to play with them and compete, and that we could score against them,” said Oliver Ames coach John Barata. “And it was nice to see that we could bounce back after a couple of mental letdowns, and we continued to bounce back too. It was a good maturity test for the guys because we really haven’t had that yet.”

The Tigers dominated the opening 40 minutes but had nothing to show for it after the teams went into the halftime break scoreless. While the second half was a bit more even, Oliver Ames still created chances early and was able to break through in the 51st minute.

Junior Colin Milliken collected the ball and quickly switched fields, playing classmate Kevin Louhis in behind the defense. Louhis’ speed forced the keeper off his line, and he quickly cut inside around the charging keeper and centered to classmate Anthony DaCosta, who got his shot off just before a defender could get there to bury it into an open net for a 1-0 lead.

The hold up play of Attleboro junior Jackson Singer helped the Bombardiers find the equalizer. His ability to hold possession allowed Joey Soucy to make a run in and Singer found him streaking into the area. Soucy was fouled right on the edge of the box, giving Attleboro a penalty kick.

Senior Michael Russo confidently buried his chance from the spot to bring the visitors level at 1-1 in the 57th minute.

The Tigers continued to press though and went back ahead in the 61st minute. After a corner was cleared, Nikiciuk tracked it down and found Milliken on the sideline, who dropped a cross to the far post and Louhis finished on the bounce at the post to make it 2-1.

“We had dominated the entire first half, outshot them by a large margin and have a couple balls cleared off the line,” Barata said. “If you can stay in the game, you get more confident and comfortable so it was good for us to come out and get some goals in the second. We were kind of stretched trying to go for the goals so it opened the game up and it went back and forth.

“It was a good game for us, [Attleboro] is a very good team that I think will do very well. I thought it was a good game for the boys, I was happy with how we played we just have to make some adjustments.”

But Attleboro was back level just a minute later. The Bombardiers earned a throw in the attacking third, and senior Josh Smith launched a toss to the six yard line. With the keeper coming out to play the ball, it was deflected to the back post and freshman Esvin Morales was all alone to nod the ball in to make it 2-2 in the 62nd minute.

“That was a good thing, we came back and we hung around,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “After they scored, we came back, and we did it a second time so that was a positive. But they were a better team than we were today. Hopefully next time we are more organized and play our game. These were critical points.

“First half, [Oliver Ames] was all over us, they were playing their game. In the second half, we adjusted and were playing better balls to feet and we created some opportunities. A couple of mistakes cost us a couple of goals and their speed hurt us too. They have more experience and they have some depth that we don’t have.”

OA’s chances in the first half started early when Keane blasted a shot from in close off Milliken’s corner that had the keeper beat but Russo was positioned on the line to block his bid. Five minutes later, Louhis connected with Milliken open in the area and he tucked a header inside the post, but was ruled offside.

The best chance of the first half came in the 17th minute when Milliken labeled a free kick for the upper 90 but Attleboro keeper Zackary Brown made a terrific leaping one-handed stop to keep it out.

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Keane saw another chance blocked by an Attleboro defender, this time Kevin Raczkowski came up with the goal line stop.

Attleboro had its best chance in the final 10 minutes of the opening half as a pass from Nathan LaPlume ended with a volley from Morales that forced OA keeper Drew Nickla to make a low diving stop to keep the game scoreless heading into the half.

Oliver Ames boys soccer (4-0 Hockomock, 4-0 overall) visits Foxboro on Thursday afternoon. Attleboro (2-2, 2-2) hosts rival North Attleboro on the same day.

Late Goal Gives Walpole Win Over Oliver Ames

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames’ Haendel Louhis dribbles the ball into the attacking third against Walpole. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – For the past two seasons, Oliver Ames has been responsible for ending Walpole’s season.

The Rebels reversed the roles in 2018.

#11 Walpole scored the go-ahead goal in the 79th minute, leading to a 2-1 win over sixth-seeded Oliver Ames.

Two seasons ago, the Tigers upset Walpole with a dominate performance. And last year, OA’s James Gillespie scored in double overtime to send the Rebels home.

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This time around, it was Walpole’s Aidan Murray that pounced on a loose ball in a scrum off a corner kick in the final minutes of the game for the game-winner.

“We have a little history with them, [in the tournament], they got us last year so this was kind of sweet here,” said Walpole head coach Lee Delaney. “I thought the turning point of the game was the save on the PK. The next goal in the game was going to be a big one so that was a huge save. I thought we really took it too them, had a lot of dangerous chances in the box where we just couldn’t find someone’s foot. [OA] is a good club, I know they are young. I knew it would be a toss up game, OA is always a great match but I’m glad we’re on this side this time.

“We have a couple of set plays on corners and you hope to convert them but it takes great execution. Sometimes it just takes a second ball in a scrum. It’s kind of how we lost last year, we cleared it off our own guy and it went right to their guy and he knocked it in.”

The late goal didn’t allow the Tigers much time to orchestrate an attack to try and tie the game. For OA head coach John Barata, the game should have still been tied because of a missed call.

“They were horrendous…both hand balls, knocked down and they finished…the refs didn’t call either so it was frustrating for sure,” Barata said. “They came here with a mission to play us off the ball, thump everything forward as direct as possible and go at us. I think the young guys got a little bit of a lesson that they’ll take with them. We have a good amount of kids back so they’ll learn from this.

“I thought the game was very back and forth, which is what we expected from Walpole. It’s a tough match, it’s tough to lose anytime. I think Walpole will give a lot of teams a run for their money.”

It was a back-and-forth start with both sides venturing into the attack third. OA keeper Jacob Lerman easily handled a Walpole shot from distance early and OA’s Haendel Louhis had a pair of chances go just wide, a shot from the top of the box in the 9th minute, and a header off a throw from Andrew Leite.

Oliver Ames broke through in the 27th minute. After senior Sean Flaherty was fouled at the top of the area, sophomore Colin Milliken stepped up and hit a well-struck free kick to give the Tigers the lead. Milliken hit his right footed shot up and over the wall, freezing the keeper on the line for a 1-0 lead.

The lead didn’t last long though as Walpole scored just over a minute later to level the game. Walpole sent a corner in and Lerman made a nice stop on the first bid but the rebound fell to Daniel Colbert and he buried it.

“That’s the tough point, that’s one of the maturing factors we talk about all the time,” Barata said of giving up a quick equalizer. “The sad part was that it was the same exact thing, on a corner kick, we know what they’re trying to do. To give it up a minute a half later is tough but that’s the M.O. of a young team and we’ve done that a couple of times this year.”

In the second half, Walpole came out flying and applied a lot of pressure over the first 15 minutes. The best chance fell to the feet of Rebels’ senior Conor McDonough. McDonough took down a ball over the top and had a one-on-one chance against Lerman but the OA keeper came up and was position perfectly to knock the bid aside.

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Oliver Ames had a golden chance to take the lead midway through the second half but were denied by Walpole keeper Dennis Crowley. OA sophomore Kevin Louhis used his speed to get past a defender and into the area but was brought down and the Tigers were awarded a penalty kick. Flaherty hit a low shot to the right side but Crowley made a diving save to keep the ball out and keep the game tied 1-1.

“Their keeper made a good save, so there’s nothing wrong there,” Barata said. “We dominated the rest of the game from that point. They took it to us the first 10 minutes of the second half, they came flying at us. They made some adjustments and gave us some problems initially. Once we settled in, we got the PK, everything was in our favor…but then it was just a bad call, I just can’t hold back on it. It was a horrible no call on the goal. Just didn’t feel fair to end the game like that. But Walpole is a very good team, a lot of seniors, they work their bollocks off so I have a ton of respect for their boys.”

Oliver Ames boys soccer finishes the season 8-4-5.

Milford Impresses In First Win Over Oliver Ames

Milford boys soccer
Milford’s Walisson de Oliveira tries to make a move against Oliver Ames’ Aaron MacDonald in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The Milford boys soccer team hasn’t had much success against Oliver Ames since it joined the Hockomock League in 2012.

That changed in a big way on Monday night in a rainy contest on the turf at Val Muscato Stadium.

Milford had a dominant showing, scoring four first half goals on its way to a convincing 5-0 win. It marked the Scarlet Hawks’ first win over the Tigers since joining the league, snapping a 10-game winless streak.

“We talked about coming out strong in this game,” said Milford head coach Brian Edwards. “Some of our previous games, we started out weak and were fortunate to get points out of them because of the way we started. So it was a point of focus the last couple of days, and I was very happy with the energy level.

“This is going in the right direction. I still think we have a ways to go in all honestly, but today and the Foxboro game, our approach and the way we came out of the gate, and attention to detail was great. Tonight, the defense and the effort from our outside mids, that allows us to play well. The work we put in off the ball defensively allowed us to do what we did with the ball. If we keep working like that, I think we’ll keep getting better.”

It was all Hawks from the get-go, registering their first scoring chance just over 60 seconds into the contest.

Sophomore Leo Coelho played a perfectly weighted through ball on the ground that found junior Walisson de Oliveira right inside the area, but his touch was smothered by OA keeper Jacob Lerman. Although de Oliveira had his first chance denied, it was far from the last time he would factor in.

In the 5th minute, de Oliveira blasted a free kick from 35 that went just high and wide at the near post. In the 8th minute, Coelho made a darting run out of the back, combining with de Oliveira to eventually find Joao Vitor, but his shot went just over the bar.

The visitor finally converted in the 12th minute. Jordan Borges played a long ball out of the back that skid on the turf past the defense. Miscommunication between the OA defense and keeper allowed Vitor to come streaking in and get a touch past the keeper. de Oliveira was in the perfect spot and cleaned up the loose ball, burying it into the back of the net to make it 1-0.

OA had a nice spell of play over the next 10 minutes, nearly drawing level of two chances. First, sophomore Colin Milliken took a feed from classmate Jimmy Keane and ripped a dipping shot from 25 yards. The ball nearly skipped in front and almost slipped through Milford keeper Josh Orellana’s hands, but the senior positioned himself well to cover.

Just a minute later, a free kick from Niko Byron fell to the feet of Brady deVos, and the sophomore had a go from atop the area, but Orellana made a terrific jumping save and gobbled up the rebound.

Just seconds later, Milford’s Anthony Salvador traced down the left flank, centered to Vitor and his curling shot from just before the 18-yard line found the back of the net despite a partial save.

“It could have been a totally different game,” Edwards admitted. “Once we went up 1-0, I thought we were fortunate because [Oliver Ames] had a nice spell of play. If they score there and it’s 1-1, this is a totally different game. The score was a bit misleading. So that’s an area we still have to get better because we can’t afford to slow down.”

After going up 2-0, Milford continued to apply a heavy dose of pressure while controlling possession of the game. In the 32nd minute, de Oliveira really put the Hawks in the driver’s seat. The junior used a nice cut to get past a defender, took a touch towards goal and fired a laser from 25-yards out that went just under the bar for a 3-0 lead.

The Hawks added to their lead with another terrific goal just two minutes later. An attack throw from Tiago Carvalhoj was flicked on by de Oliveira to sophomore Lucas Da Silva. Da Silva took a touch to get the ball on his right foot and then ripped a volley to the far post for a terrific goal, giving Milford a 4-0 lead heading into halftime.

“Wally is a beast, first and foremost,” said OA head coach John Barata. “But today was the first time our inexperience really showed to be honest. It’s not an excuse, but it really showed today. And on top of that, we gave up two bad goals to start. We had a miscommunication on the first one and the second one was unfortunate. When you go down two to them, you have to come out and go for it. We played great for 15 minutes, and then they put in two in two minutes.

“You make mistakes we like we did against that team, you’re going to get punished. They have guys that can play, I think that’s the best playing team in the Hock that I’ve seen.”

The second half featured fewer scoring chances for both sides, but quality chances nonetheless. de Oliveira had a free kick from 40 yards out tipped over the bar from OA sophomore keeper Drew Nikla.

In the 49th minute, Milliken curved a free kick to the far post from 25 yards out, but Orellana covered nicely to deny the shot. Two minutes later, Carvalho had a long clearance bounce over the OA defense. Vitor ran onto it, but Nikla came well off his line and blocked the shot with his body outside of the area.

Milford capped the scoring in the 65th minute when Salvador got his second assist, setting up de Oliveira’s hat trick. Salvador sent a ball into space between two OA defenders. de Oliveira made a diagonal run to beat his defender and latched onto a shot from inside the area that found the back of the net.

“The work rate that I’m seeing from these guys is what I want to see,” Edwards said. “That’s how we want to play, we want to play pretty soccer and play from the back to front. We don’t want to be too direct, we want to move the ball.”

Milford boys soccer (5-1-2 Hockomock, 5-1-2 overall) is back in action on Thursday in a big division clash against Canton at 6:30. The Bulldogs sit two points ahead of Milford with one more game played. Oliver Ames (3-1-4, 3-1-4) will try to bounce back from its first loss when it hosts King Philip on the same day at 3:45.

New Faces But Familiar Result In OA’s Season Opener

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames’ Colin Milliken and Stoughton’s Rami Houraibi battle for possession in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – It was all new faces on the field for Oliver Ames, but the result was very familiar.

The Tigers, fresh off their third state final appearance in the past four years, have an entire new lineup after graduating two dozen seniors, including all starters and most reserves that played regularly.

In the first game with its new line up, Oliver Ames came away with a 3-0 win over visiting Stoughton.

“The kids have worked hard and that showed today,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “We can knock the ball around and play some soccer but we just have to mature a bit and grow up and gel as a group. I think as the season progresses we’ll get a little bit better each day.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Tigers took the lead in the 15th minute and then broke the game open with back-to-back goals inside the final five minutes of the first half.

“It definitely felt like a first game,” said first-year Stoughton head coach Joshua Aubin. “We haven’t played a competitive game in almost two weeks. I think everyone was a little nervous to start and it showed. They got that first goal off an amazing shot, one of the best you’ll see all year. But the second and third goals, they were on us. Turnover at midfield and quick counter and then a silly foul in the box. But those two goals, those are easy enough to fix so that’s encouraging.”

Oliver Ames established control of the play early and were rewarded by a terrific goal. Sophomore Anthony DaCosta found himself in space when a long ball came in from sophomore Matthew Nikiciuk. DeCosta was given the space to take a touch and turn, and without hesitation the sophomore rifled a nice shot from 25-yards out that beat the keeper and went right under the bar for a 1-0 lead.

After a bit of back and forth play for the next 20 minutes, the Tigers changed the complexion of the game in the final five minutes of the first half.

Junior Jonathan Freeman came away with a win just over midfield and quickly found the feet of junior Colin Milliken. Milliken turned and played a through ball between two defenders, allowing senior Sean Flaherty to run onto it and slot his shot him at the far post to make it 2-0.

Stoughton had its best chance of the half shortly after going down 2-0. Senior Fabi Ponce de Leon played a curling free kick into the area that was spilled but the rebound effort from Gabe Ribeiro was to the left of the frame.

OA quickly countered and attacked up the left side. Sophomore Brady deVos found some space in the area and tried to get by his defender but was hauled down.

The sophomore stepped up to the spot and calmly blasted his bid into the back of the net just a minute later, giving OA a 3-0 lead just minutes before the halftime whistle.

“I thought overall we were in control of the play but it felt like we were getting a little panicky,” Barata said. “We had some chances to score the next goal and we just hand’t so I think getting the second and third goals relieved some pressure on them.”

“The third goal really hurt, that 1-2 punch,” Aubin said. “But it’s stuff that we can watch film and try to correct. I thought they picked themselves up coming into the second half and were competitive.”

Trailing 3-0 in the second half, the Black Knights tinkered with their lineup in an attempt to get back into the game. While it meant trying to build more offense, it sacrificed some defense.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Tigers were able to take advantage of that at times but couldn’t add onto their lead because of some stellar saves from junior keeper CCarter Gerome (11 saves).

Just six minutes into the second half, Milliken once again found Flaherty in behind the defense and the senior used a nice cut back move to free himself but his chance was turned aside by a terrific sliding save attempt from Gerome.

“We made some adjustments at halftime and I think it showed. I thought we were much more competitive in that second half. ,” Aubin said. “So we were a bit more offensive minded so we knew we’d give up some chances but Carter definitely stood on his head at times and kept us in the game.”

Stoughton’s best chance of the second half came in the 61st minute when Ponce de Leon put a free kick on frame but OA senior keeper Jacob Lerman made a move to his right to punch the ball out.

A minute later, OA nearly had another goal with Flaherty in alone but once again Gerome came up big to keep the Tigers off the scoresheet in the second half.

Oliver Ames (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it welcomes Taunton (0-1-1) to Muscato Stadium. Stoughton (0-1, 0-1) hits the road to take on North Attleboro on the same day.

Boys Soccer: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2018 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview
Taunton’s Colby Fernandes and Franklin’ Nitin Chaudhury battle for possession last season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 4-9-5
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Peter Pereira

Attleboro is aiming to use a strong nucleus of returning players to get back into the state tournament after a couple of years of being on the outside looking in.

“We are excited about the team and looking forward to doing well in the Hockomock, which is not an easy task since there is a lot of talent and good teams in the league,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira.

The Bombardiers bring back a seasoned group of defenders that will hopefully give them stability in the back. Colin Levis brings the most varsity experience to the group and will be joined by Connor Dunn, Josh Smith, and Nathan LaPlume. Senior transfer Aaron Flynn and classmates Jared Cooper and Alex Naughton give the Bombardiers a solid group of veterans in the back. Seniors Andre Menard and Tyler Biller are candidates for the starting goalie position.

Pereira has a lot of options to work with in the midfield, including senior Aidan Lancaster. Lancaster has experience playing defense as well so can provide an extra layer of defense when needed. Another familiar face back in midfield will be Michael Russo, who showed flashes of great skill during his sophomore season. Russo and Lancaster will be joined by Brady Holander, Hugo Henriquez, Kevin Raczkowski and Patrick Raczkowski.

There will be another familiar face up front as Will Halben returns as the feature striker. Halben has been Attleboro’s leading scorer the past two seasons and will be a major factor up front again this year. Eli Araujo, Joey Soucy, Justin Lurssen, and Guilherme Machado are expected to provide help up top as well.

Franklin

2017 Record: 5-9-4
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Fran Bositis

After going through some growing pains throughout the 2017 season, the Panthers are looking to make it back to the state tournament.

It all starts with the Panthers’ three senior captains, who will be relied upon to help Franklin compete in a very talented Kelley-Rex division.

Nitin Chaudhury, Nick Barry, and Sam Stowell are all veteran players and will be joined by 10 other returners from last year’s team that got better as the season went on. The Panthers must replace talented goalie Freddie Beckmann but head coach Fran Bositis is expecting good things from junior Jack Rudolph because of his excellent athletic ability.

Chaudhury will once again be the engine of the team from the midfield position while Stowell is back for his third year in the heart of the Panthers’ defense. Jacob Cummings will be another weapon for Franklin in the midfield while senior Tim Duval and junior Donny Tappin return up top.

“As always we are looking forward to competing in the very competitive Hockomock League,” Bositis said.

King Philip

2017 Record: 11-8-2
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Nick Gale

The Warriors have had back-to-back successful seasons and are looking to make it three straight, despite losing six experienced starters to graduation.

While King Philip certainly has some shoes to fill, head coach Nick Gale has a lot of options to work with and is aiming to make another appearance in the state tournament.

Senior captains Zac White, Tony Bozza, and John Cullen have all seen plenty of varsity minutes over the past couple of seasons and are ready to lead the 2018 Warriors. White and Cullen will be major factors in the midfield while Bozza gives the Warriors some pace up top. White and Cullen will be joined in the midfield by a trio of sophomores – Evan McEvoy, Camron Lawrence, and Ajae Olsen – all of whom saw some minutes as freshmen a year ago.

KP’s defense has been among the best in the league over the past two seasons but will need some new faces to step up to continue that trend this year. The Warriors do have some experience with senior Andrew Thompson and juniors Brian McCarthy and Wesley Orzell all expected to step up in the back for KP.

“We’re a much smaller team this year, but we haven’t lost our willingness to fight while defending,” Gale said. “Our focus will be on improving team defending and our ability to press intelligently. We have defenders returning with varsity experience and they’re committed to working together to ensure we’re organized and defending as a team.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 10-3-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Steve Sheridan

Although Mansfield graduated over a dozen seniors, and the majority of its starting lineup, the Hornets have a strong presence in the middle of the pitch and are looking to build off that to compete for the Kelley-Rex title.

The Hornets bring back EMass All Star Sam Nugent at center back and he’ll be joined by Ethan Brill-Cass, who had a bright sophomore season but missed all of last year due to injury. Mansfield’s defense will feature all seniors as Derek Meuth and Matt O’Donnell fill out the back four for the Hornets. Tony Salisbury and Cam Bovey are competing for the starting spot in goal.

Mansfield also has seniors Luke Savoie and Luke Devine back in the center of the pitch to patrol the midfield. Both Savoie and Devine were key pieces for last year’s Hornets team, which came within one point from earning a share of the league title with OA. One spot that Mansfield is looking for new faces is up top, but options include Colin Caridi, Owen Mullahy, and Raffi Marzella.

“Having to fill the loss of 14 seniors from last season is going to be challenging,” said MHS head coach Steve Sheridan. “We have a variety of guys on offense that I’ll be expecting big things from, time will tell who will step up.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 15-3-4 (Kelley-Rex Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D2 State Final
Coach: John Barata

It’s not often a team graduates its entire starting lineup and then some, but that’s the situation defending Kelley-Rex champions Oliver Ames finds itself in.

The Tigers lost a whopping 20 seniors to graduation and return just four players from last year’s roster so it there will be a completely new look for OA in 2018. But that doesn’t mean the standards will be any lower for the Tigers, who have made three state final appearances in the last four years.

“We have a completely new team and we are looking forward to working hard,” said OA head coach John Barata. “Our primary objective is to get better every day and try to compete in a very difficult and talented Hockomock League.”

OA’s defense was among the best in the entire state last season, allowing just 15 goals in 22 games played. Barata will be looking for Aaron MacDonald, Andrew Leite, Harry Ahearn, Matthew Nosalek, and Jon Freeman to step up and fill in the spots along the back line. Senior Jacob Lerman and sophomore Drew Nickla are battling for the starting spot in goal.

On the offensive side of the ball, Barata is looking for contributions from Colin Milliken, Anthony DaCosta, Matt Nikiciuk, Sean Flaherty, Niko Byron, Kevin Louhis and Haendal Louhis to carry to load.

Taunton

2017 Record: 3-14-2
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Taylor Whitters

A solid nucleus returning from last season and more cohesiveness are two of the top reasons for optimism for the Taunton High boys soccer team.

The Tigers have players back all over the field and are hoping that the combination of experience and some fresh faces leads to a competitive season in a very competitive division. Junior Nolan Melo made a splash last season when he took over as starting keeper and looks to be one of the top players at that position in the league.

Senior Evan Melo will be tasked with anchoring the defense from his center back position while Taunton will look for some new faces to step alongside him. Colby Fernandes returns to his defensive midfield spot and Liam Crowley is back as the attacking midfielder in the middle to give the Tigers a nice steady presence up the center of the pitch.

Leading scorer Brett Beaulieu (nine goals, four assists) is back as the featured striker while Alec Nunes can either pair with Beaulieu up top or drop into the midfield when needed. Kyle Aubin is another returning midfield option for the Tigers.

“We have seven returning starters this season and a team with solid technical ability as well as great team chemistry and athleticism,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters.

2017 HockomockSports.com Boys Soccer Awards

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames’ Matt Alvarado (right) celebrates his second half goal with Mason Galbato (left) and Cam Vella (center). (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

Oliver Ames Claims Third South Title In Four Years

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames’ Matt Alvarado (right) celebrates his second half goal with Mason Galbato (left) and Cam Vella (center). (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – Coming off its biggest win of the season in the D2 South Semifinals against top-ranked Nauset, Oliver Ames head coach John Barata was admittedly a little worried how his Tigers would come out on Tuesday night against Pembroke in the sectional final.

But those worries were quickly erased as the Tigers came out firing, dictating the play throughout the first half. OA took the lead just before the halftime break and then added two more in the second half to earn a 3-0 win over the sixth-seededa Titans, giving the fourth-seeded Tigers their third D2 South crown in the last four years.

“That’s where the experience kicked in for us,” Barata said. “We knew that even after winning such a big game, it was just one game and the next big game was this one. Having won that one and losing this one, [the Nauset win] wouldn’t have meant much. So it was very important coming out firing, and we did.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the Tigers were ready to go. With 21 seniors on the roster, Oliver Ames is stacked full of playoff experience.

The Class of 2018 witnessed the Tigers win four playoff games, including the sectional final, in 2014, their freshman year

In 2015, a handful of those seniors – then sophomores – played vital roles in five postseason wins including a win in the D2 State Final. And last year, they picked up experience in two more postseason games.

Now in the program’s 16th playoff game since they were freshmen, these seniors had no trouble getting going from the start.

“It’s a great senior group, it’s a group I’ve been with since kindergarten and first grade,” Barata said. “We knew it was a special group coming through, and we’ve had similar groups and have similar groups coming, but it’s been a special bond. For me, it’s been nice to see them succeed and now hold their own title up, not with senior groups. They’ve done it on their own.”

Less than a minute in, the Tigers had two goal scoring chances. Senior Chris Lawrence’s throw somehow flew through the area without a recipient. And seconds later, senior Mason Galbato chipped a service in but senior James Gillespie’s header was saved.

Three minutes later, senior Matt Alvarado found Gillespie at the far stick but his header just went over the bar. Two minutes later, Gillespie’s low shot just missed the far post after senior Michael Nikiciuk had set him up via a low centering pass.

In the 18th minute, Lawrence launched another long throw that slipped through the keepers’ hands but Brian Flaherty cleared the loose ball off the line to prevent the Tigers from taking the lead.

Flaherty gave the Titans their best chance of the first half. OA senior keeper Jack Carroll did well to clear away a cross, but the loose ball fell to Flaherty who floated a shot off the crossbar from 25 yards out.

But the momentum didn’t shift as OA continued its pressure. Alvarado touched a ball over the top that Pembroke tried to shield back to the keeper but strong pressure from senior Nathaniel Cardoza nearly gave the Tigers the lead.

A minute before half, the Tigers cashed in on a corner kick. Senior Jack Sheldon drove the corner right to the six-yard line where Cardoza rose up and nodded his header inside the near post for a 1-0 lead.

“We felt like we should have opened the game up much earlier,” Barata said “It made it a battle and we knew it was a going to be a difficult contest but we should have opened the scoring much earlier and much more frequent. But [Pembroke] made some adjustments, then we made some adjustments [in the second half] and got control back.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

While Pembroke picked up some of the play to begin the second half, the Tigers withstood the pressure. The best chances for the Titans came on a scramble in front off a corner kick, but OA did well to clear it.

The Tigers finally found an insurance goal in the 71st minute. Sheldon gained possession on the right flank near the corner flag. He was able to beat his defender along the line, drawing the defense out. He slid a pass right to the penalty spot where Alvarado calmly blasted a right footed shot into the back of the net to make it 2-0.

“We talked about going into a defensive formation or not, but at the end of the day, we had so many chances it just didn’t make sense to go into a cocoon and have them come at is. So we decided to not do it and it paid off. We were able to get the two at the end.”

OA put the game away for certain just two minutes later as Gillespie was rewarded for a great run with a service into the area. His shot was saved but Nikiciuk was right on the doorstep to tap it in for a 3-0 lead.

With the win, Oliver Ames boys soccer (15-2-4) advances to the D2 State Championship to take on North sectional champion Concord-Carlisle (13-2-6) on Saturday, with a location and time to be announced. It is also a rematch of the 2014 final, a 1-0 win by the Patriots.

“We look forward to playing them again, they are a fantastic team,” Barata said. “They have five state titles, they are a juggernaut in high school soccer. They are the bar that everyone tries to be. I know Ray [Pavlik] well, he’s a fantastic coach. I hope we give them a great game.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Gillespie’s Brace Sends OA Past Walpole in Double OT

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames’ Nathaniel Cardoza (4) dribbles past a Walpole defender in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames senior James Gillespie didn’t have a ton of touches on the ball during Thursday’s nights game against Walpole, but he certainly had the two most important ones.

Gillespie scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in double overtime in the 94th minute of play to help the fourth-seeded Tigers avoid an upset bid by the 12th-seeded Rebels.

“You’re kind of like hiding back there and defenders don’t know you’re there sometimes,” Gillespie said of his back post positioning, the spot he was for both his goals. “The first goal, the defender didn’t know I was there. It’s a good spot to be standing in because we get a lot of crossed to the back post.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Tigers nearly had the game won in regulation but Walpole struck with just over a minute to play. With just their second shot on goal of the half, Rebels senior Luccas Ferreira got just enough of a header on a long throw-in from Kevin Sullivan to tie the game.

“We knew we had to keep our heads high, we couldn’t let them come back and score another goal,” Gillespie said. “We just had to keep fighting to get that goal back.”

Oliver Ames had its chances in the first half but only converted once.

In the eighth minute, senior Matt Alvarado combined with Gillespie, who laid a pass off to Michael Nikiciuk but his bid was at the keeper.

A tactical change helped create the Tigers’ goal in the first half. Head coach John Barata switched senior Matt Campbell from the right side of the pitch to the left side. Shortly after, Campbell won possession on the wing and delivered a low cross that found its way through the area to the back post, where Gillespie tucked it in on a one-timer.

“James is brilliant at that, he’s been brilliant at framing the back post,” Barata said. “We’ve been lucky because no one can mark one guy. For example, James scored twice today but we have 14 goal scores, so we don’t have that star scorer teams can focus on. But we have guys that score.”

The lone scare of the first half came via miscommunication between the defense and keeper. A defender attempted to head the ball back to Jack Carroll, who had come out to get it himself. Senior Colin Evin recovered nicely and cleared the ball just before the goal line to preserve the one-goal lead.

OA kept the pressure up but couldn’t find the back of the net.

In the 29th minute, Alvarado slipped a through ball to Nikiciuk, who got a slight touch before the keeper, but Walpole’s goalie recovered nicely.

A minute later, senior Nathaniel Cardoza linked up with Alvarado, who cut it back to put the ball on his left foot but his shot was slightly deflected and just hit the post and stayed out.

On the ensuing corner, Walpole partially cleared the ball but Mason Galbato took the ball down on his chest and fired a low shot that just rolled wide.

The chances continued in the second half when Jack Sheldon found Alvarado two minutes in, but his left-footed strike was knocked down and saved.

Good pressure from Nikiciuk resulted in another chance in the 57th minute, as his hard run to a loose ball forced a collision between keeper and defender, but before the ball would sit for Alvarado on the rebound, a defender made a nice tackle to block the shot.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sheldon forced the keeper into another big save in the 67th minute. His shot from just outside the area was slightly deflected and popped up on the keeper on the bounce, but he got just enough to push it over the net.

“We knew we needed two goals against them because they might sneak one in,” Barata said. “The funny thing is the game should have been over; should have been over in the first half, should have been over after the second half. We should have had three or four to be honest. [Walpole] is a very good team but we had multiple chances. I don’t think they had five shots. We have to learn from this that this could have easily been a loss in a game that we purely dominated. We knew it’d take two goals but I just wish it came earlier.

Walpole had its best three chances of the game come in the final 10 minutes. A long throw from Sullivan bounced through the area to the far stick but Walpole’s Conor McDonough saw his golden chance sail over the bar.

The Rebels had a free kick from 25 yards out in the 75th minute, but Carroll was quick to react and made the comfortable save to his left. Four minutes later, Walpole had the equalizer.

“The boys know what they should be doing, getting the ball in the corner and be relaxed,” Barata said. “But instead the adrenaline was bouncing around, plus [Walpole] had to come at us late. We knew it’d be tough, but we just lost some focus in the last two minutes, and we didn’t clear two balls.”

After a scoreless first overtime period, the teams switched sides and OA cashed in on its first corner of the frame. Sheldon’s low cross was touched by Galbato right at the penalty spot, sending the ball to the back post for Gillespie to bury for the winner.

“The ball deflected off a teammates leg and it was open in front of me and I just ran in there and put it away before they could get to the ball,” Gillespie said.

With the win, Oliver Ames boys soccer (13-2-4) to the D2 South Semifinal to take on top-seeded Nauset (18-1-1). It’s a matchup of the past two D2 State Champions.

It will be the first time we play them ever in program history. They’re the number one team in the state, number three team in the region and number five team in the country so we’ll have our hands full. But we’re looking forward to the challenge. We go in as the underdogs so hopefully, we’ll go in fighting.

The game between OA and Nauset is scheduled for Saturday at 2:00 at Milford High School.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.