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.
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.
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.