MILFORD, Mass. – With an opportunity to move just a point away from back-to-back league titles, Foxboro found itself chasing Friday afternoon’s game at Milford. A set piece goal put the Hawks ahead and, although the Warriors had come back to equalize before the break, Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup was not pleased with what she was seeing from her squad.
“I told them at halftime, we can’t keep coming from behind and letting them score first,” Stalcup explained. “It has to be a game of desire. They need to have the desire to win and the desire to score and stop these corner kicks from going in.”
The Warriors responded with a dominant second half performance, scoring four times to break the game wide open and move five points clear of the second place Hawks with only three league games remaining. Junior Jordyn Collins provided the offensive punch with a hat trick, including the eventual game-winner.
Stalcup was asking for better finishing after the loss to King Philip and she was pleased with what she saw against the Hawks. She said, “I did get it today. Jordyn had a great game, Kailee [McCabe] had a great game, Lizzy [Davis], my defense, it was good. The second half was good.”
Milford’s defense got off to a decent start, despite the visitors having the lion’s share of possession. Katelyn Mollica nearly played in Kendra Wentling with an angled cross in the 10th minute but Annie Flanagan was across to clear. A few minutes later, Collins nearly got the breakthrough but pressure from Alyssa Monahan and keeper Carly Ferreira smothered the chance.
A quick break earned the Hawks a corner kick opportunity in the 18th minute. Maddie Boyle swung the ball into the middle and the Foxboro defense struggled to clear, letting it bounce in the box. Freshman Dani Atherton was in the right spot to flick the loose ball into the back of the net for a lead against the run of play.
Foxboro continued to pressure for the remainder of the half. Collins played in Wentling on the left side but the shot went over the bar. Then Collins set up Lizzy Davis for a chance in the left channel but it was saved. Davis’ header on the ensuing corner was cleared on its way to goal by Juliana France. Seconds later, Wentling had another chance only to be denied by the quick feet of the keeper.
The pressure paid off with eight minutes to go before halftime. Collins got in behind the defense and coolly finished past the onrushing goalie to make it 1-1. Milford nearly regained the lead with another set piece, but Boyle’s curling corner kick was cleared off the line by Emma Dahl.
Seven minutes into the second half, Foxboro took the lead for good. Mollica played a long ball over the top of the defense and Collins showed off her sprinter’s speed to outrun the defender and then again showed a cool head in front of goal to finish the breakaway.
In the 57th minute, Foxboro added a third and essentially sealed the points. Wentling played provider this time, sliding a pass from her own half through the Milford back line. This time it was Davis that showed off her wheels, and strength, to get through and put away another killer break.
Milford was seeing some success in getting the ball in behind the advancing Foxboro fullbacks, especially down the right hand side where France was able to look up and send Atherton or Jillian Michelson on a run. The Hawks just couldn’t do it consistently enough to break the Foxboro pressure. An Atherton cross that Morgan Sylvestre cut out at her near post and a Boyle free kick headed on goal by Atherton were the best chances.
“We start to play kick ball a little bit,” said Milford coach Lou Colabello. “We get frustrated and we start to put the ball in the air. You can’t put the ball in the air against good defenders because the ball is just going to get rejected.”
The visitors were continuously finding spaces and seams to exploit. Mollica put in a left-footed cross that skipped through the box, barely evading the feet of Davis and Grace Ferguson. Kailee McCabe then won the ball back in midfield and sprung Mollica down the left but Collins was unable to finish the cross.
In the 75th minute, McCabe showed off her vision and touch to slip a through ball beyond the right back for Mollica to run onto. This time the junior took the chance herself, finding the bottom corner for a 4-1 lead.
“That’s my game,” said Stalcup about the Warriors combining in the final third. “That’s what I want them doing and if we can get that and the finishing then it’s going to be tough to stop us.”
It could’ve been worse for the Hawks, but for the play or Ferreira (eight saves, including six in the second half). She made a great stop on a Davis chance from the middle of the box and then used her legs to, temporarily, keep Collins from netting her third.
“She’s a gamer,” Colabello said about Ferreira. “She’s a three-sport athlete and it probably could’ve been worse if she didn’t make some of those foot saves. I thought she was playing hockey for a while.”
Collins did complete her hat trick with just about the last kick of the game. It was another stellar move for the Warriors with Mollica sending Davis into space down the left channel and her cross picked out Collins in the middle for a deft finish into the far corner.
“We have to take this game and push it aside,” said Colabello. “The calendar is very favorable to us for the rest of the way, we’ve gotten all the juggernauts out of the way, and we need one more win to get in and then hopefully get a couple more to get a decent seed.”
The Warriors need only one more point to repeat as Davenport champions. “I felt like this was a big win for us,” Stalcup said. “We needed this one to kind of seal it.”