Cooney Goal Helps Mansfield Score Sweep of Franklin

Mansfield Girls Soccer
Cathryn Cooney (12) struck with a third quarter free kick to lift Mansfield to a second straight 1-0 win against Franklin. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – As Franklin raced away from the corner kick with the ball, there was the faint sound of a whistle. There was some hesitation but the Panthers kept running and, with no other signal from the officials, the Mansfield players chased back. The play continued upfield and Franklin was able to get off a shot that went wide of the post.

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Before Hornets goalie Olivia Salisbury could put the ball back into play, confusion erupted. The official that had been trailing the play ran across the field to talk to his partner. After a conversation, the officials ruled that a Franklin player had headed the ball on the corner and, despite the amount of time that passed, pulled play back to the edge of the Franklin penalty area for an indirect free kick.

Mansfield didn’t waste the opportunity. Isabella Lennon took the touch to set up Cathryn Cooney and the senior blasted an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner, out of the reach of Franklin keeper Rachel Welch’s dive.

It was the game’s only goal. For the second time in two days, the Hornets beat Franklin 1-0, sweeping the season series, making it six games unbeaten, and moving within two points of the league-leading Panthers in the Kelley-Rex division standings.

However controversial the decision that led to the goal, there was no question about the quality of Cooney’s strike. “She’s come up with a couple of those this year,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith. “She’s come a long, long way and controlling a lot of our attack. She’s everywhere and you can see that she wants to be on the ball. She’s playing really, really well.”

It was also a goal against the run of play. Franklin stormed out of the halftime break and had the Hornets on their heels.

Five minutes into the third quarter, Bridget Leo picked the pocket of a Mansfield player and started a quick transition that led to a long shot from Sydney St. Marie that was just wide. A minute later, Erin Quaile blocked a clearance and set up Anya Zub for a shot from the edge of the box that was charged down by Kayla Doherty.

The Panthers had another chance just a minute after that, Quaile again played provider, picking out Leo for a strike that Salisbury was able to collect on the second attempt. In the 51st minute, St. Marie forced another save with a shot off the bounce.

It was all Panthers until finally Mansfield got one good counter attack in the closing minutes of the quarter and forced a corner. Franklin cleared it. The Mansfield bench initially called for a free kick from a header but turned its attention to the Panthers’ break. Then came the call and Cooney’s go-ahead goal.

Franklin coach Tom Geysen said, “The official wouldn’t explain the call to me. He wouldn’t come to the sideline and explain why he made that call. It was at least 30 seconds after the infraction.”

“If you don’t score, you can’t win,” Geysen admitted, “I thought we played really well and kept them off-balance. I wasn’t happy with the result, but I was happy with the performance.”

The game certainly wasn’t over after the Hornets went in front. Quaile had a free kick from the left side that she played into the middle of the box. After a couple of good blocks by the Mansfield defense, including one from Kara Santos, the ball popped out to Katie Ewald whose deflected strike was punched out by Salisbury.

Cooney forced Welch into a save with a long distance strike and Olivia Homsi nearly doubled the lead when she slipped the ball under the onrushing keeper but Cariss Alers stretched to clear it off the line.

With three minutes to play, St. Marie took a kick-in from the far side of the field and played a low cross through the box to Clare Bowen, who hit it first-time just over the bar.

“The whole second half until maybe after the goal and they were starting to push and push and push and we had a little more space to play, they were on top of the game,” Smith said. “They’re an excellent team. They pass the ball well and their spacing is so disciplined. They knew exactly who to move. We had to fight tooth and nail to stay with them.”

The first half was more even and had fewer chances, as both teams played it around in the midfield and both defense stood strong.

Mansfield almost scored in the first minute when Cooney’s free kick was spilled by Julia Bertone and Tarynn Smith had a chance on the volley, but Bertone made amends with a good stop. It was the lone scoring chance of note in the opening 20 minutes.

Franklin started to get going in the second, as its winger started to get into the game. Zub nearly got on the end of a cross, only to be denied by a combination of Santos and Salisbury. Then Zub played in Leo, who set up Bowen on the left side, but the cross flashed across the face of goal with no Panthers on hand to get a touch.

Bertone had to be quick to recover and stop a deflected cross from Avery Hawthorne that nearly snuck in at the near post in the final minute of the first half.

Mansfield (4-2-2) faces a difficult stretch to close out the regular season, with two games against Milford over the weekend. Two wins could give the Hornets a shot at the league title. Franklin (6-2-0) needs two points to clinch at least a share of the league title and faces Attleboro on Monday.

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Attleboro Rallies to Earn Feisty Draw at Mansfield

Attleboro girls soccer
Attleboro’s Jessica Gates (11) and Mansfield’s Katie Miller (20) battle for a ball in the midfield on Monday night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – The new rule modifications in place this season are meant to limit physical contact between players, but once Monday night’s game at Alumni Field kicked off neither Attleboro or Mansfield was going to shy away from a challenge or give their opponents an inch.

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It led to a competitive, hard-fought match with chances to win it at both ends of the field. In the end, Eleanor Graber’s third quarter strike matched Amira Walcott’s second quarter opener and the teams walked away with a point apiece following a 1-1 draw.

Attleboro dominated the opening few minutes of the match, as Mansfield worked to meet the aggressiveness of the visitors. In the third minute, Emily Dunlea slid a pass into the run of Isabella Salviati but the Attleboro forward dragged her shot through the box.

Once the hosts settled down, Mansfield started to assert itself and take control of the game. Tarynn Smith had the first good look for the Hornets after nine minutes but Alexis Campbell was there for the save. Following a corner, Carly Devine teed up Cathryn Cooney but her shot was wide of the far post.

Cooney almost created an opener with a cross from the left but it was deflected out to defender Kayla Doherty, whose shot from distance was blocked into the path of Kaylee Smith. The senior took a touch and put a shot on target from eight yards, but it was right at Campbell.

“It was just a matter of weathering their first adrenaline rush and maintaining our compactness in the middle and at the back and absorbing it and completing a pass going out,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith explained. “Once we did we were able to get a foothold in the game.”

In the 27th minute, Attleboro got a look for Briley Harnois but the senior’s shot from 25 yards out went wide of the post.

Mansfield took the lead in the 33rd minute. Campbell went up in traffic to collect a long free kick from Maria Sevastos, but couldn’t handle it cleanly and Walcott was in the right place to knock in her second of the season.

The Hornets had several chances to double their lead before halftime. Cooney had an indirect kick inside the box blocked at the near post by Olivia Calderone and then Katie Miller played Tarynn Smith behind the right back but Campbell came up with a big save, palming the shot over the bar.

“We started off okay and we got away from our style of play and more into their style of play,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos, “and it felt like were trying to defend the long ball and the races, so we dropped our defense back a little bit in the second half and got a little more composed and the flow of the game got a little bit better.”

Campbell came up with another big stop to keep it a one-goal deficit in the 51st minute. A ball over the top picked out Abby Jean on the run. The Mansfield sophomore decided to cut it back onto her right foot and bring it to the center of the box, forcing a full-stretch save down to the keeper’s right.

Santos said, “Lexi played well. She came out at the right times, made a key save when we needed it. She just got unlucky on that transition bringing the ball down.”

That save proved to be crucial as just five minutes later Attleboro was level. Mansfield keeper Olivia Salisbury had an outlet pass intercepted by Graber just outside the box. The Attleboro midfielder drove forward and made the turnover count with a shot into the bottom corner.

“That was a great hustle play by Eleanor,” Santos said. “She was in the right spot at the right time, made the right moves, and finished it.”

Much like Campbell, Salisbury had the chance to atone for her mistake and came up with the save of the game. Graber picked out Cossandra Stuger in the middle, who split the lines with a pass into Harnois on the left side of the box. The Attleboro forward was clean through on goal but Salisbury came sliding out to make a game-saving block.

“We talked about that in the intermission (between quarters),” said Smith. “We said, alright so we made a mistake and it cost us a goal. What do we want to do? React. So, we want to have a good, positive reaction and I thought everyone did.”

Mansfield started to regain control after Attleboro’s post-goal surge, putting pressure with a series of long free kicks by Sevastos and freshman defender Kara Santos. Bridget Hanley’s through ball sent Devine free, but the shot was held by Campbell. Attleboro created one more notable chance after Graber and Jessica Gates played a one-two and Gates set up Harnois in the box but again Salisbury was held onto the shot.

Smith said, “We had a lot of good pressure, a lot of possession, and a lot of good passing movements, and once we broke that down in the second half then they started coming back at us. Then you get that goal, but the last 10 minutes we recovered.”

Attleboro (1-1-1) and Mansfield (1-2-2) will do it again in two days when the teams meet at Tozier-Cassidy Field. Expect the same level of intensity and physicality for round two.

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