Canton Edges Foxboro in Finale to Win League Title

Canton girls soccer
Canton celebrates an Olivia Rodman goal during a 3-2 win over Foxboro in the season finale that clinched a first league title since 2012. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Following Foxboro’s 1-0 win on Monday afternoon, Canton knew that it would need a win in Wednesday night’s rematch at WWII Veterans Memorial Field to overtake the Warriors and win the Davenport division title.

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After twice taking the lead and having Foxboro quickly bounce back to tie the game, Canton’s third lead of the night turned out to be the charm. Gabriella Herivaux’s goal three minutes into the fourth quarter gave the Bulldogs the lead for good and they held on for a 3-2 victory and a first league title since 2012.

“Both teams played hard the whole game,” said first-year Canton coach Idris Senyonjo. “It was tough, we scored a goal and then give up one like two seconds later. That’s always a demoralizer, but I knew they were going to become a little more defensive the longer the game went on because they didn’t have to win, we had to win.

“We had to force it, but there was nothing left in the tanks after that.”

Coming into the game, Foxboro and Canton boasted five of the top six scorers in the league this season. Fitting for a big game, all five of those star players found the back of the net on Wednesday, including Canton’s trio of senior forwards Olivia Rodman, Elisa Diletizia, and Herivaux.

“I spoke to each one of them yesterday,” Senyonjo explained. “I told them, all the goals you’ve scored are going to be irrelevant if we can’t get the result. Every goal that you’ve scored has led you to this moment. This is going probably going to be the last home game you play and why not finish with a championship?”

Foxboro started well, with the Warriors aggressively pressing and pinning Canton back. Aislinn Servaes had an early chance after a misplaced clearance inside the opening 10 minutes and forced Canton keeper Marissa Staffiere into a save. Seven minutes later, Jordyn Collins got space on the edge of the box but her shot was charged down by freshman Ava Gilmore.

“It was a very evenly-matched game,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “It was a great game. I knew it was going to be a battle out here and I knew they were going to want to beat us so much because of what happened on Monday.”

It took most of the first quarter, but the hosts started to find ways into the attacking third. Diletizia switched play out to the right and Anne Hoban stepped past a defender before firing a long shot that was saved by Foxboro goalie Maddie Mayer, who was called up from JV to replace the suspended Morgan Sylvestre.

The chances kept coming for both teams. Rodman fired a cross from the left that Herivaux teed up for Emily McCabe to put on goal from just outside the box. Collins made a run on the left side of the box and knocked the ball off Staffiere, but Allie McCabe got back and cleared it off the line. Rodman then showed quick feet to shift the ball to her left and send a shot just wide.

Just after the half-hour mark, the hosts were in front. Mia Gilmore whipped in a cross from the right and Rodman showed great skill to bring it down off her chest and hit it quickly on the turn.

The excitement of the opening goal was short-lived. Within a minute, Foxboro got the ball into the box and Collins drew a foul. Kailee Mccabe made no mistake from the spot, firing Foxboro back level.

Early in the second half, Sarai Costello freed Diletizia with a long, curling pass around the left back and the forward forced Mayer into a save from a tough angle. A couple minutes later, Kailee McCabe slipped past her marker to get space for a shot from 25 yards that was just over the bar.

In the 49th minute, Herivaux managed to keep the ball in play on the near touchline and get it into the middle. The ball was played into the feet of Rodman with Foxboro defender Lindsey Resnick on her back. She was able to get her head up and slide an inch-perfect pass into the path of Diletizia, who was clean through on goal and powered her shot past Mayer’s dive and into the far corner.

Again, Canton celebrations were cut short just five minutes later, as Foxboro responded with a second equalizer. McCabe stepped up and let rip from the edge of the box. The shot was blocked, but looped to the left onto Collins’ foot. After taking a touch, she bent a shot inside the far post and tied the game at 2-2.

The home team came out flying for the fourth quarter, needing a goal to win the title. Rodman had a good chance from the left that initially looked like it was flying into the top corner, but ended up settling into Mayer’s gloves.

“I told them just throw everything you’ve got right now,” Senyonjo said about the message heading into the final 20 minutes. “It just came down to could we get lucky today because this game was going to give me a heart attack.”

A minute later, the Bulldogs were in front for a third time. A kick-in from the right was fired into Herivaux at the near post. She managed to bring the ball down off the bounce and, surrounded by defenders, managed to turn and get a foot on the ball as she was falling down, knocking it past the keeper.

After losing two leads, Canton tried to add to its advantage. Gilmore hit another great cross to the back post and Rodman directed it towards goal but Jordan Carman was there to block.

Foxboro’s best chance in the closing minutes came off the foot of a Canton player. Katelyn Mollica fired in a low cross from the right and Mekhala Costello stretched to block, tipping it towards goal but right into the grateful grasp of Staffiere.

“I just can’t help but wonder if it would’ve been different with Morgan in net but that’s something I can’t control,” said Stalcup about her senior goalie who was out because of a red card in Monday’s game. “They played well, Canton worked hard and they just got more goals than us tonight. My girls fought hard, we gave it our all out there.”

Senyonjo added, “It feels good. We beat a really good team.”

Canton (8-1-1) and Foxboro (7-1-2) will wait to find out the details of the Hockomock League’s cup tournament. When asked about the possibility of a third meeting in the cup final, Stalcup said, “That’s what I’m hoping. That’s what I would really love to have is one more chance.”

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Shorthanded Foxboro Beats Canton, Jumps Into First

Foxboro girls soccer
Foxboro players celebrate with Jordan Carman after she jumped in goal and held onto a clean sheet against Canton, moving Foxboro into first by a point. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – Just five minutes after going in front in Monday afternoon’s top of the table clash at a windswept Sam Berns Community Field, Foxboro’s advantage seemed tenuous at best.

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The Warriors had starting goalie Morgan Sylvestre sent off for a foul on the edge of the box that the officials deemed a denial of a clear goal scoring opportunity. Junior Jordan Carman grabbed the goalie shirt and gloves for the first time in her career, which meant Foxboro was losing not only its keeper but also one of its best defenders.

Going up against the league leaders, a team with the second most goals in the league (behind only Foxboro), and an attacking unit boasting three of the top five scorers in the Hockomock for 50 minutes, it was improbable that the Warriors could come away with a victory.

But that’s exactly what happened. Foxboro dropped back into a solid defensive shell, largely holding Canton to long distance chances, and Carman dealt comfortably with everything she faced, helping the Warriors hold on for a 1-0 win that moved them into first place in the Davenport with one game remaining.

“I’m smiling very big under this mask right now,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “It was just about containing, keeping them outside of the box as much as possible, not diving in, not letting them get any near shots off, and not letting them just pass the ball around. We did a good job of cutting off the angles for them to get it out wide.”

Despite the unseasonably cold weather, the teams looked ready to go from the start and settled into a tough, midfield battle.

The first quarter saw only a couple of half-chances for either side. Jordyn Collins settled a cross from the left but tried to play the ball out wide to Katelyn Mollica rather than shoot on the turn. Three minutes later, Olivia Rodman sent a left-footed cross into Gabriella Herivaux but the side-footed effort was easily held by Sylvestre.

Things livened up over a 12-minute span in the second quarter that saw the hosts go ahead and then quickly drop down to 10 players.

In the 24th minute, Collins blocked a clearance that forced Canton back into its own box and then Alyssa Vandenboom blocked the second attempt to get through on goal only to hit her shot right at Bulldogs keeper Marissa Staffiere. A minute later, the same duo combined for the opener.

Vandenboom played a perfectly weighted through ball between the center back and left back that Collins ran onto and the senior striker made no mistake, firing her shot in off the far post to put Foxboro ahead.

Just five minutes later, Elisa Diletizia got free for the first time in the match and was storming in on the Foxboro penalty area. Sylvestre was off her line quickly but her tackle caught the Canton forward. The officials conferred and agreed that if not for the foul Diletizia had a clear sight at goal and gave a straight red to the keeper and a free kick on the edge of the box.

With no backup keeper, Stalcup was forced to give Carman her debut in goal, which meant taking her from the stopper position where she has been so effective all season.

“Not even in practice, but she’s always told us that if need be that she would be the one that would step up,” Stalcup said about Carman’s goalkeeping experience.

Mia Gilmore wasn’t able to test the new keeper with her free kick, as it went narrowly over the bar. Six minutes later Gilmore had another chance from the edge of the box, after good interplay between Emily McCabe and Sarai Costello, but again it went just over.

The expectation was that Canton would create chance after chance in the second half, laying siege to the Foxboro goal in search of the equalizer, and the Bulldogs had plenty of possession, but the Foxboro defense continued to hold out. Lindsey Resnick in the middle, flanked by Meghan Burke and Peyton Feldman with Emma Dahl taking Carman’s spot at stopper alongside Kailee McCabe playing deeper than usual proved difficult for Canton to break down.

“I think we started forcing it a little bit too much,” Canton coach Idris Senyonjo admitted. “I think the idea of we need to score started getting in our heads more than actually we’re going to score if we keep doing what we’re supposed to be doing. But they did a good job defensively. They’re a good team.”

In fact, Foxboro had one of the best chances of the third quarter. Collins got free on the break and laid a pass off to Mollica on the right but the shot went just wide.

“That was what was so brilliant about it, when we did get the counters we were able to keep possession of the ball and at least get a few runners on the side,” Stalcup said. “They thought they were going to pound it on us and when we got the counter it put them on their heels.”

Canton’s best chance came nine minutes into the fourth. Anne Hoban broke free down the right wing and the defender hit a low cross into the box that Herivaux met first time. It was a well-struck shot but it skimmed the crossbar on its way past. Two minutes later, Rodman had a chance on the left but tried a cross rather than a shot and Carman got a touch and Burke was able to block the rebound attempt.

“It forced them to go much further deep to defend and it meant that we had to break up two blocks of four, which made it much harder,” Senyonjo explained. “You still have to make sure you do your job. We had probably, what 80 percent of the possession after the red card happened? But that doesn’t do you any good if you don’t get score a goal.”

Although the Warriors haven’t won a third straight title yet, it leaves them needing just a point on the road in Wednesday’s rematch to clinch the division.

“They came in [today] and the pressure was on them to get a win and now that pressure is on us,” said Senyonjo. “It’s kind of switched around.”

Foxboro (7-0-2) will travel to Canton (7-1-1) on Wednesday night in the regular season finale.

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