NORTH EASTON, Mass. – When the Oliver Ames girls’ soccer team traveled to Wrentham to take on King Philip for their second meeting of the season in mid-October, the Tigers scored early but had to rely on the heroics of goalie Regan Benton late to escape with two points.
When the Tigers hosted the Warriors for their third meeting, this time in the D1 South Sectional Quarterfinals, Oliver Ames once again found the back of the net early on.
But this time around, they made sure to add some insurance goals.
With a 3-1 win over King Philip, #5 Oliver Ames advances to the D1 South Semifinals to take on top-seeded Natick on Friday afternoon.
“Oh yeah it’s tough,” Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer said about playing a team for a third time. “I mean especially a team like KP because they have a lot of freshman so they’re not really freshman anymore, they’re essentially sophomores — a lot of their players have come a long way. They’re going to be a team to reckon with in the future. They cause a lot of problems, they knock the ball around really well. Those two tall girls in the middle [Maddie Smith and Avery Snead] were good.”
The Tigers seized the lead in the eighth minute, minutes after Benton made a key save on a corner kick to deny KP an early chance. After some miscommunication between a defender and the keeper, OA junior Abby Reardon snuck in, got a touch to get the ball behind and ran onto it to bury it to put the Tigers up 1-0.
Reardon nearly grabbed a second a minute later in similar fashion but KP keeper Emma Durant was quick to react and smothered the chance.
But four minutes later, Reardon was able to find the back of the net for the second time of the game. In the 13th minute, sophomore Zoe Chazan whipped a corner kick to the far post where junior Sofia Masciarelli nodded the ball back in front of the goal and Reardon headed it in from close range.
King Philip gradually gained control of the game and enjoyed the majority of the possession for the final 20 minutes of the half. KP’s pressure paid off with a couple of chances. First Maddie Smith’s shot from distance was saved by Benton. In the 30th minute, Emma Corcoran dropped a free kick into the area that popped out to Abby Baker but her shot was just wide.
Finally in the 33rd minute, the Warriors were able to break through. Corcoran delivered a perfectly weighted ball to the back post and Smith met it with her head and found the back of the net to cut the deficit in half shortly before the halftime break.
“We felt like the last 20 minutes of the first half they were passing the ball around a little bit so we wanted to pressure a little bit more [in the second half],” Sellmayer said. “In our 4-5-1, our outside players usually attack more but they came back and had to help.”
While KP aimed to capitalized on its late first half momentum early in the second frame, Oliver Ames was able to steal it all back just three minutes in.
A cross was bounced around in the area before coming loose. OA senior Lauren Wright pounced, ripping a shot to the far post leaving no chance for Durant to make it 3-1.
From there, Oliver Ames controlled the play for the second half.
The final 10 minutes saw a flurry of chances but neither side could find the back of the net. With just under 10 minutes to go, Rachel Hogan played Avery Snead along the line and her cross found Chloe Layne, but the shot from in close was blocked out for a corner.
OA had a chance a minute later when Kiana Lozzi dropped a diagonal ball in for Wright, but Duggan was quick off her line to smother the chance. In the 74th minute, Jackie Mills tracked down a long ball and cut it back, laying it in the area for Tori Wyman but her bid rolled just wide of the post.
“Kiana Lozzi did a tremendous job for us in the midfield,” Sellmayer said. “She does a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. And Regan Benton isn’t always busy but she made the great saves when she had to. Stopping that corner kick in the first five minutes of the match was huge. She’s so solid and I think she makes everyone else feel better because she’s so solid back there.”
It looked as though OA had a golden chance to seal the game in the 76th minute when Chazan looped a long ball for Wyman, who centered for an open Mills but Durant stood tall and blocked the open shot.
“I thought Oliver Ames came out pretty fast and hard and it was unfortunate the first goal we gave up, it was a bouncer and should have been picked up,” KP head coach Gary Pichel said. “That set them up for another one and gave them the momentum. They’re an undefeated squad and this could be their year. We’re proud to be able to play with them and have the chance to get a shot at them. We improved so much over last year. We were 2-16 and now this year we finish 12-8-2, that’s a big change.
“OA worked very hard. We were missing a key player tonight but we should have been able to get a little bit more offense. It just didn’t happen, they shut us down. Their back four was outstanding.”