That quest started on Tuesday for the Hornets, the second-seed out of the Kelley-Rex division, with a very business-like performance in the form of a 2-0 win over Foxboro, the Davenport’s third-place club.
The Hornets spent most of the 80 minutes pushing the ball up field, putting a lot of pressure on Foxboro’s back four with services into the area. Almost every restart from the attacking half turned into a long back into the box, putting a lot of stress on the Warrior defense.
Not only did it result in a pair of goals and a dozen more chances, but it also helped prevent the Warriors from building anything out of the back. The high pressure would often force a big clearance out of the back that the Hornets would collect and put right back into the mix in the final third.
“We should have had about 10 goals but we just didn’t finish,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan. “But we put the pressure on them…we did what we practiced except for the finishing. I expected us to play that way, been expecting it for a while, we finally did it today when it counts. I expect a tight game, I expected it to be maybe a little more chippy. But it was a good game I’m happy with it.”
It took Mansfield less than two minutes to get on the front foot with a good bid on goal. Dylan Buchanan did well to take down a long ball, touch around a defender and blasted a left-footed shot that was denied on a good saver from Nick Penders, tipping the shot over the bar.
The chances continued to come for the hosts, sophomore Grady Sullivan with a bid in the 12th minute and junior Matt Hyland had his cross-turned-shot scooped up by Penders two minutes later. A nice combo from Sagar Koul and Buchanan led to a shot by the former, but wide, in the 25th minute. And a minute later, Aidan Steele latched onto a turnover and looped the ball over a defender but Penders was quick off his line.
Foxboro found its footing a bit as it built out of the back from Penders. Max Beigel found some space along the right-wing before centering to Matt Angelini, but his low shot from distances was gobbled up by Mansfield keeper Eric Sullivan.
The Hornets came very close in the 29th minute, a service from Tommy Lanzillo on a corner found Koul alone in front but the close-range bid was over the bar.
But just before the halftime whistle, Mansfield finally cashed in. After the Warriors were able to counter, the Hornets came right back up field on a counter of their own, taking advantage of space in the final third.
Starting with Sullivan, the Hornets pushed forward before Lanzillo collected possession just over half, quickly turning and finding Hyland streaking in alone down the left side. After taking a touch, Hyland deposited a shot inside the near post past the oncoming keeper for a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
“I don’t think [Mansfield] did anything special to stop us, we started in a 4-3-2-1 which isn’t conducive to hold the ball a lot, we were looking to counter,” said first-year Foxboro coach Dan Ambrosio. “I think my boys were a little intimidated, [Mansfield] is a bit bigger, more physical, faster…and they are really organized in the back.
“With the way they play, you kind of have to put defense first and it’s not the prettiest game to watch. It’s effective in a way in this situation, and it’s been their style for years. It’s just one of those things, you try to pack it in to respond to their style of play.”
The second half started just as the first did, Mansfield’s pressure paying off as Michael Caridi intercepted a pass out of the back, found Hyland out wide for a cross to Steele but Foxboro’s Justin Neale, who alongside his brother Jeremy had standout games at outside back, was quick to recover to thwart the chance.
Mansfield kept at it and quickly added a second goal. A kick in on the far side from Ethan Scholes was played low into the area, taking a pair of deflections right to the feet of Lanzillo, who was by himself at the far post. He quickly put the ball on his right foot and blasted a low shot out of the reach of Penders to make it 2-0.
“That’s one of the main reasons we’re playing with so much pressure, we don’t want to let them out,” Sheridan said. “I hadn’t seen tape on them this year, but I was told they like to get the ball to [Matt Angelini] and [Max Beigel] and play through them, play one on one. I’ll take almost anyone in this league one-on-one with our goals. We didn’t want them to get the ball to them.”
Foxboro had a couple of attempts to get back into the mix but couldn’t get one past Sullivan. Junior Cam Barreira looped a shot that was caught by Sullivan just under the bar in the 58th minute, and then Foxboro’s best chance — an indirect kick inches from the penalty spot — was blocked away by Evan Eames as the Hornets loaded in front of goal with bodies to prevent a shot on goal.
Mansfield advances to the semifinal round of the Hockomock Cup and will renew acquaintances with a familiar foe in Oliver Ames. The Tigers, who ran through the competition in the Davenport division and sit at 11-0, were Mansfield’s main competition for the Kelley-Rex title for the past four seasons.
“I’m excited to see them play,” Sheridan said. “I’ve watched them afar for the last year, I saw them play indoors down in Weymouth. There’s a level of excitement that comes with playing them, we have one shot at it. This is it for us, hopefully we can make it a good game.”
The Hornet and Tigers will clash at Muscato Stadium in Easton later this week with a date and time yet to be announced. Foxboro will play a consolation game against Franklin this week as well.
But this is 2020, and nothing is quite as straight forward as years past.
The Scarlet Hawks scored once in each half to earn a 2-1 win over Mansfield, leapfrogging the Hornets in the standings. The win puts the Hawks at 6-0-1 and a total of 13 points while Mansfield sits at 5-2-2 and 12 points. The teams play again Thursday, and as it stands now, the Hornets could jump back ahead, but the Hawks have two games in limbo against Taunton.
As of Tuesday night, Milford’s matchups with Taunton were not officially canceled, but all indications point to no makeup games, meaning a pair of 0-0 draws and two points for the Hawks, which would secure the division title at 15 points.
“We don’t care who we play, we’ll play anyone anywhere because we love competition,” said first-year head coach Antonio Pinto. “Obviously the situation with Taunton made it a little harder with points because we don’t know exactly how it will play out…but the kids are treating every game like it’s their last because we don’t know when it could end. Every game, we’ve had the mentality that each game is like a state final because for these seniors it could be the last time they play with each other, with their friends.”
Upon review, the host Hornets would certainly like a second chance to start each half. While Mansfield came out of the front foot, it let a pair of good scoring chances slip away inside the opening two minutes. And to start the second half, the Hawks needed less than two minutes to double their lead by converting a penalty kick.
“The whole first half wasn’t very good for us,” admitted Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan. “We let them do what they want to do and they got in our heads. Finally, in the fourth quarter, we got a little into their heads. We changed some things up at halftime to try and get going…I didn’t see anything on the penalty kick, hopefully, the video shows me something about it. It didn’t look like one from where we were.”
Pressure from Hornet senior Michael Jeans created a turnover in the attacking third and a chance in the are for sophomore Aidan Steele but Milford senior goalie Leo Oliveira was quick to react and intervened before a genuine bid on net.
Chances were aplenty for both sides throughout the first half but the Hawks slowly started to assert themselves and take control of the play. It started with their first real chance on net which resulted in the first goal of the game.
A quick combination from seniors Lucas Da Silva and Leo Coelho resulted in a pass to the far post where sophomore Arthur Tome was left alone and he latched onto a shot with the inside of his right foot, tucking a shot inside the far post for a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.
Mansfield nearly equalized three minutes later, a combination from sophomore Connor Palinski and junior Dan Rowe with the latter rifling a shot on net that was denied by a one-handed save from Oliveira.
An errant pass out of the back from Oliveira nearly resulted in the equalizer but the keeper was able to recover quickly and get down to stop a low bid from Hyland. And in the 29th minute, Oliveira once again was called into action, this time denying a bid from Grady Sullivan from a step inside the area.
“We went with a keeper change for this game, going with Cheeseburger [Leo Oliveira],” Pinto said. “He’s our big game keeper, every year he always steps up in the big games. Cheeseburger does a good job coming out and commanding the box, and that’s what we needed in this matchup. He stepped up big for us, he didn’t just do well coming off his line, he made some saves that were spectacular.”
The Hawks started to gain some momentum before the half as junior David Desa intercepted a pass out of the back, leading to a counter chance that saw Coelho link up with Tome but his shot was denied by Mansfield keeper Eric Sullivan. Just minutes later, Hulanger Dias Pires won an important battle at midfield that ended up in a blast off the foot from Desa but Sullivan was equal to the task.
Milford started fast in the second half, using a nice combination down the left side to get Tome the ball. Tome used a quick touch to get around the defender before being taken down just inside the area and the refs awarded the visitors a penalty kick. Da Silva stepped up and confidently deposited a low shot into the bottom right corner for a 2-0 lead in the 42nd minute.
“At halftime, we made some changes and the players reacted well,” Pinto said. “Mansfield had only allowed one goal against going into tonight so we knew if we wanted to score, we couldn’t let them get organized. It had to be quick touches, quick passes, quick flicks…just like we did to open the second half, and then Arthur made a nice move to draw the penalty. That’s how you beat them, you can’t let them get organized you have to attack quickly and that’s how we got both goals.”
Mansfield nearly pulled one back in the 53rd minute when Tommy Lanzillo laced a direct free kick destined for the top corner but Oliveira timed his jump perfectly and tipped it over the bar. Another free kick bid from Lanzillo in the 65th minute was originally spilled by Oliveira but he quickly pounced on the loose ball in front.
The Hornets finally cashed in on a direct free kick attempt in the 67th minute as Rowe blasted a shot from atop the area into the top corner at the near post to make it 2-1. Mansfield’s best chance at the equalizer came in the 75th minute when a ball over the top was chested on by Dylan Buchanan to Sagar Koul but his low shot was easily handled. Last ditch efforts were turned away by Milford center back Chris Tocci.
“They pressured us and didn’t give us much space to play our normal game so we had to adjust and make everything a little quicker,” Pinto said. “We have a bunch of Brazilians playing in the cold so it took us a little while to get warm. But that was a fight, no matter who they play Mansfield is always going to give you a game just by their style so you have to fight the entire way.”
The teams will clash again on Thursday as Milford hosts Mansfield for a 6:00 PM kickoff.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
On Monday afternoon, the Hornets took heed of their coach’s request.
After scoring four goals in its opening four games, the Mansfield boys soccer team equaled that output as four different Hornets found the back of the net in a 4-0 win on the road over Attleboro in the HockomockSports Game of the Week.
The Hornets wasted little time, scoring a pair of goals in the first quarter to jump ahead early and then tacked on goals in each the third and fourth quarters to get their fourth win of the season.
“Our forwards are finally starting to shoot,” Sheridan said. “I think we had more shots today than we’ve had all season. We’ve got a couple of guys that are finally starting to get it. I’ve been screaming since we started to take more shots. We spend more time on shooting in practice and then we get to a game and we don’t take them. We took them today, I was happy with how we played today.”
Mansfield scored a pair of signature goals, pushing numbers into the area and cashing in on loose chances in the area. But the Hornets also showed some versatility in their offense as junior Matt Hyland and senior Tommy Lanzillo scored on class shots from distance.
Just over five minutes into the contest, a clearance popped out to Mansfield senior Michael Jeans, who popped a service high back into the box. Attleboro’s keeper was unable to catch it cleanly and Mansfield junior Sagar Koul was exactly where he needed to be, following up the loose ball and roofing his touch just under the bar for a 1-0 lead.
Attleboro nearly equalized on a pair of occasions in the next two minutes but both chances were denied. Jayden Lockhart linked up with Hugo Henriquez, who turned and played Joey Soucy into space but his low shot was saved on Mansfield keeper Jack Lasbury-Casey.
And a minute later, Jackson Singer found Soucy, who got a touch to the ball before Lasbury-Casey and then followed up on the loose ball in the area but a slide from Ethan Scholes and a block from Jeans kept the ball out.
“We played very well, I like my defense, Evan [Eames] and [Michael] Caridi played phenomenal back there, especially in the second half,” Sheridan said. “Michael [Jeans] saved a bunch of balls back there. We finally got our three center midfielders [Lanzillo, Colin True, Sullivan] to start working together. They weren’t communicating enough. But now they’re talking, they know whos making a run up and who needs to drop back, moving side to side together. It’s basically what’s connected everything, us starting to communicate.”
Mansfield’s pressure paid off just before the end of the first quarter. Sophomore Aidan Steele forced a giveaway, junior Dan Rowe quickly squared a pass to Hyland, who let the ball come across his body before blasting a shot from just over 30 yards out, catching the keeper off his line as it floated just under the bar.
“We were missing heart,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “Mansfield played their game which is boot, boot, boot and they capitalized on some of those. We weren’t disciplined enough to play our game which is touch. We had no offense today. [Our players] want to blame the ref for everything but we had two of the best in the league today so you can’t say it’s the ref. We just lost our cool and could never get going.
“They run at you and they create some crazy stuff. They play the long balls and there’s a bounce here or there and they capitalize on them. They played their game better than we played ours. But we see them in two days and hopefully, it will be a little bit different.”
The second quarter was mostly played between the two 18-yard lines, the best chance coming off the foot of Steele. Both Steele and Rowe pressured the Bombardier defense, resulting in a turnover and a low shot from Steele but Attleboro backup keeper Cody Abreu, who took over the middle of the period, handled the bounce well.
Mansfield added to its lead in the 49th minute, again capitalizing on numbers and high pressure in the area. Lanzillo whipped in a cross from the left wing and Hyland was there to meet it after making a near post run but his touch hit the post and stayed out. It bounced right to Grady Sullivan, who touched it over to Scholes for the finish and a 3-0 lead.
“For us, it’s important to attack in numbers,” Sheridan said. “And that’s why we can’t have anyone taking a play off. We need everyone to keep doing. We have the numbers to put different guys in. With the new rules with 20 minute quarters, I don’t expect to have to sub too often but I can if I have to. We want them to go really hard for 8-12 minutes and then we’ll get someone fresh in there.”
Attleboro looked to answer five minutes alter as Henriquez and Singer combined to create for the Bombardiers, the result a shot from Justin Lurssen but his bid was partially blocked and bounced harmlessly to Lasbury-Casey.
Mansfield added one more goal in the 64th minute. Lanzillo played a ball into the area that was cleared away but Lanzillo alertly tracked down the loose ball and put his laces through a bouncing ball that curled into the near post from 30 yards out.
Mansfield (4-1) will host the Bombardiers (0-3) in a rematch on Wednesday night at 6:45.