FOXBORO, Mass. – Foxboro not only put its unbeaten record on the line against Milford on Tuesday night at Jack Martinelli Field but also wanted to restore its three-point lead atop the Davenport division, which had been cut to just a single point after North Attleboro’s win in the afternoon.
The Warriors, who are the third-highest scoring team in the Hockomock League, came out strong and had the Hawks on their heels from the opening kick, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Foxboro hit the post three times and forced Milford goalie Olivia Marshall into three saves in the first half alone.
Frustration was setting in for the Warriors with two minutes left until halftime when Milford cleared a corner to the center of the field. Defender Alex Stamatos, who celebrated her senior night before kick-off, raced onto the loose ball and unleashed a 30-yard blast that smacked off the underside of the crossbar and over the line.
It was an impressive first career goal for the center back and it turned out to be the game-winner, as the Warriors added a second after the break to earn a 2-0 victory and stay unbeaten this fall.
“Amazing,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup about Stamatos’ goal. “Her first ever, on senior night, and she’s a sweeper.” Stalcup also admitted, “We needed that.”
Milford had the game’s first good chance when Olivia Sullivan slipped a pass in behind the Foxboro defense to Juliana France. The junior midfielder appeared to be clear on goal, but left back Yara Fawaz was able to race back and pressure the shot, which went wide of goalie Morgan Sylvestre’s near post.
It would be the best chance of the half for the Hawks, as the field started to tilt towards Marshall in the Milford goal and the Foxboro midfield started to take control.
In the 16th minute, Jordyn Collins had a shot cleared off the line by Madelyn Boyle and the follow-up from distance by freshman Kailee McCabe went over the bar. Four minutes later, Mackenzi Fraser got into space on the right side of the box and her cross was forced onto the post by Marshall.
Collins had another look from inside the box, but again it struck woodwork. Katelyn Mollica played a ball back into the box from the right but Lizzy Davis had her shot go high. McCabe then forced Marshall into a save with a 20-yard free kick to the bottom corner. On the ensuing corner, Marshall tipped a Davis header away and Alyssa Vandenboom knocked the rebound off the post.
“At halftime I counted the shots and we had 17 shots and just the one goal,” said Stalcup. “I felt like we weren’t taking quality shots. They were going wide or they were weak or we were crossing the ball when we should’ve been shooting. Yeah, it was frustrating.”
After all those chances, it took a golazo to put Foxboro in front. While the Warriors went into the break with momentum, Milford flipped things around to start the second half and controlled the opening 10 minutes.
Boyle had a long free kick that was saved by Foxboro’s new keeper Jamie DeVellis and France had a chance off a corner, but her far post header was blocked and she was leaning back on the second effort and the shot went high.
“I didn’t have my starting lineup at the beginning of the second half and I think that threw us off a little bit but they came out hard and were fired up,” Stalcup said. “It was tough, but I think once we settled down and started playing our game like we do, playing to feet, don’t just play kick and run, that’s when we’re at our best.”
In the 59th minute, Foxboro sealed the two points. A corner from Mollica picked out Davis on the edge of the six-yard-box and her downward header deflected off the foot of a defender and flicked into the goal.
Marshall was huge down the stretch to keep the Hawks in it. Vandenboom set up McCabe for a one-timer that was saved comfortably, then Davis forced a diving save with a long shot from the right side and Vandenboom had her rebound effort saved.
Collins had a breakaway in the closing minutes but was forced to hold up by Boyle and Marshall was able to make the save and then a Mollica corner found Collins’ head but again Marshall made the reaction save.
“I wish we would’ve had more, but that’s how it goes sometimes,” Stalcup said.
That changed in a big way on Monday night in a rainy contest on the turf at Val Muscato Stadium.
Milford had a dominant showing, scoring four first half goals on its way to a convincing 5-0 win. It marked the Scarlet Hawks’ first win over the Tigers since joining the league, snapping a 10-game winless streak.
“We talked about coming out strong in this game,” said Milford head coach Brian Edwards. “Some of our previous games, we started out weak and were fortunate to get points out of them because of the way we started. So it was a point of focus the last couple of days, and I was very happy with the energy level.
“This is going in the right direction. I still think we have a ways to go in all honestly, but today and the Foxboro game, our approach and the way we came out of the gate, and attention to detail was great. Tonight, the defense and the effort from our outside mids, that allows us to play well. The work we put in off the ball defensively allowed us to do what we did with the ball. If we keep working like that, I think we’ll keep getting better.”
It was all Hawks from the get-go, registering their first scoring chance just over 60 seconds into the contest.
Sophomore Leo Coelho played a perfectly weighted through ball on the ground that found junior Walisson de Oliveira right inside the area, but his touch was smothered by OA keeper Jacob Lerman. Although de Oliveira had his first chance denied, it was far from the last time he would factor in.
In the 5th minute, de Oliveira blasted a free kick from 35 that went just high and wide at the near post. In the 8th minute, Coelho made a darting run out of the back, combining with de Oliveira to eventually find Joao Vitor, but his shot went just over the bar.
The visitor finally converted in the 12th minute. Jordan Borges played a long ball out of the back that skid on the turf past the defense. Miscommunication between the OA defense and keeper allowed Vitor to come streaking in and get a touch past the keeper. de Oliveira was in the perfect spot and cleaned up the loose ball, burying it into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
OA had a nice spell of play over the next 10 minutes, nearly drawing level of two chances. First, sophomore Colin Milliken took a feed from classmate Jimmy Keane and ripped a dipping shot from 25 yards. The ball nearly skipped in front and almost slipped through Milford keeper Josh Orellana’s hands, but the senior positioned himself well to cover.
Just seconds later, Milford’s Anthony Salvador traced down the left flank, centered to Vitor and his curling shot from just before the 18-yard line found the back of the net despite a partial save.
“It could have been a totally different game,” Edwards admitted. “Once we went up 1-0, I thought we were fortunate because [Oliver Ames] had a nice spell of play. If they score there and it’s 1-1, this is a totally different game. The score was a bit misleading. So that’s an area we still have to get better because we can’t afford to slow down.”
After going up 2-0, Milford continued to apply a heavy dose of pressure while controlling possession of the game. In the 32nd minute, de Oliveira really put the Hawks in the driver’s seat. The junior used a nice cut to get past a defender, took a touch towards goal and fired a laser from 25-yards out that went just under the bar for a 3-0 lead.
The Hawks added to their lead with another terrific goal just two minutes later. An attack throw from Tiago Carvalhoj was flicked on by de Oliveira to sophomore Lucas Da Silva. Da Silva took a touch to get the ball on his right foot and then ripped a volley to the far post for a terrific goal, giving Milford a 4-0 lead heading into halftime.
“Wally is a beast, first and foremost,” said OA head coach John Barata. “But today was the first time our inexperience really showed to be honest. It’s not an excuse, but it really showed today. And on top of that, we gave up two bad goals to start. We had a miscommunication on the first one and the second one was unfortunate. When you go down two to them, you have to come out and go for it. We played great for 15 minutes, and then they put in two in two minutes.
“You make mistakes we like we did against that team, you’re going to get punished. They have guys that can play, I think that’s the best playing team in the Hock that I’ve seen.”
The second half featured fewer scoring chances for both sides, but quality chances nonetheless. de Oliveira had a free kick from 40 yards out tipped over the bar from OA sophomore keeper Drew Nikla.
In the 49th minute, Milliken curved a free kick to the far post from 25 yards out, but Orellana covered nicely to deny the shot. Two minutes later, Carvalho had a long clearance bounce over the OA defense. Vitor ran onto it, but Nikla came well off his line and blocked the shot with his body outside of the area.
Milford capped the scoring in the 65th minute when Salvador got his second assist, setting up de Oliveira’s hat trick. Salvador sent a ball into space between two OA defenders. de Oliveira made a diagonal run to beat his defender and latched onto a shot from inside the area that found the back of the net.
“The work rate that I’m seeing from these guys is what I want to see,” Edwards said. “That’s how we want to play, we want to play pretty soccer and play from the back to front. We don’t want to be too direct, we want to move the ball.”
Milford boys soccer (5-1-2 Hockomock, 5-1-2 overall) is back in action on Thursday in a big division clash against Canton at 6:30. The Bulldogs sit two points ahead of Milford with one more game played. Oliver Ames (3-1-4, 3-1-4) will try to bounce back from its first loss when it hosts King Philip on the same day at 3:45.
MILFORD, Mass. – On its opening three possessions of the game, Franklin managed about 30 yards of offense and turned the ball over twice. But the Panthers got one more chance to break the scoreless deadlock before halftime and made it count, scoring on the final play of the second quarter.
The momentum carried over into the second half, as Franklin would score on both of its possessions in the third quarter to break Friday night’s rivalry game with Milford wide open and pull away for a 21-0 victory that sends the Panthers into league play with a 2-0 record.
“It’s a big win for us,” said Franklin coach Eian Bain. “This is a tough place to play. To get out of here 2-0, and more importantly 1-0 this week and focused on this task, we’re going to enjoy it for 24 hours.”
The game did not get off to a start that either team would have hoped for, with turnovers on the opening two plays. Shapel Feaster fumbled on the first play from scrimmage for the Hawks, but he made up for it on defense by forcing a Jack Nally fumble at the one-yard-line on Franklin’s first play.
Both defenses were in control for most of the opening half.
A Brendan White sack of Franklin starting quarterback Thomas Gasbarro ended one drive and Ryan Pearl picked off a pass by Nick Gordon, Franklin’s second quarterback, to end another. Milford was trying to mix things up, spreading out the Panthers on one play and bunching up on a power set on another, but the Panthers defense stood tall.
With under two minutes remaining in the half, Franklin took possession at its own 42. Gordon (6-11, 147 yards) hit Nally down the sideline for 21 yards and then found Ryan Driscoll (four catches, 115 yards) for nine yards to the Milford 28.
After an incomplete pass, Franklin had eight seconds left in the quarter. Gordon dropped back and again looked down the far sideline where Driscoll had gotten open in between two defensive backs for the game’s opening score.
Milford coach Anthony Vizakis admitted that it was a deflating moment for his team. He said, “It was because they knew we were close to going in with a 0-0 ballgame and that’s a totally different mentality. It’s a totally different feeling. I thought we came out [for the second half] with a little energy but it just wasn’t enough for tonight.”
The Panthers took control with the opening possession of the second half, marching 75 yards on seven plays to make it a two-score game. Gordon again hit Driscoll on a go-route down the sideline for 38 yards into Milford territory and then found Will Davis for another 11 yards. Three plays, including two Gordon keepers, later, Gordon was able to scramble and keep a play alive before finding a seam for a seven-yard score.
The Milford offense had to try and speed up, focusing on the spread formation and the passing game to try and cut into the lead, but that also played right into the strength of the Franklin defense – its secondary.
“With a two touchdown lead, you sort of take war off the table,” said Bain about Milford’s run-first set. “Our strength of the defense is our speed…whereas the war is what they do best and they can dictate to an opponent. To get them out of that was a big step in the second half.”
Milford’s junior quarterback Colby Pires completed three of his four passes in the first half, but with the Panthers dropping back into coverage then he was only able to complete two of 14 passes in the second half. Driscoll and Nally both broke up passes in coverage and Nolan McLaney was able to bat a pass down at the line of scrimmage.
“We had the clock against us and sometimes when you’re down two scores you try to speed things up a little bit,” Vizakis explained. “It was frustrating because we just couldn’t hit anything over the top.”
Franklin’s success defending the pass was largely done without getting much pressure on Pires. Adam McMorrow had the only sack of the game for the Panthers and it came on Milford’s possession.
Franklin made it three straight possessions with a touchdown and sealed the win before the end of the third quarter. The Panthers went 57 yards on 11 plays, including a 40-yard pass from Gordon to Driscoll. On third and goal from the six, Gordon took a keeper to the left side and snuck inside the pylon with a leap over the goal line.
Parker Chevrant made it three for three on extra points for a 21-0 lead.
Bain said, “We do spend some time talking about scramble drill and Nick’s able to that. It was a great night for the boys.”
“They run the spread very well,” Vizakis said. “Their quarterback runs the ball very well and we’ve just got to stay in our assignments, stay disciplined.”
Franklin (2-0) will open Kelley-Rex division play next Friday night at Alumni Field against Mansfield. Milford (0-2) will look for its first win when it starts Davenport division play with a visit from Canton.