MILFORD, Mass. – Milford junior goalie Leo Oliveira stood on his goal line face-to-face with the next Nauset penalty kick shooter and took his right hand and pointed in that direction a handful of times.
Oliveira, who was a spectator from the bench for 90 minutes in the snow and cold, was suddenly thrust into action in the second overtime, and now in the midst of a penalty kick shootout with one of the top teams in the country.
With each team converting their first three attempts, Oliveira stepped back in net and pointed to his right as Nauset’s senior captain Spencer Rushnak placed the ball on the spot.
“It’s just mind games,” Oliveira said.
It worked as Rushnak fired his shot in that direction and Oliveira made the diving stop. Three attempts later, Milford freshman Gabriel Godoy calmly deposited his chance into the back corner to give the Hawks a 5-4 edge in penalties, a 2-1 win in the match, and the program’s first-ever D2 South Sectional Championship.
It’s the program’s first sectional title since 1999 when it won the D1 Central crown, and Nauset’s first loss since 2017, snapping a 44-game unbeaten streak. The Warriors’ last loss came to Oliver Ames in the sectional semifinals, which also went to penalty kicks and was played on the same Milford High turf field.
“I told him to go right and he did, and I was ready for it and I saved it,” Oliveira said. “All I heard was the crowd cheering my name, it was amazing. The best moment of my life so far.”
Sophomore Kevin Gomes, who had a strong game in net through regulation and the first overtime, came out between overtime periods due to illness. While Milford was planning to go with Oliveira if it went to penalties, he was thrust into the game in the second sudden-victory overtime period.
“It’s hard sitting on the bench in the cold weather but I’m always ready just in case something happens to Kevin, and I was ready tonight,” Oliveira said. “During the playoffs, we’ve been practicing them for around 30 minutes at the end of practice, and I’ve been able to save them there. When you have guys like Pedro [Araujo] and Leo [Coelho] who barely miss, it’s hard to save them. Nauset, they are amazing, but I was able to come up with the big save.”
Milford head coach Brian Edwards wasn’t surprised that Oliveira was ready for the big moment.
“Leo is our best goalie for PKs,” Edwards said. “We were planning to make the change in overtime and then Kevin in-between overtime periods wasn’t feeling well so we told [Leo] to go in and he delivered. He’s the hero of the hour. He doesn’t really get nervous, he just shows up and plays. He isn’t really fazed [by the moment].”
Nauset went first in penalty kicks and junior Ben LaBranche slotted a low shot into the bottom left corner past the reach of Oliveira’s save. Milford boys soccer senior captain and center back Dan Santos answered with a low to the left of his own.
Nauset senior captain Sebastian Headrick put the Warriors back ahead with a low shot to the left despite Oliveira getting a fingertip to it. Milford sophomore center back Chris Tocci blasted a shot into the upper left corner giving the keeper no chance to make it 2-2.
The Warriors scored again as junior Anthony Lovati was the first to go in the other direction, hitting his shot into the right side. Milford senior and the Hockomock League’s leading score Pedro Araujo went up the middle with the keeper diving to the side to make it 3-3.
Oliveira’s mind games worked to get the big stop, and Milford senior Jordan Borges blasted a hard shot off the underside of the crossbar and in to give the Hawks’ a 4-3 lead.
“It was very scary when it hit the bar but it ended up going in so I was happy,” Borges said. “For Leo, it’s all theatrics before the kick. He just gets guys nervous, throws them off. We’ve practiced them before just in case we go to penalties and it paid off.”
Nauset junior center back Ethan Boyle kept the match alive with a nice shot to the left side but Godoy, despite being a freshman, placed a left-footed shot into the back corner to give the Hawks the win.
“Our JV coach Antonio Pinto has been working with these guys on PKs for a while so I asked who he thought the best five guys were, he told me and I went with those,” Edwards said. “A lot of these decisions aren’t mine, they make me look smart. We have a whole crew of coaches and the players have an input too.
“It was awesome, I lost my mind when he made that save, I knew that was it because I have complete faith in our five guys to make their kicks. When Leo made that save, I knew we were going to win it.”
Not only did Milford have to weather a strong Nauset attack in overtime, the Hawks had to do so without Coelho, who had to miss the extra period due to injury. Then the Hawks lost Joao Pedro Da Silva to an injury for the second overtime period. Senior outside back Nuno Mestre also missed some time in the extra period but was able to return.
“We’re just confident at all times,” Borges said. “We believe in ourselves, we believe in our teammates and that’s what it’s all about. When we believe, I think we have a chance to win at anything. We have that team mentality, the next guy up. Anybody can step in and do the job. Of course we don’t want to see guys go out but everybody on the bench is ready to go in there and make a difference.”
It was a scoreless first half that saw both sides have a share of strong play, but the Warriors ended with the two most dangerous chances on goal. In the 7th minute, Rushnak smacked the crossbar on a free kick and Milford senior Carlos Terrinha was well-positioned to block the rebound chance.
Rushnak also flashed a header just wide in the 20th minute of a corner from Patrick Pinto and then smacked the crossbar for the second time off a well-hit volley from distance that knuckled and dipped before hitting the woodwork in the 34th minute.
Milford had its fair share of chances too as Coelho, who started up front along Araujo, took advantage of some space before rifling a left-footed shot from 25-yards out just wide in the 13th minute. In the 26th minute, Araujo sprang Coelho free with a perfect through ball but Nauset keeper Jack Avellar played it perfectly off his line and came charging to block the shot just inside the box.
Gomes made a strong save on a chance from Boyle in the 42nd minute, pouncing on a header in the area. Two minutes later, the Hawks opened the scoring.
Coelho drew a foul near the corner of the area on the right wing, and then took the free kick himself. He lofted a perfectly weighted ball to the far post to an open JP Da Silva, who nodded the ball just inside the post for a 1-0 lead.
Edwards was frank when asked if he could believe it that his side had beaten Nauset.
“I do, I do believe it because they are high school kids just like anyone else,” Edwards said. “Regardless of how you look, how you dress, how you put your bags in a row…your high school kids and so are we. We believe in who we can beat and bring them on, we’ll play anyone.
“It was just belief…belief in each other, belief in ourselves. This team is very confident but we know how good Nauset is. They are a top 10 team in a country but we did our homework, we knew what we needed to do. Thankfully we got the job done. I can’t be prouder of them right now.”
Araujo played junior Lucas Da Silva in on the right side seven minutes later but his bid was denied by Avellar, and he was unable to pounce on the rebound bid. Nauset nearly drew level in the 59th minute as Shavar Champagnie broke free at the near post but flashed his header just wide.
Araujo had three chances over a two-minute space but wasn’t able to double the Hawks’ lead. He was played in off a flick from Borges but Avellar was quick off his line and just got to the ball first just inside the box. Still in the 63rd minute, Borges delivered a ball over the top but Araujo’s shot on goal was saved.
A minute later, Araujo nearly got his touch past an oncoming Avellar, but the ball popped up and the keeper did very well to recover and hang on.
Nauset cashed on in the final five minutes of the match after earning a free kick along the left sideline. Boyle dropped a service to the near post and LaBranche was left open and he buried his shot into the bottom left corner to make it 1-1.
“Nauset has one of the best attacks I’ve ever seen,” Edwards said. “They are deliberate in what they do, you know exactly what they are going to do, and regardless of that they still generate scoring chances. They are that good, they are that well-coached, they are great soccer players. Our defense was superb tonight I thought. I thought we minimized the throw-ins for the most part.
“We got in trouble with the free kicks, that’s where their goal came from. I was very proud of our backline and I was very proud of our goalie, I thought Kevin played a stellar game. Nauset is a hell of a team, that’s the best team I’ve seen in 11 years of coaching soccer.”
Gomes was forced into an early save on Champagnie two minutes into the first overtime but the best chance of the first extra period was from Borges. After a win at midfield, Borges received a pass and ripped a shot from 30-yards out that Avellar had to backtrack and then tip over the bar.
Neither side had a genuine scoring threat in the second overtime.
“It’s been two decades since we’ve been in a game like this,” Edwards, an MHS graduate, said. Milford boys soccer reached the state final in 1998, the year after Edwards graduated. “We know whoever we’re going to play is going to be a tough test. We’ll try to make our league play and do what we can do, and hopefully, get the job done.”
Milford boys soccer (18-0-2) will play North sectional champion Winchester (14-3-5) in the D2 Final on Saturday with the time and location to be determined.
Despite a spirited second half effort and a saved penalty kick, the Tigers were unable to complete their upset bid, suffering a 1-0 loss to the Warriors after a late goal.
The top-seeded Warriors extended their unbeaten streak to 44 straight games to advance to the D2 South Final against Milford. The last time Nauset lost was in the D2 South Semifinals in 2017 via penalty kicks to OA.
“I think the second half was much better than the first,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “I think they took it too us for about 50% of the [first] half, then the rest of it was a little more back and forth. We had some chances but they had more dangerous chances. They are a strong team. They are fast, they want to impose their style of play and they were able to do that. They a very good team, John [McCully] has done a great job. They are #8 in the country for a reason, they are no joke.
“I thought we played very well and have a lot of guys that will learn from this experience. They’ll remember how this felt, and the extra work that it takes. We had one or two bad mistakes and they punished us for it. Overall, I thought it was a great second half for us.”
The lone goal came in the 73rd minute of play. A ball over the top found Nauset’s Anthony Lovati, who controlled the ball and took a touch forward despite OA’s plea for handball. Lovati connected with Shavar Champagnie in the area, who was quickly met with a pair of OA defenders on his back.
Champagnie alertly played the ball back to the top of the area where senior Sebastian Headrick calmly ran onto it and placed a shot through traffic and into the bottom corner for the eventual game-winner.
The Tigers quickly switched to three in the back, throwing numbers and services forward, but the Nauset backline used its height to prevent any balls in behind. OA had a corner in the final seconds and put all of the players in the box, including the keeper, but were unable to get on the end of it before a Nauset clearance.
“For the most part we dominated,” said Nauset head coach John McCully. “Don’t get me wrong, Oliver Ames made it difficult for us. It was very difficult for us to get any rhythm today because we’re used to ball dominance. We didn’t have a lot of that, even though we controlled at times. And 0-0…it would have been a crying shame [if we didn’t win].”
OA keeper Drew Nickla was called into action in the 12th minute when Nauset’s Connor Cushing delivered a service to the back post that was met by Lovati but Nickla was perfectly positioned and tipped the bid over the bar.
While changes were hard to come in the first, Oliver Ames’ best opportunity came in the 19th minute. Anthony DaCosta played classmate Kevin Louhis wide on the left flank. Louhis used his speed to beat his defender before poking a cross to the edge of the six-yard box, but the service was in-between DaCosta and Dillon Cupples and a Warrior defender was quick to clear.
Nauset had two golden chances before the end of the half but couldn’t convert. William Schiffer got on the end of a throw-in from Lovati but his chance smacked off the crossbar. Just under 10 minutes later, Nathan Watring set Schiffer up right in front but his shot was over the bar.
Louhis had the first good chance of the second half in the 54th minute. After working his way around a pair of defenders, he cut near the top of the 18 and ripped a left-footed shot but a Nauset defender was able to reach out and make the block. OA’s lone shot on goal came off the foot of Louhis with a low shot from distance that was saved.
“We actually built up in the midfield well at times, but the challenge was then you run into a wall of six in the back,” Barata said. “And they weren’t soft, they come through hard. Ultimately I thought we did well, I am pleased with the guys. I am sad for the seniors because they’ve done a lot of good work for the program. But I thought they went out in a great blaze. It was a close game, they scored with seven minutes left in the game. Problem was, there was no time to bounce back. We pressed, we put everyone up for that last corner but they have a lot of big bodies in there.
“I think the guys did a really good job playing the game and they should leave here with their heads held high. They’ll learn and then we’ll come back, we’ll bounce back.”
The Tigers held the Warriors without a good chance in the run of play for the majority of the second half with strong play from defenders Matthew Nosalek, Jonathan Freeman, Brady deVos, and Harrison Ahearn, along with center mids Matthew Nikiciuk and Colin Milliken. Nauset had a free kick from 20-yards out denied by the wall, and Nickla came up huge with a save on a low shot to his right on a penalty kick in the 64th minute.
“We were a little worried with the long throws and set pieces against a strong team but today he was pretty outstanding and stellar on all the throws and set pieces,” Barata said of Nickla. “And the PK was a great save.”
Just under 10 minutes after the penalty stop, the Warriors cashed in for the lone goal of the game.
Oliver Ames boys soccer finishes the season at 15-4.
The Warriors had the advantage in corner kicks, an even number of chances created, just one less shot than Nauset, and trailed just 1-0 at the break.
But in the second half, Nauset showed why its considered one of the top teams in the state, scoring three straight goals en route to a 4-1 win in the D2 South Semifinals.
“I just think we were second to every ball,” said Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino. “Our passing was off today, we weren’t playing to feet. Our Achilles heel has been giving up goals but [Nauset] is a good side.
“We were getting beat to every ball. Give credit to [Nauset].”
While Nauset got a shot on goal in the first minute, Foxboro created an opportunity just 60 seconds later. Will Regan delivered a free kick from midfield but the ball took a strong bounce and was just out of the reach of Dylan Barreira at the post in the 2nd minute.
After applying some pressure, Nauset broke through in the 13th minute. A failed clearance fell to the foot of senior Avery Santoro and he buried his low shot from a step inside the area inside the far post.
Despite going behind a goal, Foxboro still had its chances to pull level. In the 18th minute, junior Joe Cusack lofted a free kick in behind the defense where senior Matt Garcia connected with a driving header but his bid was just over the bar.
Senior Nic Beigel had a pair of shots in a ten minute span, both forcing saves. In the 21st minute, Beigel delivered a low shot from 25 yards out and in the 30th minute, the senior got off a hard shot but both were at the keeper.
Foxboro had two more chances in the final 10 minutes of the half. Arguably the best chance came off the foot of Garcia, who delivered a tempting ball through the area to the back post but no one made a run and the ball was touched out by the keeper. On the second ensuing corner kick, Barreira’s service was cleared to Cusack, who played the ball back into the area. Tim Behn had a look from just outside the six yard box but his shot was blocked and cleared away.
“We had some chances,” Franchino said. “Matty Garcia put one into the box and we had two guys standing in the box when they should be crashing the post. If we score one, maybe it changes things.”
Once the second half began, it was all Nauset. The top-seed showed their offensive prowess and needed just over six minutes to add to the lead. Ethan Boyle played a ball over the top of the defense and Romell Brown hit a volley off the bounce that went over the hands of Foxboro freshman keeper Derek Axon and under the bar for a 2-0 advantage.
In the 55th minute, Nauset center back and All-American selection Abdel Talabi played a ball into the area, sophomore Ben LaBranche flicked it on, and senior Curtis Moore was open for a header across the line. Two minutes later, Anthony Lavoti worked his way past a defender and fired a close range shot that Axon got a piece of but the rebound bounced over the line for a 4-0 lead.
Nauset scored all three of its second half goals in a 10-minute span.
“They finished,” Franchino said of the difference in halves. “They were getting a bunch of chances, just weren’t finishing. They play very direct, lump it into the box, and get bodies onto it. They close very hard too.
“But I always tell them, you have a wait problem. Not weight, but wait problem. You can’t sit around sit around and let the game happen, go make an impact in the game. I think that was the difference today, we were on our heels a little bit and not getting after like we can.”
Foxboro got on the board in the 75th minute. Beigel dispossessed a Nauset defender and went on a break down the right side. Beigel waited until Talabi committed before sliding a pass over to Barreira and the junior tucked his right-footed shot inside the near post to make it 4-1.
Foxboro boys soccer finishes the season at 9-7-5 with a league-high 57 goals, which is the most scored in the Hock since the Warriors scored 70 in 2015.
But by the end, the Tigers were just happy to survive and advance.
OA built a 5-0 lead through the first three innings of play but saw that advantage shrink to just one run after the next two. The Tigers added a big insurance run in the fifth and escaped a seventh-inning threat from Nauset to emerge with a 6-4 win.
“I tip my cap to Nauset,” said OA head coach Joe Abarr. “Their first base coach just kept saying ‘play the game’ which I thought was a cool mantra. You could see their guys stay in the moment and getting hits when they needed to. But we were able to get enough runs across early in the game and protect the lead in the end.”
“As soon [Nasuet] battled back it was like a wake-up call and all the guys got behind each other. I’m hoping they remember that and keep that attitude moving forward because the games won’t be any easier moving forward.”
Some heads up base running in the bottom of the first inning helped the Tigers grab an early lead. Michael Friel (4-for-4, RBI, run) had a one-out single and stole second with two outs. Chris Pearsons (3-for-4, RBI, run) hit a ground ball to the left side of the infield but raced down the line and beat the throw for an infield hit.
With two outs, Friel was off and running, but didn’t stop at first. The senior infielder alertly sped around third and took off for home. The Nauset first baseman held the catch at first while the ump made the call and Friel crossed without a throw home. With no one covering second, Pearsons sprinted to the open bag for a free base but was stranded there.
“My assistant coach was just saying that’s what wins tournament games,” Abarr said of the alert base running. “I really can’t say enough about both of those guys, their baseball instincts are tremendous. But it’s not just instincts, they work at it. We have two rounds during batting practice that you have to run the bases after and those two guys take all their reps very seriously and it pays dividends. We’re hoping to get more guys to buy into that too because it makes a big difference.”
Oliver Ames starter Reid Latham (3.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 2 K, 0 BB) worked around a hit in both the first and second innings. In the first, Nauset’s Stephen Kalnick was gunned down by Sean O’Brien after trying to turn a single into a double. And in the second, Harrison Field’s leadoff single didn’t result in anything when Latham got three straight outs.
Jake Erlich (2-for-4, RBI, run) got the bottom of the second started with a single and moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt from Nick Zwerle. CJ Deveau battled his way through a nine-pitch at-bat, ending it with an RBI single to score Erlich. Matt Muir followed up with a two-out single to bring Deveau in and Muir took second on the throw.
Friel grabbed his second hit of the day with a double to bring Muir home to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.
Pearsons led off the third with a bloop single into left field and made his way all the way to third after a throwing error. Junior Matt McCormack grounded out but Pearsons came in to score to make it 5-0.
Nauset came firing back in the top of the fourth, taking care of some miscues by the Tigers. Latham got the first out with a strikeout but a high fly ball from Kalnick dropped in left center field. Latham bounced back with another strikeout but Chris Beach singled with two outs to put runners on first and second.
Latham induced a ground ball to the left side but miscommunication allowed John Dysart to reach and load the bases. Kurtis Thomas and John Paul LaBarge hit back-to-back singles, though each only scoring one run apiece. Henry Blanchard was then awarded first after a catcher’s interference call, bringing a third run in.
“This was the first time he’s been on the mound in a real game in probably five or six weeks so I have to give it to him,” Abarr said about Latham. “He did a tremendous job. When he had the cast on his hand, he was still the first one at the park each day. As soon as he was able to get the hard cast off, he could throw some and he came straight from the doctors to practice and wanted to throw. I think this was a moment he’s been waiting for and as far as I’m concerned, he shouldn’t be deflated about that inning, he just didn’t have some things go his way, and that’s the way baseball goes.”
Abarr went to the bullpen and brought in junior Tom Parker (2.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 K, 3 H). The lefty needed just one pitch to get a fly ball to right to leave the bases loaded for Nauset.
“I give Tommy credit, coming in there and throwing that one pitch to get us out of it, which I thought was a huge momentum changer for us,” Abarr said.
A single from Friel and a walk to Mitch Goulet put runners on first and second for OA in the bottom half of the fourth but an infield pop up ended the threat.
Kalnick helped get Nauset one run closer with a one-out triple in the fifth inning. Harrison Field followed with a triple of his own to bring Kalnick in but Parker didn’t let Field get any further, getting two ground balls to end the inning.
OA got the insurance run it needed in the bottom of the fifth. McCormack led off with a walk and took second on a passed ball. Erlich hit a hard grounder down the third base line for an RBI double to plate McCormack to put the Tigers up 6-4.
After Zwerle was hit by a pitch, Deveau’s sac bunt moved the runners to second and third with one out but Kalnick, Nauset’s third pitcher of the day, prevented any further damage with a strikeout and 6-3 ground out.
Parker worked around a one-out error in the top of the sixth, getting back-to-back strikeouts after the runner reached. OA had a chance to blow the game open when it loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth behind three straight singles from Friel, Pearsons, and McCormack.
But this time it was Kalnick with back-to-back strikeouts to prevent any further damage.
Nauset threatened in the top of the seventh behind a one-out single from Kalnick and a walk to Field. Abarr brought in Muir to close the game out and the senior did just that, getting a line drive to center and a ground ball to short for the final two outs.
“[Parker] kept himself really composed when their three and four hitters had those triples,” Abarr said. “He was able to get out of that inning with just the one run which I’ll take all day. He was jacked up for that last inning and then we had that pause for the base runner and I think that hurt his momentum. And Matt Muir has probably been our most consistent guy out of the pen this season.”
Oliver Ames baseball (15-7) advances to the D2 South Semifinal for the second straight year. The Tigers, seeded sixth, will take #7 Duxbury (14-8) on Wednesday at 7:00 at Rockland Stadium.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Foxboro came into Saturday evening’s Div. 2 South final against Nauset at Taunton High averaging more than 65 points per game this season, but what turned out to be even more important for the Warriors as they aimed for a second straight sectional title was that their defense was allowing fewer than 37 points per game.
It was not a pretty game. Neither team shot well and the game was played more at the pace that Nauset preferred, which was in the half-court, running down the shot clock and not allowing Foxboro to get into transition. Yet, at the end, Foxboro was once again heading to the TD Garden with another trophy in the case following a 40-23 victory, in which it allowed Nauset only six made field goals in the entire game.
“From day one, first day of practice, we wanted to make sure that defense was the best aspect of our game, so we came out here and we just played the best defense we possibly could,” said senior Lily Sykes. When asked if there was a point that she was concerned about winning the game, especially as the offense struggled, Sykes replied, “Honestly, I personally no. We just have too many weapons for teams.”
Nauset had only two seniors on its roster coming in, while Foxboro, even with senior center Shannon Smally sidelined with a shoulder injury, started three seniors and four players with experience on this stage. Foxboro used that experience to not panic even as its shots were not falling.
“That’s a young team and it’s intimidating to play in this type of venue and with this many people and all that pressure,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “The seniors could just settle themselves down better than the younger kids.”
Sykes added, “We played in the sectional finals freshman year. I don’t think any of us were nervous, so we just came out and knew we were going to win.”
Things started well for the Warriors, who jumped out to a fairly typical 13-1 lead in the opening quarter. Ashley Sampson (game-high 17 points and six steals) knocked down a pair of threes to get things going and then completed a three-point play to give Foxboro the early advantage. Freshman Katelyn Mollica, the lone starter who is experiencing the playoffs for the first time, also drilled a three.
Nauset’s lone basket of the first was a three by 6-foot sophomore center Skyeler Sandison that made it 13-4. Abby Hassman hit a jumper off one of Sykes’ five assists to give Foxboro a 15-5 edge after one quarter.
Sandison was the primary threat for Nauset coming in and Foxboro relied on Grace Tamulionis to front the center and deny passes into the post. The strategy worked perfectly. Even when Tamulionis was not able to deflect the pass, a Foxboro player was lying in wait on the backside to get the steal. Sandison finished with only five points and even though Tamulionis only scored four herself, after leading the Warriors with 19 in the semifinal, she was a key to the win.
“She did amazing,” said Downs of Tamulionis. “We only had one day to practice for that and Sandison was our main focus. We were kind of leaving Ashley’s man unattended to double team on her because once she gets the ball in the paint she’s pretty deadly in there.”
The offense started to sputter in the second. After Chelsea Gibbons hit a pair at the line, she picked up a steal and fed Sampson for a rare fast break bucket. Mollica (13 points) added a steal and layup to push the lead to 13, but Nauset would answer with five straight to give the fans who made the trip up from the Cape a little hope.
Sampson took the momentum back with a floater and a transition basket off a Gibbons assist. It was 25-13 at the break even with Foxboro admittedly not playing at the top of its game.
“I give them credit, they were getting back much quicker than I thought they would,” Downs explained. “They were also pressuring our rebounders so we couldn’t get the outlet as quick as usually do…but when we had the open court we were able to attack the basket.”
The third quarter was even worse, as the two teams combined for 11 points. Nauset got four, including a three-pointer, from Reagan Meehan, but Mollica drained a three as well, Tamulionis hit a free throw line jumper, and Sampson scored with an offensive rebound. That was all the scoring for the third.
“We know what we’re capable of but we were a little bit tense and our shots were a little bit flat,” said Downs, “so we just need to really exaggerate that follow through.”
Tamulionis scored with a layup off a Sampson assist to get the fourth quarter started and push the lead to 17 at 34-17. Meehan (eight points) completed a three-point play to give Nauset some life, but Mollica knocked down a corner three and added two more with a steal and layup to seal the victory.
It does not matter if the win was pretty or not, Foxboro still gets to take home the trophy for the second straight year and gets another shot at playing at the TD Garden. It is something that the Warriors have been thinking about for a full year.
“With this group of seniors, I would’ve been upset to have left too early,” said Downs. “They have unfinished business and they got a taste of it last year and they haven’t forgotten it.”
Sampson said, “It’s really exciting. Last year obviously didn’t end how we wanted but now we have the experience of playing there so it won’t be totally new to us. I think that will really help us.”
Sykes added, “I thought coming into the season we had a chance but with every single person contributing it’s the best season ever.”
Foxboro (24-2) advances to face North champion Pentucket at the TD Garden on Tuesday at 5:45.
Oliver Ames not only found the back of the net often, but scored at those important times as well, cruising to a 5-2 win over ninth-seeded Nauset.
The Tigers, seeded eighth, got its first goal less than three minutes into the game to set the tone. OA added its second less than two minutes after Nauset tied the game, scored its third on the power play, its fourth less than a minute after its third and the final goal under two minutes after Nauset cut the deficit to two.
“I think if we establish our forecheck, we move our feet and crash the net good things happen,” said Oliver Ames head coach Sean Bertoni. “We didn’t have any spectacular highlight goals tonight but that’s how we can move forward in the tournament, getting the tough ones.”
Oliver Ames set the tone with its very first shot of the game. Senior Jack Maloney found Brett Williams on a breakout pass and the sophomore skated to the center of the ice and unleashed a slap shot between a pair of defensemen that found the back of the net. Oliver Ames led just 2:31 into the contest.
Nauset leveled the game just over midway through the period, taking advantage of a one-on-one opportunity. Nauset’s Devin Roderick went into the offensive zone with just one defenseman in his way and was able to slide the puck just inside the post to tie the game.
But in the all important next couple of minutes, Oliver Ames went back up. Sophomore Cullen Gallagher collected a loose puck in the offensive zone, and with no pressure on his back, turned and fired a puck towards goal. With junior Rory Madden providing a screen in front, the puck went straight in.
Just 1:42 after the Warriors tied the game, Oliver Ames took the lead back.
“After that first goal, we relaxed a little bit,” Bertoni said. “The first period was an OK period for us, I didn’t think we forechecked as hard as we should have. We didn’t really get that many offensive chances, we got a couple of bounces which you need in the tournament.”
While Oliver Ames had two goals, Nauset brought a very physical approach to the game. Although that might have swayed other opponents, Oliver Ames has experience in that situation.
“We’re used to it,” Bertoni said. “The Hockomock League is very physical with Franklin, Canton, North, Mansfield, right down the line. We’re not the strongest team, we’re small but we can skate.”
Oliver Ames once again came up with a timely goal, scoring the all important next goal less than three minutes into the second period. Just 89 seconds into the second period, the Warriors were whistled for interference to put the Tigers on the power play. OA passed the puck around the offensive zone before junior forward Eric LeBlanc – patrolling the blue line during the power play – stepped into a wrist shot that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net.
And less than a minute after that, the Tigers tacked on another goal. With the majority of players on the left side, a cross ice pass found junior Michael Nikiciuk along breaking into the offensive zone. With an odd-man rush, Nikiciuk centered his pass for an easy one time tap in from Madden to make it 4-1 with 11:29 to play in the second period.
“We changed our personnel on the player play for the last couple of games so it was good to see shots from the point,” Bertoni said. “We’re not the most skilled team but when we get shots from the point, good things happen…we love garbage goals. We want to get traffic out in front and we had two of those tonight.
“I thought our second period was very good.”
The Tigers took a penalty while on the power play to make it 4-on-4 and the Warriors were able to capitalize. As Oliver Ames’ defense inched forward, a turnover led to Nauset racing into the attacking zone. After beating one man, Nauset’s Nick Hull went in alone and tucked the puck in to make it 4-2.
But as they had done all game, Oliver Ames had a timely answer. Just 90 seconds later, Oliver Ames once again cashed in from a shot from distance. Sophomore Matt McCormack took a pass from classmate Collin Bourne and fired a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that found the back of the net.
Oliver Ames had a 24-14 lead advantage in shots.
The Tigers (14-6-1) await the winner of #1 Scituate and #16 Dedham on Wednesday. Oliver Ames hockey will play the winner at Gallo Arena in Bourne on Saturday at 12:30.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Wednesday night’s Div. 1 South preliminary round matchup started with a spell of pressure from the visiting team, as Nauset put Mansfield on its heels for the first minute or two and earned the game’s first penalty corner.
The remaining 58 minutes were completely dominated by the Hornets, last year’s D1 South finalists. Mansfield rolled to a 5-0 win at Alumni Field with five different players getting on the score sheet and the Hornets forcing Nauset goalie Lucy McNamara to make 19 saves (14 in the first half alone).
When asked if this was the most dominant performance of the season, Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan said, “We’ve played a few games like this, but it’s nice to be able to score some goals too. We reached our goals today. We wanted quick passes through the midfield and we wanted to get the ball deep right and put the pressure on.”
McNamara was forced into action early and often by the Hornets. Emily Ierardo started the onslaught in the third minute with a point-blank chance that the goalie kicked aside. Three minutes later Caitlin Whitman had a shot off a corner that was saved and three minutes after that it was Olivia Horn who had not one but two shots kicked away.
Another penalty corner in the 12th minute saw McNamara make another stop on Ann Maher’s blast from the edge of the circle and, despite the goalie’s heroics, it felt like the breakthrough was imminent.
The opening goal came on a rebound as Ierardo had another chance from close range denied but the ball skidded out to Amalia Todesco and the senior hit a low shot through traffic to make it 1-0.
Nyhan explained, “We went with our speedy lineup and we have to give credit to Emily Ierardo…she is relentless all by herself putting tons of pressure on. Everyone turned it up.”
McNamara was forced to stand on her head to keep the Hornets at bay and she denied Horn again in the 18th minute with a diving save then dove back across goal to make a second stop. Mansfield kept pressing and a third shot hit a foot of a defender on the line to give the Hornet a penalty stroke that Whitman coolly put away to double the lead.
The scoring opportunities kept coming for Mansfield, which forced 10 penalty corners in the opening half (to just three for Nauset) and saw goalie Molly Norton spend almost the entire 60 minutes as a spectator with little to do.
Nauset defender Madison Morris cleared a pair of chances off the line with seven minutes to go until halftime and McNamara closed the first half with a flurry, making stops on shots by Mariana Palanza and Heather D’Ambra.
“They kind of put a girl right on the goal line,” said Nyhan of the Nauset set-up. “They didn’t come out and pressure us either; it kind of worked for us.”
Any hope for Nauset was extinguished early in the second half when Mansfield tacked on a third goal just two minutes after the break. Kristina O’Connell played a ball into the crease that was tipped by Ierardo but saved by McNamara. The ball broke kindly for Palanza, who stepped up and tipped it into the empty net.
“Our talk was just to draw a couple corners early,” said Nyhan of the team talk at halftime. “Defensively they had a high percentage of their team in that circle, so it gets a little crowded. What we did today really was shooting the ball early. We were just firing it on goal.”
That plan continued in the 40th minute when Todesco ripped a shot from the right side and O’Connell turned it in at the near post with a clever deflection. In the 57th minute, Mansfield sealed the big win by adding a fifth, Mairead Dunn stepping up from her defensive position and firing a low shot through legs in front and into the bottom corner.
With the win, 13th-seed Mansfield (13-4-2) will travel to face No. 4 seed Sandwich on Friday afternoon in the first round.