Oliver Ames Earns Playoff Berth In Barata’s 100th Win

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames’ Nathaniel Cardoza (left) and Ned Donovan (right) go up for a ball with Attleboro’s Ahijah Joseph. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSportscom)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Each year, Oliver Ames head John Barata says goal number one for his squad is to make the tournament.

The Tigers can check that off the list for 2016.

Oliver Ames scored a pair of second half goals and senior Ben Kemp made a couple of big saves as the Tigers landed a 2-0 win over Attleboro. The win gives Oliver Ames 17 points on the season, qualifying them for the D2 MIAA South Tournament. The win was also Barata’s 100th career win.

“We’re happy, we finally got in,” Barata said. “It took a little longer than I think I might have expected after I saw us play early in the season. But we struggled to score goals. On a positive note, it’s good to start getting these goals as we’re going into the tournament, it’s better than peaking too soon. We’re pretty happy with the way it worked out and very happy to be in the tournament now.”

In a relatively even first half, both OA and the visiting Bombardiers had decent scoring chances. A corner kick in the 11th minute fell to the feet of OA senior Joe LaBrosse but his low chance was blocked by a defender at the post.

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In the 18th minute, Attleboro senior Tyler Treichler denied OA of two solid scoring chances. First, it looked as though OA sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza would have an open look from the left side of the area but a slide tackle from Treichler denied the bid. Less than a minute later, LaBrosse had a chance from inside the area but once again Treichler got his leg in the way.

In the 23rd minute, OA’s Matt Campbell played a ball over the top for Thomas McCormick, who tried to chip the keeper but Attleboro’s Nick Hasenfus got a paw to it and pushed it wide.

Attleboro registered it’s first real chance in the 29th minute as Nick Lawrence was given some space for a shot from just outside the area but Kemp got a piece of it and smothered the rebound. A minute later, McCormick had a go from just outside the area but OA but Hasenfus was quick to get down and handle it.

Oliver Ames was content to sit back for the majority of the half, and did so to start the second half. The team’s patience paid off less than 10 minutes into the second half, as Oliver Ames saw an opportune time to press.

Cardoza chested down a clearance and took a touch towards the final third. He was able to push the ball past a defender towards the touchline, forcing Hasenfus to come out. Cardoza slipped the ball back to the middle where McCormick was able to tap it in to make it 1-0.

“I think the challenge is they don’t expect it from OA, because we’ve always pressed high and kind of run and gun and get forward, possess a little bit and then get forward again. By us sitting back, opponents have to make adjustments,” Barata said. “We like it because control the tempo, we can go slow, we can go fast, we can go in between. The best part about is, teams just give it to us sometimes because they try to go over the top or through the middle and then our guys are good when we have the ball. It can be frustrating to try and beat. So far, we’ve been successful doing it.

“We talk about trigger points on when to press, when to get forward. It’s not me shouting out when to press, it’s the kids recognizing triggers. It wasn’t perfect but it’s added an element to our game.”

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Attleboro sophomore Will Halben had a chance to level the game a minute later, taking a shot from the left side of the area. Kemp got a piece of it and Chris Lawrence cleared the loose ball.

“We have everything but the final third,” Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira said. “We can’t get the ball up and find the guys there. I have some of young guys trying to do some running but the final third, nothing got going. First half was kind of an even game. Second half they came out a little bit hungry, they had a couple of chances and they took it to us. We’re not a team that can come back, we don’t have the fire power. We can win the close ones but once they got the second goal, it was difficult to come back.”

The Bombardiers had their best chance in the 57th minute. Zach White’s free kick spilled to the right side of the area where senior Harry Lancaster was able to track it down. He launched a service back in front of goal where freshman Michael Russo put a header right on frame but Kemp came flying back into position to stop it.

“Ben made a huge save for us there,” Barata said. “He came out several times to deny some chances too, he has been great all season. All of our seniors have been great. They have really worked hard and helped accomplish our first goal, which is to qualify for the tournament.”

Oliver Ames doubled the lead just four minutes later in the 61st minute. Lawrence launched a throw in in the attacking third that found Cardoza in the area. The junior flicked the ball on, right to the head of classmate Cam Vella for an easy header into the net.

“We’re happy to put that [set piece] away,” Barata said. “The kids were joking how it was such a great sub because Vella had just gone in, it was his first touch. It’s something we’ve tried to work on, so many teams in this league can do it, and we have some kids who can too. So might as well work on a flick and it worked out for us tonight.”

Attleboro drops to 5-5-5 overall, with 15 points. The Bombardiers need to get 18 points to qualify for the postseason and have three games left to get those three points.

“We need three points in three games,” Pereira said. “We should be able to get it but everyone wants points now. The kids are working are, I’m sure we’ll do it. We’ve played all the big boys now we need to get some points from the final games.”

Oliver Ames boys soccer (7-4-3) is headed back to the postseason after going to the D2 State Final the last two years – winning it all a year ago. The Tigers’ seventh win of the season was also Barata’s – and assistant coach Fred Kurtz’s – 100th career win.

“I’m thrilled because it’s about parent support, school support – the administrators have been very supportive – and then my boys,” Barata said. “The kids are awesome, it’s their wins, they’ve won 100. I’m here to guide them along the way. Coach Kurtz and I have been here for almost eight seasons. It’s a wonderful honor for the school, for the kids and for the Easton soccer program. It’s a wonderful milestone but now it’s over with but it’s been a lot of fun.”

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Oliver Ames Captures First Ever State Championship

Oliver Ames captains Max Bamford, Chris Romero, Keegan Nutt and head coach John Barata with the D2 State Championship. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
Oliver Ames captains Max Bamford, Chris Romero, Keegan Nutt and head coach John Barata with the D2 State Championship. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Click here to purchase photos from OA’s celebration.
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

LYNN, Mass. – When last year’s Div. 2 state title game ended, Oliver Ames players grabbed the runner-up trophy and raised it high in celebration of reaching the program’s first ever championship game.
When OA took the pitch on Saturday morning at Manning Field for this year’s state title game against Masconomet, the Tigers were not going to be happy settling for second place again.
The experience of last season paid dividends. OA bounced back from an early Masco goal to defeat the Chieftains 3-1 on three well-executed set pieces and clinched the program’s first state championship.
“Since we came here once, we knew how to play this game,” said OA coach John Barata. “It’s different; it’s a one-game season against a top team from the North.
“It’s a great feeling to win because it would’ve been horrible to come back-to-back years and lose again. The guys worked hard and they deserved it. We earned that win.”
Masco jumped into the lead in the 12th minute. A long throw from Alex Spaulding reached Josh Polakiewicz on the corner of the six-yard box and he flicked a header up over OA keeper Jack Carroll.
OA had lost the momentum after a decent start, but the Tigers utilized the experience of two straight runs to the South title and stayed in the game.
Senior Chris Romero equalized in the 19th minute when the Tigers were awarded a free kick just outside the box. It may have been a harsh call, but Romero did not mind as he curled his 20-yard shot past the despairing dive of Steven Heitzelman.
“They had all the momentum,” said Romero, “and we really needed the quick goal to get the momentum back, so I think it helped us pushing forward.”
Just five minutes later OA took the lead. Romero played an in-swinging corner kick that Heitzelman failed to hold. The ball dropped to the foot of sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza, who was in the right place at the right time to tap it in.
Cardoza also had the winning goal in overtime to win the South title for the Tigers. Barata said of the midfielder, “He is a very good player, diligent player. He’s a DI school’s dream and he’s only a sophomore. I’m very lucky to have him.”
Masco coach Jared Scarpaci noted, “The first [set piece], you don’t get a better free kick than that and you just tip your hat. The second one, I think we could have done a little bit better on that and that’s really when the momentum shifted.”
The Chieftains, who won the title in 2013 and have reached the state title game in three of the past four seasons (the last two in Div. 2), had their chances to equalize before the break. Shane Collins could not take advantage off of a poor clearance by Carroll to score into an empty net and then he set up Bryan Gilbert, who scuffed a shot while all alone in the box.
“They missed a couple of sitters that could have changed the game,” said Barata. “That’s the way soccer goes; I’ll take it.”
Carroll also came through with a big save to deny Blaise Romanowski in the final five minutes of the half, tipping over the Masco striker’s close-range effort off a free kick.
Seven minutes after the break, Romero showed his defensive prowess by heading out a Andrew Musiak corner underneath his own crossbar.
Barata explained, “You can see why he’s an all-state player. He starts on the left wing, scores a beautiful goal, he plays forward, and then we move him to the back and he was excellent at the back.”
In the 57th minute, OA sealed the title with another set piece that was straight off the training ground. Instead of playing an angled free kick into the box, Romero played the ball straight into the path of Matt Alvarado and the sophomore sent an inch-perfect cross into the box to a wide open Thomas McCormick, who nodded home the Tigers’ third.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Romero. “Alvarado down the line and crosses it for Thomas to head it in…perfect play.”
Barata credited the week of between games for allowing his team to work on set pieces and, as he explained, it “paid off” of Saturday.
“It worked like a charm today,” he said about the routine for the third goal. “We’ve done that a number of times and it’s gone over the bar, off the bar, off a defender, but today it was destined.”
Romero and the rest of his teammates charged towards the traveling OA fans at the final whistle, celebrating the first state title with friends and family. The Tigers reached their first sectional title in 2013, won the South for the first time last year, and now have won the state championship.
It has been a long and successful career for the OA captain and, when asked how it felt to get to this level, Romero responded succinctly, “It’s pretty awesome. It’s awesome to be a state champ.”
Click here to purchase photos from OA’s celebration. 
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.