A talented and undefeated Wakefield team used a balanced offensive attack to keep the Rocketeers off balance, and jumped out to an early lead that it never surrendered in a 31-24 win in the Division 3 state semifinals.
After each team had a touchdown and a field goal in the first 20 minutes of play, Wakefield cashed in with a touchdown just before halftime to take a 17-10 lead. The second half saw each side score a pair of touchdowns, but it was the Warriors who stayed in front the whole time.
“They’re dynamic offensively, it’s tough to match their speed,” said North Attleboro head coach Mike Strachan. “They did some really good things offensively against us and we got down quickly in the first half. I think we did pretty well in the second half but I thought they outplayed us in the first half.”
Each time that Wakefield extended its lead to two scores, North had a response. Down two scores, 31-17, with just 5:31 to play, the Rocketeers kept their hopes alive with a 10-play, 63-yard drive orchestrated by sophomore quarterback Chase Frisoli.
Frisoli hit Jovany Rivera for 10 yards and then Ryan Sullivan for 13 more to move the sticks. The drive stalled just outside the red zone after a third down sack, but Frisoli hit Rivera on the right sideline for 16 yards to convert a 4th-and-15 situation. On the next play, Frisoli fired one between two defenders to Nathan Shultz for a 14-yard touchdown. Austin Clemente’s point after made it 31-24 with 3:29 left, and the Rocketeers had all three of their timeouts.
North nearly came up with the onside kick as Clemente’s dribbler bounced up, and Rivera came flying in to push it downfield. Shultz made a diving play along with a pair of Warriors but the ball bounced further down and Wakefield eventually fell on it to keep possession.
The Rocketeers stopped Wakefield on the first two downs to get to 3rd and 2, but a hard count induced an offside call and gave the Warriors a first down.
North’s defense stood tall again, holding Wakefield to two yards on each first and second, and then stopped a screen pass two yards short of the first down. The Warriors milked the clock down and had to punt with 52 seconds to go.
But another unfavorable bounce cut North’s comeback attempt short as the punt sailed towards the sideline, and the ball bounced up and off of a Rocketeer and the Warriors recovered the loose ball to keep possession.
“We bounced back and we had the onside kick chance, just bad luck there,” Strachan said. “With 44 seconds, we’re still in the game. But we just have to look back and see what we can do defensively. I thought the offense did enough to win tonight, we just didn’t do enough defensively.”
The Warriors took the opening drive of the second half 60 yards on nine plays as running back Nathan Delgado (19 carries, 101 yards) burst up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown and Wakefield had its largest lead, 24-10, with 7:22 to go in the third.
North had a crucial response with one of its best drives of the game. The Rocketeers marched 73 yards on 13 plays to get back within a touchdown before the end of the third quarter. Frisoli got things going early with a 22-yard pass to Jack Munley, but it was mostly the ground game from there.
Frisoli kept it himself for a 5-yard rush to move the sticks on third down, Greg Berthiaume (11 carries, 67 yards) plunged forward for a fourth down conversion, and two plays later, followed some good blocking from Zach Gallagher, Lucas Mattson, Danny Locke, Nolan McLaughlin, and Kaiden Leary to muscle in for a 14-yard touchdown to make it 24-17 with just under a minute left in the third quarter.
Wakefield quarterback Javin Willis went 19-for-24 on the day for 214 yards and three touchdowns. All three went to 6’3 tight end Ian Dixon, who was able to win a pair of one-on-one battles on corner fade throws and also hauled in another touchdown against a double team.
“Two fade balls to 18 (Dixon), who’s a really good football player for them, and I thought their quarterback played really well, he’s fast and shifty,” Strachan said. They converted well on third down (6-for-8), it’s hard to combat that. I thought we settled down really in the second half but it was almost too late, you can’t give them [three scores] in the first half. They’re a good football team.”
North got on the board first, marching down the field on the opening drive with 13 straight run plays. The drive stalled inside the red zone and Clemente booted a 33-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
Wakefield put together back-to-back scoring drives: the first a 6-play, 59-yard touchdown drive and then an 11-play, 63-yard drive that ended in a 33-yard field goal.
North tied the game up with its third drive. needing just five plays to cover 71 yards. Shultz was the main reason that North covered so much ground so quickly, as he broke free to the right side, cut back left, and galloped away for a 40-yard touchdown to make it 10-10 with 3:17 left in the second quarter.
“This senior class has been awesome to be around, these captains,” Strachan said. “It’s surreal, we didn’t want it to end like this. This is a team I want to go see at practice every day, they are kids you want to be around. They work hard, they take to coaching, and are just awesome kids. We’ve got one left on Thanksgiving, which is very meaningful for us, and we’ll get ready for that.
North Attleboro (7-3) will host longtime rival Attleboro on Thanksgiving at Community Field to end the season.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – When Sharon scored in the regular season, the Eagles were unbeaten (6-0-4). So, when Miguel Vasconcelos found the back of the net midway through the first half of Saturday morning’s Div. 2 Round of 32 game at Beaupre Field, Sharon must have been thinking a Sweet Sixteen berth was in its grasp.
It wasn’t going to be easy to get over the line with the win. North Attleboro, which won the regular season meeting between the teams, tilted the field in the second half, keeping the pressure on Sharon’s back line and getting the ball into the box at every opportunity.
“I think we work hard to be composed all 80 minutes,” Sharon coach Scott Nathan explained. “I tell them all the time, especially when we’re up a goal, you know what the other team is going to do. They’re going to put more pressure on you, so you have to match their intensity, you have to stay composed, you have to use your skills and I thought we did that really well in the second half.”
First-year North coach Mike Lacasse said, “I think it’s something we’ve been working on all season long, and gotten better at it, creating those opportunities, but I think Sharon played very well. Their back line was really solid. I’m proud of everybody, they fought to the last second.”
Sharon started the game on the front foot, led by central midfielder Adam Eastman and freshman Vlad Shkolnikov. Eastman’s run from deep led to the first good chance of the game, as he was able to bring down a looped pass by Cam Birnbaum over the defender and draw a foul on the edge of the box. The North wall did its job though, deflecting Eastman’s free kick a foot over the bar.
North’s best chances would come from set pieces. An in-swinging corner kick from Patrick Etienvre picked out defender Sam Bush at the back post. Bush rose highest and got good contact on the header but it was inches wide of the top corner. Just seconds later, North was behind.
Eastman played a ball down the left channel for Vasconcelos to run onto. The senior forward got a step on his marker but didn’t get great contact on his first effort, which was blocked by North keeper Owen Goeller. Vasconcelos stayed with the loose ball and calmly slotted it into the now empty net to put the Eagles in front. It is Sharon’s 18th goal in 19 games this season.
“It’s huge,” Nathan said about getting the opening goal. “We know each other really well. We knew that we could get on them first and early that it would really help our cause and give us energy and I’m really happy we could do that.”
Another Etienvre corner gave Givany Carney a chance, but he was only able to make partial contact under pressure from his defender and Baur easily grabbed the loose ball.
Sharon was continuing to create chances at the other end, looking for a second goal that would make things more comfortable. Rishi Shetty’s cross from the left wing found Shkolnikov at the back post but North defender Brody Carter was well-positioned to clear it off the line. Shkolnikov sent Shetty away down the left side late in the first half, but Goeller was able to get down and block the shot at the near post.
In the second half, North picked up the intensity, searching for the tying goal. Kaden Burns was a consistent outlet for the Rocketeers, making runs down the left wing. He crossed into the middle of the box, but Zach Smahi was only able to get a toe on it with Carney just behind him ready to pounce.
Etienvre curled in a long free kick that was flicked on by Smahi to Burns but his header went agonizingly wide of the post. Burns then provided a deep cross to Smahi at the back stick but his downward header was blocked. Eliude Alcenat tried to follow up, but Baur was able to cut out the low cross before it could reach Bryce Newth in the middle.
Sharon had very little going forward in the second half but was able to fashion one chance to put the game away. Freshman Diego Martinez played a ball into the middle to Birnbaum, who took a touch and played the ball into the path of James Jennings on the left. Jennings charged into the box and, from a tight angle, forced Goeller to touch it around the post.
It was a rare foray into the attacking half for the Eagles. North came right back down the other end. Carson Dameron made a nice run to the end line, nutmegged the first defender, and crossed into Newth only for Goodman to clear. The ball fell to Etienvre but his shot was over. A few minutes later, Quinn Conley made a run on the left and cut it back to Smahi on the edge of the box but his shot was right at Baur, who covered.
“It’s difficult to stay composed,” Lacasse said about trying to find a late equalizer. “You have to adjust but still play within your style of play and try to create those scoring opportunities. Second half we were trying to get deep in their zone and work it back to the top of the 18 instead of crosses in towards their goalie because he’s tall and athletic.”
Dameron would find Burns with a late corner, but again the downward header was easily caught by Baur off the bounce. It would be the last chance for the hosts, as the Eagles were able to celebrate the win that keeps their season alive.
Nathan added, “I think this year, all but two of our games were one-goal games, so I think we’re used to and prepared for tight games, which I think helps us and I thought the boys did really well collectively as a unit today to finish it off. I’m proud of them.”
The Hockomock League held its annual cross-country championships on Saturday morning at the Wrentham Development Center. Below are the Hockomock Cross-Country Championship team and individual results.
1. Oliver Ames – 39
2. Sharon – 63
3. Taunton – 87
4. Franklin – 136
5. Mansfield – 156
6. King Philip – 163
7. Attleboro – 208
8. Milford – 209
9. Foxboro – 221
10. North Attleboro – 259
11. Canton – 263
12. Stoughton – 359
1. Ryan Sarney, Oliver Ames – 14:58.0
2. Brendan Thomas, Oliver Ames – 15:10.2
3. Aidan Dupill, Oliver Ames – 15:30.0
4. Nate Sylven, King Philip – 16:13.4
5. Brayden Cali, Taunton – 16:30.9
6. Karthik Pisupati, Sharon – 16:33.6
7. Talon Johnson, Mansfield – 16:48.7
8. Andrew Cali, Taunton – 16:55.2
9. Nicholas Yacoub, Sharon – 16:56.3
10. Alexander Blumen, Sharon – 16:57.2
11. Andrew Fletcher, Milford – 17:01.7
12. Tyler Apicella, Franklin – 17:04.2
13. Mark Butters, Milford – 17:08.1
14. Daniel Labunski, Sharon – 17:15.5
15. Landon Sarney, Oliver Ames – 17:18.9
16. Brady King, North Attleboro – 17:19.3
17. Samuel Denis, Taunton – 17:20.8
18. Alex Callahan, Oliver Ames – 17:22.4
19. Chris Proulx, Foxboro – 17:23.4
20. John Sylvain, Mansfield – 17:27.1
21. Steve Haney, Foxboro – 17:32.2
22. Joshua Diehl, Franklin – 17:32.5
23. Max Miller, King Philip – 17:32.9
24. Matthew Lally, Sharon – 17:36.5
25. Luke Darling, Canton – 17:36.9
1. Oliver Ames – 26
2. Franklin – 60
3. Foxboro – 144
4. Sharon – 146
5. King Philip – 146
6. North Attleboro – 180
7. Taunton – 183
8. Milford – 201
9. Canton – 237
10. Mansfield – 240
11. Stoughton – 269
12. Attleboro – 289
1. Katie Sobieraj, Oliver Ames – 17:54.5
2. Sydney Kalil, Milford 18:59.4
3. Alexandra Batla, Franklin19:14.9
4. Braelyn Graham, Oliver Ames 19:27.5
5. Fiona Morrison, Franklin 19:36.2
6. Hannah Dupill, Oliver Ames – 19:46.6
7. Ashley Powers, Oliver Ames – 19:52.1
8. Annie Reilly, Oliver Ames – 19:59.2
9. Emersyn Deponte, Taunton – 19:59.8
10. Taegan Hodges, Oliver Ames – 20:11.3
11. Colby Dunham, Taunton – 20:17.2
12. Katie Galgoczy, North Attleboro – 20:23.5
13. Hailey Goldman, Oliver Ames – 20:33.5
14. Madeleine Stewart, Oliver Ames – 20:43.8
15. Carli Walbert, Franklin – 20:45.3
16. Sara Lessard, Sharon – 20:51.2
17. Kate Buban, King Philip – 20:52.2
18. Lauren Hunt, North Attleboro – 20:57.0
19. Ashley Tighe, Franklin – 21:03.3
20. Brooke Davies, Foxboro – 21:13.3
21. Emma Pruitt, Franklin – 21:20.7
22. Emily Matteson, Franklin2 – 1:21.3
23. Abigail Baker, Franklin – 21:28.0
24. Katie Sweeney, Franklin – 21:33.8
25. Casey Dahl, Foxboro – 21:37.3
Hockomock Cross Country Championship
It is rare enough for two players from the same high school team to get the chance to play collegiate soccer. Even rarer is the opportunity for family members to move onto the next level together. Rarer still, twin sisters playing together from three years old in North Attleboro parks and recreation leagues, through the same club soccer and high school teams, all the way to the NCAA Div. III tournament.
North Attleboro’s Ashlyn Gaulin and Emma Gaulin have shared almost all of their experiences on the pitch together (Ashlyn chuckles remembering that one year in middle school where Emma made their club’s ‘A’ team and she didn’t). From the age of three to this weekend, and possibly into grad school, the two are by their own admission inseparable on and off the field.
Last Sunday, when Mt. St. Mary’s (N.Y.) visited Hamilton’s Love Field, Ashlyn assisted on the first Continentals goal with a throw-in and Emma sent in a ball to the top of the six for the team’s sixth goal. It was one of their last chances to play together at Hamilton and both got on the scoresheet with their second assists of the season.
“Even just from high school, if Emma scored or got an assist, I was the loudest one cheering,” Ashlyn explained the day after the Mt. St. Mary’s game. “For both of us to get one yesterday was awesome. It’s just fun playing with her. Seeing her be aggressive pushes me to be aggressive. It’s a lot of fun, especially when we win and get points together.”
It may seem difficult to be around a sibling all the time, but for the Gaulins it has become second nature to have the other there and neither would have it any other way.
“We always tried to be on the same team,” Ashlyn said. “Especially, once we narrowed it down to schools over four hours away, we were like okay we want to go to school together. We’re best friends. We don’t want to be separate.”
“There was one day I can remember where I didn’t want to go to the same school,” Emma said with a laugh. “There was one day in high school where someone couldn’t tell us apart and it was someone we’d been going to school with since elementary school. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy can’t tell us apart, I won’t have my own identity,’ but then, after that 24 hours, I got over it.”
She continued, “Ashlyn is my best friend and nothing really can take me from her. We’re attached at the hip so I always knew wherever she went I would go and wherever I was going to go she would probably follow.”
The transition from high school to college can be difficult for any incoming freshman, but having a twin sister to lean on during the difficult moments, like summer conditioning, helped Ashlyn and Emma assimilate to their new environment, four hours from home, much quicker.
“Having my sister there, a familiar face in a group of 30, gave me security that I was never alone,” Emma reflected. “It was always great knowing that someone was going through it the same way and had the same background as me. She was always just there, if I needed someone to rant to. She was just an outlet that I had.”
Ashlyn, who was the 2018 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, was recruited as a forward out of North Attleboro, while Emma was a midfielder. In college, Emma almost immediately moved to outside back and this year has spent time in a defensive midfield role. Ashlyn started as a forward at Hamilton, spent all of last season at outside back, and this year has split between the two positions.
The connection that they’ve developed on the pitch has never been more important than while adapting to new roles at the collegiate level.
“I would pass the ball up to Ashlyn and make an overlapping run and she would take a step and leave the ball behind her and I would run onto it,” Emma said. “It was cool, that twin connection that we have. I know her playing style and we can be really blunt with each other – in a good critiquing, positive way.”
Off the pitch, their connection has also been tested. Like most colleges, Hamilton was forced to cancel its 2020 season because of the COVID pandemic. Without soccer to bring them together, the twins, who were living in separate dorms, had to find excuses to meet up outdoors to avoid breaking the school’s distancing protocols.
“My whole life has revolved around soccer since I was three and suddenly that was taken away from me,” Ashlyn said. “The way Hamilton set up the Covid protocols, we weren’t able to see people in different dorms. It made it challenging because it made me realize how much I depended on her. The amount of outdoor walks we did was insane, just so I could get to see her.”
Emma added, “Taking soccer away, we had to find different ways to fill the time and entertain us and I think having my twin there we could rely on each other to be there and do something fun. It’s what made me look back and realize that even though Covid was tough it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been if she wasn’t there.”
Because of the pandemic, college athletes have the opportunity to use an extra year of eligibility. Emma is looking to go to graduate school for secondary education and Ashlyn is considering a gap year before she applies for medical school, so there is a possibility that this might not be the last season where the Gaulins take the pitch together.
For now, with one final weekend to play, the twins, who are both captains this season, are focused on the present. The busy schedule of an in-season college athlete hasn’t afforded them a lot of time to reflect on the path that got them here or the uniqueness of them sharing this long road together.
“I’m super grateful for the opportunity to be playing with my best friend for my whole life,” Emma said. “Whenever we’re officially done, I’ll be equally sad and grateful that we’ve been able to have this experience. It’s pretty unique to say that you can live your whole life and play the sport that you love with not only a family member but your best friend.”
“I wouldn’t want it any other way because she is my best friend and partner for life and it’s like having a second part of you and if she wasn’t there it would’ve felt like something was missing,” said Ashlyn. “The fact that we’ve made it this far going from three years old as I was picking dandelions on the side of the field to helping Emma beat me on the ‘A’ team and thinking I really need to step it up to playing collegiate soccer together. It’s just been amazing memories that I’ll never forget and I’ll always be grateful for.”
Hamilton (6-4-4), which reached the NESCAC semifinal and the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2021, closes out its season with a non-league match at Cazenovia on Sunday afternoon.