Mansfield and North Head Home With Point Apiece

Mansfield boys hockey
Mansfield and North Attleboro skated to a 2-2 tie at the Foxboro Sports Center. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – It is a rivalry known for its big hits, close games, and typically a lot of trips to the penalty box. On Saturday night at the Foxboro Sports Center, Mansfield and North Attleboro met again in a physical encounter, as both teams were willing to throw their bodies into checks, but one that stayed almost exclusively 5-on-5.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

There was only one power play between the two teams, but it turned out to be a crucial one. After Nick Longa had given North the lead midway through the third period, Kevin Belanger scored on the power play goal with 4:51 to go, earning Mansfield a 2-2 tie and sending both teams home with a point apiece.

Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini said, “We try to win every third period, but once they got that goal there was no let up. The guys on the bench were rooting for each other, so to get that power play and to capitalize right away was huge.”

“It’s never over until it’s over,” said North Attleboro coach Ben McManama. “Unfortunately we got a penalty late and the strength of our team is usually our penalty kill but that’s a very powerful power play. They’ve got some guys who can put it away.”

North came out flying at the start of the game. The Rocketeers had the first six shots of the night and turned their pressure into the opening goal. Jack Connolly got the puck on net and Mansfield goalie Sean McCafferty managed to keep it out, but the rebound fell kindly for Dennis Morehouse and he pounced to make it 1-0.

The Rocketeers were getting in behind the Mansfield defense at the blue line and were having a lot of success in creating scoring chances with quick breakouts. Matt McSweeney tried to double the lead when he got free on the right wing, but his shot was fired just wide.

“We’ve been struggling with starting quick,” said Balzarini. “I changed things up against Canton (on Wednesday) and I thought we did a good job, but we kind of reverted to last Saturday. After the first five minutes, I think we were fine. We started to control the play a little more near the end and that carried over to the second period.”

Chris Jenkins had the first shot of the game for the Hornets after four minutes. He had a neutral zone steal and forced a pad save out of North goalie Nick Digiacomo. Just seconds later, North was inches away from a 2-0 lead. Jake Gruber rifled a shot off the crossbar from the right circle.

Mansfield almost tied the game three minutes later. Jenkins, from the same spot as his earlier chance, smashed the inside of the far post and the puck caromed to the far boards. Defenseman Jack Gormley forced Digiacomo into another save when he gloved the puck down and got a shot off from the high slot.

The Hornets improved as the period went on, eventually grabbing a 9-8 lead in shots, but North came closest to another goal in the final minutes when Morehouse tipped a shot from the point by Jeff Baker that trickled wide of the post with McCafferty (21 saves) sliding the wrong direction.

After picking up the pace in the first, Mansfield dominated the second period. The Hornets outshot North 13-7 in the second and Digiacomo stood tall to keep the Rocketeers in the game.

A good passing move from Sam Clarke to Connolly to Morehouse forced McCafferty into a save and then Jake Lund raced down the other end to put one on target. Thirty seconds later, Mansfield had a flurry of chances in front. Lund, Jenkins, and Belanger all had shots from close range that Digiacomo (28 saves) turned aside.

Cam Page nearly tied the game, but Digiacomo made another great point-blank save. The puck was loose on the edge of the crease and the North goalie dove to poke it away. Unfortunately for him, the puck went straight to Sam Clayman and the defenseman made no mistake with a wrister into the open net.

Jenkins forced a blocker save with a quick-release shot off a face-off and then Lund slipped a pass between two defensemen to Belanger, but his shot at the near post was smothered.

“He made some big time saves,” McManama said about Digiacomo. “Even on the goal they scored, he might have made three unbelievable saves right before they scored. The kid just works so hard at it. He waited for so long, it means a lot to him, he cares about it, and it’s great to see him having success.”

North almost got its lead back with three minutes left in the period. Clarke forced McCafferty into a save and the Mansfield defense recovered just in time to clear the rebound away from Connolly, who was crashing the net.

The third period was back-and-forth, as neither team wanted to make a mistake that could lead to a winning goal. With 8:56 to play, North thought it may just have won the game. Longa, a sophomore forward, gained the zone and skated across the slot going from right to left. He got his hands free and fired a shot back across his body and into the top corner.

Mansfield started pressing to find an equalizer. Gormley hit a backhand through traffic that forced a stick save and Lund had a shot from the right circle blocked by a sliding Will Yeomans. When the puck came back to Lund, he forced Digiacomo into another stop.

Balzarini spoke after a recent game about the Hornets needing to get the defense into the attack and Mansfield got a lot of offense from the blue line on Saturday. He said, “It’s huge for us because it’s more offense and we have the guys who are skilled and quick enough to allow our ‘D’ to jump into the play more and then get back. Knock on wood, it hasn’t cost us too many times, but we’re cognizant of that.”

With 5:09 to go, Mansfield jumped onto the power play for the first time. Eighteen seconds later, the game was tied. Belanger controlled the puck behind the net and he drifted out to the left wing, turned into the open space, and sniped the far top corner to snag a point for his team.

Although it wasn’t a win, McManama saw a lot of progress from his team’s first meeting with Mansfield (a 5-2 loss). He said, “They’re a very good team and we knew what they had, but I just think our attitude just changed. We had a little adversity here or there and we’re coming together as a team, which is the exciting part. We want the win, but I’m seeing this team transform into what we can be and it’s good to see.”

Mansfield (3-3-2, 1-1-1) will be back at home on Wednesday when the Hornets host Taunton. North Attleboro (6-2-3, 2-0-1) dropped a point behind Canton in the league standings and will be back at the Foxboro Sports Center on Wednesday to face King Philip.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 10/24/19

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Soccer
Attleboro, 4 @ Taunton, 3 – FinalClick here for a photo gallery from this game – Attleboro scored three first half goals, adding a fourth in the final 15 minutes that proved to be the game-winner. The Bombardiers opened the scoring just minutes in when junior Jackson Singer found space inside the 18-yard box for a one-timer. Taunton answered 10 minutes later as junior Hunter Cabral finished one a breakaway to bring the score level. Attleboro jumped back in front in the 16th minute when Liam Bischoff was fouled inside the area and senior Josh Smith calmly buried a penalty kick. Just before the break, Attleboro scored on a free kick. With the Tigers setting up their wall, Hugo Henriquez deposited his free kick into the open far post to make it 3-1. The Tigers, which played the entire second half down a man, got within one with a great combination goal. Kevin Monteiro won a challenge, Cabral played Alec Nunes wide, and Nunes delivered a hard, low cross to Travis Nunes, who made a strong run to the near post for a one-timer. Freshman Esvin Morales delivered what would be the game-winner in the 66th minute, firing a rocket from distance that snuck under the bar and in for a 4-2 lead. Travis Nunes grabbed his second of the game in the 72nd minute with a strong individual effort inside the area.

North Attleboro, 3 @ Canton, 1 – Final

Sharon, 0 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final

Franklin, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – FinalFranklin scored once in each half, including a late insurance goal, to pick up an impressive win on the road at Oliver Ames. “It was a very good game for us, we finally played for the full 80 minutes,” said Franklin head coach Fran Bositis. Sophomore Terry O’Neill finished off a free kick from Sam Stowell to put the visitors up in the 11th minute. Ben Moccia sealed the win with a goal in the 74th minute, assisted by Donny Tappin.

King Philip, 0 @ Mansfield, 2 – FinalMansfield scored inside the first 10 minutes of each half to earn its third straight win, keeping its postseason hopes alive. Freshman Aiden Steele put the Hornets ahead, finishing off a pass from Tony Salisbury after a throw from Cam Eddy. Salisbury, the Hornets’ starting keeper, got the nod up top alongside fellow keeper Sean Moody. Eddy’s throw led to the Hornets’ second goal, this time with Colin Caridi finishing off the throw in the 48th minute. Cam Bovey shined in net with the shutout while Sam Clayman had a stellar game at center back. “All of the seniors played awesome tonight,” said Mansfield goal Steve Sheridan.

Milford, 3 @ Stoughton, 0 – FinalAfter a scoreless first half, Milford found the back of the net three times to secure two points on the road. Dan Santos netted his fifth goal of the season, finishing a corner kick from Pedro Araujo to open the scoring. Araujo doubled the lead off a terrific set up from Jordan Borges. Leo Coelho made it 3-0 by scoring on a penalty kick, drawn by Gabe Alvarenga. Carlos Terrinha had a strong game in the midfield for the Hawks while Chris Tocci played well defensively.

Girls Soccer
Taunton, 0 @ Attleboro, 4 – FinalAttleboro scored three times in the second half to win on senior night and keep its playoff hopes alive. Ashley Macia stopped a breakaway early in the game to keep it scoreless and it took 34 minutes before Attleboro was able to make a breakthrough. Jessica Gates opened the scoring on an assist from Emily Khang. Six minutes after the break, Briley Harnois made it 2-0 and then Isabella Salviati (from Ashley Dame) got the third. Jolie Casali finished the scoring on an assist by Emily Dunlea. Attleboro coach Steve Santos said, “Proud of the effort from all of our seniors!”

Canton, 3 @ North Attleboro, 1 – FinalElisa Diletizia scored twice (her fourth and fifth goals in the last two games) and Olivia Rodman added one for the Bulldogs, who clinched a spot in the tournament with the win. The game was tied 1-1 at halftime before the Bulldogs scored twice in the second half to get the victory. Steph McKenna had the North goal, assisted by Ari Rice. Kyla Rodrigues, Lily Adams, and Siobahn Weir all played well as North chased the game in the second half and Melissa McDermott and Alex Moulson had late chances go just wide for the Rocketeers.

Foxboro, 5 @ Sharon, 1 – FinalFoxboro scored a pair of early second half goals and went on to finish with four goals after halftime to pick up two points on the road. Katelyn Mollica (assist), Kendra Wentling (assist), Grace Ferguson, Lizzy Davis (assist), and Caroline Rongione each scored for the Warriors in the win.

Oliver Ames, 0 @ Franklin, 2 – FinalSydney St. Marie broke a scoreless deadlock seven minutes into the second half and the goal held up as the game-winner for the Panthers. Carly Alston assisted on the opening goal and then sealed the game with a goal of her own 10 minutes later, assisted by Chloe Barca. Breanna Atwood made seven saves to earn the clean sheet, while OA goalie Emma O’Donnell made eight saves in the loss. Leah Johnson and Emma Pereira and Olivia Carroll had strong games for OA.

Mansfield, 0 @ King Philip, 4 – FinalKing Philip found the back of the net three times in the second half to pull away from the visiting Hornets. Avery Snead scored 10 minutes into the game on an assist from Chloe Layne but that would be the only goal of the first half as the Warriors took a 1-0 lead into halftime. Snead grabbed her second of the game in the 45th minute, taking a ball over the top from Grace Lawler before blasting a shot into the top corner. Chloe Layne (from Lawler) made it 3-0 with a goal in the 63rd minute, and Makenzie Shandley added another six minutes later, finishing off a pass from Paulina Baczkowski.

Stoughton, 1 @ Milford, 7 – FinalMilford’s Ashleigh Starks exploded for four goals to lead the Scarlet Hawks to a win, the hosts qualifying for the state tournament with the two points. Juliana France, Brianna Guerreiro, and Brianna Franzini each scored once in the win while Maddie Boyle had four assists.

Field Hockey
North Attleboro, 0 @ Bishop Feehan, 0 – Final

Stoughton, 0 @ Sharon, 1 – Final

Mansfield, 3 @ Duxbury, 0 – Final