With the same goal in mind for this year, the Bulldogs exacted revenge in the opening round of the 2019 tournament with a convincing 34-14 win over the defending state champion Sailors.
After a defensive battle in the opening half, Canton scored four touchdowns in the final 24 minutes of the game and put on another defensive showcase. The Bulldogs blanked the Sailors for three quarters before Scituate scored on a long pass play with under six minutes to play. Scituate’s second touchdown came in the final minute against the second unit.
“It’s awesome [to get revenge],” said Canton senior Kyle Fitzgerald, who rushed for 167 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns. “Last year they beat us 21-0 and go on to win the state championship and handle every other team. This year we knew we had to take care of business. And they aren’t [a typical] eight seed.”
While Canton talked about last year’s matchup, the focus was on fixing what went wrong in that game.
“We didn’t play particularly disciplined [last year], or fundamentally sound,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “We learned some lessons in that game, so it had to be talked about because we didn’t play great. But as far as revenge, motivation…I don’t know if that played into it too much. The kids know [Scituate] pretty well, they have respect for them. They were the state champions last year, they did it with class. I think there’s mutual respect and both teams played hard. Fortunately this year we came out on top.”
Canton’s defense yielded just 20 yards combined between Scituate’s first three drives, all resulting in punts. But the Dogs didn’t have much success on the offensive side either, turning it over on downs on the opening drive and then back-to-back punts.
Scituate’s first drive of the second quarter resulted in yards but not much else as the Bulldogs’ defense forced back-to-back incompletion to force a turnover on downs. The Canton offense was able to connect on its first play on the ensuing drive.
On the second play, senior quarterback Johnny Hagan (4/10, 102 yards passing; 12 carries, 32 yards, two touchdowns rushing) led Gersom Rivera perfectly with a throw down field, going for 57 yards all the way down to the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Hagan plunged up the middle for a touchdown. Owen Lehane’s first of four successful extra point attempts made it 7-0 with 5:13 left in the second quarter.
Scituate’s fifth and longest drive of the opening half went for 39 yards on 10 plays but came to an end after failing to convert on third down and fourth down. The Sailors were 1-for-10 on third down in the game and 0-for-4 on fourth down.
A big return from Fitzgerald on the second half kickoff put the Dogs in good position, and four plays later they marched to the red zone. But on the first play from within the red area, Hagan’s pass ended up in the hands of Scituate’s Nate Gould at the 2-yard line.
Canton’s defense came up with a big answer though. After the Sailors moved out near midfield, a bad snap on third down resulted in a fumble and Jahmi Aldin raced to recover the loose ball and get Canton the ball back.
The Bulldogs weren’t able to capitalize and had to punt the ball back, but the Canton defensive line featuring Jack Connolly, Matt Connolly, Nnamdi Onyemelukwe and Aldin, along with linebackers Robbie Gallery, Lucas Ragusa, and James Murphy, continued to apply a lot of pressure.
That pressure paid off as Fitzgerald went up and hauled in an interception on the third play of the ensuing drive.
The turnover proved costly for the Sailors as Fitzgerald took the first play up the middle for a 40-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 5:27 left in the third quarter.
“He’s our leader, he’s the guy we lean on as much as anybody,” Bohane said of Fitzgerald. “He was dialed in all week, as were all the kids, but Kyle he really appreciates the big stage. He’s an excellent student, a great kid, very well respected by the kids in the school. He gets it, he gets the magnitude of these games.”
Scituate’s next drive didn’t get off the ground before the Bulldogs’ defense had another takeaway. This time it was Gallery in coverage, keeping pace with his man down the sideline before leaping up and hauling in an impressive interception.
Canton marched 48 plays on nine plays (most plays in a series for the game) to extend the lead. Hagan connected with junior Jack Albert for 16 yards and Fitzgerald had an 8-yard run to make fourth down manageable.
The Bulldogs face fourth and four to open the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get the Sailors to jump offside with a hard count. But after sending a player in motion and going with another hard count, a Scituate defender did cross the neutral zone for a 5-yard penalty and a first down.
Three plays later, Hagan battled his way through a pile for a 2-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead with 10:26 left to play.
“The offense needed a jumpstart a little bit, we just couldn’t get a rhythm going,” Bohane said of the turnovers helping the offense get going. “I give [Scituate] a lot of credit, Coach Devine does a super job with his players. They were very prepared both last year and this year. We had to digest a lot and we have kids who can make big plays. A lot of guys contributed.”
Scituate’s offense continued to struggle gaining traction with four straight incomplete passes to give Canton the ball back. Five plays later, Fitzgerald was in for his second score on a 7-yard rush, bowling over a defender at the goal line for a 28-0 lead.
Up until this point, the Dogs limited the visitors to 146 yards of total offense. Sheskey, one of the top backs in the area, was held to 12 yards on seven carries.
“We were concerned, debating on how many guys we wanted to bring,” Bohane said. “And we were really concerned about [Will] Sheskey so we had to figure out how to get a pass rush. Coach [Jeff] Eckler, our defensive coordinator, dialed up some creative things. But we’re very fortunate to have Matt Connolly, Jack Connolly, Nnamdi [Onyemelukwe], and Jahmi Adlin, the defensive line did a great job. They created a lot of pressure on their own.
“We have 11 really good defensive players out there, to be honest, we don’t really have a weakness. Our secondary is very good, our linebacker play is outstanding, and our line has a lot of size. I think Coach Eckler does a really good job of preparing them every week. And the offense has helped too.”
The Sailors finally connected on a long pass play on their next series to get on the board. Matt Scibilio (14/36, 232 yards) connected with Nate Gould for a 65-yard touchdown with 5:41 to play.
Canton recovered the onside kick and answered Scituate’s first score with an immediate touchdown of its own. Fitzgerald found space up the middle and sprinted the entire way for a 56-yard touchdown.
Scibilio connected with Gould for a 48-yard touchdown against Canton’s second defensive group with under a minute to go for the Sailors’ second score.
“This one felt a lot better than walking off that field in Scituate last year,” Fitzgerald said. “Obviously it was a much better outcome. Now it’s on to Foxboro, a rematch, it’s one of the only teams that gave us a really hard game. We have to correct a lot of mistakes [from that game], it starts by coming in at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning. So it’s a short memory on this win.”
Top-seeded Canton football (8-0) will now host Hockomock League Davenport division rival and fourth-seeded Foxboro, who knocked off Norton in their opener. The two teams clashed in league play in the second week of league action with the Bulldogs prevailed 26-20. It’s the most points Canton’s defense has surrendered to an opponent this year.
The game is set to kick off from Canton High on Friday night at 7:00.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – For stretches of Tuesday evening’s D2 South first-round contest, the fourth-seeded Oliver Ames boys lacrosse team dominated and looked like a team poised to make another run through the sectional.
But unfortunately for the hosts, there more even more moments when the Tigers switched off and a talented Scituate team — far better than their 8-10 record and deceiving 13 seed — took advantage and ended up with a 16-11 upset to put an end to Oliver Ames’ historic season.
There were times, like the majority of the second quarter, which OA controlled the game. The Tigers scored five times in the second frame and erased an early deficit to snatch the momentum. And again in the fourth quarter when Oliver Ames scored twice in less than 30 seconds to spark a comeback attempt.
But there were also stretches in which the Tigers looked like a different team. Like the first quarter, in which Oliver Ames was held scoreless for 12 minutes and had just two shots on target as the visitors raced out to a multi-goal lead. And again to start the second half when Scituate scored three straight goals over the span of five minutes and kept Oliver Ames’ offensive possessions to a minimum.
“I think we had a lot of mental mistakes,” said Oliver Ames head coach Ben Devlin. “Going into the tournament, [Scituate] was one of the teams I didn’t want to see in the first round, I don’t know how they are a 13 seed. I knew we’d have a tough game. When we play well, we can beat anyone but we have moments with mental mistakes and we don’t play well enough. We make up for some of it with effort because they don’t quit, they keep battling. But it was just too many moments where we’d get momentum and give it right back.”
The Sailors certainly didn’t look like underdogs coming out of the gate. After Frankie Ireland caused a turnover on the visitors’ first offensive possession, Scituate was successful on its next three chances. Scituate scored with 9:54 to go to open the scoring, doubled the lead two minutes later, and added a third just over a minute after that to jump out to a 3-0 lead. The lead could have been more if not for a big save from junior goalie Nick Gillis (eight saves).
On the other end, the Tigers struggled to get things going and went into the first break down by three. That quickly changed in the second as Oliver Ames looked like a new team to begin the next quarter.
Scituate extended the lead to 4-0 early on but from there on out, it was all Tigers. Junior Shane Kilkelly, the program’s all-time leading scorer, added to his total with a heroic like effort, leaping across the face of goal to deposit a shot from in close to get OA on the board. The goal also drew a penalty and OA capitalized as Kilkelly scored again 18 seconds later to make it 4-2.
Senior defenseman Shane Murphy came up with a big interception to give the Tigers the ball back and that led to a goal from Sandro Masciarelli after a nice feed from Sam Stevens from behind the net. Kilkelly raced past a trio of defenders two minutes later and blasted a shot in to make it 4-4, his 100th career goal.
OA took its first and only lead of the game when Kilkelly was left open on the far side and rifled in a shot with 2:20 to go. Scituate responded less than a minute later to tie the game, 5-5, heading into half.
After dominating the second quarter, the Tigers had a slow start to the third. Scituate scored in transition with 10:24 left, added another a minute after winning the faceoff, and made it 8-5 on a nice leaping finish from Pat DeMatteo.
Ireland stopped the Sailors’ run, scoring himself right after winning the faceoff and the Tigers got possession back after the strike, but a turnover led to a goal in transition for Scituate, who scored two more to make it 11-6.
“We’ve had that problem a lot this year and we’ve tried a whole bunch of different things to try and address it,” Devlin said. “We’ve changed our pregame routine, we’ve changed our halftime routine…but there are times where they aren’t as focused to start games or to start a half. It’s definitely something to figure out because against a good team, it’s going to hurt you. You dig yourself a hole that’s tough to dig out of it.”
Kilkelly got the Tigers out of the funk, faking a spin to the right before coming back to his left and finishing. And a minute later, on a man-up chance, Kilkelly faked a shot that opened up some space and he blasted another shot into the back of the net to make it 11-8. But before the final buzzer, Ray O’Brien snuck a shot in to give Scituate a 12-8 advantage after 36 minutes.
Oliver Ames cut the deficit to three on two occasions, and got within two once in the final frame but couldn’t get it any closer than that. Masciarelli scored early after a nifty bounce pass from sophomore Remi Creighton and 27 seconds later, Stevens bounced his attempt in to make it 12-10.
Scituate’s Drew Rowe came back with a goal on the other end to push the lead to 13-10. The Tigers had three chances to cut into the lead but couldn’t get anything to go as the Sailors switched into a zone defense. First, Stevens had a rocket turned away from Scituate keeper Garrett McKinnon (10 saves). Colin Bourne whistled a shot just wide minutes later and McKinnon came up with a point-blank save on Hunter Costello in front.
“The zone is kind of meant to give up outside shots and that kid is a heck of a goalie,” Devlin said. “If you have a good goalie and force a lot of outside shots, you’re going to make a lot of saves. We didn’t use our zone, I thought we had a better matchup with man. We’ve seen the zone plenty of times, we’ve practiced against it but it usually takes us a couple of minutes and they put it in at the perfect time, late in the game to slow us down.”
The teams traded goals with Bourne scoring on a feed from Ireland with 3:59 to go to make it 14-11. But with Scituate on offense, the Tigers’ defense was forced to be aggressive and the visitors tacked on two more to pull away with the win.
“We lose a couple really good seniors, Shane Murphy and Matt Saba on defense, Cullen Gallagher and Colin Bourne in the midfield, have all been huge contributors for us over the past four years,” Devlin said. “And there’s a lot of leadership there too. We do have a great group coming back too, I think we’re in good shape.”
Oliver Ames boys lacrosse finishes the season at 14-5.
But the story of the night ended up being Scituate’s defense.
The Sailors pitched a shutout, limiting Canton’s offense to just over 100 yards and six first downs, to earn a 21-0 decision and the D5 South title, the first in program history.
“Our guys were prepared, motivated, and fired up to play defense tonight,” said Scituate head coach Herb Devine. “We did a great job all night long playing defense. We tried to take away what they wanted to go. We knew [Johnny Hagan] and [Kyle] Fitzgerald are just great players so we tried to limit what they do. Our defense played outstanding.”
Scituate came into the game averaging over 40 points in its two playoff games, putting up an impressive 57 points in a semifinal win over Holliston. While Scituate’s defense gave up a total of 61 points in its first two playoff games, its defense allowed a total of 69 points all of regular season (including 35 to Duxbury).
“They gave us a lot of trouble,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “We have so many playmakers…maybe we leaned on them too much and got away from the fundamentals. We just didn’t execute at a high level. I tip my hat to Scituate, they had a good plan, their kids played good, and they are a good team.”
The Sailors flexed their offensive muscles early on, taking the first drive of the game down the field for a score. It turned out to be Scituate’s second longest drive of the game as they moved 77 yards on eight plays to take an early lead.
Facing a third down early in the drive, Scituate quarterback Aidan Sullivan (10/15, 219 yards) completed a 10-yard pass for a first down. The Sailors didn’t face a third down the rest of the drive and Will Sheskey (24 carries, 135 yards) punched it in from 5 yards out for a 7-0 lead just over three minutes into the game.
The next three series – two from Canton – resulted in punts, but the Bulldogs nearly had a chance to change the game. After punting, Scituate tried to field the kick on the bounce but a nice play from the Bulldogs knocked the ball free. Canton had two shots at it – one player diving on top but the ball jumping free, and other a chance right before the sideline – but neither player could get a hold of the ball in the pouring rain and it went out of bounds, keeping possession with Scituate.
The Sailors made to take advantage of the lucky bounce and needed just three plays to find the end zone. On second on 5, Canton brought a lot of pressure but Scituate had the perfect play call on as Sullivan dumped a screen pass off to Sheskey and he went virtually untouched for a 63 yard touchdown, giving Scituate a 14-0 lead with 9:35 left in the second quarter.
“We knew they like to blitz in some situations and our quarterback absolutely made a great read.” Devine said. “It can be either a little hitch route or a screen and he made the right read and Sheskey went for the touchdown.”
Canton responded with its best drive of the opening half. A unsportsmanlike conduct penalty helped move the ball 15 yards, and Johnny Hagan (86 all purpose yards) hit Gersom Rivera for an 18-yard gain to the Scituate 34-yard line. The Dogs had a chance to complete a pass down field but the receiver was held, giving Canton first and 10 at the 22-yard line.
But a false start, a two-yard rush, and a run for no-gain put the Dogs in a 3rd and 13 situation at the 25-yard line. Hagan tried to make a play but was intercepted at the goal line.
Scituate nearly tacked on another score before half, driving all the way down to Canton’s 23-yard line but Ben Seaman came up with a big sack on third down and Canton forced an incompletion on fourth, keeping the deficit at 14-0 heading into half.
A holding call on the first play of the second half put Canton’s offense in a whole and it was forced to punt quickly thereafter.
Canton’s defense continued its strong play on Scituate’s ensuing drive. The Sailors got inside the red zone, all the way down to Canton’s 8-yard line. But Seaman came up with a big sack on third down and David Allen broke up a pass on fourth down to keep the Sailors out of the end zone and the lead at 14-0.
The Bulldogs offense moved the ball forward on seven straight plays, but faces a 4th and 3 at their own 40. With little time left in the third quarter and a two-score deficit, Canton went for it but Hagan’s pass was picked off just over midfield.
Scituate killed a lot of the remaining time with its next drive, needing nine plays to cover 47 yards. It was’t until a 1-yard sneak from Sullivan on fourth down that Scituate added its third touchdown of the game to go up 21-0 with 8:46 to go.
“The defense gave us a chance,” Bohane said. “Ultimately we didn’t do enough offensively. We just never got that rhythm that we need so badly. We didn’t find it today. The defense kept plugging away even though they gave up an early score which has been a little bit of an Achilles heel. We needed to make plays offensively and we didn’t but they didn’t make it easy for us.
“We just didn’t find any consistency, we never got comfortable in our offense. We didn’t find a play or two that we can hang our hat on but credit to Scituate, they didn’t give us an inch on offense.”
Canton football drops to 8-2 with one game left on Thanksgiving against rival Stoughton. While the future for the Bulldogs looks bright with the majority of its lineup made out of juniors, Bohane stressed how important this senior class has been to this season.
“Scituate played in this game last year, it shows.” Bohane said. “But I can’t get beyond the fact our seniors really poured their heart and souls into this season, into the playoffs, everything. Right now I really feel for this guys. It’s a learning experience for sure but it’s so difficult for the seniors.”
CANTON, Mass. – With 50 seconds left in regulation, Scituate’s goalie made his first save of the night and the Sailors, who led only once, had the opportunity to win the game. Canton LSM Brendan Albert’s stick check knocked the ball loose as the clock wound down and he managed to flick the ball backwards off the sideline to be scooped up by Matt Martin.
That defensive stand forced overtime in Monday night’s Div. 2 South showdown at World War II Veterans Memorial Field, but the Bulldogs would need another stop if they wanted to have a chance at the win. Canton held on defensively for more than two minutes before snatching possession.
Following a timeout, the Bulldogs put the ball in the stick of junior attacker Griffin Roach behind the cage with classmate Mike Shaw setting a screen to give Roach a step of space. That was all he would need. He drove towards the alley and spun back on his defender towards the goal and finished in traffic to lift Canton to an 11-10 victory.
— Josh Perry (@Josh_Perry10) May 15, 2018
“They’ve been shutting off Mike Shaw, so we thought lets play some two-man game with and what are they going to do?” said Canton coach Bill Bendell of the closing sequence. “There’s no one I want the ball with that’s better than Griffin Roach. It was like slo-mo, we’ve seen it so many times in practice. he bring it so high and then inside roll and buried it.”
About the defensive stand that set up the winning possession, Bendell raved, “If they don’t beat us in transition, then we’re going to be okay because 6-on-6 we’d been playing really well.”
It has been a difficult stretch of the season for the Bulldogs, who lost to division rival North Attleboro by two and Sharon by one. It was also the second straight overtime game for Canton, which lost to King Philip last time out in a game that was a mirror image of Monday night.
“We had that,” Bendell said of the KP loss. “We had possession for like three minutes in overtime and then they had it for 10 seconds and scored.”
He added, “We deserved this one. That’s why the celebration was probably a little excessive but it was all that monkey off our backs.”
Scoring was at a premium in the first half. Dan Cohen got the night started with a man-up goal off a Kevin Albert assist, ripping a shot from straightaway. Scituate scored 90 seconds later to tie it, but Canton regained the lead with six minutes left in the first. Charlie O’Connor raced straight off the bench and down the middle where he received a pass from David Allen and held it until finishing on the edge of the crease.
The Sailors tied it again three minutes into the second, but Roach scored his first of the night with a drive to the cage from the right side, spinning past his marker and flicking a shot over the goalie. Scituate hit the post and Canton missed a chance off a turnover when Kevin Albert’s pass sailed over Shaw’s stick.
Cohen opened the scoring in the second half to build a two-goal lead, but Scituate answered back with three straight goals to take its first and only lead of the night at 5-4. Sophomore Jack Connolly made a big save and outlet pass to Cohen for a transition goal that tied the game and stole back momentum. Connolly finished the game with 16 saves.
“He’s a monster,” said Bendell. “I thought he played out of his mind. That’s one of the reasons the zone can be so effective is he takes up a lot of the cage, he’s athletic, he makes clears very well and now we’re going the other way.”
Cohen added an assist on a man-up situation a minute later with a perfect skip pass to Shaw on the left wing and the attacker patiently picked the near post corner to make it 6-5. Nick MacKay forced a turnover at midfield with a minute left in the third and ran around in the offensive half trying to use up the rest of the clock, but then the long pole dodged past his tired marker and scored with three seconds left in the third.
Bendell said of Scituate, “They never went away. At one point we had a two-goal lead near the end and I thought okay this is going to be it. They kept coming.”
The teams traded goals to start the fourth quarter, with Cohen scoring his fourth of the night. Scituate then scored two in a row to even the score at 8-8. Allen struck the post with a rocket of a shot, but the carom went right to a teammate, Kevin Albert, who found the back of the net with a lefty shot on the run.
Again, Scituate tied the game and had the chance at the lead but Connolly made one of his four fourth quarter saves. Albert was again the player to step up and put the Bulldogs in front with a similar effort to his first goal.
“When things were stalling is when Kevin said, I need to make a play and he scored a couple of big goals,” said Bendell.
Things got nervy at the end, especially with the way things had been going in close games in recent weeks, but the Bulldogs were able to pull out a much-needed win. Bendell said, “In my head, I was thinking that I just hope our guys believe because we were close against North Attleboro, close against Sharon. We had those games in hand and let them slip away, so we needed this. This is karma.”
It was also a win over a potential playoff opponent. Bendell added, “We needed a resume win this year. Not to take anything away from the teams we’ve beaten but we didn’t have that marquee win. This is a good team that we beat. We can build on this.”
Canton (4-5, 6-6) will be back home on Wednesday against Taunton, now needing two wins in the final four games to seal a tournament berth.