MANSFIELD, Mass. – In the second half, the Mansfield boys soccer team applied plenty of pressure against Brockton, creating chances off corner kicks and throw ins.
But the Hornets couldn’t break through, and the pressure came just a bit too late as #11 Brockton used a pair of first half goals and added a third one on a counter attack midway through the second half to secure a 3-0 victory over #3 Mansfield.
The Boxers, a team much better than your typical #11 seed, had complete control over the first 40 minutes of the game. Brockton had a lion’s share of the possession and neutralized Mansfield’s attempts to get up field.
“They have a hell of a lot of talent over there,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan.
While the Boxers didn’t create a ton of goal scoring chances, they did capitalize on the opportunities they did have. After controlling the game of the opening 15 minutes, the visitors found the back of the net to go ahead.
After earning a free kick along the right flank, Brockton’s Luis Spinola served the ball to the near post to teammate Leonardo Teixeira. Teixeira had his first touch blocked down but tracked it down and fired in a shot at the near post on a tough angle to make it 1-0.
While Mansfield began to work its way into the game some, earning its first corner and first real attacking throw in, the Boxers struck again in the 33rd minute. Vanilton Xavier and Teixeira combined to get Xavier out wide. After using a cut back to avoid two defenders and centered it back to Teixeira, who headed in a ball he played up to himself.
“They played a little bit more aggressive,” Sheridan said, as compared to the regular season meeting between the clubs. “They were passive the first time, they didn’t play aggressive until the second half. In this game, they came out from the get go with a lot more gusto than the first time. We came out timid but we settled down. After the lightning break, we took it too them. We just couldn’t put the ball in the net.”
Mansfield’s lone chance of the opening half came off the foot of junior Colin Caridi, who blasted a low shot from 20 yards out but it slid wide at the far post.
“First, we had to keep the ball,” said Brockton head coach Herminio Furtado about defending Mansfield. “As long as you keep the ball, you’re safe. Second, don’t give them throw ins, they love that. We’d rather play from the back and if we lose it, just try to win it back instead of playing it out and giving them throw ins. It was about possessing and being conservative.”
The second half came to an abrupt halt just over minutes in because of a lightning delay. After the teams cleared the field, play resumed 36 minutes later. After the delay, the Hornets ramped up the pressure.
Mansfield had three straight conner kicks in the 38th minute, but only the final one had a chance on goal with Luke Savoie’s header saved on a bounce.
While Teixeira didn’t play a lot of minutes for Brockton in the second half, he did have a chance in the 51st minute but Mansfield junior keeper Cam Bovey made the stop.
While the Hornets pushed numbers forward, the chances on goal didn’t pile up. Instead, the Boxers were able to strike on a quick counter attack. Edson Lopes played Joel Arsenault wide but as soon as Lopes released the ball, he took off sprinting forward and was rewarded for his run as Arsenault slipped a ball in behind and Lopes touched it around the keeper for a 3-0 lead in the 60th minute.
“They only [broke us down] a couple of times.” Sheridan said. “The third goal, we were pushing numbers up and had less guys in the back…2-0, 3-0, 4-0…didn’t matter, we had to go for it.”
Mansfield’s best chance of the game came a minute later as Luke Devine flicked a ball in behind on a header and Savoie fired a hard low shot across the goal but it hit off the far post and rolled across the goal line, somehow staying out and keeping the Hornets scoreless.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Hornets had enough scoring chances to win three playoff games, but still Saturday night’s Div. 1 South first round game against Plymouth North at Alumni Field remained scoreless through the full 80 minutes of regulation and then through another 10 minutes of overtime.
At the start of the second extra period, Mansfield was facing a gusting wind and the looming pressure of a penalty shootout. Up stepped senior Luke Savoie, the team’s leading scorer this fall, to provide the game’s finishing touch. With one kick, Mansfield avoided the coin flip of penalties, avoided an upset by the 14th-seeded Eagles, and avoided the end of the Hornets’ season.
“He’s been dying for that moment right there,” Mansfield coach Steve Sheridan said of Savoie’s winner. “It’s the one moment he’s been waiting for all year and he got it. I hope it’s not his last moment.”
Savoie beat his man to a ball over the top, dragged the ball through a challenge and came out the other side free on goal, the first time either defense had allowed someone to get a clean chance from the run of play. Savoie showed considerable composure, considering the circumstances, to coolly round the keeper and then make no mistake into an empty net.
His golden goal, two minutes into the second overtime, lifted Mansfield to a 1-0 win and a spot in the South quarterfinal.
There was little indication from the first half that the night would be filled with drama. The Hornets dominated the opening 40 minutes, holding the Eagles to one shot attempt (not on target), while creating a host of scoring opportunities with their trademark set pieces.
Plymouth North had an early shout for a penalty when Brady Sorensen went down under the challenge of Derek Meuth, but the officials waved for play to continue. Just five minutes later, Mansfield was sparked into life by a rasping half-volley from defender Ethan Brill-Cass that was just tipped over by Eagles goalie Cole Gustin.
A Savoie corner kick was headed past the post by Owen Mullahy at the midway point of the half and four minutes later Meuth hit a deep cross that picked out Ethan Scholes but the sophomore’s header was comfortably saved.
In the 26th minute, a short corner freed Colin Caridi on the right side of the box and he forced Gustin into a save at the near post from a tight angle. On the ensuing corner, Luke Devine found the head of Mullahy but again the finish was narrowly wide.
The chances kept coming for the Hornets. Savoie played in a corner to Devine at the back post but the slightest deflection by a Plymouth North defender was enough to take it away from the Mansfield midfielder before he could nod it into an open net. Minutes later, Mullahy got free on the right and played a low cross into Savoie, who had made a run across his marker, but the finish was over the bar.
“We had chances all game,” Sheridan said. “I was getting frustrated that we couldn’t finish. They played the way I knew they were going to play and I knew we’d have opportunities but we just couldn’t cash in on them. It was just one of those nights.”
Savoie forced Gustin into a save just minutes after the restart and then had a second chance in the box blocked. While Mansfield continued to press for the opening goal, especially using long throws from Dylan Buchanan, it was the Eagles that had the wind at their backs in the second half and they started to make it a much more even contest.
Despite the set piece prowess of the hosts, the visitors nearly used a dead ball play to take the lead. Defender Jack Post headed a corner over the bar and then minutes later hit a bullet free kick from 20 yards that was right at Mansfield keeper Anthony Salisbury.
The best chance of the second half for the Hornets came in the 52nd minute when Devine got on the end of a knocked down header just inside the box. His shot was smartly saved at full stretch by Gustin (seven saves) to keep the game scoreless.
“I told [Sam] Nugent that he was going to be playing baseball, centerfield, back there because I knew how they were going to attack us,” Sheridan said about the pressure Plymouth North was able to put on in the second half. “He saved our butt a few times back there. Our defense played strong. I can’t say enough about them.”
In overtime, the Hornets got the wind at their backs agains and immediately went back to creating scoring chances. Mullahy headed the ball down to Savoie, but his finish went high over the bar and in the 88th minute Caridi and Buchanan got into each other’s way with the ball loose on the edge of the six-yard-box.
The frustration was mounting for the hosts as the second overtime began, but Savoie soon allowed everyone at Alumni Field to breathe a sigh of relief.
Sheridan admitted that at this time of the year a win is a win. “That’s all it is,” he said, “just survive and advance in this thing.”
Mansfield (13-2-5) will host the winner of Brockton and New Bedford in the South quarterfinal on Monday.
2017 Record: 4-9-5 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Peter Pereira
Attleboro is aiming to use a strong nucleus of returning players to get back into the state tournament after a couple of years of being on the outside looking in.
“We are excited about the team and looking forward to doing well in the Hockomock, which is not an easy task since there is a lot of talent and good teams in the league,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira.
The Bombardiers bring back a seasoned group of defenders that will hopefully give them stability in the back. Colin Levis brings the most varsity experience to the group and will be joined by Connor Dunn, Josh Smith, and Nathan LaPlume. Senior transfer Aaron Flynn and classmates Jared Cooper and Alex Naughton give the Bombardiers a solid group of veterans in the back. Seniors Andre Menard and Tyler Biller are candidates for the starting goalie position.
Pereira has a lot of options to work with in the midfield, including senior Aidan Lancaster. Lancaster has experience playing defense as well so can provide an extra layer of defense when needed. Another familiar face back in midfield will be Michael Russo, who showed flashes of great skill during his sophomore season. Russo and Lancaster will be joined by Brady Holander, Hugo Henriquez, Kevin Raczkowski and Patrick Raczkowski.
There will be another familiar face up front as Will Halben returns as the feature striker. Halben has been Attleboro’s leading scorer the past two seasons and will be a major factor up front again this year. Eli Araujo, Joey Soucy, Justin Lurssen, and Guilherme Machado are expected to provide help up top as well.
2017 Record: 5-9-4 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Fran Bositis
After going through some growing pains throughout the 2017 season, the Panthers are looking to make it back to the state tournament.
It all starts with the Panthers’ three senior captains, who will be relied upon to help Franklin compete in a very talented Kelley-Rex division.
Nitin Chaudhury, Nick Barry, and Sam Stowell are all veteran players and will be joined by 10 other returners from last year’s team that got better as the season went on. The Panthers must replace talented goalie Freddie Beckmann but head coach Fran Bositis is expecting good things from junior Jack Rudolph because of his excellent athletic ability.
Chaudhury will once again be the engine of the team from the midfield position while Stowell is back for his third year in the heart of the Panthers’ defense. Jacob Cummings will be another weapon for Franklin in the midfield while senior Tim Duval and junior Donny Tappin return up top.
“As always we are looking forward to competing in the very competitive Hockomock League,” Bositis said.
2017 Record: 11-8-2 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Nick Gale
The Warriors have had back-to-back successful seasons and are looking to make it three straight, despite losing six experienced starters to graduation.
While King Philip certainly has some shoes to fill, head coach Nick Gale has a lot of options to work with and is aiming to make another appearance in the state tournament.
Senior captains Zac White, Tony Bozza, and John Cullen have all seen plenty of varsity minutes over the past couple of seasons and are ready to lead the 2018 Warriors. White and Cullen will be major factors in the midfield while Bozza gives the Warriors some pace up top. White and Cullen will be joined in the midfield by a trio of sophomores – Evan McEvoy, Camron Lawrence, and Ajae Olsen – all of whom saw some minutes as freshmen a year ago.
KP’s defense has been among the best in the league over the past two seasons but will need some new faces to step up to continue that trend this year. The Warriors do have some experience with senior Andrew Thompson and juniors Brian McCarthy and Wesley Orzell all expected to step up in the back for KP.
“We’re a much smaller team this year, but we haven’t lost our willingness to fight while defending,” Gale said. “Our focus will be on improving team defending and our ability to press intelligently. We have defenders returning with varsity experience and they’re committed to working together to ensure we’re organized and defending as a team.”
2017 Record: 10-3-6 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Steve Sheridan
Although Mansfield graduated over a dozen seniors, and the majority of its starting lineup, the Hornets have a strong presence in the middle of the pitch and are looking to build off that to compete for the Kelley-Rex title.
The Hornets bring back EMass All Star Sam Nugent at center back and he’ll be joined by Ethan Brill-Cass, who had a bright sophomore season but missed all of last year due to injury. Mansfield’s defense will feature all seniors as Derek Meuth and Matt O’Donnell fill out the back four for the Hornets. Tony Salisbury and Cam Bovey are competing for the starting spot in goal.
Mansfield also has seniors Luke Savoie and Luke Devine back in the center of the pitch to patrol the midfield. Both Savoie and Devine were key pieces for last year’s Hornets team, which came within one point from earning a share of the league title with OA. One spot that Mansfield is looking for new faces is up top, but options include Colin Caridi, Owen Mullahy, and Raffi Marzella.
“Having to fill the loss of 14 seniors from last season is going to be challenging,” said MHS head coach Steve Sheridan. “We have a variety of guys on offense that I’ll be expecting big things from, time will tell who will step up.”
2017 Record: 15-3-4 (Kelley-Rex Champions) 2017 Finish: Reached D2 State Final Coach: John Barata
It’s not often a team graduates its entire starting lineup and then some, but that’s the situation defending Kelley-Rex champions Oliver Ames finds itself in.
The Tigers lost a whopping 20 seniors to graduation and return just four players from last year’s roster so it there will be a completely new look for OA in 2018. But that doesn’t mean the standards will be any lower for the Tigers, who have made three state final appearances in the last four years.
“We have a completely new team and we are looking forward to working hard,” said OA head coach John Barata. “Our primary objective is to get better every day and try to compete in a very difficult and talented Hockomock League.”
OA’s defense was among the best in the entire state last season, allowing just 15 goals in 22 games played. Barata will be looking for Aaron MacDonald, Andrew Leite, Harry Ahearn, Matthew Nosalek, and Jon Freeman to step up and fill in the spots along the back line. Senior Jacob Lerman and sophomore Drew Nickla are battling for the starting spot in goal.
On the offensive side of the ball, Barata is looking for contributions from Colin Milliken, Anthony DaCosta, Matt Nikiciuk, Sean Flaherty, Niko Byron, Kevin Louhis and Haendal Louhis to carry to load.
2017 Record: 3-14-2 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
A solid nucleus returning from last season and more cohesiveness are two of the top reasons for optimism for the Taunton High boys soccer team.
The Tigers have players back all over the field and are hoping that the combination of experience and some fresh faces leads to a competitive season in a very competitive division. Junior Nolan Melo made a splash last season when he took over as starting keeper and looks to be one of the top players at that position in the league.
Senior Evan Melo will be tasked with anchoring the defense from his center back position while Taunton will look for some new faces to step alongside him. Colby Fernandes returns to his defensive midfield spot and Liam Crowley is back as the attacking midfielder in the middle to give the Tigers a nice steady presence up the center of the pitch.
Leading scorer Brett Beaulieu (nine goals, four assists) is back as the featured striker while Alec Nunes can either pair with Beaulieu up top or drop into the midfield when needed. Kyle Aubin is another returning midfield option for the Tigers.
“We have seven returning starters this season and a team with solid technical ability as well as great team chemistry and athleticism,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The game ended in a draw, but Oliver Ames walked away from Val Muscato Stadium with something to celebrate.
Although neither the Tigers nor the Hornets of Mansfield scored in a showdown of the Kelley-Rex’s top two teams, the point from the draw kept OA (26 points) ahead of Mansfield (25 points) and clinched the division title in the final league game of the season.
“It’s a good draw because that’s all we needed to win the league outright,” said OA coach John Barata, who helped the program win its fifth division title in the past seven years. “However I think we were the better team today anyways. I thought we had many more chances, especially in the beginning. I thought we dominated about 80% of the game.
“But they had the best chance of the game so we escaped with the tie. Although it was a good tie, we kind of escaped because they had that chance and we got fortunate. They could be Hock champs right now.”
The first half nearly picked up right where OA left off the last time these two teams met back at the beginning of October. The Tigers dominated the second half of that game with chance after chance, but only scored once in a draw.
“[Oliver Ames] is a much higher ranked team than people give them credit for,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan. “They are a great team…great coach, great players. I have nothing bad to say about this game other than I wish we scored.
“We should have put away that golden opportunity. But we didn’t play our best for 80 minutes and they didn’t score on us. If this was the tournament, I’d take my chances with my goalie in PKs.”
The chances came right away for OA, who had six corners kicks in the opening 40 minutes and six long attacking throws into the area.
Cardoza was at it again in the 20th minute, seamlessly splitting a pair of defenders before sending in a through ball for classmate Matt Campbell, but Campbell couldn’t quite get his body turned and his one-timer rolled harmlessly to Ferraz.
Jack Sheldon forced Ferraz into a leaping save in the 24th minute on a tight angle shot, but the ensuing corner didn’t result in a chance.
Chris Lawrence’s long throw-in found Nikiciuk inside the box in the 33rd minute, but his low bid from in close skidded wide at the near post.
Matt Alvarado sent a tempting cross into the box that bounced to the far post but Sheldon was just a step late and his touch went wide into the near post side netting.
“First half almost seemed like a continuation of the second half of the first game,” Barata said. “Then in the second half they were more physical and kind of took us out of our element. But we adjusted. [Mansfield’s] a good team. We really focused on a couple players, and one of them created their two best chances. We had to prepare for this like it was a state tournament game and that’s how we played it today.”
The game, and the chances, evened out more in the second half as the Hornets came out with a more physical game plan. The style worked, as the Tigers struggled to get their offense going as they did in the first half.
Just a minute later, Sam Hyland jumped onto a loose ball for the Hornets but his low bid was covered by Carroll.
OA senior Cam Vella connected on a header in the 61st minute, but Ferraz had plenty of time to adjust on the bounce and make the stop.
The best chance of the game for either side came in the 62nd minute when Jackson Murphy played a perfectly weighted through ball to Lanzillo on the left wing, and he centered to a wide open Anastasia inside the six, but his sliding bid went over the bar.
“For us right now, we believe defense wins championships,” Barata said. “We’ve done well not giving up goals overall this year. I’m happier with the shutout than if we would have won 4-3 because I don’t want to be giving up goals right now. If we can score one, we know we can win any game. And if it goes 0-0, we are confident with PKs.”
Mansfield kept the pressure up as Harry Braidt sent a free kick into the area in the 66th minute but it bounced through without a recipient. Hyland had another chance in the 69th minute when his long throw was cleared back out to him, but his hard show sailed over the bar at the far post.
With the Hornets – who needed a win to clinch the division title – pushing numbers forward, OA had some chances on the counter-attack. Alvarado slipped a pass in behind for Nikiciuk but Ferraz made his biggest stop of the game with a point-blank save on a shot from inside the area.
The Hornets had a chance on a scramble in the area when Luke Savoie’s free kick was dropped by Carroll, but as Nick Hyland put a header on frame, Carroll recovered quickly to make the stop.
Nikicuk nearly had the winner with the final chance of the game, again taking a pass from Alvarado but Mansfield’s Matt O’Donnell had a perfectly timed slide to just put him off and allow Ferraz to collect.
“If we have more of those chances [long throws, corner kicks]…we just couldn’t get anything going offensively, especially in the first half,” Sheridan said. “In the first half we couldn’t string together three passes. We knew what we had to do defensively. It just goes to show you our defense can hold it, we just have to get our offense clicking.”
Oliver Ames boys soccer finishes the season with an overall record of 11-2-4 and will likely be a top-four seed in D2 South when the brackets are released on Wednesday. Mansfield finishes 10-2-6 and will also likely have a home game to start the D1 South tournament.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – For the opening 15 minutes, the visiting Bombardiers controlled the play, dominating the midfield and pushing Mansfield back on its heels. In the 10th minute, Will Halben cut inside on his right foot and found space on the edge of the box. His shot beat Mansfield goalie Nick Ferraz, but not the post.
Five minutes later, Hornets senior midfielder Sam Hyland had the ball bounce to his foot inside the 18-yard-box and also saw his shot carom off the post, but the rebound went straight to classmate Sean Lanzillo and he buried his shot into the open net.
The opening goal changed the entire outlook of the game and propelled the Hornets to a 3-0 victory over Attleboro that moves Mansfield within three points of division-leading Oliver Ames with three games remaining in the regular season.
“Our first 15 minutes, I don’t think we played well at all,” admitted Mansfield coach Steve Sheridan. “We were lucky on that goal and that’s why I called a timeout after it to settle everybody down. After that first 15 minutes, I thought we played great. They were attacking us and we played good defense, it was a great game.”
Attleboro coach Peter Pereira said, “Us hitting the bar right away was tough. If he had gotten that then it would’ve been a totally different game. The first 20 minutes we ran and we denied them from playing so they couldn’t get going.”
Following Sheridan’s timeout, the Hornets settled into the game, started to possess the ball better, and played through the midfield. In the 28th minute, the hosts almost doubled the lead when Cullin Anastasia started a break with an outlet pass to Lanzillo, who then fed Hyland but the shot was saved by Nick Hasenfus. Seconds later Anastasia beat the offside trap but again Hasenfus made the stop.
“You can’t sustain it that long, it’s just too much running,” said Pereira about his team’s drop off after the midway point of the half. “You go a goal down and your energy level disappears.”
In the 29th minute, Mansfield got another break on a deflection. Luke Devine’s run was cut off by Attleboro center backs Aidan Lancaster and Colin Levis, but the ball bounced out to Lanzillo who hit a perfect, first time shot from 19 yards that curled over Hasenfus for a 2-0 lead.
“He curled it in,” said Sheridan with a laugh. “That was nice, I can’t wait to watch it.”
In the second half, Mansfield pressed its advantage and created a series of chances. Lanzillo’s cross from the right wing was headed on target by Anastasia but saved by Attleboro back-up keeper Andre Menard and two minutes later another low cross into the middle to Hyland was cut out by a sliding Levis.
In the 55th minute, central defender Sam Nugent slid a pass to spring Lanzillo down the touchline, but his cross was just behind Hyland in the middle. That turned out to be a warning for the Attleboro defense, as just a minute later Lanzillo played in Anastasia on the right and he picked out Hyland with a low cross that was side-footed in.
Pereira said, “We work hard and even after that we continued to work hard. We can play touch, but it gets into your head. Losing breeds losing and winning breads winning, we’re not confident.”
It could have been more for the Hornets. Jared Gabrilowitz cut in from the left side and had his right-footed shot saved by Menard at full stretch. From the ensuing corner, Michael Russo was forced to clear a shot off the line.
“We should’ve had more goals but…we can’t finish,” said Sheridan. ”To have that many opportunities, especially in that second half, and we’ve got to finish them.”
Attleboro struggled to sustain a consistent attack. Russo had a shot saved early in the second half and David Medeiros had an 18-yard shot comfortably saved by Ferraz (four saves).
The best chance for the Bombardiers came in the 70th minute, as Russo got forward down the left wing and sent an inch-perfect cross to Halben at the back post only to see the shot come back off the crossbar.
“The good news is this is a two-year project,” said Pereira about his young roster. “The starting lineup is back. Now we’re going to have some fun, work hard, get better as individuals and if they do that then we’ll be a better team.”
For Sheridan, it was a positive to see his team get on the score sheet multiple times, especially with the playoffs right around the corner. He joked, “Oh yeah, it was nice. I liked it. I would like to score more than three goals a game but we’re stubborn and we like to make it hard on ourselves.”
Mansfield (8-2-5, 8-1-4) will host Franklin on Thursday, while Attleboro (1-8-4, 1-8-4) will try to play spoiler when it hosts league-leading Oliver Ames.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Oliver Ames head coach John Barata was starting to run out of fingers to count his side’s chances in the second half alone.
And as the chances went calling, and the minutes ticked by, Barata began to wonder if his side would be shut out for the first time in league play this year.
“I’ll be honest, we didn’t know if it was just going to be one of those nights,” Barata said. “I believe in these kids, but I wasn’t sure if it just was going to be one of those nights. Mansfield is a very good team but I believe we were the better team tonight.
“We had an unbelievable amount of chances. They cleared some off the line, they blocked shots in the area. It was a high-intensity atmosphere. Steve [Sheridan] does a great job, they’re such a good team.”
The Tigers had complete control of the match for the first 25 minutes of the second half, but all they had to show for it was four corner kicks and four long attacking throws that were thwarted by Mansfield defense. And a 1-0 deficit to the Hornets, who scored midway through the first half.
But finally in the 68th minute, on the team’s fifth long throw in the attacking third, there was a breakthrough. Chris Lawrence’s toss was cleared away by Mansfield’s defense, but only to just outside the top of the area. OA senior Mason Galbato put his laces on the ball, driving a low line drive through traffic and into the back of the net, helping OA finish 1-1 with the Hornets.
“It was a great tie,” MHS head coach Steve Sheridan said. “I was hoping to get two points, but they pressuring too much in the second half so we’ll take the point. [Oliver Ames] is a great team.”
The first half was a bit more even, with Mansfield even having the better chances in the opening half hour. Senior Sean Lanzillo tested OA early, ripping a right footed shot in the fourth minute from just outside the area but Tigers’ goalie Jack Carroll was up to the task at the near post.
OA registered its first chance 10 minutes later, when the Tigers forced a turnover in the attacking third. James Gillespie was quick to play senior Nick Bloumbas, and Bloumbas’ shot from distance forced a diving save.
Mansfield finally broke through in the 21st minute. Nick Wisnieski centered a pass that was partially cleared by OA, but not past Mansfield senior Sam Hyland just a step inside the area. When the ball fell to him, he buried his shot into the upper corner at the far post, giving the Hornets a 1-0 lead.
The Hornets nearly doubled their lead inside the same minute when Lanzillo dropped a pass in behind OA’s defense, leaving Hyland in alone on goal. But Carroll came out and made the big stop, with Colin Evin first to the rebound to make the clearance.
The Tigers had a chance just before half, again on the back of a long throw from Lawrence. This time senior Michael Nikiciuk got a touch at the near post but Mansfield’s Jackson Murphy did well to clear the loose ball.
“It’s a great tie,” Barata said. “The boys weren’t happy with the tie because we felt we were the better team. However…on the road, a D1 team, they are undefeated, we go down early. Coming back showed a lot of maturity.”
The second half was full of chances for OA.
In the 44th minute, Nathaniel Cardoza – who shined in midfield for OA – got his head to a throw, but it was over the bar.
In the 56th minute, Cam Vella got his head to a long throw, giving Gillespie a chance inside the box but Mansfield’s Derek Mueth came up with a key block.
Three minutes later, a long throw put the ball into the area but both Cardoza and Alvarado had shots from inside the area blocked away.
In the 66th minute, Gillespie played a low cross to the near post that found Matt Campbell, but his bid was blocked by right in front by Mansfield’s Sam Nugent.
“We did good defensively,” Sheridan said. “I have to look at the tape to see exactly what happened on their goal. My goal was to stay undefeated after tonight, and we still are. So we still control our own destiny.”
Oliver Ames finally broke through two minutes later on Galbato’s strike.
Each team had a chance in the final five minutes. For OA, Campbell played a low cross to the near post, but Ferraz made the charging save before Cardoza could get a touch.
And for Mansfield, Mueth played a ball in behind the OA defense but the spin on the bounce fooled Carroll and ended up just wide at the far post.
Oliver Ames boys soccer (6-1-2 overall, 6-0-2 Hockomock) returns to action on Wednesday when it starts the second half of its crossover games with Milford coming to visit. Mansfield (6-0-3, 6-0-2) will entertain Sharon on Wednesday afternoon.
2016 Record: 8-6-6 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Peter Pereira
Even though Attleboro graduated some key pieces, the Bombardiers have a lot of experienced and talented players back for the 2017 season. The biggest challenge will be replacing center backs Harry Lancaster (Best XI selection) and Tyler Treichler (Second XI selection) in the heart of the defense.
Juniors Colin Levis and Aidan Lancaster are both back on the defensive line after gaining plenty of experience a season ago. They’ll look to work with Brandon Lewis and Connor Dunn to solidify the back four in front senior goalie Nick Hasenfus (2016 Best XI selection). In the midfield, Zach White is back and will be relied upon as one of the team’s top playmakers once healthy. He’ll have the help of Brady Holander, Nathan LaPlume, Devin Andre, Eli Araujo and Keith Thompson.
After breaking out as one of the league’s bright young stars a season ago, Will Halben is back to lead the attack alongside sophomores Mike Russo and David Medeiros.
“We are hoping to do a bit better than last year with a bit more depth,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira.
2016 Record: 6-9-3 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Fran Bositis
It looks like there is a chance of growing pains in the forecast for the 2017 Panthers. After graduating over a dozen seniors from last year’s team, there will be some inexperience in the lineup for Fran Bositis.
Senior Freddie Beckmann returns as the team’s starting goalie to give the defensive end some familiarity, but it will be a brand new back four in front of him. Sophomore Sam Stowell saw some minutes a year ago and will anchor the defense alongside senior Andrew DiLeo. Senior Connor O’Rourke, who also played some last year, will man the outside along with junior Sam Malloy.
In the midfield, Nitin Chaudhury will take over as the holding mid in the center of the pitch but could also move around depending on need. He’ll have the help of sophomores Jacob Cummings and Donny Tappin. Up front, there are mainutes up for grabs with junior Tim Duval in the running to likely grab one of the spots.
“We’re going to be young and inexperienced,” Bositis said. “We have a handful of seniors back but a youth movement is happening. But overall, the kids are really working hard and have great attitudes. We’re looking for improvement each day.”
2016 Record: 17-2-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champion) 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Nick Gale
It will be hard to top the historic season the Warriors had a year ago, winning the division title and allowing just eight goals all season. But Nick Gale and his squad are focused on 2017, not last Fall.
Even though 2016 Best XI selections Cam Mullin and Colby Koch, and Second XI selections Ryan Coulter and Eli O’Neill all graduated, the Warriors still return some of the top talent in the league this year. Tyler Mann, the 2016 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, is just one of many talented players back for Gale. Senior Connor Mullins will be a key piece in the midfield, senior Larsen Keys started all of last year on the back line and senior Mike Rowe is a dangerous player inside the 18. Thomas Lugten, Anthony Bozza and Zac White are all back as well after playing plenty of minutes last year.
Junior Nick Beltramini and sophomore Tristan Stephani are battling for minutes in goal.
“Our focus continues to be on developing players and improving our team,” Gale said. “We understand that opposing teams will be after us, but we won’t take our attention away from training, competing, and focusing on the smaller details that will help us continue to move forward. The league will be good, and we know we will need to be as well.
2016 Record: 11-5-3 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Steve Sheridan
Mansfield will be relying on a mix of experience and new faces in an effort to get back to the postseason for another year. The Hornets have the challenge of trying to fill the shoes of two-time Best XI selection Max Gurnon, and as well as the void left by the injury to Ethan Brill-Cass, a two year varsity starter.
However, with Sean Lanzillo, Nick Hyland, Sam Hyland and Harry Braidt back, the Hornets have a solid core to work on. Lanzillo’s speed makes him one of the toughest marks in the league while Sam Hyland emerged as a top midfielder last season. Nick Hyland and Braidt will be back to anchor the back line. Head coach Steve Sheridan expects junior Sam Nugent to step in and make an impact early on defensively, as well as junior midfield Luke Savoie on the offensive end.
Senior Nick Ferraz is battling with sophomore Anthony Salisbury for the starting position in net.
“I’m hoping some of the younger guys can step up on offense, and with the departure of Max along with the injury to Ethan and graduation of Jed in goal, our defense is going to have some new faces,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan.
2016 Record: 10-5-3 2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: John Barata
Oliver Ames returns plenty of talent and will be looking to challenge King Philip for supremacy in the Kelley-Rex division. Two-time HockomockSports.com Best XI selection Nathaniel Cardoza is back to anchor the Tigers from the middle of the field. His ability to play defense, as well as get forward, gives OA a boost.
Other returning starters back this year include Matt Campbell, Matt Alvarado, Cam Vella, Mason Galbato and Jack Sheldon. Mike Braga and Chris Lawrence bring experience to the back line in front keeper Jack Carroll, who is in his third year in net.
With the graduation of three-year starter Thomas McCormick, the Tigers have a void to fill at the striker position. Senior James Gillespie saw time last year off the bench and proved a capable option up top while Alvarado also showed his ability to finish. Senior Brandin Osborne transferred in from Coyle and will also be an attacking option for OA. Nick Bloumbas, Sean Flaherty and Niko Byron will all likely see time off this season as well.
“We are looking to build a solid team that will play well in a very competitive environment,” OA head coach John Barata said. “We know that to succeed we will need to play our best soccer everyday. The boys are working hard – we need to turn our effort into results. I feel confident that we will find our way and make an effort to qualify for the MIAA State tourney.”
2016 Record: 1-16-2 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
Taunton brings back eight starters from last year’s team and head coach Taylor Whitters is hoping that experience will translate into an improved season in 2017. On top of of those eight starters, the Tigers will have Marc deSousa back in net after a missing his junior season battling cancer.
Senior Liam Crowley is back again with more experience to anchor the back line along with junior Kyle Aubin. DaeShawn Duffie and Hasan Farahat both return to give the Tigers a solid duo in the middle of the pitch while junior Liam Crowley also adds experience to the midfield. Jake DeAndrade, Brett Beaulieu and Alec Nunes are also back in the mix this year as well.
The Tigers got a boost from their rival as Ian Soderbom traded his Warrior blue and gold in from Coyle for Tiger black and orange. Soderbom will be a key piece on defense while Francois Hennaux, an exchange student from Belgium, will add depth to Taunton’s offense.
“Our team is already looking stronger and better,” said Whitters. “They say the tougher the set back the stronger the comeback. We are going to be one of those teams.”
MANSFIELD, Mass. – For Attleboro, the third time playing Hockomock rival Mansfield proved to be the charm.
The Bombardiers suffered a 3-0 loss to the Hornets early in the season and settled for a 1-1 draw in mid October.
But on Saturday night, Big Blue picked up the win in the game that mattered most, walking away from Alumni Field with a 1-0 win in double overtime in the MIAA D1 South First Round.
Eighty minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of the first overtime period wasn’t enough to separate the two but it took less than a minute of the second overtime period for Attleboro to find the winner.
Sophomore Colin Levis blocked a clearance on the right wing, raced to the ball and delivered a cross into the area. Mansfield goalie Nick Ferraz dove out, getting a hand to the service. The ball fell to sophomore Will Halben, who calmly cut the ball back and used his toe poke with his left foot to find the back of the net for the winner.
“When it got to me, I cut it outside and toe poked it with my left foot and megged the goalie and it got in,” Halben said. “I was really off balance but I was able to get enough power to get it through. I kind of forgot it was golden goal but everyone jumped on me and I was crushed at that bottom but it was a great feeling.”
It’s the third time in the last four games that Halben has scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win for Attleboro.
“He’s got the speed around the net, he’s been pretty good,” Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira said. “He missed his first one and just pushed it in with his toe. It was a good game, Mansfield kind of carries the play a little bit. Those throw ins are deadly. We’ve been practicing defending them but they are so hard to defend because of Mansfield’s height. Even though they had most of the possession, we needed a break and that’s what we got. The boys played well.
“Playing a team from the same league for a third time, it’s really difficult. The good thing was my kids were relaxed because they knew who the enemy was. But we also knew they had beaten us earlier in the season but we had tied them the second time so that really helped our conference. We’re 1-1-1 this year [against Mansfield] but we’ll take this one.”
The Hornets had over a dozen attacking throw ins and nearly 10 free kick opportunities that put the ball into the area but the results included either hitting the post, a save from Bombardier goalie Nick Hasenfus, a shot wide or a clearance from Attleboro’s defense.
The effort off the post came early in the game when Cullin Anastasia rose up to meet a throw from Max Gurnon. His header bounced once before hitting the post and staying out. Rebound chances from Brendan Sullivan and Anastasia were blocked by defenders.
Ten minutes later, a service into the area eventually bounced out to the top of the 18, but Sullivan had his shot on target saved by Hasenfus.
Mansfield had the two first chances of the second half as well when Max Gurnon ripped a shot from the left wing that went to the far post but Sean Lanzillo’s touch went just over the bar. Five minutes later, James Chotkowski’s header off a corner from Kevin Bouck bounced wide at the far post.
“We’re strong on those throw ins and those free kicks but just couldn’t find the back of the net today,” Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan said. “[Attleboro] played great, I knew they’d pack it in and play tight defense. And their goalie played phenomenal. My hats off to them. We had more than enough chances in regulation, never mind overtime, and we just didn’t do it.”
Attleboro finally had a chance in the 61st minute with Halben blocking a clearance, racing around a defender and going in at goal at a tight angle but Ferraz did well to come out and cut the angle down, holding onto the ball after sliding out. Two minutes later, AHS freshman Mike Russo lofted a cross into the area but Halben’s header went wide of the far post.
Anastasia got his head to a throw from Gurnon in the 72nd minute but Attleboro defender Tyler Treichler was positioned well and headed the ball clear before it could get through to Hasenfus.
“They got four goals against us during the regular season and three of the four were from throw ins,” Pereira said. “They’ve got the height to flick it. We tried to work on stepping in front of them and get to it first. They are very good with those throws, the free kicks. Their defense is very good, Max [Gurnon] is a horse back there and they won most of the balls. But we’ll take it and we’ll go on and see what happens next.”
Hasenfus made the biggest stop of the game in the 78th minute. Gurnon dropped a free kick into the area that fell between Sullivan and Anastasia. Anastasia was the one to pounce, unleashing a shot from inside the 6 yard box but Hasenfus was positioned perfectly and knocked the bid aside.
“He’s been very solid, he’s grown all year long, the team has confidence in him,” Pereira said of Hasenfus. “We weren’t sure what to expect but he’s been solid, he’s a Hockomock All Star…he hasn’t made mistakes. We have not lost games because of him. Today – that one late was a big save – and the others he was sweeping them up and there were no drops. My defense played well, Harry [Lancaster] and Treichler played very well and the outside backs were strong too.”
Attleboro boys soccer (8-5-6) will take on #4 Braintree in the D1 South Quarterfinal. The Bombardiers will visit the Wamps on Monday at 6:00. Mansfield finishes the season 11-5-3.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip boys soccer has scored in a variety of ways throughout the 2016 season. From free kicks to corner kicks, and in the run of play, the Warriors have crafted some impressive goals this year.
But the Warriors saved their best goal for the most important game of the season.
Senior Colby Koch uncorked an absolute stunner just moments before halftime that proved to be the game-winner in King Philip’s 2-0 win over Mansfield – a victory that clinched the Warriors’ first ever outright league title and first Kelley-Rex crown since 2010.
“A lot of hear of heart, a lot of grit and a lot of passion, which I think plays into it and they were heavily disciplined, which is something against a good team like Mansfield you have to be because they’ll expose you in a moment the second you break down,” King Philip head coach Nick Gale said. “Their work ethic, they earned this one tonight.”
The Warriors entered the game with a three point lead in the division over Mansfield and came out with the better of chances early on. Junior Tyler Mann intercepted a clearance from the Hornets and quickly found Koch for a shot just outside the area but Mansfield keeper Jed Tolbert did well to time his jump for the save.
Five minutes later, Jack Bush’s long throw was deflected to the back post where KP sophomore Anthony Bozza latched onto it but his shot was blocked wide. In the 33rd minute, Larsen Keys cleared a Mansfield free kick and Mann quickly sent Koch forward. The senior connected with Nils van den Boogaard for a shot from just outside the area but Tolbert was positioned well for the stop.
Mansfield finally registered its first serious scoring chance in the 36th minute when Cullin Anastasia was able to win a 50/50 ball, putting it down for a shot from Sam Hyland from just outside the area but KP keeper Eli O’Neill smothered the low shot.
Just a minute before halftime is when the fireworks finally went off. Koch gained possession in the attacking third. A couple of touches forward, Koch was given just enough space the the senior didn’t hesitate, unleashing a shot from just a couple of steps over 30 yards out that ripped through the air to the upper corner at the far post to put the Warriors up 1-0.
“Everyone was just making incredible runs, when I had the ball I was going to try and find Tyler on a run but the defender angled his body so I couldn’t,” Koch said. “I faked it, the defender went right, I went left and the goalie shifted so I just shot to the far post.
“You have to take opportunity you get. I think it was Wayne Gretzky that said you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. The guys on the team encourage me to shoot, and they all can finish as well so if we have the space it can be dangerous.”
“Even the shots before and after, you could tell he was on his game tonight,” Gale said. “He’s been very focused as of late. He’s stepped up from an outside back position [last year] to a striker and he’s somehow managed 14 points. When you switch positions, you don’t just do that often. For that moment, we needed something big for us and no one else I’d rather have than Colby taking that shot and he got a good shot off.”
The goal gave the Warriors the momentum heading into the break but KP couldn’t break through Mansfield’s defense and capitalize to start the second half.
Mansfield had the first chance of the second stanza in the 55th minute when James Chotkowski hit an off-balance shot inside the area but it curled high and wide. Four minutes later, KP had a chance to double the lead by was stuffed by Mansfield captain Max Gurnon. Mann found Koch, who returned the pass but the shot from Mann in the area was blocked by Gurnon.
Two minutes later, the Hornets nearly used their bread and butter – set pieces – to cash in and tie the game. A free kick from Gurnon dropped into the area, met by sliding O’Neill but the ball bounced loose in the area. Anastasia had a go on the rebound but his chance was blocked away.
Mansfield had another bid in the 64th minute to try and tie the game when Hyland dropped a free kick to the far post but Gurnon was well marked and couldn’t get a clean touch.
“My backline and goalie have been the strength all year but Mansfield is extremely dangerous in the final third with their set pieces,” Gale said. “They have players who are fearless and can finish so I have to give props to my back four and keeper for being able to handle that pressure nonstop throughout the game. Going into the game it was important to not allow them many opportunities and we did a good job defending them.”
King Philip secured the win in the 79th minute as Thomas Lugten gained some separation on the left wing, firing a shot that Tolbert got a piece of. The rebound rolled to the far post where Mann sprinted onto it and buried it from in close to make it 2-0.
“Nothing, we just can’t score on them,” Mansfield coach Steve Sheridan said when asked what it is about KP that gives the Hornets trouble. Mansfield’s lone two losses are to KP. “We played them tough. We had one mistake on that first goal, we let Colby get away and get the shot off…it was a beautiful goal, just a beautiful goal. We were pressing up at the end, we went with three forwards, four forwards. We were going for the tie and then we wanted the win, it just didn’t happen.
“[King Philip] is a good team, they’re very disciplined. They are going to be a tough out in the tourney – but I hope we see them like we did last year.”
With the win, King Philip moves to 15-1-2 overall and 13-1-1 in league play, which clinched the league title.
“They pay attention, I can’t even hide it,” Gale said when asked if his players were aware of the possibility of clinching with the win. “I think that’s what played into how well they played. They wanted it. It doesn’t happen here very often. We had someone come up that won the title in 1999 and they shared it with Oliver Ames. I couldn’t tell you the last time that KP has won it outright in soccer.”
“It’s incredible,” Koch said of winning the division. “You just know you’re never going to get this chance again so you just have to live it up and take it for what it is, it’s awesome. I love it.”
King Philip boys soccer closes the regular season when Franklin comes to Macktaz Field on Thursday at 3:45. Mansfield has two games left in the regular season, first a visit from OA on Thursday and then a date with Canton at Gillette Stadium on Friday at 6:00.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Coming into Thursday night’s game at Alumni Field, Attleboro coach Peter Pereira warned his defense about the long throws of Mansfield senior defender Max Gurnon. He warned his defense that it is a major weapon for the Hornets and that they need to be prepared anytime Mansfield wins a throw anywhere near the attacking third of the field.
No matter how many warnings Pereira gave, it does not make it any easier for the defense to deal with Gurnon’s bombardment of throws. He assisted on the first goal and got credit for the third when it was headed home by an Attleboro defender. Gurnon created consistent havoc in the Attleboro penalty area and the Hornets took advantage to pull out a 3-0 victory.
“I told my kids to play them like a corner and we did the first one and there was no one at the post,” said Pereira. “They took it to us a little in the first half with those long throws. It’s better than a kick. You get it in there, a little header, and things happen.”
Mansfield coach Steve Sheridan said, “We’re starting to cash in on his throw-ins, a lot better than we used to. We’re working on them. I’d like to see more goals from the flow of the game, but we’ll take them.
“If teams want to keep giving us these throw-ins then we’ll take them.”
The Hornets nearly had the perfect start when Sean Lanzillo chipped a pass over the top for Kevin Bouck in the first minute but the senior could not finish the chance, sending his shot over the bar. Attleboro had a quick response four minutes later when a corner was not properly cleared and Will Halben hit a near-perfect half-volley that smacked off the bar.
The rest of the first half was dominated by the Hornets with the ball constantly in the Attleboro half and Gurnon getting chance after chance to put a ball into the box from free kicks and throws. In the ninth minute, one of his throws paid dividends when it eluded everyone in the middle of the box, bounced on the far side, and was nodded into goal by Jackson Murphy at the far post.
At the midway point of the half, Mansfield doubled its lead. James Chotkowski lined up a shot from 20 yards out and forced Attleboro keeper Nicholas Hasenfus into a full stretch save. The resulting corner bounced off Brendan Sullivan to Sam Hyland on the edge of the box and he fired in his chance to make it 2-0.
“That was huge and it made them play with a little more urgency and allowed us to take more chances,” said Sheridan. “When we had the ball, we were able to get it up there and get some numbers forward.”
The Hornets were relying on Gurnon and Harry Braidt to hold down the center of the defense and limit the chances for Attleboro. The Bombardiers started pressing forward at the end of the first half and during the break Pereira urged his team to continue pressing the Hornets.
Just before halftime Colin Levis sent in a dangerous cross from the right but it went just over Halben inside the six and just missed the toe of Ahijah Joseph sliding in at the back post. The Bombardiers continued the push forward in the second half with Zach White becoming more influential in the midfield.
Mansfield had the opportunity to put the game away in the 55th minute when John Cooney escaped a challenge by Harry Lancaster and raced in clean on goal. Hasenfus (four saves) denied him with a slide and Hyland had his follow up cleared off the line.
A minute later the Bombardiers nearly cut the lead in half when freshman Nathan Laplumeflicked a pass into classmate Michael Russo, but, while the Mansfield defenders screamed for an offsides that was not forthcoming, Russo rolled his shot inches wide of the post.
“As far as soccer, second half we won a lot of balls, but up front I tried to put guys up there but we just weren’t able to finish,” said Pereira. “We picked up at the end of the first half and we carried it for about 30 minutes.”
Chotkowski nearly killed the game off with a header off a throw in the 64th minute and Cullin Anastasia also sent a header wide three minutes later. The Hornets finally put the game away with yet another throw by Gurnon. This one was headed into goal by an Attleboro defender with 12 minutes to play.
“The third one was the dagger,” said Sheridan. “It let me breathe a little bit easier…That’s probably the best game we’ve played from start to finish this year…all around, offensively and defensively.”
It was the fifth straight win for Mansfield (5-0-1), which stays unbeaten ahead of Monday night’s visit of Franklin. Attleboro (2-2-1) drops back to .500 with the loss and now faces a tough stretch beginning with Saturday’s visit of New Bedford followed by Franklin and Oliver Ames.