Bombardiers, Hornets Split With Points With Draw

Attleboro boys soccer
Attleboro’s Jackson Singer (16) holds off Mansfield’s Matt Hyland in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Points are at a premium at this point in the season, and both Attleboro and Mansfield earned a hard fought one in a 1-1 draw on Wednesday afternoon.

With both teams still hoping to make a late push for the state tournament, the teams split the points after trading a pair of second half goals.

The point keeps Mansfield’s (2-7-4) playoff hopes alive but they don’t have any breathing room the rest of the way. The Hornets have to win their final five games but have three straight home games to start out, hosting Franklin on Friday.

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Attleboro (3-6-2) has a little bit more flexibility, but not that much room for error. The Bombardiers have to pick up 10 points with seven games left on their schedule in order to qualify for the D1 South tournament.

“We’ll take any points here,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “We’re taking it one game at a time. We were supposed to get two points today but we’ll take the one and move onto the next game. It’s not an easy league, everyone is a top team.”

The hosts took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes and nearly found the game-winner in the final moments but a shot rang off the post and stayed out.

Mansfield had control for the opening 40 minutes but had nothing to show for it. The Hornets pulled level eight minutes after Attleboro’s opener but couldn’t tack on a second over the final 20 minutes.

“We have to win out to make the tournament, and we’re going to do it, that ball hit the post at the end,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan. “That was a sign right there.

“We were all over them in the first half but this has been the story of the season [not scoring]. We have to find somebody that wants to score goals. The effort is there, we played hard, we just have to convert.”

Despite not finding the back of the net in the first half, Mansfield had plenty of chances. The Hornets put two shots on Attleboro keeper Zackary Brown in the opening three minutes, including a take from junior Colin True from 25-yards out.

Attleboro’s first chance of the half came in the 6th minute on a free kick from just under 30 yards out. Senior Nathan LaPlume curled a shot over the wall, trying to tuck a shot inside the near post but his bid was wide.

The Bombardiers’ other serious chance came off the foot of senior Joshua Smith, who latched onto a loose ball from distance and ripped a low shot, but his chance was right at Mansfield keeper Anthony Salisbury, who handled the chance.

Mansfield’s Cam Eddy got on the end of a corner kick in the 22nd minute but saw his header go over the bar. Sophomore Matt Hyland whipped in a corner four minutes later but Brown did well to intercept and quickly handled the loose ball.

A final chance in the first half came on a delivery from junior Evan Eames, who put a free kick into the mixer but Graham Wells’ bid was handled and the teams entered halftime scoreless.

“We’re a touch team and those long balls kind of kills that momentum and it’s tough to bring the ball down and start it all over again, and they keep coming at you,” Pereira said.

“Mansfield was a little bit more hungry than we were today, they won a lot of the balls. We waited too long to start pushing. The last 15 minutes was mostly us. We let them into the game and they were on us in the first half. Their confidence builds and they start believing they can beat you.”

A long throw from Smith set the Bombardiers up for the opening strike in the 48th minute. His throw was partially cleared but only as far as LaPlume at the top of the area. The senior didn’t get all of his half volley bid and the ball fell right to the feet of sophomore Emilio Ticos, who quickly fired an open look into the back of the net.

Mansfield found the equalizer on its first real chance of the second half. The Hornets went with a set play on a corner kick, having at least a half a dozen players come crashing into the area from outside the area. Dan Rowe’s in-swinger was met by Eddy, who sprinted in, jumped, and smashed a header into the back of the net.

“That was a beautiful goal, it was nice to come back,” Sheridan said. “It was a play we brought back from last year, we just brought it back a couple of days ago. That was [assistant coach] Tommy [Giannouloudis], that was his creation and he suggested bringing it back, and it worked.”

The game was mostly played between the 18-yard boxes for the next 20 minutes before some final fireworks in the final five minutes.

Attleboro’s Joey Soucy connected with Hugo Henriquez on a cheeky chip, and Henriquez chested the ball down before firing a shot that forced Salisbury into a save in the 75th minute.

Mansfield tried to hit on the counter right after but Smith did a nice job of shielding Sagar Koul to allow Brown to come off his line and scoop up the pass.

In the 78th minute, Eddy was the first to a long throw from sophomore Dylan Buchanan but this time his header flashed wide.

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Attleboro was inches away from the winner in the final minute. Smith linked up with Soucy, who took a couple of touches towards the end line before firing a low cross. Junior Emilio Amaya met the service with a one-timer to the far post but the shot hit the post and stayed out. The Bombardiers believed there was a hand ball in the area before the clearance but there was no whistle.

“We had it go off the post and it went off the kids’ hand but neither ref saw it, unfortunately,” Pereira said. “The last 15 minutes was us but we needed to start 15 minutes before that. But it’s been tough, it’s been a tough season.”

Attleboro boys soccer is back in action on Friday when it hosts division-leading Oliver Ames. Mansfield will try to keep its tournament hopes alive when it hosts Franklin on the same day.

Mansfield Slips Past Sharon For First Win

Sharon’s Brian Higgins (7) tries to avoid a tackle from Mansfield’s Tommy Lanzillo (left) in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Behind a new-look defensive unit, the Mansfield boys soccer posted its first shutout of the season, which helped the Hornets break into the win column for the first time in 2019.

After surrendering an uncharacteristic nine goals through the first three games, Hornets’ head coach Steve Sheridan elected to put junior Evan Eames into a sweeper role and senior captain Colin Caridi in front of him as a stopper.

Flanked by Cam Eddu on the left side, and juniors Ethan Scholes and Stephen Saba alternating at right back, and all-league goalie Anthony Salisbury behind them, the duo anchored Mansfield to their first shutout in a 1-0 win over visiting Sharon.

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“The biggest difference for me was the defense,” Sheridan said. “We’ve been having trouble with that and we tried a different group today. I took Colin out of the middle and put him in the back. And Evan has played everywhere for me this year and I just haven’t found a spot but I think we did today.”

After losing junior Michael Jeans to an injury in the season opener, Sheridan has shuffled pieces in the back before going with the duo of Eames and Caridi in the heart of the defense. That duo helped limit Sharon to a handful of quality chances.

The lone goal of the contest came just before the midway point of the season second. With a long throw in the attacking third, the Hornets loaded the box with attacking players. Eddy launched a long throw from the right sideline. Senior Peter Oldow got just enough of a touch to redirect the ball onto goal, where it hit off the post and just crossed the goal line to make it 1-0.

The teams took turns controlling the game, with the hosts dictating the pace early on. Mansfield sophomore Dylan Buchanan saw his shot from a tough angle go wide at the near post in the 8th minute, and two minutes later, he flashed a header just wide off service from Tommy Lanzillo.

The Hornets’ best chance of the opening half came off the foot of Caridi. With some space just over midfield, Caridi ripped a shot from distance that hit the crossbar and bounced out.

Sharon took control over the final 10 minutes of the first half and nearly took the lead. With seniors Brian Higgins, Isaiah Stessman, and Michael Baur combining in the midfield, the Eagles were able to move the ball and generate its best offense.

In the 37th minute, Baur connected with Stessman, who held used strong hold up play to allow the Eagles to get upfield. Higgins latched onto a loose ball forcing Salisbury into a save on the bounce.

And just before halftime, Stessman connected with Viktor Schneider, who set up Higgins for a blast on the volley but his shot whistled wide and the refs whistled for halftime.

The Eagles started the second half strong as well, as Schneider ripped a shot just wide a minute in, and Stessman and Higgins combined to force Salisbury into a diving save.

“Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t finish,” said Sharon coach Bryan Kelly. “We got caught up playing kick and run soccer. We dominated the end of the first half by keeping the ball on the ground and we lost that in the second half. We have a couple of guys that are hurt, and on a field like this, when you try to run as fast as you possibly can constantly, it’s tough. We slowed it down in the first half and that’s why we had the advantage.

“In all honesty, their only game is kick and run, long throws, and corners. That’s the only thing that team has to it. You don’t see any build-up play in the middle, you don’t see guys making effective runs in.”

Sharon freshman goalie Matthew Baur made a stop on a Mansfield corner kick in the 48th minute, smothering a redirection. But the Hornets cashed in with a long throw in the 56th minute.

“We draw up the plays, we go over them one day and they have to know them,” Sheridan said of the long throws. “We very rarely work on them in terms of practice. We will go over sometimes at the end of practice to make sure they know them. We have a couple of guys that can throw it long this year so we can move Dylan into the box and have a dangerous striker there.”

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Both teams had chances over the final 20 minutes. In the 64th minute, Lanzillo hit a free kick from 20 yards out that looked destined for the top corner but Baur made a leaping one-handed stop to keep the deficit at one.

And in the 75th minute, Sharon nearly found the equalizer. Higgins played a free kick quick to Michael Baur, who took a touch and uncorked a bullet but the shot from distance went just over the crossbar.

Mansfield boys soccer (1-2 Hockomock, 1-3 overall) is back in action on Monday when they visit Franklin. Sharon (0-3-0, 0-3-1) will look to break into the win column with a trip to North Attleboro on Tuesday.

Henriquez Brace Lifts Attleboro to Win at Mansfield

Attleboro boys soccer
Attleboro junior Hugo Henriquez (2) and teammates celebrate his second goal of the game in a 4-1 win at Mansfield. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – The rivalry on the pitch between Attleboro and Mansfield is a clash of distinct styles. The Hornets press, counter quickly, and dominate teams physically on set pieces, while the Bombardiers play at a different pace, using short passing to move the ball up the field.

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At the start of Tuesday night’s match at Alumni Field, it was the Hornets who imposed their will, forcing turnovers, keeping the ball in the attacking half, and putting loads of pressure on the Attleboro goal with a series of long throws and corners. Mansfield took advantage of that quick start to grab the lead, but slowly the Bombardiers worked themselves back into it and started to get hold of the ball.

After tying the game in the 15th minute, the Bombardiers took the lead for good with 10 minutes to go before halftime on an own goal after a Hugo Henriquez corner. Just four minutes after the break, Henriquez found time and space to curl in his second goal of the game before sealing the 4-1 win for the visitors six minutes later with a brilliant assist.

“Possessing the ball was the key,” said Attleboro coach Peter Pereira. “We’ve lost, we’ve won, we’ve seen it and now we’ve got to play some soccer.” He added with a laugh, “I haven’t had four goals in a long time.”

Senior Cam Eddy got the Hornets off to a great start with pressure down the left side of the field. His long throw from the near sideline had to be headed away at the far post and Raffi Marzella forced a save from Zackary Brown with his return header.

Just a couple minutes later, another throw from almost the same spot led to the game’s first goal. Eddy’s throw bounced around in the box and Colin Caridi was in the right spot to prod the ball home from six yards out to make it 1-0. The lead was almost immediately doubled but Brown got the slightest touch to a Tommy Lanzillo corner that skipped off the bar.

Pereira was forced to use a timeout to settle his team down. It seemed to work, as the Bombardiers started to get the ball on the deck and pass through midfield. Off their first corner of the night, freshman Esvin Morales, whose partnership with Henriquez was the key for Attleboro, forced Anthony Salisbury into a save on a low drive.

The tying goal came a minute later. A long ball out of the box was not headed cleanly by the Mansfield defense and Michael Russo showed off his strength and then pace to get by his marker and beat him to the ball in the left channel. Russo was able to find the bottom corner past Salisbury to make it 1-1.

Pereira explained, “That’s why I called a timeout and say, ‘Listen, you guys have to settle down and play to feet.’ It’s how we played Saturday night, 100 miles per hour, and they were really frustrated because they couldn’t get it in, so I was really hoping we could get a point or two today just to get us going.”

Justin Lurssen came off the bench to give Attleboro a lift on the right side and he combined with Jackson Singer to open space for Morales to have another go from the edge of the box. Minutes later, Russo played a one-two with Kevin Raczkowski but his shot flew over the bar. Singer flicked a ball into the path of Joey Soucy, who nutmegged the oncoming defender, but Salisbury was out quickly to force the forward wide and then made one of his seven saves.

It was not all one-way traffic. Mansfield had spells of dominance throughout the first half and continued to create pressure on the Attleboro back line. Caridi and Matt Hyland both had chances from in close off another half-cleared long throw and on the break Aidan Steele forced a near post save from Brown (his fifth of the half) with players open in the middle of the box.

With 10 minutes left before halftime, the game had changed. Henriquez played a driven corner to the front post where it caromed off the knee of a Mansfield defender, skimmed the post and nestled into the top corner to put Attleboro ahead.

“We’re snakebitten right now,” said Mansfield coach Steve Sheridan. “The first half we just couldn’t get anyone to finish. My biggest concern coming in was our defense this season but after the Foxboro game I thought we were all set but one of the guys is injured, so he’s out and that changed everything.”

The Bombardiers carried the momentum over into the second half and Russo created the next chance with good work on the left. The senior cut inside on his right foot and opened space for Henriquez on the edge of the box. He took a touch, looked up, and planted his shot into the corner.

Just six minutes later, the game was effectively over. Again the combination of Morales and Henriquez worked through the midfield. It was Henriquez that picked out the perfect pass, sliding a 30-yard through ball that split the Mansfield defense and allowed Singer to run free on goal. He coolly chipped the ball over the keeper.

“I have some kids who have touch,” said Pereira. “The little guys (Henriquez and Morales) can play to feet. It was a beautiful pass for the score. He knows if Jackson goes that he’s not going to miss too many.”

It was the second game, and second 4-1 loss, in as many days for the Hornets, but Sheridan is confident that they just need a few friendly bounces and some momentum to get things turned around. He said, “That Norton game (on Monday night) was supposed to be at the end of the month and we had to change it last minute. It is what it is. It’s early on and we’ll get these kinks out of the way and we’ll be ready come tournament time.”

Attleboro (1-1) will host Stoughton in its home opener on Friday, while Mansfield (0-3) will look to get its first win when it hosts Sharon.

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Mansfield Blanked By Brockton In South Quarterfinals

Mansfield boys soccer
Mansfield’s Dylan Buchanan battles for possession against Brockton in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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 boys soccer finishes the season 13-3-5.

Mansfield Avoids Upset Thanks to Savoie Golden Goal

Mansfield boys soccer
Mansfield senior Luke Savoie (22) wheels away after scoring the game-winning goal in double overtime to beat Plymouth North in the opening round of the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

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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.

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Boys Soccer: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2018 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview
Taunton’s Colby Fernandes and Franklin’ Nitin Chaudhury battle for possession last season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview

Attleboro

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.

Franklin

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.

King Philip

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.”

Mansfield

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.”

Oliver Ames

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.

Taunton

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.

Oliver Ames Wins Division With Draw Against Mansfield

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames senior Matt Alvarado defends against Mansfield senior Sean Lanzillo. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Michael Nikiciuk ripped a left footed shot for the Tigers in the eighth minute that was collected by Mansfield keeper Nick Ferraz. Senior Nathaniel Cardoza played classmate Brandin Osborne wide but his low drive at the near post was turned aside.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Nonetheless, both sides had chances. Campbell laced a shot just over the bar after hitting it on the bounce in the 47th minute.

Cullin Anastasia did well to track down a clearance for the Hornets in the 54th minute, playing Sean Lanzillo wide, but his service to the back post was gobbled up by OA keeper Jack Carroll.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Lanzillo Nets Two in Mansfield Shutout of Attleboro

Mansfield boys soccer
Mansfield senior Sean Lanzillo (17) scored a pair of first half goals to help the Hornets beat Attleboro and stay within three points of first place OA. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

OA Breaks Through Late To Earn Draw With Mansfield

Oliver Ames boys soccer
Oliver Ames’ Matt Alvarado (left) takes a shot past Mansfield’s Derek Mueth while goalie Nick Ferraz looks on. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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 54th minute, Jack Sheldon played a short corner to Matt Alvarado, but his low shot to the near post was saved by Mansfield keeper Nick Ferraz.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Boys Soccer: 2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2017 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview
Oliver Ames’ Cam Vella (left) and King Philip’s Mike Rowe are back for their senior seasons. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview

Attleboro

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.

Franklin

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.”

King Philip

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.

Mansfield

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.

Oliver Ames

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.”

Taunton

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.”