Quick Start Leads OA Past Stoughton and Into Quarters

Oliver Ames girls soccer
OA senior Jenna Gilman celebrates after scoring the second goal in a 3-0 win over Stoughton in the D2 Sweet Sixteen. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry

NORTH EASTON, Mass. – When you’re the underdog, the team that is new to the playoff experience, the team on the road facing the top seed and league champion, you want to make sure to stay close early in the game. You want to keep within touching distance to build confidence and let the favorite start to fell the pressure.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Stoughton went into Wednesday afternoon’s visit to Muscato Stadium with that game plan, but it last all of 40 seconds before Oliver Ames opened the scoring. The Tigers would add two more within a minute and then kept the Black Knights at arm’s length for the final 70 minutes to secure a 3-0 victory and a place in the Div. 2 quarterfinal.

“They came out gunning for us,” said Stoughton coach Jon Grant. “They came out very fast. They came out very clean and they capitalized on every moment. I tip my hat to them, they’re a phenomenal team. They basically punched us in the mouth the first 10 minutes and then we battled and battled and battled. It’s hard to comeback from a three-goal deficit.

Before the crowd had even gotten settled into the bleachers on a chilly night, OA was on top. Emma Gavin picked up the ball in space in the midfield and slid a pass out to the right wing for freshman Jolie Diaz to run onto. Diaz carried the ball to the end line and then cut the ball back to Gavin, who was making a late run into the box and smacked it past Stoughton keeper Katrina Varnum (seven saves) with a first-time shot.

Eight minutes later, OA doubled its lead on a very similar goal. This time it was Lucinda Li Cotter on the right wing and she dribbled her way to the end line and fired a low cross to the edge of the six-yard box where Jenna Gilman was waiting to power her shot inside the post.

Less than a minute was off the clock before OA had put daylight between itself and the visitors. Diaz again provided the assist with a hard-hit cross into a mass of bodies in the box. Varnum made a diving parry on the pass, but only managed to knock it to the feet of Carly Gibson, who made no mistake with another unerring finish.

“We had senior night here and it was 0-0 and we spent the whole night in their half, but they’re so hard to break down,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “You have to get to the end line and get the ball across because you’re not going to beat [Katrina] high. The first two goals were low and Carly’s was just a bullet through a crowd.”

Holding onto a 3-0 lead took some of the impetus away from the Tigers, who were content to hold the ball and continue looking for its dangerous front three of Cotter, Gilman, and Diaz.

The rest of OA’s chances in the first half came from set pieces. Taylor deVos forced Varnum into a save with a 35-yard free kick. Another deVos delivery, this time from a better angle, went straight across the box to Gavin at the far post, but the sophomore midfielder could only find the side-netting.

Stoughton was struggling to create anything going forward, which wasn’t helped by an injury to sophomore Emma Tran midway through the half. OA keeper Janiya Matier was forced into only one save, on a ball that ricocheted off the knee of Makenzie O’Connor. The Black Knights almost forced an opening in the final minute when Morgan Cook slid a pass into Shayla Ford, but Matier was off her line quickly to collect on the slide.

Coming out of the break, OA nearly added to its lead. A ball in behind the Stoughton defense let Gavin have a chance from close-range, but Varnum was able to smother it. Seconds later, the ball was recycled out to Gibson, who forced the Stoughton keeper into a nice diving stop to her right.

Stoughton had more possession and more of the territorial advantage than it did in the first half, but the Black Knights still struggled to create any chances of note. The OA back line of deVos, Sophia Byron, Catie Wilson, and Molly Capece was impenetrable.

“First half we had to basically stop the bleeding, we had to stop them from scoring,” Grant explained. “In the second half, it was okay lets see if we can get some offense going. We were able to get a little more forward in the second half, but their counterattack, they dump and they’re fast and they’re good. They capitalize on any mistake.”

In the end, OA managed the second half well, making sure to keep the game from getting dramatic in the closing minutes. After a loss at this stage last year, the Tigers were determined to get to the next round.

“We talked about that,” Sellmayer admitted. “Having Jenna gives us an edge and having Jolie gives us pace up front.” When asked about managing the lead late in the game, he added, “It wasn’t as efficient in terms of containing the ball, but we didn’t give them any corners kicks, they had a couple scary chances. They’re a real physical team and we wanted to match it but didn’t want to foul.”

For Stoughton (8-8-4), this season marked the first playoff appearance in 14 years and has the potential to be a jumping off point for a talented sophomore class that makes up a good chunk of the team’s starting lineup.

“Phenomenal,” said Grant. “Absolutely night and day from last year. The work ethic has been phenomenal, the leadership from the seniors has been phenomenal, they’re going to be missed. We do have a young crew coming up and hopefully they can match the leadership that’s been there, but this has been a good building block for the next two years.”

Oliver Ames (14-3-1) will host the winner of Canton and Duxbury, who meet on Thursday, in the quarterfinal on Saturday at a time to be determined.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Casna Makes Stoughton’s Playoff Return a Winning One

Stoughton girls soccer
Stoughton players celebrate after Bianca Casna’s last-minute goal sealed a 2-1 win over Marblehead in the D2 tournament opener. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry

STOUGHTON, Mass. – It had been 14 years since the Stoughton girls soccer team had gotten a taste of state tournament play. To put that into perspective, none of the current Black Knights were in school when Stoughton last made the postseason. A huge crowd turned out on Monday at Memorial Field to cheer on the Black Knights, making it a memorable occasion for the players.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

In the final minute of a tie game, sophomore left back Caitlin Driscoll curled a cross into the box. Driscoll’s classmate Bianca Casna read the flight of the ball, making a late run from midfield. Casna snuck inside her defender and managed to get a foot on the cross, knocking it past the onrushing Marblehead keeper and into the net.

Casna’s goal ensured the game wouldn’t just be remembered as the night Stoughton returned to the playoffs, but for the 2-1 win that sends the Black Knights to the Sweet Sixteen and a rematch with league champion and top seed Oliver Ames.

“We were trying to keep it similar to a league battle and I was hoping that was the intensity we were going to come out with,” said first-year Stoughton coach Jon Grant. “I was a little concerned where we’ve never been here before, but the senior leadership has been tremendous. They’ve kept the energy high, the excitement high, and you can’t beat this crowd here right now.”

“It means everything,” added senior forward Shayla Ford about the experience of playing in the tournament. “We put our heart and soul into this whole entire season. We haven’t been here for 14 years, it’s a new feeling and I’m just really happy that we got here and showed up today.”

She continued, “We were excited. We couldn’t give this opportunity up. With everyone supporting us, we didn’t want to let anyone down.”

Despite not having been on this stage before, the Black Knights came out of the gates ready to meet the physical demands of tournament soccer. The game was filled with robust challenges on both sides, as neither team was willing to give an inch or back down from a tackle.

The Black Knights had a good early chance when Emma Tran crossed from the left sideline to Casna arriving at the back post, but the header went just wide. Marblehead’s first scoring opportunity came off a set piece on the edge of the box, but Samantha Dormer’s shot was well over.

In the 15th minute, Tran gave the crowd reason to get even louder. A foul right in front of the Stoughton bench gave the Black Knights a free kick from about 35 yards out. With the wind at her back, Tran curled a ball into the box. Whether it was intended as a shot or as a cross, only Tran will know, but the ball arrowed towards goal, over the keeper, and just under the bar.

“As she kicked it, I was like oh no, keep it away from the goalie, keep it away from the goalie, that’s going in!” Grant joked. “Whether she was shooting or crossing, it doesn’t matter because it was in the back of the net.”

Marblehead’s most dangerous player was Sydney Ball and she showed off her skills to work shooting space a few minutes later but her effort was right at Stoughton keeper Katrina Varnum. Freshman Julia Vasconcelos had a try from distance for the Black Knights, taking a big hit in the process, but it was also right at the goalie.

Stoughton would have one more chance with the wind at its back. Morgan Cook played a high ball towards the Marblehead back line. Ford watched the bounce of the ball elude the last defender and was on it like a flash, but so was Magicians keeper Kate Ford, who was off her line quickly to collect.

It was a game in which the fouls, and the delays for injuries, outnumbered the clear-cut scoring chances, so it was always likely that set pieces would play a big role. Just three minutes after the break, the Magicians had a chance to line one up. A handball on the edge of the box gave Dormer another opportunity and this time she made it count by belting a shot into the top corner.

Rather than letting the equalizer get the down, the Black Knights went right back on the attack. Less than a minute after the goal, Makenzie O’Connor made a run down the left wing, angling into the box and forcing a diving save with her left-footed shot. The keeper spilled the initial try and Ford was the first to the rebound, but Burns redeemed herself by leaping up and smothering the second shot.

Stoughton’s back line of Sabrina Rodrigues, Lauren Mitchell, Emma Tremblay, and Driscoll (two sophomores and two seniors) were excellent all night, keeping everything to the perimeter and not allowing a chance inside the 18.

“When he called a timeout, I knew there’s only about a minute left and I said, girls they’re going to throw it in the box, we have to counter,” Grant explained. “They’re going to push forward because they have the wind right now, weather the storm and lets hit them on the counter attack.”

Chances remained at a premium. Tran played in a nice free kick from the left to Casna but her downward header bounced wide. Dormer would get two more free kicks in the span of a minute. The first from 35 yards she blazed over and the second one from 10 yards closer was smashed into the wall.

The game looked destined for overtime. Then Driscoll delivered the perfect ball and Casna delivered the finishing touch to create celebration more than a decade in the making.

“They all play on a club team with each other, so they’re all close, connected and you can see that on the field,” Ford said about the play of the underclassmen, including six starters who are sophomores or freshmen. “We just love playing with each other and everyone’s proud of each other and how they performed today.

Stoughton (8-7-4) will take on top seed Oliver Ames on Wednesday afternoon. The teams had two close games in the regular season, with the Tigers winning by a goal in the first meeting and the second finishing in a draw.

“They’ve been the best team, so I wouldn’t want anything less,” Grant said about facing the Tigers again. “I trust these girls and I know they’re going to be excited for [Wednesday].”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Stoughton Surges Past Holyoke With Strong Set Starts

Stoughton volleyball
Stoughton sophomore Reagan Lewis goes up for an attack in the first set against Holyoke. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 STOUGHTON, Mass. — For the first two sets of Wednesday’s Division 2 preliminary round, the Stoughton volleyball team couldn’t find its footing, and the Black Knights couldn’t get out of their own way.

But in the last two sets, Stoughton couldn’t do anything wrong.

Buoyed by incredible starts to the third and fourth sets, the 27th-seeded Black Knights earned a 3-1 (25-17, 17-25, 25-6, 25-9) win over #38 Holyoke to advance in the state tournament.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Although Stoughton got a win in the first set, they didn’t make it easy on themselves. A kill from sophomore Reagan Lewis (18 kills) pushed the hosts’ lead to eight at 16-8 but mistakes and unforced errors saw that lead shrink to three before Stoughton closed it out with a 5-0 run.

The unforced errors and passing mistakes carried over to the second set, and even with Stoughton staying close with the visiting Purple Knights for the majority of the set, Holyoke middle Rhina Cortes Rodriguez proved to be too much and the visitors finished the set with an 11-1 run to even the match.

That clearly served as a wake-up call for Stoughton. Of the next 65 points between the final two sets, the Black Knights won 50 of them.

“We talk about it all the time, it feels like we have to get down a little before we really turn it on,” said Stoughton head coach Felicia Baptista. “But they are really driven by being the underdogs so after they won that second set, we kind of woke up and just started communicating better.

“I felt like we were playing down for the first two sets and letting them feed off of our errors. Once we cleaned up those mistakes, we got it going.”

It all started with the serving of sophomore Angelina Barry. who had three aces and two more serves that weren’t returned to set the tone. Lewis added three early kills and a 9-0 start prompted a timeout from Holyoke.

Lewis had a team-high 18 kills, filling in as an outside hitter for the Knights, who were without their starting two outsides in juniors Maya Ashu and Annalia Eschleman.

“She’s been awesome for us because she can play anywhere in the front row,” Baptista said. “We can put her in the middle, we can put her at the outside. And tonight she really stepped up as an underclassman when we needed her most with our two starting outsides out hurt.”

But the break couldn’t deter Barry and the Black Knights. Lewis had back-to-back kills off sets from Ella Holden, senior Jessie Queeney followed a kill with a big block at the net, Barry landed another ace, and Queeney dropped in a roll shot to push the run to 16-0 to start the third set.

A hitting mistake out of Holyoke’s second time finally ended Stoughton’s run but Lewis restored momentum for the hosts with a pair of kills, the latter coming off a pass from senior Patrik Oliveira and a set from freshman Natalia Borges, who then landed three straight aces to close out the third, 25-6.

It was unlikely that Stoughton could have a better start to the fourth set than it did in the third with a 16-0 run, but the Black Knights managed to top it.

This time it was Holden at the helm, serving Stoughton to an incredible 20-0 run to essentially run away with the win. Holden had three aces early on, a pair of other strong serves batted around before being knocked out, Queeney had a block kill, and Lewis had two kills for a quick 11-0 run.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Oliveira landed a back row kill, Holden dropped in another ace, and even a pass from Queeney found a hole in the defense to make it 17-0. Back-to-back cross court kills from Queeney and Lewis made it 20-0 before a hitting error got the Purple Knights on the board. Despite a little run from the visitors, senior Mia Marangos got a big block on a free ball and junior Alyssa Edwards smashed a kill for the final point to clinch the match.

“This is huge to host and win a playoff game,” Baptista said. “We always have a big program and I feel like it’s continuing to grow because we’re doing more youth programs so to be able to host this game and have the community out supporting is huge to help continue to grow.”

Stoughton volleyball (9-10) is set to travel to #6 Melrose on Friday with a 6:30 start for an MIAA Division 2 First Round matchup.

Hockomock Cross Country Championship Results 2022

Hockomock Cross-Country Championships
OA senior Ryan Sarney won the boy’s race at the annual Hockomock Cross-Country Championships at the Wrentham Development Center. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

The Hockomock League held its annual cross-country championships on Saturday morning at the Wrentham Development Center. Below are the Hockomock Cross-Country Championship team and individual results.

Click here for a photo gallery from the boys meet.

Click here for a photo gallery from the girls meet.


Team Results
1. Oliver Ames – 39
2. Sharon – 63
3. Taunton – 87
4. Franklin – 136
5. Mansfield – 156
6. King Philip – 163
7. Attleboro – 208
8. Milford – 209
9. Foxboro – 221
10. North Attleboro – 259
11. Canton – 263
12. Stoughton – 359

Individual Results
1. Ryan Sarney, Oliver Ames – 14:58.0
2. Brendan Thomas, Oliver Ames – 15:10.2
3. Aidan Dupill, Oliver Ames – 15:30.0
4. Nate Sylven, King Philip – 16:13.4
5. Brayden Cali, Taunton – 16:30.9
6. Karthik Pisupati, Sharon – 16:33.6
7. Talon Johnson, Mansfield – 16:48.7
8. Andrew Cali, Taunton – 16:55.2
9. Nicholas Yacoub, Sharon – 16:56.3
10. Alexander Blumen, Sharon – 16:57.2
11. Andrew Fletcher, Milford – 17:01.7
12. Tyler Apicella, Franklin – 17:04.2
13. Mark Butters, Milford – 17:08.1
14. Daniel Labunski, Sharon – 17:15.5
15. Landon Sarney, Oliver Ames – 17:18.9
16. Brady King, North Attleboro – 17:19.3
17. Samuel Denis, Taunton – 17:20.8
18. Alex Callahan, Oliver Ames – 17:22.4
19. Chris Proulx, Foxboro – 17:23.4
20. John Sylvain, Mansfield – 17:27.1
21. Steve Haney, Foxboro – 17:32.2
22. Joshua Diehl, Franklin – 17:32.5
23. Max Miller, King Philip – 17:32.9
24. Matthew Lally, Sharon – 17:36.5
25. Luke Darling, Canton – 17:36.9


Team Results
1. Oliver Ames – 26
2. Franklin – 60
3. Foxboro – 144
4. Sharon – 146
5. King Philip – 146
6. North Attleboro – 180
7. Taunton – 183
8. Milford – 201
9. Canton – 237
10. Mansfield – 240
11. Stoughton – 269
12. Attleboro – 289

Individual Results
1. Katie Sobieraj, Oliver Ames – 17:54.5
2. Sydney Kalil, Milford 18:59.4
3. Alexandra Batla, Franklin19:14.9
4. Braelyn Graham, Oliver Ames 19:27.5
5. Fiona Morrison, Franklin 19:36.2
6. Hannah Dupill, Oliver Ames – 19:46.6
7. Ashley Powers, Oliver Ames – 19:52.1
8. Annie Reilly, Oliver Ames – 19:59.2
9. Emersyn Deponte, Taunton – 19:59.8
10. Taegan Hodges, Oliver Ames – 20:11.3
11. Colby Dunham, Taunton – 20:17.2
12. Katie Galgoczy, North Attleboro – 20:23.5
13. Hailey Goldman, Oliver Ames – 20:33.5
14. Madeleine Stewart, Oliver Ames – 20:43.8
15. Carli Walbert, Franklin – 20:45.3
16. Sara Lessard, Sharon – 20:51.2
17. Kate Buban, King Philip – 20:52.2
18. Lauren Hunt, North Attleboro – 20:57.0
19. Ashley Tighe, Franklin – 21:03.3
20. Brooke Davies, Foxboro – 21:13.3
21. Emma Pruitt, Franklin – 21:20.7
22. Emily Matteson, Franklin2 – 1:21.3
23. Abigail Baker, Franklin – 21:28.0
24. Katie Sweeney, Franklin – 21:33.8
25. Casey Dahl, Foxboro – 21:37.3

Click here for full results from both the boy’s and girl’s meets.

Click here for a photo gallery from the boys meet.

Click here for a photo gallery from the girls meet.

Hockomock Cross Country Championship