TAUNTON, Mass. – The Taunton boys soccer team didn’t win the battle of possession or have the most chances in the game, but it did have the advantage where it mattered most: the score.
The Tigers weathered a strong attack from Sharon, countering with two second half goals, including the game-winner in the final five minutes, to pick up a 2-1 win.
“For this team, it’s about a belief system,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters. “They have to really believe in what they are capable of, because they are capable of a lot, this team has a lot of talent. It’s about being confident. This team in particular, they don’t give up. They are really embracing the “we” mentality over “me” and I think thats’ carrying them through.
“They are determined and resilient, and that showed today. We can’t come out flat like we did. But I couldn’t be prouder of the whole team for staying with it.”
With the game tied 1-1, Taunton senior Brett Beaulieu won a one-on-one battle on the left flank, dribbled into open space and drove a perfectly weighted cross into the senior. Junior Mateusz Hagemajer was in the right spot, heading it just under the bar through the keeper’s hands for the game-winner.
Sharon had the majority of the play, especially in the first half. The Eagles applied a ton of pressure in the opening 20 minutes but couldn’t solve the Tigers’ defense, anchored by Evan Melo and Liam Crowley, or goalie Nolan Melo (10 saves).
Senior Antonio El-Khoury had a nice rip from 25 yards out sail just over the bar, junior Isaiah Stessman drove a low shot from the top of the box off the post, and the Eagles had a couple of crosses go without an answer.
The Eagles finally broke through in the 26th minute when Stessman tucked a header just inside the far post off a nicely taken corner from senior Eli Berkowitz.
Before the end of the half, Taunton settled in some and developed a pair of chances on their own. In the 33rd minute, Hagemajer hit a half volley that was smothered on the bounce by Sharon keeper Ethan Kantor. Five minutes later, hard work from Jared Roderick nearly led to a chance for Hagemajer in the box but Sharon’s Daniel Gunduz interjected and cleared.
After some back and forth play in the early second, Taunton came up with the equalizer just over the midway point of the half. Beaulieu came up big again, gaining possession just over half and linking up with Colby Fernandes in the final third.
Fernandes took a touch into space before taking a shot from 25 yards out. The shot deflected off a player and hit off the inside of the post, just outside the reach of the diving keeper, to make it 1-1. It was Beaulieu’s first of two assists on the night.
“We rely on Brett a lot,” Whitters said. “He’s a very smart player and he’s very tactically aware. He’s very versatile so I can have him go in the middle to calm things down or he can be an attacking option out wide. He really sets a positive tone for us, he’s a workhorse out there.”
Sharon nearly responded right away when Berkowitz was played in alone in the 67th minute but Melo made a terrific one-on-one stop to keep the game level. Eight minutes later, Hagemajer had the winner.
“It’s deflating. We completely dominated that game, dominated the chances,” said Sharon head coach Bryan Kelly. “I’m in shock…we stopped running the last 10 minutes of the game. It was unlucky [Taunton’s] first goal took that deflection. But a break like that gives a team like that hope. We’re not a bad team…I know we’re 0-3-3 but we’ve dominated almost every single game we played.
“We’re missing by just inches and then we give up two lousy goals. It just completely annihilates us. We’re working our butts off, we’re dominating the midfield, we’re getting through balls but with no results. Their goalie was busy but we were missing the frame a lot. Everything was just a few inches off here and there. But give [Taunton] credit, they played their butts off and showed a lot of heart. They had no quit in them.”
Taunton boys soccer (1-1-2 Hockomock, 1-2-2 overall) is back in action on Monday night when it visits Franklin. Sharon (0-2-3, 0-3-3) is in action the same night, taking on Canton in its first ever night game at Sharon High.
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.
TAUNTON, Mass. – If you needed any proof that the final score doesn’t always reflect how the game was played, look no further than Franklin’s 2-0 win on the road at Taunton.
Despite playing arguably its best game of the season, and creating nearly a dozen good scoring chances, Taunton couldn’t find a way to find the back of the net.
And Franklin, who was on the defensive for a solid hour of the game, weathered the storm and push from the Tigers, evened the play over the final 20 minutes of the game and netted both of its goals in that same span.
“We were very fortunate,” said Franklin head coach Fran Bositis. “We should have down maybe four goals at halftime. They outplayed us in the first half completely.
“I thought that Taunton was controlling the game. Then all of a sudden it just changed. I’ll give my guys credit for staying with it.”
After a free kick chance early for the Panthers, it was all Taunton for the next 35-plus minutes.
In the fourth minute, sophomore Alec Nunes split his way between two Panthers defenders before centering a pass to junior Evan Melo. Melo had a go from outside the area but his bid was comfortably saved by Franklin keeper Freddie Beckmann on the bounce.
Taunton center back Derek DeSantis plays a long ball over the top in the 18th minute with Beaulieu tracking down and sending a cross to the far post. Senior Liam Crowley had his shot blocked with the rebound falling to Aubin, but his low shot was pushed aside on a diving save from Beckmann.
Nunes had a bid in the 31st minute when Beaulieu centered a pass on the turf, and Nunes latched onto it at the top of the area but his hard shot skidded wide at the far post. Two minutes later, Beaulieu found Melo but his header at the back stick was wide as well.
Franklin had one chance in the final minute of the half when Nitin Chaudhury and Liam Kapples combined at midfield with the result springing Kapples free. However, DeAndrade did well to track back and his slide tackle blocked Kapples’ bid inside the area.
The Panthers also had the first chance of the second half but Andrew DiLeo’s shot was tipped wide by Taunton keeper Nolan Melo for a corner.
Taunton kept the pressure up to after that chance but still couldn’t find the back of the net. Nunes sprayed a pass wide to Crowley, who whipped a cross to the far post but Beaulieu’s effort to center the ball again was smothered by Beckmann.
Two minutes later, Nunes found Crowley again, who linked up with Aubin in the middle, but his bid went wide as he was pressured heavily by Franklin’s center backs. Inside the same minute, junior Liam Crowley stepped into a shot from atop the area, but it was wide.
In the 49th minute, Nunes’ free kick went right at Beckmann, and in the 53rd minute, Nunes’ corner was headed by Daeshawn Duffie but Aubin’s half-volley attempt just looped over Beckmann and the bar.
DeAndrade, pushed up to an attacking spot, found his classmate Crowley on the left side but his chance from a touch angle went wide at the near post.
“I felt like we were outplaying them for about a good hour, and especially in the first half,” said THS head coach Taylor Whitters. “We just didn’t finish, and that’s how you win games. You have to finish.
“It’s a growing pain for us. We have an awesome team, they have a positive attitude, they are hard working. But they just have to believe. That’s the next step, it’s the confidence piece. Just believing they can do it.”
Once the hour mark struck, the Panthers seemed to settle in and their pressure helped create chances. While the majority of play took place in Taunton’s attacking third up until this point, Franklin’s pressure suddenly made it a challenge for the Tigers’ defense to get out of its own defensive third.
In the 61st minute, Jacob Cummings played Chaudhury wide and he found Tim Duval inside the area, but his point black shot was knocked down Melo and eventually cleared.
Franklin finally broke through in the 68th minute on the counter-attack. Kapples sprayed a pass wide for sophomore Donny Tappin. Tappin cut back inside the area to create some space before placing a shot on target. It was nearly stopped by a Taunton defender but found its way into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
A minute before the Panthers officially made it 2-0, Franklin had a golden chance denied by Melo. Beckmann launched a long punt that bounced over the defender with Tappin running onto it, but his shot was turned away by the Taunton keeper.
However, a minute later, a blocked clearance went looped right to Chaudhury at the back post, and he headed his shot just over the line before Taunton’s defense could clear it.
“Believe me, we’re very happy with the win,” Bositis said. “I’m happy they were able to stay with it and find a way to get it done. It’s a real good thing for the underclassman too, and we have a lot of them.”
Taunton had one final chance in the 77th minute when Beaulieu connected with Crowley on the left wing, but his bid at the near post was tipped over by Beckmann.
“We’ve been competing a lot more this season, and we’re giving some teams a run for their money…but if you can’t finish…you know, goals win games, simple as that,” Whitters said.
Franklin boys soccer (5-7-3 overall, 5-6-2 Hockomock) will try to continue to keep its postseason hopes alive when it travels to Mansfield on Thursday. Taunton (2-11-2, 1-10-2) will look to bounce back when it hits the road to visit King Philip on the same day.
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.”
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The Attleboro attack has been far from potent this fall, scoring only 13 goals through the opening 16 games of the season and more than one goal in a game just twice, but on Wednesday night at Tozier-Cassidy Field a young Bombardiers team still had the opportunity to book its place in the state tournament.
Not surprisingly, Attleboro would only get one goal, but it turned out to be all it needed against Taunton. Sophomore Will Halben scored the winner for the second straight game, as the Bombardiers held off the Tigers 1-0 to qualify for the postseason.
“We got to the tournament that was really positive,” said Attleboro coach Peter Pereira, who also celebrated his 250th career victory on Wednesday. “I really wanted it for the younger kids because we got two big years coming up and I really wanted them to get a taste of it and see what it’s like.”
For two teams that had combined for only 22 goals coming into the game, Taunton and Attleboro started wide open with chances coming thick and fast in the opening half hour.
Ahijah Joseph got the attack going just two minutes in when he ran onto a through ball from Nick Lawrence, but his shot sliced wide of the post and into the side-netting. Two minutes later, Taunton had its first chance with Sean Crowley getting space in the right channel but sending a shot over the bar.
Joseph had a header on a corner cleared off the line by Taunton defender Jake DeAndrade and on the other end Crowley got hold of a volley but hit is straight at Attleboro keeper Nicholas Hasenfus. Taunton keeper Tim Gambaradella was then called into action for his first save when Zach White’s pass bounced into the path of Michael Russo but the goalie smothered the shot.
The game’s lone goal came in the 23rd minute. Devin Andre slid a pass behind the Taunton defense for Halben to run onto and the sophomore showed poise to calmly slide the ball inside the far post and past Gambaradella (four saves).
“It’s the young guys, the freshmen, the sophomores, they’ve got speed and they’re going to be really good in the future but right now it’s a learning curve,” said Pereira, who is in his 37th year in charge of the program. He added, “We don’t get too many goals, so we have to take them where we can.”
Taunton almost answered back immediately, but another shot found the side-netting. The Bombardiers could have doubled the advantage in the 28th minute when Russo found Nathan Laplume for a scoring chance only to be denied by Gambaradella at full stretch. The rebound fell kindly to Halben but he smashed his shot off the crossbar of the goalposts just above the net.
The next chance for either team would not come until nine minutes after the break when Lawrence had a shot saved and then his follow up was blocked out for a corner by Dan DeAndrade. That would be the last clear-cut chance for either team until the final three minutes of the game.
As end-to-end as the first half of the game was, the second turned into a midfield stalemate with both teams clogging up the middle of the pitch and limiting the opposition’s ability to get the ball into the final third. First-year Taunton coach Taylor Whitters credited the Tigers defense for closing the gaps and taking away space in the second half.
She added, “It’s just a matter of trying to stick with and learn our shape and try to be quicker with transitioning. That’s something we’ve been working on and I think they did a really good job of it in the second half especially.”
With a chance to secure a tournament spot on the line, Attleboro started to look a little nervous in the second half and passes started to go astray. Pereira said, “It was an ugly game but we’ll take it. We didn’t want to make mistakes and we were making mistakes.”
At the back, senior Harry Lancaster was there to clean up most of the mistakes, alongside fellow center back Tyler Treichler, and keep Taunton from taking advantage. “Harry’s been solid every game,” Pereira said. “He has absolutely saved our butts. He’s our top player. He’s a great captain and his soccer has been great at the back.”
Joseph nearly set up Lawrence in the closing minutes but the cross just missed the forward at the back post. With the clock stopped in the final two minutes, Russo had a chance blocked on the slide by Liam Crowley and then Lawrence flicked a pass to Russo who pushed it on to Austin Champagne, but Gambaradella came through with a stellar dive down to his left to deny the second goal.
“We missed a couple opportunities to out the game away,” said Pereira, “but what are you going to do? We’ll take it, we’ll organize and get ready for our last game, which is big for them because it’s for the cup.”
Assessing her first year in charge, after three years with the freshman program, Whitters said, “We have a very, very young team, so I’m very proud of all the accomplishments they’ve had this year. We’ve made lots of little victories along the way and I’m really excited for next year.”
Attleboro (7-5-5, 7-4-5) will close out the regular season on Saturday afternoon in the annual Leach and Garner Cup against North Attleboro.
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin celebrated its 15 seniors before its game with Taunton on Wednesday but neither side could celebrate two points after the game as the teams finished with a 1-1 stalemate.
Taunton came into the game hungry for its first league win, and they played like it, getting their first scoring opportunity off of a corner just one minute into the game. However, a save from Franklin goalkeeper Joe Kroon kept the game scoreless.
Franklin had an opportunity of their own at the four minute mark, when a Farley Asmath shot was saved by Taunton keeper Tim Gambaradella, who had a huge night for the Tigers and was essential in helping them earn a point.
In the 10th minute, Taunton threatened again, but a big defensive play from senior defender Sean Kilcoyne helped Franklin force a turnover and go back on the offensive
The Panthers thought they had broken through in the 16th minute, celebrating a goal that ended up being waved off due to an offsides call. Franklin stayed on the attack though, and in the 25th minute had another great scoring opportunity, but a big save by Gambaradella kept the Panthers off the board.
Franklin, after plenty of missed scoring chances, finally broke through in the 39th minute, when a deep pass from Sam Stowell found Farley Asmath in stride, and he chipped on over the goalie’s head, putting Franklin up 1-0.
Taunton didn’t take very long to respond, and in the 40th minute junior Daeshawn Duffie put one in the back of the net to knot the score up at 1-1.
Franklin head coach Fran Bositis was unhappy with his team’s performance, especially in the first half, saying, “We squandered many scoring opportunities, especially in the first half, and then we gave up what I think is an unforgivable goal at the end of the first half that never should have happened, it was careless marking.”
The second half started off back and forth, with both teams jockeying for position. In the 65th minute, Franklin finally broke through with a real scoring opportunity off of a corner, but it was well-defended by Taunton. Taunton turned Franklin’s next corner into a counter attack, creating an opportunity to score, leading to a shot from Hatim Brahimi that just went over the crossbar, keeping the game tied up.
In the 70th minute, Franklin had their best scoring opportunity of the half, but Kevin Hall’s header was played beautifully by Gambaradella, who made a huge save to preserve the tie.
Taunton had one final scoring opportunity of its own in the 72nd minute, but a leaping save from Kroon killed the attack.
Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters was very happy with her team’s performance, saying, “We are finally moving forward, building momentum, and breaking through where we know we can be and where we should be.
“Their mindset was a lot different tonight, and that’s what it takes, a positive mindset.”
For Taunton (1-13-2), they’ll look to carry their momentum into a Friday night home matchup against KP. Franklin (6-6-3) will look to avenge their early season loss to Mansfield this Friday.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – As they say, one goal can change a soccer game.
As the first half was coming to a close, North Attleboro was producing scoring chance after scoring chance, but the Rocketeers couldn’t break through before the halftime whistle.
And then three minutes into the second half, Taunton used a bright start to find the back of the net and just like that, the Tigers held a 1-0 lead.
That goal seemed to give the Rocketeers a bit more urgency, and they capitalized. North Attleboro scored three straight goals inside a 10 minute span to earn a 3-1 win over Taunton.
“Our preseason had been very similar to this,” North Attleboro head coach Geoff Burgess said. “We went down to both Feehan and Dighton-Rehoboth and came back both times to tie it. We kind have been confident enough, even if we go down, to know we can score goals and come back from a mistake like we made.”
The Rocketeers had a handful of chances in the first half, with a majority coming off set pieces and crosses. John Brennan had an early chance off a free kick from Gabe Pinhancos but his header went over the par. Pinhancos had a chance two minutes later when he cut back to his left foot but his bid was right at the keeper. Noah Barney had his chance in the 32nd minute cleared at the far post by a defender.
North’s two best chances came in the 33rd and 40th minutes. First, Brennan sent a long ball into the area with Conor Danahey rising up to meet it, putting a header on target but Taunton goalie Tim Gambaradella got a paw to the ball and pushed it just. In the final seconds, a failed clearance bounced to junior Andrew Fontaine but his half volley clanked off of the crossbar and stayed out.
The Tigers got things started in the second half with a long run from Dan DeAndrade out of the back, putting the pressure on North’s defense. Hasan Farahat ended up with possession at the top of the 18 and quickly played Raffaele Corbelli wide. The senior took a touch and fired a shot that snuck in at the near post to give Taunton a 1-0 lead.
“I thought we dominated the game in the first half, I thought we created a bunch of chances, like five or six open headers on set pieces,” Burgess said. “We had some chances through the run of play too. But the goal we scored to equalize was one of the best ones we’ve scored.”
Seven minutes after Taunton took the lead, Barney found himself in possession of the ball in the attacking third. He delivered a perfectly weighted ball into the area and Danahey ran onto it and tucked his header into the near post corner.
The Rocketeers continued the pressure as senior Leo Charlebois ran onto the ball along the right sideline, just inside the area. His touch was enough to get some space but he was taken down in the area for a penalty kick. Charlebois took the penalty himself, going low and to the goalie’s left to give North Attleboro a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute.
North capped the scoring just two minutes later. Pinhancos gained possession and carried into the final third before playing a perfect through ball, splitting a pair of defenders. Charlebois ran onto it and calmly finished against an oncoming Gambaradella to make it 3-1.
Although it was Pinhancos’ first assist, it could have been his fourth or fifth. He was responsible for setting up the majority of North’s chances in the first half as well.
“He was the guy for us last year too but he was only a sophomore,” Burgess said of Pinhancos. “Now he’s a year older, a little bit more confident and bigger and stronger. I think that has made a huge difference in his confidence level as well. In practice and in games.”
Burgess was also pleased to see other players step up around Pinhancos with Charlebois scoring twice, Danahey scoring once and Barney registered an assist.
“I think last year he felt he had to do it all by himself,” Burgess said. “Now he realizes there some pieces around him that can make good things happen, for him as well. We have a good mix of size and speed. I’m hoping this is going to be a good year for us, we’ve had a rough go it lately but I think this group has the ability to score.”
For Taunton, it’s a matter of putting together a complete game. Head coach Taylor Whitters said, “It’s just a matter of work ethic. We need to have the 100% work ethic, 100% of the time. So those little moments where we get a little lax, we suffered for it. But we’re working on it, we’re going to keep working hard at it.”
North Attleboro (1-1-0) will take a trip to North Easton on Friday to take on Oliver Ames. Taunton (0-2-1) will try to earn its first win of the season when it welcomes Milford to town on Saturday at noon.
2015 Record: 4-10-3 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Peter Pereira
Attleboro is only returning three starters from last year’s squad but the Bombardiers are hopeful that its incoming players will keep them competitive in the Kelley-Rex this season.
Senior captain Harry Lancaster will anchor the back line, showing his versatility by playing yet another position in his fourth year on varsity. Senior captain Ahijah Joseph will see time at both forward as well as some time in the midfield, alongside junior Zach White, another returnee. Junior Nick Hasenfus will take over as the starting goalie while seniors Tyler Treichler and Nick Lawrence will also emerge as key contributors this season. Head coach Peter Pereira also expects to get contributions from underclassmen including sophomore Will Halben and freshmen Mike Russo and Nathan LaPlume.
“We will be a hard working team that should get better every game,” Pereira said. “I think we will surprise some teams.”
2015 Record: 12-7-1 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Fran Bositis
Franklin has some big holes to fill around the field but returning nearly a dozen varsity players is a good start. Around 10 returning players saw valuable varsity minutes last season and that is something the Panthers will rely on.
The Panthers have to find replacements for midfielders Austin Kent and Nick Parent, along with defender Dan Geraci and goalie Henri Guilmette. However, Franklin doesn’t need to find any replacements for its strikers with both Farley Asmath and Kevin Hall back this year. Hall was second on the team with seven goals a season ago and Asmath is speedy, strong player that could add a lot to the attack. Hatim Brahimi (five goals, three assists in 2015) is one of the top returning players in the league and will lead the midfield for the Panthers this season. Franklin’s defense will consist of a rotation of five or six players, including Wesley Kozil and Noah Scafati. Senior Joe Kroon and junior Fred Beckmann will battle for the starting goalie spot.
“We’ve got a bunch of great athletes that are pretty good soccer players that work really hard,” head coach Fran Bositis said.
2015 Record: 8-8-3 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Second Round Coach: Nick Gale
The Kelley-Rex division title race expects to be a very contested one and King Philip looks like they’ll be right in the mix this season because of a strong balance of returning players.
Senior captains Cam Mullins and Ryan Coulter are returning to anchor the back line, which had a strong showing in 2015 with the fourth least goals surrendered in the Hockomock. Both have proved in the past to be reliable defenders, especially in the air against set pieces. Although the Warriors will have to replace the versatile Joe Kellett, KP has a handful of young players that saw valuable minutes on varsity and can make an impact this year. Tyler Mann will lead the attack, a year after scoring a team-high eight goals as a sophomore. Senior Colby Koch has shown his versatility in the past and will also be a factor for KP again this this. Juniors Connor Mullins, Larsen Keys and Mike Rowe also will be key players for the Warriors this season after each of them played meaningful minutes as sophomores.
“Our goal is to build off last year’s successes, continue to improve everyday, and compete hard,” head coach Nick Gale said.
“We know what we want, but we also know we have to earn it.”
2015 Record: 13-4-3 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Steve Sheridan
The defending Kelley-Rex champions will look to try to win back-to-back league titles for the first time in program history and they have a large amount of returning players that could help accomplish that goal.
Captain Max Gurnon, a 2015 HockomockSports.com Best XI selection, returns for his senior campaign to anchor an experienced back line that allowed just 15 goals last season. While Mansfield must overcome the graduation of Chris Elsner, juniors Nick Hyland and Harry Braidt both started on the back line last year while sophomore Ethan Brill-Cass looks to be the final piece to the defense. Mansfield will have to find a replacement for goalie Mike Kirejczyk but head coach Steve Sheridan said senior Jed Tolbert and junior Nick Ferraz will battle for the starting spot.
“As far as our strengths go, our defense should be strong,” Sheridan said. “Losing [Chris] Elsner is a big loss, but Ethan [Brill-Cass] saw a lot of time as a freshman last season and learned a lot from Chris. I’m hoping our offense is much improved over last season.”
The Hornets finished fifth in the league in scoring last year and graduated its top four scorers. However, there is a group of attacking players back that saw plenty of minutes. Senior captain Brendan Sullivan will be a speedy option up top while classmates Kevin Bouck and Ryan Amaral will figure into the offense. Senior captain James Chotkowski will lead a midfield unit along with Jackson Murphy, Cullin Anastasia and Sean Lanzillo.
2015 Record: 18-0-3 (Davenport Division Champions) 2015 Finish: Division 2 State Champions Coach: John Barata
Oliver Ames has had a target on its back for the last couple of years as they claimed four of the last five Davenport titles but after winning the program’s first ever Division 2 State Title last Fall, it’s bigger than ever.
The Tigers will have to replace two All-State players in Chris Romero and Keegan Nutt, as well as three seniors from their league-best defense last season. However, OA does return a good chunk of starters as well as experienced bench players from the state championship team.
Senior Thomas McCormick has been causing havoc for defenses for two years and will be relied upon to do so again this year. Nathaniel Cardoza, the 2015 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, will be back to control the middle of the pitch alongside Cam Vella, who showed his ability to get forward last season. Juniors Matt Campbell, Matt Alvarado, Jack Sheldon and Mason Galbato all saw time in the midfield last season and look to be contributors this year. Junior Jack Carroll is back in net again this year.
“We will try to be competitive this season and make another run at qualifying for the postseason,” head coach John Barata said. “Our path to the state tourney is extremely difficult this season as we join the Kelley-Rex. We look forward to a great season and hope to be in a position to qualify for the state tournament in late October.”
Barata noted that losing the back line, one that surrendered just 12 goals all season, will be a major challenge for the Tigers this season.
2015 Record: 2-13-2 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
With a new coach at the helm in Taylor Whitters, the Taunton Tigers are looking to build a new foundation for years to come. Whitters, who was previously the boys freshmen coach, is hoping the Tigers can rise up to the challenge of the very talented Kelley-Rex division.
Two key returning players include sophomore Hasan Farahat and junior Daeshawn Duffie. Both players possess strong soccer skills and will be vital parts for Taunton both ways as they patrol the midfield. Senior Sean Crowley will be tasked with pacing the scoring for the Tigers while freshman Colton Madeira, senior Dan DeAndreade and junior Jake DeAndrade will all be factors as Taunton pushes forward. Junior Liam Crowley will factor into Taunton’s defense and sophomore Liam Crowley will play a role in Taunton’s midfield.
“We are going to rise up in our league with respect, integrity,encouragement, unity and pride,” Whitters said.