Below are the official 20020 Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Kelley-Rex Division MVP
Leo Coelho, Milford
Kelley-Rex Division All Stars
Joey Soucy, Attleboro
Jackson Singer, Attleboro
Ethan Cain, Franklin
Terry O’Neill, Franklin
Evan McEvoy, King Philip
Aidan Lindmark, King Philip
Ajae Olsen, King Philip
Evan Eames, Mansfield
Tommy Lanzillo, Mansfield
Michael Jeans, Mansfield
Leo Coelho, Milford
Lucas Da Silva, Milford
Chris Tocci, Milford
Davenport Division MVP
Colin Milliken, Oliver Ames
Davenport Division All Stars
Giovanni Ruggeri, Canton
Jacob Crugnale, Canton
Abdul Barrie, Canton
Erik Valdovinos, Canton
Max Beigel, Foxboro
Justin Silva, North Attleboro
Kevin Louhis, Oliver Ames
Colin Milliken, Oliver Ames
Brady deVos, Oliver Ames
Mathias Taylor, Oliver Ame
Matt Nikiciuk, Oliver Ames
Anthony DaCosta, Oliver Ames
Bryce Nathan, Sharon
Alex Vecchioli, Attleboro
Jorge Sanchez, Canton
Matthew Angelini, Foxboro
Ben Moccia, Franklin
Cole Breen, King Philip
Eric Sullivan, Mansfield
Leo Oliveira, Milford
Matthew Conley, North Attleboro
Drew Nickla, Oliver Ames
Matthew Baur, Sharon
Nolan Gerome, Stoughton
Riley Rebello, Taunton
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The regular season is firmly in the rearview mirror for the Mansfield boys soccer team. The focus is now on making a statement in the Hockomock Cup postseason tournament.
That quest started on Tuesday for the Hornets, the second-seed out of the Kelley-Rex division, with a very business-like performance in the form of a 2-0 win over Foxboro, the Davenport’s third-place club.
The Hornets spent most of the 80 minutes pushing the ball up field, putting a lot of pressure on Foxboro’s back four with services into the area. Almost every restart from the attacking half turned into a long back into the box, putting a lot of stress on the Warrior defense.
Not only did it result in a pair of goals and a dozen more chances, but it also helped prevent the Warriors from building anything out of the back. The high pressure would often force a big clearance out of the back that the Hornets would collect and put right back into the mix in the final third.
“We should have had about 10 goals but we just didn’t finish,” said Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan. “But we put the pressure on them…we did what we practiced except for the finishing. I expected us to play that way, been expecting it for a while, we finally did it today when it counts. I expect a tight game, I expected it to be maybe a little more chippy. But it was a good game I’m happy with it.”
It took Mansfield less than two minutes to get on the front foot with a good bid on goal. Dylan Buchanan did well to take down a long ball, touch around a defender and blasted a left-footed shot that was denied on a good saver from Nick Penders, tipping the shot over the bar.
The chances continued to come for the hosts, sophomore Grady Sullivan with a bid in the 12th minute and junior Matt Hyland had his cross-turned-shot scooped up by Penders two minutes later. A nice combo from Sagar Koul and Buchanan led to a shot by the former, but wide, in the 25th minute. And a minute later, Aidan Steele latched onto a turnover and looped the ball over a defender but Penders was quick off his line.
Mansfield boys soccer Foxboro boys soccer
Foxboro found its footing a bit as it built out of the back from Penders. Max Beigel found some space along the right-wing before centering to Matt Angelini, but his low shot from distances was gobbled up by Mansfield keeper Eric Sullivan.
The Hornets came very close in the 29th minute, a service from Tommy Lanzillo on a corner found Koul alone in front but the close-range bid was over the bar.
But just before the halftime whistle, Mansfield finally cashed in. After the Warriors were able to counter, the Hornets came right back up field on a counter of their own, taking advantage of space in the final third.
Starting with Sullivan, the Hornets pushed forward before Lanzillo collected possession just over half, quickly turning and finding Hyland streaking in alone down the left side. After taking a touch, Hyland deposited a shot inside the near post past the oncoming keeper for a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
“I don’t think [Mansfield] did anything special to stop us, we started in a 4-3-2-1 which isn’t conducive to hold the ball a lot, we were looking to counter,” said first-year Foxboro coach Dan Ambrosio. “I think my boys were a little intimidated, [Mansfield] is a bit bigger, more physical, faster…and they are really organized in the back.
“With the way they play, you kind of have to put defense first and it’s not the prettiest game to watch. It’s effective in a way in this situation, and it’s been their style for years. It’s just one of those things, you try to pack it in to respond to their style of play.”
Mansfield boys soccer Foxboro boys soccer
The second half started just as the first did, Mansfield’s pressure paying off as Michael Caridi intercepted a pass out of the back, found Hyland out wide for a cross to Steele but Foxboro’s Justin Neale, who alongside his brother Jeremy had standout games at outside back, was quick to recover to thwart the chance.
Mansfield kept at it and quickly added a second goal. A kick in on the far side from Ethan Scholes was played low into the area, taking a pair of deflections right to the feet of Lanzillo, who was by himself at the far post. He quickly put the ball on his right foot and blasted a low shot out of the reach of Penders to make it 2-0.
“That’s one of the main reasons we’re playing with so much pressure, we don’t want to let them out,” Sheridan said. “I hadn’t seen tape on them this year, but I was told they like to get the ball to [Matt Angelini] and [Max Beigel] and play through them, play one on one. I’ll take almost anyone in this league one-on-one with our goals. We didn’t want them to get the ball to them.”
Foxboro had a couple of attempts to get back into the mix but couldn’t get one past Sullivan. Junior Cam Barreira looped a shot that was caught by Sullivan just under the bar in the 58th minute, and then Foxboro’s best chance — an indirect kick inches from the penalty spot — was blocked away by Evan Eames as the Hornets loaded in front of goal with bodies to prevent a shot on goal.
Mansfield advances to the semifinal round of the Hockomock Cup and will renew acquaintances with a familiar foe in Oliver Ames. The Tigers, who ran through the competition in the Davenport division and sit at 11-0, were Mansfield’s main competition for the Kelley-Rex title for the past four seasons.
“I’m excited to see them play,” Sheridan said. “I’ve watched them afar for the last year, I saw them play indoors down in Weymouth. There’s a level of excitement that comes with playing them, we have one shot at it. This is it for us, hopefully we can make it a good game.”
The Hornet and Tigers will clash at Muscato Stadium in Easton later this week with a date and time yet to be announced. Foxboro will play a consolation game against Franklin this week as well.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – For all intents and purposes, the Milford boys soccer team clinched its third straight division title on Tuesday evening.
But this is 2020, and nothing is quite as straight forward as years past.
The Scarlet Hawks scored once in each half to earn a 2-1 win over Mansfield, leapfrogging the Hornets in the standings. The win puts the Hawks at 6-0-1 and a total of 13 points while Mansfield sits at 5-2-2 and 12 points. The teams play again Thursday, and as it stands now, the Hornets could jump back ahead, but the Hawks have two games in limbo against Taunton.
As of Tuesday night, Milford’s matchups with Taunton were not officially canceled, but all indications point to no makeup games, meaning a pair of 0-0 draws and two points for the Hawks, which would secure the division title at 15 points.
“We don’t care who we play, we’ll play anyone anywhere because we love competition,” said first-year head coach Antonio Pinto. “Obviously the situation with Taunton made it a little harder with points because we don’t know exactly how it will play out…but the kids are treating every game like it’s their last because we don’t know when it could end. Every game, we’ve had the mentality that each game is like a state final because for these seniors it could be the last time they play with each other, with their friends.”
Milford boys soccer Mansfield boys soccer
Upon review, the host Hornets would certainly like a second chance to start each half. While Mansfield came out of the front foot, it let a pair of good scoring chances slip away inside the opening two minutes. And to start the second half, the Hawks needed less than two minutes to double their lead by converting a penalty kick.
“The whole first half wasn’t very good for us,” admitted Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan. “We let them do what they want to do and they got in our heads. Finally, in the fourth quarter, we got a little into their heads. We changed some things up at halftime to try and get going…I didn’t see anything on the penalty kick, hopefully, the video shows me something about it. It didn’t look like one from where we were.”
Pressure from Hornet senior Michael Jeans created a turnover in the attacking third and a chance in the are for sophomore Aidan Steele but Milford senior goalie Leo Oliveira was quick to react and intervened before a genuine bid on net.
Just a minute later, a service to the far post from senior Evan Eames found juniorMatt Hyland but once again Oliveira was there for the stop.
Chances were aplenty for both sides throughout the first half but the Hawks slowly started to assert themselves and take control of the play. It started with their first real chance on net which resulted in the first goal of the game.
A quick combination from seniors Lucas Da Silva and Leo Coelho resulted in a pass to the far post where sophomore Arthur Tome was left alone and he latched onto a shot with the inside of his right foot, tucking a shot inside the far post for a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.
Mansfield nearly equalized three minutes later, a combination from sophomore Connor Palinski and junior Dan Rowe with the latter rifling a shot on net that was denied by a one-handed save from Oliveira.
An errant pass out of the back from Oliveira nearly resulted in the equalizer but the keeper was able to recover quickly and get down to stop a low bid from Hyland. And in the 29th minute, Oliveira once again was called into action, this time denying a bid from Grady Sullivan from a step inside the area.
“We went with a keeper change for this game, going with Cheeseburger [Leo Oliveira],” Pinto said. “He’s our big game keeper, every year he always steps up in the big games. Cheeseburger does a good job coming out and commanding the box, and that’s what we needed in this matchup. He stepped up big for us, he didn’t just do well coming off his line, he made some saves that were spectacular.”
Milford boys soccer Mansfield boys soccer
The Hawks started to gain some momentum before the half as junior David Desa intercepted a pass out of the back, leading to a counter chance that saw Coelho link up with Tome but his shot was denied by Mansfield keeper Eric Sullivan. Just minutes later, Hulanger Dias Pires won an important battle at midfield that ended up in a blast off the foot from Desa but Sullivan was equal to the task.
Milford started fast in the second half, using a nice combination down the left side to get Tome the ball. Tome used a quick touch to get around the defender before being taken down just inside the area and the refs awarded the visitors a penalty kick. Da Silva stepped up and confidently deposited a low shot into the bottom right corner for a 2-0 lead in the 42nd minute.
“At halftime, we made some changes and the players reacted well,” Pinto said. “Mansfield had only allowed one goal against going into tonight so we knew if we wanted to score, we couldn’t let them get organized. It had to be quick touches, quick passes, quick flicks…just like we did to open the second half, and then Arthur made a nice move to draw the penalty. That’s how you beat them, you can’t let them get organized you have to attack quickly and that’s how we got both goals.”
Mansfield nearly pulled one back in the 53rd minute when Tommy Lanzillo laced a direct free kick destined for the top corner but Oliveira timed his jump perfectly and tipped it over the bar. Another free kick bid from Lanzillo in the 65th minute was originally spilled by Oliveira but he quickly pounced on the loose ball in front.
The Hornets finally cashed in on a direct free kick attempt in the 67th minute as Rowe blasted a shot from atop the area into the top corner at the near post to make it 2-1. Mansfield’s best chance at the equalizer came in the 75th minute when a ball over the top was chested on by Dylan Buchanan to Sagar Koul but his low shot was easily handled. Last ditch efforts were turned away by Milford center back Chris Tocci.
“They pressured us and didn’t give us much space to play our normal game so we had to adjust and make everything a little quicker,” Pinto said. “We have a bunch of Brazilians playing in the cold so it took us a little while to get warm. But that was a fight, no matter who they play Mansfield is always going to give you a game just by their style so you have to fight the entire way.”
The teams will clash again on Thursday as Milford hosts Mansfield for a 6:00 PM kickoff.
Attleboro, 1 @ King Philip 2 – Final – King Philip senior Cole Breen completed his brace by scoring the game-winning goal in the 76th minute as the Warriors earned two points on Senior Night. Breen opened the scoring in the 17th minute when he tucked away a rebound chance after Evan McEvoy saw his shot smack off the crossbar. Attleboro sophomore Esvin Morales brought the visitors level in the 64th minute, scoring on a free kick from the top of the box. But Breen grabbed his second with under five minutes to play, finishing off a cross from Ajae Olsen. Aidan Lindmark made seven saves in net for KP.
Foxboro, 1 @ North Attleboro, 0 – Final – Foxboro senior Matt Angelini scored midway through the first quarter and that ended up holding up the rest of the way to give the Warriors a win on the road. Derek Axon had the shutout for Foxboro, making a pair of great saves in the second half to keep North off the board and preserve the win.
Franklin, 0 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – Mansfield scored just minutes into the second quarter and added an insurance tally with less than five minutes to play to earn a win over visiting Franklin. Tommy Lanzillo (from Ethan Scholes) scored on an indirect set piece on a shot from 25 yards out to put the hosts ahead in the 23rd minute. With just under five minutes to go, junior Matt Hyland sealed the win finishing off a flick from Colin True after the original service from Dan Rowe. Eric Sullivan and Jack Lansbury-Casey combined for the shutout, each making an outstanding save to preserve the shutout. Mansfield defender Evan Eames had a big stop to deny a goal in the second half as well.
Stoughton, 2 @ Sharon, 4 – Final
King Philip, 2 @ Attleboro, 1 – Final
North Attleboro, 0 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Jordyn Collins got the slightest touch on an Aislinn Servaes cross from a corner and it was just enough to slip past the onrushing keeper for the game’s only goal. With the win, unbeaten Foxboro moved within one point of league-leading Canton.
Mansfield, 1 @ Franklin, 0 – Final – Carly Devine scored the game’s only goal to power Mansfield to a rivalry win, handing Franklin its first loss of the season. The goal came off a fourth quarter counter attack. Tarynn Smith’s first shot was saved by Rachel Welch but Devine followed up and knocked in the rebound for the game-winner, giving the Hornets the edge in an evenly-played match.
Sharon, 5 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Wendy Wooden had a hat trick and Sofia Goclowski added a brace to lead the Eagles to their first win of the season. Cass Barbera recorded the clean sheet.
Mansfield, 233 @ Franklin, 235 – Final (6 cards) – The battle between the top two teams in the Kelley-Rex certainly lived up to the hype, tied through both four and five cards before the Hornets prevailed on the sixth card to clinch at least a share of the division title. Mansfield’s Brian See and Nate Morreale each shot a team-low round of 36 to pace the visitors while Ryan Dow and Jason See each shot 39 in the win. Joe Gormley added a 41 to force it to a sixth card where Ryan Doherty and Cian Goulet helped earn the win, each shooting a 42. For Franklin, Nolan Norton was the match medalist with an even par round of 35. Jack paterson and Pat Dolan each shot 38 for the Panthers, Brian Sandham chipped in with a 39 and Jack Hagerty shot a 41 for the hosts.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Mansfield head coach Steve Sheridan has pleaded for his players to start shooting more when they have opportunities in the final third.
On Monday afternoon, the Hornets took heed of their coach’s request.
After scoring four goals in its opening four games, the Mansfield boys soccer team equaled that output as four different Hornets found the back of the net in a 4-0 win on the road over Attleboro in the HockomockSports Game of the Week.
The Hornets wasted little time, scoring a pair of goals in the first quarter to jump ahead early and then tacked on goals in each the third and fourth quarters to get their fourth win of the season.
“Our forwards are finally starting to shoot,” Sheridan said. “I think we had more shots today than we’ve had all season. We’ve got a couple of guys that are finally starting to get it. I’ve been screaming since we started to take more shots. We spend more time on shooting in practice and then we get to a game and we don’t take them. We took them today, I was happy with how we played today.”
Mansfield boys soccer
Mansfield scored a pair of signature goals, pushing numbers into the area and cashing in on loose chances in the area. But the Hornets also showed some versatility in their offense as junior Matt Hyland and senior Tommy Lanzillo scored on class shots from distance.
Just over five minutes into the contest, a clearance popped out to Mansfield senior Michael Jeans, who popped a service high back into the box. Attleboro’s keeper was unable to catch it cleanly and Mansfield junior Sagar Koul was exactly where he needed to be, following up the loose ball and roofing his touch just under the bar for a 1-0 lead.
And a minute later, Jackson Singer found Soucy, who got a touch to the ball before Lasbury-Casey and then followed up on the loose ball in the area but a slide from Ethan Scholes and a block from Jeans kept the ball out.
“We played very well, I like my defense, Evan [Eames] and [Michael] Caridi played phenomenal back there, especially in the second half,” Sheridan said. “Michael [Jeans] saved a bunch of balls back there. We finally got our three center midfielders [Lanzillo, Colin True, Sullivan] to start working together. They weren’t communicating enough. But now they’re talking, they know whos making a run up and who needs to drop back, moving side to side together. It’s basically what’s connected everything, us starting to communicate.”
Mansfield boys soccer
Mansfield’s pressure paid off just before the end of the first quarter. Sophomore Aidan Steele forced a giveaway, junior Dan Rowe quickly squared a pass to Hyland, who let the ball come across his body before blasting a shot from just over 30 yards out, catching the keeper off his line as it floated just under the bar.
“We were missing heart,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira. “Mansfield played their game which is boot, boot, boot and they capitalized on some of those. We weren’t disciplined enough to play our game which is touch. We had no offense today. [Our players] want to blame the ref for everything but we had two of the best in the league today so you can’t say it’s the ref. We just lost our cool and could never get going.
“They run at you and they create some crazy stuff. They play the long balls and there’s a bounce here or there and they capitalize on them. They played their game better than we played ours. But we see them in two days and hopefully, it will be a little bit different.”
The second quarter was mostly played between the two 18-yard lines, the best chance coming off the foot of Steele. Both Steele and Rowe pressured the Bombardier defense, resulting in a turnover and a low shot from Steele but Attleboro backup keeper Cody Abreu, who took over the middle of the period, handled the bounce well.
Mansfield added to its lead in the 49th minute, again capitalizing on numbers and high pressure in the area. Lanzillo whipped in a cross from the left wing and Hyland was there to meet it after making a near post run but his touch hit the post and stayed out. It bounced right to Grady Sullivan, who touched it over to Scholes for the finish and a 3-0 lead.
“For us, it’s important to attack in numbers,” Sheridan said. “And that’s why we can’t have anyone taking a play off. We need everyone to keep doing. We have the numbers to put different guys in. With the new rules with 20 minute quarters, I don’t expect to have to sub too often but I can if I have to. We want them to go really hard for 8-12 minutes and then we’ll get someone fresh in there.”
Attleboro looked to answer five minutes alter as Henriquez and Singer combined to create for the Bombardiers, the result a shot from Justin Lurssen but his bid was partially blocked and bounced harmlessly to Lasbury-Casey.
Mansfield added one more goal in the 64th minute. Lanzillo played a ball into the area that was cleared away but Lanzillo alertly tracked down the loose ball and put his laces through a bouncing ball that curled into the near post from 30 yards out.
Mansfield (4-1) will host the Bombardiers (0-3) in a rematch on Wednesday night at 6:45.
2019 Record: 6-9-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Peter Pereira
One more goal scored or one goal less allowed could have changed the entire outcome of the 2019 season for the Bombardiers, who suffered six one-goal losses and three draws. Now with more varsity experience under their belts, Attleboro is aiming to surprise some teams in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division title this season.
Longtime head coach Peter Pereira is counting on that experience to translate into leadership on and off the field. Senior goalie Zackary Brown is back in net for the Bombardiers and is showing more confidence inside the area. Senior Joey Soucy is making the transition to defense and will play alongside classmates Jayden Lockhart and Andrew Fasoldt. Junior Cashel Stuger is also back in the mix defensively while seniors Henry Marini and Alejandro Jimenez could factor into the defensive unit as well.
Jackson Singer emerged as a strong option in the midfield in his first season with the Bombardiers and should be a big piece again this year. Singer will pair up with Hugo Henriquez to give Attleboro an experienced duo in the heart of the pitch. Seniors Ben Fasoldt, Emilio Amaya, and Tyler Sar will all be apart of the midfield while juniors Tom Russo and Emilio Ticas should see valuable minutes for the Bombardiers. Freshman Alex Vecchioli has shown a lot of versatility so far and could play in a variety of roles.
Up front, Attleboro will be relying on a combination of speed, tough, and work effort as they challenge opposing defenses. Depending on the pairing, Attleboro will be able to attack in a variety of ways. Seniors Justin Lurssen and Connor Paquin as well as juniors Liam Bischoff and Yianni Skordas will all see time in the attack. Sophomore Esvin Morales emerged as one of the top attacking threats a year ago and will be among the top finishers in the league.
“We have a good group of seniors and hope that this experience will pay off,” Pereira said. “We believe we will have a more competitive, more mature, and more balanced team.”
2019 Record: 4-12-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Danny Erickson
The Bulldogs were very young during the 2019 season with just a half dozen seniors on the squad, but that meant plenty of young players were able to gain valuable on-field experience at the varsity level. Now the Bulldogs will be looking to contend in a very competitive Davenport division in the shortened 2020 season.
The defense will be the backbone of the team this season as the Bulldogs have a lot of experience at the centerback position. Senior captain Matt Giglio is back for his third year with the squad after being a key piece in each of the previous two years. He will be joined in the middle of the defense by Will Keefe, who anchored the Dogs’ backline last year and earned All-Hockomock honors.
Junior Dylan Baird had a breakout sophomore season and will be one of the main pieces in the midfield. After a down season for Canton on the offensive end as a whole last year, Baird’s presence in the midfield will help create opportunities going forward. Up front, the Bulldogs are counting on senior Colton Marliani to be a go-to scoring threat.
Canton already suffered a big blow as senior captain TJ McCabe, who has been with the squad since he was a freshman, will miss the season due to injury. On the flip side, the Bulldogs are getting a boost with the addition of Abdul Barrie. Barrie played in the youth leagues in Canton but will make his CHS debut this fall and could make a big impact for the Dogs.
“I think the rule modifications will challenge us all equally,” said longtime Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “But after a week or so of training, to me, it’s still soccer.”
2019 Record: 7-8-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dan Ambrosio
The Warriors had a sour taste in their mouth at the end of last season, losing the last game of the year to miss out on the playoffs. While Foxboro won’t have the chance to get back to the postseason this year, the Davenport division title is certainly in reach.
Foxboro graduated a couple of stalwarts (Joe Cusack, Dylan Barreira, Will Morrison) that were important pieces of the squad in each of the last couple of seasons, but there are plenty of experienced players back from last year’s seven-win squad plus a handful of new faces anxious to make their mark. Seniors Max Beigel and PJ Frost will give the Warriors plenty of leadership and experience, especially in the midfield and attacking third. Foxboro will look to play quick, using the counterattack to hit on the break.
After giving up nearly two goals a game a season ago, the Warriors are aiming to tighten up the back as they navigate through a very competitive Davenport division. First-year head coach Dan Ambrosio is also counting on new players like John Hollis and Ryan Flaherty to make an impact during the shortened season.
“We are a tight-knit group who like to have fun playing the game and look forward to representing our school and town,” Ambrosio said.
2019 Record: 9-7-4 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Fran Bositis
With returning players in most areas of the pitch and a trio of top midfielders in the Hockomock League, the Panthers should be in the mix for the Kelley-Rex title, although it could be one of the most competitive seasons since the league split into two.
With just 10 games and all six teams in the Kelley-Rex possible contenders, there is little margin for error. The Panthers will be put to the test right away as they take on Milford, who won the Davenport two years in a row and went to the D2 State Final last season, in the opening week. But longtime head coach Fran Bositis has plenty of talent on his roster to try and make a push for the division title. It all starts in the midfield with a trio of returning starters in Ethan Cain, Tyler Powderly, and last year’s HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Terry O’Neill.
All three bring something different to the table which will make Franklin’s midfield among the most dynamic in the league. Powderly’s speed on the wings will give defenses fits while Cain will bring plenty of creativity as the Panthers push forward. O’Neill won’t be able to dominate in the air like he did a season ago thanks to the new modifications that ban headers, but the junior is also such a calming presence with the ball at his feet and will help Franklin keep possession. Ben Moccia, who started in the midfield a season ago, is moving up top to the number 9 spot, while Charlie Amante, Ryan Witt, Jack Moran, and Kevin Proenca will also see time in the attack.
The Panthers have some new faces in the defensive unit. Will Fox is the lone returning starter and has impressed in the early stages of the season. Sam George, Robbin Tappin, and Karl Gruseck will all factor into the Panthers’ defense while Aidan Griffith, Nelson Martinez, and Connor Scagliarini will be options for Bositis to play either defense or in the midfield. Newcomers Trey Lovell and Rex Cinelli could see valuable minutes right away. Former Panther standout goalie Freddie Backmann, who is without a season at Regis College, is mentoring Luc Boudreau, this year’s starting keeper for Franklin.
“I think that we have a very good group of athletes (soccer players) who have worked real hard in preparation for this season,” Bositis said. “I know that they are all excited to be playing and that they are looking forward to competing against the other Kelley-Rex teams and putting themselves in a position to challenge for a league championship.”
2019 Record: 8-5-6 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Mike O’Neill
King Philip was the surprise team of the 2019 season, overcoming a large amount of inexperience to take third in the Kelley-Rex and qualify for the state tournament. While the Warriors won’t sneak up on anyone this season, the skill and experience they return should put them in the mix for the division title.
Second-year head coach Mike O’Neill has strong players in all areas of the pitch, starting with senior captain Evan McEvoy. A four-year player with the program, McEvoy is coming off a breakout season in 2019 and will be among the top midfielders in the league. He will control the pace for the Warriors from the center of the pitch, working with fellow captain Alex Leon, who will use his speed to patrol the wings and get in behind the defense. Both Caleb Waxman and Stephen Griffin made an impact last season and should see expanded roles in the shortened 2020 season. Sophomore Matt Crago is a new face that could make a splash in his first year.
The Warriors should have one of the top defenses in the league again this season. Senior captain Aidan Lindmark is back in goal and his distribution skills will factor in heavily to how KP plays out of the back. Jeremy White had a strong 2019 season at center back and will bolster the Warriors’ backline when he returns from injury. In the meantime, four-year player Ajae Olsen, who is normally patrolling the wing or up top, will have his versatility on display as he slides into the centerback spot.
“Our players and coaches are thankful that we are at the point where we can have a season,” O’Neill said. “So much work and sacrifice have gone into getting the Hockomock League schools to this moment. I’m looking forward to some excellent and competitive soccer. I expect every game to be extremely competitive – there are no easy games in the Hock. Five wins may win the division.”
2019 Record: 6-7-5 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Sheridan
With just 10 games scheduled for the season, every game – from the first to the last – is going to be important. No one understands that more than the 2020 Hornets, who came up just short of the state tournament last year. After a slow start, Mansfield became one of the toughest teams to beat down the stretch, finishing on an eight-game unbeaten streak that featured an upset of division champion Oliver Ames but came just one point shy of postseason play.
With the postseason not in the picture for this year, the focus shifts on the division title. The Hornets are hoping to carry the momentum from the end of last season into this year. Mansfield will have a mix of veterans and inexperience in its defensive unit. Senior captain Evan Eames will be the centerpiece of the group alongside classmate Michael Jeans, who missed all of last season due to injury. Sophomores Grady Sullivan and Nate Kablik round out the Hornets’ back four while senior captain Eric Sullivan will take over starting in goal.
Senior captain Tommy Lanzillo will run the show from the center of the pitch, helping the Hornets transition from defense to offense. Lanzillo is strong with the ball at his feet and will help distribute as the Hornets hit on the counter. Senior Colin True and juniors Matt Hyland and Dan Rowe will join Lanzillo in the Hornets’ midfield. Junior Dylan Buchanan is back for his third year with the squad and will play up top alongside Aiden Steele.
2019 Record: 18-1-2 2019 Finish: D2 State Finalists Coach: Antonio Pinta
Milford arrives in the Kelley-Rex division with a huge target on its back. Coming off back-to-back Davenport division titles and a trip to the D2 State Final a season ago, the Hawks enter their new division as the favorite. But game in and game out, Milford can expect to get everyone’s best.
First-year head coach Antonio Pinto might be new to the varsity position but has been with the program during this successful run as an assistant and JV coach. It will all start with the reigning HockomockSports Player of the Year and Hockomock League MVP Leo Coelho, who can play just about any position on the pitch at a high level. If there is a need to shut down a high-powered offense, you might see Coelho playing defense. Or if the Hawks need a boost offensively, he can just as easily move up front and provide creativity in the final third.
The Hawks are far from a one-trick pony with both Lucas Da Silva (eight goals, seven assists) and Joao Pedro Da Silva (six goals, three assists) back in the mix this season. Replacing the Hockomock’s leading scorer in Pedro Araujo (25 goals, 11 assists) will be tough but we saw the Hawks do just that when Araujo took over for former HockomockSports Player of the Year Wallison de Oliveira.
Defensively, the Hawks will be strong up the middle. Junior Kevin Gomes returns to start in goal for the Hawks after getting valuable experience there during last year’s season and deep playoff run. And junior Chris Tocci is back in the heart of the defense at centerback after a breakout sophomore campaign. While the new regulations will certainly challenge the Hawks defensively with heading and slide tackling banned, Milford should have a big advantage offensively because of their strong possession skills.
“I’m very excited to be out there with the guys this season,” Pinto said. “We are ready to play no matter what the rules and conditions are! We’re ecstatic to have a season.”
2019 Record: 9-7-4 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Geoff Burgess
The Rocketeers and head coach Geoff Burgess have found a recipe for success over the past couple of seasons and will be looking to replicate that again this year. Defense always comes first for the Rocketeers, who allowed just 0.68 goals per game last year. While every team is being forced to make changes because of the new modifications due to COVID-19, the Rocketeers might be affected more than most with heading, slide tackles, and shoulder-to-shoulder challenges banned.
But the Rocketeers have adjusted during the preseason and will be relying on defense and goalkeeping once again this season. Replacing two-time HockomockSports Best XI selection Kyle Briere in net won’t be easy but the North Attleboro is turning to junior David Floyd, who is one of the most athletic players on the team this season according to Burgess. The Rocketeers also boast one of the best centerback combinations in the league with seniors Justin Silva and Donovan Carter back in the fold this year. With a season of experience playing together, it will be tough for teams to find ways to get by the defense anchored by that duo.
While defense remains a top priority for the Big Red, that doesn’t mean North isn’t a dangerous team in the attacking third. As they’ve shown over the past two seasons, speed can kill. Relying on the counterattack and set pieces for the majority of their offensive chances, North brings back senior forward Matt Conley (one goal, five assists) to try and beat defenses with his speed and skill. Junior Connor Ward will have a lot to say about the pace the Rocketeers play at as he orchestrates the team from the center of the pitch.
“With an abbreviated season and a large senior class, we hope to challenge OA for the league title,” Burgess said. “This will obviously be a huge challenge but our defense will be tough to breakdown and you can’t lose if the other team does not score.”
2019 Record: 15-4-0 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal Coach: John Barata
Oliver Ames has reached the D2 State Final three times since 2014 and with a large group of experienced and skilled players back from last year’s team that went 15-4, another trip to the finals might have been in the cards for 2020. But with postseason canceled due to COVID-19, the Tigers are looking to make as big of an impact as they can.
After a four-year stint in the Kelley-Rex, one that included a pair of division titles (2017 and 2019), the Tigers are back in the Davenport division where they won five titles in the first six years after the Hockomock split. OA brings back nine players that either started or saw a good amount of minutes on the pitch last year, highlighted by HockomockSports Best XI selections Colin Milliken, Brady deVos, and Kevin Louhis. Milliken will help the Tigers transition from defense to offense from his center mid spot, Louhis will be a go-to option on the offensive end, and deVos is back to anchor the defense for the second straight season.
The Tigers will have plenty of options to go along with Milliken (10 goals, 14 assists) and Louhis (4 goals, 9 assists) in the attacking third. Jimmy Keane (six goals, one assist) bolsters the midfield while Anthony DaCosta (six goals, one assist) has improved each of the past two seasons and will be a handful for opposing defenses. Senior Matthew Nikiciuk really emerged as a force in the middle of the pitch last season and will be a big part of the offense, especially through set pieces. Both Mathias Taylor and Dillon Cupples burst onto the scene a year ago and will be in the mix as the Tigers push forward.
Senior goalie Drew Nickla returns in net after a strong year in 2019. The Tigers graduated the most from the defensive unit so the early challenge will be developing chemistry quickly in the backline. Head coach John Barata is also looking for Ben Cohen, Michael Haikal, and Hector Bucio as viable options for the Tigers while sophomore Jake Williams and freshmen Ryan Linhares, Joey Carney, and Diego Rivera are new faces to keep an eye out for.
“We are looking forward to competing this fall and enjoying the opportunity to grow as people and players,” Barata said. “This is a unique situation for a very unique group of players and we are going to make the best of it and play the best soccer we can. These young men are fantastic and we are going to have a great time this season regardless of the on field results…but we hope to have a few of those too!”
2019 Record: 6-7-5 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Scott Nathan
The Eagles enter the 2020 campaign with a chip on their shoulder, coming up just one point shy of the state tournament a year ago. While Sharon can’t make up for that with a tournament appearance this year with the playoffs canceled due to COVID-19, the Eagles can certainly make some noise while challenging for the Davenport division title.
Sharon said goodbye to a handful of experienced veterans including Michael Baur, Brian Higgins, and Isaiah Stessman, but first-year head coach Scott Nathan has a group of proven players plus a bunch of news faces eager to make their mark. Senior captain Bryce Nathan and junior captain James Zhang will lead the way both on and off the pitch this year as the Eagles compete for the Davenport crown.
Bryce Nathan is one of the most versatile players in the league, playing anywhere from defense to striker during his tenure with the Eagles. Zhang, fresh off an impressive sophomore campaign, is very confident with the ball at his feet and does a nice job distributing from the center of the pitch. Sophomore Matthew Baur is back in goal after getting a varsity season under his belt. Rhys Davis and Brandon Mauricio highlight a list of returners defensively while Coby Jacobson, Samid Khandaker, Adam Landstein, Aaron Livshin, and Daniel Zagoren are all back with varsity experience as well.
The Eagles will focus on a sound defense first before transitioning into offense. Patience will be key this year as Sharon looks to make the most of each opportunity as they push forward. Brady Daylor, Malachi Diaz, Adam Eastman, Daniel Fishman, Amjad Kordab, Jack Landstein, Rohan Prakash, Elliot Pototsky Nicholas Rincon, Aaron Tamkin, Jeffrey Xiang, and Tony Yang are new to the varsity level and will be looking to make an impact on the pitch for the Eagles in 2020.
“The game will be different…for players, coaches, referees, and fans,” Scott Nathan said. “I am just happy for the boys that they have the opportunity to play the game they love!”
2019 Record: 3-13-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jon Grant
With a year of experience under coach Jon Grant, the Black Knights are aiming to have a bounce back year and compete with the top teams in the Davenport division.
There were plenty of bumps in the road during the 2019 season but Stoughton certainly showed some bright spots, including wins over Mansfield and Canton. Now the Black Knights will try to compete in each game and string some results together. Captain Nolan Gerome returns in goal for Stoughton and is among the best keepers in the league. Opposing head coaches have raved about saves Gerome has made over the past couple of seasons and he will be the anchor of the Black Knights’ defensive unit.
Playing in front of Gerome will be senior captain Ryan Sears and junior Owen Roddy, who both played valuable minutes last year. With a good amount of experience and skill in the back, Stoughton is hoping defense will be a cornerstone for the 2020 season. Grant is looking for Rhuan Carvalho to be a top playmaker for the Black Knights, distributing from the center of the pitch to create some offensive chances.
“Our goal for this year to improve on last season,” Grant said. “This year the players came in to the short season fairly well conditioned and with a great attitude. All the players are so grateful to have this opportunity to be back out on the field. This will definitely help us in this short season.”
2019 Record: 2-9-7 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
It’s easy to look at Taunton’s record from a season ago and make assumptions, but upon further review, the Tigers were in just about every game they played. Five of the nine losses were decided by just one goal and the Tigers had a league-high seven draws; one goal either way and the Tigers were that close to a spot in the tournament. It goes to show how competitive the league was and how important each goal is.
With a strong nucleus of players back from last year’s squad, the playoffs wouldn’t have been such a far reach for Taunton this season. But with the postseason not in play, the Tigers will shift focus on being a darkhorse in the Kelley-Rex division title hunt. The new modifications will make it tough for all teams when it comes to defending, but it will also benefit something that Taunton has plenty of: speed. The Tigers plan on utilizing their pace on both ends of the pitch, getting behind the defense on one end while using their speed defensively to fend off opposing offenses.
Taunton will be strong up the middle with senior Travis Nunes back in the heart of the pitch and sophomore Riley Rebello back to anchor the defense. Senior Hunter Cabral will give the Tigers flexibility by playing in both the midfield and up front. Head coach Taylor Whitters is looking for sophomores Joseph Renquinha Jr., Aidden Fitting, Quincy Jones-Sylvia, Jonathan Trinh, and Nathan Keenan to all be in the mix this season.
“Despite everything that has occurred in recent months, we have one of the most versatile and technically sound teams that Taunton High School Boys Soccer has seen in a long time,” Whitters said. “This group of young men have the number one factor in the success of any team: chemistry. They have the willingness to play for the team, not for themselves. I feel with their talents, abilities, and desire to work together as a unit, we will be a team to watch in our division this season.”
Canton, 1 @ Mansfield, 3 – Final – Mansfield scored a pair of goals in the final 30 minutes of the game to grab a win over visiting Canton. The Hornets took the lead just five minutes into the contest before Canton knotted the score in the 50th minute. Mansfield regained the lead just a couple of minutes later and added an insurance strike in the final minutes. Cam Eddy finished off a throw in from Dylan Buchanan to put the hosts up. After Canton tied it, Cam Bovey scored off a corner kick from Tommy Lanzillo. Buchanan put the game away with two minutes left, connecting on a cross from Matt Hyland.
Sharon, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 4 – Final – Oliver Ames erased a pair of first half deficits, and then added two goals in the second half to take down visiting Sharon. After the Eagles took a 1-0 lead, Anthony DaCosta answered for OA. Michael Baur ripped a shot to the upper corner from distance to put Sharon back in front but sophomore Mathias Taylor scored his first career goal to pull the hosts level to send the game into halftime tied 2-2. Colin Milliken gave OA its first lead of the game, finishing in alone on the keeper after a through ball from Kevin Louhis. Senior Matt Nosalek netted his first goal on a feed from Milliken to give the Tigers a two-goal lead.
Oliver Ames, 3 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames opened the scoring just before the halftime break before tacking on two more in the second half to grab two points on the road. Erin Holmberg put the Tigers ahead with two minutes left in the first half, and then set up Camryn O’Connor, who scored on a header to make it 2-0. Leah Johnson found the back of the net to make it 3-0 for OA.
Taunton, 0 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game – Attleboro converted a pair of penalty corners in the first half and added a late insurance tally to get a win over visiting Taunton. Anna Beck scored all three goals for the Bombardiers, using low hard shots off corners from Amanda Burns to give the hosts a 2-0 lead by halftime. Beck added a third with 2:58 to play.
Canton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 0 – Final
Foxboro, 6 @ Sharon, 0 – Final
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Franklin, 8 – Final – Franklin continued its strong start to the season, racing out to a 3-0 lead at halftime and scoring eight straight overall to beat visiting Oliver Ames. Stephanie Bell scored a pair of goals and assisted on another all in the first half for the Panthers. Amanda Lewandowski scored twice, Leila Frankina and Olivia Rondeau each scored and had an assist, and Kaitlyn Carney and Hanna Richardson each scored once. Neilee Hess made five saves in the win. Ellie Waters (from Cassie Gennis) scored for Oliver Ames.
Mansfield, 0 @ King Philip, 1 – Final – King Philip scored the lone goal just moments into the second half to earn a win over Mansfield in an evenly played game. Senior Raegan Simeone tapped in a rebound off a shot from Molly Piller with 28:17 to play in the second half for the game-winning goal. Junior Makenzie Manning made four key stops to preserve the win for the Warriors. KP coach Lisa Cropper said Sammy Robison, Char Colella, and Haley Izydorczak all played extremely well on defense for the Warriors.
Stoughton, 0 @ Milford, 5 – Final – Milford senior Kat Swineford recorded four points and classmate Paige Reisman made 23 saves to lead the Scarlet Hawks to a win over visiting Stoughton. Swineford scored a hat trick and also had an assist in the win. Olyvia Whyte added a goal and two assists, Julia Kidman scored once, and Maddy Carneiro chipped in with an assist for Milford.
Taunton, 3 @ Attleboro, 2 – Final – Attleboro won a key fourth set to force a game five, but Taunton emerged with a tight 3-2 (20-25, 25-19, 25-17, 16-25, 16-4) win on the road against the Bombardiers. Alyssa Turcotte paced the offense with nine kills while Sonya Fernandez added seven kills, four digs, and a block for the Tigers. Fabiana Pereira and Jaelyn Fernandez each had eight digs for Taunton.
Canton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final – North Attleboro picked up its biggest win of the season, earning a 3-0 sweep (25-18, 25-22, 25-17) over division rival Canton. Hayley Gaskin set the offense in motion with 31 assists as Kylie Melanson (14 kills) and Grace Munley (seven kills, three blocks) shined at the net. Brooke Street led the defense with 10 digs, Meghan McCormack added eight digs, and Lauren Antonetti chipped in with seven digs. For Canton, Taylor Harris put down 17 kills along with 10 digs and a pair of aces, and Talya DeGraw added two kills, two blocks, and played a great defensive game for the Bulldogs.
Foxboro, 3 @ Sharon, 2 – Final – Foxboro fell behind twice but won back-to-back sets, including a close fifth set, to grab a 3-2 (20-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, 15-11) win over Sharon. Sara Addeche had a strong showing at the service line with 12 service points (two aces) while adding five kills. Shannon McDonald also had five kills, Pam Nelson (12 digs) and Kelsey Treweek (11 digs) paced the defense, Maddie O’Brien dished out 31 assists, and Grace Boudreau shined a the net with 22 kills, six blocks, and 13 digs.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Franklin, 3 – Final – Oliver Ames rallied to win the third set to keep the match going, but Franklin closed it out in the fourth set to grab a 3-1 (25-21, 25-23, 26-28, 25-23) win over the Tigers. For OA, Jordan Bosse had 16 kills, 15 digs, and three aces, Allie Kemp added 31 assists, and Alison Barth finished with 32 digs and 35 serve receptions.
Mansfield, 2 @ King Philip,3 – Final – King Philip and Mansfield traded wins, forcing a fifth game where the Warriors emerged with a 3-2 (25-23, 27-29, 25-17, 20-25, 15-8) victory. Nicole Coughlan shined at the net for KP with 21 kills and two blocks while Catherine Waldeck (12 kills) and Kristen Masse (six kills) both had strong showings offensively as well. Emma Brooks added five aces, four kills, and 11 digs, while Lily Carlow chipped in with 17 service points (three aces) and six digs. For Mansfield, Sam Sternburg (11 service points) had a strong showing defensively with 25 digs, Olivia McGrath added six blocks and 12 service points, and Kacey Veiking finished with six blocks.
Stoughton, 0 @ Milford, 3 – Final
Foxboro, 162 @ Canton, 143 – Final – Canton completed the season sweep of division foe Foxboro behind an even-par performance from Chris Lavoie. Lavoie, the match medalist, shot a 34 to lead the Bulldogs while Will Gefteas and Conor Hunter each shot 36, and Thomas Singleton finished with a 37. Dylan Quinn led the Warriors with a team-low round of 39.
Mansfield, 165 @ Taunton, 185 – Final – Mansfield bounced back from its first loss of the season to earn its ninth win of the year, with junior Brian See leading the way with a medalist round of 40. Jason See added a 41 while Cian Goulet and Mike O’Neil each finished with a 42.
North Attleboro, 164 @ Milford, 180 – Final – North Attleboro picked up a division win over Milford on the road. Jillian Barend was the match medalist, shooting a match-low round of 37. Jake Gaskin (41), Sam Gallagher (42), and Justin Strom (44) also scored for the Rocketeers while Tyler Wetherbee had a 41 for Milford.
Stoughton, 147 @ Sharon, 136 – Final (7 holes)
Medway, 185 @ Franklin, 165 – Final – Franklin notched its 11th straight win of the season with a non-league decision over Medway. Jack Paterson earned match medalist honors with a 39 while Pat Dolan added a 41 and Sean Connelly finished with a 42.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
2018 Record: 5-10-3 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Peter Pereira
The Bombardiers have put last year’s season in the rearview mirror and are aiming to get back to the state tournament in 2019.
Attleboro will rely on its eight returners from last year’s squad plus a good amount of new faces to try and make a push for the playoffs. Senior captains Mike Russo, Nathan LaPlume, and Josh Smith will provide leadership both on and off of the field for the Bombardiers. All three have a good amount of varsity experience with LaPlume and Smith tasked with anchoring the Bombardiers’ defensive unit. Both started a season ago so the defense should be a strength to start the season. Russo started in the midfield a year ago and will be in charge of leading that unit. Attleboro will have to fill the shoes left by leading scorer Will Halben (seven goals, five assists) but there is a strong group of forwards that includes Joey Soucy, Justin Lurssen, and Hugo Henriquez — all of whom have varsity experience — that is ready to pace the offense. Patrick Raczkowski and Kevin Raczkowski should give Attleboro help defensively, junior Jackson Singer bolted academy and should give the Bombardiers a boost in the midfield while junior Zackary Brown takes over in goal.
“I am looking to get some leadership and good play from my tri-captains and I’m hoping for a better season [than last year],” said longtime head coach Peter Pereira. “The team’s attitude has been great and we are working hard.”
2018 Record: 10-7-2 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Fran Bositis
Franklin was one of the hottest teams in the league over the second half of the season last year and the Panthers are hoping to carry that momentum into 2019.
When the calendar turned to October, the Panthers finished the regular season 7-1-1. Longtime head coach Fran Bositis has the pieces to continue that success to begin this year and contend for a league title. A strong suit for the 2019 squad will be the defensive unit, featuring returning keeper Jack Rudolph and center backs Sam Stowell and Jacob Cummings. Anytime a team returns two center backs and its keeper, especially a unit that allowed just three goals in its final nine regular seasons, it’s a big positive. Matt Szczepanowski and Trevor O’Neill, both seniors, will factor in defensively as well. Sophomore Terry O’Neill anchors the midfield from the center of the pitch after a successful freshman campaign while the addition of junior Ethan Cain should give Franklin one of the top midfielder duos, and sophomore Tyler Powderly will likely play in a variety of roles. The challenge for Franklin this season will be finding a consistent offense but there is experience up top with Donny Tappin and Lucas Moura back.
“I think we have the potential to be pretty good, but it all comes one game at a time,” Bositis said. “I think if we can score some goals consistently, we can be pretty dangerous this year.”
2018 Record: 4-12-2 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Mike O’Neill
King Philip begins a new chapter in program history as Mike O’Neill takes over after Nick Gale stepped down following a successful stint with the Warriors.
O’Neill will be looking to help the Warriors bounce back from a four-win season, the first time the squad missed the state tournament in over a decade. King Philip graduated nearly a dozen seniors from last year’s squad but have some key players back in key positions. Senior captain Brian McCarthy has a lot of varsity experience and O’Neill will lean on him to organize the midfield. Senior captains Wes Orzell and Matt Clarke anchor the back line and will be tasked with helping the Warriors keep possession by playing out of the back. Behind the defense, senior Grant Orzell and junior Aidan Lindmark are both strong options in goal. Juniors Evan McEvoy and Camron Lawrence both begin their third season on varsity and are poised to have big years at midfield.
“The team is eager to get started, the seniors want to make their mark after a tough season last year, and the juniors and sophomores are hungry to prove themselves,” O’Neill said. “We will need to stay organized and committed to team defending if we are going to be able to compete in the difficult Hockomock League.”
2018 Record: 13-3-5 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Steve Sheridan
The Hornets have won two division titles in the past four years and took second place in the other two seasons, so it’s safe to assume Mansfield will be in the mix once again this year.
In that span of success, Mansfield has been one of the best defensive teams year in and year out, average under a goal against in each of those seasons, including just 0.67 goals against in 2018. The big challenge this season will be replicating that stingy defense because the Hornets graduated their entire back four. The good news is that Mansfield has Anthony Salisbury back in net after he set the program record for shutouts while Cam Bovey serves as the backup keeper, though he is pushing for minutes this season. The strength of the 2019 squad will be in the midfield where senior captains Peter Oldow and Colin Caridi will be. Both have a good amount of varsity experience and will be joined by fellow returners Robbie Healey, Raffi Marzella, Tommy Lanzillo, Colin True, and Evan Eames. Sophomore Dylan Buchanan made a strong impression during his freshman season and will be joined up front by senior Owen Mullahy, who also picked up some valuable minutes a year ago.
“Our biggest question will be, ‘Who’s going to take over our defense that graduated?”, said head coach Steve Sheridan. “That is what I’m trying to figure out and hopefully it will iron itself out during the preseason.”
2018 Record: 8-4-5 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: John Barata
A lot of people learned last year what we already knew: Under head coach John Barata, Oliver Ames doesn’t rebuild, it reloads. The Tigers had to replace their entire starting lineup last season but still had a shot at the division title heading into the final week.
Oliver Ames has a healthy amount of returning players that either started or saw valuable minutes at the varsity level last year starting with seniors Jon Freeman and Matthew Nosalek, who will be key pieces along the back line for the Tigers. Senior Harry Ahearn is another experienced player that will factor in defensively, senior Josh LaBrosse could see time in the midfield or defense, and seniors Nick Farley and Andrew Hanna could get minutes up top. OA has a strong junior class that learned a lot during last season. Colin Milliken, last year’s HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year, will organize the Tigers from the midfield while Anthony DaCosta, Kevin Louhis, and Jimmy Keane are all strong attacking options. Drew Nickla will take over as the starting keeper this year.
“It is too early to tell what we will look like but I’m looking forward to a great season with the boys,” Barata said. “We are excited for the opportunity to compete this season in the Hock. There are lots of talented teams coming back, from the defending champions to the schools with new coaches ready to make a mark. It’s going to be one of the toughest seasons in my tenure and we hope to be competitive.”
2018 Record: 3-12-4 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
While the record might not reflect it, it felt like Taunton took a step in the right direction last year, and the Tigers are expecting to take another one this season.
One area of improvement that head coach Taylor Whitters is excited about is the defensive group. The Tigers had the most goals allowed in the Kelley-Rex division but have a reinforced back line ready to fend off the top offenses the Hockomock League has to offer. Senior Colton Medeiros, who had a terrific freshman year before missing time to academy and injury, will anchor the defense in the middle alongside freshman Riley Rebelo. Khalil Ba, a transfer in from Tolman, gives Taunton an outside back that can join in on the attack, while Nolan Melo returns as the starting keeper. Alec Nunes and Colby Fernandes are two dynamic, experienced players that can play both in the midfield or up front. Junior Travis Nunes returns from injury and classmate Hunter Cabral is a versatile player that will play in various roles.
“We have a lot of versatility this year, we’re going to be able to move guys around based on each game,” Whitters said. “No one is locked into a position, we’re going to take it game by game this season.”