NORTH EASTON, Mass. – If there is any pressure on Oliver Ames this season after winning the program’s first state title a year ago, they didn’t let it get to them in their season opener against Stoughton.
The Tigers exploded for six goals in the second half and junior Matt Alvarado notched his first career hat trick as Oliver Ames rolled to a decisive 7-1 win over the Black Knights.
Both teams took turns with spells of possession in the opening 20 minutes but neither could find space for a serious scoring chance. OA goalie Jack Carroll was forced into the first save of the game in the 18th minute, pushing aside a lofted shot from Noah Schulze aimed for the far post. Carroll came up big again, denying a touch at the near post from sophomore Fabio Ponce De Leon after a pass from Jordan Asnes.
Ten minutes later, the Tigers would finally break through. Campbell carried down the left side line, and over ran his touch, but was able to get back and keep possession. He centered to Alvarado, who let the ball take one bounce before hitting it on the half volley from 20 yards out, with the ball bouncing in at the near post.
“I thought we started off well, I think we maintained a lot of possession and were on the front foot, just couldn’t finish,” OA head coach John Barata said. “Eventually the pressure we were applying kind of took its toll on them. Then we just kind of opened up and put the ball away. [Finishing] was something we struggled with in preseason but it’s okay to struggle in preseason and put it together in the season.”
It didn’t take very long for Oliver Ames’ offense to finish in the second half, finding the back of the net twice inside the first five minutes. First, McCormick played Alvarado in along the right edge of the 18 and he launched a shot to the far post and in to make it 2-0. A minute later, Alvarado centered a pass for McCormick, who was taken down in the area for a penalty. Stoughton goalie Matt Gallagher saved the penalty bid but Alvarado came charging in from outside the area and buried the rebound for the hat trick to make it 3-0.
“It’s great for us because Alvy was injured for half the preseason,” Barata said. “He only played in one preseason game because he was injured. It was nice to get him back, it’s been nice to have him back.”
The Black Knights finally found their rhythm minutes after the Tigers took a 3-0 lead. Schulze’s free kick dropped in behind the defense and Jordan Asnes ran onto it but his touch went off the post and stayed out. Two minutes later, Tyler Melo fed Asnes, who found Ponce De Leon at the near post, but his bid was just wide.
The Tigers really put the game away in a span of less than 30 seconds. Junior Cam Vella took possession just over midfield and took a touch wide with a runner streaking down the sideline. The defense collapsed, opening a lane up the middle the Vella found Campbell. Campbell went in alone on goal and tucked it in. 19 seconds later, junior Jack Sheldon sent a ball in over the top for junior Mason Galbato, who got under it to loft a shot into the back of the net to make it 5-0.
Stoughton pulled one back in the 70th minute. Sophomore Johnny Neves uses a header on the left sideline to find junior Nick Comeau in the middle. Comeau took a touch and ripped a low shot that found its way in at the near post to make it 5-1.
OA junior Tyler Jones added another for the Tigers on a shot from 30 yards out that found the upper corner and junior James Gillespie headed in the final tally in the waning minutes off assists from Jones and Joe Cerqueira.
“If you [OA] them a chance, they’re going to punish you and it was very much that today,” Stoughton head coach Aaron Salter said. “I said the the boys at the end, just winning that first ball – six of the goals came from not winning that first ball. At this level, against anyone, that ball is going to come over the top and if you win that first one, the danger is gone, you reset and start again. I sort of felt like we didn’t play our game today and get going enough.
“The boys can play, we should be alright this year but we have to make sure we’re going from the first whistle. It took a little bit too long to get going and by the time we did get going, we were a goal down which I thought was a bit unfair. Matt Gallagher did himself really proud today in goal, regardless of the scoreline. The kid made a great save on the penalty, I was so proud of him and then again, we have five or six players on the edge of box that weren’t reacting. I didn’t think we found our second gear today which is not acceptable, we know we’re going to get punished if we do that. Today’s a lesson so I hope the boys take it on and use this. Lucky for us this is the first game, it’s a long season.”
Oliver Ames boys soccer (1-0-0) will be back in action on Monday with a trip to former division rival Sharon (0-0-1). Stoughton (0-1-0) will look to bounce back when they open their home schedule with a visit from Attleboro.