First Half Goal Just Enough for KP at Canton

King Philip Boys Soccer
KP defender Matthew Clarke (15) and the rest of the Warriors back line kept Canton off the board to secure a 1-0 road win. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – The field seemed to be tilted towards the far end zone all night. In the first half of Thursday night’s game at WWII Veterans Memorial Field, King Philip threatened with every attack, creating a number of chances, and putting Canton on the back foot. After the break, the hosts turned the game around and suddenly had the Warriors on their heels.

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When you’re on top in the game, you have to find the back of the net. KP managed it once, junior Tadhg Keller tapping in a rebound in the 14th minute, and that turned out to be just about enough, as the back line held up against the Canton pressure and held on for a 1-0 win.

“They had a lot of momentum,” said KP coach Mike O’Neill about the pressure his team faced to preserve the lead in the second half. “I’m really happy. It’s a character win, these guys really grinded it out. It was close, it was touch-and-go for a while, but I’m proud of how my boys stuck to it.”

Canton had the game’s first shot on target, but it would end up being the only save that KP starting keeper Aidan Lindmark had to make in the first half, as the Bulldogs struggled to manufacture consistent offense in the opening 40 minutes.

KP grabbed control by exploiting the edges of the Canton defense. Junior Alex Leon had a bright start down the left and he slipped a pass into the channel for Andrew Robinson to have a shot just six minutes into the game. Five minutes later, Leon quickly turned on his defender and had a go from inside the box but hit the side netting.

In the 14th minute, KP got a free kick opportunity from about 25 yards out. Sophomore Caleb Casseta-Waxman curled a shot that seemed destined for the back of the net only for Canton keeper Alejandro Correal to fly across and get a fingertip to it and put it off the bar. The rebound fell to Keller, who took a touch to settle it before slamming the ball into the goal.

“I thought we played a relatively complete game today,” said Canton coach Danny Erickson, “but soccer comes down to moments and we fell asleep admiring our goalkeeper’s save. They didn’t fall asleep and they buried a rebound and that’s what happens.”

Just a minute later, the lead was very nearly doubled. This time KP attacked down the right. Wesley Orzell and Owen Teixeira played a one-two to get Orzell into space and he burst past the defender on the end line. The senior looked up and slid a pass to Casseta-Waxman, who was unmarked in the six-yard-box. Only a heroic intervention by freshman Carson Eagles kept the goalbound shot from hitting the back of the net.

The chances kept coming for the visitors. Evan McEvoy teed up Teixeira in the right channel and his shot flashed into the side netting, confusing some in the crowd, on the KP bench, and the scorekeeper who all thought it had gone into the top corner.

Stephen Griffin managed to hold possession against several Canton defenders and he set up McEvoy for a 20-yard strike that Correal held for one of his five first-half saves. A long cross from right back Matthew Clarke picked out Keller for a free header with just minutes to go before halftime, but the shot was easily grabbed by Correal.

Whatever was said at halftime seemed to work for the Bulldogs. Canton came out of the break inspired and instantly started to put pressure on the KP defense.

“I’d love to take massive credit for an inspirational halftime speech,” Erickson joked, “but I thought we were showing signs of really good stuff in the first half and we focused on those things. Honestly, they started winning some battles and feeling good about themselves and that results in good things.”

Just three minutes into the second half, Dylan Baird had a shot from a long way out that new KP keeper Grant Orzell had to collect at the second attempt, just in front of Jacob Crugnale. Five minutes later, Crugnale had a go from distance that took a touch off a KP boot before going over the bar. From the resulting corner, Colby Cifolillo rose highest but his goal-bound header was deflected wide of the post.

“We’re still a team that’s struggling to create chances and finish and that’s something that we’re going back to the drawing board to keep working on,” Erickson said.

Midway through the second half, freshman Jorge Sanchez set up Crugnale for a one-time hit but Orzell was able to get behind it. TJ McCabe had several shots from the edge of the box that the defense had to charge down. Despite the chances they were able to create, the Bulldogs just couldn’t find a way through and the KP back three of Clarke, Jordan Hoyle, and Jeremy White held firm.

“They are the core of this team and they are the rock, the wall we build, and we really rely on them,” said O’Neil of his defense. “In addition to be excellent defenders, they’re really skilled, composed, and they know what they’re doing.”

KP had a couple of chances on the break to try and put the game away. The best chance came for Anthony Zappala, but his curling effort from distance was collected by Canton back-up goalie Giovanni Ruggeri.

King Philip (3-1-2, 2-1-2) will get nearly a week off before traveling to division rival Attleboro on Wednesday. Canton (1-3-2, 1-3-1) will try to end its three-game losing streak when it hosts Sharon on Monday.

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Boys Soccer: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

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

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 4-9-5
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Peter Pereira

Attleboro is aiming to use a strong nucleus of returning players to get back into the state tournament after a couple of years of being on the outside looking in.

“We are excited about the team and looking forward to doing well in the Hockomock, which is not an easy task since there is a lot of talent and good teams in the league,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira.

The Bombardiers bring back a seasoned group of defenders that will hopefully give them stability in the back. Colin Levis brings the most varsity experience to the group and will be joined by Connor Dunn, Josh Smith, and Nathan LaPlume. Senior transfer Aaron Flynn and classmates Jared Cooper and Alex Naughton give the Bombardiers a solid group of veterans in the back. Seniors Andre Menard and Tyler Biller are candidates for the starting goalie position.

Pereira has a lot of options to work with in the midfield, including senior Aidan Lancaster. Lancaster has experience playing defense as well so can provide an extra layer of defense when needed. Another familiar face back in midfield will be Michael Russo, who showed flashes of great skill during his sophomore season. Russo and Lancaster will be joined by Brady Holander, Hugo Henriquez, Kevin Raczkowski and Patrick Raczkowski.

There will be another familiar face up front as Will Halben returns as the feature striker. Halben has been Attleboro’s leading scorer the past two seasons and will be a major factor up front again this year. Eli Araujo, Joey Soucy, Justin Lurssen, and Guilherme Machado are expected to provide help up top as well.

Franklin

2017 Record: 5-9-4
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Fran Bositis

After going through some growing pains throughout the 2017 season, the Panthers are looking to make it back to the state tournament.

It all starts with the Panthers’ three senior captains, who will be relied upon to help Franklin compete in a very talented Kelley-Rex division.

Nitin Chaudhury, Nick Barry, and Sam Stowell are all veteran players and will be joined by 10 other returners from last year’s team that got better as the season went on. The Panthers must replace talented goalie Freddie Beckmann but head coach Fran Bositis is expecting good things from junior Jack Rudolph because of his excellent athletic ability.

Chaudhury will once again be the engine of the team from the midfield position while Stowell is back for his third year in the heart of the Panthers’ defense. Jacob Cummings will be another weapon for Franklin in the midfield while senior Tim Duval and junior Donny Tappin return up top.

“As always we are looking forward to competing in the very competitive Hockomock League,” Bositis said.

King Philip

2017 Record: 11-8-2
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Nick Gale

The Warriors have had back-to-back successful seasons and are looking to make it three straight, despite losing six experienced starters to graduation.

While King Philip certainly has some shoes to fill, head coach Nick Gale has a lot of options to work with and is aiming to make another appearance in the state tournament.

Senior captains Zac White, Tony Bozza, and John Cullen have all seen plenty of varsity minutes over the past couple of seasons and are ready to lead the 2018 Warriors. White and Cullen will be major factors in the midfield while Bozza gives the Warriors some pace up top. White and Cullen will be joined in the midfield by a trio of sophomores – Evan McEvoy, Camron Lawrence, and Ajae Olsen – all of whom saw some minutes as freshmen a year ago.

KP’s defense has been among the best in the league over the past two seasons but will need some new faces to step up to continue that trend this year. The Warriors do have some experience with senior Andrew Thompson and juniors Brian McCarthy and Wesley Orzell all expected to step up in the back for KP.

“We’re a much smaller team this year, but we haven’t lost our willingness to fight while defending,” Gale said. “Our focus will be on improving team defending and our ability to press intelligently. We have defenders returning with varsity experience and they’re committed to working together to ensure we’re organized and defending as a team.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 10-3-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Steve Sheridan

Although Mansfield graduated over a dozen seniors, and the majority of its starting lineup, the Hornets have a strong presence in the middle of the pitch and are looking to build off that to compete for the Kelley-Rex title.

The Hornets bring back EMass All Star Sam Nugent at center back and he’ll be joined by Ethan Brill-Cass, who had a bright sophomore season but missed all of last year due to injury. Mansfield’s defense will feature all seniors as Derek Meuth and Matt O’Donnell fill out the back four for the Hornets. Tony Salisbury and Cam Bovey are competing for the starting spot in goal.

Mansfield also has seniors Luke Savoie and Luke Devine back in the center of the pitch to patrol the midfield. Both Savoie and Devine were key pieces for last year’s Hornets team, which came within one point from earning a share of the league title with OA. One spot that Mansfield is looking for new faces is up top, but options include Colin Caridi, Owen Mullahy, and Raffi Marzella.

“Having to fill the loss of 14 seniors from last season is going to be challenging,” said MHS head coach Steve Sheridan. “We have a variety of guys on offense that I’ll be expecting big things from, time will tell who will step up.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 15-3-4 (Kelley-Rex Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D2 State Final
Coach: John Barata

It’s not often a team graduates its entire starting lineup and then some, but that’s the situation defending Kelley-Rex champions Oliver Ames finds itself in.

The Tigers lost a whopping 20 seniors to graduation and return just four players from last year’s roster so it there will be a completely new look for OA in 2018. But that doesn’t mean the standards will be any lower for the Tigers, who have made three state final appearances in the last four years.

“We have a completely new team and we are looking forward to working hard,” said OA head coach John Barata. “Our primary objective is to get better every day and try to compete in a very difficult and talented Hockomock League.”

OA’s defense was among the best in the entire state last season, allowing just 15 goals in 22 games played. Barata will be looking for Aaron MacDonald, Andrew Leite, Harry Ahearn, Matthew Nosalek, and Jon Freeman to step up and fill in the spots along the back line. Senior Jacob Lerman and sophomore Drew Nickla are battling for the starting spot in goal.

On the offensive side of the ball, Barata is looking for contributions from Colin Milliken, Anthony DaCosta, Matt Nikiciuk, Sean Flaherty, Niko Byron, Kevin Louhis and Haendal Louhis to carry to load.

Taunton

2017 Record: 3-14-2
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Taylor Whitters

A solid nucleus returning from last season and more cohesiveness are two of the top reasons for optimism for the Taunton High boys soccer team.

The Tigers have players back all over the field and are hoping that the combination of experience and some fresh faces leads to a competitive season in a very competitive division. Junior Nolan Melo made a splash last season when he took over as starting keeper and looks to be one of the top players at that position in the league.

Senior Evan Melo will be tasked with anchoring the defense from his center back position while Taunton will look for some new faces to step alongside him. Colby Fernandes returns to his defensive midfield spot and Liam Crowley is back as the attacking midfielder in the middle to give the Tigers a nice steady presence up the center of the pitch.

Leading scorer Brett Beaulieu (nine goals, four assists) is back as the featured striker while Alec Nunes can either pair with Beaulieu up top or drop into the midfield when needed. Kyle Aubin is another returning midfield option for the Tigers.

“We have seven returning starters this season and a team with solid technical ability as well as great team chemistry and athleticism,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters.