FOXBORO, Mass. – Foxboro is a team that prides itself on defense and limiting opposition chances and in Thursday night’s Div. 2 Central/East quarterfinal against Concord-Carlisle at Sam Berns Community Field the Warriors were typically stout for three quarters.
It was the one quarter where things broke down that ended up being the difference.
The visiting Patriots scored five unanswered goals in the second to break open a tie game and take control before halftime. That quarter proved decisive, as Foxboro (15-4) held Concord-Carlisle to only two goals in the second half (and none in the fourth) but could not find a way back into the game and saw the season come to a close with a 9-6 loss.
“I’m just proud of the boys and the way they battled all year,” said Foxboro coach Matt Noone after taking time to speak with each player and give each player a hug following the final huddle.
He added, “There was a time where I thought they (Concord-Carlisle) were going to separate and at the time I said to the guys, ‘we’re fighting for our lives,’ and they did. I couldn’t be prouder of them for that.”
The Warriors got off to a rough start when, three minutes in, senior Patrick Kaveny’s cross-field pass on a clear was intercepted. Foxboro was subbing players at the time and the Patriots were handed a three-on-none break that was eventually finished off for a 1-0 lead.
“We had some poor turnovers, some poor quality shots,” Noone said. “We can’t give teams like that chances. It wasn’t one thing, but we can’t give teams second chances or freebies, especially not in the playoffs.”
That lasted only a minute before sophomore Bobby Yerardi found the back of the net with an overhand shot on the run to tie it. With two minutes left in the first, the Patriots regained the lead but again Yerardi had the answer, turning the corner and ripping a shot under the bar with 42 seconds on the clock.
While the teams combined for four goals in the first 12 minutes, Concord-Carlisle came out strong in the second and scored four times in the first four minutes.
Foxboro did have a few chances offensively in the second, but not many. Louis Piccolo, Foxboro’s top scorer in the regular season, was pretty tightly marked by Henry Nelson all game but he got free with five minutes left to the break only to have his shot ricochet off the helmet of Patriots goalie Ben Kacher. Sophomore Shayne Kerrigan had a good chance four minutes later but that was also saved.
With only 21 seconds left in the half, Foxboro had a rare breakdown defensively. Robert Doherty shook a pair of markers and wound up before unleashing a rocket past Foxboro goalie Jake Addeche.
“They had some great looks,” said Noone of the second quarter struggles. “Our game plan was to force the middies into the middle so Jake could get a better look. We didn’t want to let them down the alley and we were letting them go. We talked about our game plan and started forcing them down the middle and doing a better job.”
The momentum was with the visiting team at the break and it continued in the third quarter when Alexi Hunt fired a shot past Addeche to make it six straight for the Patriots. Foxboro responded right away to stop the bleeding. Kerrigan won the face-off and Mike Collins scored with a running shot to make it 8-3.
Foxboro also went man-up following the goal and the Warriors took advantage. Brendan Tully finally got his hands free and rifled a shot into the corner to get back within four.
Two minutes later, Addeche stopped a bouncing shot and appeared ready to break up the ice but play was halted for a two-minute, locked-in penalty against the Warriors. Matt Moreau found space in the middle and scored with a bouncer to make it 9-4, but Kerrigan won the ensuing face-off and allowed the Warriors to run out the penalty. It was a momentum-builder for Foxboro and the players seemed energized when Ronnie MacLellan put in a good check to force an errant pass, raced up field in transition, drew a penalty, and forced a save out of Kacher.
In the fourth, Piccolo finally got going. He beat his man to the left and scored with an overhand shot for his first of the night to make it 9-5 with 8:31 left. Exactly four minutes later, he twisted and turned his marker before again finding the goal with a close finish.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, it would be as close as they would get as Kacher stopped shots from Kerrigan and Tully and several chances flew past the post.
After a Davenport division title during the regular season, Noone admitted that some of the league games were not enough of a challenge to prepare the Warriors for this level of competition. Of course, Foxboro also had not played in two weeks (Concord-Carlisle won its opening round game on Tuesday) and that lack of game sharpness was a major factor.
“It was awful, just trying to keep the boys focused and here and wanting to come to practice every day,” Noone said of the layoff. “We tried to make it fun and work on things that would make us better at the same time but yeah it was tough. That’s a lot of time.”
Noone continued, “It sucks that our last game had to end in a defeat. I love them and they battled for me and I’m so proud. They showed the Foxboro spirit and the Foxboro fight.”