Just two games into the regular season, the Oliver Ames boys' soccer team has plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
The Tigers, 2-0, defeated King Philip 3-0 Friday afternoon. With a 6-0 win over Whitman Hanson earlier in the week, OA has yet to allow a score and has already scored half as many goals (9) as it did all last season (18).
"Two games – it’s great," Coach John Barata said. "I’m happy. It’s nice to start off with [wins], but I’m not overly confident yet. We have a lot of work to do still."d
Friday, The Tigers were propelled by a first half goal off the foot of Evan Coose with an assist from Zack Wyman just a minute and a half into play. While the remainder of the first half was an even battle, it gave OA an early advantage.
The early goal dug a hole for King Philip, which dropped to 0-1.
"I thought we possessed the ball quite well in the first half," King Philip Coach Kip Lewis said. "We only gave up the early goal. It was a bang-bang play on the first one. It was a shame that we gave that up because then we had to play down a goal the rest of the game. I thought we really recovered and played well for the latter part of the first half."
The second half was a different story.
Led by a stifling OA defense that included Adam Borbely, Nick Man, Kyle Johnston and Chris Romero, the Warriors had little chance to score.
Tigers Senior Captain Dave MacKinnon also quarterbacked the Tigers in front of the net.
"Dave’s got great presence," Barata said. "He’s a big kid but he’s also very gifted when it comes to leadership."
OA took a 2-0 lead with 21:38 remaining in the game when Dave Stapleton found an opening away from KP goalie Adam Morrissette.
With 7:39 left, Kyle Hayes solidified the lead for the Tigers.
Barata said Hayes, in is role off the bench, has already been valuable for the Tigers this year.
"He comes in and he’s got two goals this season," he said. "He’s readjusting from a midfielder to a forward/center. He’s a utility player."
Barata said Hayes has helped OA's offensive trio of Dave Stapleton, Chris Goncalves and Lucas Araujo, who all put in solid performances Friday.
Lewis said his Warriors need to brush off the loss and prepare for Milford on Monday.
"We have to toughen up a little bit. We have to clean up some balls in the back so those sloppy goals don’t happen."
Riding high, the Tigers continue with a their Hockomock League schedule at Mansfield Monday. Another win will be another step towards OA's overall goal: a spot in the state tournament.
Barata knows the road won't be easy.
"The Hock is not going to be a joke," he said.