The Trojans did all their scoring in the first half Thursday in a 3-0 road win over the Boxers.
BROCKTON – Two goals within the first 13 minutes of play, and three by the half were all the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High girls soccer team needed to keep its unbeaten skein alive, as it defeated Brockton High, 3-0, Thursday night at Rocky Marciano Stadium.
But if the Trojans (11-0-1) were never in jeopardy of being upset, the Boxers (3-10) showed plenty of life throughout a second half that was fairly evenly played, when the home team became more physical and mostly kept the visitors at bay.
B-R junior star Brooke Cavino scored twice, opening the scoring in the 12th minute, zipping through the Boxer defense for a close-range shot, and then, later, dribbling around a couple defenders to earn herself a 10-yard shot for the third goal, just 10:44 before the half. Just about a minute after the first goal, B-R’s talented senior, Cassidy Small, had proved that opponents can’t spend all their time and defenders covering Cavino, as Small found some open space and made it 2-0.
Brockton wouldn’t be the first foe to seem a bit shellshocked facing the potent Trojan offense, and while the field seemed tilted in the first 30 minutes or so, the Boxers started scrapping back in the 34th minute, when junior forward Kayla Murphy uncorked a blast that forced B-R goalkeeper Bethany Dunk to make a good save. It had been a 40-yarder, and it was the Boxers’ first shot on net, but it was a laser labeled for the center of the net. Two minutes later, Murphy tried a quick turnaround, testing Dunk again, and then moments later tried a third attempt from 30 yards, which was probably the only easy save of the series.
Brockton came out recharged for the second half, and after some early hiccups, like a Trojan cornerkick in the 50th minute that Cavino shot wide right, the Boxers made it a tight-checking physical battle. B-R was playing lots of younger kids, but stalwarts like Cavino were still out there, and the vast improvement in the Boxer defense from their first meeting this year (a 6-1 B-R win) was evident.
“This is one of the things we’ve talked about with the girls,” said B-R coach Tim Kaliff. “We have to be careful, after qualifying so early for the postseason tournament, that we’re now still going to be facing a lot of teams who are fighting for their lives. We cannot take anything for granted. It is not easier playing a team like Brockton the second time around, when they know what you want to do, and they’ve been improving themselves. It is important now, and for the rest of the year that we don’t become complacent.
“Brockton played really well against us tonight,” Kaliff added. “They came out aggressive, much more aggressive than in our first game, and were even more aggressive and physical in the second half. Ultimately I think a game like this helps us quite a bit, because that’s just the kind of aggressive play you’re going to see from every other team in the tournament.”
Brockton’s second-half surge began to pay dividends in the 65th minute, when a Murphy cornerkick landed in the middle of the box and challenged the Trojan defense. But in the 68th minute the B-R scoring machine challenged Boxer senior goalie Tory Viola-Laughery, as freshman speedster Cassie Tofteroo darted down the left sideline and made a perfect crossing pass to Cavino, rushing down the middle of the penalty area. That was probably Viola-Laughery’s best save of the night, but she’s had plenty of action this season with an inexperienced defense in front of her, and she deserves plaudits for keeping Brockton close most nights.
Yet another wild and wacky sequence came in the 74th minute, after prolonged Boxer possession couldn’t deliver any solid scoring threats. B-R fed the ball up to Cavino on the left side, and she dribbled and deked her way around two defenders. As Cavino wheeled into the crease for what looked like a sure goal – and her latest hat trick – Viola-Laughery came sliding across the goal-line to knock the ball away.
B-R graduated 11 seniors off last year’s team, including eight starters, but Kaliff’s cupboard obviously wasn’t bare when this campaign started.
“We are fortunate with this program that we always seem to have a good base of players,” said Kaliff. “We try to get everyone playing time whenever we can, and so it’s not like these kids are rookies. What I love about this team is that they are a great bunch of kids, who communicate well and play together well, because of the type of kids they are. They all have very positive attitudes, they’re unselfish, and they’re having fun.”