After a scoreless first half, that the Mansfield boys’ soccer team dominated territorially. Stoughton came out in the second half with new energy and took a 1-0 lead.
But, the Hornets wouldn’t quit and retook the advantage and knotted the score, with just under 15 minutes left, and then got the game-winning goal with only 3:40 remaining, to earn their first win of the season.
“It’s frustrating, but we have to play all eighty minutes and do a little more than we’re doing to get the winning result,” said Stoughton coach Matt Bernstein. “We need to be more aggressive and have better decision-making. Mansfield did all this and proved that they wanted it even more than we did, so you’ve got to give them credit.”
Mansfield (1-1-2) outshot Stoughton 20-4 and forced Stoughton senior goaltender Michael Vulakh to play 35 shots. Stoughton, on the other hand, only forced Mansfield senior goaltender Douglas MacNeill to play the ball seven times.
“We had plenty of opportunities, but we couldn’t finish in the first half,” said Mansfield coach Stephen Sheridan. “We changed our formation in the second half and went from having two forwards to three and it paid off for us with two goals on set plays. We needed this win to get on track, but we still need to play better. The league is wide open and it’s anyone’s for the taking.”
After a first half, where the Stoughton team was in the defensive zone for most of the 40 minutes and relied on the superb goaltending of Vulakh, the Black Knights came out in the second half and took over the game. Stoughton scored ten minutes into the half on a goal by senior midfielder Gabriel Garcia with an assist from sophomore midfielder Jon Silva, beating the Mansfield defenders in front of the net for the loose ball.
Mansfield, however, came back and took control for the next 15 minutes, until they got a free kick from 20 yards out. On a set play that involved a lot of movement by the Mansfield team, Danny Sarkis, a senior midfielder, found sophomore midfielder Brian Esposito for the tying goal.
The Hornets continued their offensive pressure and on a throw-in, from the corner, senior defender Adam Hemond connected with Sarkis for the winning goal. Mansfield then gained ball possession for the final three minutes of the game to assure the comeback victory.
Mansfield will next play at Oliver Ames on Wednesday evening. Stoughton hopes to turn its fortunes around, playing its next two games on the road, starting with a rematch against North Attleboro on Wednesday, and a Davenport Division game at Sharon on Friday.