Oliver Ames primed for another successful season

Oliver Ames coach John Barata expresses no doubt that his team, under normal circumstances, was well-equipped to make a run to a Division 2 state final this season.

“Saying you’re going to get there and getting there are very different,” Barata said. “Having the tools to get there is another thing and I believe we have the tools to get there.”

Barata’s confidence is backed up by the Tigers boasting a loaded, senior-laden roster that Barata, who took the Tigers to the state championship match three times since 2014, winning once, believes is the most complete team he’s had during his 12 years at OA.

The Tigers have proven to be just that on the field, dominating in all facets to win its first four games in convincing fashion.

“In terms of the best playing team I’ve had, this team is definitely, if not the best, right in line with the team that won the state championship,” Barata said. “I actually think we’re a little bit stronger at every position this year.”

OA features a dynamic attack spearheaded by playmaking center midfielder Colin Milliken, who recorded three goals and seven assists in the first four games. Kevin Louhis, Matthew Nikiciuk and Mathias Taylor also star in the potent offense bursting with many other viable options.

OA scored eight goals in two games versus a stingy North Attleboro defense to kick off the season, including receiving a hat trick from Nikiciuk in a 5-0 romp over the Red Rocketeers. That win also notched Barata and his assistant Fred Kurtz their 150th career victory together.

Senior captain Brady deVos knows exactly what makes the Tigers difficult to defend as he has the pleasure of going up against the offense in practice.

“It’s their IQ in the game and how they move the ball and they can read the game perfectly like nobody else in the league,” deVos said.

OA’s defense, anchored by deVos, is as stout as ever. Jimmy Keane and Ben Cohen have also been stalwarts defensively in front of Drew Nickla and Brendan Cross, who share goalkeeping duties.

While OA’s state title aspirations were dashed this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tigers remain motivated with their focus shifted toward obtaining their third Hockomock League divisional title in the last four years.

“We were just hoping to have a season together and now that we can win a division again, we want to try to do that again,” deVos said. “We want to be the best team we can be.”

Ramming into new league

Gaining full acceptance into the Patriot League starting this season and saddling up in the Keenan Division, Marshfield has made a strong impression by winning its first three games to be in contention for league bragging rights, which they weren’t able to claim last season playing an independent schedule.

“I’m just thrilled that we’ve had a good start to the new league,” said Marshfield coach Paul Turner. “The fact that we’ve gone in there, I think we’re earning a little bit of respect. We’re trying to play the right way.”

The Rams have relied on a formidable defensive unit with goalie Jack Price starring along with Owen Madden and Will Garneau on the back line to register shutout wins over Hingham and Whitman-Hanson.

After an eight-day layoff, Marshfield defeated Plymouth North, 4-1, Wednesday as the Rams showcased their overall balance by producing four different goal-scorers.

“The reason we’re succeeding is the platform at the back has been so solid,” Turner said. “It’s given the rest of the team confidence to attack.”

Leading Generals

Hamilton-Wenham has gone up against the iron of the Cape Ann League in the early going and come away in the driver’s seat atop the CAL Baker Division.

On Monday, the Generals made Claire Nistl’s early tally stand up as Hamilton-Wenham’s defense, anchored by Libby Collins and Maddy Rostad, impressively contained the high-powered offense of four-time reigning Div. 4 North champion Amesbury for a 1-0 win.

“They’re an experienced group and that’s certainly showing,” said Hamilton-Wenham coach Nancy Waddell of her defense. “We’re a little small, but they’re awfully feisty and awfully fast.”

Waddell lauded her team’s effort again after it fought back from a one-goal deficit Wednesday versus Newburyport and scored the equalizer on a shot from Jane Maguire with 8:14 left to earn a satisfying draw against the CAL Kinney’s top team.

The big 5-0

It’s an incredible display of longevity from Franklin coach Fran Bositis as he is in his 50th season presiding over the Panthers. Bositis, who was honored for his milestone in a ceremony Wednesday, has a mark of 490-280-127 during his long tenure.

More: Oliver Ames primed for another successful season