Girls Soccer: 2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Mansfield and Oliver Ames shared the Kelley-Rex division title last season and both expect to be in the mix again this fall. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 2-15-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

Goal scoring has been the biggest issue for the Bombardiers in the past few seasons, including a league-low eight in 2016, but head coach Steve Santos is confident that this year’s squad has the speed and experience to take advantage of counter attacks and he expects Attleboro to create a lot more scoring chances this fall.

While goal scoring is a focus of the preseason work, it is at the back that Attleboro boasts the most experience with the entire back line returning. Senior Jordyn Forte is the leader at the back, using her “good soccer IQ,” according to Santos, to keep things calm and making the right plays. She is joined in the defense by fellow seniors Morgan Laplume and Graycen Cassidy. In goal, Madison Brown returns to give Attleboro a solid presence to control the penalty box.

Turning that defense into attack will be the responsibility of senior midfielder Julia Hayes, who will be a key player in the center of the pitch. Junior Ashley Lauzier and senior Kara Thornton will be hoping to take advantage of the opportunities that are created. Santos is also excited about the youth coming into the program with three freshman on the varsity roster to start, including Riley Harnois, who will help out in the attack.

“We have a little more speed this year,” said Santos, “and we’ve been generating a little more in the transition. This year I can rest [the starters], bring people off the bench and the pace doesn’t drop off. They’re great kids, they work hard, and they fight for the team every day.”

 

Franklin

2015 Record: 10-3-5
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tom Geysen

After six straight league titles, Franklin had an atypical season in 2016. The Panthers only lost three times all season, but drew five times, struggling to find consistent goal scoring that would turn a tie into a win. Franklin only allowed nine goals, but only scored 36, which was 20 goals fewer than league champ Mansfield. This year, head coach Tom Geysen is working on a new formation to get the best out of his attacking options with the goal of returning to the top of the league standings.

The Panthers return leading scorer Miranda Smith and the senior takes advantage of her size to create scoring opportunities in the box. Junior Halle Atkinson is back for her third year on the varsity and gives Franklin speed on the wings and is an accurate crosser of the ball to give Smith plenty of chances. Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira are also back and will give the Panthers a consistent presence in the center of midfield, while Emily Mastaj is another option on the wing.

The key to Franklin’s defense this season will be senior goalie Cat Robbins. Stepping in between the posts last year, Robbins turned in an impressive year and quickly became one of the top goalies in the league. This year, there will be several new faces and younger players that will be counted on to step up on the defensive side of the ball, including senior Molly O’Reilly and juniors Grace Gallo and Madison Stewart.

Geysen noted that there are several underclassmen that could step in during the season to add to the Panthers’ depth. He added, “We need to find the right mix. If we can patch things together and they can gain experience over the course of the season I’m confident that we will get better.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 12-8-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Gary Pichel

It was a great turnaround for King Philip from 2015 to 2016. The Warriors were snakebitten by injuries the year before, losing almost an entire starting 11 many of them to long-term injuries, but last year a large and talented freshman class stepped in to supplement the players who were back healthy helping the program jump from just two wins to 12 last fall.

Expectations are even higher for the Warriors this year, as that freshman group gained a year of experience playing in the Hock. The sophomores are led by Avery Snead, last year’s Underclassman of the Year, who excelled up front or in the midfield and sealed the team’s playoff victory over Mansfield with an overtime headed winner. Chloe Layne showed off silky skills and finishing ability in the box and Olivia Berry stepped right into the heart of the defense and showed that she belonged.

It is not all about the underclassmen. Senior Emma Corcoran is back for another year at the heart of the defense and as the primary dead ball specialist, being named an Eastern Mass. All-Star in 2016. Senior Emma Durant has grown into the role of starting keeper and was a solid and steady presence between the posts last season. Senior Julian Massarone is a three-year varsity player and will be one of the primary playmakers in the center of the pitch.

“Overall, we made great strides in improving our game last year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “We want to continue to become more advanced in all three phases of our game. Last year, we turned a corner. This year, we want to move full speed ahead and compete hard against all of our opponents in the Hock!”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 14-1-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Kevin Smith

Mansfield is coming off the program’s best ever season. The Hornets set records for wins, points, goals scored and claimed their first ever league title, finishing the regular season unbeaten. An overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs to league rival KP was a tough finish to 2016 and trying to replace the production of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Hannah Reiter will be a challenge, but the Hornets return a ton of talent to make a run at another title.

Juniors Melissa Reef (an Eastern Mass. All-Star last season) and Bryn Anderson will be back in the midfield this fall, breaking up opponents’ attacks and pushing Mansfield into the attack. Their ability to cover a lot of ground in the center of the pitch and pick out the right pass to start the transition will be key. Classmate Stephanie Kemp will be back at the top of the attack, after scoring nine goals as a sophomore. Junior Emily Vigeant will lead an experienced defensive unit and also gives the Hornets a dangerous weapon from set pieces.

Mansfield coach Kevin Smith likes has a lot of players that he can call on this season. In the attack, Kemp will be joined by Sydney Mulkern, Allee Bezeau, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy MacMahon, and Emma Oldow. Defensively, the Hornets will turn to Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, Erin Daniel and goalkeeper Lauren Whitman.

Smith said, “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers and relying on the experience of 13 juniors and three seniors who were on varsity last year to fill the roles of the five starters who graduated.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 14-3-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

Last fall, Oliver Ames made the switch from the Davenport to the Kelley-Rex division, but it had little effect on the success of the program. The Tigers shared the league title with Mansfield, the fourth title in a row for OA and seventh since 2007. That run of success may be tough to keep going this year, as the Tigers graduated 10 seniors and are battling injuries to start 2017.

Losing players like Francesca Calabraro (who was injured midway through last season) and Kiana Lozzi is tough enough, but the Tigers lost almost an entire starting 11. To make matters worse, the strong central defensive pairing of Emily Freeman (knee) and Zoe Chazan (academy) are both missing to start the season. Senior goalie Regan Benton is back and will give the Tigers one of the best goalies in the league and in Eastern Mass. to backstop the rebuilt defense.

Offensively, the Tigers have been known for pace and strength, particularly on set pieces, and this year will count on three senior to try and provide consistent scoring opportunities. The pacy group of Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, Annabella Walsh will be the primary focus of the attack. There will be a lot of new faces on the pitch this season, trying to keep the legacy of OA success going for another fall.

“We have quite a few players who had limited minutes last year,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer, “but they practiced against some good players every day. If we can stay healthy I feel confident.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 3-14-2
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Edith Dixon

It has been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers over the past few seasons under head coach Edith Dixon. In 2015, Taunton reached the postseason for the first time in program history and made it count by beating Wellesley on the road in the opening round and gave top seed Bishop Feehan a tough game in the second round. But, after losing a number of players to graduation, Taunton won only three games last season and are looking to bounce back behind a young roster in 2017.

The key for the Tigers is senior Samantha Tichelaar, who is coming off a league all-star and HockomockSports.com Best XI season, and gives Taunton speed, control, and leadership either as a forward or dropping deep into the midfield. Her versatility opens opportunities for her teammates. Classmate Kayla Felix will be the leader at the back for the Tigers, adding aggressiveness to the defense from her sweeper position.

Numbers are good for the program overall and Dixon expects that the younger players, including a strong crop of freshman and even eighth graders could make an impact on the varsity as the season goes along. She said that many of the younger players are “ahead of their age performance-wise.”

Dixon added, “Some of our younger players are going to step up and change how we play, but our upperclassman and seniors will remain the core of our team. I believe that their leadership and team-first mentality will push us to do well this year and set the program up for long-term success as the underclassmen mature.”

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