Longtime Assistants Get First Head Coaching Jobs

Canton hired offensive coordinator Anthony Fallon and Milford hired former offensive coordinator Dale Olsen to be their respective head coaches next fall. (HockomockSports.com)

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A pair of longtime assistant football coaches will get their first chance at head jobs this fall, as Canton promoted offensive coordinator Anthony Fallon and Milford hired former offensive coordinator Dale Olsen to fill their respective head coaching vacancies.

Fallon called the offense for the Div. 5 South finalist Bulldogs last season under head coach Dave Bohane, who stepped down in January after his 14th season in charge (over two stints, from 1994-98 and 2011-19). Fallon is a Canton grad and a member of the 1987 Super Bowl-winning team. His first coaching job was as an assistant at Canton and he has also spent time with the Bellingham and Millis programs.

“I was with Dave through the whole process of him stepping down,” Fallon explained, adding that he spoke with other members of the staff, many of whom have been with the Bulldogs for years, before applying for the position. That continuity within the program is important to Fallon.

He said, “Dave and I kind of cut our teeth together when we first started, so there’s not going to be a whole lot difference in me putting my own stamp on this. I just want to carry on the traditions that have been established with maybe some new twists.”

While this will be his first stint as head coach, Fallon is counting on his experience to make the transition easier for himself and for the players. Fallon said, “I’ve coached with six or seven different head coaches and four of them were first-year guys, so I’ve seen what can go wrong in the first year. I know some of the pitfalls that can happen.”

“Knowing the kids, knowing the culture, and knowing the coaching staff,” he added, “that will give the kids some comfort, knowing what the expectations are already with just a few changes.”

Canton is coming off back-to-back Davenport division titles and back-to-back trips to the D5 South final, but will graduate a large, talented senior class and will have numerous spots to fill this fall.

“You can never replace a talented class like that,” said Fallon, “but we’ll have talented kids come through. If we keep building off the tradition of hard-nosed football and working hard, we’ll be fine and we’ll do well.”

Olsen has also spent two decades on the sidelines as an assistant coach, including four years with Fallon at Millis, where the Mohawks brought home a state championship. He spent the 2018 season at Milford as the offensive coordinator but stepped aside last season to spend time with his young son and to help former Millis and Milford standout Kevin Pyne prepare for playing offensive line at Boston College.

He is taking over for Anthony Vizakis, who stepped down after three years in charge. Olsen was on Vizakis’ staff two seasons ago. When he saw that the Milford job was open, Olsen spoke with his family, including his twin brother Dana, who he coached under at Millis.

“I knew I was going to get back into the game but I didn’t think it was going to be that quick,” he admitted. ”The opportunity arose and I sat down to talk with my wife and she said I should go for it, talked to my brother and from there it just happened.”

Like Fallon at Canton, Olsen is counting on his familiarity with the program and the players to hit the ground running. “I’d say 70 percent of the team knows my brother and I,” Olsen said. “So I think it will be a pretty smooth transition that way. They’ve been kind of running the offense that I ran there two years ago, so I don’t think we’ll skip a beat offensively.”

Milford has made the playoffs in four of the last six seasons, but has only advanced out of the first round of the postseason once and has never finished better than 3-2 in league play. It is a program with a history of success though and Olsen is looking forward to the challenge of “waking a sleeping giant.” One of the reasons for his confidence is the talented senior class that he has coming back in the fall.

“I’m super excited,” Olsen said. “Milford has had great football for a long, long time. There’s a big senior class there. They were junior-heavy last year and I think we lose three kids on offense, three kids on defense.”

The Hawks will face the difficult task of moving into the Kelley-Rex division next season and squaring off with teams in higher divisions.

We’re looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge. Milford is a Div. 3 school and six out of our seven opponents are D1 or D2. I look forward to it. There’s a special group of seniors next year, so I think we can more than hold our own.”

Fallon and Olsen are not only longtime assistants getting their first shot at running a program, but also longtime friends and both are proud to share the experience of being a first-time head coach in the same season.

“It’s kind of unique,” said Fallon about Olsen also getting a head coaching postion. “He’s been doing it a very long time and he’s a great friend and a great coach. He’ll do good things in Milford.”

Olsen added, “It’s well-deserved on his part. He’s done a lot for kids and he’s a great coach. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time and the only sad thing is that we won’t be able to play each other next year because we’re moving up.”

Sharon’s Cosgrove Named Coach of the Year at RIC

Jenna Cosgrove
Sharon alum Jenna Cosgrove instructs her Rhode Island College team in a game earlier this season against Roger Williams. (Courtesy Photo)

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When Jenna Cosgrove took over the Rhode Island College program, the Anchorwomen had won only 19 games in the three previous seasons combined and had finished bottom of the Little East Conference with five wins in 2016-17. Three years later, RIC won 22 games (second-most in program history) and reached the conference championship game.

Cosgrove, who played basketball for four years at Sharon and then at Endicott College, was named the Little East Coach of the Year for bringing the RIC program back to the top of the league standings.

“It’s bittersweet right now because we just lost in the championship,” Cosgrove said in a phone conversation a few days after RIC’s 49-44 loss to Eastern Connecticut State in the conference title game. “In year three to take the team to the championship and receive an honor like this speaks volumes of the growing respect for the program.”

Despite 22 wins this winter, RIC just missed out on an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Cosgrove still saw a lot of growth for the program this season. She said, “I tell the kids we now should be a top 25 team. It raises the standards really high and it’s exciting for the program. I think our girls will be fired up next year to try and come back and win a championship.”

Coaching is a family trait. Cosgrove’s grandfather Jack helped found the Pop Warner football program in Sharon, coached several sports, and the middle school field was recently named in his honor. Her uncle Jack is the winningest football coach in University of Maine history and is still active as the head coach at Colby College.

Her interest in the profession led to a sports management degree at Endicott and shortly after graduating from college led to her taking jobs coaching AAU basketball at Mass Premier and as an assistant for Sharon coach Kate Horsmann.

At the age of just 23, Cosgrove got the opportunity to be an administrative assistant and support staff for the women’s basketball program at Fordham. “I jumped at it,” she explained. “It was a big leap of faith for me because obviously I was transitioning from Sharon to the Bronx at 23 and I didn’t know anybody.”

She traveled with the team, helped out at games and at practices, and, after the head coach left at the end of the season, was part of the interview process for new coach Stephanie Gaitley. The Rams had gone nearly two decades without a winning record but Gaitley turned the Rams into perennial league title contenders and had 20-plus wins in six of her first eight seasons in charge.

Cosgrove became an assistant coach after three years and eventually was named recruiting coordinator. After seven years in the Bronx, she took another leap and became the head coach at RIC. She took her experience and a lot of what she learned from Gaitley to help turn things around for the Anchorwomen.

“That journey being in New York, that really defined me as a coach and I learned from one of the best in the business at that level, but I spent a lot of time there and it got me to this job because I wanted to be back home, I wanted to be closer to family,” said Cosgrove. “It got me back to my roots and to be a head coach.”

She added, “I learned how to change culture from [Stephanie]. When she took over that program, we were at the bottom of the Atlantic 10 and within three years we won an A-10 championship. When I got here, we were at the bottom and I knew we would need to bring in good players, which we’ve done, but a big part of it is building culture and building confidence.”

The first season in charge was tough, but RIC doubled its win total in year two, finishing 18-9 and making it to the LEC semifinal. This year was even better, RIC finished at 22-5. Cosgrove admitted that there was a lot to learn in her first head coaching position.

“Jumping from being an assistant to head coach taught me more in that first year about myself, but it’s the most rewarding experience and I love being a head coach and I wouldn’t change anything,” she said.

Her time as a member of the support staff at Fordham and especially her time in recruiting prepared her for the challenges that coaches at the DIII level face. With much smaller staffs, DIII coaches have their hands in have aspect of the program and Cosgrove said it was a “competitive edge,” although in the end coaching is still about being able to work with and get the most out of a group of student-athletes.

“It’s about being able to really relate to the kids and to motivate the kids and really have that close relationship off the court,” Cosgrove said. “I was a good athlete but I don’t know if I ever really reached my potential. Part of my desire to coach is to instill that in other kids and get them to reach their potential and maximize their opportunity.”

“t’s the player connection. It’s being able to impact a player’s life. I look at my season ending and my two seniors and those kids are going to be in my life forever, in terms of being able to help impact and change their life.”

Being in charge of a DI program is a typical ambition for anyone in the coaching profession, but Cosgrove isn’t looking ahead.

“Right now, I just live in the moment,” she said. “I’m not done here. I want to win a championship. I think going from DI to DIII gives a lot of perspective, you hit a stage where you do really value balance and I think I’m in a really good spot right now.”

RIC will be happy to have her coming back, hungrier than ever after getting to the program’s first LEC final since 2014.

Franklin and Foxboro Girls Earn Respective State Titles

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Both the Franklin and Foxboro girls basketball team were practicing on Thursday evening when the news filtered through that both of their seasons had ended with a victory, although neither got the opportunity to complete their impressive seasons by taking the floor in a state championship game.

The MIAA announced early Thursday evening that it was canceling the state championship basketball games originally slated to be played on Saturday in Worcester out of concern for the COVID-19 pandemic. The six hockey state championship games scheduled for Sunday at the TD Garden were also canceled and the beginning of the spring season has been postponed for at least two weeks.

With the decision to cancel the finals, the teams that had reached this stage were declared co-champions. Foxboro will share the Div. 2 title with West champion Taconic, earning the Warriors a second state title in three seasons. Franklin finishes its season at 25-0 and will share the Div. 1 crown with North champion Andover, claiming the first state title in program history and widely regarded as the top team in the state.

For both teams, it is hard not feel the season’s end and the state titles were anti-climactic after the excitement of winning four or five tournament games.

“I got up at 3:30 this morning to start watching film because I didn’t know if we were going to be able to practice on Friday or if they were doing team stuff, there were just no details,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “So, I went from watching film in the middle of the night to my day job to practice and then I got the call. It was like, ‘what just happened?’ It just feels like a bad dream.”

Franklin coach John Leighton said, “They wanted to be able to get some closure and finish what they started and that will never come. They were frustrated, but they knew it might be coming. We practiced today more hopeful than optimistic.”

The players were understandably disappointed with the decision, although, as Leighton explained, there had been discussion about not having the finals for several days.

“One of the things we always talk about is ‘control what you can control’ and that’s usually fouls and effort but we talked about this all week too,” he said. “On Tuesday, the tournament director even came up to me and said, ‘Hope you get to play on Saturday.’ So we kind of had a hint that it might happen.”

Downs was grateful that her team was at least able to experience playing at the TD Garden, after being denied that chance because of a snowstorm during the 2018 state title season.

“I think it would’ve been so much worse if we hadn’t gotten to play at the Garden,” she said. “Yesterday I thought, okay we’re probably going to be playing in an empty gym, which sucks but at least they get to play the game. The girls don’t understand, you know, they’re 17-year-old kids. They’re just like, ‘They can take everyone’s temperature.’”

Franklin was start-to-finish the top-ranked team in the state. The Panthers made history last year by reaching the state semifinal, but came out this winter with renewed focus and raced through an unbeaten season, which included wins over D2 champion Foxboro, D1 South champion, Bridgewater-Raynham, and D4 champion Cathedral.

“We became really hard to beat,” said Leighton. “They were always hungry to get better Even last game, when we walked off the court they weren’t super happy. They knew it wasn’t their best game and they couldn’t wait to go play another.”

The state championship run was also the coronation of senior center Ali Brigham’s career with the Panthers. She finished as the top scorer in not only the program’s history, but the school’s history as well. Leighton credits the George Washington-commit with raising the profile of the program and making them into a perennial state power.

Leighton said, “She’s changed the program. The expectation of the kids who are going to come play basketball at Franklin has changed. She chose to stay all four years. That was selfless of her and her play this season was selfless. It says a lot about who she is as a kid.”

Foxboro finished the season 24-2 and on a 15-game win streak, which included a difficult run through the South sectional, knocking off Pembroke (which beat the Warriors in last year’s semifinal), Old Rochester, and Hingham. Defense was the key, as Foxboro allowed the second-fewest points per game in the league this season (37.6) and bettered that average in the playoffs (36.8).

“I don’t want everything ending so abruptly to overshadow that these girls were able to go 24-2,” said Downs. “From last year getting pummeled in the semifinal and having basically the same group of girls and getting progressively better throughout the course of the season. In postseason, you could see they were where you’d want a team to be. We had just so many pieces to the puzzle that we haven’t had in other years.”

Due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, neither Foxboro’s or Franklin’s season ended with the trophy and celebration at center court that typically follows winning a state championship, but both teams will be able to add another state title banner to their programs’ legacies.

Foxboro Wins Battle in Paint to Secure Spot in Final

Foxboro girls basketball Yara Fawaz
Foxboro senior Yara Fawaz dribbles past a North Reading defender in the second half at the TD Garden. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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BOSTON, Mass. – In 2018, on its way to a state title, a snowstorm kept Foxboro from playing the state semifinal at TD Garden. Instead, a dramatic comeback against Pentucket took place at Woburn High. On Wednesday night, the Warriors had another opportunity to reach the final and this time got to play under the Garden’s bright lights.

This time, there was none of the drama from 2018. Foxboro allowed only two points in the first quarter, led by double digits at halftime, and rolled to a 52-35 victory over North champion North Reading to reach the state championship game for the second time in three years.

“Honestly, for the most part, I was like these lights are really bright,” senior Shakirah Ketant joked about the experience of playing at the Garden. “There were a couple times where I went up for a rebound and was like, I can’t see anything, but overall it was a really good experience. The court was amazing and all our fans coming out, just a great feeling.”

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While the lighting may have been different, it didn’t slow down Ketant, who recorded another double-double and dominated the paint on both ends of the floor. She finished with a game-high 16 points and 17 rebounds and added a pair of blocks, two assists, and two steals.

When asked about her strong play this postseason, Ketant replied with a smile, “How hard we work in practice and Coach [Brian] Brown just constantly being on us to be big, be big and us giving it our all going up strong for a board and going to the basket. We work on it every single day in practice, clearly it’s paying off.”

Foxboro got off to a perfect start, as Yara Fawaz (six points, three assists, and three steals), Katelyn Mollica (nine points) knocked down a jumper, and Ketant got two from an offensive rebound for a 6-0 lead. On the other end, the Warriors held North Reading scoreless for nearly six minutes.

“They have some quick guards, but we were able to keep some different girls, different legs on [Alexandria Grasso],” Foxboro coach Lisa Downs explained. “So many turnovers in that first quarter. I think it was just so much anxiety, get the kinks out a little bit on the Boston Garden floor. It all came back to defense because our shots were not going in tonight.”

After the Hornets finally got on the board, Lizzy Davis (five points, seven rebounds, and five assists) got to the rim for a pair and Ketant added two more with a basket off a Davis pass.

Leading 10-2, Foxboro got its offense going in the second quarter to build the lead to 12 by halftime. Mollica answered a North Reading three with one of her own and then found Fawaz for a bucket off an inbounds play. Ketant scored four points in the second and also assisted on a couple of mid-range jumpers for Abby Hassman (10 points and 12 rebounds).

“If it’s not falling on the outside, then we have to work inside then out and as we started working it inside they started doubling us down, packing the middle, and then we started kicking it out and started getting some open looks,” said Ketant.

It really felt like the Warriors could score at will in the post. “That was the plan,” said Downs. “Their guards were very aggressive, scrappy, so if we were able to get it in then we would try to use our size and our athleticism in the paint.”

The lead grew to as many as 21 points in the third quarter, as Foxboro continued to find holes in the North Reading defense. Hassman scored the first six points of the third for the Warriors, including a jumper after Fawaz grabbed an offensive rebound to keep a possession alive.

“That’s what she is so good at and I think she was just questioning herself in the first quarter,” Downs said of Hassman. “She wasn’t quite as smooth as she usually is. Once she got one in, I knew she’d find her rhythm.”

Davis buried a straightaway three, Jordyn Collins (six points) knocked down a short jumper, and Ketant added four more points (both baskets coming off Fawaz assists) to close out the quarter.

Foxboro led 44-24 heading into the fourth, but the Hornets wouldn’t go away easily. Lauren Sullivan (team-high 14 points) went on a personal 8-2 run, burying a pair of deep threes, and pulled North Reading within 14.

That would be as close as the North champs could get. Collins scored with a drive to the basket, Ketant grabbed yet another offensive rebound for two more, and Mollica capped the win with a layup in transition.

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“I think it was such a team effort,” Mollica said. “Everyone contributed on defense and offense and that’s huge. It helped us win the game.”

She added, “This whole season we’ve been saying make it to the Garden and let’s see what happens. We finally got here. It feels amazing to be back to have another shot at a state championship.”

Foxboro (24-2) will face Taconic, the West champion, in the state championship game on Saturday in Worcester at a time and location yet to be announced.

Franklin Keeps Perfect Season Alive, Heads to First Final

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Franklin senior Ali Brigham scored 25 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to help the Panthers beat Minnechaug and advance to the program’s first ever state title game. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WORCESTER, Mass. – When asked if the loss to Springfield Central in last year’s state semifinal game, three days short of a year before Tuesday night’s semifinal at Worcester State, was being used as motivation by his team, Franklin coach John Leighton dismissed that idea, saying that his team had already moved on.

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“None, not at all,” Leighton explained. “We moved on and buried that. We celebrated winning the sectional championship with the three seniors from last year. Otherwise, you kind of live in past glory and it doesn’t motivate you forward.”

The Panthers can continue to look forward, as they pulled out a 55-43 victory against a feisty Minnechaug, which upset Springfield Central in the West final, to advance to the first state title game in program history. At the final horn, there were smiles and some cheers, but Franklin players reacted like it was business as usual.

“It’s the farthest that Franklin has ever been,” said senior Ali Brigham. “We make it this far, we’re not going to stop now. We wanted to make it to the championship game, which we did. It feels good to be there but that was an ugly game so hopefully we’ll be a lot better in that game.”

It was far from a perfect game for the Panthers, who struggled from the perimeter, making only two threes in the game and being forced to get almost every point at the rim.

“It was just one of those shooting nights,” said Leighton. The only good thing, I think our offensive rebound rate on those was really high, so that kind of helps give the shooters confidence that even if it’s not going we’re still creating offense. They’re good threes, I didn’t think we were chucking up the first shot, they just didn’t fall.”

Of course, having Brigham in the middle means that the Panthers cane find plenty of success going into the paint. The senior center finished with a game-high 25 points, 16 rebound, and three blocks. She got considerable help from second-leading scorer Olivia Quinn, as the sophomore added 16 points and five rebounds, including 10 points in the third quarter alone.

“It feels a lot better too when you have someone else to take the load off,” Brigham said of Quinn’s performance. “I thought Liv played great and without her we probably couldn’t have come out like this.”

Brigham was the focus of the Franklin offense right from the start. She scored 10 points in the first quarter, grabbed four boards, and drew five fouls as the undersized Falcons (who were without their star player Lauren Barry) had to surround Brigham with defenders. She got a basket off a Quinn pass to the post, on a drive from the top of the key, and on an offensive rebound.

With the Panthers leading 14-5 and time running out in the first, Emily Howard knocked down a deep three, beating the buzzer and keeping the Falcons close. That would become a theme on Tuesday, as Minnechaug knocked down seven threes as a team and never allowed Franklin to pull away.

In the second, Franklin continued to go inside to Brigham, who scored five points in the quarter. Stefany Padula also got free on the break for two, off a good pass by Megan O’Connell. The Panthers were held to only three made field goals in the quarter, but they only allowed four on the other end to keep the six-point lead at half.

After being saddled with two early fouls and having to sit more than usual in the first half, Quinn dominated the third quarter. She opened it with a three, which was the first outside shot that Franklin made in the game. After Autumn Strange banked in a three to get the Falcons within four, Brigham scored in the paint and had a nice pass over the top to Quinn for a layup.

Quinn took a feed from Emma Sousa and finished at the rim plus the foul, pushing Franklin’s lead to 10. Elizabeth Wilson got her first points of the night off a Quinn assist to make sure it stayed 10, 38-28, heading into the fourth quarter.

“She’s such a spark to our team,” Leighton said about Quinn. “She just naturally finds gaps, especially in the press. When they tried to cover us full-court it opened space for her and she can create.”

In the fourth, Franklin showed off its experience to never let Minnechaug get back into the game. Lillian Grono hit a three to cut the lead down to nine, 46-37, but Erin Quaile answered with one of her own at the other end to go back up by 12. Brigham scored eight in the fourth, including 6-for-6 at the line, and Wilson went 4-for-4 at the charity stripe to help the Panthers seal the win and a place in the final.

Leighton said, “It’s a tremendous feeling. I’m happy for the kids. They’ve just bought all in. They’re all in to be the best they can. They weren’t satisfied just now. There wasn’t a big celebration, they said if we want to keep going then we’re going to have to play better than that. They want to compete at the highest level.”

Franklin (25-0) will try to win the program’s first state championship and complete the perfect season when it takes on North champion Andover on Saturday at a time and location to be determined.

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Canton Beats Norwell and Heads Back to Title Game

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Canton players celebrate after a 3-1 win against Norwell that sends the Bulldogs to the D2 state title game at the TD Garden. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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BRIGHTON, Mass. – For the third time in four seasons, Canton will have the chance to play for the Div. 2 state championship at the TD Garden.

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Three different Bulldogs scored in Sunday night’s state semifinal against Norwell at the Warrior Ice Arena and Canton’s defense put in a strong display of how to block shots and clear the middle of the zone. The Bulldogs skated away with a 3-1 victory and they will now face top seed Wellesley in next week’s title game.

“It’s awesome,” said junior forward Lizzie Tassinari, whose second period goal turned out to be the game-winner. “You kind of feel like a celebrity when you’re out there and you see your whole entire school and everyone you know out there cheering you on. It’s the best feeling ever.”

Norwell proved to be a tough out, with its speed through the neutral zone causing problems for Canton early in the game. Allie McCabe had to be quick to backtrack and prevent Margaret Leivi from getting off a shot on a break just a minute into the game and Carolyn Durand stayed tall to stop the loose puck at the near post.

Canton started to get some luck in the offensive zone through its aggressive forecheck. Ellie Rae Roberts nearly teed up Maria Femia for a chance in the slot, but they couldn’t connect. Olivia Maffeo got the first shot on target for the Bulldogs with a trademark rush through three zones and a wrister that was blocked aside by Norwell goalie Nicole Prescott.

It was a freshman defenseman that put Canton in front, but surprisingly it wasn’t Maffeo (who was coming off a four-goal game in the quarterfinal). Her Junior Eagles teammate Maya Battista, who moved up from Texas this year, sent in a shot from the point that fooled Prescott and snuck under the bar.

“Maya has been playing so well,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “She’s just a steady, stay-at-home defenseman. She scored in our very first scrimmage and I thought, we’ve got someone who’s going to score a lot for us, but she hasn’t scored again until now. What a big goal, so I’m so happy for her.”

The lead lasted six minutes before the Clippers found an equalizer. Casey Messina had her first shot saved by Durand (20 saves) but she stuck with the play and managed to squeeze the rebound across the line to make it 1-1.

Norwell carried the momentum into the second period and started with a flurry of chances that Durand and the Canton defense repelled. McCabe, Maffeo, Battista, and seniors Meg Aldrich and Alexa Maffeo were putting their bodies in front of as many shots as possible to kill off a pair of Norwell power plays.

“The amount of blocked shots tonight was incredible,” said Aldrich. “Every time I looked up, we were in a shooting lane. That’s kids who are putting the team and the game ahead of themselves because that hurts.”

Just four seconds into their own power play, and on their first shot of the period, the Bulldogs regained the lead. McCabe showed off her skating ability to gain the zone down the left wing. She threw a puck towards goal and it was picked up by Tassinari, who flung a backhand at Prescott. It was only partially saved and the puck trickled over the line.

“She kind of fumbled it a little, so I kind of saw the opportunity to take the puck and I shot it kind of blindly just to get shots on net,” Tassinari said. “We both saw it turning, her kind of leaning backwards and couldn’t grab it, and it was just trickling in and across the line.”

The goal seemed to energize the Bulldogs, who finished the second period with several chances. Ellie Bohane did well behind the net and put a shot on goal and the loose rebound was snapped on goal by Caroline Tourgee, forcing a pad stop from the goalie.

Leading by one heading into the third period, Canton upped the pressure on its forecheck and remained aggressive in the offensive zone.

“Everything we do, get the puck deep and establish the forecheck and just kind of remember everything we do every single day and tire them out,” Tassinari said about the discussion ahead of the third period. “Just never give up really.”

Aldrich explained, “We knew how we wanted to attack them and got away from that a little bit, so we went in the third period to more of a 2-3 because we were getting caught deep and giving up too many odd-man rushes. It wasn’t like they didn’t have chances, but I like the flow of the third period much better than the first two.”

Audrey Koen forced a pad save after dragging the puck away from the boards and then Tassinari hit Tess Khoury with a nice cross-ice pass but Khoury’s one-timer was skewed wide.

Norwell had a great chance to try and tie the game. Casey Ward raced into the zone and cut across the slot from right-to-left. As a Canton defender slipped, Ward suddenly had acres of space to wind up, but Durand was in the right position to make a smart pad save.

The missed opportunity proved to be costly for the Clippers. With six minutes remaining, Olivia Maffeo put the game away. She weaved her way through the neutral zone and into the right face-off circle. She showed great patience to pick her spot, lifting a shot up over Prescott’s glove hand and just under the bar.

“She’s pretty good huh?” Aldrich asked with a smile. “It’s fun to have a kid like that because it just brings everybody up. She’s the first one in line for drills. She has to win, has to be first, and it’s just contagious in that locker room. The whole attitude in there is different having her around.”

Canton (19-1-4) will face the two-time defending state champions Wellesley at the TD Garden. It is a rematch of the 2018 final that the Raiders won and last year’s first round game, also won by the Raiders.

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Attleboro’s Tellier Making His Pitch as National Prospect

Nate Tellier
Former Attleboro standout Nate Tellier heads into his senior season at UMass Dartmouth as one of the top DIII baseball prospects in the country. (UMass Dartmouth Athletic Communications)

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It is only three games into the new baseball season and already former Attleboro High standout Nate Tellier is racking up the recognition at UMass Dartmouth. Prior to the start of the season, the senior center fielder and relief pitcher was named one of the top Div. III recruits in the country and this week was named the Little East Conference Player of the Week after sweeping a weekend doubleheader against Becker College.

Tellier has started on fire at the plate, going 6-for-10 with three doubles, a home run, a team-high seven RBI, a stolen base, and five runs scored. He went 4-for-6 with a three-run homer and drove in five RBI in an 11-1 win against Becker that opened the weekend series.

He has only made one appearance on the mound for the 3-0 Hawks, working around a pair of walks to throw a scoreless inning.

On the mound is where the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Tellier is making his biggest impression on scouts. Perfectgame.org named him the No. 4 prospect nationally in Div. III. He was the top-ranked prospect in New England and just one of two from the region to be named.

“It means the world to me that my hard is being recognized but it doesn’t mean that’s all there is,” said Tellier a couple days after the season-opening win against Emerson College. “It’s cool to be recognized but it doesn’t mean anything for the future or that I can stop working.

“It kind of just drives me a little bit more because it means that I’m that little bit closer. It gives me more reason to work towards that goal at the end of being drafted.”

A two-time all-conference selection, Tellier has impressed in his three seasons in Dartmouth. He is a career .338 hitter with nine career homers and 84 career RBI, with at least 50 hits in all three seasons. He moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation his sophomore season, but moved back last spring. He has a career record of 3-4 with 10 saves, an ERA of 2.72, and 63 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched (which works out to 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings).

When asked what he likes best about being the closer, Tellier said, “Just the compete level coming into a game either tied or up or down by one or two and knowing you have to compete at your best to be able to come out on top.”

He added, “You’re not throwing that long so you go out there and you don’t have to pace yourself, you just throw as hard as you can for about 15 pitches and you’re good.”

Tellier, who has also played the past three years with the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks in the NECBL, continues to improve each year. He allowed just 14 hits in 29 innings last season and struck out 41, an average of 12.72 per nine innings. He admits that he had a lot to learn about pitching when he got to college, despite a dominant senior season at Attleboro, and that he is much more comfortable on the mound than earlier in his career.

“In high school, I could just throw hard and that would work,” he explained. “I could get by with that only. I had to develop a couple of pitches because in college you’re not going to get by for long just throwing hard without location or off-speed stuff.”

He is working on his breaking ball, a change-up, and a two-seamer, developing a repertoire of pitches to fool college hitters. It has been a process, but Tellier feels like he has found a groove on the mound.

“When I got to college I had no idea what I was doing out there,” he said. “I just hoped the ball was going where I wanted it to, now I know the ball is going where I want. I’m a lot more comfortable.”

It was also a process in the field, as he moved from shortstop to the outfield and Tellier sees improvement in how he tracks balls off the bat and the angles that he takes to get to balls in center. His growth at the plate has been obvious and also been a benefit to his pitching.

“You get to see the ball from both sides and sometimes on the mound you think, if I was a hitter what would I be thinking in this situation?” Tellier remarked.

At Attleboro, Tellier was 3-0 his senior season, blowing teams away with his fastball. He struck out a league-high 65 batters that season, including 16 over eight innings in a no-hitter against North Attleboro, and had a league-low ERA of 0.60. He only allowed three earned runs all season and pushed the Bombardiers to the Div. 1 South semifinal.

Still, there is so much that Tellier wishes he had known about pitching then. He said, “I just wish I had been a better locator. I wish I knew how to take care of my arm. In high school I didn’t do any bands, I barely used any ice, I just went out and threw and that was it.”

After helping UMass Dartmouth reach the Little East title game last spring, Tellier is looking to bring home a title this season and believes that this is a team filled with the talent to accomplish that goal. In the process, he will also be working towards the dream of being selected in the MLB draft or possibly find a spot with an independent league team.

“Most of college, I’ve been working hard but haven’t been noticed,” he said. “Sometimes you think that it’s not going towards anything or not really paying off that well and so it weighs on you sometimes, but knowing that it’s paying off and that people are noticing keeps me driving.”

With one last collegiate season ahead, Tellier knows to not take anything for granted.

“I’m excited. I’m just taking all the experience that I’ve had the past three years and putting it all into this one season and leaving it all on the field. Hopefully, afterwards I’ll move on to bigger and better things.”

Foxboro Wins South Title With Second Half Comeback

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro’s bench celebrates after a fourth quarter basket against Hingham in the D2 South Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


TAUNTON, Mass. – It looked like the game was about to get away. Hingham went on a 12-5 run to start the third quarter and pushed its lead to double digits in Saturday morning’s Div. 2 South final at Taunton’s Rabouin Field House. Foxboro’s season was on the brink.

Experience took over. Foxboro has been in this position before, having reached the South final three out of the last four years, and a lineup filled with upperclassman turned around the 11-point deficit by locking down on the defensive end and grinding out possessions on offense.

After scoring 29 points through 19 minutes, Foxboro rallied with 28 points over the final 11 and held Hingham to only 10 points in that stretch. The Warriors turned a 40-29 Hingham lead into a 57-50 victory and claimed another South title.

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“We faced something like this before two years ago when we won the championship,” said senior forward Yara Fawaz, referencing a 20-point second half comeback against Pentucket in the 2018 state semifinal. “I think we just had to keep our composure both on defense and offense. We played as a team and it turned into a great win.”

Junior guard Katelyn Mollica added, “It’s really important in these kind of games to never stop fighting. It’s just so important to keep hitting those shots, keep fighting on defense. I know most of my team is older, so we’ve all kind of been there in this position and it’s really helpful having that past experience.”

Hingham only made two shots from the field over the final 11-plus minutes, but in the first half the Harborwomen showed the shot-making that got them to the final. Caroline Connelly was controlling the glass, grabbing 12 of her 16 rebounds in the first half, and had four points in the first quarter. Perry Blasetti had eight points in the first, including a pull-up three that put Hingham up 14-11 after one.

The Warriors were struggling to find a rhythm offensively in the early going. Mollica hit her first three and Fawaz had four points in the first, including a steal and layup and then basket off a Lizzy Davis assist to tie the game at 9-9. Hingham pushed the lead to as many as five twice in the second quarter, but each time Foxboro battled back.

Shakirah Ketant got her first four points in the second and also assisted on a Jordyn Collins jumper that cut the Hingham lead to 25-22. After Fawaz got two at the line, Foxboro was back within one, but then Grace Bennis got free for a deep three at the buzzer (her only made field goal in the game) to make it 28-24 heading to the locker room.

“Fortunately I have a whole bunch of seniors who a year ago would have absolutely crumbled and they just knew that they’re resilient and they just focused on the next basket,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “I knew that if we went into halftime within a basket or two that we were going to win the game because we’re a second half team.”

The momentum from that shot seemed to carry over into the second half.

Ryley Blasetti (13 points) got to the basket for an and-one and Connelly (nine points) grabbed an offensive board for a three-point play that pushed the lead to 11. Mollica (17 points) answered with a drive for two, but a pair of free throws by Perry Blasetti (14 points) made it 40-29.

Fawaz (11 points) gave the Warriors a little life by snagging an offensive rebound in traffic and kicking it out to Mollica for a three. It was the start of a 13-1 run to close out the third quarter. With Foxboro back within four, Fawaz got a steal at one end and then finished off a nice pass from Morgan Sylvestre to make it 40-38.

The Warriors had been dominated on the glass for the better part of three quarters but another offensive rebound, this time from Mollica, led to an open jumper from Sylvestre to tie the game. Hingham got one at the line to regain the lead, but Ketant (13 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks) got on the glass for two of her seven third quarter points and a 42-41 lead heading to the fourth.

Foxboro was in serious foul trouble in the second half. Abby Hassman picked up her fourth with 5:24 left in the third and just 20 seconds later Davis got her fourth as well. Ketant and Collins both got their fourth fouls in the fourth quarter.

But, the Warriors kept making plays on both ends and Hingham shot just 5-of-10 at the line in the final quarter. Ketant buried a jumper off a Collins feed to make it 44-43. After Hingham came back to lead 48-46 on a Ryley Blasetti floater, Collins got an open look off a Hassman rebound and dish to tie the game again.

“Every shot they had had to be a contested one and they had to really earn it,” said Downs about the defensive effort. “They’re a fantastic team and if they got into a shooting rhythm we’d be in trouble, so we just had to have a hand up on every shot.”

Mollica put the Warriors in front to stay with a runner on the baseline and Foxboro went 9-of-10 at the line in the final stretch to seal the win. Mollica and Davis were both a perfect 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter. Davis also drew an important charge with 18.6 on the clock and the Warriors up by five.

“I’m just so proud of them,” said Downs. “Any given day it’s going to be somebody else’s game. We have the capabilities on any given night to make sure that whoever is having a good night gets the ball. Defensively, that’s what won the game for us.”

Fawaz, who was on the bench but didn’t play the last time that Foxboro won the South, credited that experience for helping win this year’s title.

She said, “I think we just had the opportunity to play with those five seniors who were there two years ago and I think a lot of people doubted Foxboro girls basketball after that but we proved to them that we can still do it and still come back.

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“It feels awesome. We knew what we wanted to do and we did it.”

Foxboro (23-2) advances to play at the TD Garden for the first time in four years (snow moved the 2018 state semifinal from the Garden to Woburn High) and will face North champion North Reading on Wednesday at 5:30.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.