Taunton Wins Rain-Delayed Final, Secures Sixth Title

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The Taunton softball team poses with the 2021 MIAA Division 1 State Championship trophy after beating Wachusett. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – The players seemed unfazed by the lightning in the distance, but at the end of the fifth inning and the Div. 1 state championship game still scoreless, the athletic directors and MIAA officials gathered the umpires and coaches to deliver the news that the game would have to be halted.

Ominous clouds turned into a torrential downpour and the rain delay stretched into another day, then another, eventually forcing a five-day wait before the game could be resumed at Jack Tripp Field on Monday night. After a grueling tournament of games every other day (and a back-to-back) played in mostly sweltering heat, the teams suddenly had nothing to do but wait.

When the game restarted, Taunton (20-0) put together a two-out rally in the sixth and senior McKenzie McAloon delivered an RBI single that put the Tigers in front. Kelsey White shut the door in the seventh, striking out the final two batters (finishing with 13 in the game) to beat Wachusett 1-0 and deliver the second state title in three seasons and the sixth overall for the Tigers.

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“It’s the team who’s mentally stronger that’s going to pull this out at the end of the day and it ended up being us thank goodness,” said first-year Taunton coach Carrie Consalvi. “With our big three (seniors White, McAloon, and Hanna Aldrich), we talked about it, they’ve got the better of you the last couple go arounds, it can’t keep happening. We went back and we prepared. I said just mentally be tough and ready to go and it will happen.”

She continued, “They were overdo and I’m happy for them because I know they wanted it and they’ve worked at it and the last couple of games haven’t sat well with them. So, you know they’re going back and they’re working. You just need to get in the mindset that you’re ready to go and they did.”

Asked about how the five-day break impacted the team, White replied, “We obviously had an off day on Wednesday, so it gave us a chance to regroup and work on what we needed to, like laying off the rise ball and taking time to find our pitches and hunt down our pitches. Those five days really helped me relax and stay focused.”

In the sixth, Wachusett had pinch hitter Mia Cassella start things off and she bounced one to third. Tayah DaCosta bobbled it but then calmly collected herself and threw a strike to first for the out. After White struck out the next hitter, she went to 0-2 on Hannah White, but the next pitch hit the Mountaineers’ two-hole batter. White made sure there would be no more drama, as Ella Pender couldn’t catch up to the rise for the third out.

Taunton had the top of the order due up in the sixth. Riley Quirk, who struck out nine and allowed only three hits through the first five innings, quickly retired Angie Lynch on a pop up to the first baseman and Kaysie DeMoura on a strikeout.

The middle of the order had been struggling to make solid contact all game, but Aldrich battled to a full count before crushing a two-out double that one-hopped the fence in right center. McAloon wasted no time, going after the first pitch and knocking a grounder right back up the middle and into center to plate the game’s only run.

“She comes with a lot of first pitch strikes,” McAloon explained. “I like to go after that first pitch and I like to attack it because it’s usually the best pitch I’m going to get. So, as soon as I saw it come over the plate, I knew I was going to go for it.”

Aldrich added, “Going in I was more nervous than I thought I was going to be, but finally not swinging and missing felt great and then for Kenzie to send it all the way and to get home was awesome too.”

White drew a walk and DaCosta hit a deep fly ball to right, but it stayed in the yard and Quirk was out of the jam with the heart of the order due up in the seventh. Wachusett had one last chance to be the first team in 18 games to score a run against the Tigers.

Quirk, whose ringing double in the second was one of only two hits allowed by White, popped up to Lynch in right center for the first out. White did the rest herself, striking out the next two batters to seal the title.

“In her beast mode, take no prisoners tonight,” Consalvi said of White. “You could tell there was a little extra pop on that ball tonight. She was ready to go.”

Coming into the final, Taunton had been taking advantage of early runs to ease some of the pressure in games, but Quirk had the Tigers off-balance. She struck out the side in the first and allowed only two balls out of the infield through the first five innings.

She also gave the Mountaineers a big lift at the plate with a lead-off double in the second, but the courtesy runner was cut down at third on a nice play by Aldrich at short. White was then able to snare a comebacker and get the lead runner at second.

White got Taunton’s first hit with a line drive single in the bottom half of the inning but courtesy runner Katelyn Bizarro got not further than first. Lynch had a two-out infield single on a swinging bunt in the third, but Quirk struck out the side around that hit. White came right back by striking out the side in the Wachusett half of the fourth, but the middle of the Taunton lineup was again held quiet in the bottom half.

Wachusett got a leadoff single in the fifth, but White got a strikeout, a good play by McAloon on a bunt, and another strikeout to end the threat. Olyvia Mendonca had a one-out single in the fifth, moved to second on Hayley Krockta’s bunt, and then reached third on a wild pitch, but Quirk got her ninth strikeout of the game to end the inning.

Little did everyone know at the time that it would be five days later before the next pitches were thrown, and that they would be the last ones of the 2020-21 season.

Aldrich noted, “Every day we’d get ready thinking we had a game then get the text that it was postponed to the next day. We have our superstitions so we’d do the exact same things every day before our games, so actually being able to play today was a big reset and the joy and enthusiasm from everyone, they were just pumped for today.”

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“It’s awesome,” said McAloon. “To come out here and just come out and win, this is what we wanted all season. We worked hard for this, every practice, every pitch, we all worked hard for this and it’s just a dream to finish on a state championship.”

White added, “Definitely leaving high school this was our one goal, just to win the state championship and leave high school with that title. We really wanted this. We’re so excited that it finally happened.

“It’s great that it’s our last season and we end on a great note with great memories as well as great people.”

Franklin Battles Back But Falls to Westwood in Final

Franklin seniors Sydney Hawkins, Ali Socci, and Katie Jones and coach Kristin Igoe-Guarino with the MIAA D1 State Finalist trophy. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – As it had for almost all of Thursday night’s Div. 1 state championship game at a packed Pisini Stadium, the Franklin defense came through with another stop when it needed it most, forcing a turnover in a tie game with the clock racing to the final horn. Overtime seemed inevitable.

The Panthers tried to clear from behind the cage, but a slip in the pouring rain and a loose ball in front of an empty goal proved decisive. It was a moment that seemed to happen in slow motion.

Westwood sophomore Ava Connaughton scooped the ground ball and, while falling, found the back of the open goal with just 12.2 seconds on the clock. The Wolverines won the ensuing draw to secure a 6-5 victory and their ninth state championship. Franklin went toe-to-toe with the most successful program in state history, but came up just short in its first state title game appearance.

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“I’m so proud of this group,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino. “We’ve been in that situation before and for them to battle back against a really, really good Westwood team was amazing. I thought our ‘D’ was amazing, Brigid, they just made one more play than us on the offensive end. It happens, but I’m really proud of the girls, they played amazing.”

In the opening minutes of the game, it didn’t look like a dramatic finish would be in the cards. Franklin looked nervous, making uncharacteristic turnovers and being tentative in front of goal. Kaitlyn Carney had the first chance of the game from the opening draw, but was denied on a dodge from the left side by Westwood goalie Anya Holland.

The Wolverines started strongly and took a quick 2-0 lead inside the opening 2-1/2 minutes. Ashley Mackin, Westwood’s star and a Johns Hopkins-commit, played provider, feeding first Lindsey Diomede and then Connaughton for goals.

Franklin’s defense, led by Sydney Hawkins, Anna Grasso, and Ali Socci, was soaking up endless pressure in the first, as the Wolverines seemed to have the ball for the vast majority of the opening quarter. The Panthers also got a big boost from junior goalie Brigid Earley (10 saves), who made a big kick save to deny a point-blank chance and then took one off the mask from Kella McGrail.

“This is her first year playing goalie and look where she brought us,” Igoe Guarino said of Earley, who started as a freshman attacker on JV and volunteered to step in between the posts to fill a need this season. “She’s incredible and she made some huge saves on some Div. I shooters and kept us in the game. I’m really proud of her. She learned quick and she led us to the state finals.”

Three minutes into the second, Westwood added a third and looked like it might be able to break the game open. Mackin was again the provider, finding Kate Deehan on the cut through the middle. After Earley made another big stop to deny Lillian Hancock after a free run through the heart of the defense, Mackin got her first of the night on a sidearm snipe.

Franklin needed to find something positive on the offensive side of the ball. After several missed opportunities from eight meters, Kate O’Rourke found a crucial breakthrough on a free position with 4:43 left in the half. The Panthers went into the break down 4-1, but still hanging in and still with a shot at the title.

The hosts picked up a big early goal in the third to build momentum. Stella Regan picked out Carney cutting through the middle and her lefty finish found the top corner.

Mackin got her fourth assist of the night, this time setting up Jane Gaffney in front to restore the three-goal lead, but the Panthers looked like they had more life than the opening half.

Earley helped out again, getting enough of a Mackin rip from distance to send the ball just over the bar. Three minutes later, Regan was able to drive into the middle from the right side and finish over the top of Holland to make it 5-3.

With the clock winding down in the third, Earley got a piece of yet another shot, which caromed out to Kenzie Baker. She snagged the ground ball, got it to Regan, who moved it on to Carney at midfield. The sophomore instantly attacked, splitting a pair of defenders, racing 50 yards, and then firing into the top far corner with just 17.4 to go.

It was a stunning goal at the perfect moment to send the Panthers into the fourth with all the momentum and ramp up the energy in the crowd. It was also the moment that the heavens opened and it started pouring.

Four minutes into the fourth quarter, the comeback was complete. Carney played provider this time, driving towards the cage from the right side and seeing Jamie Tanner at the back post. Tanner was able to make a nice catch in traffic, spun, and finished over Holland to tie the game at 5-5.

Westwood had its chances to go back in front, but Earley continued to play at another level. Mackin fed Deehan in front but Earley stayed tall to make the stop, then she denied Diomede from close range, and took one off the midriff after Mackin got open in the middle. Baker had the best chance down the stretch for Franklin, but Holland (four saves) came up with a big stop.

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In the end, it took an unlucky bounce to separate the two teams. Franklin (18-1), which is only seven years removed from its first sectional title, showed just how far it has come as a program. The Panthers wanted to show that a title game appearance was no fluke and that they were on the same level as the best in the state.

“I’m just so proud for all the alumni who set the culture standards before and brought us inch-by-inch,” said Igoe Guarino. “We have a great youth program, the girls work incredibly hard not just in season but out of season, and I think they just left a legacy no matter the outcome of this game.

“For years to come, this is the standard for Franklin lacrosse,” she continued. “We lost to the best in the state by one, we’ll be back.”

Franklin Beats Chelmsford, Heads to First State Final

Franklin’s Kate O’Rourke scores a goal on a low shot in the final minute of the third quarter to restore a two-goal lead. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – As the clock ran down under six minutes to play, Franklin held a three-goal lead in Tuesday night’s Div. 1 state semifinal at Pisini Stadium and the Panthers held possession. Before they could advance up the field, the officials stopped the game. Lightning in the distance caused a delay that stretched to nearly an hour.

When play resumed, 5:25 was all that stood between Franklin and a spot in its first ever state title game. After the Panthers ran a minute off the clock, Chelmsford forced a turnover and converted it into a goal on the other end. Now it was only a two-goal game. Another chance a minute later went inches wide of the post and Stella Regan chased it down behind the cage to win possession.

Franklin had the ball and 3:33 on the clock. The Panthers showed great patience and vision to keep the ball moving in the attacking half of the field, running down the clock despite Chelmsford pressuring every pass. Franklin held on for the 11-9 win, handing Chelmsford its only loss of the season and ending a long wait to play for a state title.

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“It’s awesome,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino. “I think it’s been a long time coming. I think this group has worked extremely hard and they deserve it. They’re all in, so we’re really excited for Thursday.”

This spring, Igoe Guarino’s alma mater Boston College also ended a long wait for its first national title, with Franklin’s Annie and Erin Walsh on the roster, and the former Eagles star is hoping that mojo can carry over to the Panthers as well.

“I kind of feel like Boston College,” she said. “They went to the national title three times and they won it on the fourth, so maybe we can do the same.”

The hosts came roaring out of the gates, winning four of five draws in the opening quarter and quickly jumping out to an early lead with three goals in less than two minutes.

Kenzie Baker won the opening draw of the game, got the ball upfield to Kaitlyn Carney, who then fed Katie Jones in the middle for a goal after just 13 seconds. Exactly a minute later, up a player, Kate O’Rourke was able to score from eight meters to double the lead. Twenty-four seconds after that, Regan picked out Katie Peterson cutting through the middle to make it 3-0.

Chelmsford answered 30 seconds later with a side-arm finish by Sofia D’Agostino, but things settled down after that frenetic start. Franklin almost added one midway through the first, but Jackie O’Neil’s free position shot was saved. Peterson kept possession, but Carney had a goal waved off for being in the crease. The Lions also had a chance from eight meters but Brigid Earley (four saves) made the stop.

The Lions cut the lead to one early in the second and had a good look to tie it but Earley robbed Leah Green from point-blank range. Baker restored a two-goal cushion when her pass to Jones cutting across goal eluded everyone, including the goalie.

After the lead was cut back to one, Franklin went on a run to grab control of the game. Right from the draw, O’Rourke found O’Neil for a goal. Regan then spotted Jamie Tanner, who went with an overhand finish to beat Chelmsford goalie Morgan Wright (seven saves). O’Rourke and Baker each added free position goals to give Franklin its largest lead of the game.

Chelmsford got one back but trailed 8-4 at the break. Maybe it was a momentum boost because in the third quarter the visitors rallied.

The Lions scored three straight goals to get the lead down to just one. With 3:04 left in the third, O’Rourke again drove right at the goalie on an eight-meter try, going low to get a crucial goal. In the closing seconds, Franklin called timeout to set up a play. Peterson swung the ball to Baker, who moved it on to Jones. The pass into the middle was high, but Carney made a great catch and was able to finish in one motion to make it 10-7 with just 2.1 left in the quarter.

“That’s a theme,” Igoe Guarino said about teams coming back in the third quarter against the Panthers in the postseason. “There’s ups and downs of every game and we survive. We have players who can make big plays to help turn it around like Kaitlyn grabbing it and putting it in. I think we’re used to ups and downs and teams go on runs it’s just who can outlast.”

Earley came through with a big stop on Kate Krueger two minutes into the fourth, but multiple efforts to clear went array and the Lions capitalized. Julia Pitts got Krueger the ball on the edge of the crease and this time she didn’t miss.

The score stayed the same until just under seven minutes to play. Regan was able to get the ball to Peterson in space. She drove towards the cage and with the goalie aggressively chasing passes had a lot of space to shoot at. Peterson made no mistake and put the hosts up 11-8.

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Even lightning delays couldn’t slow down Franklin (18-0), which will now host South champion Westwood on Thursday night. Not only is this a chance to make history by winning a state title, but also to earn a rare win against a program with a long history of being one of the best teams in the state.

“Beat the best right?” said Igoe Guarino, who also battled the Wolverines in the state semifinals while winning two state titles as a player at Framingham. “Westwood is just a powerhouse, but we’ll be ready. We know they’re fast and like to double and they have some really good players.

“We’re definitely going to have to play better than we did today. I think our team has yet to play a complete game, so maybe they’re saving it for the end.”

Taunton Grinds Out Win, Returns to State Title Game

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Taunton players congratulate shortstop Hanna Aldrich (11) after her grab that ended the sixth inning in the 2-0 win over Billerica. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – After rolling through the South sectional, outscoring opponents 37-0 along the way, Taunton had yet to look anything but perfectly comfortable during its playoff run. That changed on Monday night in the Div. 1 state semifinal at Jack Tripp Field.

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The Tigers were pushed for seven innings by a scrappy Billerica team that was the No. 17-seed coming into the playoffs but knocked off a pair of unbeaten teams on it way to the North title. Taunton rode its pitching, defense, experience, and a big hit from the bottom of the order to pull out a 2-0 win and advance to the state title game.

When asked if this time of game might help the Tigers as they look ahead to a state championship game, first-year coach Carrie Consalvi said, “One hundred percent. Actually, as a coach, this is the most rewarding type of win because this is what you preach all year.

“It’s a star-studded team and it’s been driven by the big three (White, Aldrich, and McAloon) all year and your challenge as a coach is you have to keep preaching team, team, team and that’s exactly what came through tonight.”

She added, “Complete team effort. Our big three were a little bit quiet and the other ones responded and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Billerica came into the semifinal as a significant underdog, but that was nothing new for a team that finished the regular season at 8-7 and knocked off the top two seed in the North. The Indians put a pair of runners on in the second on walks, got a runner to third base in the third, and brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh.

Despite all the pressure on her shoulders, the 90-degree weather, and without her team jumping out to the early lead that has become common over the past few games, Kelsey White continued to dominate. She finished with 15 strikeouts for the second game in a row, continued her shutout streak, and allowed only one hit, while also making a pair of put outs in the field.

It started in the first, as White struck out a pair and chased down a popped up bunt over her head by Samantha Gaona. In the bottom half of the inning, Angie Lynch continued her hot stretch at the plate with a leadoff single, took second on the throw back to the infield, and then stole third. Billerica lefty Analise Grady got pop ups from Hanna Aldrich and McKenzie McAloon to get out of the jam.

In the second, White walked a pair, but got a strikeout to end the threat. One inning later, with the game still scoreless, Zaria Jean-Pierre belted a one-out shot to right center. For a second it looked like it might leave the yard but it one-hopped the fence for a double. Jean-Pierre got to third base when a pitch bounced a couple feet away from McAloon, but White struck out the next two hitters to keep the game scoreless.

Taunton finally grabbed the lead in the bottom half of the third. A one-out single by Lynch, who has reached base eight times in her past three games, got the rally started and Kaysie Demoura reached on a throwing error, putting two runners in scoring position for the heart of the order. Grady induced an Aldrich swinging bunt back to the circle. Lynch waited until the throw went to first and then raced home, sliding in just ahead of the tag.

White inadvertently helped her own cause leading off the fourth when she took a pitch off the helmet. Katelyn Bizzaro came in as the courtesy runner and moved to second on a bunt by Tayah DaCosta and then stole third.

After Olyvia Mendonca was robbed on a great diving grab in shallow right by Emily West, Consalvi elected to let Hayley Krockta come up for her second at-bat rather than pinch hit with Kyleah Plumb. Krockta came through, knocking a single into left with the help of a well-timed bounce over the third baseman’s glove to bring in a key insurance run.

“I almost did,” Consalvi said about making the switch. “[Kyleah] had her helmet on and at the last second I said, not yet. Hayley comes in and gets that big hit. Perfect timing. We worked hard at practice, so I’m happy for her.”

Taunton now had a small cushion and White seemed to be getting stronger. She struck out a pair and grabbed a line drive in the fifth and struck out the first two in the sixth. Aldrich ended the inning by chasing down a sinking liner behind third.

Still leading just 2-0 in the seventh, White found another gear, striking out the first two batters before walking one to bring the tying run to the plate. She made sure there would be no unnecessary drama, recording her third strikeout of the inning and 15th of the game to seal the win and the second title game appearance of her career.

When asked about the stretch of games that her team has had to get to this point, including five games in the past eight days, Consalvi said, “Grueling, a lot of pressure, there’s a lot of expectations here to win and to produce and it’s been tough. It’s been hot, there’s been back-to-back games, it’s been what five games in seven or eight days or something like that? You try to do what you can and keep it light and just keep it rolling at this point.”

Taunton (19-0) will be back home again on Wednesday night, hosting Central champion Wachusett, the defending state champ, in a rematch of the 2018 final that the Tigers won.

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Franklin Has Playoff Run Come to Close in South Final

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Franklin senior Matt Lazzaro’s shot from the ground is turned aside by BC High goalie Jamie Horton in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – In the semifinal win over Hingham, Franklin (18-1) struggled with uncharacteristic turnovers early in the game, but once the Panthers found the back of the net and grabbed the lead they established a rhythm on offense and never looked back.

In Sunday night’s Div. 1 South final against defending champ BC High, Franklin had another slow start but this time never looked comfortable on either end of the field. The Eagles clinched a fourth sectional title in the last five seasons, handing the Panthers a 14-9 loss in their first final appearance. It was Franklin’s only loss this season.

“It was a great year,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi. “We ran into a better team, at least tonight they were better. Hats off to them, they were bigger, faster, stronger, and in so many different areas they played great. Our kids battled.”

He added, “We didn’t handle the pressure real well. They pressed out on us and I don’t think we handled it as well as we could have, but I have nothing but good things to say about this group. They were unbelievable.”

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Franklin’s Justin Alexander won the opening five face-offs of the game, but the Panthers struggled to connect passes together and the Eagles took advantage of turnovers to take an early lead. Will Emsing opened the scoring in transition and Emmett Martin doubled the lead with a shot on the run. Louis Timmins added a man-up goal to push the lead to 3-0 after eight minutes.

It took the Panthers almost nine minutes to create a good scoring chance, but once Luke Davis got his hands free on the run he was able to pick the bottom corner. About 30 seconds later, Davis got his second of the game, spinning his defender on the edge of the crease and squeezing a shot through the five-hole while falling.

A minute later Jack Maguire (11 saves) made a big stop, but Franklin turned it over in the clear and Vin Horton came right down and scored to make it 4-2. Another turnover handed the Eagles one more chance before the end of the quarter and this time it was Tim Rogers spinning back on his marker and firing into the corner.

The visitors had all the momentum and that carried over to the second quarter. Inside the first minute, Owen Porter became the sixth Eagle to find the back of the net with a lefty shot on the bounce.

Needing a spark, Franklin was able to again turn to Davis. The sophomore attacker received a pass from senior Matt Lazzaro and rifled a shot under the bar and just 40 seconds, after Joe Consigli was taken down driving towards the cage, Davis scooped the loose ball and finished from close range.


“It’s awesome to see Luke and Jayden, they have a ton of talent and the future is wicked bright for those two,” Lazzaro said about his fellow attackers. They’re just hard-working kids. Can’t wait to see what they do in the future.” Two years ago, Lazzaro was the young guy in an attacking three with Jake Davis and Ben Greco and he got a different perspective from being the veteran this season. He explained, “To see those two take charge and take command on the offensive end is cool.”

For the second time in the game, Franklin was able to hit with two quick goals and looked like it might be able to get back in it, but those were just flashes of the Panthers’ attacking ability and BC High quickly responded. Timmins got his second of the day, then Carter Rice and LSM James Carroll scored before halftime to build a 9-4 lead.

The Panthers really needed to get the first goal of the second half to try and start a rally, but it was Horton that found the bottom corner to extend the lead to six. Joe Consigli set up his brother Jayden for a good look from the edge of the crease only to be denied by Jamie Horton (12 saves).

Franklin was pressing and saw another turnover end a spell of possession, but Davis hustled back to force a turnover on the clear. He then turned and pushed forward into the attack, setting up Jayden Consigli for a goal.

Lazzaro was getting more space to get touches than he had in the previous two rounds, but the Eagles were making sure to throw multiple defenders at him every time he got the ball. With four minutes left in the third, he showed what makes him an All-American when he threw a fake that left the players on the field (and even some of the people of the sidelines) wondering where the ball ended up. Turns out it was still in his stick and he ripped a shot past Horton.

Rice answered with a spin and overhand finish and Horton came up with a big stop after Lazzaro sprung Ravin Chaudhury, who also took a big hit when he got to the edge of the crease. Franklin was able to get back within four, as Lazzaro went low-angle with a rip just a second before the horn.

“He’s been the man for four years now,” Verrochi said of Lazzaro. “He’s just an exceptional kid too. No one works harder than him, absolutely no one. You swear that the ball has eyes when he shoots sometimes from the angle that he shoots at and finishes. Everybody says, it was lucky, but it wasn’t, that was hours of preparation.”

Trailing 11-7, Franklin was still hanging around and still felt like it had a chance at winning a first South title, but the Panthers needed to be the next team on the board. Instead, BC High showed its championship pedigree by scoring three straight goals and opening the biggest lead of the game.

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Lazzaro still had time for an addition to his lengthy highlight reel, as he got up from being knocked down and fired a shot from a seemingly impossible angle into the corner. Franklin added another in transition, Tim Walsh getting the ball up to Jayden Consigli for a close-range finish.

“The four captains did a great job in the offseason getting the kids to workouts and stuff and they were just committed,” Verrochi said. “They thought that this was going to be an exceptional year. They worked really hard.”

When asked about going further than any other Franklin team, Lazzaro, a Penn State-commit, replied, “It definitely shows how hard we worked as a team. It just shows off how hard we work and how great of a coaching staff we have and I’m just lucky to be part of a great program.”

Taunton Continues Shutout Streak to Win South Title

Taunton softball Hanna Aldrich
Taunton senior Hanna Aldrich runs home after hitting her team-record 15th home run of the season against B-R. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – In the second game of the season against Attleboro, Taunton senior Kelsey White gave up two runs to visiting Attleboro. Sixteen games later, those remain the only runs allowed by the Tigers this season. Taunton is outscoring its opponents 200-2.

The shutout streak extended to 16 straight games on Saturday night, as Taunton blanked Bridgewater-Raynham 4-0 at Jack Tripp Field to continue its unbeaten season and win the Div. 1 South title for the second time in three seasons. White was dominant in the circle yet again, striking out 15 batters, allowing only three hits, and not allowing a single ball to leave the infield.

First-year Taunton coach Carrie Consalvi said of White, “For me this is kind of tough to have your first playing season like this because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime player. We are literally spoiled by her dominance and perseverance and no emotion, it’s like a machine out there. She actually leaves me speechless. She’s just brilliant to watch.”

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White struck out at least two batters in every inning. She also had three assists, showing her ability to field her position. Over the first four innings, she personally accounted for 11 of the 12 outs. The two-time league MVP and Villanova-commit deflected praise onto catcher McKenzie McAloon and the way she called the game against the Trojans.

“She plays with my travel team too so she knows me, how I pitch, my pitches that work well, and when to throw them,” White said. “We have a great relationship and coach actually let McKenzie call the whole season and it’s just been working really well. I give her a lot of kudos for my success.”

B-R came in with the game plan of attacking White and the Taunton defense with small ball. Riain Keefe started the game with a bunt down the third base line and reached on a throwing error. White struck out the next batter and then was able to back pedal and field Taylor Feist’s bunt to get the force at second. A perfect changeup got the second strikeout to end the first.

Consalvi said, “All we did is work bunt and slap defense, over and over and over, so we were prepared for the little game and I think that showed. The mindset was try to take that away from them and just have the defense be there with the gloves and come up with some timely hits.”

Taunton has flipped the pressure on its opponents by getting early runs throughout this playoff run. The Tigers did it again on Saturday.

Angie Lynch has been the spark plug for the offense, leading off the final with a single to right. She moved to second on a sac bunt by Kaysie Demoura and then stole third. Lynch got an easy trip to the plate because Hanna Aldrich, who set a program record for homers in a season, blasted a shot halfway up the trees beyond the left field fence for a 2-0 lead.

“It definitely take a little pressure off of me because I get a little nervous in the beginning when it’s a tie game,” White admitted. “When we get those runs, it takes a little pressure off my shoulders.”

The score stayed the same into the bottom of the third. Lynch, who reached base three times for the second straight game, started the inning by taking a pitch off of her arm. Demoura had another perfect sac bunt, and Lynch took advantage to go first to third. Aldrich was hit by a pitch and then McAloon drove fly ball to center to get the run home.

“Angie Lynch is that key, when she does that, we just roll right off that,” said Consalvi. “Angie sets us up and then you’ve got one of those big bats and one of them is going to come through. Hannah, Kelsey, McKenzie, they’re just going to be irreplaceable.”

In the fifth inning, the Tigers missed a chance to break the game wide open. Olyvia Mendonca battled to draw a one-out walk, pinch hitter Kyleah Plumb beat out a bunt single, and, after a strikeout, Lynch hit a grounder into the hole between short and third. Mendonca beat the throw to third, loading the bases. B-R pitcher Lily Welch was able to get her third strikeout of the inning to escape the jam.

White has not only been outstanding in the circle this season, but also at the plate. With two outs in the sixth, she belted a solo shot to left, helping her own cause and giving Taunton an extra insurance run.

Meanwhile, White was also dealing against a B-R lineup focused on bunting and trying to put the ball in play. She struck out the side in the second, freezing the third batter with a pitch on the corner, added two more in both the third and fourth and added a comebacker to close out the frame.

In the fifth, Riley Sroczinski led off with a grounder to deep short. The infield single was the first hit allowed by White. After fielding a sac bunt, White then struck out the final two batters to end B-R’s best threat to that point. After a one-out infield hit in the sixth, White struck out the next batter and got a pop up to Aldrich at short to end the inning.

B-R tried to rally in the seventh, taking advantage of a second Taunton error and another infield hit to put two runners on with two outs, but White seemed unfazed by the noisy visiting dugout, striking out the final batter to secure another title.

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It has been four years since White pitched Taunton to a state title as a freshman. Despite all that has gone on since then, including a season lost to Covid (and a knee injury), she explained, “It doesn’t feel any different, but it’s a new team, a new philosophy, so it feels really good.”

Consalvi said, “[Kelsey] did a great job tonight, like she has all season. You have to remember this is her fourth game this week. After coming off a Covid year and an injury, she’s still a machine, so it’s really a true testament to her strength.”

Taunton (18-0) will host North champion Billerica (the No. 17 seed) in the state semifinal on Monday night at 7:00.

Franklin Back On Top, Wins First East Title Since 2017

Franklin girls lacrosse
Franklin celebrates at the final whistle. The Panthers beat Concord-Carlisle to secure their first East title since 2017. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin found itself down 4-2 after one quarter in Friday afternoon’s Div. 1 East final at Pisini Stadium against Concord-Carlisle. It was the first time this season that the Panthers had trailed after a quarter, but it didn’t take them long to get back into a more familiar position.

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With six of the next seven goals, Franklin turned the game around in the second quarter, grabbing a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The Panthers limited Concord-Carlisle to just two goals in the second half and held on for a 12-9 victory, avenging semifinal losses to the Patriots in each of the last two seasons and winning the program’s first East title since 2017 (also against Concord-Carlisle).

“Just cause we were down didn’t mean we want to force,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino. “We knew we’d get our looks and I think their patience, their going for the right things, anyone can step up, that’s the whole thing, if anyone can score then you don’t need to force anything because there are always going to be options.”

Franklin senior defender Sydney Hawkins added, “We know every single girl on this team is capable of making that game-winning play and that’s what is going to take us all the way.”

It was the Patriots who seemed to have the edge early in the game. Concord-Carlisle won four of the first five draws and was able to get into the heart of the Franklin defense, drawing free position opportunities. Audrey Mirak opened the scoring from eight meters just a minute into the game.

Franklin answered back 45 seconds later when Kate O’Rourke dodged from the top of the crease, side-stepping her defender to get a good shooting angle. The Patriots came right back with two goals, one from Mirak from eight meters and the second from a Becca Dibble shot to the corner.

O’Rourke saw a free position chance get saved and Brigid Earley (five saves) was able to deny Sarah Creamer on the other end. With 5:29 left in the first, Katie Jones made a nice pass to the cutting Jackie O’Neil to cut the lead to one.

Concord-Carlisle came storming back. Earley made two huge saves, blocking Lily Hudner’s free position and then getting a piece of Dibble’s shot. The Patriots regained a two-goal lead with 2:21 left in the first, as Dibble squeezed a shot inside the post from a tight angle.

After struggling on the draw early, Igoe Guarino made a change, putting Stella Regan on the spot with O’Neil, Katie Peterson, Kenzie Baker, Jamie Tanner, and others charging after the ball on the wings. It seemed to work, as Franklin took control of the draws in the second quarter and grabbed momentum as well.

Igoe Guarino said, “We made a big adjustment on the draws, which I think was a big turning point. I said to them, whoever wins the draws is going to win the game. They’re just such gritty players and if you tell them they need to win this draw, then they’ll win it.”

O’Neil got her second goal of the game with a bouncing shot from a free position 90 seconds into the second quarter. Following a yellow card to the Patriots, Franklin took advantage of the extra player, as Kaitlyn Carney bullied her way to the cage to tie the game.

Dibble continued her strong game, scoring again to put the visitors on top, but Franklin got two goals in a minute to go ahead for the first time. Peterson got the first with a lefty shot on the run, bouncing it past the goalie. Tanner then put the Panthers in front, going with a high finish from eight meters.

Carney was a playmaker from behind the cage, as she picked out Peterson cutting down the middle for a 7-5 lead. After seeing her initial shot saved, Carney scooped the rebound and then hit Peterson again cutting through the heart of the Concord-Carlisle defense. Audrey Marik scored back-to-back goals to get back within one, but Carney got a crucial free position goal seconds before the break to make it 9-7 at halftime.

Things got much tighter in the second half. The Franklin defense, led by Ali Socci, Anna Grasso, and Hawkins, was able to contain the Patriots much better, limiting their chances to get the ball on goal.

“We were sending to the top dodge every time and that seemed to work really well and it was also just communication and all being on the same page,” Hawkins, an MIT-commit, explained. “That’s the great thing about defense is we all get to talk together out there and to really move as a unit.”

Franklin was creating fewer chances as well, as the Panthers started to focus on patience and possession. Carney had a chance early in the third only to be called for being in the crease and having a goal taken away. The Panthers pushed the lead to three with a pretty give-and-go goal. Regan passed to O’Neil on the edge of the crease and she gave it right back to Regan cutting down the middle for the finish.

The visitors were not going to go quietly. Mirak added another free position goal with 3:04 left in the quarter and Concord-Carlisle had another chance from eight meters right at the end of the third but the clock ran out before the teams could get lined up, which proved to be a critical missed opportunity.

O’Rourke had a good look a minute into the fourth, but it was saved. A minute later, Creamer scored from eight meters to make it a 10-9 game. O’Neil, who had little impact in the semifinal, picked the bottom corner from a free position for her third goal of the game, putting Franklin up two.

“Whoever is out there, it could be anybody’s night and they all have each other’s backs, which is awesome,” said Igoe Guarino. “It could be every single person on any given day, which is so powerful to have. You can’t face guard, you can’t do a game plan because everyone’s a threat.”

Off the ensuing draw, the Patriots had a break but Earley came up with a huge stop. The Franklin defense was making plays, collapsing quickly, and coming up with all the ground balls. With 4:52 to go, O’Rourke had another chance, this time finding the corner for her second goal, which put Franklin in control up by three goals.

With the lead and with an extra player after a yellow card, Igoe Guarino urged her team to ignore the goal and just hold the ball to run out the clock as the excitement built on the home sidelines.

“I feel like this has been a long time coming and the fact that it was C-C just makes it that many times greater,” said Hawkins. “They’ve got us the last two times, but I have a really good feeling about this team. I’m super excited.”

Franklin (17-0) will face the winner of the North sectional (No. 1 Masconomet or No. 2 Chelmsford) in the state semifinal on Tuesday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.