Zucarelli Takes Over As New Oliver Ames Hockey Coach

Oliver Ames boys hockey
Oliver Ames players celebrate with Brett Williams (second from right) after he scored the tying goal against North Attleboro in 2019. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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Mike Zucarelli will be back on the bench for his fourth season with the Oliver Ames hockey team, but this time in a new role. 

Oliver Ames athletic director Bill Matthews announced the hiring of Zucarelli as the new head coach for the Tigers’ boys ice hockey team. He previously served as an assistant coach under Sean Bertoni for the past three seasons. Bertoni stepped down from the position following the 2018-2019 season.

“I’m very excited to be able to continue to work with the kids,” Zucarelli said. “I’ve spent the last three seasons with the program and I’m familiar with all of the guys. I’m super excited to see what we can do this year. We have amazing leadership with captains Hunter Costello and Ryan Gottwald.”

Zucarelli, 36, graduated from Attleboro High in 2001 and was a part of the Bombardiers’ first hockey team. He played in the program when it was a club team and then when it became a varsity sport under head coach Joe Verderber. 

“We’ve got a solid core group of kids coming back this year,” Zucarelli said. “I know we graduated a lot, but we’ll have guys with experience on the ice…a lot of great leadership and that’s what you want.”

The Tigers posted an impressive 41-25-2 record in the past three years under Bertoni, finishing second in the Kelley-Rex division two times. OA led the division in goals for last season and had the least goals against in the division during the 2016-2017 season. 

“We are excited to have him assume the head coaching role here at OA,” Matthews said in a release to media.

Zucarelli is hoping the familiarity between him and the players will make for a smooth transition.

“It’s going to be very helpful that the boys know me,” Zucarelli. “They’re used to Sean…and we share some of the same philosophies but there will be a learning curve with my style. But since the majority of them know me and know what to expect from, we’re in a good place to start.”

Franklin Names Sarno the New Boys Hockey Coach

Franklin hockey
Former Weymouth assistant Anthony Sarno has been hired to be the new boys hockey coach at Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

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Franklin athletic director Tom Angelo announced that former Weymouth High assistant Anthony Sarno has been hired as the new boys hockey coach. Sarno will take over from Chris Spillane, who stepped down in April after two successful decades with the program that included a state championship and a Super 8 berth.

“I first heard about the opening and I was kind of shocked,” Sarno explained in a phone call on Wednesday. “Chris Spillane has been a legend there and to have the opportunity to even get an interview for the job is an honor. Ever since I was a kid and growing up and coaching at Weymouth the last five years you get to know a lot of different teams and Franklin High has always had a fantastic program.”

He added, “After meeting Tom Angelo and having the opportunity to interview for the job, it just felt right. It felt like a good fit.”

Sarno was with the Weymouth program for the past five years. He was the JV coach and the associate varsity coach. In 2017 he took over the program when head coach Patrick Kennedy was called up to active duty. Sarno held the head coaching job for the remainder of the 2017 season and stepped back to allow Kennedy to regain the position when he returned.

He has nearly 30 years of coaching at various levels, including with the Boston Junior Terriers, but Sarno knows that he is stepping into a tough position replacing a legend. Spillane, who was also a standout player at Franklin, made the playoffs each season he was on the bench and had more than 300 career victories. The Panthers have won eight straight league titles and reached the Div. 1 South final last season.

“I’m very excited,” Sarno said. “I know I have huge shoes to fill and Chris was a fantastic human being as well as coach and I can’t be Chris, I have to be me. I know there’s going to be a lot of growing pains that go with it.”

The next step for Sarno, who played at Medford High and at Suffolk University, will be to introduce himself to the staff and administration at Franklin and then to meet the players.

“I have to earn their trust just as much as they have to earn mine,” he said. “A big part of it is making myself available and really getting to know all the players, their backgrounds, and being able to introduce myself in a way that they’d be happy to play and to play hard.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know everybody and to participate in some Panther pride.”

In an announcement to local media, Angelo said, “Coach Sarno’s vision for taking the program forward is inspiring.  His passion for the game, positive personality and coaching knowledge will allow him to hit the ground running. We look forward to many years of continued excellence in the hockey program under Coach Sarno’s leadership.”

Franklin’s Asmath Represents Revs at All-Star Game

Farley Asmath
Franklin alum Farley Asmath (left) and Preston Hall represented the New England Revolution at the Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match at the ESPN World Wide of Sports facilities. (New England Revolution)

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On the morning of July 31, hours before the Major League Soccer (MLS) all-stars took the pitch at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium to face Spanish power Atletico Madrid, MLS WORKS and the Special Olympics hosted another all-star game featuring some of the best soccer players from across the country.

The sixth annual Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match pitted partners and athletes representing teams from the Eastern Conference against those from the West in an 11-on-11 match at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The New England Revolution were part of the festivities. Franklin High alum Farley Asmath was chosen to be the Revs Unified partner at the event, teaming up with athlete Preston Hall III.

Asmath, who earned HockomockSports.com Second XI honors in 2016 as a senior striker for the Panthers and who led the region in goals and points last fall at MassBay Community College, was thrilled at the honor of representing the Revs in Orlando.

“I’m just very thankful that they’ve noticed what I’ve been doing with the team…that I’m putting in the work at practice and things like that,” he explained. “I’m very thankful for that.” (Asmath and the Eastern Conference pulled out a 2-1 victory on Wednesday morning.)

The Unified team is a collaboration between the Revolution and Special Olympics Massachusetts. The team consists of seven athletes with intellectual disabilities and six Unified partners. The program is in its fifth season and features signing days, jersey reveals, and games scheduled in conjunction with first-team matches, giving everyone involved a taste of soccer at the MLS level.

This is Asmath’s second season with the Revs’ Unified program. He is one of three Franklin partners on the squad, along with former Panther Calen Frongillo and rising senior Carly Alston. Milford rising senior Olivia Marshall is also a partner on the team, while J.P. Young of Milford and Shawn Barton of Stoughton are athletes.

The Hockomock has seen a dramatic growth in Unified sports over the past several years. Asmath wasn’t able to participate in Unified programs while at Franklin because his soccer and track schedules didn’t allow it, but he was familiar with the Best Buddies program and when he was able he volunteered at Unified track meets at the school and made the effort to support the team. “I cheered them on and made sure they had a good time,” he said.

He jumped at the opportunity to join the Revs. Asmath attended a tryout and was selected to be part of the team. As he got set to start his second season, Asmath pushed his friends and former classmates to join him on the pitch.

“It’s so much fun. You get to play soccer and practice and meet great people,” he said. “I get to work with a lot of different people from different backgrounds and especially looking forward to helping people with their soccer, which I’m very passionate about.”

Last summer, the Unified team played one game, beating the Philadelphia Union 2-0 at Gillette Stadium. This year, the Revs went on the road to play D.C. United at Audi Field in July and will host New York City FC in September. Adding a second game, including a road trip, meant another unique opportunity for the athletes to share.

“It was so much fun,” Asmath said. “Everybody was really excited, they were really looking forward to it.” After the game in D.C., an athlete’s mother came up to Asmath to explain how much the trip meant to her son. “She said that every time he came to practices and games that he was very happy afterwards, which made them really happy,”

He added, “When she came to me and told me that, I was very happy. I felt like I made someone happy at home…We try to have a good time so they go home and talk about it and be excited about it.”

Asmath credited the Revs organization for its support of the Unified team. He mentioned that the Revs first-team players are frequently around practices and in the locker room and that he has gotten to know several of the players well over the past two seasons.

Revs defender Andrew Farrell said, “I think it’s important to give back to the community and give your help whenever you can. It’s not a lot that I’m giving, just my time and effort and my smile and my energy and I think everyone should be able to give back like that.”

Farrell’s support of Unified athletes started at the University of Louisville, where he volunteered for three years at a camp for athletes with disabilities that was run by his head coach. That recognition of the importance of inclusion carried over to his professional career.

“You can see it on the signing day and how excited they are to become a part of the club and the organization,” Farrell said. “It’s amazing. They’re always smiling and have a good vibe and good energy. It’s important to give everyone opportunities.”

Soccer brought these players together and offered the chance for new friendships and experiences, but Asmath believes that the Unified program delivers a new perspective that extends well beyond the pitch.

“The first year I did it, I didn’t know what to expect,” he explained. “I was just going with the flow, see how it goes, but then you start talking to the athletes and then you can see what it’s all about.

“You can see in their heart that they’re passionate about the game. You can see the joy and enthusiasm that they have not only for the sport, but for life.”

You can support the Unified program at its annual Bowl for a Goal fundraiser, which takes place on Wednesday, Aug. 21 from 6-9 p.m. at Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Patriot Place. The event features first-team Revs coaches and players, as well as members of the Unified team and local celebrities. All proceeds benefit Special Olympics Massachusetts. Purchase tickets at https://www.revolutionsoccer.net/community/bowl-for-a-goal.

North Attleboro Promotes Correia to Head Role

Nikki Correia
North Attleboro has promoted JV coach Nikki Correia to the head coaching role for the girls basketball program, replacing Derek Herber next winter. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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North Attleboro recently announced that former assistant coach Nikki Correia has taken over as the new girls basketball head coach, replacing Derek Herber, who stepped down this spring after five seasons in charge. Correia has been with the program for the past five years, starting as a freshman coach and working up to be the JV coach and varsity assistant.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity,” Correia said on Monday. “The last five years I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this coaching staff and learning a lot and I truly adore the entire program. They’ve been nothing but supportive the last five years, so I’m really excited to get going in the head role.”

This is Correia’s first head coaching position at the varsity level, but she has been an assistant at North and at the AAU level. Correia also had a very successful playing career at Attleboro High, scoring 1,030 points for the Bombardiers, before going on to play at Wheaton College.

Correia said, “I’ve played for different coaches, with a lot of different personalities, and I think I was able to take a little things that I responded to well and what I didn’t respond to well and say, okay I didn’t really like that when I was coached that way, so I’m going to coach it this way.”

North won back-to-back Kelley-Rex division titles in 2014 and 2015 and reached the playoffs for the first three seasons after Herber took over. The Rocketeers have struggled in the last two years, winning 11 games combined with a young, guard-heavy lineup. Correia hopes to exploit the team’s speed next season.

“I want to get out in transition, we want to run, we want to be fast,” she said. “I know what they have to offer and I have to put them in the best positions to succeed. We’re small and quick and we’re going to get out in front and go.”

Being promoted to head coach from within the program, Correia knows the Rocketeers inside and out. She knows the players and they know her, which she believes will make the transition more comfortable for everyone.

“There’s definitely going to be changes,” she explained, “but I do think knowing the players and being a part of it the last five years, just being able to develop that relationship with all the kids, they know what to expect from me and I know what to expect from them.”

Milford, Taunton Announce New Thanksgiving Rivalry

Taunton football Milford thanksgiving
Taunton and Milford announced their football programs will begin a new Thanksgiving Day rivalry starting in 2020. (Ryan Lanigan & Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
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The two newest members of the Hockomock League are set to begin the league’s newest rivalry. Milford and Taunton, who both joined the Hock for the 2012-2013 season, announced a new and permanent Thanksgiving Day Football matchup that will begin in 2020 in a joint statement released last week.

The Scarlet Hawks and Tigers are currently the only two teams in the league that do not play another league opponent on the holiday.

“We’re excited to have a new Thanksgiving opponent that is also apart of the Hockomock League,” said Taunton football coach Brad Sidwell. “We’re excited for the kids moving forward and to create a new rivalry. We’re looking forward for it to continue for a long time.

“It’s good that all the teams in the league are playing each other on Thanksgiving.”

Taunton football played crosstown city rival Coyle & Cassidy for 88 years (with a break from 1981-1996) before the Warriors ended “The Game” this past fall due to low numbers in the program. Coyle was unable to provide sub-varsity games over the past couple of seasons according to the Taunton Gazette. The Tigers have dominated the varsity game over the past decade.

The Scarlet Hawks have had five different opponents on Turkey Day since leaving the Mid-Wach and joining the Hockomock League. Milford completed its long rivalry with Shrewsbury in 2012 (the football team played one final season in the Mid-Wach during the school’s first season in the Hock), had a two year series with Holy Name, swept Randolph in back-to-back years, and dominated KIPP Academy, 42-20, in 2017.

“That’s really what we’re excited about, starting a rivalry with Taunton and a rivalry that will stick,” said Milford coach Anthony Vizakis. “Its’ another Hock team so we get to keep it in the league. We look forward to playing Taunton for many years to come and we know it’s going to be competitive year in and year out.”

Milford began a new two year series with Maynard last season. The Hawks put on a dominating performance, winning 33-0 over Maynard, who entered the contest at 8-2 and were the top seed in the D6 Central playoffs. The Scarlet Hawks will wrap up that series this fall and begin its rivalry with Taunton on Thanksgiving in 2020. Taunton is without an opponent this season on the holiday.

While there isn’t a rich history between the programs yet, there are some connections. Vizakis coached under Sidwell for two years while at Franklin, and Sidwell played the Hawks for many years before they joined the Hockomock League.

On top of that, the two teams have met each August over the past three seasons for a preseason scrimmage.

Since both sides joined the league, they have met once on the gridiron. In 2015, the Tigers hosted the Hawks at Aleixo Stadium in a non-playoff game. Zach Lanzetta threw six touchdowns to lead Milford to a 49-30 win. Taunton quarterback Collin Hunter accounted for three scores, two in the air and one on the ground.

Below is the official release from the Milford and Taunton Athletic Departments:

Milford and Taunton are excited to announce a new and permanent Thanksgiving Day Football match-up that will begin in November of 2020. Taunton and Milford are the lone 2 teams of the 2 Hockomock League schools who do not currently play each other on Thanksgiving while the other 10 schools all play each other in long-standing Hockomock Thanksgiving Day rivalries. Milford has struggled to find a consistent Thanksgiving opponent since leaving the Mid-Wach League and joining the Hockomock League over 8 years ago while Taunton was recently informed by Coyle-Cassidy that their long-time Thanksgiving rivalry would be coming to a conclusion due to low numbers in the Coyle-Cassidy football program. Encouraged by the Hockomock League, the timing was therefore perfect for Milford and Taunton to merge to form a permanent agreement starting on Thanksgiving of 2020 and remaining T-Day opponents as long as Thanksgiving football remains viable and meaningful in Massachusetts. Taunton will have a sabbatical this Thanksgiving Day 2019 while Milford will finish their 2-year home and away agreement with Maynard and travel to Maynard in 2019 to close out that series. The host of the 2020 inaugural Taunton vs. Milford Thanksgiving football game is yet to be determined.

Nagle Named New King Philip Hoops Coach

King Philip
King Philip announced that Dan Nagle will be the new girls basketball coach, taking over a team that went 14-8 and reached the D1 South quarterfinal last season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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Former Fitchburg State University head coach Dan Nagle announced this week that he will be the new King Philip girls basketball coach this winter, replacing Amy Siggens, who left after a couple of seasons to take the coaching position at Taunton. Nagle is familiar with the Hockomock League and many of the players from his work at Mass Premier Courts and local AAU teams.

“Coaching at Fitchburg over the last three years was a great experience and I learned a lot from it,” Nagle said. “High school has always been a great fit and King Philip with its proximity and its tradition made it a really attractive job when I saw it open up.”

Nagle went 27-50 with Fitchburg State, winning nine games in each of his three seasons. He previously coached at Worcester Academy and at Bellingham High. With Bellingham, Nagle proved successful at the high school level, leading the Blackhawks to the 2014 Div. 3 Central title and a 20-4 overall record.

The Norton native will take over a team that had success last winter and has the potential to be one of the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division, bringing back a number of key pieces, including HockomockSports.com first teamer Faye Veilleux. Nagle introduced himself to the Warriors following a recent summer league game and he believes that the players will fit right into his up-tempo style.

“The good thing is that I knew a lot of them already from AAU and just from being at the facility all the time,” Nagle said. “It’s good to know there are good players. Sometimes when you take over a program you have to start over but the program is in a good spot right now.”

He added, “I think the expectations are really high and that’s exciting for me. I’ve never been one to back away from a challenge, but at the same time it’s nice to go where the ball is already rolling and I have to keep it moving in the right direction.”

In addition to the announcement of Nagle as the new basketball coach, King Philip announced that former Franklin and Dean College coach Lisa Cropper will be its new field hockey coach. Cropper won four league titles in eight seasons as head coach of the Panthers and will take over the two-time defending league champions.

Also, this summer KP announced that former JV coach Mike O’Neill will be the new varsity coach for the boys soccer team.