Below is a release from the New England chapter of the Positive Coaching Alliance. Stoughton’s Julia Ortiz (cross country, track) and King Philip’s Faith Roy (basketball) were two of five total students from New England selected as Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship winners.
Nixon, Sofia, Evan, Julia and Faith, selected from across New England as exceptional athletes and people, have endured challenges like no past PCA Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship winners. From Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, all five experienced a senior spring in lockdown with no sports, no proms, and no graduations. Senior spring is virtual, screen time is a burden, and those memories playing sports with friends are more precious than ever.
We cannot crown their senior spring by honoring them at our annual JEANS + JERSEYS: Positive Impact Celebration, which has been moved to a date TBD in the fall, so we are honoring them here, with the support of Insperity. An image, a quote, and a 1-minute video do not tell their whole stories, but know that all five have developed character, leadership, compassion, and resilience through sports, and that has helped them through life in this COVID-19 era. This group has resilience and more, making us hopeful for the future.
Join us in celebrating our 2020 Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship winners!
Coming off a perfect season and a state championship the previous spring, the 2013 Milford softball team faced a new set of challenges. Not only were the Hawks facing the difficult task of trying to repeat while having a giant target on their backs, but were also trying to navigate the unfamiliar waters of the Hockomock League and the South sectional.
Led by its five seniors, Milford lived up to its preseason hype. Refocused by a midseason loss that ended their win streak at 35 games, the Hawks closed the season with 16 straight wins and sealed back-to-back titles with a 1-0 win over Amherst in the state title game.
“These seniors really from freshman year on, to see their growth not only as players but leaders and girls that set an atmosphere, set an expectation that others were going to follow,” said then head coach Brian Macchi about his senior class. “From losing a state championship game to losing a state semifinal to finally winning it and then wanting to go out and do it again, they weren’t going to settle for anything less.”
Once a team has reached the pinnacle and lifted the state championship trophy, it can be hard to come back the next season with the same focus and determination, but the Hawks faced a new challenge in 2013 that kept them motivated. That spring was Milford’s first in the Hockomock League.
Macchi explained, “It made it easy for me as a coach to motivate because you had that storyline of entering a new conference and the league we’re entering is the league you want to be in when you’re talking about softball in Massachusetts.”
Shannon Smith, the team’s standout senior pitcher, added, “We were just trying to take things one day at a time and one moment at a time because there was a lot of hype. There was a lot of new stuff, entering a new conference, but with a lot of the same girls we felt like we could do some good things again.”
Having Smith in the circle certainly gave the Hawks an edge, no matter what league they were playing in. The three-time Gatorade Player of the Year set a new state record for strikeouts that season, recording the 1,120th strikeout of her career in the next to last game of the regular season and ending with 1,216 for her career. She finished with 358 strikeouts that season and an ERA of 0.04. That is not a typo.
“She just exemplifies everything you want in a player and a teammate,” said Sam Bonvino, a junior first baseman on the 2013 team. “She was the first to cheer you on, always the first to make you happy and lift up the spirits of the team, and she was always the first to buckle down and get us back on track. When she stepped on that mound and she was ready to pitch, it all just fell into place. It was incredible to watch her drive and her passion.”
Macchi added, “To have a player like that and a pitcher like that you know going into every game, no matter who you’re playing, you’ve got a chance to win. That is an outstanding feeling to have.”
The Hawks were rolling at the start of the season, winning their first 10 games, but the dream of a second straight perfect season came to an end with a visit from North Attleboro. Despite a 17-strikeout, one-hitter from Smith, the Rocketeers were able to scratch out a run in the 10th inning and throw out a runner at the plate in the bottom half of the inning to escape to pull out a 1-0 win.
“I think it was a big reminder that it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbow but we have to put in the work,” said Smith. Bonvino noted, “I think that loss was kind of like a wake up call. We were devastated because it would’ve been pretty cool to go back-to-back undefeated but it showed to us that we can lose, we can bounce back, and pick right up where we left off.”
Macchi said that the team started the next day’s practice with a talk about the loss and how to move forward. Whatever was said in that conversation worked, as Milford softball won 10 straight to head into the playoffs as the second seed. That set up a quarterfinal with King Philip, a rematch of the 2010 state title game and a matchup between the teams that had won the last three state titles.
“The KP games, every time, no matter if it was the regular season, the playoffs, state title game, the atmosphere and the competitiveness between both teams was outstanding,” said Macchi. “It was just so fun to be a part of, and the girls absolutely loved it.”
It was a pitcher’s duel between Smith and KP’s Anna O’Neill and, fittingly for two of the top programs in the state, the game went into extra innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Lauren Hanna bunted for a single and Smith followed with a hit. A wild pitch moved the runners up and KP intentionally walked cleanup hitter Caroline Fairbanks. Senior Rachel Levine singled to left center setting off a wild celebration that included Macchi charging out to second base to lift up Levine.
“We were both so into it and it was like a state title game because we both had a lot riding on that game, not just the loss or the win but proving to each other that we’re really good teams,” said Bonvino.
Milford softball completed its run through the South by outsourcing Franklin and Bridgewater-Raynham 13-0. “Realizing the names and the teams that were in that bracket was a huge accomplishment but at the same time this group wasn’t ready to settle,” Macchi said. “That was more motivation to finish it off and finish up those last two games the way they wanted to.”
For the second year in a row, the Hawks needed only one run to seal the state title. Smith struck out 13, finishing her career with another shutout. She said, “You want the ball in those situations. A lot of pitchers who are competitive would love that situation. Just go for it and do whatever you can to win.”
With all the attention on the upperclassmen, it was freshman Jill Powers that provided the decisive hit, driving in sophomore Allie Piergustavo with a two-out double in the sixth inning. Smith struck out the side in the seventh and Milford softball was back on top.
“It’s very fulfilling because you see people practice year round and not get to that final game and not fully get to see what it’s made of,” said Bonvino. “To be able to do it twice and be able to feel the love and the gratitude and how amazing it is to be back there again, even just to stand on the field at the end and think about the games you’ve played to get to that point is really cool.”
Macchi said, “Getting to that day and winning that game, the smiles on their faces, it was just an outstanding feeling for me as a coach and something I’ll never forget. They had that moment realizing that, as they were running out to get the state championship trophy, the story for them in their high school careers was ending on such an unbelievable high.”
Team: Oliver Ames Boys Soccer
2015 Davenport Division Champions
2015 Division 2 State Champions
The pieces fit together perfectly during the 2015 season for the Oliver Ames boys soccer team. The Tigers received key contributions from three classes all season long en route to an undefeated season and a Division 2 State Championship.
The Tigers were made up of a talented senior class full of leaders, a group of juniors ready to make the most of their opportunities, and a skillful sophomore class that wasn’t afraid of the big moment. After coming up just short in the state final the year before, the Oliver Ames boys soccer team was determined to go all the way in 2015.
“I would say preseason we knew we were all locked in to push ourselves to have another great year,” said senior captain Keegan Nutt, who went on to have a successful four-year career at Stonehill. “We ended 2014 with a loss in the state championship and told ourselves we’re not letting this happen again. We made goals before our first Hockomock game and said first we want to win the league, then we want to win the south, and best of all we want to win our first state championship.”
Up top, junior Thomas McCormick was a menace inside the area, always quick to a loose ball to punish opposing teams. Nutt and sophomore Nathaniel Cardoza directed play from the center of the pitch while sophomores Matt Alvarado, Jack Sheldon, Mason Galbato, Cam Vella, and Matt Campbell applied pressure on opponents either up top or on the wings.
Defensively, the Tigers had 14 shutouts on the season with just eight goals against during the regular season. Sophomore Jack Carroll took over in net that season and was helped along by defenders Max Bamford, Max Ahearn, and Jared Mallers.
Senior captain Chris Romero did it all for the Tigers, anchoring the defensive unit at times while also getting minutes in the attack.
“This team was special from minute one,” said Oliver Ames head coach John Barata. “They trained at a high level all the time and never gave up. These players put in the extra time and never deviated from the plan we set during our preseason goals. We wanted to be dominant in every facet of the game and made a commitment to give everything we had to this team and the season.”
Oliver Ames went undefeated in the regular season to win its fourth Davenport division crown in a five-year span. The Tigers notched 13 wins, including an impressive 1-0 result against Kelley-Rex division champion Mansfield. Besides a draw with Sharon, OA tied a talented Foxboro side twice during the year. That Foxboro squad, featuring the likes of Anthony Barreira, Devante Teixeira, and Joe Morrison, was one of the most dangerous offensive groups from the Hock this decade.
The second meeting between the two featured a late equalizer from Cardoza that gave the Tigers a point and the division title. It was only a sign of things to come as this Oliver Ames team had a flair for the dramatic, especially in the state tournament.
“Players sacrificed social lives, free time and family time to put in extra effort for the Oliver Ames program,” Barata said. “This team had the X factor – the EXTRA something that is hard to quantify. I knew after our first game this group was going to be special. However, it was the Foxboro games that convinced me that we had the potential to go far in the tournament.”
OA grinded out a gutsy win in the opening round of the tournament, knocking off a tough Milton squad 1-0. Romero provided the heroics in the next round, depositing the game-winner in double-overtime with just seconds left to play. After a rout of the #2-seed Greater New Bedford (5-0), Vella and Cardoza scored in the South Sectional Final, the latter in overtime to give the Tigers a win over Medfield.
“We were playing with three in the back with the most relentless defense I had ever seen,” Nutt added. “And our offense was clicking too and teams couldn’t figure out how to stop us or score on us. We had great team chemistry but it’s all in coach Barata. He perfected a system and way of playing that was literally unbeatable, and it paid off.”
In the state final, OA fell behind 1-0 to Masconomet but responded with three straight goals to claim the title. After going down 1-0 in the 12th minute, Romero equalized just seven minutes later. Five minutes later, Cardoza buried a loose ball in the box off a corner kick, and the Tigers added an insurance goal in the 57th minute off of the head of McCormick on a cross from Alvarado. It marked the first state championship in program history.
Team: Franklin Volleyball
2018 Kelley-Rex Division Champions
2018 Division 1 Central-West Champions
2018 Division 1 State Semifinalists
With a strong group of returning players, the Franklin volleyball team entered the season as the top-ranked team in our Hock 5 rankings. But there were few, at least outside of the program, that expected the Panthers to be as good as they were.
While the Panthers graduated a couple of key pieces from the lineup a year before, first-year head coach Kelsey Weymouth inherited a talented, experienced group that looked primed to get back atop the Kelley-Rex division. There were signs very early of just how talented Franklin was, including a 3-0 sweep over non-league foe Bishop Feehan, a 3-0 sweep over defending division champ King Philip, and a 3-1 win on the road over Hockomock power Canton — all in a five-day span.
Senior Lauren McGrath returned for her third year as the team’s starting setter was a key piece in orchestrating the offense as well as an important part of the Panther defense. After dishing out 545 assists her junior year, McGrath crossed the 1,000-assist mark as a senior with 547 assists. McGrath had plenty of choices to work with offensively with four players reaching the 100-kill mark: Ellie Wisniewski (151), Maggie Doyle (135), Allyson Bonnet-Eymard (102), and Hailey Sanders (100).
“I knew from our first practice that we had the skillset and drive to go all the way,” Weymouth said. Weymouth was a former standout at Hock rival North Attleboro before a successful career at Stonehill. “I was coached hard while playing at Stonehill College and in doing so, we were successful. I wanted to bring the same drive to my girls at Franklin High School … I was not easy on this group because I knew they had what it took but they needed that push and confident booster! They worked so hard day in and day out and I could not be more proud of them and all of their hard work during our 2018 season! These ladies had natural-born talent and when they came together as a team they were unstoppable.”
What made Franklin’s offense so dangerous was their ability to hit successfully from all three spots at the net. It wasn’t just a rotation between two outside hitters or forcing to just one player. Not only did the Panthers have one of the best outside hitters in Wisniewski, but they also had two very good options in Doyle (middle) and Sanders (opposite). Bonnet-Eymard and Emma Chase, both sophomores that season, provided strong attacking depth for Franklin.
On the flip side, the Panthers were strong defensively at the net as well. Doyle led the charge with 65 total blocks while Sanders added 35 and McGrath stepped up defensively while in the front row with 16 blocks. Riley Marino was the team’s defensive specialist, recording 218 digs. Wisniewski, Bonnet-Eymard, McGrath, and Shannon Gray were all reliable in the back row as well.
“Our 2018 season was amazing,” McGrath said. “Undefeated in the Hock, a league championship, first Sectional Championship for Franklin High School Volleyball, and a team and coach that was hardworking, resilient, and a lot of fun to be around. It will be a season I remember forever.”
Only three teams avoided being swept by the Panthers during the regular season with Oliver Ames (3-1) and Mansfield (3-1) being able to take a set along with Canton. But the playoffs were a different story and the Panthers really showed their mettle during the postseason run.
Entering the D1 Central West bracket as the #2-seed at 17-0, the Panthers were tested right away by #7 Concord-Carlisle. In their first five-set match of the season, the Panthers pulled out a victory to advance to the sectional semifinals. Franklin fell behind 0-2 to #3 Hopkinton, who was the home team because of a predetermined site, but the Panthers rallied to force a fifth game. Once again Franklin prevailed to move on to the sectional final. Despite going up 2-0 on #4 Shrewsbury, Franklin was forced to a fifth set for the third straight playoff game. The pattern continued as Franklin won the fifth set and the match, this time to clinch its first ever sectional championship.
“The girls were out with vengeance [against Hopkinton], you could cut the tension with a knife and I wanted nothing more than a hard-fought win for them that night,” Weymouth said. “After being down 2-0, they had no choice but to fight. I made some drastic but necessary changes that match and they adapted the best that I’ve ever seen. Ending in yet, another deserving five-set victory!
“Ending up top four in the state is something every young athlete hopes of doing. I did not accomplish that during my high school career and I wanted nothing more than for this group to accomplish that. Words honestly cannot describe how proud I am of that group of young ladies. They deserved everything they accomplished and then some.”
In the state semifinals, the Franklin volleyball team faced off against the standard-bearer of volleyball in the state of Massachusetts in Barnstable. The Raiders won the match 3-0 but not without an incredible effort from Franklin, who fell 25-17, 25-22, 25-23.
Below is a release from the Hockomock League regarding the 2020 Scholar-Athletes as well as the event program with student photos.
The Hockomock League Principals and Athletic Directors proudly announce the Class of 2020 Scholar-Athletes. The global, national, and local struggle against COVID-19 continues, but our persistence and resilience grows in that fight. The unique social situation in which we find ourselves pushes us to find new ways to publicly recognize and salute our heroes. The Class of 2020 will have much to remember about this unprecedented year, and we salute all of our athletes who lost this Spring season.
This week the League would have celebrated its 30th Annual Hockomock League Scholar Athlete Awards Dinner. Today, we are proud to celebrate each of the twenty-four athletes that have earned this League’s honor. Each scholar-athlete has been selected by the Administration of their respective schools and represent the top student-athletes in the Hockomock League based on academics, athletic participation, sportsmanship, leadership, and citizenship. They have all successfully balanced a demanding academic schedule along with participation in athletics as well as many other extra-curricular activities during their high school career. To be selected for this award represents four years of dedication and commitment, and we are proud of all their accomplishments.
We hope that these student-athletes will put all of their experiences over the past four years to good use and that those experiences will help guide them through the challenges ahead. We congratulate the parents and guardians, too, for your contributions and guidance as you have enabled your child to reach this level of excellence. We are certain that the foundation you have given them will carry them through future endeavors.
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR 2020 SCHOLAR-ATHLETES:
ATTLEBORO: Jacqueline Lynch-Bartek AND Nicholas McMahon
CANTON: Caroline Tourgee AND Nathan Quan
FOXBORO: Jaime Notarangelo AND Ryan Proulx
FRANKLIN: Sarah Spanek AND Rohan Herur
KING PHILIP: Samantha Robison AND Jack Cannon
MANSFIELD: Eliz Healy AND Peter Oldow
MILFORD: Annie Flanagan AND Maxwell Manor
NORTH ATTLEBORO: Abigail Gallagher AND Owen Harding
OLIVER AMES: Allison Kemp AND Sam Stevens
SHARON: Eliana Boxerman AND Cameron Baker
STOUGHTON: Emma McSweeney AND Joshua McNamara
TAUNTON: Kamryn Li AND Nolan Melo
Team: Foxboro Girls Basketball
2020 Davenport Division Champions
2020 Division 2 State Champions
Midway through the third quarter of the Div. 2 South final, Foxboro girls basketball trailed fourth-seed Hingham by 11 points and its chance of winning a third sectional title in four seasons was on the cusp of coming to an end at Taunton High’s Rabouin Field House.
Rather than imploding and allowing the game and a South title to get away from them, the Warriors recovered in style. After scoring 29 points in the first 19 minutes of the final, Foxboro scored 28 over the last 11 minutes and walked away with a dramatic victory that sealed a trip to the TD Garden and eventually the program’s second state title in three years.
It was the highlight of a run through the gauntlet that was D2 South and a clear representation of the growth in the team from 2019. The Warriors rallied together to avoid another disappointing playoff exit and give themselves an opportunity to play on the parquet.
“Our confidence and our experience definitely helped us a lot that game,” said senior forward Abby Hassman, who won three South titles in her four-year career. “We were struggling with fouls and I was on the bench for most of that game. Even when we were down, we didn’t panic and we just believed in each other.”
Head coach Lisa Downs added, “It was such a great win. You could feel it in the timeouts. There was no sense of panic, there was no frustration. It was more just this is what we need to do.”
Coming into the season, Foxboro was the clear favorite to win a fourth straight Davenport division title, but it wasn’t a given that the Warriors would challenge for a state title. There were early signs that this team had something special, including a 44-point win against Concord-Carlisle just after Christmas in which the Warriors led 27-0 after the first quarter and a win at Bishop Feehan in January.
“Once the season got going and we got our groove a little bit, we saw flashes of things that honestly if we had played against the 2018 team that we’d give them a game,” Downs explained. “We still hadn’t put together a complete, perfect game yet and if we did then not many people were going to be able to beat us.”
A pair of league losses in a two-week span in January may have been the turning point for the Warriors. After struggling at Oliver Ames, Foxboro lost at undefeated Franklin, but the 20-point final was no indication of how well the Warriors played. The Warriors were down by six in the fourth quarter when the Panthers put together a 17-0 run that broke the game open.
“Going into it, we knew they were going to be the toughest opponent all year and being within a possession or two throughout almost the whole game definitely made us realize how good of a team we are when we put our minds to it,” said Hassman.
It would be the last loss of the season. Foxboro rattled off 15 straight wins en route to the state title.
“That definitely was our turnaround game,” Downs said. “I think the team was able to see that this was a legit team and we were able to hang around with them.”
Foxboro relied on Katelyn Mollica (18.9 ppg) for the bulk of its offense, but the Warriors were far more than a one-player team. Senior Lizzy Davis (10.3 ppg) became a more consistent threat on the offensive end while matching up against the other team’s top perimeter players on defense. Seniors Yara Fawaz and Hassman crashed the boards and made big plays on both ends of the floor, and junior Jordyn Collins returned from a mid-season injury to provide smothering defense off the bench.
The biggest development that helped Foxboro turn the corner and become a more balanced team was the growth of senior center Shakirah Ketant. The Emmanuel College commit scored 10.5 points per game and was a double-double machine in the postseason, giving Foxboro a legitimate post presence.
“It was awesome just having a big man,” Hassman said. “It definitely made us more versatile as a team. Teams couldn’t just focus on one player and we had a lot of different threats.”
She added, “I think we all had different roles and I think we kind of just trusted each other. No one was really selfish that they took it upon themselves to do everything. Katelyn was obviously one of our main scorers but if she was having an off-night, any one of us could step up and I think we just had confidence in each other.”
Foxboro rolled to a league title and earned the two-seed in D2 South. After dispatching Dighton-Rehoboth, the Warriors hosted Pembroke in the second round. It was a rematch of the previous year’s semifinal that the Titans won easily. The Warriors got off to a slow start but turned it on in the second quarter and never looked back, winning 56-43.
Downs said, “I think the girls were just ready for it this year. I think that year of maturity under their belts, it showed. Everyone remembered that were there how horrible that felt and to live with that for a year and that was a really great win. I was really happy with how they dug in, played great defense, and did everything they needed to do offensively.”
Wins over Old Rochester and Hingham sent Foxboro to the TD Garden and for most of the players a once-in-a-lifetime experience. North Reading, which upset Pentucket in the North final, stood in the way of a trip to the final. A quick start and double-doubles from Ketant (16 points and 17 rebounds) and Hassman (10 points and 12 rebounds) turned the state semi into a comfortable win.
“That was a personal goal to get these girls to play on the Garden floor because most of the girls had never played there before,” Downs reflected. “To have that experience is like no other. They just didn’t seem nervous at all, whereas the 2017 team felt nervous, and I was too, because just stepping on that floor it’s kind of like an out-of-body experience.”
It was Foxboro’s first win at the Garden since 1995. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it also clinched a state championship. Two days after the win against North Reading, the state final against West champion Taconic was canceled.
“Although it was super upsetting when we first found out that we couldn’t play,” Hassman admitted, “I think we all took a step back and realized that we came so much farther than we hoped and we accomplished all of our goals for the season, so everyone was really happy about that once we took a step back and looked at the whole season.”
Foxboro won by an average of 32 points per game this season, scoring just under 60 per night and allowing only 37. The Warriors won four times by more than 40 points and, in addition to its impressive D2 playoff run, beat four teams that made the D1 playoffs. Missing out on a chance to play a final doesn’t diminish how good Foxboro was this season.
“They just played so well together and they got along well and there’s always going to be bumps along the road but this team faced some adversity and just rectified it,” said Downs. “Every game there was someone else contributing.”
Team: North Attleboro Wrestling
2016 Davenport Division Champions
2016 Division 2 State Champions
The North Attleboro wrestling program has been one of the most successful in the state since its inception in 1987, and the past decade was no exception. And one of the most successful seasons in its history came in 2016 as the Rocketeers won championships at multiple levels and set numerous program records.
The Rocketeers posted a 24-1 record that season, dominating competition against in-state foes with its lone loss against national powerhouse Mt. Anthony out of Vermont. Not only did the group go unbeaten against Hockomock League opponents to claim the Davenport division title, North Attleboro claimed a handful of tournament wins including the Marshfield Holiday Tournament, and tournaments held at Whitman-Hanson and Cumberland (RI). At the Hockomock Championships meet, four Rocketeers won individual titles and North Attleboro won with an impressive 254 points.
“It’s only a target if you believe it is,” said North Attleboro head coach Wayne Griffin after winning the Hockomock Championship meet. Assistant coaches that season were Dan Thibeault, Ray Sturdy, Geoff Burgess, and Andrew McDonald. “We talked about it this morning. I told the kids that there will be a target on our backs but we can’t worry about it. We just have to focus on today, focus on wrestling today, and get through each match one at a time. I think it’s helped the kids keep perspective as each day goes by. We can’t worry about other things, we had to focus on getting through today first.”
After tying the program for wins in a season (24), North Attleboro continued its success in the postseason. At the D2 South Sectional meet, 10 Rocketeers reached the finals (out of 14 total weight classes) and five went to win sectional titles to help the team post 287.5 points, over 80 more than second-place Hingham. In total, the Rocketeers had 14 grapplers finish top five and it was the program’s 16th sectional title. Alex Devitto (126), Nick Gould (145), Jack Donahue (170), Nick Morrison (182), and Brennan Sankey (285) each walked away a sectional champion.
North Attleboro went on to win the Massachusetts Interscholastic Wrestling Coaches Association (MIWCA) D2 Dual Meet tournament as well as the MIAA D2 State Championship, a display of how well rounded the group was. Although the Rocketeers didn’t have an individual champion at the D2 State meet, North Attleboro’s depth was on full display as three Rocketeers reached the finals and eight members of the group finished top six for a total of 141 points; Central Catholic finished second with 111 points.
The program received the GoldLevel Academic Excellence Award for the 15th time that year, recorded the most pins (316) and wins (534) in a single season in program history and Devin Spratt (120) set the career record for most pins with 91. The MIWCA honored Mike Renzi with its Hall of Fame Award and the coaches were honored by The Boston Globe as Coaches of the Year.
In the life of any top program, there is a moment that takes a team from being one with potential to one that should be considered a threat to win a title every season.
For the Franklin girls’ lacrosse program that moment came in 2014. The team not only reached its first sectional final but also won the program’s first trophy, a springboard to the Panthers being considered among the state’s top teams every season.
“We had talented players and players who really wanted to take it to the next level,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino, who was in her second year as the head coach in 2014. “They kind of got a taste the year before and then just set high goals and worked hard.”
In Igoe Guarino’s first season in charge, the Panthers went unbeaten in the league and won the Kelley-Rex division title outright (after sharing with King Philip the year before). Franklin was emerging as the dominant force in the Hockomock, which would be borne out by eight straight league titles and more than 80 straight league wins (and counting), but there was a desire to see the team compete at the state’s highest level against the likes of Westwood, Needham, Wellesley, and Notre Dame Academy.
The 2013 team reached the Div. 1 South semifinal but was beaten by Westwood, but left the season feeling like the program was on the brink of pushing through against the best teams. “The girls were confident in themselves, confident in their coaches, and vice versa,” said Igoe Guarino. “We kind of worked hard, saw improvements in the regular season, and we were just like, okay we can do this.”
It was a team loaded with talent. Senior midfielder Marta Versprille led the way in midfield and was both the league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year. Igoe Guarino explained, “Players like her and Maegan Schmauder, they weren’t just really good players but good people and good leaders and who really, really cared about the Franklin program and wanted to see it succeed and everyone just kind of fed off that.”
Franklin lost only three times in the regular season, by two to Needham, by 10 to Westwood, and by two to defending state champ NDA. It was the first season under the new realignment, which pushed the Panthers to the newly created East bracket and away from the only teams to be them in the regular season. They rolled to a win against Natick in the playoff opener.
In the semifinal against Lincoln-Sudbury, the Panthers battled back from 7-4 down at halftime thanks to a pair of goals from Emily Jeffries and one from Schmauder. Julia Jette had a chance to win it in regulation only to be denied with seconds left. L-S nearly took the lead in the final seconds of the first half of OT, but a free position goal was ruled after the horn. After Julia Bireley forced a turnover to get Franklin the ball late in the second half of OT, Schmauder scored from a free position with just six seconds left.
The final against Concord-Carlisle turned out to be even more dramatic.
Franklin led 10-9 and tried to hold the ball for the final four minutes. A turnover in the final minute turned into a tying goal and then the Patriots won the ensuing draw and raced upfield for the go-ahead score. The Panthers went from a goal up to a goal down in only 12 seconds and had only :31 left on the clock to try and save the season.
Franklin managed to get possession on the next draw and had a chance but Julianne Pisani’s shot was saved. Jeffries regained possession in midfield and was fouled. On the restart, she drew a triple-team as the clock ticked down but managed to squeeze a pass to sophomore Sheelagh Walsh, who angled towards goal and tied the game with just two seconds remaining.
“That game was back-and-forth the whole game then I think we tried to stall for a very long time and it didn’t work,” Igoe Guarino recalled. “It was right there and then it was gone and then it was tied again. That game was so up and down.”
After the Panthers forced a turnover in the first half of overtime, Schmauder scored what turned out to be the game-winner and sealed the first sectional title in program history. Although Franklin lost to Longmeadow in the state semifinal, bringing home a trophy added new goals and new expectations for the Panthers every spring.
“I think it was a huge springboard and a huge confidence boost,” said Igoe Guarino, who has won two more sectional titles since 2014. “I think a sectional title kind of justified all our work and efforts from the youth program up to the high school and kind of put us on the map.”
Team: Franklin Wrestling
2014 Kelley-Rex Division Champions
2014 Division 1 Central Champions
There have been a lot of great individual performances by Hockomock wrestlers through the years, but few teams had the depth of Franklin in 2014. The Panthers started slow as they incorporated new faces, but they rolled through the league (including a big win at North Attleboro) to win the league double, claiming both the dual meet and league championship meet titles.
Franklin carried that success into the postseason, winning the Div. 1 dual meet crown and the D1 Central title as well. The Panthers finished third in Div. 1 and fifth at All-States, showcasing a high level of wrestling throughout the roster.
Head coach Carmine Colace said after the Panthers edged North Attleboro at the 2014 league meet, “We do have a lot of depth; we do and that really helps. Today was a real team effort because we had some tough matches in the semis, but nobody got down on themselves and they all battled back.”
After winning the dual meet title, Franklin went into the Hockomock Championships as favorites and took control of the leaderboard early on. The first four weight classes were won by the Panthers. Mike Coppola (108), Cam Kelly (113), Ben Zogby (120), and Dan Pisani (126) went back-to-back-to-back-to-back to start the final round and Griffin Tighe (195) added a fifth individual title later that evening.
After the meet, Colace said, “In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been gaining the momentum and confidence…We started off a little slow, but that was to be expected. Who wants to win matches in December? You want to win matches in February and March.”
Franklin’s team effort led to an impressive performance at the Div. 1 dual meet, which the Panthers won for the second time in five seasons since making the jump from D2.
At the D1 Central tournament, Franklin had a wrestler from 11 weight division qualify for states, and three more finished sixth or better. Ryan Creavin (160) took home first place and six wrestlers took second (Coppola, Kelly, Zogby, Pisani, Tighe, and Ryan Ricard). Again it was depth that was the story as Franklin took third as a team at D1 states. Kelly and Tighe won their respective weight classes and five Panthers advanced to All-States.
At the All-State meet, the Panthers took fifth overall. Tighe made it two titles in two weeks, while Kelly (second) and Zogby (third) both joined him at the New England meet. Franklin finished 11th as a team at the New Englands, with Tighe taking sixth place and Kelly capping off his season with an impressive run to the final at 113 before suffering a one-point loss to the top seed, who he was wrestling in the final for the third straight meet.
Team: Mansfield Boys Indoor Track
Record: 4-0 Dual Meet Record 2011 Kelley-Rex Division Champions
2011 Hockomock League Meet Champions
2011 Division 2 Champions
2011 All-State Champions
The Mansfield boys indoor track team has been the cream of the crop in the Hockomock League and beyond for the past decade, so it wasn’t easy to narrow it down to one squad. But it’s hard to ignore the success the Hornets had at the league level, the division level, and the state level in 2011.
That season, the Hornets set new program records in over half (eight) of the events they compete in during the winter months that season. And what really stands out above the rest is that six of those records still hold today despite the squad winning seven more league titles throughout the decade.
Mansfield cruised through the dual meet season, knocking off Franklin, Attleboro, North Attleboro, and King Philip in succession to claim the Kelley-Rex title. Also during the regular season, the Hornets competed in the Division 2 Relays meet at the Reggie Lewis Center and put on a show. Mansfield took first place overall as a team with 64 points — the second place team Central Catholic finished with 35 points — and won the 4×400 relay (3:24.99), the Distance Medley Relay (10:40.98), and set new program records in both the 4×200 (Steve Gannon, Nick King, Ian Caldwell, Greg Donahue – 1:31.82) and the sprint medley relay (Nick King, Steve Gannon, Griffin Robertson, Josh Lampron).
“The combination of the junior and senior classes was deadly!” said longtime Mansfield coach Julie Collins. “If you look at complete results of Hockomock League Meet, there were so many great athletes on the track and in the field events that no team in the state could compete. They supported each other and brought out the best in each other!”
The Hornets showed their mettle at the Hockomock League Championship meet, taking seven first place finishes and 18 total top-five placements on its way to a whopping 103.5 points. North Attleboro finished second that year with just over half of that total at 55 points. Senior Ryan Petrella and Griffin Robertson went 1-2 in the 600M at the meet and Steve Gannon clocked in at 35.54 to win the 300M and set a Hornet program record that still stands today.
The dominance continued at the D2 State Meet where the Hornets swept all three relay events, won a pair of individual races, had a dozen top-five finishes, and registered an incredible 98 points to win the event. Mansfield’s Josh Lampron won the 1 Mile (4:19.86), Shayne Collins crossed first in the 2 Mile (9:14.51) and the Hornets ended the meet by sweeping all three relays: the 4×200 (Ian Cauldwell, Greg Donahue, Nick King, Andrew Kuras) in 1:32.19, the 4×400 (Steve Gannon, Ryan Petrella, Jonah Primiano, Griffin Robertson), and the 4×800 (Shayen Collins, Kham Haleudeth, Josh Lampron, Nate Somes) in 8:10.44.
Mansfield saved its best for last at the 2011 All-State Meet at the end of February at the Reggie Lewis Center. Lampron once again won the 1 Mile race, this time setting a new program record that holds today at 4:15.16 while Collins, who took second in the 2 Mile, set the program record with a time of 9:09.33. Relays were once again a strong point for the Hornets, as the 4×200 group took third, the 4×800 team was second overall, and the 4×400 relay team of Steve Gannon, Ryan Petrella, Nick King, and Griffin Robertson won the event and set a third Hornet record at the meet, clocking in at 3:21.78. Mansfield won the All-State Championship meet with 50 points.
2010-2011 Mansfield Boys Indoor Track Schedule
D2 State Relays
1st Place (64 pts)
1st Place (103.5 pts)
D2 State Meet
1st Place (98 pts)
1st Place (50 pts)
2011 Hock Championships
S. Gannon, N. King, Ian Cauldwell, G. Donahue
N. King, Ryan Petrella, G. Robertson, S. Gannon
2011 Division 2 Championships
Ian Cauldwell, Greg Donahue, N. King, Andrew Kuras
S. Gannon, R. Petrella, Jonah Primiano, Griffin Robertson
S. Collins, Kham Haleudeth, J. Lampron, Nate Somes
2011 All-State Championships
Ian Cauldwell, Steven Gannon, Griffin Robertson, Andrew Kuras
S. Gannon, Ryan Petrella, Nick King, G. Robertson
S. Collins, Kham Haleudeth, J. Lampron, R. Petrella