But it was even tougher than they anticipated.
The Panthers had cruised through its league schedule to this point, racking up seven wins and outscoring Hockomock foes 140-14. On the other side, King Philip raced out to a 10-0 record overall before suffering back-to-back losses to Canton and Grafton — both by one goal — before the clash against the Panthers.
King Philip came out strong, taking the first lead of the game and going in front again in the second quarter. The Warriors limited Franklin to just four goals in the first half, trailing by two at the break.
But Franklin found its footing in the second half, using timely goals in both the third and fourth quarters, and dominated possession en route to an 11-5 victory. The win clinches at least a share of a seventh straight Kelley-Rex division title for the Panthers.
“[King Philip] played well, I didn’t anticipate that they were going to be as good as they are and they surprised me, and they surprised us,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi. “We didn’t anticipate them to give us the game they did. They were very aggressive, they did a nice job. They are a quality team for sure.”
A slashing call — just one of two penalties called in the game — on the Panthers gave King Philip an early man-up opportunity and the Warriors cashed in. Junior Kevin Riggs found himself in some space and ripped a shot into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
But the lead lasted just a minute as the Panthers responded on its next possession. Senior Nitin Chaudhury gained some space and fired a right-handed shot into the back of the net to make it 1-1. KP’s defensive group of Wes Bishop, Luke D’Amico, and Garrett Maxwell did a nice job of preventing the Panthers from getting any other chances in the first half, limiting Franklin to three shots in the first.
Sophomore Sam Mattson took advantage of McKinney’s stops, using a rocket of a shot to put the Warriors up 2-1 with 7:35 left in the second quarter.
Franklin senior Jacob Alexander gave the Panthers a boost, winning the ensuing faceoff and racing down and bouncing in a shot that made it 2-2. Alexander won the next draw as well, leading to a goal from sophomore Owen Kielty on a nice feed from Ben Greco.
King Philip nearly tied it when Chris Longobardi won the face off, sprinted into the offensive zone and got off an open shot but Franklin goalie Will Davis (five saves) got just enough on it to keep the lead.
Palmieri converted a low shot while being pressured to put the Panthers up 4-2 heading into the half.
A faceoff win from Alexander led to a goal from Will Harvey (from Greco) to extend Franklin’s lead a minute into the second half. Mattson answered with a blast to make it a two-goal game but Franklin scored the final two goals of the third quarter.
First, senior Ben Kolb battled his way through traffic and finished in close to make it 6-3. A minute after Andrew Sajdak had his shot clank off the crossbar, Franklin tacked on another when Jake Davis snuck a tough angle shot under the bar to put the Panthers ahead 7-3 heading into the fourth.
“We started to move the ball a little bit more,” Verrochi said of second half adjustments. “We looked at certain matchups and found ones we felt we could go to goal on. I think we started doing that better and our off ball movement was better in the second half.
“If you’re beating your man, and you draw a slide, whoever’s man slid you gotta follow the slide with the stick lock and loaded, and I think we did a good job with that.”
King Philip was limited to just the one shot from Mattson in the quarter. McKinney made seven saves in the frame but the Panthers made it difficult for the Warriors to clear the zone.
“Andrew McKinney in goal was phenomenal, he really saw the ball well,” said KP head coach Hal Bean. “Those guys were shooting fast and he was on the ball, he was tracking well.
“[Franklin] slides very quickly, probably the fastest we’ve seen. So once our guy broke free from his man, there was someone else on us right away. And to try and get that third guy open was difficult.”
KP had the first possession of the fourth but Pat Morrison and Liam Arsenault combined to force a turnover and Franklin cashed in in transition as sophomore Matt Lazzaro found Greco open in front for an easy finish.
The Warriors pulled one back at the midway point of the fourth as Mattson drew multiple defenders before finding senior Colin DeVellis cutting in front for a close-range finish.
Davis answered less than a minute later on a feed from Greco but Longobardi scored nine seconds later, winning the faceoff and going straight to goal to make it 9-5.
Davis tallied twice more in the final four minutes to make it 11-5.
“[McKinney] played well, he made some nice saves,” Verrochi said. “We have some excellent shooters, some kids that can really shoot the ball.
We rode really tough, and we’ve been doing that all year long. The kids have really bought into that and they are making it tough [for opponents].”
While Franklin clinches another league title, King Philip dropped its third straight contest. But with all three coming against top competition and the Warriors playing well in all three, Bean believes these games will pay off down the road.
“We’re very positive right now,” Bean said. “We are enjoying how we’re playing, they are a tight-knit group. We got pizza after the loss at Grafton. They are upbeat right now. They understand they are playing good lacrosse. They are playing as a team, they work hard, so I expect a lot more wins coming up.”
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – With the Sharon defense focusing in on junior Andy DeMattio and senior Damien Curtis out due to a first quarter injury, the North Attleboro boys lacrosse team needed someone else to step up.
Enter members of the Class of 2022.
Freshman Matt Antonetti scored a hat trick, including the game-tying goal with just over a minute to go, freshman Jared Vasher was solid at the face-off X, and freshman Connor Rupert scored the game-winning goal, his second, just over two minutes into the overtime period to give North Attleboro a 7-6 come-from-behind win over Sharon on Ray Beaupre Field.
North Attleboro trailed 6-4 entering the fourth quarter but pitched a shutout for the final 12 minutes of regulation, getting within one with 8:02 left in the game on Rupert’s first goal. The Rocketeers forced a turnover with 90 seconds to go and Antonetti used a nice individual effort to net the tying goal with 1:03 to go.
In overtime, Sharon freshman Ben Shocket won the opening face-off but North Attleboro coach Kevin Young elected to have pole Brett Labonte on the wing, and the junior defenseman came up with a big play by knocking the ball free and giving North Attleboro possession.
DeMattio (two goals) had his first shot saved by Sharon freshman goalie Adam Rabb (eight saves) but the rebound fell to North to keep possession. Rupert unleashed a shot from distance that was wide but DeMattio raced to get his stick in front to keep the ball.
Senior Nick Ward started behind the net and found Ruppert to his left. In one motion, the freshman caught the ball and continuously spun to his right, unleashing a tough sidearm shot that found its way in at the near post for the winner.
“We’re playing five freshmen right now, quite a bit,” Young said. “Early on, they were a little intimated but they are starting to come into their own. That #3 [Antonetti], that went around the net and scored, he’s a freshman. The faceoff kid [Vasher], just came up from JV, he’s a freshman. They are getting used to this level.
“The freshmen looked lights out in our scrimmages. But then they kind of got thrown off a little bit. It’s almost impossible for a 14-year-old to play an 18-year-old. When they get comfortable, and they start to get to the right places, they are getting better. I would have never thought that shot was going in but we’ll take it.”
Though Ruppert didn’t factor into the scoring on North Attleboro’s first goal of the fourth, he was the catalyst for it. He forced a turnover near midfield, raced up the field and found Ward, who found DeMattio for a low bounce shot to make it 6-5.
Sharon had its best chance of the quarter with just over four minutes to go. The Eagles came flying up in transition and senior Brandon Buckman ended up with a wide open bid right in front but North junior goalie Jake McNeany (eight saves) read it perfectly and blocked the low shot, robbing the Eagles of a goal.
The Eagles had possession with a one goal cushion with three minutes to go, and looked to play keep away but North Attleboro was able to force a turnover to get it back. Antonetti set up shop behind the net, eventually going to his right, backing down, spinning out left for a right-handed blast that made it 6-6 with 1:03 to play.
Sharon had strong starts to each half. The Eagles had a handful fo chances in the opening five minutes, with McNeany making a pair of strong saves on chances from senior Mitchell Director, and then turning away Buckman from in close. Senior Daniel Lillenfeld intercepted an attempted clear from the Rocketeers and sprinted up field, finding freshman Zack Waxman all alone and he made no mistake and buried his chance for a 1-0 lead, an advantage that lasted the entire quarter.
Antonetti pickpocketed Rabb and bounced an open shot into the net to tie the game 92 seconds into the second quarter, and DeMattio scored his first of the game just over the midway point on a tough angle shot to put North Attleboro ahead 2-1.
Buckman answered for the Eagles with a nice low shot from in close but North Attleboro sophomore Tyler Sarro, who had a very strong game defensively, made a terrific read, finding Antonetti with a long pass and the latter buried it to make it 3-2.
Sharon answered with a man-up goal with under a minute to go when Brady Daylor skipped one in to tie the game 3-3 heading into half.
The Eagles came out strong in the third quarter, using face-off wins from Shocket to ignite the offense. Sophomore Drew Litner connected with Buckman in front to put the Eagles ahead 16 seconds into the third.
Less than a minute later, on a man-up chance, Director ripped a bounce shot in the back of the net to put Sharon ahead 5-3.
North Attleboro capitalized on a two-minute locked in penalty on the Eagles with Ruppert pouncing on a rebound and tucking in the loose ball to get within one but Director added another tally for the Eagles off an assist from Litner with 1:29 left in third, but that would be the last goal of the game for Sharon.
“We have a solid defense, it’s just about eliminating mental mistakes,” Young said. “We had times where we’d switch off guys and they’d score a goal. We’d drop the ball on a clear and it’d lead to a chance for them. You have eliminate those. But I think our defense is very strong, it’s all guys back from last year.”
Sharon (2-4, 4-5) is on the road at Shrewsbury on Friday.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
Franklin sophomore Matt Lazzaro has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for April 21 through April 27. Lazzaro is the 27th player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2018-19 school year and the fourth player in the spring season.
Lazzaro has had a great start to his second seasons for the league-leading Panthers and is a major factor in the team scoring 155 goals in the opening nine games of the season. He scored a combined 16 points in two games this week, including the game-winning goal in double overtime to lift the Panthers to a first-ever win against BC High.
Franklin started the week with a convincing win against Sharon and Lazzaro scored seven points to lead the Panthers. On Friday afternoon, the Panthers took on defending state champion BC High and Lazzaro had one of the best performances of his young career. He scored six goals and had three assists, recording a point on all but one of Franklin’s 10 goals. In double overtime, he stepped into a low-angle shot and ripped it into the back of the net to secure an impressive early-season win.
The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.