Franklin’s Lupien, OA’s Barata Honored By MIAA

Coach of the Year Paula Lupien John Barata
Franklin gymnastics coach Paula Lupien and Oliver Ames boys soccer coach John Barata were selected as Coach of the Year by the MIAA for last season. (Submitted photo/Ryan Lanigan (HockomockSports.com))

Below are a pair of press releases from Franklin High athletic director Tom Angelo and Oliver Ames athletic director Bill Matthews on the selection of Paula Lupien (gymnastics) and John Barata (soccer) as MIAA Coach of the Year.

Franklin, MA (December 08, 2021) – (Franklin Athletic Department) Franklin High School is proud to announce that Paula Lupien has been named the 2020-2021 MIAA Gymnastics Coach of the year.

“Earning this prestigious honor does not surprise me in the least. When it comes to coaching, Coach Lupien is the total package”, states Athletic Director, Tom Angelo. “I attribute the success of our Gymnastics program to Coach Lupien’s meticulous attention to detail, her love for her student-athletes, and overall dedication to the coaching profession.

The 2020-2021 winter season was Coach Lupien’s 5th year at the helm, culminating in an undefeated season, a Hockomock League title, and a 1st place finish in the Hockomock League Tournament. A professional member of USA Gymnastics, Coach Lupien’s primary goal is to build trust with her athletes and to bring out the best in themselves by setting a high bar and accomplishing their goals. “Paula is an incredible person who embodies everything that is right about the coaching profession. We are so fortunate to have her as part of our coaching staff”, states Tom Angelo.

Over the past 5 years, Coach Lupien has involved her team in various community service projects in and around Franklin, MA. Some of these projects include Blankets for Cancer, Toy/Pajamas/Blanket drive for children in foster care, a Franklin Food Pantry drive, distributing holiday wreaths, and hosting gymnastics clinics for Best Buddies, and area youth programs.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association selects their “Coaches of the Year” based upon excellence in character, impact upon students and community, and coaching credentials.

Coach Lupien will be honored by the MIAA at a celebratory awards banquet in January.


EASTON — Superintendent Lisha Cabral and Athletic Director Bill Matthews are pleased to announce that soccer coach John Barata has been selected to receive the 2020-2021 Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Coach of the Year Award for soccer.

Award recipients are selected based upon excellence of character, impact on students and community and coaching credentials. Coach Barata was notified of his selection in November, and will be recognized at an event that is expected to be held in January 2022.

Barata has coached the boys varsity soccer team at Oliver Ames High School for 13 seasons. In that time, he has led the program to a 169-44-40 record,12 MIAA state tournament appearances, three state championship appearances and one state championship title.

The team went 13-4-2 this fall and was the Hockomock League Davenport Division champions. The team qualified for the state tournament and ultimately made it to the round of 16.

Coach Barata has been recognized by the Boston Globe, Hockomock League and Eastern Massachusetts Soccer Coaches Association a total of seven times, as well as the Mass Youth Soccer Association Girls Competitive Coach of the Year and with the United Soccer Coaches Coach of Significance Award.

His coaching philosophy revolves around guiding players along their soccer journey and helping them to reach their potential both on and off the field. He works to create a positive and player-focused environment and believes that his background as a youth minister has allowed him to use his relational ministry skills to guide players and build lifelong relationships that extend beyond the soccer field.

Under Coach Barata’s leadership, players have volunteered hundreds of hours with the Easton Youth Soccer League, Easton Lions Club and My Brother’s Keeper, a local non-profit that provides furniture donations and delivery to families throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and assistance for families in need during the holiday season.

He is also invested in players’ academic success and works to help find support for any player who would benefit from academic assistance. His teams have been recognized each year for the past seven years with the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award.

During the 2020-2021 school year, the team was also recognized by United Soccer Coaches with a Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award.

Coach Barata was nominated for the MIAA Coach of the Year Award by Athletic Director Matthews, who wrote in the nomination letter, “John has high expectations of his players on the field, in the classroom and in the community and provides them the tools and support they need to meet and exceed those expectations. Perhaps more important than the statistics and recognition above is John’s commitment to seeing his players develop into not only good players, but good citizens as well.”

He added, “It is hard to imagine anyone who loves soccer as much as John and is as invested in fostering that same love of the game in others. His enthusiasm for soccer is contagious and his ability to engage with kids of all ages is remarkable.”

As director of coach and player development for Easton Youth Soccer, Coach Barata also started a program to introduce preschoolers to soccer. Many of those children have grown up and been valuable contributors to Oliver Ames’ soccer programs and many have credited him with sparking their love for the game.

“Our Oliver Ames boys varsity soccer program has thrived under Coach Barata’s leadership and he has been a wonderful supporter of players’ successes as athletes, students and members of their community,” Superintendent Cabral said. “Coach Barata is very well-deserving of this award, and we are proud to see him recognized for his outstanding accomplishments.”

Coach Barata has also held several positions in professional and coaching associations including serving on the YMCA Board of Governors, Parish Youth Enrichment Board, Hanson Youth Soccer Board of Directors, P3 Foundation Board, Eastern MA Soccer Coaches Association Board, United Soccer Coaches Advocacy Board, United Soccer Coaches Advocacy Group (Chair), United Soccer Federation Instructor and Easton Youth Soccer Board.

In addition to his role at Oliver Ames, Barata is the director of soccer and owner at Beautiful Game Soccer Academy in Hanson, and chief executive officer at Legacy Soccer Club in Hanson. He previously served as director of operations in New England for the Club Champions League New England in Hanson and the general manager for the Real Boston Rams of the United Soccer League out of Quincy.

He also holds a Master Coach and Soccer Leaders diploma from the University of Delaware and a number of other certifications from various soccer and coaching-related organizations.

Barata has also held several positions in professional and associations including serving on the YMCA Board of Governors, Parish Youth Enrichment Board, Hanson Youth Soccer Board of Directors, P3 Foundation Board, Eastern MA Soccer Association Board, United Soccer Advocacy Board, United Soccer Advocacy Group (Chair), United Soccer Federation Instructor and Easton Youth Soccer Board.

In addition to his role at Oliver Ames, Barata is the director of soccer and owner at Beautiful Game Soccer Academy in Hanson, and chief executive officer at Legacy Soccer Club in Hanson. He previously served as director of operations in New England for the Club Champions League New England in Hanson and the general manager for the Real Boston Rams of the United Soccer League out of Quincy.

Over the past 5 years, Lupien has involved her team in various community service projects in and around Franklin, MA. Some of these projects include Blankets for Cancer, Toy/Pajamas/Blanket drive for children in foster care, a Franklin Food Pantry drive, distributing holiday wreaths, and hosting gymnastics clinics for Best Buddies, and area youth programs. Over the past 5 years, Lupien has involved her team in various community service projects in and around Franklin, MA. Some of these projects include Blankets for Cancer, Toy/Pajamas/Blanket drive for children in foster care, a Franklin Food Pantry drive, distributing holiday wreaths, and hosting gymnastics clinics for Best Buddies, and area youth programs. Over the past 5 years, Lupien has involved her team in various community service projects in and around Franklin, MA. Some of these projects include Blankets for Cancer, Toy/Pajamas/Blanket drive for children in foster care, a Franklin Food Pantry drive, distributing holiday wreaths, and hosting gymnastics clinics for Best Buddies, and area youth programs.

HockomockSports Soccer Goal of the Year Winners

Goal of the Year
Goal of the Year

This year we teamed up with Beautiful Game Soccer Academy for our first ever Goal of the Year contest for boys and girls soccer. We narrowed down over 50 submissions to the top 16 for each, setting up a bracket style contest over the past couple of weeks. The final round came to a close last night and the winners are listed below. Thank you to BGSA for sponsoring this and to all the coaches, players, and everyone else involved for their submissions, votes, and support throughout our first go at this.

Boys – Arthur Tome, Mansfield

Girls – Kelly O’Connor, Franklin

This year we teamed up with Beautiful Game Soccer Academy for our first ever Goal of the Year contest for boys and girls soccer. We narrowed down over 50 submissions to the top 16 for each, setting up a bracket style contest over the past couple of weeks. The final round came to a close last night and the winners are listed below. Thank you to BGSA for sponsoring this and to all the coaches, players, and everyone else involved for their submissions, votes, and support throughout our first go at this. This year we teamed up with Beautiful Game Soccer Academy for our first ever Goal of the Year contest for boys and girls soccer. We narrowed down over 50 submissions to the top 16 for each, setting up a bracket style contest over the past couple of weeks. The final round came to a close last night and the winners are listed below. Thank you to BGSA for sponsoring this and to all the coaches, players, and everyone else involved for their submissions, votes, and support throughout our first go at this. This year we teamed up with Beautiful Game Soccer Academy for our first ever Goal of the Year contest for boys and girls soccer. We narrowed down over 50 submissions to the top 16 for each, setting up a bracket style contest over the past couple of weeks. The final round came to a close last night and the winners are listed below. Thank you to BGSA for sponsoring this and to all the coaches, players, and everyone else involved for their submissions, votes, and support throughout our first go at this.

2021 Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars

Below are the official 2021 Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Mathias Taylor, Oliver Ames

Hockomock League All Stars

Cashel Stuger, Attleboro
Alex Vecchioli, Attleboro
Esvin Morales, Attleboro
Jake McCabe, Canton
Dylan Baird, Canton
Erik Valdovinos, Canton
Sean McCarthy, King Philip
Terry O’Neill, Franklin
Aidan Griffith, Franklin
Rex Cinelli, Franklin
Matthew Angelini, Foxboro
Derek Axon, Foxboro
Matthew Hyland, Mansfield
Dylan Buchanan, Mansfield
Jack Lasbury-Casey, Mansfield
Chris Tocci, Milford
Nick Ribeiro, Milford
Eduardo Santana, Milford
Brody Rosenberg, North Attleboro
Connor Ward, North Attleboro
Casey Milliken, Oliver Ames
Clide Neau, Oliver Ames
Michael Haikal, Oliver Ames
Rhys Davis, Sharon
Riley Rebello, Taunton

Honorable Mentions
Chris Russo, Attleboro
Zach Dowling, Canton
Jorge Sanchez, Foxboro
Jack Moran, Franklin
John Pfeiffer, King Philip
Michael Caridi, Mansfield
Kevin Gomes, Milford
Carson Dameron, North Attleboro
Hector Bucio, Oliver Ames
Brady Daylor, Sharon
Wenderson Silva de Souza, Stoughton
Conal Scully, Taunton

Below are the official 2021 Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars and honorable mentions, selected by the coaches in the league. 2021 Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars

Tough Start Too Much for Canton to Overcome in Final

Canton boys soccer
Zach Dowling looks to clear a ball in the second half of the Div. 2 state title game against West Springfield. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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LEOMINSTER, Mass. – The playoffs have been one long road trip for Canton (14-4-4), which has logged more than 700 miles this postseason, but the No. 21 seed had managed to overcome the logistical challenges and make an improbable run to its first-ever state title game.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After a dramatic shootout win over the top seed in the semifinal, the Bulldogs carried momentum into Saturday afternoon’s Div. 2 championship game at Leominster’s Doyle Field, but a nervous start against 2013 state champ West Springfield proved too much to overcome. West Side scored twice in the first half and, despite a much better second 40 minutes from Canton, held on for a 2-0 victory.

“Hats off to West Springfield,” said Canton coach Danny Erickson. “I thought they played a great game today. They looked like they were composed from the starting whistle. I own the fact that we were a little nervous and the moment got us a little bit. That goes on the coach 100 percent. The kids were ready, which you can tell because once the game settled down I thought it was a really even game.”

Through the sting of Saturday’s defeat, Erickson was able to reflect on the remarkable run of four wins that got the Bulldogs to the final for the first time.

“Nothing but praise for the Canton Bulldogs,” he said. “I’m so proud of everything they did this year. What a run.”

The Terriers got off to a great start in the match. Just a little over a minute in, Garrett Daley cut in from the right side of the box and had a good look at goal, but his left-footed effort was tame and easily held by Canton keeper Giovanni Ruggeri.

Four minutes later, another nice move opened up the Canton defense, as Daley played the ball into center forward Lorcan Mitchell, who laid it off for Emery Sloat. Only pressure from Carson Eagles on his shoulder and Ruggeri being quick off his line prevented West Side from grabbing the early lead.

Midway through the half, West Springfield’s pressure and Canton’s hesitancy turned into the opening goal. A long throw from the left was allowed to bounce in the box. It was only partially cleared and Owen Hall pounced on the loose ball to knock it in, immediately racing to celebrate in front of the Canton fan section.

Canton finally fashioned a couple of half-chances from set pieces. Jake Mccabe, who has provided huge goals in both the quarterfinal and semifinal, had a 30-yard free kick saved, although it appeared to be going wide of the post. A few minutes later, Zach Dowling’s long free kick picked out McCabe in the box, but his header went over the bar.

With four minutes to go before the break, the lead was doubled. Another long throw, this time from Hall was directed to Daley, who rose up unchallenged on the edge of the six and flicked his header to the back post.

Erickson said, “They got two throw-in goals, which are goals and they deserved them, but once the game settled down I thought it was a really even game. We just didn’t execute early on in that half and I don’t think we were quite ready.”

The Bulldogs almost had an immediate reply, as Charlie McKinney, who hit the winning penalty in the shootout against East Longmeadow, made good progress down the left and skipped into the box, but his shot was charged down by the West Side back line.

Canton really needed an early goal in the second half to try and get back into the match. The Bulldogs came out of the intermission looking much more confident, with Zaza Franceour, Jacob Crugnale, and Erik Valdovinos providing energy up top and Dylan Baird, Caden Mirliani, and Brian Shea starting to win balls in the midfield.

The lynchpin for the Bulldogs this postseason has been McCabe and the Terriers made sure that he was well watched all match long.

Eight minutes after the break, McCabe’s corner was put into the mixer and West Side struggled to clear. The ball popped out to McKinney, who tried an overhead kick that the Terriers managed to block on the line. McCabe would wind up with a shot from a tight angle on the right but it was held by keeper Cathal Carney.

“We moved him around a little bit, but you’ve got to have him in dangerous places and only so many places to put him,” Erickson explained. “I was really proud of the way Jake played today. I thought the way we played in the second half and came out and competed really hard. We had the ball drop in the six and had we knocked that in then I think it would have been an interesting finish.”

While the game was more competitive in the second half, chances were harder to come by for both teams. Mitchell had a header just wide for West Side and then McCabe found a rare pocket of space 25 yards from goal and forced Carney into a save. The Terriers nearly put the game away in the 68th minute when Ruggeri came out to challenge Daley on the edge of the box, but the midfielder’s shot came back off the post.

Canton had one more chance to try and halve the deficit. In the 71st minute, McCabe had a free kick from about 20 yards and he forced Carney into a diving save down to his right. The rebound sat invitingly out in front of goal for a second but West Side was able to scramble it clear under pressure.

That could have made for a frantic finish, but West Side was able to see out the win and secure a second state title in the past nine years (the 2013 title was in Div. 1).

“When I looked at the remaining seeds, once we got to the final four, in all of soccer we were the only ones anywhere in that stratosphere,” Erickson said of his team making a run as the No. 21 seed. “Really proud of these guys stepping up when it was big time.

“Best memories I’ve had coaching and I’ve had a lot of good ones.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton Upends Top Seed to Reach First State Final

Canton boys soccer
Canton senior Charlie McKinney wheels away in celebration after scoring the winning penalty to knock off top seed East Longmeadown in the state semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MARLBORO, Mass. – As Canton junior Jake McCabe, who scored the lone goal for the Bulldogs in regulation and nearly won the game in extra time when his curling effort hit the post, walked back towards his team after seeing his penalty kick saved, shirt pulled up to cover his face, head coach Danny Erickson came to meet him halfway and told him emphatically not to worry because his teammates were going to pick him up.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Just seconds later, keeper Giovanni Ruggeri got down low to his right to instantly even things back up in the penalty shootout. After Zach Dowling fired a shot into the bottom left corner, Ruggeri, who had taken a knock to his leg in the final minutes of extra time and was limping going into PKs, lunged to his left and palmed away another penalty to put Canton on the brink.

Senior Charlie McKinney took the long walk for the fifth round, knowing that his kick could end Wednesday night’s Div. 2 state semifinal at Assabet Valley High’s Aztec Field and send the Bulldogs to their first title game in program history. He stepped up, finding the back of the net low to his left, and wheeled around in celebration after sealing Canton’s 1-1 (4-2 on PKs) victory over the top seed East Longmeadow.

Erickson said, “That’s what has to happen in those things, you’ve got to take care of your teammate. Jake took a good penalty and the kid made a great save and then Gio answered right away. You can’t say enough good things about them.”

“We’ve been practicing every day,” Ruggeri said after the game. “We though this day might come and it finally did and all of us showed up. It was a complete team effort. It was a great 100 minutes and it came down to pens. We stuck together as a team and it’s just a great team win overall.”

The Bulldogs came into the playoffs as the No. 21 seed and have logged nearly 600 miles through the first four rounds of the tournament. It was a long shot to even get this far and now Canton will get its first taste of the final.

“That game could’ve gone either way,” Erickson said. “We both had inches that made the difference. We just missed, they just missed, just a heck of a great game and a great team that we just faced. We played awesome and they represented Canton very well today. They never quit.”

Canton had the game’s first good chance when McKinney’s cross from the right wing gave Erik Valdovinos a chance to put Spartans keeper Ben Girioux under pressure. Three minutes later, the Spartans missed a chance on one end and on the other Valdovinos took a pass from Jacob Crugnale in the right channel and curled a shot just past the top far corner.

After Sonny Mazza teed up Ryan Brunelle for a gilt-edge chance in the 12th minute that the junior put just wide of the open net, the game settled down for a while.

Inside the final two minutes of the half, McCabe broke the deadlock. A long ball out of the back by Dowling was allowed to bounce. McCabe read it and was able to shrug aside the challenge from the East Longmeadow defender. Racing towards the box, he took an extra touch out to his right to get a better angle and then drilled a shot inside the far post to make it 1-0. It is his third straight game with a goal.

The lead only lasted five minutes after the break. Ruggeri made an easy save on a header off a free kick but then Sonny Mazza was able to get free down the left side of the box and played a perfect low cross to Luke Mazza for a tap in at the back post.

Rather than let their heads drop, Canton came charging back again. Caden Mirliani, Dylan Baird, and Brian Shea were shielding the back line well and getting the ball forward quickly. A ball over the top allowed Crugnale to run in behind the Spartans back line, but he missed the net when one-on-one with the keeper.

McCabe came close to restoring the lead in the 65th minute. His 25-yard free kick appeared to beat the keeper in the bottom corner but not the post, ricocheting out for a goal kick. Crugnale followed that with his own shot off the post just a minute later after a quick break freed him up on the left.

“They’re a driven group of guys,” Erickson explained. “A lot of teams would’ve come out in the second half and seen that goal go in and collapsed against the No. 1 seed. I thought the next 10 minutes after that goal, when we settled ourselves again, was the difference in the game. I think if we had conceded in that craziness, then it would’ve been a different result but we dealt with the hard times.”

There were chances on both ends of the field. East Longmeadow was finding spaces in front of the Canton back line and playing angled balls out to the wingers, who were slipping behind the wingbacks and getting runs into the box.

Brunelle missed the net with a couple of great chances. Ruggeri was forced into a great save, preventing Luke Mazza from finding the top corner. With seven minutes to go, Ryan Morneau smacked the post for the top seed.

Despite all the action in front of both goals, the game went to extra time. Four minutes in, McCabe nearly put the game to bed in spectacular fashion. He cut in from the left wing and drilled a shot from 20 yards that bent away from the keeper and seemed destined for the top corner only to hit the post for the second time. The rebound fell to Crugnale in the box but Enzo Mazza was able to block.

A beautiful cross to Colin Evans saw the East Longmeadow midfielder head just wide from close range and Valdovinos had another chance in the second extra time period when his run down the right got him into the box but he shot wide. Brunelle still had time for one more chance, slipping it past the slide of Ruggeri but Ashton Cetoute was on hand to clear it off the line.

In the end, only penalties could separate the teams and only through penalties could Canton keep its remarkable playoff run alive right to the final day.

“This was something these guys really wanted to accomplish,” Erickson said. “They’ve really been a team all year, they’ve worked together all year, they’ve gotten better all year.”

Ruggeri summed it up, “It feels fantastic, making history over here!”

Canton (14-4-4) will take on No. 6 seed West Springfield in the title game, after the Terriers, who beat Oliver Ames by a goal in the Round of 16, beat Longmeadow in penalties in the other semifinal. The game will be at Leominster High’s Doyle Field at 1:30 on Saturday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.