DuBrow Back on Point After Return From Injury

Alex DuBrow
Former Foxboro standout Alex DuBrow has returned to the court after a knee injury cost him all but four games of his junior season at Wheaton. (Wheaton Athletics/Keith Nordstrom)

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Wheaton College men’s basketball has a new look squad this season. The Lyons graduated a strong group of seniors and are incorporating nine freshmen into the lineup. One of the “new” faces for Wheaton this winter is a familiar one, as senior point guard Alex DuBrow has made a full recovery from a knee injury that kept him out of all but four games as a junior.

DuBrow has fit seamlessly back into the rotation, leading the Lyons in minutes per game (35.0), points per game (14.3), and assists per game (7.7) through the opening three contests. Wheaton, which was picked last in the NEWMAC preseason coaches poll, has started 2-1.

“It feels amazing,” said DuBrow about getting back on the court. It was one year to the day from his injury and he reflected on his long year and his long recovery to be ready for his senior season. “It was hard…mentally, physically, just sitting every day doing rehab versus playing with my brothers.”

After winning three of the first four games last year, Wheaton looked poised for big things and the former Foxboro High standout was right at the heart of it. But in the fifth game, on an otherwise innocuous drive to the basket, DuBrow felt something pop. He tried to fool the trainers and get back on the court (“Probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever done,” he joked), but that was the end of a season in which he felt ready to make his mark.

“The hardest part for me, mentally, was that I was never going to play with those seniors again,” said DuBrow, who noted that he worked the whole summer on his game in preparation. “As a freshman I played a bit and as a sophomore I played a bit, but last year was really the year where those guys I had played with the last few years, it was our time and we really thought we had something going. We were all feeling good and I went down and it kind of sucked.”

For the first time in his playing career, DuBrow was out for a sustained period of time and it gave him a new perspective that, as a team captain, he is trying to share with the many underclassmen on this year’s squad.

“I definitely learned patience. Not everything goes your way,” he explained. “I’ve told them not to take any day for granted because even if you don’t get hurt the four years flies by. These guys, most of them have 80-90 games left, and each one is unique. Keep playing for each other, be a brotherhood, be a family, so that everything on the court is easier.”

 

DuBrow’s recovery was helped by having his former Foxboro teammate Robby Lowey by his side. The point guard and center combo has played together since middle school and DuBrow said that the chemistry between them on and off the court remains as strong as ever.

“I’ve been throwing him the ball for eight years now and he had to kind of adjust to that, but we’re right back at it,” DuBrow said. “I think seeing him out on the floor with me is always a good thing. We both start together with three freshmen and leading with him, coming back from injury, I think it just made everything more comfortable.”

He was cleared for basketball activities in August and has to wear a brace on his left knee for at least the remainder of this season. DuBrow admitted there has been an adjustment period, trying to get accustomed to wearing a brace, trying to overcome any hesitation about cutting or going to the basket, and trying to find different ways to contribute while building his speed back up.

All of that was in play in the season opener against Wentworth, as well as some early game jitters. The Lyons fell behind by more than 20 points, but were able to chip away at the lead, eventually forcing overtime.

“I told the guys at halftime, it’s just basketball,” DuBrow said. “There’s a reason you’re playing at this level and I knew that for myself that there was a reason I got cleared and fought so hard to be back and then we made our comeback.”

Although Mansfield’s Tommy Dooling ruined Wheaton’s and DuBrow’s comeback with a last second three that handed Wentworth a double overtime victory, it was a game that DuBrow (who scored 19 in the loss) thinks will be a springboard to a big season.

“It was a tough loss but we’re young and I think we learned a lot that game,” he said.

“We were picked last in the NEWMAC but I don’t think teams really know what we‘ve got. I’m healthy, we’ve got Rob as a senior, a couple other upperclassmen, and then nine guys who are competing every day in practice. I think we’re going to be pretty good and I hope this is just the groundwork for years to come for these young guys because they have a lot of promise.”

The freshmen have given DuBrow a boost of energy this season and he is ready to get back to being the pesky point guard that other teams hate to play against. He dished out 10 assists in a home-opening win against Framingham State (Lowey led the way with 19 points), and then led the team with 18 points and five assists to beat Dean College.

“My teammates and coaches, the trust they have in me to run the show really has helped me get back to my normal self and hopefully stronger this year than I ever have been,” said DuBrow. “When the shot clock winds down, they throw me the ball and I go make a play and I’m confident that every time I can do so. The confidence in myself and the confidence that my coaches and my teammates have in me is what pushes me to succeed.”

There is also an appreciation that there is one last chance to impress at Wheaton (DuBrow has a year of eligibility remaining, but Wheaton do not have a graduate program so he would have to go to another school). He is excited to be back on the court and he and the rest of the seniors are not taking anything for granted this season.

“Basketball, that’s my life,” he said. “It’s what I look forward to every single day, practice, games, and just one wrong step, non-contact, took that all away from me last year.

“We know it’s our last year. We looked at each other like what the heck is this team going to look like next year because we didn’t know who was coming in. Once we played pickup with these guys, we thought this could be special and we just have to lead them.”

The Campus Report: Fall 2019 In Review

Campus Report

The HockomockSports.com Campus Report is an update on former Hockomock League athletes currently competing in collegiate sports. If you would like to submit an update, please e-mail info@HockomockSports.com.

Former Mansfield star Hunter Ferreira, who holds the Hornets’ all-time receptions and receiving yards records, is well on his way to the top of the charts at Nichols College. In his sophomore season, he grabbed 69 passes for 912 yards and four touchdowns. His best game of the year came at the University of New England when he hauled in 12 catches (fourth-most in program history in a single game) for 148 yards. In just two years, he has 97 receptions (sixth all-time), 1,428 yards (sixth all-time), and 12 touchdowns (tied fourth all-time). Another former Hornet Joe Cox is the leader on the defensive side of the ball for the Bison. Cox led the team in tackles with 99, including a team-high and conference-best 68 solo tackles. He forced a fumble against Anna Maria and had an interception at Western New England. His 17 tackles for loss led the entire Commonwealth Conference. His 99 tackles this season is tied for sixth-best in program history. King Philip’s Brett McEvoy (Nichols ’18) is the program’s all-time tackle leader with 385. OA’s Darnele Ryan appeared in six games and has nine total tackles and Mansfield’s Phil Dinov made three tackles in four appearances.

Former HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Joe Kellett had to watch Boston College’s first-round overtime loss of the ACC Tournament against Notre Dame after being issued a red card in the regular season finale. It marked the first game Kellett missed in his four years in college between BC and UMass Lowell. During his senior year, his first career goal for the Eagles proved to be the game-winner against UMass. He also scored the game-tying goal in a 2-2 overtime game against Virginia Tech. He played all 1,520 minutes of the season for BC during his junior year while starting all 34 games he played for UMass Lowell during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. In the first round of the NCAA tournament, Kellett played the opening 50 minutes in a win over Yale.

For the second straight season, King Philip’s Rachael Veilleux led the Nichols College volleyball team in assists. A sophomore setter, Veilleux has been dishing out sets for the past two seasons, helping the Bison win 12 matches this season. She had a team-high 360 assists (eighth-most in the conference) to go along with 16 aces this season. In her career so far, she has 592 assists.

Franklin Pierce’s Jason Reed earned All-East Region honors from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for his strong showing at the NCAA East Regional. Reed placed 20th overall at 32:28 and became the first Raven in program history to earn three straight All-Region accolades. Reed finished 14th overall at the NE10 Championship, clocking in at 27:47.6 for the 8k race.

Two former league rivals started every game this season for the Union field hockey squad. Senior Sarah Wilkinson, from Canton, and sophomore Cristina Boudreau, of Oliver Ames, both started in all 16 games this season for the Dutchmen. Wilkinson scored a pair of goals in her final season, once against Morrisville and then the game-winning strike in a win over William Smith. Boudreau scored her lone goal of the game against Rensselaer while recording three assists — all coming in a four-game span.

The Western Connecticut State University will be losing one of its most reliable players to graduation as Oliver Ames alum Melissa Krim wraps up her career with the Colonials. Krim did it all for WCSU, listed as a utility player on the roster because of her versatility. She scored 10 career goals, with eight coming in the past two seasons, and four assists. She scored her first game-winning goal this season in a win over Salem State. In her four years, Krim played in 76 games with 74 of them starts.

Milford graduate Katie Brown closed her career at Salem State with a strong senior season, earning MASCAC All-Conference Second Team honors. Brown, who was featured on HockomockSports.com earlier this season, was the leading goal scorer for the Vikings once again this season. For the second straight year, Brown found the back of the net eight times and added three assists this year for 19 total points. She scored the game-winning goal against Rivier early in the season and then added another winner in a 2-1 win on the road at Endicott. She finishes her career with the second-most points in program history (48) and second-most goals scored (22), just three shy of the record.

Success and Lily Sykes continue to go hand-and-hand as the former Foxboro Warrior is now helping the Tufts women’s soccer program go where it hasn’t gone in over a decade. A regular presence in the midfield, Sykes helped the Jumbos knock off Cortland in the opening round and TCNJ in the second round, sending Tufts to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005. Sykes blasted a shot that was saved in the 8th minute of the game against Cortland, setting up Sophie Lloyd for the opening-goal. Sykes, a four-time EMass All-Star, has started in all 19 contests for the Jumbos this year, scoring three goals with one assist. She scored the game-winning goal on the road at Hamilton. Tufts takes on conference foe Williams in the Sweet 16 on Saturday.

Taunton’s Trevor Wysong continues to lead the pack for the Bridgewater State men’s cross country team. Wysong, who has been named MASCAC Runner of the Week six times this season alone, clocked in (25:56) nearly two minutes ahead of the next runner at the MASCAC Championship Race at Moore State Park to earn MASCAC Runner of the Year honors for the second straight season. After the MASCAC race, Wysong competed in the DIII New England Championships and finished 12th overall in the 8k course, clocking in at 25:11.3 to qualify for the NCAA DIII Championship race (this Saturday) for the second straight year.

Also competing at the MASCAC Championship race, Taunton’s Zac Bentley (Westfield State) finished 10th overall at 28:16, Stoughton’s Cameron Bean (Westfield State) was 12th overall at 28:25, Franklin’s Robert Moreau (Bridgewater State) crossed 15th overall ad 28:35, and Milford’s Anthony DiStauro (Westfield State) took 19th at 28:41. Milford’s Miguel Torres, a freshman for Framingham State, took 22nd overall at 29:02. Mansfield graduate Collin Rice, a sophomore at Westfield State, clocked in at 29:32 for 27th overall and fellow former Hornet Cullen Lancaster (Framingham State) was 33rd overall at 30:32.

On the girls’ side of MASCAC cross country, Milford grad and Bridgewater State senior Jenise Madden was the top former Hockomock runner this season. Madden was second at the MASCAC Championships and went on to place 34th out of a field of 380 runners to lead the BSU women’s cross country team and earn All-New England honors at the 2019 NCAA DIII New England Regional Cross Country Championships held at Bowdoin College. Other top finishes at the MASCAC race included North Attleboro’s Megan Leary (Bridgewater State, 21:14, 12th place) and North Attleboro’s Kyra Siano (Worcester State, 21:29, 15th Place).

Former Franklin standouts Alexis and Victoria Stowell wrapped up their collegiate careers with Assumption, helping the Greyhounds to a 7-4-5 overall record in 2019. Both played the same amount of games in their four-year careers (69) with Alexis (NE10 All-Conference Second Team selection) recording eight goals and six assists in 60 starts. Victoria played a vital role in the midfield with one goal and five assists in 53 starts. In their four years, Assumption won over 35 games.

The Bridgewater State women’s soccer team had its season come to a dramatic end in a double-overtime loss to Worcester State in the MASCAC Final. But a pair of former Hockomock standouts both had strong final seasons for the Bears. Taunton’s Alana Vincent was once again the leading scorer for the club, leading the conference in goals scored with 17. Her seven assists were also a team-high and were third in the MASCAC. Seven of her goals proved to be game-winners. Mansfield’s Katie Bongarzone also started all 19 games for BSU this fall as a key piece of the defense. She added a goal and three assists. Both Vincent and Bongarzone were selected to the MASCAC All-Conference First Team.

Two members of the HockomockSports.com 2015 Best XI were apart of the Northeast-10 All-Conference awards that were announced on Veteran’s Day. Former Oliver Ames captain and member of the 2015 D2 State Championship team Keegan Nutt finished his career with the Skyhawks this fall by being named to the NE10 All-Conference Second Team. Nutt tied for the team lead in scoring despite being a starting defender, scoring five goals and registering two assists for 12 points. He scored twice, including the game-winner off a free kick, against Saint Rose in late October. Another All-NE10 collection and former Best XI selection was Foxboro’s Devante Teixeira, who was named All-Conference Third Team. Teixeira, a senior at Southern Connecticut, led the Owls with 10 points (two goals, six assists) while starting in 14 games.

It’s been a good season for the UMass Dartmouth football team and the hexad of former Hockomock players there. All six have played for the Corsairs, who finished the year at 7-3. Taunton’s Chris Gomes had the biggest year of the half dozen alums, earning MASCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors back in September for his big game against Plymouth State in which he made a key stop on the 1-yard line to help secure a 21-14 win. For the season, the junior defensive back was fourth on the team with 47 tackles, including six for a loss and one sack, grabbed two interceptions, and tied for the team lead with six pass breakups. Attleboro’s Justin Cote was a regular on special teams, returning 12 kicks for a total of 219 yards. North Attleboro’s David Engler appeared in eight games, making a catch against Alred State. On the defense side, Foxboro’s Allston George had 14 tackles and played in all 10 games, North Attleboro’s Luke LaBonte made 11 tackles, including a half a sack, and Taunton’s Sam Krajewski had 10 tackles, an interception, and four pass breakups.

Former four-time Hockomock League All-Star and league MVP Ryan Tomaso is leading the way for the Hartford golf squad during his junior season. Tomaso played in five tournaments this fall with an average round of 73.64 in 14 rounds played. He shot par or better in four rounds and finished tied for second overall at the UConn Collegiate Invitational. He led the team in average for the fall season.

Former Taunton coach and current mentor for the Bridgewater State women’s tennis team Dave Purpura earned seven wins this fall and reached the Little East Semifinals before bowing out to RIC. Three former Hockomock players were in the lineup for Purpura, manning second, fourth, and fifth/sixth singles for the Bears. Taunton’s Olivia Sweeney was the second singles player and picked up six wins in singles action, and teamed up with fellow former Tiger Vanessa Rosa at second and third doubles. The pairing of Sweeney and Rosa won seven matches together, and Rosa had seven singles wins at mostly at fourth singles. Mansfield’s Rachel Tarantino played mostly fifth or sixth singles during the reason, earning 11 single wins and nine wins in doubles action at either second or third doubles.

Former HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and Mansfield Hornet Hannah Reiter has been a stalwart for Dave Clarke and his Quinnipiac women’s soccer team ever set she stepped foot on campus in Hamden. She played in all 19 games this season (all starts), and has played in every single game (56 games) since joining the program in the fall of 2017. This season, she was third on the team with 1,646minutes played, playing an important role defensively for the Bobcats. For her career so far, Reiter has three goals and five assists.

Meghan Dieterle finished her career as a Purple Knight this fall, finishing with 45 appearances for St. Michaels, including 11 starts this season. Dieterle has been a regular in the lineup for SMC for the past three years, scoring a pair of goals as a sophomore and recording four assists during her junior campaign. She tallied her final collegiate point, an assist, in a win over Lincoln this fall. Also patrolling the pitch up in Colchester is Sharon alum Victoria Zambello. A junior forward, Zambello has appeared in 33 games in three seasons, scoring in the win over Lincoln. Franklin’s Grace Gallo is also a member of the Purple Knights.

Down in Pennsylvania, Canton’s Mac Brown scored his first collegiate touchdown for Dickinson in a win over Juniata. Brown, a senior running back, hauled in his first career pass for a three-yard score. A week later, Brown had another catch for 14 yards on the road at Moravian.

Taunton graduate Connor Briggs started at center in all 10 games for Fitchburg State this season. A senior lineman, Briggs helped pave the way for an offense that averaged over 100 yards per game on the ground and had 61 rushing first downs. Attleboro’s William Healy appeared in three games, including on defense where he recorded three total tackles, including two against Plymouth State.

Former King Philip standout Larsen Keys was the only player to start in all 19 games for Western New England this season. A leader for the Golden Bears’ defense, Keys found his way into the attack as well with two goals and two assists this season. Both of the sophomore’s goals proved to be game-winners, the first coming in a 1-0 win over Wentworth and the other on the road at Elms.

Over at Worcester State, former Franklin Panther Henri Guilmette started and played every minute in goal for the Lancers. In 20 starts, Guilmette allowed 27 goals (1.32 GAA) with a .803 save percentage, making 110 total saves in over 1,800 minutes of action. He posted four shutouts and helped the Lancers reach the MASCAC Semifinal.

Bianca Coghi-DeSousa had a solid showing in her one year playing for the UMass Boston volleyball squad. Coghi-DeSousa, who previously played two seasons at Framingham State and once held the program record for aces at Stoughton High, played in 15 matches for the Beacons this fall. In 45 sets, she landed 46 kills and added eight total blocks. The Beacons made the NCAA tournament but fell to Babson, coached by Easton native Eric Neely, brother to Franklin basketball coach CJ Neely.

Defense was a huge reason that the Westfield State volleyball squad went a perfect 7-0 in conference matches and went on to claim the MASCAC championship. Mansfield grad Jess Haradon is a key piece of the defense, ranking third on the team with 281 digs. Only one player has featured in more sets for the Owls this season than Haradon, who has played in 30 matches and 106 sets. She had a season-high 30 digs in a five-set thriller with Clark earlier this season and had a six-match stretch with double-digit kills. With one year to go, Haradon has 848 career digs.




Prinos sisters Diana and Sophia have been key pieces for the Fairfield University tennis. Diana finished the fall season on a three-match win streak, playing once at second singles (winning 6-2, 7-5) and twice at third singles, winning twice in three sets. Diana also picked up three wins this fall in doubles action, teaming up with Paulina Bakaite for first doubles and getting a win in their fall finale over Sacred Heart. Sophia Prinos had a lot of success, taking first place in one bracket at the West Point Invite. She won in straight sets over St. Bonaventure, Lehigh, Colgate, and Marist to get to the final where she defeated Amy Stanley (St. Bonaventure) 6-1, 6-4. She went 2-1 in head-to-head competition, finishing with a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win against Sacred Heart at fifth singles.

Up at the University of New Hampshire, Franklin’s Ryan Spelman participated in six races for the men’s cross country team during his senior year. He finished ninth overall in a dual meet between the Wildcats and Maine, clocking in at 26:32.0 for the 8k course. His best 8k time came against Lehigh when he clocked in at 25:55.6, good for 119th overall. On the women’s side, Foxboro’s Nicole Yeomans had a solid showing at the D1 Northeast Region meet, clocking in at 22:19.5 for 165th overall.

North Attleboro’s Vanessa Frost was named to the Commonwealth Coast Conference Second Team following a strong season in the midfield for Salve Regina. Frost was just one of two midfielders that started all 19 games for the Seahawks during the 2019 campaign. Frost scored once (in the CCC Final) and added three assists while Foxboro grad Kayla Ames made five appearances this season, scoring in a win over Dean.

Liz Morehouse was among the top goalies in the New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference in her first year in the cage for the Springfield Field Hockey squad. Morehouse, a former Big Red Rocketeer, started in all 19 games this season, making 87 saves (sixth in the conference) with a 2.06 goals against average (fourth in the conference). She set a career-high with 11 saves against Babson, and then repeated that feat twice more in against Trinity and MIT.

Former Mansfield standout Sarah Mullahy had a successful senior campaign with the Suffolk volleyball squad. A middle blocker, Mullahy ranked third for the Rams with 182 kills (1.77 per set) with an impressive .265 hitting percentage. She was second on the team with 44 blocks, landed 29 aces and even chipped in with 46 digs for the 20-win Rams. A captain this season, she was named to the GNAC All-Sportsmanship squad and had 326 kills in three seasons.

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that sisters Ashlyn and Emma Gaulin made an immediate impact on the pitch in their rookie seasons with Hamilton College, who had a 10-5-1 overall record this season. Both appeared in all 16 games for the Continentals, with Emma starting all of the games and Ashlyn serving as a reliable super-sub off the bench. Patrolling the midfield, Emma recorded a pair of assists during the season with a helper against Bates and one against Hartwick, both games at home. Ashlyn also had an assist in the win over Bates while scoring off the bench against SUNY Oswego, Colby, Morrisville State (also an assist), and Sage Colleges. The Continentals were undefeated when either Gaulin recorded a point this season.

Franklin’s Madison Kuzio had a busy season as a defensive specialist for the Worcester State volleyball team. She was third on the team with 169 digs, playing in 70 sets this year. A junior, Kuzio has appeared in 66 matches thus far in her career and has 301 career digs to go along with 20 aces.

The workload continued to increase for Franklin grad Megan Adams during the 2019 season. After a redshirt first-year, Adams appeared in five games last season including her collegiate debut for Northeastern against Long Beach State. This year, Adams was the starting keeper for the Huskies, making 15 starts and playing over 1,200 minutes. Adams allowed just 16 goals (1.13 goals against average) while making 48 saves, posting a 7-7 record for the season with four shutouts. She had shutout wins over Towson, COFC, Drexel, and Elon.

Another former Panther and collegiate keeper Cat Robbins, a sophomore, continued to be a regular in net for the Plymouth State women’s soccer team. After nine starts last season, Robbins was once again the go-to option for the Panthers. She started 12 games this season, winning six games, with 41 saves and just a.184 goals against per game. She played over 1,000 minutes and has four shutouts in her career so far.

Two former Hockomock rivals are now team captains for Saint Anselm football. Junior Franklin Holgate, who played at Oliver Ames, and junior Ryan Sullivan, a former Black Knight, are two of the four captains for the Hawks. Holgate finished third on the team in receptions (40), fourth in receiving yards (484), and second with three touchdowns. Sullivan is a leader on the other side of the ball, second on the team with 54 solo tackles and 95 total tackles. He also had four sacks, 7.5 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, and four pass breakups. He earned NE10 Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 6 for his performance against New Haven. In that game, he had 17 tackles, two sacks, and the forced fumble. Also at St. A’s, King Philip’s Michael Riggs appeared in nine games and made 25 tackles, including two for a loss, while Franklin’s Brian Kosicki has started every game at left tackle.

In the same week that Sullivan earned NE10 defensive honors, another former Black Knight was awarded the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week. Brandon Swain-Price, a graduate student with Southern Connecticut, recorded 10 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He is just the sixth receiver in program history to hit the 200-yard mark in a game, and the first SCSU receiver to reach the mark since 2010. For the season, Swain-Price had a team-high 49 catches for 792 yards and 10 touchdowns, which was second-most in the NE10.

Former Oliver Ames Tiger Jared Mallers wrapped up his collegiate career with Curry College, making 16 appearances for the Colonels with 11 starts. Mallers recorded an assist in a game on the road at the University of New England. North Attleboro grad Joe Hilf made three appearances in his rookie season while Jonathan Sandoval, who donned the Bombardier blue and white early in his high school career, played in three games.

Milford’s Andre Oliveira has fit in nicely with the Framingham State men’s soccer team. A sophomore defender, Oliveira is just one of four midfielders to start in 19 or more games this season, and the only one at his position to do so. Oliveira was in the lineup on Sunday when the Rams knocked off Salem State in the MASCAC Championship, giving FSU its first conference championship since 2011. Taunton’s Austin Botelho has nine appearances this year with a goal against Fitchburg while Attleboro’s Tyler Treichler had made eight appearances off the bench.

Former two-time HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Sydney Phillips continues to find success at the collegiate level. An outside hitter for Bates, Phillips led the team in kills for the season. After featuring in just 10 matches during his freshman campaign, Phillips emerged as the go-to option for the Bobcats during her sophomore year. She slammed down 196 kills in 82 sets played (2.39 per set) and had 29 total blocks and 42 digs for the 16-win Bobcats.

Franklin’s Dayna McCue played in her 173rd and final set for the Connecticut College volleyball team this fall. Appearing in 68 matches in her four-year career, McCue was one of the Camels’ top defensive players. She had 110 digs in her final season, finishing her career with 372 digs. She posted a season-high 17 digs in a 3-1 win over Mitchell at the end of October.

The WPI field hockey team had its best season in over a quarter century, posting a 17-3 record and being ranked as high as fifth in the D3 New England East Rankings, and senior forward and team captain Carly Cidado was a big factor why. A former standout for Oliver Ames, Cidado was second on the team in goals (12) and points (26), helping the Engineers reach the NEWMAC Semifinals. WPI improved every year with Cidado in the lineup, going from six wins her freshman year to 17 in 2019. For her career, Cidado had 20goals and 10 assists, scoring four game-winning goals while starting in 67 of the 70 games she played in.

Former King Philip standout Nina Sitarski is one of the top runners for the Babson Women’s Cross Country team. Her top 5k time was 21:36 at the Keene State Invitational, crossing the finish line 112th overall. At the NEWMAC Championship race, Sitarski clocked in at 27:12 in the 6k race, finishing 111th overall. On the men’s side, Oliver Ames grad Matt Campbell was 65th overall at 29:29 in the 8k race at the NEWMAC championship. He just ran his personal-best in the 8k, clocking in at 28:53 at the NCAA Regionals at Bowdoin.

A senior golfer for the Wentworth Leopards, Franklin graduate Matt Pleshaw played in five tournaments this fall. He had a pair of top 10 finishes, finishing 10th in both the Mitchell Invitational and a tri-match with Eastern Nazarene and Mitchell. His best round of the fall was on the first day of the FSC Fall Invitational when he shot an 80; he finished 50th overall in the tournament.

Taunton’s all-time wins leader Jillian Pagliuca jumped right into the lineup in her first year with Franklin Pierce University. Pagliuca played mostly at fifth singles but also made appearances at fourth and sixth singles. Overall, she picked up six wins in singles action and earned her first doubles win (at third singles, 6-0) against American International in September.

Hannah Friend (Oliver Ames) has etched her name into the Saint Anselm record book, and multiple times too. A senior forward for the Hawks’ field hockey team, Friend is the program’s all-time career leader in points per game (1.19), goals (37), assists (27) and assists per game (0.32). She also set the program record for games played when she started against Assumption on November 8th. She currently has 85 appearances and begins the NCAA tournament on Friday afternoon against East Stroudsburg. Five other Hockomock alums are on the roster at St. A’s and all see regular time on the field. Canton’s Mary Nee, a senior midfielder has started 20 of the 21 games and has six goals and five assists, Oliver Ames’ Kendall Clifford has two goals and three assists in 21 starts, and sophomore midfielder Andrea McNeil of Canton has come off the bench in every game, scoring twice with two assists. Freshmen Maggie Malloy (Canton) and Emma Izydorczak (King Philip) have both played in 10 games this year.

Stoughton grad Molly Turner has played in 17 total matches so far this year for the Stonehill volleyball squad, featuring in 53 total sets. A freshman setter, Turner is third on the team with 236 assists to go with 10 aces and 86 digs. After seeing minimal time for the first month of her collegiate career, Turner has featured regularly since the October 5th match against Malloy, even picking up five starts (including the last two matches). The Skyhawks are set to take on AIC in the NE10 Semifinals on Friday night in Waltham.

Only Hockomock alumni patrolled the net for the Framingham State women’s soccer team this year. Attleboro grad Madison Brown started in all but one game for the Rams this season, playing over 1,500 minutes with 186 saves made, which was tied for the most in the MASCAC this season. She recorded a season-high 18 saves to help the Rams pick up a 3-2 win over Fitchburg State, finishing with double-digit stops in 11 games this season. Franklin’s Calen Frongillo made one appearance in goal during her rookie season, making one save with no goals allowed.

Two former HockomockSports.com Player of the Year selections spent the fall season on the same team at UMass Amherst. King Philip’s Tyler Mann, who transferred in from UMass Lowell, and Oliver Ames’ Nathaniel Cardoza, who earned the honor in consecutive years in 2016 and 2017, patrolled the same side of the field at times for the Minutemen. Mann played outside mid while Cardoza was an outside back. Both scored this season with Mann scoring at Central Connecticut and Cardoza netting the game-winner a week prior at Boston University.

Former Attleboro Bombardiers Tyler McGovern and Brendan Nunes were limited to just three games together at Salve Regina this season. McGovern, the starting quarterback, appeared in all but one game this year for the Seahawks, throwing for 1,464 yards on 117 completions with 49.2% accuracy. He had eight touchdown passes with 10 interceptions. Nunes was limited to just the first four games this year but was one of the top targets for Salve in that time, hauling in 12 passes for 140 yards. Foxboro’s Ronnie Martin played in three games, taking 22 carries for 95 yards (4.3 yards per carry) for the Seahawks.

Former North Attleboro Rocketeer Nick Rajotte has seen his workload increase as the season has gone on for Springfield. After not playing in the first three games, Rajotte played in seven straight games with the team winning five of those games. Has had 12 carries in a three-game span for a total of 158 yards, scoring in all three games. He scored a pair of touchdowns in a big win over Maine Maritime. But in the final game, Rajotte was the feature back with 10 carries for 92 yards. Another former Rocketeer, Nick Raneri, has two appearances at fullback and had three carries against Maine Maritime. On the defensive side of the ball, King Philip grad Terrell Jacobs-Baston is playing defensive tackle and had 12 tackles. He recorded his first sack in the win over Maine Maritime.

Joe Morrison and the University of Vermont men’s soccer team had the season end in heartbreaking fashion for the second straight season. After losing to UMBC in penalties during his freshman campaign in the America East tournament, the Catamounts fell in overtime on the road to Hartford this season. Morrison (a former HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year and two-time Best XI selection from Foxboro) was a regular on the pitch for UVM again this season, appearing in 14 total matches with 13 of them as a starter. He scored a pair of goals, both which turned out to be game-winners. He scored the opening goal against Binghamton and another against Hartford in the regular season meeting. He recorded assists against Harvard, Merrimack, and Binghamton.

The Endicott volleyball team earned the CCC championship this year with a sweep over Roger Williams, and two former Franklin Panthers were apart of the winning squad. Last year’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Lauren McGrath dished out 88 assists and landed 27 aces in her first year with the Gulls while also chipping in as a reliable defensive option with 241 digs. She made her collegiate debut in the season-opener against Worcester State. She played in all five sets in a 3-2 win over Amherst with 15 assists and 10 digs. Erin Skidmore, a junior outside hitter, has 25 career kills along with 60 digs.

After guiding Franklin to its first sectional championship last year, middle hitter Hailey Sanders continued her success at the collegiate level with Framingham State. Sanders led the MASCAC in attack percentage (.277), racking up 196 kills on 447 attempts with just 72 errors, and earned All-Conference Second Team honors. Sanders led the Rams and ranked second in the MASCAC in total blocks (68) with 20 solo blocks and 48 block assists. Mansfield’s Lexi Gardner appeared in 10 matches for the second straight season for Framingham, which reached the MASCAC Championship game.

At Bridgewater State, senior goalie Jillian Delaney recorded 172 saves in goal for the Bears’ field hockey squad. A former Foxboro Warriors, Delaney ranked second in the MASCAC in saves, logging over 960 minutes in 16 starts this season. She made 11 saves to help the Bears earn a 2-1 win over Fitchburg on the road, and then turned away 11 shots as BSU edged Framingham a week later. She had a season-high 20 saves on the road at Castleton. Emma Daly, another former Warrior, had two starts and three total appearances at the beginning of the season.

Franklin alum Dylan Kehoe has emerged as one of the top runners for the Merrimack men’s cross country squad, making a favorable impression in his rookie year. The Warriors took first place and repeated as Codfish Bowl champions back in September, which took place at Franklin Park. Kehoe was fifth overall in the race at 27:59 and was the third Warrior to cross the finish line. At the NEC Championship race, Kehoe took 37th overall by clocking in at 27:28.6, the sixth Warrior overall. North Attleboro’s Liam Monahan is also on the squad and ran 28:43.2 back in September at the Shawn M. Nassaney Memorial Road Race at Bryant University.

A pair of Hockomock grads played a vital role in the Regis field hockey team winning four straight games to finish the regular season and an upset in the first round of the GNAC tournament. Stoughton’s Ashley Chipman, a senior forward, started in all 19 contests this season, scoring four goals and adding three assists to finish third on the team with 11 points. She scored a pair of game-winning goals, both coming in that late-season stretch (over Albertus Magnus and Johnson & Wales). Oliver Ames’ Sarah Tetrault, a sophomore defender, joined the starting lineup midway through September and started 14 straight matches, helping the Pride allow just two goals in a five-game stretch at the end of the season.

Down at UMass Dartmouth, a pair of former Hockomock graduates helped the Corsairs earn seven wins this fall. Junior Jordan Martin (Taunton) posted a 3-2 record overall, winning a pair of matches at sixth singles. Martin played with three different doubles partners, going 7-3 overall at second doubles with Michelle Aftandilian, including three wins in Little East Conference action. North Attleboro’s Hana Hershey, also a junior, also played with three doubles partners and earned four wins total, all coming at third doubles.

After missing out on his sophomore season due to injury, Austin Ryan is back on the field for the Bentley football team. The Foxboro grad is second on the team with 36 receptions for 423 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games played, helping the Falcons win the NE-10 Championship. He had three catches for 118 yards and a score in a win over Saint Anselm on November 2nd. King Philip’s Evan Rice appeared in the final three games for the Falcons, recording a pair of tackles plus a tackle for a loss against Franklin Pierce.

The Bridgewater State football team features a handful of former Hockomock League players, including Foxboro defensive back Mark Wilson. Wilson is second on the team in individual tackles (31) and tied for third overall in total tackles (50), averaging 5.6 per game. He has one sack, five pass breakups, and returned an interception for a 46-yard touchdown in a MASCAC win over Worcester State. North Attleboro’s Maxwell Kroll has been in the backfield a bunch for the Bears with five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a blocked kick in nine games played. Freshman Dean Pacini, formerly of Oliver Ames, had 15 tackles in seven games played. Milford alum Michael Casey has been the starting center with North Attleboro’s Austin White to his left as the left guard. North Attleboro’s Thomas Duell, Taunton’s Paul Corrao, Stoughton’s Brendan Walsh, and Canton’s Brian Campagna have all seen time on the offensive line for the Bears, who won the 41st Annual Cranberry Bowl against Mass Maritime to finish the season. Wilson was named to the MASCAC First Defense while Casey and White were selected to the MASCAC Second Team Offense.

Only two players started all 18 games for the Mass. Maritime men’s soccer team this season and Foxboro graduate AJ Bubencik was one of them. A converted forward for the Buccaneers, Bubencik bagged his lone goal of the season in a 3-2 win at home over Becker, which featured King Philip grad Colby Koch and Oliver Ames’ Haendal Louhis, who had an assist.

AIC women’s soccer earned a first-round win in the Northeast-10 Conference tournament over Adelphi in penalty kicks, and Attleboro’s Paige Medeiros was the one who sent the Yellow Jackets into celebration. The teams were tied 0-0 after regulation, and neither side could find the back of the net in two overtime periods to send the first-round game to PKs. The first four Yellow Jackets converted their chances but Adelphi missed its second chance. Medeiros converted the fifth and final shot to give AIC the win. Medeiros logged 1,200 minutes this season, starting in 15 games and appearing in 18 total matches. She scored the game-winning goal in a win over Florida National University.

Former Canton standout and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Elizabeth Hamilton wrapped up her collegiate career this fall, helping the Johnson & Wales volleyball team earn its fifth straight GNAC Title and an NCAA berth. In her four years with the Wildcats, Hamilton had 332 kills with a .215 hitting percentage. She had 537 digs, 74 aces, and 45 total blocks. She was named to the GNAC Third Team during his freshman year and ranked in the top 20 in kills, hitting percentage, blocks, and points that season.

Shannon Cormier continued to be a steady presence for the AIC field hockey team. After starting in all 18 games as a rookie last year, Cormier was in the starting lineup 17 times this year while making one substitute appearance. She ranked third on the team in points, scoring four goals and adding two assists with over 1,000 minutes played…Foxboro’s Lily Daly made 11 appearances in her first year with Assumption, scoring her first collegiate goal in a win on the road at Mercy College…Oliver Ames’ Dimitra Efremidis was a reliable option off the bench for Bentley, recording an assist against Molloy while making 16 appearances this year.




Former Franklin standout Megan Georges wrapped up her career with the New Haven women’s soccer team, capping her four-year stint with the Chargers with 17 appearances (10 starts) this season. After just seven starts through three years, Georges was a regular on the pitch this fall, playing 912 minutes in the midfield. She found the back of the net against league foe St. Anselm and picked up an assist in a big win over Le Moyne. She played over 2,000 minutes in her career, finishing with three goals and four assists.

Taunton’s Amanda Baptiste factored into the scoring for the UMass Lowell women’s cross country team last week at the NCAA Northeast Regional. Baptiste clocked in at 23:03.5, the sixth River Hawk to cross the finish line, taking 215th overall. At the New England Championships in October, Baptiste crossed the finish line at 19:31 in the 5k course, taking third on the team. On the boys’ side, sophomore Jack Kalil (Milford) finished 24th overall at the UMass Dartmouth Invitational, finishing the race in 26:02.3.

Danny McLoughlin, a sophomore on the Saint Anselm golf team, played in one tournament this fall. A former Warrior at King Philip, McLoughlin played in the Penmen Fall Invitational in Canterbury, New Hampshire. He shot an 85 on the first and third days while posting a low round of 82 in the middle day. He finished tied for 69th overall with a 241.

Canton graduate Griffin Roach has made an immediate impact for the Boston University Terriers. After playing 60 minutes off the bench in the season-opener, Roach went on to start the remainder of games at outside back. While he didn’t register a point, he became a vital piece of the defense this year for BU, logging a team-high 1,494 minutes. BU head coach Neil Roberts just announced his retirement after a 40-year career with the Terriers.

Bridgewater State coach Brendan Adams had a plethora of former Hockomock soccer players to work with this season. Eight former Hock players representing three schools (Attleboro, Milford, and Franklin ) all saw time on the pitch for the Bears. Milford’s Justin Borges was the top producer, starting in all 19 games and leading the team with seven goals and three assists for a team-high 17 points. Freshman Joey Madden, another former Scarlet Hawk, also started in all 19 games and added five assists. Attleboro’s Will Halben appeared in all 19 contests in his first year, with 18 starts, and had one goal (against RIC) and four assists. Milford’s Michael Da Silva made two appearances in net with one start and made five saves. Franklin’s Hatim Bahimi made 16 appearances in the midfield with three starts, recording an assist against Westfield State. Milford’s Tiago Filadelfo, Attleboro’s Nick Hasenfus, and Franklin’s Nasir Brahimi all made five appearances.

James Cooke has been a steady presence for the Buccaneers of Mass. Maritime. Cooke started at left guard in all 10 games for the 6-4 Bucs, who finished their season with a loss in the Cranberry Bowl to BSU. Cooke has helped the offense rush for 162.4 yards per game and had to make a tackle in a win over Maine Maritime in the second game of the season, and for his strong season, he was selected to the MASCAC First Team Offense. Sophomore Jay Fruci (Oliver Ames) appeared in six games this year, taking a handoff against Fitchburg and making a tackle against Worcester State.

Attleboro grad Lexi Pereira continues to do it all at the collegiate level, now a top player on the Curry volleyball squad. A former all-around standout for the Bombardiers, Pereira is now the go-to option on offense for the Colonels. She’s the team leader in kills, putting down 256 for the season (8th in the conference) with 2.98 per set, which ranked second in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. She had a team-high 762 total attacks and was a valuable member of the defense with 204 digs. Elsewhere in the CCC, North Attleboro grad Tori Melanson is among the best net defenders in the league. She is second in the CCC with 79 total blocks, which leads the way for Roger Williams. Her 0.99 blocks per set is a conference-best. She also had 106 kills this season.

Attleboro’s Marissa Dias, a junior defender for the Framingham State field hockey team, was just one of five Rams to start in all 18 games this season. She was also a key piece in the offense, scoring a pair of goals while adding two assists this season. Her goal against Westfield State proved to be the game-winner. Another former Bombardier, Meghan Croteau, started four games and made a total of 16 appearances in the midfield for FSU. At Westfield State, OA grad Katie Vamosi started in six games in net, making 10 appearances total, and made 43 saves, earning a shutout win over BSU. North Attleboro’s Shaylee Maxcy made 15 appearances, earning her first collegiate start back in September.

Canton’s Lindsey Nolte and Milford’s Jessica Palmer finished their four years with the Merrimack field hockey team, helping the Warriors transition to Division I. Nolte started in all 17 games this season, scoring once and adding one assist. She scored her final collegiate goal on the road at Dartmouth; she finished her career with 12 goals and seven assists, starting in 55 of the 57 games she played. Palmer also had a goal and an assist in 17 starts this season, her final goal being the game-winner in a 2-1 win over Bryant. Palmer had 11 goals and three assists in 61 starts and 66 total appearances.

Former Oliver Ames standout Ryan McGarry had a solid sophomore campaign with the McDaniel College golf team. He finished in the top 10 in three of the five tournaments he participated in. His best finish was at the Don Scalf Memorial when he shot a 71 on both days, finishing two-under-par for fourth overall. He finished one-under and fifth overall at the Tom Kinder Memorial and tied for ninth at three-under in the Royal Lakes Fall Invitational. He was named the Centennial Conference Men’s Golfer of the Week in early October for his strong showing at the Royal Lakes tournament.

Last year’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Alli Meehan has had little trouble transitioning to D1 college field hockey, having a terrific year for Northeastern. Meehan scored 11 goals, tying for third-most in the Colonial Athletic Association and second-most on the Huskies. She was tied for second in the conference with four game-winning goals and ranked fourth in the league with 28 points (11 goals, six assists). For her stellar play, Meehan was named to the CAA Field Hockey Second Team and the All-Rookie Team. The Huskies fell in the CAA Championship game with Meehan recording an assist.

Former Taunton netminder Kayla Wentworth helped the Endicott women’s soccer team make it all the way to the Commonwealth Coast Conference title game but the Gulls fell 1-0 to the University of New England. In her two years with Endicott, Wentworth started in 33 games with 37 total appearances, making 152 saves with a 0.87 goals against average. She posted a total of 12 shutouts with a record of 19-11-7.

Attleboro’s Nick Lawrence was one of the few bright spots for the Anna Maria men’s soccer team this fall. A junior midfielder, Lawrence appeared in all but one game while starting in 15 of them. He scored four goals, including two game-winners, with one assist for nine points, which was second on the team. He scored the game-winner in the season-opener against Curry and had another winner in a win on the road at Northern Vermont-Johnson.

Canton’s Paolo Ruggeri saw plenty of the pitch in his first season with the Wentworth men’s soccer team. A defender, Ruggeri made seven substitute appearances along with 10 starts for the Leopards, who had a 10-8-2 record and reached the Commonwealth Coast Conference semifinals. North Attleboro’s Ryan Pasquel made three appearances off the bench during the 2019 season.

North Attleboro’s Amelia Murphy led the charge offensively for the Rhode Island College volleyball team this fall. After landing 280 kills during her freshman year, which was second on the team, the sophomore outside hitter had a team-high 263 kills (2.83 per set) during the 2019 campaign. She added 50 total blocks and 11 aces. She ranked eighth in the Little East Conference for kills, seventh for kills per set, and tied for 11th in blocks.

A key player in the development of the Stoughton High volleyball program, Bridgette Whalen wrapped up her collegiate career with Roanoke College this fell. The Maroons earned 57 wins in the four years that Whalen was on the team. She saw the most action during her senior season, featuring in 29 matches with 78 sets played. She had 20 kills and 33 digs while also being a big part of the net defense for Roanoke, recording 24 total blocks this season.

Former Foxboro two-sport standout Abby Tepper is an assistant coach with the top-ranked and top-seeded West Chester University field hockey team. In her first year with the Golden Rams program posted an 18-1 record, falling in the PSAC Semifinals to Kutztown University. Tepper, who got her coaching start with Oliver Ames, is a full-time assistant that helps in every aspect of the day-to-day operations. West Chester, the top seed in the NCAA D2 tournament, opens with a chance at revenge by taking on Kutztown in the first game.

Taunton’s Mario Wilson and Oliver Ames’ Steven Tasho both played for the Bryant University golf team this fall. Tasho played just three rounds, his low score a 77, and finished tied for 56th at the UConn Collegiate Invitational. Wilson participated in three tournaments for the Bulldogs, with a low round of 73. His best finish was 50th at the Ryan T. Lee Memorial Collegiate Invitational.

Former HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jake Ragusa continues to shine at the collegiate level for Merrimack. Now playing in Division I, Ragusa was named a Northeast Conference Prime Performance for six tackle game at Lehigh. Ragusa had 3.5 tackles for a loss to help the Warriors get the win. The redshirt junior has 28 total tackles this year, including a sack and eight for a loss. Another Canton grad, Alec Ragusa, is a redshirt freshman. Sharon’s Bryce Smith has broken up three passes for the Warriors this year, including two and an interception at home against Mayville State. He recorded his first career sack against Presbyterian.

The Merrimack men’s soccer team is fairing just fine in its first season at the Division I level, posting an 11-3-2 regular season mark. Brothers Cam and Connor Mullins have both played a role in helping the Warriors have a successful season, which included going undefeated in Northeast Conference play. Cam, a junior defender, has made five appearances this season, all wins, including a season-high 19 minutes against Robert Morris. Connor, a redshirt sophomore midfielder, has one start in 11 games played and recorded an assist in the win over Robert Morris.

Franklin’s Brian Czuba has been a reliable option off the bench for Nichols College during his senior year, making 17 appearances with two starts. He scored the tying goal in the 87th minute against Gordon, a game that the Bison would go on to win in overtime. He concludes his career at Nichols with over 40 appearances and two goals.

Mansfield alum Steph Kemp had a strong first year with the UMass Lowell women’s soccer squad. For her impressive play, Kemp was named to the America East All-Rookie Team, just one of two River Hawks to make the team. Kemp scored her first career goal in October against UMBC and went on to score two more in the match to finish with a hat trick. That game helped earn her America East Rookie of the Week honors. She finished with 14 appearances, including one start, and 417 minutes played.

Attleboro alums Hannah Tarbox and Michelle Sheehan ranked second and third, respectively, in kills for the Mass Maritime volleyball squad this season. Tarbox, a freshman middle, had 62 kills to go along with seven blocks in her first collegiate season. Sheehan, a senior outside hitter, 61 kills, 127 assists, 29 aces, 57 digs, and 11 total blocks for the Buccaneers. Sheehan finished with 184 kills in her four years along 899 assists and 465 digs.

Former Mansfield Hornet Julia Todesco appeared in 18 games for the Tufts field hockey team this fall. All appearances came as a substitute, giving the Jumbos a reliable option off the bench. Todesco scored a pair of goals in a win over Connecticut College and also had an assist in a close win over Hamilton. Tufts had its season come to a close in the third round of the NCAA tournament, falling to Johns Hopkins in overtime.

Gabe Pinhancos, a former midfielder for North Attleboro, had a strong sophomore season for Southern New Hampshire University. The Penmen, who tallied a 9-4-4 record, had its season come to a close in penalty kicks in the NE10 conference quarterfinals against Saint Rose. Pinhancos made 15 total appearances with 10 of them as a starter. He scored his first career collegiate goal in Hockomock territory in Easton in a win on the road at Stonehill.

Former Sharon star Ally Filipkowski became a go-to option for Fairfield University women’s soccer coach David Barrett. After transferring to Fairfield from George Washington following her freshman year, Filipkowski became a reliable reserve for the Stags. She appeared in all but one match this season, helping Fairfield post an 11-6-3 record, and earning three starts. She scored her first goal for the red and white in October in a 2-0 win over Manhattan, finishing off a cross int he 62nd minute to give the hosts an insurance tally.

Derek Pereira, a former Taunton Tiger, made four starts and nine total appearances for AIC in his senior season. He started the first three games of the season and then again against Franklin Pierce, helping the Yellow Jackets make a late push for the NE10 title. AIC knocked off nationally-ranked Adelphi in the opening round but fell to Assumption in the semifinal. Pereira featured in both games, logging 39 minutes in the upset over Adelphi. He had two goals and one assist this season, all coming in a regular-season win over the Greyhounds. He netted the game-winning goal in a 4-1 win.

Framingham State football concluded its regular season with a 47-6 trashing of Worcester State, and all three former Hockomock players now representing the Rams factored in. King Philip alum Brian Donahue had a team-high 12 tackles, including four solo. He was also a regular in the backfield, recording one sack (for a 12-yard loss) and a total of 3.5 tackles for loss. Earlier this season, Donahue forced a fumble against Westfield and Fitchburg. Franklin’s Nick Gordon completed a pair of passes for 25 yards while Taunton’s Noah Leonard also completed two passes from under center. The Rams travel to Wesley for the first round of the NCAA tournament this weekend.

OA’s Friend Has St. Anselm Poised for Postseason Run

Hannah Friend
Former OA standout Hannah Friend lines up a hit against St. Michael’s. The senior forward recently became the program’s all-time leading scorer. (Jim Stankiewicz/St. Anselm College)

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With a 3-0 win this week against Franklin Pierce, the St. Anselm field hockey team improved to 15-2 and set a new program record for wins in a season. The Hawks also clinched at least a share of the NE-10 regular season title heading into Saturday’s finale against St. Thomas Aquinas. Leading the way again this year is former Oliver Ames standout Hannah Friend, who recently became the program’s all-time leading scorer.

Friend, who was the first HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year in 2013 and the 2014 Player of the Year, is second on the Hawks this season with eight goals and 23 points and has a team-high seven assists. She now has 35 goals and 25 assists in her career, both program records, and her 95 points is 21 more than the previous record holder.

“I don’t really care about stats,” Friend explained this week. She joked, “The only reason I knew I was close is one time I came into my coach’s office and she was like, ‘Not to freak you out but you’re two goals from the record.’ I was like, oh cool and I hope I get them.”

Friend added, “It’s great to see that hard work is paying off and it’s a humbling experience for sure. Everyone who is working around me has helped me get there. It’s kind of like a team accomplishment.”

The team is soaring through another strong season, recording shutouts in all 15 of its wins (another program best). Although there is still another regular season game to play, and to celebrate the seniors, Friend is focused on the one thing missing from her collegiate resume – an NE-10 tournament title.

St. Anselm has been in the mix each of the past three years. Last season, the Hawks lost 2-1 in overtime to rival Merrimack, in 2017 it was a double overtime 3-2 loss to LIU Post, and in 2016 the Hawks suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Post in the championship game.

After reaching two finals and a semifinal, Friend is ready to lift the trophy and feels like the Hawks have the potential to get there.

 

“We talk about this all the time with the seniors,” she said with a laugh. “We’ve been there way too many times without bringing it home. We just work towards it every day and just hope that if we get there we bring our ‘A’ game and work our butts off and bring it home. We have everything except the championship, so it would mean a lot obviously.”

The Hawks, currently ranked No. 4 in Div. II, have also been a regular in the NCAA tournament over the past three seasons (the only DII tournament appearances in program history). They earned a first round win over Stonehill in 2016 to reach the final four, but lost in the first round in each of the last two years.

“That would be the best thing ever,” Friend said about a national title. “We definitely have the potential for sure this year and we just have to pay attention to the littlest detail and make sure everyone is working hard and no one is slacking off and just grind it through. We can’t letdown.”

Field hockey is a family affair for Friend. Her mother was a standout player, who played with the Canadian national team, her brother has coached the sport, and her sister also played. Friend picked up the sport in fifth grade at the suggestion of a classmate, much to her mother’s delight. “I brought it up to my mom and she literally lost it,” Friend joked. Her mother began a middle school program and now has two club teams running in Easton.

After her stellar career at OA, Friend made the leap to the collegiate game and seemed to have no problem with the transition to the next level, starting 21 games as a freshman and scoring a team-high seven goals.

“I was definitely really nervous at first because I didn’t know what to expect,” Friend said about her freshman season. “I worked really hard over the summer. Our team is so supportive and we just have such a great environment that you feel comfortable and the more comfortable you are than the more confident you are and it lets you play to the best of your ability.”

The comfort level that she felt as a rookie is something that she is now, as a senior, trying to impart on the younger players in the program.

“The more everyone feels a part of the team, the more comfortable everyone is with each other, the better everyone is going to play,” she said. “I make sure to reach out to everyone and individually build a relationship with each girl, which I think really helps a lot. The more you can be connected with your team, the better.”

Those connections are helped by the fact that many of the players on the team are familiar faces from countless battles in the Hockomock League. Six current players on the roster are from Hock schools, including OA (junior Kendall Clifford), King Philip (freshman Emma Izydorczak), and Canton (senior Mary Nee, junior Andrea McNeil, and freshman Maggie Malloy), which continues a trend at St. Anselm in particular and the NE-10 in general.

“It’s just funny when you’re playing against them and now we obviously have to let that go because now we’re playing together,” said Friend, who said Nee is now her roommate and one of her best friends.

As the regular season winds down and the end of her field hockey career approaches, Friend is trying to keep things in perspective and enjoy her time with teammates.

“We’re always just go, go, go with practices and games and everything,” she said, “but at the end of the day I always just try to take it all in because I know that in a month, regardless of if we make it all the way, I’m not going to have this opportunity, which is sad.

“It’s definitely important to appreciate all the little moments, even the things like working out or pushing yourself, because it’s going to be sad when it’s all over.”

Editor’s Note – Hannah Friend scored two goals and assisted on a third on Saturday against St. Thomas Aquinas, as the Hawks clinched the outright regular season NE-10 title with a 6-0 win. She is the first player in program history to reach 100 points for her career.

Taunton’s Vincent Moving Up BSU Scoring Charts

Alana Vincent
Taunton grad Alana Vincent has battled back from an injury that ended her sophomore season and is climbing the all-time scoring list at Bridgewater State. (Bridgewater State Athletics)

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With a brace against Wentworth on Thursday, taking her total to 10 goals for the season, former Taunton standout Alana Vincent took over sole possession of seventh place on the all-time scoring list at Bridgewater State. Despite missing almost all of her sophomore season to injury, the senior forward and two-time All-MASCAC performer continues to solidify her place among the program’s top goal scorers.

“It feels amazing,” Vincent said the day after her two goals against Wentworth. “Honestly, I didn’t even know I was close to being that until I started reading the bottom of the pages of the articles [on the BSU website]. I just want to keep going and get as many points as I can every game.”

Vincent has 64 points for her career and is just a point short of sixth place and 12 points behind fifth place, which is held by former King Philip star and Foxboro coach Kaitlin Lamothe-Vaughn.

She could already be at that level if not for the ankle injury that she suffered as a sophomore. Coming off an all-conference rookie year, in which she led the Bears with six goals and 13 points, Vincent tore the AFTL (anterior talofibular ligament) in her right ankle during a September practice.

“I went to stop a girl from shooting the ball and I didn’t lock my ankle,” she explained. “When I landed down on it, it just rolled every which way. I knew immediately when it happened that I was done. It swelled up immediately, all the way up to my leg, it was bad.”

It was the first serious injury that Vincent had suffered in her career and she struggled having to watch her team make a run at the postseason without her. She said, “I didn’t even cry when it happened but when I was told I was out for the rest of the season is when I broke down.” The rehab process was a long one, and Vincent found herself having to rebuild the strength in her leg after being forced to wear a boot and being on crutches.

Just before the start of preseason in her junior year, Vincent’s ankle wasn’t responding the way that the doctors hoped, so they gave her a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection to facilitate the healing process and avoid another surgery. It worked. Vincent made it back on the pitch at the start of preseason, although there were still some mental hurdles to get past as well.

 

“I was so excited,” she recalled. “I mean, I was nervous going in, just recapturing it in my head that I would do the same thing over and over again, but it felt great being back on the field with my team. My coach knew and kept saying, ‘You can’t be scared. You can’t be scared,’ because that can only make it worse.

“Going half into a tackle is worse than going into a full tackle but as soon as I got the confidence back in me I was good.”

The confidence returned quickly and Vincent got right back among the goals for the Bears. She finished her junior season with seven goals and an assist and was named to the all-conference team for the second time.

“Not playing sophomore year has given me so much motivation because I missed so many games and it really dawned on me that I only had two years left to give it my all,” Vincent said. “I knew I missed out on one season, so I needed to kill it on the next two.”

That mantra has continued into her senior year. She has scored 10 goals, including a pair of game winners, and recorded four assists. The Bears had a tough non-league schedule but have won six of the last nine games, including a 2-1 record in the MASCAC, heading into Saturday’s game with Salem State.

“It was tough to see those losses and overcome them but it was early in the season and our schedule was very hard,” she said. “We’ve definitely improved from there and learned from our mistakes in those games.”

While she was at Taunton, Vincent didn’t really consider that her career would continue beyond high school. After playing for the Tigers as an eighth grader, she transferred to Bristol-Plymouth for two years to study cosmetology. When she realized that she didn’t see a future in that career, she came back to Taunton and was part of the best season in the program’s history.

Vincent scored the game-winner against Mansfield to earn the Tigers a first-ever playoff appearance and then added a goal and an assist against Wellesley to secure the team’s first state tournament victory as well.

“I still think about the game that we beat Mansfield and it got us in the playoffs for the first time in a decade or something like that,” Vincent said. “I just think about the goal I got and the excitement that ran through your body knowing that you’d overcome such a hard thing to beat because Taunton was never known to get into the playoffs.”

Even as a senior at Taunton, Vincent wasn’t thinking about continuing her soccer career in college, but the opportunity arose to play at BSU and she jumped at it. That is a decision that has paid off for Vincent and for the Bears. Now, as she looks to the end of her collegiate career, Vincent is focused on adding another dramatic finish by leading the Bears to a MASCAC crown.

“It’s my last year, so I want to put my all into it,” she explained. “It would be an amazing accomplishment just because I know we’ve worked so hard as a group and individually I’ve worked so hard and I would love that my senior year.

“All together we have a lot of talent and, when we bring that all to the table, we’re an amazing team. We just need to do that every game.”

Editor’s Note – Bridgewater State moved above .500 on the season and to 3-1 in the MASCAC with a 2-0 victory over Salem State on Saturday. Vincent assisted on the game-winning goal with a left-footed cross in the seventh minute that was headed home for an early 1-0 lead. With that assist, Vincent moves into a tie for sixth place on the program’s all-time scoring list. Mansfield’s Kaitlyn Bongarzone was part of the Bears’ defense that held on for a clean sheet, while Milford grad Katie Brown, who was featured in an earlier story, played for Salem State.

Milford’s Brown Finds Her Groove at Salem State

Katie Brown
Fornmer Milford standout Katie Brown has scored 11 goals over the past two seasons and become one of Salem State’s all-time leaders in scoring. (SportsPix)

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Over her first two seasons at Salem State, Katie Brown scored six goals. It was a decent return for the Milford grad, who earned 25 starts and 33 appearances as a freshman and sophomore, but then something clicked heading into last season.

“It was all mentality,” Brown explained. “My spring semester at school I was struggling, my mental health was struggling, so I turned towards working out. I was lifting every day, which got me physically stronger and from that I was getting mentally stronger.

“From there, I was just ready to prove to myself that there was more in me. I only had two years left, so I just went for it. I was just ready. I knew I had more to prove than I did my freshman and sophomore year and I knew I had more in me.”

Brown committed herself to working out all summer, made every spring practice, and that extra effort paid off with a team-leading eight goals, helping the Vikings reach the MASCAC final. The momentum from 2018 has extended to her senior season, as Brown has already tallied three goals and two assists in seven games this fall, including one of each in the conference opener against Westfield State.

These last two seasons have propelled Brown up the career leaderboard at Salem State. She is now tied for third in career goals (eight behind the leader) and tied for fifth all-time in points (five behind second place). Brown, who was named a team captain this season, is also tied for sixth with three game-winning goals.

“I think that having those stats to back-up my passion for this game just shows all of the work that I’ve put in through basically my whole life,” Brown said. “It’s cool that even after I graduate those stats will still be there to remind me of the best times that I’ve had in my life playing soccer.”

Brown admitted that she has come a long way from the player that left Milford to come to Salem. For the Hawks, she was more of a playmaker, sitting in behind the forward or dropping back into the midfield to create opportunities for her teammates. Not that she wasn’t capable of scoring her fair share of goals, such as a five-goal game against Hudson that earned her HockomockSports.com Player of the Week honors her senior season, but it wasn’t her main focus.

 

Now, Brown is more than willing to take on defenders and has the confidence to go to goal herself, heeding the advice of her coaches and teammates.

“I feel like I’m a totally different player than I was in high school,” she said. “My confidence overall in taking players on one-on-one, taking those shots, just really finding that grit from down within to score for my team in those crucial moments.

“Coming in I think I was just very unsure of myself and now as a senior I’m definitely one of the quietest players but my coach always says, you are so important to this team because of leading by example and playing for your teammates.”

Brown talked a lot about her teammates. She credited the relationship and chemistry between her teammates for pushing the Vikings to last year’s conference final and for keeping the positivity high despite losing several key pieces from last year’s squad.

“Just having the team be my best friends, you just want to win for them,” she explained. “I train so hard in the summer so that, when I show up, I just want to play and I just want to win. If you show up for your teammates, then you’re going to start to win and develop that intensity.”

It wasn’t the best start to the season for the Vikings, with two wins in their opening seven games, but they did exact some revenge on Westfield State (the team that beat them in the final in 2018) with a 2-0 victory. Brown, who has dealt with an ankle injury and illness this season, assisted on the first goal and then added a second in the 78th minute with a half-volley to seal the points.

Although the Vikings would lose the following game, beating Westfield was a marker that Salem State would be able to challenge for a MASCAC title again this fall.

“I know coming in we had a lot of skeptics considering we lost all but one of our all-conference players, and definitely key players in our defense, but I think since we won against Westfield State that definitely made a statement in the league,” Brown said.

She has been playing soccer all her life. Her father and her older sisters both played and Brown talked about a photo of her holding a soccer ball at just two years old. It has been a long road to get to this point, a lot of training, a lot of club, high school, and college game, and Brown struggled to put into words what it would mean to close out her career with a conference title.

“I think it would just be a relief,” she said. “I’ve been playing soccer for 18 years, from club to all through high school, gone through all the struggles. I don’t even know how I would react, to be honest. It’s one of those things that you can’t explain how hard you’ve worked to win a championship and this is a team that I think can do it.”

Salem State will be back on the pitch on Saturday against conference rival Worcester State.

Attleboro’s Murphy Garners National Attention at URI

Kyle Murphy
Attleboro High grad Kyle Murphy earned first-team all-conference honors last year and is in the running for All-American honors this season for URI. (URI Athletics)

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A couple of seasons ago, the University of Rhode Island football program was an afterthought not only in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), but nationally. When Attleboro High grad Kyle Murphy was a freshman, the Rams finished 2-9 and lost several games by lopsided margins. Murphy’s first collegiate start was against perennial power James Madison. The Rams lost 84-7.

But over the past three years, URI has become a program on the rise. The Rams went 6-5 last season and enter 2019 eyeing an elusive playoff spot and expecting to challenge for a CAA title. It has been quite a turnaround.

“Just looking back when my 2020 class came in, we really set the foundation and we’ve all matured, and we’ve all grown so much and it’s nice to see how much hard work can turn a program around,” said Murphy. “It even made us closer, telling each other how far we’ve come and how far we can go not only as players but as people.”

Murphy has also come a long way from his debut three years ago. He has developed into one of the top offensive linemen not only in the CAA but also in the country. He started 10 games at left tackle last season (and one at center to fill in for an injury) earning first team All-CAA honors. With Murphy leading the line, the Rams rushed for more than 120 yards per game, their highest total in six seasons, and scored 15 rushing touchdowns, which was the highest in 11 years.

Ahead of the new season, the 6-foot-4, 302-pound tackle was named to several preseason All-American teams. Pro scouts are now being spotted at the new Meade Stadium turf and at preseason camps and workouts looking at URI players.

“They’ve seen the strides we’ve made and they know we have the talent here,” Murphy said. “It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come and how much attention we’ve drawn.”

Murphy was a standout at Attleboro, earning 2013 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors and being named to this site’s awards as a defensive lineman in 2014 and an offensive lineman in 2015. When he made the decision to go to URI, Murphy decided to focus on the offensive side of the ball.

 

He explained, “I started to grow such a passion for playing offensive line. It’s a different kind of bond you have with the five guys you’re playing with. I love coming in everyday, playing with the guys, and just competing with each other.”

Of course, the leap from high school to college was a challenge. No longer was Murphy the biggest guy on the field and he had to match the speed of the game and of the players that he was trying to keep out of the backfield. To meet the demands of the collegiate level, Murphy focused on his technique.

He progressed from a raw talent into a regular starter at multiple positions across the line. He started all 11 games as a sophomore, six at left guard and five at right tackle. By his junior season, he was the team’s starting left tackle.

“Everybody’s going to be as strong as you or as fast as you and you really need to rely on your techniques when it’s crunch time in a game or when you’re going up against someone that’s bigger or stronger than you,” he said. “If you have better technique, that beats anything all day.”

These are lessons that were ingrained in Murphy during his time at Attleboro. Working under the Bombardiers line coach Chris Burns, who played four years at Northeastern University, Murphy knew what he was prepared for the challenges he would face at URI.

“He taught me how to be a physical player, how to guide the guys around me, and all the coaches in high school taught me how to have good character and how to have a mentality to never quit,” Murphy reflected.

The hard work continues to pay off. Although the Rams started the season with a pair of losses, at Ohio and in triple overtime to Delaware, there is a new confidence in the program and high expectations for the season. The ultimate goal is to get into the postseason picture, bringing even more recognition and attention to the program.

“We just need to build on finishing game and the little things like mental errors and getting stupid penalties, but we’re looking good,” Murphy said. “It’s only the little things that we need to critique. Our structure and everything is looking solid.”

Being named to the all-conference team, being on the New England Football Writer’s Association All-New England team, and having national publications put him on preseason All-American lists has not diminished Murphy’s desire to improve.

“It was just a wake up call for me that I had the potential to be one of the best in the conference and even one of the best in the nation,” he said. “It gave me a lot of confidence but also gave me more motivation to keep striving for more and more and set my goals even higher.

“I’m a humble guy and I’m hard on myself, but this year I set my goals even higher because I know I can reach them.”

As a team captain and as the senior leader of the offensive line group, Murphy is spreading that message to all his teammates this season. Never a very vocal leader, Murphy is trying to set the example with his effort and desire for improvement because he knows that can be contagious.

While his focus remains on this season and finishing his collegiate career on a high, the possibility of being able to extend his football career beyond college is impossible to ignore. It has been a long journey from the Pop Warner fields in Attleboro.

“I remember just wanting to play football for the fun of it and then realizing that I maybe had the chance to get a scholarship and play in college,” Murphy said. “It does hit me sometimes to see how far I’ve come and see how much more I can do.

“Honestly, it’s shocking sometimes to realize how I never even thought about playing at the next level but these last couple years have changed my mind about everything. It’s exciting to see what the future ahead of me holds.”

KP’s DeLuca Ends Record-Setting Career at Illinois Tech

Alyssa DeLuca
King Philip grad Alyssa DeLuca wrapped an impressive career at Illinois Tech as the program’s all-time leading scorer and as a four-time first team all-conference selection. (Stephen Bates, WCS Photography)

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The email from Illinois Institute of Technology coach Kirk Lamitie came as a surprise. Alyssa DeLuca was playing in a club lacrosse tournament in Virginia with the Mass Mavericks, but, the King Philip alum admitted in a phone call this week, the game that the coach saw was not her best.

“I literally fell and lost my stick and my goggles and everything went flying,” she said with a laugh. “I was so shocked that I got an email from any of the coaches for that game.”

It may not have been her finest moment on the field, but it couldn’t have turned out any better. DeLuca had never heard of Illinois Tech, which started the transition from an NAIA program to an NCAA Div. III program in 2015, but she went for a visit to the Chicago campus. It was an instant connection with the school, the team, and her future teammates.

“I could really see myself playing with those people for the next four years,” she explained. “That was pretty exciting. It just kind of felt right when I went out there. The cards just got dealt really well in Virginia. I was very lucky.”

Illinois Tech was very lucky as well. DeLuca made an instant impact with the Scarlet Hawks, scoring 50 goals her freshman year, and she went on to become the program’s most decorated player and its all-time leading scorer. She scored 221 goals in four years and was named to the Midwest Women’s Lacrosse Conference (MWLC) First Team all four years of her career.

She reflected, “It’s honestly kind of unreal to think I was able to make an impact in the conference and on my team for four years.”

Her season and playing career had come to an end just a couple of weeks before and she struggled to put into words how it felt. “It’s special because when you pick a program that you want to play for, sometimes you might not get a lot of minutes…being able to come out and play every minute of every game…thinking back on it….it was so rewarding that I put in so many hours in the sport over the years and I just feel honored to be recognized.”

 

Making the transition from high school to college is always difficult, especially when you have to balance athletics with academics and especially when you are traveling halfway across the country, but DeLuca believes that her being on the lacrosse team and having that instant cohort of friends made the move to Chicago considerably easier.

She said, “It definitely allows you to assimilate better into the school and my roommate that I lived with was also on the lacrosse team and on the same floor as all the other freshmen, so we got really close and it helped us. We were all very far from home.”

On the field, the freshman class was given plenty of opportunities during fall ball to learn the new system, become comfortable with each other, and to be ready to start the spring season. The preparation worked, as DeLuca stormed onto the scene, starting all 15 games and leading the team with 50 goals as a rookie.

“When we went out on the field we were playing like we’d been playing together for all four years of high school,” DeLuca said of her freshman campaign. “That whole fall ball and right up to our first game, we were set up with the right amount of fun and the right amount of discipline.”

Although she felt comfortable getting out on the field, she surprised evev herself with the level of success that she achieved that spring. “Halfway through the season, you look at the conference stats and you go. ‘Holy crap, I’m leading the conference in goals? I’m only a freshman, what is this?’”

If her freshman year was a warning to the conference of what she and Illinois Tech were capable of, then her sophomore season took it to another level. DeLuca scored 77 goals in 17 matches that spring and the Scarlet Hawks put together a record of 15-2, sharing the regular season conference title.

The only thing missing from that season was the opportunity to play in the conference tournament. Because Illinois Tech was in the midst of the five-year transition process to NCAA DIII standing, the Scarlet Hawks couldn’t play in the postseason. While this was obviously a disappointment, DeLuca also saw the positive side of things. The team always ended the season on senior night, always played at home, and also won each of those games. It was far different from the abrupt ending of a tournament loss on a random field.

“Everyone’s dream when they come to college is to get the chance to play in the NCAAs and it was definitely a little frustrating that we weren’t allowed to play,” she admitted. “It was humbling to say now we need to just start focusing on next year but it also offered a nice closure to a season.”

This past summer, Illinois Tech officially joined DIII, which meant that the Scarlet Hawks would compete for the first time in the MWLC Tournament. DeLuca said there was a noticeable increase in the team’s energy knowing that for the first time the Hawks had something to play for beyond the regular season.

“We had something to play for this season and every win or loss mattered so much more,” she said. “You fight a little bit harder for every ground ball and you maybe pick your feet up a little faster in the midfield to get back quicker on defense and it definitely added that little bit of a spark that drove us really hard.”

They went 10-5 in the regular season and entered the postseason as the No. 2 seed. DeLuca wasn’t the team’s top scorer this season, although she still finished with 47 goals and 11 assists but she showed off her all-around game, leading the team in caused turnovers with 44, and also grabbing 52 ground balls and 32 draw controls. Illinois Tech led at halftime against No. 3 Aurora but the Spartans dominated after the break to pull away and advance to the conference finals.

Even though her scoring numbers were down a little this spring, DeLuca was once again recognized as a first team all-conference performer. “I tried to step up as more of a go-getter, causing turnovers and getting those ground balls and still being recognized for all that hard work it made me realize you get what you give to the sport,” DeLuca remarked.

DeLuca, who has one more year left to get a Master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering, played in 63 of a possible 65 games during her four years. It may have started with a chance encounter at a club tournament four years ago, but her collegiate career turned into a positive experience for her and for the Illinois Tech program.

“It was a lot more fun because you’re playing with people who love playing and not because it’s easy to play after school,” DeLuca explained. “It’s definitely more people who are really passionate about the sport and the traveling was a lot of fun. I got to see a lot of different places in the Midwest and across the country. I think it was a more challenging experience than playing in high school and more rewarding.”

North’s Caster Embracing New Role at UMass Lowell

Hana Caster
North Attleboro grad Hana Caster (24) has made the switch from attacker to defender at UMass Lowell and was recently recognized for her defensive play by the America East. (Bob Ellis/UMass Lowell Athletics)

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Until the middle of her sophomore year of college, Hana Caster had defined her lacrosse career by scoring and setting up goals. She scored more than 100 points her senior year of high school alone, but her coaches at UMass Lowell saw something more in her game and moved her into a new, defensive role. She is no longer counted on to score goals but to try and prevent them.

It was admittedly not an easy transition for the former North Attleboro star and 2016 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, but with time Caster has grown into her new position and earlier this season was named America East Defensive Player of the Week, a sign of her growing comfort level and confidence in defense.

“Yep, I’m a defender,” Caster said with a chuckle during a phone conversation following the team’s loss to the University of Albany in March. Right before practice at the midpoint of last season, the UMass Lowell coaches told Caster they had a surprise. She was no longer going to be in the River Hawks midfield but be the backer in their zone defense.

“I was not very confident on my defensive skills,” she admitted. “I wasn’t 100 percent confident that that’s where I was going to best help my team but, you know, got through it the last eight games. I wasn’t great at it, but I got through it.”

Although she suffered a ligament injury in her foot that kept her out of fall ball, Caster was able to watch the game from the sideline, studying her new position, and came into this spring determined to be better and more comfortable in front of her own goal.

“This season, I was just like, alright wherever they put me I’m going to do the best I can and I’m really enjoying the position,” she explained. “I’ve tried to use my offensive mindset on defense because at first I was like this is boring, I don’t want to just stop the ball, but now I’m thinking, okay I’m going to get the ball back so we can get back on offense. I never realized how fun low defense could be.”

As a former attacker, Caster uses her experience on offense to help anticipate what opponents are going to be doing. She can read the hips of a driving attacker, realize what she would have done with the ball, and jump the play to prevent the ball getting to goal. She can also use her new vantage point to give advice to the River Hawks attackers about what might work best.

 

Caster’s speed was one of her biggest assets, both in lacrosse and on the soccer pitch, and she got most of her 34 career goals in transition. Playing defense could lead to some chances to convert a turnover into a fast break, when she has the energy to burst forward. “Defense is tiring,” she said with a laugh. “Sometimes I’m like, I don’t know if I can run this ball up. More often than not I run it over to the attackers and let them do their thing.”

UMass Lowell coach Carissa Medeiros noted that Caster wasn’t originally on the recruiting radar but drew the attention of the coaching staff at a summer clinic that Caster attended the summer before her senior season at North. After the three-day clinic, Medeiros said it was imperative that Caster come back in for an official visit. The coach had no idea at that point she would be moving Caster from midfield to defense.

“We had to convince her to trust us that her value is much more dynamic than that, and quite honestly, focusing on just that aspect of her game had been holding her back,” Medeiros said.

Medeiros added that there were several “teary-eyed meetings” as Caster learned her new position, but that there has been definite growth from her first game at defense to now. She said, “It’s a spot that allows all of her strengths to shine, while also allowing her to spend some time working on fine-tuning the rest of her skills.”

Caster’s progress was confirmed earlier this season when she was named the America East Defensive Player of the Week. “I didn’t know that I could be noticed for playing good defense because I don’t notice that,” Caster joked. “It is gratifying to just know that I am in a good place and my hard work is paying off.” The River Hawks went 1-1 that week, and Caster recorded seven draw controls, six ground balls, and eight caused turnovers.

While UMass Lowell is a relatively young lacrosse program, having only started in 2015, Caster entered this season in the top 10 all-time in career goals, assists, points, ground balls, draw controls, and caused turnovers. She has found success no matter where the River Hawks have lined her up, but Caster said that it took time to get her footing at the collegiate level.

“It’s definitely a humbling experience to play a college sport,” she explained. “The first half of my freshman season, every time I got the ball I would just pass it because I was almost scared to make mistakes. I did eventually get it but it was a tough transition.”

Caster continued, “I think I have learned more about the game of lacrosse in the past three years than I did my entire career…You learn so much so quickly and I think it’s stressful as a freshman but now as a junior I finally feel like a seasoned player.”

Medeiros appreciates the willingness of an upperclassman to take on a new role and the positive message that it sends to her teammates. “Hana is definitely amongst those rare players that can put their own thoughts aside for the betterment of the team,” Medeiros explained. “And in doing so, she has developed into one of the most valuable players on our roster.”

The River Hawks have struggled during their first few seasons, having only won 12 games all-time coming into 2019. Having top 20 teams like Stony Brook and Albany in the conference certainly doesn’t help the growing pains of a new program, but Caster appreciates the challenge of building a new legacy in Lowell.

She had a similar experience in North Attleboro. Her senior season, in which she scored 61 goals and led the Hockomock League with 46 assists, was the first time that North hosted a playoff game. The Rocketeers opened the playoffs with a win before losing to eventual state finalist Walpole. That season helped change the expectations around the program and Caster wants to do the same in college.

“That’s one of the biggest why I came here to play,” she said. “I like being the underdog and I loved my high school career and loved leaving the field for the last time and feel like we started something here.

“If that were to happen again, which I’m fully confident that it will, it would be like repeating history and I’d love to end my career knowing that I was part of building two programs.”

OA Grad Ferrara Keeps Swinging for MASCAC Crown

Mike Ferrara
Former Oliver Ames standout Mike Ferrara, now a senior at Worcester State, has continued his success at the plate at the collegiate level, batting over .400 over the first 16 games of the season. (Worcester State University Athletics)

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Worcester State baseball got off to a great start to the season, going 6-2 on its annual trip to Florida and winning seven games in a row to open the season with only two losses in the opening nine games. While the Lancers have come back down to Earth a little, with only two wins in their last eight games, senior outfielder Mike Ferrara continues to put up huge numbers.

The Oliver Ames grad and former HockomockSports.com First Teamer is batting .421 and has a hit in all but three games for the Lancers this season. This comes as no surprise to people who watched him set a single-season hit record for the Tigers during his senior year, when he recorded 37 hits in the 2015 season, finishing with a .521 average.

Hitting has always been Ferrara’s forte, but this season he has been on fire at the plate right from the start of spring.

“I usually pick up my pace in the warm weather and then bring it up here,” Ferrara said during a phone conversation before the Lancers kicked off MASCAC play. “Usually we don’t start in Florida, but this year we happened to, so it was good to get myself hot early and then try to carry it over up North.”

When he was asked about the Lancers getting off to a strong start this spring, Ferrara pointed to the preparation that the team put in during the off-season. Starting with fall ball and into the winter, the team has been getting ready to turn around a disappointing 2018, in which the Lancers were 12-26, and get back to the levels of 2017 where Worcester State got hot late in the season and won the MASCAC tournament title.

“In the off-season everyone’s in the weight room, everyone’s hitting every day, all of our pitchers were throwing because we had a really tough season last year and we all had the mindset to turn things around this year,” he explained. “So far, so good, and we’re just trying to keep things going.”

While things slipped a little for the team, Ferrara continues to rake. He leads the team in average (.421), slugging (.684), and RBI (15). He is also second in stolen bases (six) and runs scored (13) and third in on-base percentage (.485) and walks (eight) entering a two-game weekend set with Bridgewater State.

 

“I’m just getting into better counts, a lot of good hitter counts for myself,” he said. Getting up with runners on base has also helped him get set to go. “Pitchers are a little nervous when you’re up with runners on,” he remarked, “and I’m getting into good counts and basically putting good swings on the ball, putting it in play, and producing runs.”

Ferrara said that he has kept essentially the same approach since high school. He continues to train in the winter with Terence O’Malley of TJO Sports in Canton, just like he has since his sophomore year at OA, and goes into each at-bat focused on her timing.

“That’s my big thing – if I’m not on time, then I’m not going to be getting any hits,” he said. Of course some things have changed since making the leap to collegiate baseball. “You see guys with a lot of pitches, more arm slots. If you’re hitting well then you’re going to see more curveballs and changeups and if you’re not then they’ll try to put you out with the fastball.”

He added, “I kind of work with the same things that I’ve been doing and luckily, it’s still been successful. I’m blessed.”

Being comfortable at the plate is critical to succeed against college-level pitching and Ferrara seems to have found his groove. He went hitless in the season opener against Mount Union in Kissimmee, Fla. and then got at least one hit in nine straight games, highlighted by a 4-for-6 game against Keene State that earned him MASCAC Player of the Week honors.

After going hitless in back-to-back games against WPI and Westfield State, Ferrara is back on track. He has two hits in each of his last four games, although he only has one RBI in the last seven games after 14 in his first nine.

“It’s always good to get recognized,” he said, “but I’m at the point in my career where I’m just trying to focus on winning. It’s nice to get a little recognition but we’re always trying to win games and trying to get back to the conference championship.”

Two years ago, the Lancers went on a run through the conference tournament, beating Framingham State 10-3 and 1-0 in the final series to book a spot in the NCAA tournament. While that was fun as a sophomore, getting back to that stage as a senior would be particularly special.

“We know that everyone’s going to need to pitch in and it’s going to take a team effort to get back there but we know we have the pieces,” Ferrara explained. “It’s coming to an end soon, so you have to be putting it all together to win games. There’s no turning back after this.”

As the Lancers enter April, the games start to come thick and fast and the season turns into a grind to try and move up the conference standings. There may only be a few days off and it takes a lot of work to balance life, school, and baseball, Ferrara is never going to pass up the chance to play baseball every day.

Ferrara said, “Bodies are tired, arms are getting short, but you’ve got to put it together. Just knowing that you’re waking up playing a baseball game, there’s nothing better, especially once everyone’s fired up for conference it gets even better.

“I love playing,” he added. “This is the best time of the year, playing baseball, so we’re just looking forward to continuing this season and hopefully seeing some success.”

KP’s King Grabs the Goal Scoring Crown at Clark

Brandon King
KP alum Brandon King (19) is on the verge of becoming the all-time leading goal-scorer in the Clark University men’s lacrosse program. (Clark University Athletics)

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It was already a special game for the Clark University men’s lacrosse program, as the Cougars hosted Coast Guard Academy in the fourth annual Renny Classic to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s research, but it became a record-breaking night with three minutes left in the first half. Senior attacker Brandon King scored his fourth goal of the night, putting Clark up 7-0, breaking the program’s record for career goals.

The King Philip alum finished with six goals and two assists in the 14-13 loss to Coast Guard, moving his career total to 124 goals, three more than the previous record of 121. King is also sixth in career points.

“I didn’t walk into Clark thinking that this would ever be an opportunity in front of me but walking out I’m really happy that I might be able to leave my legacy,” said King in an interview two days before he broke the record.

He added, “I’m walking into this Coast Guard game looking to score as many goals as I can. Obviously, four would be huge and getting that goal in the Renny Classic would be pretty cool to walk in and break the record in that game, but I’m going to walk in and shoot as hard as I can no matter what.”

King entered the season 24 goals shy of the record and he was aware that he could be the program’s top goal-getter by the end of the season, but tried not to let it affect the way he approached the game. He got off to a strong start with nine goals in the opening two games, but had hit a mini-slump. That slump ended with a hat trick against Plymouth State on Wednesday and King carried that momentum into the Coast Guard game.

“I just wasn’t hitting the net enough or getting the power behind the shots that I needed,” King said. “I need to be shooting that shot from the outside and splashing in order for us to have success and you think about it a lot more when you’re out of your groove.

“It’s all about timing and when you peak. I picked a good time to go down and now that I’m coming back up it’s NEWMAC play.”

 

King wasn’t an instant success at Clark. During his freshman season, he saw time in 12 games but it he did not become a starter until an injury to, then junior, Nick Johnson opened a spot for King to step into and he never really looked back. He started three games at the end of that season and has started all 43 games that Clark has played since. After scoring 12 goals as a rookie, King jumped up to 42 goals and eight assists as a sophomore.

“I was that fourth attackman and I wasn’t getting a ton of playing time but I was getting man-up and stuff like that because my play is that big outside shot,” said King about his first season at Clark. “When [Nick] went down, there was a spot that needed to be filled and that was kind of the role that I took. The opportunity came about and I think I handled it pretty well.”

When Johnson returned from his knee injury midway through King’s sophomore season, he instantly added a high-quality playmaker to the lineup and added a significant boost to an already prolific attack. Despite missing almost half the season with injury, Johnson, who is the program’s all-time leading scorer (goals and assists), had 24 assists that year. King called Johnson a “role model” and someone who inspired him to continue getting better.

“I was lucky enough to play with him for two years,” King said. “He was more of an assist-guy and a smaller, quick guy, so we weren’t exactly the same player but he always had the work ethic that I wanted to embody.”

Getting the additional playing time was important, but King admitted that there was also a steep learning curve coming from high school lacrosse to the collegiate level. “The difference between high school and college lacrosse is insane and it definitely took me over a year to figure that out,” he said. His coaches continued to show confidence in him and his shooting ability and continued to encourage him to just do what he knows best.

“I’ve always known that I have a good shot but also just working on those mechanics and then having the confidence to unleash it in the game has been my biggest growth over my career,” King explained.

Once the starting role was his, King never let it go. His sophomore year, the Cougars reached the NEWMAC tournament final but were beaten by perennial power Springfield College (which has won 11 straight NEWMAC championships). Last season, King was again one of the top scorers in the conference with 43 goals and six assists. He now has two of the top four single-season goal scoring seasons in program history and earned an All-NEWMAC first team nod in 2018.

While the individual totals and honors are great, King said that he was most proud of the fact that his first two seasons were also the two winningest seasons in program history. His senior class has the chance to end its four years with the most wins of any class that has come through Clark lax.

“Breaking the record is really cool and I’m happy to be part of that but being the class with the most wins in Clark lacrosse history is something that I’ll remember forever,” he explained.

While the goal-scoring record was a possibility this season, King wants another chance to play for the NEWMAC crown. He wasn’t thrilled about the team’s showing in 2017 and he wants another shot at playing in a title game. With that in mind, he wasn’t overly concerned about the team’s play through the opening nine games. The Cougars started 4-5 but King felt that the team was turning a corner and doing so at just the right time of the year.

“We just weren’t at the spot we wanted to be at,” said King of the team’s struggles during a trip to Florida, “but the whole intent of the early season is just trying to work out all those kinks and I think we’ve done a good job doing that.” He noted that in the end it was NEWMAC play that the Cougars were focused on, adding, “We’re on a new path and a different path than we’ve been on, so I’m feeling pretty good right now.”

King, the team’s lone captain, and the rest of the senior class have one goal, and that is to close out their careers with a NEWMAC title. It would be the first in program history and solidify the legacy that the class of 2018 has built at Clark.

“Everything that we do, all the effort that we put in during the preseason or the fall, has been all for that,” King reflected. “If we put in the work and grind every single day, then the NEWMAC title will come to us and we just have to take it.”