Franklin’s Kirshe Finds a Different Path to Team USA

Kristi Kirshe
Former Franklin soccer, lacrosse and basketball standout Kristi Kirshe races for a U.S. try against China at the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Sydney, Australia. (Mike Lee/KLC Fotos)

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Every little kid who plays sports dreams of playing professionally and dreams of someday representing his or her country, whether it be the Olympics or the World Cup or maybe the World Lacrosse Championships (see Foxboro’s Sophia Dicenso, who was featured last week). Former Franklin star Kristi Kirshe, a former soccer state champion with the Panthers and Div. III national champion at Williams College, recently fulfilled that dream, although not in a sport she would have ever imagined.

A former standout in soccer, lacrosse, and basketball at Franklin (being named MVP in soccer and lax as a senior), and a two-time All-American at Williams, Kirshe has achieved her dream of being a professional athlete as a rising star in rugby.

Kirshe recently played with the bronze-medal-winning U.S. Women’s Eagles Sevens at the HSBC Sydney (Australia) Sevens tournament and scored five tries in three matches and is a full-time resident at the U.S. rugby base in Chula Vista, Calif., despite having not even picked up a rugby ball until one year ago this week.

“I’d say this one tops it all,” Kirshe said this week about how playing for the U.S. stacks up to all that she has achieved in sports. “I think I said when we won the state title in soccer that it was a dream come true but I’m pretty sure putting on the USA rugby jersey topped that.

“Getting to play professionally, getting to play internationally, it’s something you dream about as a little kid. I thought soccer was going to be the sport to get me there and when it didn’t happen I kind of gave up on it and it’s amazing that this opportunity is back in my life and I’m chasing the dream again.”

When Kirshe graduated from Williams, there was an immediate void. She had played competitive team sports her whole life, from youth leagues, including Pop Warner football, through high school and to one of the top DIII college programs in the country. Now, she was left working out by herself and trying to sate her competitive juices playing rec soccer once a week.

Kirshe said, “I was trying to figure out what my life was post-competitive sports and I didn’t like it too much, so I was trying to find another sport to play. I think I really missed the team environment the most, being around people that are working towards a common goal.

“Graduating college was the first time that I didn’t have a sport going on and honestly I felt pretty lost. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. It’s always been something that I did, it’s always been part of me as a person, so not having that was really hard.”

It was her former Franklin teammate Grace Conley, who played rugby at Boston University, who introduced her to the potential of a new sport. Kirshe took her friend’s advice and went to an open tryout for Boston Rugby, which was getting ready to start its spring 15s season. She made an immediate impact and her new teammates convinced her to tryout for the Northeast Academy, which is a national development program for rugby.

She made the academy team and went to play a sevens tournament in California, where she impressed enough to be named to the tournament’s Dream Team. That led to her selection as one of 12 players on the Women’s Falcons team that played in the Hokkaido Governor’s Cup in Japan. In less than seven months, Kirshe went from having never played rugby before to joining a U.S. team in an international tournament.

Franklin basketball coach John Leighton said of Kirshe, who was the point guard on teams that made back-to-back Div. 1 South finals, “Her motor is just set different. Just the most competitive kid I’ve ever met. I had to change my rule on drills because she was so competitive she would do anything to win the drill.”

He showed no surprise that Kirshe was an instant success in her new sport. “If we started a ping pong team,” Leighton joked, “she’d be my first pick because she’d push herself to be the best.”

Having the eye-hand coordination of basketball and lacrosse and the tactical awareness of soccer and the physicality of all the sport she has played going all way back to Pop Warner, rugby has turned out to be a natural fit. From the culture of the sport to the rapid learning curve to being back on the field as part of a team, Kirshe is enjoying every part of this experience.

“I just think it’s one of the ultimate team sports,” she explained. “You’re going into contact so you have to always be willing to put yourself on the line for everyone around you. Whether it’s be the first person there in support when someone gets tackled or just knowing when you get tackled that someone else is going to be there to support you, you just have to each other’s back at all times, which I think is really cool.”

That experience was taken to a new level this month when she joined the official U.S. team (the Falcons are part of the U.S. developmental program) in Australia for one leg of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, which builds up to the 2020 Olympics.

“It definitely felt different wearing [a U.S. jersey] on the world series stage,” Kirshe said. It’s pretty surreal honestly. I was thinking about it a lot when I was there that I couldn’t have imagined I’d be here a year ago…I definitely took a few minutes with it before I put it on, just kind of stared at for a bit.”

On her debut against China, Kirshe, who came on as a substitute, found a seam and outran the opposition for her first of five tries in the tournament. “Everyone around me did everything perfectly and I saw a little gap and instinct just kind of kicked in,” she said. “It was definitely nerve-wracking but the second that I got the ball in my hand it felt like every other game that I’ve played. Instinct kicked in and I thought, okay avoid getting tackled and keep running.”

After experiencing the world stage, Kirshe returns to Chula Vista and the residency program to prepare with the Women’s Falcons for a tournament in Las Vegas in March. The next world series stop is in Japan in April and Kirshe hopes to be part of that team as well. It is hard to believe that this time last year, she was being pushed to give rugby a try for the first time.

“Thinking about where I was in my first practice last year,” she reflected, “I knew nothing, not a single thing. It’s just been a rapid learning curve and I feel like in every single game I play in I’m learning something new and every day at practice I’m figuring something out or something is starting to click.”

It obviously clicked enough for Kirshe to score five times against international competition and get pegged as a rising newcomer on the U.S. team. She admits that being on the U.S. team is a different level of nerves, but also that having played on the biggest stages since high school has prepared her for taking this opportunity when it presented itself.

“Playing in a national championship,” she said, “playing in high school championships, helped me be ready for big games, but still just focus on the little things and getting the little things right and being able to stay calm despite the nerves and the excitement.

“In all sports and no matter what stage you’re on, the second the whistle blows you’re just playing and I think that is kind of where I thrive.”

Canton’s Rooney Turns Hard Work Into NHL Success

Kevin Rooney
Former Canton star Kevin Rooney (58) reacts after scoring his first NHL goal for the New Jersey Devils against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Andy Marlin/New Jersey Devils)

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Kevin Rooney just couldn’t stop smiling. After a great save denied his New Jersey Devils teammate Drew Stafford from a goal, the puck slid invitingly into Rooney’s path as he skated in from the right circle. He took a look up and smashed a one-timer inside the far post for the first goal of his NHL career. The former Canton High standout and star of the 2010 Div. 2 state champion team wheeled away to the far boards with a grin that stretched from ear-to-ear. Even as the teams lined up for the ensuing face-off, the smile remained.

“It was one of those things that you dream about as a little kid and to finally see that puck go across the line was pretty special,” Rooney said. “It just helps with your confidence, feeling like you belong out there. I think it helped me a ton and I feel like since then I’ve played even better.”

Rooney can be forgiven for wanting to savor that moment. His path to the NHL was not preordained. He wasn’t a can’t-miss prospect coming out of high school or after two years at Berkshire Academy or even after four years at Providence College, where he was part of the program’s first national title in 2015. Making it to the top level was all about hard work.

“If you look at his track record since high school, it’s been the same, he has improved year-in and year-out,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman, who coached Rooney in high school. “He’s made the strides he needed to make it to the next level. There were things he was able to do to take advantage of those opportunities, which is something we still try to teach kids today.”

Rooney remarked, “These opportunities don’t come around too often so I want to make sure that when the end comes that I don’t have any regrets.”

It is no surprise that Rooney found his way onto the ice. His uncle Steve graduated from Canton in 1981, played at PC, and then went on to play for the Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, and the Devils. His cousin Chris played at PC and his cousin Joe played at Boston College. His father David played at Canton and his brother Bryan was part of the 2009 Canton team that went to the state title game and then played at Stonehill College.

Canton Youth Hockey was the starting point and he also played with the South Shore Kings leading up to high school. When he got to Canton High, Rooney wasn’t an instant sensation. Shuman remembered him scoring maybe a handful of goals as a freshman for a team that went 15-5 and won the league title. Even the following year, the Bulldogs won 18 games, another league title, and reached the state championship game, but it was Bryan Rooney, not Kevin, that was the star.

It was the work that he put in between his sophomore and junior seasons that turned Rooney from a good high school player into a legit college prospect.

“He was the most improved player that I’ve ever coached from one year to the next,” said Shuman. “His speed went from above-average to exceptional and his strength and everything just improved and it wasn’t by accident. I know he worked hard that summer. He worked with a strength and conditioning coach, you’d see him running around town, constantly doing something to improve.”

Even though both Rooney and Shuman admit the 2008-09 team was probably a deeper team, it was the 2009-10 team that would bring home the trophy, avenging the previous season’s loss to Newburyport in the TD Garden. Shuman credited Rooney’s ability to make the players around him better for being a catalyst to the Bulldogs winning it all.

“It’s so hard to have people to believe this when I say it but that was the most fun hockey I’ve ever been a part of and it’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life,” said Rooney. “Those memories at Canton High were some of the best I have and it’s because you’re playing with kids you grew up with. Your best friends are your teammates, and just being able to play in front of your hometown every game is something special.

“I can remember almost all those games and it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

During the 2009-10 season, college scouts noticed Rooney and suggested he had the potential to play at the next level but that he might need to make a move to achieve that dream. Once the season was over, Rooney sat down with Shuman to discuss his future. In the end, he had accomplished all that he could with the Bulldogs and he decided to transfer to Berkshire Academy to continue his development as a player.

“It was something that I definitely don’t regret, but it was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my hockey career,” Rooney reflected. “It was tough. I would’ve loved to say that I graduated from Canton High but it was something that was going to help my hockey career and my future.”

Once the decision to leave Canton was made, Rooney knew that he had to make it count and develop his game to play at the next level. He said, “ I don’t want to leave and then just end up going to college and not playing hockey.” His two seasons at Berkshire led to a few offers and he chose to play with his cousin at PC, coming in as part of new head coach Nate Leaman’s first recruiting class.

In 2015, Rooney returned to the TD Garden, where he won the state title for the Bulldogs, and helped PC beat Boston University in a dramatic final to win the national title. “I’ve got some pretty special memories at the Garden for sure,” he said. “First was the state title, then the national championship, and my second NHL game was there too.” That season was also the first time that Rooney started thinking about his pro prospects and he attended developments camps in Toronto and Chicago that summer.

He signed an amateur contract with Albany of the AHL following his senior season at PC. He scored 13 goals and recorded eight assists in 71 games. The Devils signed him to his first NHL contract in February 2017. Two nights later, Rooney took the ice against the Washington Capitals.

“When I got on the ice for warm-ups, did the lap and what not, and I barely even woke up after that because I was just staring at the other end with [Alexander] Ovechkin and [T.J.] Oshie and those guys,” Rooney said. “I was just kind of in shock. It was surreal.”

Since signing with the Devils, Rooney has bounced back and forth between the big club and its minor league affiliate in Binghamton. He admits that it is difficult to not have a consistent place on the roster but that he has learned from other players who have gone through the same situation and is keeping his focus on doing whatever the team needs and securing a consistent role with the Devils.

“The biggest thing for me is being more consistent and putting two, three, or four games together rather than having just one good game,” he explained. “It’s easy to be a call-up and have adrenaline for one game and play well and it’s another to do that consistently and that’s what I’m trying to show the coaches now is that I can consistently be an everyday NHL player.”

It is rare for players to come through the Hockomock League and play professionally and Shuman believes that Rooney is an inspiration not only because of where he ended up but how he got to this stage in his career.

“He can be an inspiration for any type of player,” Shuman said, “because he wasn’t a freshman that came in and set the world on fire, but the fact that he improved as much he did can be relatable to anybody. For our top players, he’s an inspiration because, even though he was good, he never settled. He always wanted to be better and I think that’s a good message.”

Rooney tried to explain his mentality. He said, “You have to continue to have those childhood dreams that you had growing up and find ways at each level to solidify a role. Every team needs role players. If you’re a scorer at Canton, you may not be that at the next level and you need to understand how to stick. Just find out what the team needs and find out what you can do to help that team in any possible way.”

In the first period of Thursday night’s game against the New York Islanders, Rooney raced into the attacking zone with the puck and ripped a shot high on the glove side to put New Jersey in front.

It has been a long road from the Ponkapoag Rink to the NHL, but no matter where he is playing Kevin Rooney continues to make his mark.

Attleboro’s Beland Making Most of Final Salve Season

Kerri Beland
Attleboro High grad Kerri Beland battled back from a knee injury in high school and has gone on to play four years of college basketball at Salve Regina, including two years as the team captain. (Rob McGuinness/Salve Athletics)

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In the summer before her senior year at Attleboro High, Kerri Beland suffered a torn ACL while playing with her AAU team. It was the type of injury that could have ended her final season at Attleboro and even cost her a chance to play basketball at the next level, but Beland fought her way back. She missed soccer that fall but managed to get back on the court for the final few games of basketball season.

Despite the injury, Beland remained focused on her goal of playing collegiate basketball. With the help of former Attleboro and current Adelphi University coach Missy Traversi, Beland reached out to local schools to find the right fit.

Salve Regina coach Cori Hughes took a chance that Beland could make it back to full fitness and contribute. It was a decision that paid off, as Beland jumped right into the rotation as a freshman and is in the midst of her second year as captain for the Seahawks.

“She told me, ‘It’s going to be hard, but it will be fine. You just have to keep working,’ and I did,” Beland said of her conversations with Hughes during the recruitment process. “She’s been a huge supporter of me and she always gave me a lot of opportunities, which was nice.”

It has been a long road for the senior guard, but Beland appreciates the new perspective that she gained from being sidelined. Beland explained, “It sucks getting hurt but it’s an eye-opening experience. You see the game from a whole different perspective sitting on the bench. I feel like I learned a lot from sitting on the sidelines, as much as it sucked, it was horrible, but I learned a lot.”

The Seahawks had a four-game win streak coming into the week, but dropped games to Roger Williams and Nichols and dropped back to 9-11 overall and 5-6 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC). Beland has started all 20 games this season. The 5-foot-8 guard is second on the team with 12.6 points per game, and leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per game.

“We’re playing together better,” she said about the win streak. “We have a lot of strong players on our team but it took us a while to really mesh. We have so much talent but it was one person or a few people trying to do too much and not spreading the floor out.”

After three straight first round exits in the CCC Tournament, Beland thinks that the Seahawks have the opportunity to make a run this winter. “This is anyone’s year and it’s exciting,” she said.

When asked what it would mean to bring home a title during her senior year, Beland replied, “It would be indescribable. The girls that I play with just love the game and my senior class, which is half of the team, we’ve just been through it all together. Finishing it out with them…words wouldn’t even be able to explain how happy I would be.”

Heading into her senior year of high school there was also a lot of excitement for Beland and the Bombardiers. After a playoff appearance the season before, Attleboro looked poised to make even more noise in the Kelley-Rex division. But then Beland went down with an injury and not long after Traversi left to take the job at Adelphi. “It just felt like my whole senior year was crashing down honestly,” Beland reflected. Traversi stayed close with Beland and used her contacts in the coaching world to keep Beland on the radar of area colleges.

Beland made it back onto the court with a few games remaining in the regular season, but it was difficult to adjust to playing after the injury. “It was definitely frustrating,” Beland said. “I’ve never been a quick player and so that was really frustrating to be even slower than I was before and to have to drag around the extra weight on my leg.”

“it was just amazing to play again because basketball has always been a huge part of my life. It was crazy to go that long period without being able to play.”

She admitted that it took a long time to get back to playing like she did prior to the injury. It wasn’t until her sophomore year at Salve that the brace came off and she was able to play with the freedom of not worrying about her knee. That season Beland, who is also a member of the Salve lacrosse team and two-year captain in the spring, was named third team All-CCC and named the 2016-17 Salve Sophomore Athlete of the Year.

“When I had the brace, I could go a little harder because I knew it was there but when you lose the brace you have to kind of start all over about being nervous of hurting yourself again,” she said.

Spending so much time on the sidelines was a reminder of how much she loved the game of basketball and gave her a unique perspective on the work that it takes to play at this level.

“DIII is draining,” Beland said. “You’re not getting money for it and you’re putting in as much time as any other division. You have to love it and, honestly, the injury reminds me every day that there was a time when I didn’t get to play and I never want to have to feel that way ever again. It’s nice to know that I don’t have any regrets.”

With the end of her basketball career in sight (and even with a lacrosse season still to come), Beland and her classmates are trying to slow down and enjoy these final weeks together.

“We’re kind of at that stage right know where we’re at the edge of the cliff and we want to walk back because we’re so nervous,” she said with a chuckle. “It feels like it’s coming to an end so quickly and we just want to slow the time down.”

Salve has five games left before the conference tournament kicks off and will get the final stretch started with the visit of Endicott.

Taunton’s Mass Takes Hoops Career Across the Pond

Fawaz Mass
Former Taunton and Bridgewater State standout Fawaz Mass has continued his collegiate basketball career in an unlikely spot, Bournemouth (U.K.) University, where is studying for a Master’s degree in business. (Courtesy Photo)

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Playing basketball has taken Fawaz Mass a long way. From the Boys & Girls Club as a youth to three seasons on varsity at Taunton High to one season at Bristol Community College (BCC) to three years at Bridgewater State University (BSU) and now all the way across the Atlantic to England.

Mass, who was an all-star guard for the Tigers (both in the Old Colony League and the Hockomock) and was twice named an All-MASCAC player at BSU, has taken an opportunity to study and to play at Bournemouth (U.K.) University. Located about 90 minutes to the west of London, Bournemouth plays in the British Universities and College Sport (BUCS) Western Division and currently tops its table with a 7-0 record (and a remarkable point differential of plus-337).

The chance to take his talents across the pond came after a scout saw him play at Bridgewater State, where he was the Bears leading scorer at 15.9 points per game his senior season. BSU coach Joe Farroba got an email saying there might be a scholarship to play in England and work towards a graduate degree.

“I was interested right away and didn’t know where specifically in England I’d be going at the time,” Mass said in an email this week. It turned out that the location would be Bournemouth University where Mass is taking part in a one-year, accelerated program to earn a master’s degree in business administration.

He already has family living in London and language wouldn’t be an issue, so Mass jumped at the chance to take his game to a new country. He started school in September and his season on the First Performance Squad began a month later.

“I’ve fit pretty smoothly into the team,” Mass said. “My coaches and teammates have been great, and it’s a good balance between British and other internationals.”

His long history with the game at a high level has made him a natural leader for the team. Mass explained, “I would say I’m an experienced veteran as well as a couple others on the squad who have some similar backgrounds and the coaching staff really looks for me to be that leader with my game and vocally to set the tone for the team.”

Mass was battling a nagging ankle injury during the early part of the season, but Bournemouth has been on a break to start the winter. Its last game was on Dec. 12, a 117-62 win over Cardiff University, and the next game on the fixture list won’t be until Jan. 30 against the University of Southampton (which Bournemouth beat 97-70 back in October). The break has given Mass the chance to recuperate and he is ready to come back strong when the season resumes.

“For me personally it was a great start,” he said. “The break helped a bit…now it’s all about continuing rehab and trying to get the 100% for the tougher part of the schedule.”

Basketball is a growing sport in England, lagging in popularity behind traditional games like soccer, rugby, and cricket, and the competition, especially in the Western division, isn’t at the same level that Mass faced at BSU and the game is officiated a little differently (“They allow you use your hands a bit more here.”), but he is expecting things to get a little tighter as the season hits the home stretch.

“The competition compared to Bridgewater isn’t as high [because] the specific region we are located in has a lot of British players,” he said, “but as we progress through the season the competition is supposed to get really tough and well play more teams with more internationals so I’m excited for that.”

In addition to league play, Bournemouth is also involved in a knockout cup competition, the BUCS Basketball Trophy. Bournemouth is into the last 16 and will face East London’s second team on Feb. 6 to try and reach the quarterfinal.

Having family just 90 minutes away and having the opportunity to play basketball competitively gives Mass a slice of home that has made it easier to get acclimated, but there are of course things he misses.

“I miss my family and friends and wish I could see my little brother play in his basketball games,” Mass admitted. “I also miss watching NBA games frequently, but I can’t with the time difference…and I almost forgot my mom’s cooking!”

After this year is up, Mass isn’t sure what the future will hold. He will have a master’s degree and some experience living and playing in Europe, which may open doors for him going forward. He is open to what may come his may and is just enjoying the unique experience that he has been offered.

“I’ve already gained a lot from being here and just being in a different environment and having to adjust,” he said. “Who knows what else this opportunity will give me…It’s been positive so far, hopefully it continues.”

Attleboro’s Daggett Twins Leap Into Season at Stonehill

Daggett Twins
Attleboro twins Ashley and Courtney Daggett (with Stonehill coach Dan Schwartz) started high jumping together in middle school and are now in the midst of their final season as college jumpers. (Stonehill College Athletics)

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In middle school, twin sisters Ashley and Courtney Daggett took part in an after-school track program run by the Attleboro YMCA. At one of the sessions, they were given the opportunity to try high jumping for the first time. Nearly a decade later, they are still jumping together.

The Attleboro High grads are entering their final indoor and outdoor seasons at Stonehill College looking to extend the program’s dominance in the NE-10 (six straight conference championship meet titles) and taking advantage of a few more months competing with each other.

“It can get pretty competitive at times,” Courtney said in a phone call during their winter break, “but we’ve basically had now seven, going into our eighth year, competing at the same event. It’s changed into a respect for each other…to be better. Between Ashley and I, the competition just keeps pushing us to clear another bar and pushes us to improve our jumping.”

Ashley added, “We’re teammates but we’re also sisters, so to have the memories to look back on and we have each other to lean on when we have bad meets or good meets because we know everything we’ve been through to get to this point.”

High jump is definitely a family affair for the Daggetts. Their father Tim was also a jumper at Attleboro High and their grandfather competed at North Attleboro. So, when the YMCA offered the twins a chance to learn the event in the summer before freshman year of high school it was only natural that they jumped right in and, as it turned out, it was a perfect fit.

“It’s a very unique event and I think with all the sports I played growing up I never found that one I loved,” Ashley explained. The twins took part in gymnastics, softball, and dance. High jump combined aspects of each of those sports and the sisters were instantly hooked. “it was something that just came to us so easily that it would’ve been a missed opportunity if we didn’t see it through and see what we could do with it.”

She continued, “The feeling of going over the bar and landing on the mat and having the bar still be up is just indescribable. Everything just clicks in the moment and that’s the best feeling ever.”

The sisters joined the Bombardiers and became standouts. While Ashley was out with a stress fracture during their sophomore season, Courtney cleared four feet, 11 inches “out of nowhere,” breaking her personal record (PR) by three inches. It was the moment that she realized collegiate high jump was a possibility.

“That was the moment, for me, that I was like, ‘wow, I’m pretty good at this,’ and it started clicking,” she said. “It sort of gave me that confidence to give me the confidence to keep on going and know that there’s something in you to keep working towards.”

In their senior season, the duo finished one-two at the Hockomock League Track and Field Championships. “That was the icing for our careers in high school because that’s a really cool thing to do,” Courtney said. “Everything just happened perfectly.”

As would be expected for identical twins, there are a lot of similarities between their jumping styles. Ashley said, “We’re like a lot of power jumpers, using the speed to get up and then once our hips are over the bar we don’t have a lot of arch and snap. Courtney has more of a pop and is more fluid, but I have a little more arch and snap just not as much as most jumpers.”

When it came time to pick colleges, the twins didn’t initially plan to attend the same school but both wanted to compete in the NE-10 and Ashley explained, “We also thought that it wouldn’t be the best being in the same conference but on other teams. We’re as competitive as it is being on the same team, working towards the same goal, but being on separate teams would be a change.”

While the styles are the same, how the sisters have gotten to their results has been very different.

As she did in high school, Courtney makes massive gains on her PR and then works to get back up to that level. She landed five feet, 5.25 inches during the indoor season and then hit five feet, 7.25 inches during outdoor. Both stand as program records. Ashley is more of a consistent performer, who gradually builds up her PR (five feet, 4.25 inches for indoor and five feet, three inches for outdoor) at smaller increments.

Ashley said, “I challenge her to be more consistent and have confidence in each height and she challenges me not to underestimate myself and how high I could potentially go.”

The sibling rivalry is still there, but years of competing together (and as part of a team of six jumpers at Stonehill) has added perspective on how important it has been to go through this journey together.

“It’s made our bond a lot stronger,” Ashley reflected. “We’re a lot better understanding each other’s perspective. You’re part of their process in some way to help make them better.” A good example is that teammates typically avoid Courtney when she is preparing for her next jump. Ashley is the lone exception. She said, “Being twins, we really understand each other and when you need something the other one is there to give that confidence boost.”

Stonehill will be seeking two more NE-10 track titles in the coming months and the twins are focused on staying unbeaten in championship meets to close out their careers. Courtney said, “At Attleboro we weren’t really competitive as a team, so that’s been different having people depend on you to get points and to place and I’m just really grateful to have been a part of it.”

Through all their success, including being named to the USTFCCCA All-East Region teams last year (Ashley for indoor and Courtney for outdoor), all the struggles when jumps weren’t landed, or the injuries that slowed them down at various points in their careers, both sisters insist everything has been better because they have accomplished it together.

“We’ve been on this ride together since we learned to high jump,” Courtney explained. “So we can say things to each other that teammates wouldn’t be able to say. We can be brutally honest with each other but it just makes it all worth it. We’ve pushed each other to our limits.”

Stonehill will be back in action on Jan. 12 at the Beantown Challenge hosted by Harvard at the Gordon Indoor Track.

Cardinal Still Flying High As BC Career Comes to Close

Colton Cardinal
Former Franklin standout Colton Cardinal started as a walk-on at Boston College and stuck it out for four years as a regular on special teams, earning the team’s Loyalty Award for his efforts over the last four years. (BC Athletics)

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On Dec. 8, Boston College’s football team held its annual Senior Banquet to hand out awards to some of the players in their final season in the program. Among the honorees that night was senior fullback Colton Cardinal. The former Franklin standout arrived at BC as a preferred walk-on at linebacker and lasted four years with the Eagles as a fullback and as a regular on special teams.

Cardinal was honored with the Loyalty Award, which is given each year, according to the BC website, “to the individual who possesses an unwavering amount of support and allegiance to a long-term commitment.”

“That was kind of special,” said Cardinal following the team’s a mid-week practice. “It kind of took me by surprise but I was really happy.

He added, “Not really having anyone behind me and believing in me except the locals in Franklin and being able to solidify myself as a player on special teams and a little bit on offense. Then to have my coaches and teammates honor me with the Loyalty Award meant the world to me. It was the highlight of my four years here.”

Commitment has never been a problem for Cardinal, who had offers to play at lower levels and probably could have walked into a team and become a starter at linebacker. Instead, he chose to play Div. I at BC and stuck it out through position changes and limited playing time.

The day after Christmas, Cardinal will wrap up his career with Eagles when they take on Boise State in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl at the historic Cotton Bowl in Dallas. It was this type of opportunity that Cardinal wanted when he chose to play in Chestnut Hill.

“It definitely wasn’t easy coming in as a preferred walk-on,” he admitted. In fact, Cardinal said that of the preferred walk-ons that started his freshman year only John Fadule of Wellesley is still part of the team. “It was definitely hard watching former players now living the normal student life and having the extra time for classwork and friends and going out, so it’s a lot of sacrifices but with one more game left and heading to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl, it’s worked out.”

As a senior with the Panthers, Cardinal was considered one of the top linebackers in the Hockomock League. He started all but one game during his four years at Franklin. He was being recruited by several schools, including BC, who sent defensive coordinator Don Brown (who is now the DC at Michigan and is the father of current Franklin baseball coach Zach Brown) to meet Cardinal, his family, and then Franklin coach Brad Sidwell.

It is pretty common for players in Massachusetts to aspire to be on the Eagles and Cardinal was no different. Alumni Stadium is about 15 minutes from his father’s work and he has been to the stadium a number of times. The problem was that BC also recruited a number of other linebackers (Cardinal remembers more than a dozen linebackers on the team his freshman season), so to get on the field he needed to find a different niche.

“I thought that I’d come here and earn my spot at BC and that’s what I did,” he explained. Cardinal switched to fullback early in his freshman season and his physicality impressed the coaches, who added him to special teams. He said, “That’s kind of where I found my home playing here.”

He got into a game his freshman year against Howard at linebacker and then at the end of the year he played special teams against Syracuse.

“Maybe I’m not 100 percent sure on what I’m going to do, but I’m going to do it as fast as I can, “he said of his mindset on the field. “I think they noticed that and [tight ends] Coach [Frank] Leonard took a liking to me and embraced me into the tight end room and that’s been the biggest blessing since I’ve been to BC was the guys in the room helping me out.”

Even though he found his niche on the team, it was still a big transition from being a star player to one only seeing action occasionally. Cardinal reflected, “I started every game but the first one in four years and high school and then to come here and watch from the sideline was tough.”

When asked why he wanted to stick it out on the team, with all of the time and the effort that entails, over the course of a four-year career, Cardinal replied, “Pride for myself and pride for representing my family, the Franklin community, the Hockomock community, and Massachusetts as a whole really. Coming to Boston College and being a Massachusetts guy means a lot to us.

“Playing at BC gives you an extra bit of motivation because you’re representing something a lot bigger than yourself, which is fun. It’s even fun on Wednesday mornings, you know, when you’ve got full-pad scrimmage during finals week. It’s still a blast and I still love it every day.”

Of course running out onto the field at Alumni Stadium against highly-ranked Clemson for a game that had all of the eyes of the college football world on it, including ESPN’s College Gameday set, was a pretty good reward for having stuck it out over four years.

He laughed and said, “I’ll never forget Game Day versus Clemson running out, nighttime, fireworks, lights are going off, it’s cold, it’s Massachusetts football…I’ll never forget that. It’s been truly awesome.”

Cardinal and the Eagles will wrap up the season in a bowl game against a nationally-ranked team. He said that friends and family are planning on going to Dallas to watch his final collegiate game. When he signed on to play at BC, this was the type of stage he expected to play on and this is the ideal way to close out his career.

“We talk about that a lot…to be able to come back 10, 15 years later with your head held high and know that maybe I didn’t have the biggest role on the team, but I played a part in history at Boston College football.”

Foxboro’s Tamulionis Finds Right Balance at Babson

Kat Tamulionis
Former Foxboro standout and Player of the Year Katherine Tamulionis is off to a strong start to her junior season at Babson College, helping the Beavers to a 5-2 record. (Babson College Athletics)

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When Kat Tamulionis arrived on the Merrimack College campus for her freshman year, she was confident that she was ready for the challenge of transitioning to college life and to college basketball, but she struggled to find the right fit between her commitments in the classroom and on the court.

Making the transition from high school to college is never easy, trying to find the right fit for classes, dorms, friends, a new campus, let alone the pressure of new teammates, new coaches, and a new practice schedule. It can be overwhelming.

“At Merrimack, it was tough adjusting to living at school and it was also a lot basketball-wise,” Tamulionis explained. “I liked Merrimack, it just didn’t end up being the right fit. It depends on what you want. Some people like playing basketball all day long.”

After spending preseason with the team, Tamulionis decided to step away from the team. The following fall, she took a semester off to figure out what she wanted to do next. In December of that year, she made the decision to transfer to Babson College and she decided to get back on the court, joining the Beavers and making her collegiate debut Emory and Henry College (Va.).

“I was looking for academics first and then I loved the coaches, I loved the team, and they always made me feel comfortable when I came here,” Tamulionis said of the switch. “At Merrimack, before classes I would go to practice and then after classes I would go to practice and it was just too much…I needed the structure and the right balance to be successful and I think I’ve found that at Babson.”

The switch has worked out pretty well. Tamulionis played in 21 games her first season at Babson and last season (which was technically her sophomore year because of the credits that transferred over from Merrimack) she started 22-of-27 games and averaged more than eight points per game, including a career-high 19 against Emerson College in the NEWMAC quarterfinal.

Tamulionis has started all of Babson’s first six games (4-2) and is second on the team with 11.2 points per game, shooting 44 percent from the field for the Beavers, who are riding a two-game win streak.

“The transition wasn’t as hard as I expected,” she said, “because I was able to get used to basketball and living on a different campus before I started the academic part. I got to get used to basketball, the team, and my friends and everything”

Besides moving during the winter break, several factors were in her favor when making the decision to move to Babson.

There was a familiarity with the coaches because they had recruited Tamulionis two years before when the Player of the Year and Hockomock League MVP was leading Foxboro to its first league title in more than a decade, while averaging 16 points per game.

There was also a familiar face that Tamulionis could lean on for advice. Former Foxboro standout Ashley Snyder was a member of the Babson team that season, after transferring to Babson from UMass Lowell. Snyder offered Tamulionis the inside info about the team, but also understood what it was like to move between schools.

“I was starting to doubt myself because obviously I thought Merrimack was the right place,” Tamulionis admitted. “That’s why I went to [Ashley] right away. She was very helpful because she knew what I was going through and the tough decision that I’d have to make.”

Time away from the game also gave Tamulionis a different perspective. “I took a lot of time off from basketball,” she reflected, “so it made me appreciate it more because I know what my life was like without basketball. I think I needed that time off to regroup and figure out what I wanted to do.”

Moving a little closer to home had an added benefit last winter. Tamulionis was able to follow her sister Grace and her former teammates on their run to the Div. 2 state championship. “It was so much fun,” she said about watching her sister bring home the title. “I was kind of living through them a little bit because that’s obviously everybody’s dream, but I’m so happy for those girls because they deserve it.”

The Tamulionis sisters played together at Foxboro when Kat was a senior and Grace was just a freshman. That rookie class, which also included Lily Sykes, Ashley Sampson, and Shannon Smally, was a big factor in the Warriors making a run to the Div. 2 South final during Kat’s senior year.

“They were all very good individual players but what made them good was that they played well together,” she said. “I think that’s what gave them the advantage.”

When asked if she wished that she had them as teammates for more than one season to make another tournament run, Tamulionis agreed, “Definitely…Maybe even if they were just sophomores when I was a senior that would’ve been so cool with one more year of experience.”

Experience is also something that Babson is counting on this winter. The Beaver come into the year with eight juniors or seniors on the roster. Many of the players have been together for two or three seasons and that chemistry has the team confident of challenging for the NEWMAC title and getting back to the NCAA Tournament.

“I feel like last year was more of a rebuilding year,” Tamulionis said. “This year, we’re trying to build on it. We’ve all played together for three or four years now and the upperclassmen have played a lot of minutes, so we’re comfortable, and I think that chemistry is going to help us down the stretch.”

Babson has already played several tough games this year, including league games against MIT (a 76-71 win) and Smith College (86-62 loss). “It was good to have those games first just to see where we are in the league and what we need to work on,” Tamulionis remarked. “We need to treat every game the same and bring the same energy no matter who we go against.”

As the team looks forward to the rest of a busy season, Tamulionis was able to reflect on how she got to Babson and how different things are not that she is there.

“It’s different for everyone,” she said. “When I transferred to Babson, it was just the right balance between basketball and academics. It was an easy transition.”

(Babson improved to 5-2 on the season with a 65-54 win over the Coast Guard on Saturday afternoon. Tamulionis scored nine points for the Beavers in the win.)

KP’s Schnabel Enjoying Last Laps at Northeastern

Carly Schnabel
King Philip alum and Northeastern University senior Carly Schnabel competes in a freestyle event for the Huskies this season. (Jim Pierce/Northeastern University Athletics)

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After two years of swimming at King Philip, Carly Schnabel made a decision to step away from the high school team and commit herself fully to her club team, the Shamrock Swim Club based in Milton, and to USA Swimming.

Competing at the Div. I level in college had been her dream since she was just six or seven years old and pulled on a swim cap for the first time at the Sher-Lo-Mon Swim Club in Cumberland, R.I. Heading into her junior year at KP, Schnabel’s times were right on the cusp between DI and DII.

“It was definitely one of those moments where it was make or break right now,” Schnabel recalled during a phone call this week. She admits that it was a very tough decision to step away from the Warriors but a necessary one to achieve her goals. “When I stepped away from high school and really focused on swimming club,” she explained, “then I was able to get fast enough to swim Div. I, which was my dream.”

She added, “It was sort of a necessary thing to do at the time that wasn’t necessarily fun but something I had to do to get where I wanted to be.”

It was a decision that paid off. Schnabel is now entering her senior season as the captain of the Northeastern University swim team, and she holds three school records for the Huskies (500-yard freestyle, 1,000-yard freestyle, and 400-yard medley relay).

“It’s surreal. It’s crazy,” Schnabel said with a laugh. “I think back to putting on a swim cap for the first time at six or seven and thinking about how much I hated getting in the water. I wish I could say to my 5-year-old self it’s going to be okay, you’re going to make it.”

Schnabel made an instant impact on Huntington Ave. She was named the team’s Rookie of the Year after her freshman season. She won the 100-free against New Hampshire in one of her first meets, won three events against Vermont, and was part of a second place finish for the 200 medley relay at the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) Championships.

All that success came while getting acclimated to college life, to the rigorous schedule of a DI program, and new weightlifting and training regimens.

“I wouldn’t say surprised, but pleased,” Schnabel said about her early success at Northeastern. “Adjusting to college is something that’s very difficult but I guess I really took to it and freshman year I was training with some really great coaches and really great swimmers and really focused on it and was able to rally together to put a result out there.”

When asked if she had a moment during that freshman season when she realized that she had made it and that she was a DI-caliber swimmer, Schnabel laughed and replied, “I still have those moments of shock where I can’t believe that I’m here and doing this because I never expected to realize my dream. Even as a senior I have moments where I’m like this is it, this is the level, this is exactly what I’ve been working for.”

During the summer between her freshman and sophomore seasons, Schnabel committed to training and preparing herself for the rigors of another year in the pool. She also switched from sprinting events to distance, which she believed was “more natural” for her.

It was another decision that worked perfectly. Schnabel won three events and took second in another in her season debut against Boston University. Set the program record in the 1,000-free against Harvard and then set a new 500-free record at the CAA Championships (while totaling 30 individual points, which was the second highest total in program history). After a season filled with first place finishes, she was honored as the team MVP.

“I guess that year everything just sort of clicked,” she said. “I had the first year to adjust to Northeastern and adjust to weightlifting and new training and over the summer I just buckled down.”

Not only was Schnabel a success in the pool, but she was also recognized for her leadership outside of it. Following her junior season, she was awarded the inaugural CAA Leadership and Sports Excellence Award, after being nominated by her coaches and academic advisors. She was chosen out of nominees from each of the conference’s women’s swim teams.

“I had no idea I was nominated,” she explained. “I was on campus in the summer, so I was sitting in a classroom when I got a call from my coach who was like, ‘Hey congrats!’ And I was like, ‘For what?’”

Schnabel added, “I was very honored and very humbled to win an award beyond swimming. It encompasses more of my personality and more of my character, which is what I value more than just times. At the end of the day, it’s about what person am I and what has swimming made me. It was nice to be recognized that it’s going well.”

Northeastern has started the season 3-2 with wins over BU, Lehigh, and Maine. It is still early going and there is a lot of swimming still to go before the season closes at the CAA Championships in February. There is always pressure to perform at the DI level, but Schnabel is taking a different approach to her final season. She is trying to appreciate the moment and enjoy one last season at the Barletta Natatorium.

“I’m definitely trying to enjoy the season, enjoy the process,” she said. “Now that I have more perspective, I just decided that I’ll work as hard as I can at practice and the times will come. It’s more about putting in what I need to put in, not overly stress about it and enjoy everything that’s going on. So far, it’s been really great.”

With the Huskies off for the weekend because of nationals, it was a good moment for Schnabel to reflect on just how far she has come and how much swimming has added to her collegiate experience.

“I couldn’t imagine being here without it,” she said. “It’s definitely what has made my college experience so amazing and worthwhile. I’m really glad that I did it and I’m really sad that it’s my last year.”

How does she want to close out her career? “No regrets,” she said. “I want to finish my last race and say that was the best I could’ve done and that’s how I want to end my career. It doesn’t have to be my best time but just some closure.”

Northeastern will be back in action on Dec. 8 against UNH.

Mansfield’s Boulter Scores Milestone at Merrimack

Ryan Boulter
Former Hockomock League MVP Ryan Boulter drives to the basket in the season opener to score the 1,000th point of his Merrimack College career. (Jim Stankiewicz /Merrimack College Athletics)

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When the 2017-18 season ended against Bloomfield (N.J.) College in the semifinal of the East Regional, Ryan Boulter was just two points shy of the 1,000-point mark for his college career. The former Mansfield standout and Hockomock League MVP, who scored more than 1,300 points for the Hornets, wasted no time in reaching the milestone this year. In fact, it took only one shot.

The Merrimack College senior forward made a back cut down the right side of the lane for an easy layup just 30 seconds into the season opener against Holy Family University (Pa.). “I wanted to get it out of the way early, but I didn’t expect to get it on the first basket like I did,” Boulter said in a phone call on Friday morning.

Despite the milestone not having the same level of pomp and circumstance that chasing 1,000 points does in high school, for instance the game continued without a break, Boulter recognized the magnitude of the achievement. He said, “I knew I was two points away and all of my teammates knew about it. They all congratulated me during the game and after the game. It was pretty special.”

Boulter led the Warriors with 19 points in the 69-50 win over Holy Family and was the 45th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark (junior guard Juvaris Hayes also reached that mark last season). The milestone meant even more for Boulter because coming out of high school there were questions about his ability to play at the Div. II level. He received few looks from schools outside of Div. III until longtime Merrimack coach Bert Hammel (who passed away this October) offered him the chance to come to North Andover.

“A lot of people didn’t really expect me to play Div. II,” Boulter admitted. “I had a lot of Div. III offers, but a lot of people didn’t really recruit me for Div. II except Bert, so it’s really meant a lot for me to score 1,000 points here.”

It didn’t take Boulter long to prove that he deserved the chance to play in Div. II. The 6-foot-7 forward came off the bench in 23 games during his freshman season, averaging six points per game and shooting more than 38 percent from beyond the arc. Boulter took off in his sophomore season under new head coach Joe Gallo (who took over when Hammel retired), earning third team All-NE-10 honors as Merrimack’s leading scorer at 18 points per game.

There were high expectations coming into last season and Merrimack largely lived up them as a team, winning 20 games, but Boulter was sidelined for a dozen games in the middle of the season with a foot injury. Despite the setback and dealing with the first significant injury of his basketball career, he was still second on the team with more than 13 points per game and shot more than 43 percent from three-point range.

“It was pretty frustrating, coming back and missing about two months and trying to get your legs back into it,” he explained. “Having to play off the bench and having to play a certain amount of minutes was something I had to get used to but at the end of the season I started to get my feel back a little bit.”

The injury provided extra motivation for this season. The Warriors were ranked second in the preseason NE-10 coaches poll, behind St. Anselm, are expected to challenge for the conference title, and to make a run in the postseason. After missing time as a junior, Boulter is ready to get back to the all-conference level he reached as a sophomore.

He said, “It was really painful not being out there with the guys and it motivated me this off-season to really focus on my body, get it right to play a full season, and get this team to where we know we can be at the end of the year.”

The reason that expectations are so high for the Warriors is the depth on the team. Boulter said that this team is the deepest he has ever played with. He explained, “Especially in the starting five, everyone can shoot, dribble, pass, rebound, and we’ve got three or four guys coming off the bench who can do the same thing.”

Watch highlights of Merrimack running its offense and you see players constantly switching positions, spreading the floor, making cuts to the basket, and stretching the defense all across the court. “It’s incredible because we don’t care about who’s the leading scorer each game, we just care about winning and focusing on our goals,” Boulter said.

The Merrimack system also looks very similar to the offense that Boulter was part of at Mansfield, where he and the Hornets compiled a 72-9 record over his career, reached a state title game (where Boulter, just a sophomore, hit three free throws in the final seconds to force overtime against Putnam) and two sectional finals.

Boulter carried that culture of success, and the knowledge of what it takes to win games, into his collegiate career.

“Coach (Mike) Vaughan, that’s what he drilled into us every day in high school,” he said, “just focus on winning. It doesn’t matter if you’re in class or on the basketball court just focus on winning and having that mindset that you’re a winner.”

He added, “It makes it fun, even in practice, to have a great group of guys who just care about winning and don’t really care about their stats and all that.”

Last winter, Mansfield won its first ever state championship and Ryan’s younger brother Tyler played a critical role in the Hornets’ tournament run. Ryan had several close calls, including the overtime loss to Putnam in the final and a pair of thrilling match-ups with loaded Catholic Memorial teams in the South sectional, and he was excited for his brother being part of the first Hornets team to reach the pinnacle.

“I was very happy for him,” Boulter said. “He kind of had to live up to high expectation being my little brother, but I was really proud of him. He played his heart out and I was really happy that he won it.

“When I got there,” he continued, “I wasn’t really expecting to have the team really go far but [Coach Vaughan] really brings out the best in everyone and brings out that competitive nature in every practice. He really gets on us to get us where we want to be and he knows how great those teams can be. It’s amazing to see that program keep growing each and every year.”

It is only three games into the new season (Merrimack played Bentley on Saturday afternoon) but Boulter is already seeing signs that the Warriors can reach their goals this year – winning the NE-10 title and getting out of the East Regional. He pointed to the 72-42 win against Assumption on Wednesday night as an example of what the team can achieve.

“That’s probably the best defensive game we’ve played in my four years here,” he said. “If we focus on the defensive end for 40 minutes, then we’ll be very hard to beat because we know with our talent that our offense will come. If we can play as well as we did the other night on the defensive end then we can go really far this year.”

The season started with a personal milestone, but Ryan Boulter is focused on ending the season, and his Merrimack career, with an even bigger prize – the NE-10 title.

Ed. Note – Merrimack suffered a 65-59 loss at Bentley on Saturday to even its record at 2-2. Boulter scored six points in 37 minutes, shooting 2-of-6 from three.

Taunton’s Wentworth Finds a Home In the Endicott Goal

Kayla Wentworth
Taunton grad Kayla Wentworth has found a home at Endicott College and that translated into a strong season in goal, earning second-team all-conference honors. (David Le/Endicott College Athletics)

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It has been a winding road for Kayla Wentworth since she graduated from Taunton High. After helping the Tigers make not only their first-ever playoff appearance but also earn their first-ever state tournament victory, the talented goalkeeper had the opportunity to play Div. I college soccer.

Playing for a Div. I program is the dream of just about every high school player that laces up their boots each fall, but the reality of playing at that level and the singular focus that many, if not most, Div. I programs require of their student-athletes isn’t for everyone.

Sometimes, you just need to find the place where you feel comfortable and happy.

After a year at Iona College (New Rochelle, N.Y.), where she admitted struggling with the coach, Wentworth gave Div. I a second chance with a transfer closer to home to play at UMass Lowell. She stayed for one semester in Lowell before making a second switch, heading to Beverly in the spring of 2018 to attend Endicott College.

It is a move that has worked out on and off the pitch.

“It’s good to find a home,” said Wentworth in a phone call ahead of Endicott’s Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) tournament opener against Western New England. “Here I have a great group of friends, soccer is just the right amount, our coaches are really good, really supportive, academics are great, everything is here is more like home than my other schools.”

Wentworth has certainly made the most of her time with the Gulls, earning a second team all-conference nod after leading the league with a 0.72 goals against average. She recorded six clean sheets in her first season with the Gulls and led Endicott to the top seed in the CCC tournament.

“I think it’s really important to just be yourself in order to play better,” she explained. “If you’re not comfortable where you are, then you’re not going to play well.”

When asked about the demands of playing at the Div. I level, Wentworth, who is a psychology major and wants to attend med school, noted that everything took a backseat to soccer. As much as she loves the game, she also had to be realistic about where her career was headed and the important of academics.

“I love soccer, so that wasn’t really part of it, but when you play Div. I you find that’s your life,” she said. “Realistically, after college I’m not going to go play professionally, so there was no reason for that to be the only thing in my life.”

Unlike when she transferred to UMass Lowell, Wentworth joined Endicott in the spring. It afforded her the time to get acclimated with the campus, her classes, and with her new teammate. She took advantage of the extra time to become comfortable with her situation.

She also benefited from being the lone goalie in the spring, with the Gulls adding two freshman to the roster this fall. For the first time since leaving Taunton, Wentworth had control of the No. 1 jersey and was between the posts for every game. All soccer players, but particularly goalkeepers, rely on confidence to perform at their best and Wentworth felt the confidence growing with each appearance.

“The other two goalies with me are freshmen, so I knew that I had a shot at the job, but I still had to work for it,” she said. “The goalie position is more mental and knowing that they have the confidence to put me on the field every game definitely boosted my confidence. It makes me play better.”

At the time of the interview, Wentworth was preparing for the tournament opener and she was counting on her high school experiences to help her handle playoff pressure. Wentworth was the goalie for the only Taunton girls’ team to make the postseason and she helped the Tigers go on the road to beat Wellesley for the program’s first playoff win.

It is an experience that still resonates for the players that were part of it.

“We’re all still really good friends and looking back on it I even cry sometimes,” she said. “I don’t think Taunton will ever see another team that was that much of a family and that determined to get to the playoffs and get the job done. We made history and that’s something I’m never going to forget.”

Unfortunately, Endicott didn’t experience the same success in the tournament. The Gulls were beaten on penalties after 110 scoreless minutes, despite putting eight shots on goal and holding WNE to just one. It was the fourth straight year that the Gulls had the season end at the semifinal stage.

It wasn’t the ending that Endicott was looking for, but Wentworth knows that the team is in a good place and, more importantly that she is too. After two years of searching for the right place to play, the best fit for her, Wentworth has found a home in Beverly and she is brimming with confidence after a successful fall.

“Coming in I did have a lot of goals for myself because I had played at two other schools,” she reflected, “and I obviously didn’t have the chance to earn those honors there. Looking back, I’m kind of surprised with myself because I actually did it and my confidence shot up.”

She added, “Coming into a team that was already successful was very nerve-wracking, but I’ve definitely succeeded here and I think it’s gratifying to see that and know that those changes were the right decision. It’s nice to be able to step back and reflect and see that it all worked out.”