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.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – It certainly felt like the playoffs at Beaver St. Field on Saturday afternoon, and not just because of the cold. There was a fiery atmosphere at Franklin’s postseason opener against Braintree and the intensity, physicality, and aggression of the action on the field surpassed anything that the Panthers had faced in the regular season.
It took until the second half, but Franklin came to grips with that physicality and, thanks to a pair of goals within a minute of each other and a last minute goal line clearance, the Panthers were able to rally from a goal down to secure a thrilling 3-2 victory.
“That’s the most physical game we’ve had all year,” said a relieved Franklin coach Michelle Hess after the final whistle.
The Wamps came storming out of the gates and took control from the opening whistle, putting the Panthers back on their heels with a fast-paced transition game and a direct style. Franklin goalie Neilee Hess was forced into a save inside the first two minutes and the Panthers found themselves pinned back in the defensive half.
Braintree nearly scored in the third minute after a massive scramble in the crease, but the officials waved off a goal due to an infringement. Another cross came in seconds later but skipped right through the crease. In the fifth minute, the pressure paid off as the Wamps scored from a corner, Delia Lee getting the final touch to a cross.
Despite being the home team and the higher seed, Franklin looked nervous in the opening minutes and took a while to settle down. That was helped in the 13th minute by winning a corner, which was played out to Amanda Lewandowski, who set up a shot for Molly Collins. Olivia Rondeau was stationed at the post and was able to turn the shot in to make it 1-1.
The physicality was non-stop and freshman Kaitlyn Carney got tangled up with Lee in the midfield and was given a card for a trip. The Wamps took advantage of the extra player and regained the lead before the break with Lee getting the finishing touch from in close, flicking the shot past Hess (seven saves).
It could have been worse for the Panthers shortly after halftime when Allyson DeCoste and then Lee were denied at point-blank range by Hess in the Franklin goal.
Instead of being two behind, Franklin stayed within striking distance and started to find seams in the visitors’ back line. Lewandowski made a long run from inside her own half, but had a shot from outside the circle skid just wide of the post. Two minutes later, Rondeau found space on the right but back-to-back crosses were cut out by the Braintree defense.
“We noticed that they were trapping us on the left, pressuring us to go to the lefthand side of the field,” Hess explained. “We talked at halftime that since they’re doing that to us let’s switch the field more and start playing on the right and let’s using the middle a little bit. We also said they only have one girl back so let’s use some long balls since we have speed and at least get it into their half of the field.”
Finally, in the 49th minute, Franklin found itself level again, and again it was a well-executed corner that led to the goal. The ball was passed from up top to the end line and then sent across the crease, which led to a scrum on the goal line. Senior defender Maeve Ledwith was in the right place to get the telling touch.
“It picked up our momentum,” said Hess. “It recharged them. We work really hard on our corners, so it was great to see them execute and hit it at the right time.”
Before the teams had a chance to process that the game was tied, the Panthers were in front. A quick transition caught out the Braintree defenders and Stephanie Bell was able to redirect a shot up over the goalie’s blocker to make it 3-2.
Emotions were being frayed on both sides as the game’s intensity ratcheted up another notch for the final 10 minutes. The Wamps had a goal ruled out when a shot from beyond the circle went through a crowd of bodies untouched. Rondeau then set up Bell for a big chance but the shot went just wide.
With three minutes left in the game, Braintree had one final chance. DeCoste, who was mostly well-marshaled by Kate O’Rourke, got free and sent a shot towards the back post. Hess had been forced to cover the near post. so the goal was gaping but Collins hustled back to cover and swept the shot off the line.
At the final whistle, the Franklin players swarmed their goalie and celebrated a win that will get them ready for the challenges yet to come in the playoffs.
Hess noted, “Usually in the tournament you’re going to face a Walpole, who’s also another physical, aggressive team, or Somerset-Berkley, who has the boys, so yeah I definitely think this momentum and this excitement is going to let us continue to ride the wave and keep going.”
Franklin (15-2-2) will travel to No. 4 seed Westwood on Monday afternoon for the D1 South quarterfinal.
FOXBORO, Mass. – The Foxboro field hockey was in firm control throughout the first 40 minutes of its playoff-opening contest with Seekonk, applying constant pressure without allowing the visitors near any time on the attack.
In fact, the Warriors had racked up nearly a dozen penalty corners and peppered the Seekonk net with shot after shot.
But all the 4th seeded Warriors had to show for it was a 1-0 lead over 20th seeded Seekonk.
“It’s the tournament so it’s anyone’s game on any given day,” said Foxboro head coach Melissa Bordieri. “All it takes is a couple of breaks or a couple of bounces the other way.”
Fortunately for the hosts, the constant attack finally paid off as the Warriors found the back of the net four times over the final 20 minutes of play to earn a 5-0 win over Seekonk.
“I saw [Seekonk] play [its preliminary game],” Bordieri said. “It was 1-1 at the half, and Bourne dominated, [Seekonk] didn’t get a lot of corners but they still won. I told that to the girls at halftime, 1-0 is not good enough. We can’t sleep on that team, and sure enough, the first two minutes of the second half they were down our end.”
Foxboro sophomore Kate Collins squeaked a shot through on a tough angle, just getting the ball across despite a good effort from a Seekonk defender to try and clear it to give the hosts a 1-0 lead just under seven minutes into the game.
But that would be the only time the Warriors would solve the Seekonk goalie and defense for the first half. While the chances came in droves, the goals didn’t follow until the second half.
Collins’ corner connected with Molly McElhinney, who dished it off to Ella Waryas for a hard shot that was saved in the 12th minute. Collins found Jaime Notarangelo on a corner in the 24th minute, but once again the shot was saved.
And five minutes later, Ella Waryas smacked a hard cross that connected with her younger sister Mya, but the shot skipped just wide of the post. While Foxboro had six shots on net and eight penalty corners in the opening half, it also saw nearly a dozen shots go just wide.
“The last game, I think two of our four goals came on penalty corners. So I can’t wait to review the tape to see what was going wrong. It’s execution. Whether it’s the shot getting off and we’re not putting it away in front of the net, or we’re stopping our own ball, or we’re wide left or wide right…so we’ve gotta clean that up.”
Seekonk had a rare foray into Foxboro’s half early in the second half but was quickly denied by Warrior junior defender Shannon Egan, putting the hosts back on the attack.
After both Lauren Foster and Notarangelo had chances denied in the opening 10 minutes, Foxboro finally broke through to double its lead.
Collins sent a corner to McElhinney at the top of the circle, who quickly moved the ball along for a one-timer from Foster. After the initial stop, Notarangelo forced the keeper into another save at the near post. After a scrum in front of the net, Collins was able to bury her chance from in close to make it 2-0.
From there, the proverbial floodgates opened for the Foxboro offense.
Two minutes after Collins’ second goal, she helped orchestrate another. This time, her pass to McElhinney resulted in a hard shot that was redirected by Notarangelo for a 3-0 lead.
Six minutes later, Ella Waryas smashed a shot on net that was saved by Mya Waryas was there to clean up the rebound for a 4-0 lead with 9:15 left.
And the Warriors capped the scoring with 6:21 to go when Brooke Connolly finished off a pass from Notarangelo for a 5-0 advantage.
“For me, no, maybe after the fifth,” Bordieri said after asked if the second goal gave her any relief. “I think the second goal changed things for the girls. I think once they played with more confidence, once they relaxed they played much better.”
Foxboro field hockey (13-1-5) will host #5 Cohasset (14-4-1) on Sunday at 11:00 AM.
PEMBROKE, Mass. – King Philip junior Grace Crocker has created plenty of chances for teammates throughout the season, but Warriors’ head coach Lisa Cropper has been waiting for Crocker to emerge as a goal scoring threat herself.
Crocker picked the perfect time to do so, scoring a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the second half, to lead the 17th-seeded Warriors to a 3-2 win over #16 Pembroke on the road.
After the visitors fell behind just over five minutes into the contest, Crocker latched onto a loose ball in the area to bring KP level. And she added a second midway through the second half that proved to be the game-winner for the Warriors.
“Grace Crocker was just on, I kept telling her she was on fire today,” Cropper said. “She anticipated really well, that’s what got her the first goal. And she was aggressive in the circle on the third goal. I’ve been trying to get her to do that all year. She’s a great passer, she’s a great teammate. But she has great individual skills herself so I’ve been trying to get her to score more. I think she only had one goal in the season.”
Warriors’ goalie Makenzie Manning (nine saves) was forced into a pair of early saves, including a sprawling one across the goal line to keep the ball out. But the Titans continued to press, and after KP was unable to make a clearance, Pembroke’s Kaleigh Murphy buried a shot from inside the circle to make it 1-0 just 5:14 into the game.
“We’ve had that happen before,” Cropper said. “It was so early so we had time to reset, and that’s exactly what we talked about.”
King Philip did indeed reset, and in turn, dominated the next 15 minutes of play. The ball almost never left KP’s attacking half with Sammy Robison patrolling the middle of the pitch to help keep the Warriors on offense. That pressure led to five penalty corners in a short span.
Sophomore Molly Piller smacked a hard shot off a corner that was deflected just wide by a Pembroke defender. Two minutes later, Robison tried a lift shot that went just over the bar. Seconds later, freshman Lauren Barriero put a shot on net that was kicked aside but Paige Berdos’ bid on the rebound was just wide.
The Warriors’ pressure finally paid off in the 15th minute. Robison took a pass and switched the field, connecting with Abby Nixon out wide. Nixon used her speed to race down the left sideline before firing a cross into the circle. The service was deflected into the middle of the circle and Crocker was the first to the loose ball, ripping a low shot into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Pembroke started the second half in similar fashion to the first, applying a lot of pressure early. Manning came up with a big save on an original shot and Piller cleared a shot off the line from Pembroke’s Megan Dorsey.
But as the half went on, King Philip began to assert itself offensively. The Warriors were able to get the ball to the right wing to Berdos, who raced forward and fired in low hard crosses. After the first pair went unanswered, Cropper turned to her assistant Alli Burke to try and find a new option.
Burke suggested sophomore Margo Riley, and the substitute paid off almost immediately. Berdos’ hard cross was met by sophomore Isabella Crocker’s stick. Her deflection on goal was stopped by Riley was in the perfect position and buried the rebound chance for her first career goal, giving KP a 2-1 lead with 20:17 left in the game.
“Margo Riley, that’s her first varsity goal,” Cropper said. “Raegan [Simeone] is really steady and smart but she doesn’t always have the wheels to constantly get up and back. She couldn’t quite get to the circle for Paige’s cross. I asked my assistant Alli [Burke] and she said Margo. The second she gets in, she scores so it was a great call by Alli.”
The momentum stayed with the visitors as they continued to press in the offensive half. Five minutes after taking its first lead, King Philip extended its advantage with Grace Crocker grabbing her second goal.
Nixon was the catalyst again, this time carry possession to the circle before Pembroke’s defense intervened. A failed clearance ended up on the stick of Crocker and she deposited a close-range shot into the back.
Pembroke made it a one-goal game with just over five minutes in the game but the KP defense didn’t allow any chances in the final moments as the Titans pushed numbers forward.
“Charlotte Colella stepped up big time, Sammy Robison of course always plays great, Molly [Piller]’s hits were on point, Haley Izydorczak is always hustling,” Cropper said. “We made a couple little mistakes on their goals, they were quick and have good forwards. They do a lot of switching and we got a little confused but otherwise, I thought we played a good game.”
King Philip field hockey (10-6-3) advances to play top-seeded Somerset-Berkley (18-0-0) on Saturday at 3:00. It marks the fourth straight year the teams have met in the postseason, with KP taking wins in 2016 and 2017 and S-B in 2018. It’s also a matchup between the past two sectional winners.