Unbeaten Season Comes to an End for KP in South Final

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Freshman Grace Lawler was given the task of man-marking Feehan star striker Francesca Yanchuk during the D1 South final and largely contained the forward. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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HINGHAM, Mass. – The game seemed to be going the same way as most of the 21 that preceded it. King Philip was hoarding the ball, putting consistent pressure on the opposing defense, creating scoring chances, and looking comfortable at the back after a switch to a 4-5-1 formation at halftime.

Suddenly, with little warning, everything changed in Saturday’s Div. 1 South final at Hingham High. A penalty given, a tying goal scored, and all the momentum (as well as the wind) suddenly at Bishop Feehan’s back.

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In a battle of unbeaten top seeds, Feehan rallied with two second half goals in the span of four minutes to secure a contentious 2-1 victory and claim its first sectional title. The Warriors (21-1) lost for the first time this season and fell just short of a second South title in three seasons.

KP coach Gary Pichel was left fuming and frustrated at the final whistle, believing calls that went against his team in the second half, particularly the penalty, changed a game that his team was otherwise controlling.

“We were in control,” he said, “except for the momentum-breaking calls out on the field that sent the ball the other way. We completely owned the field. The effort was there, the motivation was there.”

Frustration aside, he also praised Feehan for its fight back in the second half. “They worked just as hard as we did and the breaks went their way, so they’re the champs. I give all the credit to them for hanging in there and working as hard as they did.”

 

The Warriors came out with the wind at their backs in search of an opening goal. Chloe Layne, the league MVP who was recently selected as an All-American, had the first chance on a short goal kick. She got onto her left foot and sent a cross into the middle, but Ashley Kelly just got across to clear.

Feehan’s best chances in the opening half all came off set pieces. An Annie Pearl free kick was headed at the back post but Olivia Berry blocked it on the line and cleared for KP. In the 25th minute a free kick from Hailey Goodman was redirected on target but comfortably saved by KP keeper Taylor Butler.

KP dominated the majority of the half, taking advantage of the wind. Avery Snead cut across the edge of the box and sent in a left-footed shot that had to be saved at full stretch by Madison Breckner. Makayla Griffin sent Snead into space a few minutes later but her shot on the run was saved by the keeper.

In the 35th minute, the pressure finally paid off. Griffin whipped in a corner from the far sideline and Snead was there to nod it home from just a few yards out, putting KP deservedly ahead 1-0.

Jenny Montville had a chance to double the lead just before the break, but her shot from 20 yards sailed over the bar.

At the start of the second half, KP had several chances to add to its lead. Snead fed Layne, who in turn played Montville into the right channel but her chip over the onrushing keeper went just past the bar. In the 53rd minute, Snead slipped Kiera Lindmark down the left side and she hit a perfect cross into Layne unmarked in the center, but her volley was too high.

“I thought that was going in for sure,” said Pichel. “That was a perfect ball and [Chloe’s] usually adept at volleying it into the net. If that went in, then it would have been lights out I think.”

Despite the misses, KP looked largely untroubled. The defense, which had allowed only three goals during the regular season was keeping Feehan at arm’s length. Butler had to make a save at the near post when Goodman cut in on her left, but the combination of Griffin, Berry, Paige Varvarigos, and freshman Grace Lawler limited Feehan’s chances.

Lawler in particular stood out because she was matched up against Feehan junior striker Francesca Yanchuk, who has already amassed more than 100 goals in her career. Lawler met the physical battle and gave Yanchuk no good looks at goal for 60-plus minutes.

In the 63rd minute, a penalty was given when a Feehan player went down in the box. The KP defense and bench argued that there was no contact from the defender, who was shepherding the attacker away from goal. The official pointed to the spot and Yanchuk put enough power to give Butler no chance.

After tying the game, Feehan took control of the match and went in search of a winner. Moments after a collision between Yanchuk and Butler forced the trainer to take a look at the KP keeper, Sydney Kofton lofted a pass behind the KP defense for Yanchuk to chase and the forward beat Butler to the spot before deftly slipping the ball past the keeper and inside the post.

KP would create a couple of chances to equalize in the closing minutes. Jenna Hitchen set up Montville for a shot that was saved and then Layne hit a shot off the bounce with two minutes to play, but her shot went straight at the keeper.

It was not the ending that this KP senior class was looking for after a record-setting career. Layne and Snead both broke the existing program scoring record, with Layne finishing as the new top scorer. The Warriors won a pair of Kelley-Rex division championships and went to two South finals, winning the title in 2017. The 21 wins that the Warriors amassed this season was a program best.

“Im very proud of the kids. I’m super proud of them,” Pichel said. “They’re champs in my eyes, in the eyes of their fans, and their families and friends. I’m going to be sad to see these kids go. Had them for four years, the senior class is like, the best I ever had. You hate to see them go.”

“There’s been a ton of accomplishments. Final touches were going to be to win this and give it a great shot at states, but …”

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KP Gets Off to Strong Start, Books Place in Final

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King Philip players celebrate one of the three first half goals by the Warriors in a 4-1 victory over Needham. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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HANSON, Mass. – In the playoff opener against Hingham, King Philip took time to get going and watched as the Harborwomen put them under pressure from the opening whistle. It was a learning experience for the Warriors that they need to be ready to go from kick-off and take control of matches.

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It was a lesson that the Warriors put into practice on Wednesday afternoon at Whitman-Hanson’s O’Neil Field against No. 12 seed Needham. KP scored three times in the opening half hour and rolled to a 4-1 win that books its place in the Div. 1 South final for the second time in the last three seasons.

“We talked about it just before we came out that we really wanted to press them hard and put them back on their heels and make them think about defense more than their offense,” said KP coach Gary Pichel.

KP has had a target on its back essentially from the start of preseason practice, as the Warriors came in as one of the favorites in D1, and the players have managed to keep rising to the challenge.

“It has been tough to play with that target on our back,” said KP senior Makayla Griffin, “but we just take it one game at a time and focus on the game that’s coming up rather than looking in the long run.”

While KP would have the bulk of the early possession, Needham had the game’s first good look in the third minute when Samantha Scully teed up Madeline Ledbury for a shot from the edge of the box, but it sailed over the bar.

 

In the 13th minute, the Warriors started to convert their pressure into scoring chances. Jenna Hitchen slipped a pass into Chloe Layne, who then set up Avery Snead for a shot from 25 yards that forced a save. A minute later, Snead settled a throw-in from Paige Varvarigos, stepped inside her marker onto her right foot, and fired a shot that needed to be tipped over.

The opening goal nearly happed in the 19th minute when Snead headed down a Griffin corner and then knocked the rebound through the box, but Needham defender Maylin Carr cleared off the line just in front of Hitchen.

A minute later, it was 1-0. A ball out of defense from Varvarigos found the feet of Snead, who deftly flicked it into the path of Layne behind the Needham defense. The Rockets nearly got back into position but could only get a piece of the shot that slipped inside the post.

Once in front, the Warriors stepped on the gas with a pair of goals only a minute apart. Layne played provider for the first, finding a way through a double team to get off a cross from the left that found Snead for unmarked flicked header in the six-yard-box. The second came off a Griffin corner, as Snead met it at the back post with an unstoppable header that made it 3-0.

“We just came in on fire,” Snead explained. “Getting the early goals just allows everyone to relax because everyone is so stressed out in the beginning. Getting the early goals just calms us.”

She added, “[Chloe and I] just found a lot of space in the middle and we just kept trying to check to the ball and play through balls to each other. Once we got the first one, then we just got on a roll.”

Needham didn’t go quietly. In the 32nd minute, Ledbury had a free kick from 30 yards come back off the bar and it was Scully who reacted first to force the rebound over the line. That spurred the underdogs into their best spell of the match, closing the half as the team on the front foot.

“I told them that we weren’t making many changes, I just wanted the pressure to remain the same,” Pichel said about his halftime message. “High pressure, quick on the ball, force them to make mistakes, and then capitalize on those mistakes, and you pretty much saw that. They were all over them.”

The Warriors set out in the second half to grab the momentum back. Makenzie Shandley played Layne down the left channel, but her chip over the onrushing keeper was tipped wide of the post. Six minutes later, Snead was able to slip in Shandley but pressure from the Needham defender forced the shot wide.

KP kept piling up the chances to extend the lead. Olivia Berry stepped forward from defense and delivered a pass out to the left to Hitchen, who then crossed into the middle for Layne but the last defender was able to clear. Another Griffin set piece almost picked out Snead only for the keeper to come out, challenge, and knock it away.

The defensive unit for KP, which included Griffin and Berry in the middle, Varvarigos on the left, and freshman Grace Lawler starting on the right but man-marking Needham’s Caroline Hood, stood out again. Griffin explained, “I think we’re really good at communication and knowing where everyone is going to be at all times and just talking to each other.”

In the 59th minute, Layne had a shot on the turn that had the keeper stranded but slid over the bar. Just a minute later, Needham had its best chance of the half when Ledbury got on the end of a looped cross but her shot off the bounce went wide, with KP goalie Taylor Butler scrambling across the net.

The game stayed 3-1 until the closing seconds. Under pressure, the Needham keeper spilled a cross from the left and Kiera Lindmark was able to push the rebound across the line on the third try.

Pichel said, “That’s been our trademark all season is that hustle and the hard work they put into it. Having the skill level that they have and the hard work ethic that they have is a great combo.”

King Philip (21-0) will try to secure its second South title in three years when it takes on No. 2 seed Bishop Feehan on Saturday at noon at Hingham High.

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KP Earns Third Win Against OA and Advances to Semis

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Jenny Montville (5) and Ally Stanton celebrate the opening goal in King Philip’s 3-1 victory over Oliver Ames. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – It is never easy to beat a team three times in a single season, but King Philip continues to meet all challenges this year and continues to show that there is a lot more to the team than just its two superstars.

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The Warriors dominated the ball, limited Oliver Ames to a handful of half chances until late in the match, and had three different players find the back of the net in a 3-1 victory on Thursday afternoon that completes a sweep of the season series with the Tigers and sends the top seed into the Div. 1 South semifinal.

“You always worry about beating a team a third time, but my worries started to diminish when I saw how hard we came out and we were just taking it to them,” said KP coach Gary Pichel.

He added, “The kids came out with so much more energy at the opening whistle than they did against Hingham, so they learned their lesson. It’s not going to be a cake walk against a 16-seed and then you get OA and of course it’s always a battle against Britt (Sellmayer) and his team. We’re just happy to be moving on.”

OA’s defense was put under pressure from the opening kick. A long ball down the left channel was kept in bounds on the end line by Chloe Layne who created a corner, which Makayla Griffin curled it to the back post where it had to be cleared off the line. A minute later, Ally Stanton took a shot from distance that OA keeper Emily Meyers palmed out for another corner. Avery Snead headed the corner on target but Olivia Carroll was able to block on the line.

In the 12th minute, Layne again showed her ability to hold the ball up under pressure and passed it to Makenzie Shandley, who teed up Stanton for a shot that was saved. Three minutes later, Stanton played provider to set up Snead, who held off her defender but then blazed a shot over the bar.

 

The chances kept coming in the 23rd minute when Snead showed off her quick feet to dance around a couple of defenders but then dragged her shot wide of the post.

Allison Evin, the hero of OA’s overtime win against Franklin in the first round, nearly stunned the home crowd when she forced an Abigail Hodges free kick over the line, but it was ruled out for offside.

Led by Hodges, Carroll, and Emma Pereira, the OA defense had held the KP attack at bay, until the 36th minute. A bouncing ball landed at the feet of Jenny Montville, who hit a speculative shot on the turn from 25 yards. The half-volley looped towards goal and eluded the leap of Meyers before nestling into the top corner.

OA coach Britt Sellmayer said, “She hit it and it went up and came down in the net, so it was kind of deflating.” He joked, “It’s so hard to keep Chloe off and then Avery, I was thinking if we could stop those two, but we haven’t stopped them in four years, thank god they’re going to college.”

It was almost 2-0 in the closing seconds of the first half. Jenna Hitchen raced down the left side and forced a good diving save out of Meyers and then Montville saw her brace erased by a goal line clearance from Jenna Gilman.

“We’re trying to figure each other out in that first half,” Pichel said. “I was trying to figure out what his plan was, which was obviously to mark up with at least one person on Chloe and Avery, but I thought they were more defensive at the outset. We were just all over them.”

Eight minutes after the break, KP doubled its lead. Griffin set up Hitchen, who cut inside on her right foot and forced a save out of Meyers. The keeper managed to tip the shot onto the bar, but Snead was the quickest to react to the rebound and tapped it home.

In the 60th minute, the Warriors put the game away. A corner was half-cleared out to Stanton, who hit it first time through a crowd and into the bottom corner.

Pichel said, “We’ve worked hard the whole season to get them more involved with the play. Even though Chloe and Avery do the bulk of the scoring, we get big contributions from Jenny Montville and Jenna Hitchen and Ally Stanton. That’s three other players they have to worry about other than Chloe and Avery and that’s been a big plus for us all season long.”

OA started to create more scoring chances in the closing 15 minutes, but the KP defense of Olivia Berry, Paige Varvarigos, Grace Lawler (who was given the task of man-marking OA’s leading scorer Erin Holmberg), and Griffin proved difficult to break down.

“Sometimes you underrate their defense because of Chloe and Avery,” Sellmayer explained, “but it took us 70 minutes before we started getting some corner kicks and creating some chances on them.”

Leah Johnson had a chance blocked by Berry and Varvarigos was forced to clear a Hodges free kick off the line, while the rebound was sent over the bar. A Hodges corner in the 75th minute was met by a glancing header from Camryn O’Connor, but it went narrowly wide of the far post.

The Tigers avoided the shutout in the final minute. Johnson found herself with room on the left side of the box and picked out O’Connor alone in the middle. The sophomore took a touch and fired a shot into the side netting.

“We had some chances, but we didn’t get the luck that we needed in the first half,” Sellmayer reflected. “To beat a great team like KP, you’ve got to have some luck. We worked hard but it didn’t bounce our way today.”

King Philip (20-0) advances to face No. 12 seed Needham in the semifinal, which will be played on Wednesday at Whitman-Hanson.

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Canton Cruises Past Southeastern In Playoff Opener

Canton girls soccer Emily McCabe
Canton freshman Emily McCabe battles for possession in the second half against Southeastern. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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SOUTH EASTON, Mass. – The Canton girls soccer team might have just made it into the state tournament, but the trials and tribulations of the Hockomock League schedule have the Bulldogs prepared for anything this postseason.

That tournament run started on Tuesday afternoon with the 14th-seeded Bulldogs earning a dominant 8-0 win in the rain on the road against third-seeded Southeastern.

While the Hawks entered with just two losses in 14 games played, their schedule paled in comparison to the vigorous slate of 18 games that Canton played throughout the 2019 season. Of the eight losses the Dogs had this year, six came to playoff teams and the other two to two teams who missed the tournament by one game each.

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“When you look at the games we play throughout the season, we play really good Division 1 schools the entire season,” said Canton head coach Kate Howarth. “A lot of those games, like the OA and Milford games, we were in it until the end but let in a late goal, those were the things we really had to tighten up and make sure we correct those because that’s how you lose games in tournaments but I think the fact that we’ve had those games and experienced those adverse moments, now we know we can’t do that again.

“I know our seed wasn’t great because of games like that but I think it prepared us for this. Moving forward, I think we’re in a good spot. All the good teams we see throughout the year prepare us for when we come into the tournament.”

Canton had eight different players find the back of the net, with six coming in the opening 40 minutes to seize a commanding lead of the match.

 

After testing the Southeastern keeper just once in the opening 10 minutes, the Dogs flipped a switch and peppered the net with 11 shots over the final 30 minutes, with six chances finding the back of the net.

The goal parade began in the 11th minute after junior Mia Gilmore won a battle at the top of the box, took a touch towards goal and blasted a low shot to the far post for a 1-0 lead.

It took just four minutes for the Bulldogs to add to the tally. Sophomore Gabby Herivaux took advantage of space in front of her and ripped a shot from distance that sailed over the keeper’s head in the 15th minute.

Junior Elisa Diletizia jumped onto a perfectly played through ball in behind the defense in the 20th minute, going in alone on the keeper and sliding a shot past her for a 3-0 lead.

After over 10 minutes without adding to its tally, Canton found the back of the net three times in the final 10 minutes of the half to take complete control.

In the 34th minute, junior Olivia Rodman showed off her speed by racing past a pair of defenders down the right wing, cutting into the area and blasting a shot that forced a corner kick. On the ensuing corner, Gilmore put a service into the area and Rodman was there to clean it up to make it 4-0.

A minute after the goal, freshman Emily McCabe connected with junior Paige Drury at the top of the box. After a touch to get some space, Drury’s low strike snuck past the keeper for a 5-0 advantage. And then just before halftime, senior Lauren McCabe fired a shot from the right side of the box that found the back of the net to make it 6-0.

“It took us a minute to get going and I think the first 15 minutes or so we’re shaky,” Howarth said. “We had to tighten things up and play more disciplined. Once we did that, we started to get the goals. We started to play balls in and put shots on frame. Once we do that, we’re a pretty dangerous team. As far as scoring, we have a lot of weapons but it’s all about staying organized from front to back and playing an entire 80 minutes.”

The Hawks had a pair of chances in the opening 40 minutes but couldn’t find the back of the net. Senior forward Katie Micale raced onto a ball in behind the defense in the 23rd minute but Canton keeper Elyse Broderick came charging off her line and forced the shot wide. Broderick also denied Micale with a save two minutes later.

With a large lead, Howarth was able to rest her starters for the entire second half.

Canton added to its lead in the 51st minute when Drury made a nice run to force a poor clearance from the Hawks’ defense. The ball ended up on the foot of junior Jenna Parrella, and she looped a high shot just under the bar for a 7-0 lead.

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The Bulldogs capped the scoring in the 78th minute as Han Hong played a perfectly weighted ball between defenders to sophomore Fay Gallery, and Gallery made no mistake with a blast into the back of the net.

“It can carry over from here,” Howarth said. “We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve had a lot of kids score, we aren’t relying on just one or two players. We have five girls that are around 10 goals. We have a solid team environment where everybody contributes all the time. It doesn’t always happen but when it does it’s really beneficial for a team.”

Canton girls soccer (11-8-0) advances to the D2 South Quarterfinal and will travel to play #6 Somerset-Berkley (13-5-1) on Thursday at 6:00.