Foxboro’s Playoff Run Finishes In State Semifinals

Foxboro football Brandon Mazenkes-O’Grady
Foxboro junior Brandon Mazenkes-O’Grady tries to get past a pair of Grafton defenders after hauling in a pass in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 BELLINGHAM, Mass. – Foxboro senior kicker Sam Carpenter couldn’t have put his kickoff any closer to the goal line without it being a touchback.

Following a 67-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Mike Marcucella to classmate Nolan Gordon that brought the Warriors within 14-12 with 5:29 to play in the game, Carpenter booted one that Grafton’s Liam Donagher originally let bounce. Instead of crossing the goal line, the ball stopped bouncing just before the goal line with the Warriors kickoff team barreling down the field.

Donagher was forced to pick it up and return it, and with a handful of Foxboro players chomping at the bit to make a big stop deep in Grafton territory, he was able to get out to the left sideline, got around one final block and then raced all the way for a 99-yard touchdown to restore a two-score lead.

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Grafton’s defense forced a turnover on downs on the Warriors’ ensuing drive and had an interception to close out Foxboro’s last chance to secure a 21-12 win to advance to the Division 4 state championship game.

“That just took all of the wind out of our sails and any of the momentum we had built up to at that point,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli. “Sam kicked the ball perfectly, they were way up and we just didn’t make the play.

“You gotta make plays. Some days you make them, and some days you don’t.”

Foxboro fought back after going down a pair of touchdowns early. The Gators scored on their opening drive when quarterback Casey Jordan linked up with Donagher for an 11-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. The touchdown came two plays after a 34-yard connection between the two.

The Warriors’ second drive of the game came to a halt on an interception from Ryanne Chibani, who returned it into Foxboro territory. Three plays later, Jordan dropped a 26-yard touchdown pass just over the defensive back into Donagher’s arms right inside the pylon to make it 14-0 with 10 minutes left in the second quarter.

Foxboro’s defense didn’t surrender another score the rest of the game, and the Warriors went to work clawing their way back into it.

A booming punt from Carpenter pinned Grafton at their 2-yard line, and the defense forced a three-and-out. An 11-yard pass from Marcucella to Lincoln Moore jump-started the drive. Grafton thought they had an interception but a roughing the passer call kept the drive alive, but not much longer as Carpenter booted a 39-yard field goal to get Foxboro on the board with 39 seconds left in the half.

Foxboro’s defense came up with a big play on the opening drive of the second half. Grafton marched to the Warriors’ 21-yard line but a throw to the end zone was read perfectly by Kaden Hassett and he came down with the interception for the touchback.

The Warriors capitalized on the momentum as Marcucella hit Gordon for an 18-yard completion to move the sticks on third down. Marcucella sandwiched a pair of passes to Tony Sulham around a 15-yard scamper from Ben Angelini, and the Warriors were quickly in the red zone.

Marcucella got inside the five on an 8-yard keeper but the drive stalled there and Carpenter came out to drill a 24-yard field goal to make it a one-score game, 14-6, with 2:10 left in the third quarter.

Foxboro’s defense bent on the ensuing Grafton drive but didn’t break. Jordan scrambled for 26 yards on a key third down play but later in the drive, the Warriors stuffed a 4th and short sneak attempt to get the ball back.

“I thought we took the run away from them but give them credit, they took what they could do better than what I’ve seen them do, and that’s throw the football,” Martinelli said. “They’ve relied on the run for most of the season and we were able to keep that in check but we weren’t able to stop the deep quick scores in the first half. [Grafton] is a good team but I’m proud of my kids too. Nobody ever expected us to be here but when you get here, you wish you could win it.

“We thought we could do a pretty good job against the run but [11] hit [8] a couple of times and those were the early scores. We never really rebounded all the way back, close, but not all of the way.”

After some short yardage carries and completions, Marcucella hit Gordon down the left sideline, just out of the reach of the defensive back, and Gordon raced his way to a 67-yard touchdown. Foxboro’s two-point attempt came up a yard short of the goal line.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Although Foxboro came up short in its quest to reach Gillette Stadium, it was a terrific run from a squad that reached the state semifinals last year but graduated a lot of talent, including one of the best running backs in program history. Martinelli credited his senior class for helping this team – which lost the first three games of the season – for making this run.

“They are the glue that kept everything together,” Martinelli said. “We don’t have a whole lot of them but the ones we had kept the young kids going, kept themselves going. At 0-3, they never hung their heads and they just kept working.”

Foxboro football (6-5) will host rival Mansfield on Thanksgiving Day with the Davenport division title on the line.

Salisbury Saves the Day, Mansfield Advances on PKs

Mansfield girls soccer
Mansfield senior Olivia Salisbury pushes aside a Longmeadow penalty, her second save in the shootout, helping the Hornets advance to the D2 quarterfinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Penalty shootouts are unnerving experiences. Your season is on the line and most of the team can do little more than watch from the middle of the field, as teammates step to the spot or toe the goal line and try to become heroes. If you’re going to have to go through a shootout, then it helps having a record-holding senior standing in goal.

Olivia Salisbury made five saves in regulation and overtime, but it was her two stops in the shootout that eventually decided Wednesday night’s visit of Longmeadow to Alumni Field. The Hornets advanced 4-3 on penalties after the game finished 2-2.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Longmeadow forward Samantha Goodrich, who scored the first for the Lancers as they battled back to force overtime, stepped up to take the first penalty. Salisbury bounced a couple of times, planted, and dove to her right, getting two hands to the shot. After Bridget Hanley made no mistake to put the Hornets ahead 1-0, Salisbury, who set a new school record for career clean sheets this season, was able to this time go down to her left and palm Jamie Greenman’s shot around the post.

“We do at least two or three rounds [of PKs] every day, so it’s definitely a lot of practice but then again you never know when it’s people that you’ve never taken PKs against,” Salisbury said afterwards. “You have to just go in thinking that you can save it.”

She added, “After saving the first one, it definitely set the pace for me. I got way more excited and then after stopping the second one I was very, very excited.”

Mansfield would put the next penalty over the bar and Longmeadow scored to cut the lead to 2-1, but Brooke Penney and Courtney Croak, a pair of players who saw little action during the game, both scored to put the Hornets on the brink.

Catherine Pelliccia powered her penalty past the dive of Salisbury, meaning senior Olivia Homsi would get the chance to close things out and keep her, and Mansfield’s season, alive. She gave the Longmeadow keeper no chance, finding the bottom left corner to seal the win. As she raced back to midfield, Homsi was engulfed by half of her teammates, while the rest went to congratulate Salisbury.

“She made two good saves,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith said about Salisbury. “She’s been fantastic. I’d put her up against anyone in the state as a goalie, I really would.”

When asked about his final goal scorer, Smith added, “She broke her wrist in the OA game and she said, I’ll be ready for PKs coach, I’ll be ready for PKs and thankfully she got cleared to play.”

Mansfield started the game well. Maddie Fernandes played Avery Hawthorne into the left channel and her deflected shot was held by the keeper. Two minutes later, Olivia Dunham’s corner was flicked onto classmate Lauren Signoriello at the back post, but the freshman’s shot went wide.

In the 18th minute, Alexandra Fernandes, who was a menace to the Longmeadow back line all night, made a smart turn and put a shot on goal that was spilled for a corner. This time, Dunham’s cross was to center back partner Kara Santos and she looped her header back across goal and over the keeper’s dive to make it 1-0.

Longmeadow was struggling to create good looks. Greenman tried an angled ball to Gracie DiStefano, but Dunham and Jill Koppy combined to clear the dangerous pass.

Eight minutes before the break, Mansfield doubled its lead. Hawthorne hit a cross-field pass to Fernandes on the right. The freshman had a beautiful touch to take it past her marker and then she fired a shot into the bottom far corner to make it 2-0.

Mansfield seemed to be in total control of the match, but the Lancers halved the deficit just seven minutes into the second half. Goodrich made a nice move onto her right foot and curled a 20-yard shot past the dive of Salisbury and just under the bar.

The Lancers had the momentum and nearly tied it when Teia Vengco crossed from the right to the back post, but Greenman wasn’t able to make clean contact and Salisbury was able to collect. A couple minutes later and the visitors did equalize. Goodrich played a beautiful one-touch pass over the top for Greenman in the left channel. The Mansfield back line was stretched and DiStefano was open in the middle for a tap in.

“Even being up 2-0, they were fantastic, they were a great team,” Smith said about the Lancers. “At halftime, we were talking that even up 2-0 we needed to keep going because they were so good that they can come back at any time and they did.”

Dunham would have one more chance before the end of regulation on a 30-yard free kick. The freshman hit it pure but the ball wouldn’t dip quite enough, crashing back off the crossbar.

In the second overtime, it was Longmeadow’s turn to come close to a winner. Goodrich was again the catalyst, turning her marker on the right side and smacking the bar from a tight angle. The rebound fell to Greenman bur again the contact wasn’t great and Salisbury was gratefully able to snag the shot.

That left penalties to decide things and Salisbury to provide the winning moments.

“It’s what the game is all about, that high intensity,” Salisbury explained. “In a game like this, where if you don’t win you’re done, it’s a crazy feeling and you want nothing more than to win. It’s such a different feeling than a regular season game or winning 3-0. It’s so more of a rewarding feeling.”

Smith added, “After full time, I said adversity makes champions, so what are we going to be? We finally had some adversity and it was good. It tested us and we came out the other side.”

Mansfield (13-3-4) will now travel to No. 3 seed Minnechaug on Saturday afternoon.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Hockomock Boys Soccer: Players to Watch in 2022

2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch
Milford’s Nick Ribero will be one name to keep an eye on this season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

Player are listed alphabetically

2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch

Rex Cinelli, Junior – Franklin

Franklin junior Rex Cinelli has been a mainstay in the Panthers’ back four over the past two seasons, and for good reason. The league was littered with talented center backs last year and Cinelli was right there at the top and earned HockomockSports.com Best XI honors. He sets the tone with his strong aerial challenges, consistently winning important challenges from clearances and crosses. But he’s also very good with the ball at his feet and that allows the Panthers to play out of the back and keep possession. Franklin is always well organized in the back and Cinelli is a big reason for that.

2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch

Matt Crago, Senior – Matt Crago

King Philip had a lot of new faces in its lineup last season after graduating over a dozen players from the class of 2020, and then the Warriors had to deal with an abundance of injuries throughout the year. One versatile piece back in the puzzle this season for head coach Mike O’Neill is midfielder Matt Crago. Crago is a true box-to-box player that we’ve seen play in the heart of the field before, but can also venture out to the wing if needed. Wherever the ball is on the field, Crago isn’t far off — whether it’s sitting deep in the midfield to help the defense and then offer an outlet option out of the back, or in the attack with the ball at his feet looking for diagonal runs behind the defense. And he showed last year (and so far this preseason) the ability to score from distance and make things happen as he pushes forward.







2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch

Carson Dameron, Junior – North Attleboro

Although just a junior, Carson Dameron begins his third year as a member of the North Attleboro varsity program and the Rocketeers will be looking to lean on his experience as they try to challenge in a crowded Kelley-Rex division. A crafty midfielder, Dameron was North’s honorable mention selection for Hock All Stars a season ago. The Rocketeers trust him with the ball at his feet and he is a good decision maker — whether it’s to play in a service (like his assist in the Leach & Garner Cup last year) or to have a go from distance (his blast from just outside the area in overtime against Dartmouth smacked off the underside of the bar and stayed out). North was a relatively young squad last season so, with a bit more experience, the Rocketeers will be a team to keep an eye on.

2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch

Rhys Davis, Senior – Sharon

Sharon senior Rhys Davis is coming off a great junior season, and would likely have been a HockomockSports Best XI selection in any other year except the 2021 season featured the deepest pool of talent at that position in a long time. Back again this season to anchor the Eagles’ defense, Davis is right near the top of the list of best defenders in the Hockomock League and in the surrounding region. Sharon is another team that fought its way through some injury challenges last season but so far so good this season for the most part, and behind a talented and sizable senior class — Davis is one of 16 seniors on the squad — the Eagles are a serious contender for the Davenport division title. Davis will partner with classmate Tyler Goodman in the middle of the defense with fellow seniors Tony Yang and Malachi Diaz, and that will give Sharon a formidable, veteran back line with Davis right in the heart of it all.




2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch

Jake McCabe, Senior – Canton

Canton had a terrific season a year ago and one of the several reasons for that was the emergence of Jake McCabe as one of the most dangerous attacking players in the Hock, and by the season’s end, one of the best in the state. McCabe has all of the skills and intangibles that you want in your No. 9: a great touch, speed, vision, and as he showed just about every team he played last year, the ability to finish. Despite defenses preparing and game planning for him throughout the year, McCabe found his way to 13 regular season goals (tied for most in the Hock) and three more during the Bulldogs’ run to the state finals. He’s already off to a great start with a goal in Canton’s first league game and that’s likely just the first of many this season.

2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch

Casey Milliken, Sophomore – Oliver Ames

It’s not often an underclassman makes the list, but it’s an easy choice after watching what Oliver Ames sophomore Casey Milliken during as a freshman during the 2021 campaign. Strictly by the numbers, Milliken had 10 goals (fourth most in the Hock) and 11 assists (second most in the Hock) to finish the regular season with a league-high 21 points — as a freshman. But there’s much more than just the numbers. Milliken covers a ton of ground and has a high work rate. If the ball is in the area, expect Milliken to provide a hard challenge and quickly turn defense into offense for the Tigers. OA graduated some key weapons but there is plenty of talent still back, and Milliken is off to a flying start with an assist in the opener and essentially created both of OA’s final goals.

2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch

Riley Rebello, Senior – Taunton

There aren’t many players in the league that can play in as many positions at such a high level as Taunton senior Riley Rebello. Over the past two seasons (although the 2020 campaign was brief for the Tigers), we’ve seen Rebello up top scoring goals, sitting in as the holding mid, pushing up as an attacking center mid, or anchoring the defense at center back. And it seems wherever he goes, that part of the field becomes a strength for the Tigers. He earned HockomockSports Best XI honors a year ago at center back but it looks like he’ll venture more into the attacking third this season from the middle of the pitch. It’s nothing overly flashy from Rebello but his play is consistent and reliable, and you can count on him to make the right play.




2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch

Nick Ribero, Senior – Milford

Milford has enjoyed a resurgence of the past couple of seasons with four straight division titles (two Davenport, the past two Kelley-Rex division), and over that span, the Scarlet Hawks have had some of the top players in the Hock come through the program. An Eastern Mass. All Star selection a year ago, Milford senior Nick Ribero is right up there with the best of them. Patrolling the center of the pitch, Ribero is such a vital piece in the heart of the midfield, and everything they do really runs through him. One of the best possession teams in the league, Ribero does a great job of finding space to make himself available and then is so good at finding open teammates to keep the ball and spark the attack. And on top of it all, he’s smart with the ball: he makes the right choice on when to keep possession or when to hit the ball forward to try and get behind the defense.

2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch

Aiden Steele, Senior – Mansfield

Mansfield graduated one of the biggest senior classes in the league last year (14) so as they integrate a lot of new faces and younger players, head coach Steve Sheridan is going to lean on his three captains, including striker Aiden Steele. Steele is the type of player you don’t want to give any space to — sometimes easier said than done — because he’s shown in the past that he can punish opposing defenses anytime he gets into the attacking third. He does well to find those spaces, whether it’s dropping back a bit to collect the ball, pressuring defenders into a turnover, or finding space in behind the back line. The Hornets will be looking for Steele to set the pace up front after graduating the majority of their goals scored from a season ago.

2022 Hockomock Boys Soccer Players to Watch

Alex Vecchioli, Junior – Attleboro

Attleboro looks like a team ready to compete for the division title this season, and one reason for that is that the Bombardiers had a handful of options for this watch list. But the list wouldn’t be complete without the 2021 HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Alex Vecchioli. After breaking onto the scene during the truncated 2020 season, Vecchioli really put his name on the map with a tremendous season a year ago. Whether he’s dropped back into an attacking center mid role or moved up front to a striker position, he’s an impact player. He’s very confident with the ball at his feet and has no fear taking defenders on 1-on-1. He scored a team-high 10 goals a season ago and registered two assists. He has a strong group of players around him like classmates Luke Hagopian and Billy Badger and formed a great partnership with senior Esvin Morales last year that will be a challenge for defenses again this year.

Franklin Comeback Denied by CM In Overtime

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin senior Sean Vinson goes up for a shot in the first half against Catholic Memorial. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 FRANKLIN, Mass. — Halfway through Tuesday night’s contest between Franklin and Catholic Memorial, things weren’t looking very good for the host Panthers.

At the end of the fourth quarter, Franklin nearly walked off with a crazy comeback win.

After all was said and done, Catholic Memorial emerged with an 81-78 win in overtime, withstanding a gutsy comeback effort from Franklin to advance to the Division 1 Round of 8.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin trailed by as much as 19 points overall, and even trailed by a dozen with six minutes to go but was able to rally to force overtime.

“The pride I have for the guys is unbelievable,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “I was just telling them in the locker room how proud I was, they made the whole town of Franklin proud. A lot of teams would have just gone away with the way things were going and the momentum they were carrying. We had nothing going in the first half, we weren’t making shots we normally make, some bunnies and some easy looks. We weren’t playing like ourselves.

“We talked about how there’s no 10-point shot, no single shot will save us. It was about trusting each other, it was going to be a slow grind and a marathon of a second half.”

The 21st-seeded Knights landed a couple of haymakers in the first half, hitting on seven three-pointers and shooting over 50% from the floor to establish a 43-28 edge on the road going into the halftime break.

But the Panthers still had plenty of fight left, scratching and clawing their way back into the contest over the final 16 minutes of regulation.

Franklin cut the deficit down to five on a pair of occasions in the third quarter, the latter on a late three from sophomore Henry Digiorgio (16 points, five rebounds) but as they did all night, CM answered as Brady McGowan drained one of his four three-pointers before the buzzer to put the Knights up 60-52.

While Franklin had essentially cut the halftime deficit in half, the Panthers still had work to do. CM pushed its advantage back to double-digits, up 64-52 after a pair of free throws from Matt St. Martin.

Sophomore Sean O’Leary (16 points, 10 rebounds) scored inside, and a couple of plays later sank a three to get Franklin within two possessions down 66-59. A stop led to two more from O’Leary, and another stop was followed by a traditional three-point play from junior Ben Harvey, who had a career night with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists.

Franklin got a pair of stops and overcame a turnover to get a chance to tie it down two. Harvey hit one from the line but senior Sean Vinson (24 points, eight rebounds) hauled in the offensive board and found Digiorgio for a three from way deep, and suddenly the Panthers led for the first time since the opening minutes of the game, up 68-66 with 45.7 to go.

The Panthers continued their stellar second half defense with another stop and Harvey tacked on one of two from the line to extend Franklin’s lead to 69-66 with 39.5 seconds left. CM answered as St. Martin hit a layup and was rewarded with a free throw as well, which he sank to make it 69-69. Franklin’s shot just before the buzzer hit off the iron and stayed out.

Vinson and CM’s Peter Gellene traded baskets to start the extra period, and then Vinson took a feed from classmate Ryan Sullivan to give Franklin a 73-71 lead. Corey Dolison answered with a three for the Knights, and after back-to-back Franklin turnovers, Gellene drained a triple to make it 77-73 with 1:52 left.

“They made a lot of big shots, a lot of tough shots like those pull-up jumpers in the lane — those aren’t easy shots,” Neely said. “I thought we made them work for everything they got. They had an answer tonight. I thought our defense was so much better and more physical in the second half and that brought a different energy. Top to bottom, we were the Franklin team I expect us to be every night in the second half. Unfortunately against a team like that, you can’t dig big holes. Give our guys a ton of credit, they played a ton of minutes against the pace they play at. But we just weren’t able to put them away.”

Sophomore Andrew O’Neill and O’Leary each made free throws, and the latter drove to the rim for two more to make it 79-78 with 11.5 seconds left. Franklin was forced to foul and Dolison hit both. The Panthers went the length of the court and got a contested three off before the buzzer but it was off the mark.

A back-and-forth first quarter saw the visitors take a 17-12 lead, but the Knight really created separation with some successful three-point shooting. CM hit on five of their seven attempts from three-point territory for a 26-point second quarter.

Harvey, who had reached double-digits in scoring just once this season, became a reliable option on the offensive end for the Panthers. He scored half of his 20 points in the first half and his success playing in the post helped formulate Franklin’s point of attack in the second.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“When he’s making those layups inside and he’s posting up like that, he’s pretty difficult to stop because he’s so physical,” Neely said of Harvey. “They don’t have a lot of size, a couple of wider bodies but they were switching everything and we thought we could get Harvey and O’Leary and Vinson inside and I thought that played out pretty well in the second half. We just didn’t finish like we needed to if you want to win a game in the Sweet 16 of the Division 1 tournament.”

Franklin started the second half with a 12-5 run to get back into the game. O’Leary had a steal that led to a bucket, Vinson scored on a post move and then knocked down a straightaway three. Vinson had another triple, Digorigio had two, and Harvey scored three straight as the Panthers cut the deficit down to 48-43 halfway through the quarter.

Franklin boys basketball finishes the season 20-4.

Mansfield Shakes Off Stoughton, Cruises To Big Win

Rocco Scarpellini Mansfield football
Mansfield running back Rocco Scarpellini (22) is tackled by a host of Stoughton players, including junior Timmy Chung (11). (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield might be a young team with a lot of inexperience on both sides of the ball, but through three games the Hornets have looked like veterans.

For the third straight game,

Mansfield football

Mansfield rallied from a deficit to earn a win, this time in impressive fashion in the form of a 42-14 win over Stoughton, the first meeting between the longtime Hockomock rivals since 2012.

The Hornets had to score a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to take home a win against St. John’s Shrewsbury after seeing a halftime lead disappear. Last week, it took a last-minute drive the length of the field to force overtime against North Attleboro, a game in which they won in double overtime.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

On Friday night, Stoughton stunned the home side by scoring the first two touchdowns of the game. The Black Knights scored on their second drive of the game and on the first play of the second quarter, and were just five minutes away from taking a 14-0 lead into halftime.

“When the first quarter ended, this was not what I expected to be on the scoreboard at the end,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “I thought we were going to be in a dog fight and the way it was going, I thought we’d be lucky to pull it out. We were making mistakes, they were capitalizing and they were aggressive on both sides of the ball.”

Mansfield football

Stoughton had to punt after going three-and-out on its first possession of the game, but on Mansfield’s second play of their first drive, the ball came loose on the handoff, and Anthony Girolamo, making his season debut after suffering an injury during the Fall 2 season, pounced on it to give the visitors possession.

The Black Knights got the first down on a gift when the Hornets jumped offside on fourth down but the visitors earned the next one when Girolamo rumbled for 12 yards on a fourth and two situation. On the next play, Jonah Ly bounced to the left side and Girolamo delivered a big block to a member of the secondary, springing Ly for a 14-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 5:38 left in the first quarter.










Stoughton’s defense held when Emmett Pearl came up with a big tackle for no gain on fourth down at the Black Knight 40-yard line, forcing a turnover on downs. A sack from Mark DeGirolamo set Stoughton back but on third and 10, the Knights ran a screen play and sophomore quarterback Jarred Daughtry found Ly on the left side and he took off down the sideline. Junior Tyler Noel came up with the final block and Ly went in for a 50-yard score and a 14-0 lead just moments into the second quarter.

Mansfield football

But from there, Mansfield showed how quickly it can change a game.

The Hornets overcame self-inflicted penalties to complete their largest drive of the game: 15 plays for 73 yards, capped by a two-yard plunge from Rocco Scarpellini. Stoughton looked to have a huge stop on third down in the red zone but were flagged for pass interference.

Mansfield football

Mansfield converted the short third down and Scarpellini scored on the next play to halve the deficit with 4:04 left until halftime.

Momentum completely swung in favor of the Hornets when senior Braeden Veno came up with a strip sack on Stoughton’s next drive and Jephte Jean recovered for the home team.

Five plays later, the Hornets found the end zone. Junior Conner Zukowski (15-for-18, 174 yards, three touchdowns) floated a screen pass to sophomore Brian Butler, who won the jump ball just over a Stoughton defender and went in for a 6-yard touchdown. Mansfield knotted the score, 14-14, on James Gilleran’s point after with 21 seconds left in the first half.

“The big drive was the first touchdown, we had all those penalties and still overcame it and got it to 14-7, and just a little bit of change in momentum and kind of took some pressure off,” Redding said. “Then we get the fumble and another one before halftime and that just changed the whole game, kind of flipped it on its head. If we don’t convert there and it’s 14-0 at halftime, this is a whole different game.”

Mansfield football

Mansfield received the kickoff to start the second half and the offense continued to roll. The Hornets scored on four straight possessions in the second half, the only drive that didn’t end in points was the final one when the clock ran out.




“The second touchdown really hurt,’ said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “We should have just run the ball, punted if we had to, and go into half at 14-7. Next thing you know, they’re ahead. They had one or two big runs and they hurt us on a couple of passes. If you don’t move the ball and you give them the ball, you’re in trouble.

“I wish we had a better result but the kids tried. We’re down in numbers overall, we had three starters out. I’m not saying it changes everything but it would have helped for sure. It was great to get Girolamo back, once he gets going he’ll be fine. We had some chances to play better but we just didn’t get it done. But we’ll keep working hard at it.”

It took just four plays for the hosts to find the end zone in the second half. Faced with third and 12 near midfield, Zukowski found sophomore CJ Bell wide open downfield and dropped a pass into his hands. Bell spun free from a tackle and dove across the goal line for a score.

“We knew coming in after looking at their lineup, they have eight or nine kids that play every snap,” Redding said. “I thought that meant we could win the fourth quarter, which turned into maybe we had to score to win in the fourth, but I thought we wore them down a little running the ball.”

Sophomore Trevor Foley came away with an interception on the next Stoughton series and took it all the way to the house for a 50-yard interception return but a block in the back nullified the score. Instead, on the first play of the ensuing series, Zukowski threaded the needle up the seam to Foley for a 24-yard touchdown.

After a Stoughton punt, the Hornets were looking at 3rd and one from midfield. Stoughton sent a lot of pressure up the middle and Scarpellini got free after he bounced out wide, scampering the rest of the way for a 50-yard touchdown.

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Sophomore quarterback Connor Curtis took over midway through the next series and had back-to-back option keepers, the latter going for an 11-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.

“It’s good to know with all the youth that we’ve got some character,” Redding said of the ability to come back in each week so far. “No one has really panicked, I think the kids realized at the end of the [first] quarter we had got get it going in a hurry. But for a bunch of young kids, especially at the skill positions, they don’t seem to get rattled and just move onto the next possession. In all three games, we’ve had a really good 36 minutes but we’ve had a 12-minute span where one quarter we just don’t play well but fortunately, we had enough time to overcome it.

“But we have our hands full the next two weeks with Franklin and Milford back-to-back, whoever did the schedule didn’t do us any favors. We’ve gotta bring our ‘A’ game for 48 minutes for the league schedule, there are some heavy hitters in the Kelley-Rex division. The next two weeks should be fun in the Hockomock.”

Mansfield football (3-0) opens Kelley-Rex division play next week when they hit the road to take on Franklin (3-0), who took down Duxbury on Friday night. Stoughton (1-2) is also back on the road, taking a trip down Route 138 to take on Oliver Ames (1-2).

KP Gets the Crucial Bounce to Edge Out Mansfield

King Philip Girls Soccer
KP freshman Mikayla Thompson (24) celebrates with her teammates after scoring an early goal against Mansfield, which turned out to be the game-winner. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – When Mansfield and King Philip square off on the pitch, it is inevitable that the game will be close, physical, fast-paced, and usually come down to a single bounce of the ball in either direction.

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On Monday night under the lights at Alumni Field, it was the Warriors that got the bounce. Morgan Norrman was able to chase down a long ball over the top, getting enough on it to push it into the path of freshman Mikayla Thompson to apply the finish. Despite Mansfield pressure throughout the second half, particularly on set pieces off the left foot of freshman Gabby Smith, Thompson’s goal held up and KP moved back into first place in the division with a 1-0 win.

“Another Mansfield/KP classic,” said KP coach Gary Pichel after the game. Mansfield coach Kevin Smith agreed. He said, “It was one heck of a game. There is a lot of talent in this league. Great coaching, great players, and the atmosphere was great.”

Pichel added, “We got the first bounce and I was looking for more bounces in the second half. I thought my keeper was outstanding. She came out and made some fantastic plays under pressure. It was a battle of the midfields again, like it usually is with us, and we were just lucky to get the right break at the right time.”

The goal came against the run of play, as the Hornets started brightly. A loose ball in the box gave the hosts two chances to put the ball on target but freshman defender Rihanna Mason, just called up from the JV team, was back on the line to block both efforts. In the 11th minute, Olivia Homsi cut inside from the right wing onto her left foot, but her shot was right at KP keeper Lauren Casper.

Although it was Mansfield that started on the front foot, in the 12th minute it was KP that was ahead on the scoreboard. A long ball over the top put the Mansfield back line under pressure. Normann gave chase and managed to squeeze between the defender and keeper Olivia Salisbury. A toe poke pushed the ball past the onrushing goalie and Thompson kept running to be there for the tap in into an empty net.

It was a first half of few clear-cut chances. Smith, the freshman defender, had a go from 25 yards on a free kick but sent it over the bar. Another Smith free kick in the final minute was only partially cleared and Carly Devine had a half-volley from the edge of the box that also went high.

Mansfield continued to put pressure on the KP defense, but the Warriors held firm with Casper controlling the penalty area, Grace Lawler sweeping up behind the back line, and Rylie Wesley holding up well as the Hornets consistently went down her wing.

“They were picking on our left side,” Pichel explained, “but Rylie played like it was our strong spot. She fought tooth and nail. It was a good battle. She held them off.”

Tarynn Smith had a chance early in the second half, but Casper was able to tip it over her head and then catch. Another cross from the right nearly picked out Smith at the back post, but again the keeper was in the way. Gabby Smith had another good look with a free kick on the right corner of the box and the shot curled inches over the bar.

The Warriors were trying to get forward quickly. Freshman Dani Lomuscio had a solid game in the midfield, sending angled balls out to the wings. It was her through ball that sent Ella Pisani clear down the right channel. KP’s leading scorer put her shot on target but Salisbury was able to palm it over the bar.

It was a rare chance for the visitors. The Mansfield defensive pairing of Smith and Kara Santos managed to repel most of KP’s attacks and leave Salisbury largely untroubled in goal.

“Except for that one long, over the top ball, we clamped down on them really well,” Smith said. When asked about the free kicks from his freshman center back, Smith added, “She’s learning and she’s growing. Her set piece delivery is fantastic.”

As the second half wore on, spurred on by a large crowd on both sides, the game became more frenetic. Mansfield continued to press, trying to avoid a second straight defeat. Devine sent in a low corner from the left that Smith volleyed just wide at the near post. Smith fired in a long free kick that was headed straight across goal. Anna Darlington met it at the far post, but the angle was tight and she only found the side netting.

Smith continued to play provider out of the back. Her ball over the top gave Darlington something to chase. The senior was able to get a toe on it at the edge of the box, but Casper was out quickly and smothered the shot.

It looked like the Hornets may have equalized with four minutes to go. Smith’s free kick was caught by Casper in traffic, but then the ball popped loose and went across the line. Celebrations were immediately cut short, as the official blew for a foul on the keeper.

Smith said, “We found a lot of space between their lines, we were playing quickly, we were finding gaps in their back line and credit to their keeper and their back line, I thought Grace Lawler had a great game, every time we got close they just had that last little touch.”

King Philip (4-1-0) will try to remain unbeaten in league play when it hosts Sharon on Wednesday. Mansfield (2-2-0) hosts Stoughton, trying to end its two-game skid.

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Sanchez Provides Scoring Punch for Canton at OA

Canton football
Canton senior Cam Sanchez (22) rushed for 166 yards and scored three touchdowns to power the Bulldogs to a 26-6 win at Oliver Ames. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – It makes things significantly easier on an offense when you have a player that can break big plays at any time. Canton didn’t have to worry about putting together long, time-consuming drives in Friday night’s game at Muscato Stadium because senior Cam Sanchez was capable of finding the end zone from anywhere.

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Sanchez (14 carries, 166 yards) scored three times, including once on special teams and twice on plays of more than 80 yards, lifting Canton to a 26-6 victory over Oliver Ames in the first league meeting between these rivals in four years.

“He can go at any time,” said first-year Canton coach Anthony Fallon. “Sometimes you’ve got to just keep tapping the rock and the rock will break. He’s our ‘tap the rock’ guy this year. Last year it was Fitz (Kyle Fitzgerald) and this year it’s Cam.”

It was the Tigers that got on the board first, taking advantage of good starting field position on their second possession. Jake Grimaldi (1-for-11) recorded his lone completion on a 26-yard pass to Jadon Ricci (89 yards of offense) and OA got an extra 15 yards when an official collided with a Canton coach on the sideline. After sophomore Chad Silva (15 carries, 94 yards) gained 14 to the Canton one, Grimaldi reached over the line and just broke the plane.

The two-point conversion attempt was stopped but OA had a 6-0 lead. It lasted 16 seconds.

One the ensuing kickoff, Sanchez grabbed the ball at the nine and took it straight up the middle, getting a couple of key blocks and bursting through the OA coverage for a 91-yard score. Will Keefe’s extra point put Canton in front 7-6.

“We just put that middle return in this week and everyone seemed to hit their assignment, which was great, and Cam took it right up the middle,” Fallon explained.

OA went right back to work on its next drive. The Tigers put together a 13-play drive that got all the way down to Canton eight. Collin Williamson (10 carries, 60 yards) had a pair of carries for 30 yards on the drive and Grimaldi had a three-yard sneak to convert a big third down. On third and goal, Jack Albert came up with his first big defensive play, sacking Grimaldi back to the 16.

The first fourth down and goal attempt resulted in a pass interference on the goal line. That moved the ball half the distance to the goal (the eight-yard-line) but wasn’t an automatic first down. Brian Murphy got to the quarterback on the second fourth and goal attempt, forcing an incompletion and a turnover on downs.

Three plays later, Robert Botelho (3-for-12, 13 yards) audibled on third and six, running an option play to the near sideline. Sanchez took the pitch and hit another gear, flying past the OA defense for an 88-yard touchdown.

“We’re thinking, okay we can get a score here and then we don’t and they come right out and take the ball and run their option, Cam Sanchez is a hell of a player, and they coached it right up” said OA coach Ed DeWitt. “They did a good job with the scheme on that one and he takes it right down the sideline. It’s a 14-point swing.”

It was one of those days for OA. The Tigers continued to move the ball and had some success in the ground game, but penalties and big plays by the Canton pass rush (six sacks, including three by Carson Campbell) seemed to stymie their chances of putting points on the board.

“It’s so frustrating,” DeWitt admitted. “We feel like we had a couple of shots there, where we got the ball either inside the red zone or just to the red zone and then it’s penalty, mistake, holding, turnover down here. Offensively, we’ve got to finish drives.”

On its first possession of the second half, OA again moved the ball into Canton territory. Silva had carries of 10, 11, and 13 yards to get down to the 15. The energy level had picked up on the OA sideline but a fumbled hand-off was recovered by Albert, ending a great scoring chance.

Albert was a standout for the Canton defense. After Botelho was intercepted by Ricci early in the fourth quarter, Albert almost single-handedly ended the OA drive. He made the tackle on first down, stopped Silva for no gain, and then dropped Silva for a loss of two on third down.

“Jack was tremendous on defense,” said Fallon. “His helmet is going to be covered in bones. He had a great defensive game. In big moments he came up, when it was third and we needed a play he did a great job.”

Canton got great field position off that stop, as a short punt gave them the ball at the OA 28. Sanchez had been quiet for a couple of quarters, so he took the first carry straight up the gut, going untouched into the end zone for the score that put the game out of reach.

The Bulldogs continued to have Grimaldi on the run. Pressure from Bahsor Mahn led to an interception for Andrew Butler. Later in the fourth, Campbell and Albert had back-to-back sacks to put OA on its own five. On third down, the duo combined to force an intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety.

DeWitt said, “We thought we had some of the run stuff, but when you go down two scores in the fourth quarter that kind of goes out the window. We know we need to score early to get ourselves ahead. We know we have to play with the lead.”

Keefe would cap the scoring with 22 seconds remaining, as the soccer player who is taking advantage of the extra season to play football, nailed a 34-yard field goal.

Fallon said, “Last week (against North Attleboro) we struggled with some guys not knowing their assignments, not doing their assignments, and this week we were better at it. We still have a lot to work on and we’re going to keep grinding it out and getting there.”

Canton (1-1) will try to keep things going next week with a trip to Foxboro. Oliver Ames (0-2) will look for its first win of the season when it travels to league-leading North Attleboro.

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Maffeo Nets Four and Secures Canton a Spot in Semis

Canton Girls Hockey
Canton freshman Olivia Maffeo scored four goals in the D2 quarterfinal to lift the Bulldogs past Ursuline Academy. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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BRIGHTON, Mass. – Up in the rafters at the Warrior Ice Arena hang the numbers of some of the top players in Boston Bruins history, including Bobby Orr’s famous No. 4. Down on the ice, Canton’s wunderkind was showing that it never gets old to see a defenseman who can skate circles around an opponent and be as effective in the attacking zone as any forward.

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Ursuline Academy had no answer for freshman Olivia Maffeo in Wednesday night’s Div. 2 quarterfinal in Brighton. She scored four times to eclipse the 30-goal mark for her rookie campaign and to power Canton to a 5-0 victory that puts the Bulldogs in the state semifinal for the third time in the last four years.

“It’s awesome,” said senior defenseman Alexa Maffeo about her sister’s goal-scoring heroics. “It’s hard to go to the net sometimes because you just want to watch whatever move she does. It definitely helps having a star like that.”

Maffeo’s classmate Carolyn Durand was also impressive in the win, recording 17 saves for her 14th shutout the season. The freshman class, including defenseman Maya Battista and forwards Audrey Koen and Ellie Bohane, has been instrumental in Canton’s success this season even as the team makes another run at a TD Garden trip.

“They don’t play like freshmen,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich when asked if he was surprised about the continued success of the younger players. “Maya is one of Liv’s teammates on the Junior Eagles and they’re as composed as you get. I’ve seen Carolyn have 14 shutouts this season. They’re playing well.”

While youth has been at the forefront for Canton this season, there is experience in the lineup, particularly seniors Meg Aldrich and Maffeo in the defensive corps. They have both been in the mix for the Bulldogs in each of their recent playoff runs and are key to shoring up things in the Canton zone.

“We’re definitely a defense-based team, so having two captains back there we can motivate the girls from the back,” Maffeo explained. “We know that offense comes from defense. We can be there to support them, even if they make mistakes we’ll be back there.”

There wasn’t a lot of offense in the opening period, as both teams looked to get the puck in deep and send the forecheck to try and force turnovers. The first chance came after two minutes when Durand gloved aside a shot by Tess Marchi that went off Alexa Maffeo’s glove on its way to goal. Olivia Maffeo had Canton’s first look with a trademark rush from her own zone and a slap shot from the high slot that Ursuline goalie Lucy Reardon saved.

Tess Khoury showed off her stick skills to dance through a pair of Ursuline defenders, gain the zone, and then force a pad save with a wrister from near the blue line. Maffeo almost got her first with a rip from the right circle that just caught Reardon’s shoulder and stayed out.

The game remained scoreless heading into the final minute of the period. Maffeo collected the puck on the left boards, dragged it between a pair of Ursuline players, beat a third into the middle, and then roofed a shot from the slot while falling down to give Canton a spectacular lead.

Canton wasn’t creating a lot of offense with its forecheck, but was causing Ursuline problems with getting the puck out of the zone. Early in the second that led to a pair of chances, the first from Lizzie Tassinari and the second from Alexa Maffeo. A couple of minutes later, Maffeo hit Maria Femia with an outlet pass down the right wing and her centering pass to Tassinari was tipped just wide.

Ursuline nearly evened the score when Marchi led a 3-on-2 breakout, but her shot was right into the chest of Durand. Tassinari connected with Femia, who managed to wriggle free of a pair of Ursuline players for a breakaway but Reardon came up with a big stop.

Olivia Maffeo got back into the act, as she dragged the puck past a pair of players and forced a blocker stop from Reardon.

In the final minute of the second, Canton not only doubled, but tripled its lead. On a power play, Khoury went circle-to-circle to find Maffeo in space and she buried the chance through the save attempt of the goalie. Just 27 seconds later, Maffeo followed up a loose puck and picked a corner to make it 3-0.

Aldrich said, “They played with a lot of energy the first five [minutes] but I think because we were able to roll three lines and five ‘D’ and the first two periods we had three goals and I think it was from wearing them down a little bit.”

It only took 1:05 into the third for the win to be wrapped up. Maffeo again raced up the ice and got space in the right circle before firing a shot through the goaltender. Durand made seven stops in the third to preserve the shutout, including a nice pad stop on a shot through a screen.

Payton McDonough’s pressure forced a turnover that gave Faith Nelson a chance that hit Reardon and the post on its way by. With 2:03 to play, Canton got a fifth. Koen’s snap shot smacked off the end boards and came right to Khoury, who showed great patience before lifting a shot over the sprawling goalie.

“We’d certainly like to see some other people get some pucks behind some goalies but as long as they’re going in I think these guys are okay,” said Aldrich.

Maffeo credits her years of experience for making things easier when it gets to this stage. She said, “My first year, freshman year, definitely I was nervous and I think playing with those nerves helped me, but moving forward having been here two times already I feel comfortable on this ice. I feel set in my position, I know what to do, I know how to win games of this caliber.”

Canton (18-1-4) will play the winner of Norwell and Notre Dame Academy in the state semifinal on Sunday back at the Warrior Ice Arena at a time to be determined.

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