CANTON, Mass. – After a mid-April matchup against the Pembroke Titans, the Canton Bulldogs knew their Division 2 South playoff matchup on Tuesday was not going to be easy.
“We played Pembroke earlier in the season and beat them 8-6,” said Canton head coach Bill Bendell. “We had some guys missing but they were good and we knew they were going to get better and they have a great coach. We knew it was going to be a dogfight when we looked at the seeding, we were like ‘Ah man, this is not going to be easy,’ there were some other matchups we would’ve preferred.”
The result for the Bulldogs on Tuesday was eerily similar to the first go around, as they pulled out an 8-7 victory in a hard-fought matchup.
The scoring came fast for Canton, as senior captain Charlie O’Connor took the opening faceoff and scored himself to give the Bulldogs a lead just eight seconds into the game.
“I wanted to set the tone for our team, make sure we had the momentum going our way,” O’Connor said. “I did what I could, ran down, they didn’t play me on the fast break and just took it to the net, shot and it went in.”
That wasn’t O’Connor’s only big play of the afternoon. After a strong defensive play by Gabe Galeotos and a clear by Brendan Albert with under a minute to go in the first half, Canton used a timeout with 29 seconds left to try and draw something up.
After the original shot was turned away, the ball laid unattended in the crease where O’Connor was able to play clean-up crew, scooping it into the net with one second remaining.
“The play right before halftime, we drew a couple things up, if they do this we’ll do this and we executed perfectly but they played really good defense, so they took away what we were trying to run,” Bendell. “Then our captain Charlie O’Connor knocked that ball in with one second left and that’s the game, that’s the game winner if you look at it that way.”
“I just brought out my inner hockey instincts almost,” said O’Connor. “Coach always says play to the whistle if the ball is on the goal line then poke it in…I poked it in and luckily, I kept my feet outside of the crease.”
The last-second goal gave the Bulldogs a 4-2 lead heading to halftime, forcing Pembroke to have to adjust during the break, which is exactly what they did.
The adjustments started with faceoff specialist Aidan Geary, who won eight draws in the second half to help bring the Titans get back into the game.
“[Geary] was really good and they made some adjustments,” Bendell said. “[Charlie] won the first one and scored and set the tone, that was huge, but after that, they really tightened that up and made it a battle. It was tough to get possessions.”
With those extra possessions, the Pembroke offense wasted little time getting back into the game.
After Mike Shaw (two goals, one assist) gave Canton a 5-2 lead, Pembroke’s Ryan Mulhern (two goals) scored in a five on five situation to pull the Titans back within two.
Canton then seemed destined to pull away yet again after a strong save from goalie Jack Connolly and a two-man advantage. However, the two-man advantage didn’t affect the Titans as Patrick Mulhern (three goals, one assist) scored with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
The Titans then used their own man advantage with a Colin Newton goal and Michael Hendriksen added an even-strength goal just one minute later to cap a 4-0 run, which gave Pembroke their first lead of the game.
Canton then quickly answered when Kevin Albert (two goals, one assist) snuck one in just seconds after the faceoff to tie the game at 6-6 to end the third.
To start the fourth, Albert cashed in on another opportunity with 10 minutes remaining, only to have Patrick Mulhern tie the game just two minutes later. But with just over seven minutes remaining, a shot directed right to Albert who found Griffin Roach in front for what was the eventual game-winning goal.
“We’ve lost some one-goal games with these seniors so they’ve seen that,” Bendell said. “We were at D-Y a couple years ago and had them, then they beat us by a goal. We had Sandwich, it was tied late and they scored with under a minute left to beat us, so we survived and advanced just like they survived against us and advanced.”
Over the last seven minutes, the score remained 8-7 in large part due to Connolly in net. Connolly made four big saves in final minutes of regulation, including one with two seconds left that sealed the victory for the Bulldogs.
“He’s a beast, that was huge,” Bendell said. “The defense at the end of the game was clutch. You know the stick gets a little tight in those situations for some guys, but these guys thrive on that stuff. Jack doesn’t get discouraged, he might have a moment where he puts his head down for one brief moment but he’s still a sophomore, he’s a confident enough kid who plays varsity hockey, varsity football and varsity lacrosse so this is nothing new to him. He loves the spotlight and that was huge, that was clutch.”
Canton boys lacrosse (10-7) will now travel to face the No. 3 seed Sandwich on Thursday at 5:00 P.M.
“We just said to these guys, the first win of the playoffs is the hardest,” Bendell said. “We’ve done that trip before, it’s not an easy trip and they’re a good team. But now you’re playing house money, you got past the first round now we’re the lower seed technically so now the pressures on them to beat us and we’re a tough team, so we’ll see.”
CANTON, Mass. – With 50 seconds left in regulation, Scituate’s goalie made his first save of the night and the Sailors, who led only once, had the opportunity to win the game. Canton LSM Brendan Albert’s stick check knocked the ball loose as the clock wound down and he managed to flick the ball backwards off the sideline to be scooped up by Matt Martin.
That defensive stand forced overtime in Monday night’s Div. 2 South showdown at World War II Veterans Memorial Field, but the Bulldogs would need another stop if they wanted to have a chance at the win. Canton held on defensively for more than two minutes before snatching possession.
Following a timeout, the Bulldogs put the ball in the stick of junior attacker Griffin Roach behind the cage with classmate Mike Shaw setting a screen to give Roach a step of space. That was all he would need. He drove towards the alley and spun back on his defender towards the goal and finished in traffic to lift Canton to an 11-10 victory.
Here is the overtime goal by Griffin Roach that handed Canton a big win over a potential playoff opponent and moves the Bulldogs closer to tourney qualification #hockomockpic.twitter.com/kTT9EJwn9w
“They’ve been shutting off Mike Shaw, so we thought lets play some two-man game with and what are they going to do?” said Canton coach Bill Bendell of the closing sequence. “There’s no one I want the ball with that’s better than Griffin Roach. It was like slo-mo, we’ve seen it so many times in practice. he bring it so high and then inside roll and buried it.”
About the defensive stand that set up the winning possession, Bendell raved, “If they don’t beat us in transition, then we’re going to be okay because 6-on-6 we’d been playing really well.”
It has been a difficult stretch of the season for the Bulldogs, who lost to division rival North Attleboro by two and Sharon by one. It was also the second straight overtime game for Canton, which lost to King Philip last time out in a game that was a mirror image of Monday night.
“We had that,” Bendell said of the KP loss. “We had possession for like three minutes in overtime and then they had it for 10 seconds and scored.”
He added, “We deserved this one. That’s why the celebration was probably a little excessive but it was all that monkey off our backs.”
Scoring was at a premium in the first half. Dan Cohen got the night started with a man-up goal off a Kevin Albert assist, ripping a shot from straightaway. Scituate scored 90 seconds later to tie it, but Canton regained the lead with six minutes left in the first. Charlie O’Connor raced straight off the bench and down the middle where he received a pass from David Allen and held it until finishing on the edge of the crease.
The Sailors tied it again three minutes into the second, but Roach scored his first of the night with a drive to the cage from the right side, spinning past his marker and flicking a shot over the goalie. Scituate hit the post and Canton missed a chance off a turnover when Kevin Albert’s pass sailed over Shaw’s stick.
Cohen opened the scoring in the second half to build a two-goal lead, but Scituate answered back with three straight goals to take its first and only lead of the night at 5-4. Sophomore Jack Connolly made a big save and outlet pass to Cohen for a transition goal that tied the game and stole back momentum. Connolly finished the game with 16 saves.
“He’s a monster,” said Bendell. “I thought he played out of his mind. That’s one of the reasons the zone can be so effective is he takes up a lot of the cage, he’s athletic, he makes clears very well and now we’re going the other way.”
Cohen added an assist on a man-up situation a minute later with a perfect skip pass to Shaw on the left wing and the attacker patiently picked the near post corner to make it 6-5. Nick MacKay forced a turnover at midfield with a minute left in the third and ran around in the offensive half trying to use up the rest of the clock, but then the long pole dodged past his tired marker and scored with three seconds left in the third.
Bendell said of Scituate, “They never went away. At one point we had a two-goal lead near the end and I thought okay this is going to be it. They kept coming.”
The teams traded goals to start the fourth quarter, with Cohen scoring his fourth of the night. Scituate then scored two in a row to even the score at 8-8. Allen struck the post with a rocket of a shot, but the carom went right to a teammate, Kevin Albert, who found the back of the net with a lefty shot on the run.
Again, Scituate tied the game and had the chance at the lead but Connolly made one of his four fourth quarter saves. Albert was again the player to step up and put the Bulldogs in front with a similar effort to his first goal.
“When things were stalling is when Kevin said, I need to make a play and he scored a couple of big goals,” said Bendell.
Things got nervy at the end, especially with the way things had been going in close games in recent weeks, but the Bulldogs were able to pull out a much-needed win. Bendell said, “In my head, I was thinking that I just hope our guys believe because we were close against North Attleboro, close against Sharon. We had those games in hand and let them slip away, so we needed this. This is karma.”
It was also a win over a potential playoff opponent. Bendell added, “We needed a resume win this year. Not to take anything away from the teams we’ve beaten but we didn’t have that marquee win. This is a good team that we beat. We can build on this.”
Canton (4-5, 6-6) will be back home on Wednesday against Taunton, now needing two wins in the final four games to seal a tournament berth.
CANTON, Mass. – In the opening game of the season for both teams, Canton held off a second half push from Oliver Ames to record a 12-6 win on Thursday afternoon.
The Bulldogs built a four-goal advantage over the first 24 minutes of action, taking a comfortably 7-3 lead into halftime. But Oliver Ames came out with renewed energy in the second half, scoring a pair of goals in the third while blanking Canton’s offense to make it a two-goal game (7-5) heading into the final frame.
But Canton responded well, scoring its first of four straight goals less than two minutes into the fourth to fend off the Tigers’ comeback effort.
“[OA] came out ready to go in the second half,” said Canton head coach Bill Bendell. “It’s the first game, which is part of it, but OA came out with grit in the second half and was ready to go. They took it to us in the third. Then we woke up a bit in the fourth, realized the game wasn’t over and went on to finish it. I’m really happy to come away with the win. We made our share of mistakes so we still have plenty to work on too.”
Canton started the contest strong, scoring the opening goal less than a minute in when junior Griffin Roach charged up the middle and ripped a shot into the back of the net just 55 seconds in.
The Bulldogs kept their foot on the pedal as junior Mike Shaw took advantage of an OA turnover and scored from in close after a nice shot fake, Roach took a handoff from classmate Matt Martin, changed direction to get past a defenseman and rifled one in, and Ryan Sullivan took a feed from Shaw before firing a low shot, giving Canton a 4-0 lead eight minutes into the game.
Oliver Ames picked up some momentum before the end of the quarter by getting on the board. Sophomore Shane Kilkelly dodged past a defender, faked a shot to draw the attention of two others and then slipped a pass right in front to classmate Hunter Costello for a goal in tight.
The Tigers capitalized on that momentum to begin the second quarter, cutting the deficit to two when senior Owen Gallagher used his speed to wrap around the goal and a bounce shot to make it 4-2 just 32 seconds into the frame.
Canton sophomore David Allen extended the advantage back to three when he scored from a tight angle with 6:40 to go in the first half, only for Kilkelly to answer just over 30 seconds later. Kilkelly backed his way towards goal and used a nice spin move to create space for his shot.
Roach had the answer for Canton, scoring back-to-back goals in under a three-minute space. Just a minute after Kilkelly’s strike, Roach rushed up the middle and fired a bounce shot that snuck just under the bar. The junior cashed in again up the middle, whipping a hard shot to make it 7-3 heading into halftime.
“He’s a stud,” Bendell said of Roach. “He’s a junior captain for us, he can go left or right hand, he gets back and plays defense. He’s just an all-around great player, he’s the hardest worker on the team…exactly what you want from a captain.”
OA got off to a strong start in the second half when senior Jack Lang put the Tigers on the board 38 seconds in, making it 7-4. That goal seemed to set the tone for the period as OA controlled for the majority of the 12 minutes.
But it wasn’t until the final two minutes that OA cashed in again. Sophomore Frankie Ireland made a nice hustle play at midfield to gain possession and then came sprinting into the zone. He found Costello in the middle, who instantly returned the pass on a give-and-go and Ireland tucked his shot from in close just under the bar at a tight angle it to make it 7-5.
“In the third quarter we started executing our offense,” said OA first-year head coach Ben Devlin. “We controlled the ball a little bit more, we worked it around, and we were running our offense the way its supposed to be run. In the fourth, we started to press a little. We were chasing the score. I think the kids thought the deficit was a little bit more than it was so they started to force a little bit. We started playing aggressive and they were able to beat it at times.
“Bill [Bendell]’s a smart coach, we know his offense can kill a lot of clock so we had to press. It all came down to execution…when we won ground balls, won faceoffs and ran our offense, we were right in the game.”
Canton put an end to that momentum early in the fourth. Albert found Shaw cutting through traffic in front less than two minutes in to make it 8-5.
“We were better when we moved the ball and moved around,” Bendell said. “We did a ton of standing around on offense. We tried changing formations…the guy with the ball would end up just standing, or maybe he was moving but then everyone else was watching. I think that’s early stuff, but we talked about moving off the ball a little bit more in the second half. It got better as the game went on, and then in the fourth, they had to press us and that made us move more.
Roach (with 8:14 left), Albert (7:43) and sophomore James Murphy (5:49) scored in succession during the fourth to pull away from the Tigers. Costello added his second, again on an assist from Kilkelly with 2:35 left.
Albert completed his hat trick with just over a minute left to cap the scoring.
“Our guys were really amped up for the game, they knew they had a chance to win it,” Devlin said. “We knew if we executed, we could win. I was encouraged by our scrimmages, I thought we looked really good. But we just didn’t put it on the field today and execute at our best.”
Bendell also noted he felt that freshman TJ McCabe’s performance at the faceoff X was a big factor in helping the Bulldogs earn the win. Canton senior Charlie O’Connor, the team’s normal FOGO specialist, is out hurt and Bendell said McCabe filled in admirably.
“One of the things I thought we did well today was on faceoffs,” Bendell said. “With Charlie out hurt, TJ took them and he competed on every single one and that really gave us a chance.”
Oliver Ames (0-1, 0-1) will try to bounce back on Friday when it hosts Foxboro.
2017 Record: 8-10 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Kevin Koppy
After coming up just one game shy of the postseason, Attleboro is aiming to make the playoffs for the first time in program history in 2018.
The Bombardiers doubled their victory total from 2016 to 2017, going from four to eight in the win column. Attleboro returns 11 players from last year’s squad and has a total of 12 seniors on the team. Now in its fourth year, interest in the program is growing rapidly with 17 combined freshmen on either varsity or the JV roster.
There will be a lot of experience on the defensive end for Big Blue. Junior captain Trevor Koppy is back for his third year as the Bombardiers’ starting goalie. He turned away 306 shots last year with a 64% save percentage. In front of Koppy, senior captain Dan Perry is back to anchor the defensive unit which features all seniors.
“Dan is a physical defender that has excellent field awareness and leads by example,” said AHS head coach Kevin Koppy. “He’s constantly hustling and fighting hard for loose balls.”
Perry is joined by classmates Jim Nordberg and Chris Reynolds on close defense while Matt Potter will man LSM and Matt Jiminez brins an extra long pole presence to the defensive unit. Another returner is senior Kyle Henry, resuming his role as the team’s primary faceoff man. Henry had a successful 2017 season in that role and Big Blue will rely on him to spark the offense once again.
Seniors Jimmy Burke and Aidan McKenna, junior Cam Littig, and sophomore Thomas Shipman return to the midfield for Attleboro. Big Blue will have some new faces on the attack with seniors TJ Infante, Shane Joubert, and Aidan Downey leading the way. Freshman Mike Strachan and Matt Perry will also be involved in Attleboro’s attack.
2017 Record: 8-10 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Bill Bendell
The Bulldogs found themselves in an unfamiliar position at the end of last season: on the outside looking in for the postseason.
Canton is looking to get back into the postseason this year after coming up just one game shy of qualifying. The Bulldogs won three straight to give themselves a chance but fell just short on the road against Abington in the final game of the season.
Using that as motivation, look for the Bulldogs to be right back in the mix this season. Leading the way will be senior captains Kevin Albert, Charlie O’Connor, and Griffin Roach. All three patrolled the midfield last season but could see time in other spots depending on how the lineup comes together.
O’Connor will step in to handle faceoffs but could miss some time early along with defensemen Brian Ghostlaw and Brendan Albert. Until Canton gets back to 100%, it will rely on senior Gabe Galeotos, junior George Kent, and sophomores Nick Mackay and Jace Emma to provide protection in front of sophomore goalie Jack Connolly. Connolly had a superb freshman season in the cage for the Bulldogs and will try to build upon that his season.
Junior Mike Shaw is back for his third year on attack for Canton, providing experience and leadership up front. Juniors Matt Martin and Dan Cohen, along with sophomores Chris Lavoie and David Allen will also figure into the Bulldogs’ offense this season.”
“We have a great group of kids this year with a nice blend of experienced players and new faces,” said CHS head coach Bill Bendell.
2017 Record: 11-9 2017 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East First Round Coach: Matt Noone
It’s safe to say Foxboro head coach Matt Noone is optimistic about the 2018 season.
The Warriors graduated just three players total and return their starting goalie, the entire defensive unit, and top three scorers from a season ago. Foxboro’s record was a bit deceiving based on how much talent they had, with five one-goal losses and two two-goal losses. The Warriors were dropped in the opening game of the playoffs by just one goal after holding a multi-goal lead in the second half.
With so much of the line up back, Noone is hoping to turn those close losses into wins.
“We’re going to be a better team than we were last year,” Noone said. “We have to play within our system, and do the simple things…if we do that, we will be very good and very tough to beat. If they don’t, we’ll be losing those one-goal games again.”
It all starts with defense in Foxboro with Jake Addeche returning in the cage for his third season. Addeche (185 saves) is one of the best goalies in the region and will have a very experienced defense in front of him. Senior Pat Kaveny and junior Pat Stapleton will anchor the defense, both with equipped with plenty of skill and experience, while sophomores Ronnie MacLellan and Matt Lathrop each already have a year of varsity experience under their belts.
Junior Brendan Tully (24 goals, 15 assists) will pace the Warriors in the midfield (“His lacrosse IQ is off the charts,” Noone notes). Tully can help transition Foxboro from defense to offense, and his ability to keep possession helps the Warriors control the tempo. Tully is complemented in the middle by seniors Louis Blake and Mike Collins while both Shayne Kerrigan and Bobby Yerardi will be in the mix as well.
Offensively, the Warriors look to be well-balanced with Louis Piccolo (25 goals, 13 assists) back this year along with senior Mike Moses (18 goals, 20 assists), junior Pete Conley (15 goals, 23 assists) and senior Andrew Whalen.
2017 Record: 16-5 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lou Verrochi
Expectations are high for the 2018 season based on the talent the Franklin Panthers boast this year.
“We return a very good team,” said FHS head coach Lou Verrochi. “We have a very good and deep bench too, we’re looking forward to the season.”
The long list of returning talent starts with All-American and 2017 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Eric Civetti. Civetti (Rutgers commit) has been tormenting opposing defenses since his freshman year. He scored 70 goals and notched 24 assists as a sophomore, and then netted 79 goals and 21 assists last year, totaling 194 points between the two years. The Panthers will also boast senior Zach Alexander and freshman Matt Lazzaro on attack.
The midfield will be loaded with two talented lines available. Captains Kyle McEniry (10 goals, 21 assists) and Chase Tanner (29 goals, 10 assists) will be joined by the speedy Nitin Chaudhury (24 goals, 10 assists) on the Panthers first unit while Jake Davis, Johnny O’Glishen, and Owen Palmieri give Verrochi an incredibly talented second unit.
As if the midfield wasn’t loaded enough, the Panthers have 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Jacob Alexander back to dominate the faceoff X. Alexander, who is committed to play at Bryant University, has dominated at the X for the past two years and really gives the Panthers an advantage in terms of getting possession. “He’s arguably the best FOGO in Mass,” Verrochi noted.
The defense will be anchored by junior Patrick Morrison (Rutgers commit) along with Trevor Raffin, Jack McGrath and Spencer Briggs. Sean Lazzaro will be our top LSM while the Panthers have plenty of talent as SSDM with Will Harvey, Ben Kolb, and Aaron Mollo in the mix. Backstopping the team in goal will be Colorado commit and captain Connor O’Rourke (169 saves, 64% save percentage).
2017 Record: 13-9 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals Coach: Hal Bean
The Warriors will be looking to replicate the success they had in the 2016 season again this year.
After finishing 9-2 in league play (second in the Kelley-Rex), the Warriors had an impressive postseason run, competing with top-seeded and eventual sectional champ BC High in the D1 South Quarterfinals.
A big reason why KP has had a lot of experience over the past four years is goalie Paul Macrina. Macrina is now manning the cage at Drexel University, so there are big shoes to fill in the cage this season for KP.
King Philip also has to find replacements for the production lost by LSM Zach D’Amico, attack Tim Watson (56 goals, 28 points – second in the Hockomock League), and defenseman Connor Khung – the first two selected to the 2017 HockomockSports.com First Team and Khung apart of the Second Team.
All is not lost though as the Warriors have junior Colin DeVellis back to spearhead the attack. DeVellis was fourth overall in the Hockomock League in points last season, scoring 22 goals and notching 36 assists (58 points). Another key piece will be senior Nate Minkwitz, who can make an impact on both ends of the field. Minkwitz had 13 goals and five assists last season and will aim to improve on that. Expect LSM Wesley Bishop and midfielder Aidan Bender to factor in this season as well.
2017 Record: 12-7 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tim Frias
Mansfield returns a good amount of talent from last year’s playoff squad so the Hornets will certainly be looking to book a return trip as well as compete for a Kelley-Rex title.
The Hornets return one of the most dangerous attackmen in the area in senior Hunter Ferreira. Ferreira’s combination of size, speed, and strength – as well as finishing ability – make him a must-watch for opposing defenses. Most will dedicate two defensemen his way but Ferreira still finished fifth in the league in points with 34 goals and 19 assists. Ferreira will be joined by returners Aidan Sacco and Mike Reed, giving the Hornets an experienced three-headed monster on offense.
The midfield is also loaded with experience behind returning starters Joe Cox (19 goals, 14 assists) and Danny DeGirolamo (17 goals, 15 assists). Cox, who was named to the 2017 HockomockSports.com Second Team, muscles his way through opponents, while DeGirolamo can use his speed to cause problems. Haig Megerdichian, Brett Kessler, Connor Quirk, and Brad Grant will all see time in the midfield as well.
Tommy Donnelly will anchor the defensive unit but the Hornets will have some new faces in back. Dan Plugis and Chris Copponi will both see a lot of minutes for the Hornets in front of goalie Jack Munroe, who stepped in last season and impressed in the cage.
“Our strength this year will be at the midfield with lots of legs,” said MHS head coach Tim Frias. “We should be good in transition as well.”
2017 Record: 4-13 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jacob Scordato
Milford hasn’t had a ton of success overall since it joined the Hockomock League, but new head coach Jacob Scordato is hoping to change that going forward.
Scordato takes over a team that had just four wins a year ago and is the third coach in the past three years for the program.
“Our players are focused on making our program a successful one,” Scordato said. “Boys lacrosse in the Hockomock is known for being a tough league, and Milford lacrosse is going to be making a lot of noise from here on out.”
Although the Hawks don’t have an incredibly deep roster, the optimism stems from the experience returning on offense. UMass Boston commit and senior captain Andrew Gallagher (16 goals, 7 assists) will be a key weapon up front along with junior captains Ryan Hazard (41 goals, 10 assists) and Josh Ligor.
Scordato also expects junior newcomer Brendan White, who has had successful football and basketball seasons so far this school year, to make a big impact on offense for Milford. Defensively, Milford will rely on senior captain and midfielder Chase Blanchette.
2017 Record: 16-3 2017 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals Coach: Kevin Young
North Attleboro graduated a lot of talent from last year’s squad, so it’s no surprise head coach Kevin Young believes this season will be a big challenge for his young squad.
Although he expects it to be a challenge, the Rocketeers have built a strong program and will likely be in the mix for the division title with Foxboro. Big Red will be anchored by defenseman and captain Tom Lockavitch (Roger Williams commit) and senior LSM Max Fontes. Both Lockavitch and Fontes had tremendous junior seasons and were both honored by HockomockSports.com (first and second teams, respectively). Sophomores Brett Labonte and Will Yeomans will round out a strong defensive unit.
One of the biggest tasks will be filling the void left in goal with Hock MVP and long-time starter Dan MacDonald now graduated. The Rocketeers have three goalies in the mix with Young noting all are working hard to claim the starting spot. Junior Jack Puccio and sophomores Nate D’Amico and Jake McNeany will all be in the mix.
Captain Tommy Lindstrom (Springfield commit) will pace the offense with the help of sophomores Jack Connolly and Andy DeMattio. Faceoff specialist Jason McNeany (Cocker College commit) is also back and will be a key piece of the offense. Nick Ward, Damien Curtis, and Dan Conroy should carry the transition in the midfield with help from Ryan Rajotte and Matt McSweeney.
2017 Record: 8-10 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Ben Devlin
Oliver Ames nearly made it two straight years in the postseason but came up just one game shy of qualifying in 2017. So the goal is simple for the Tigers in 2018: get back to the tournament.
The Tigers return their top six scorers from last season, and now with a year more experience under their belts, should be ready to take on some of the top defenses in the league.
Assistant coach Ben Devlin takes over the reigns of the program, and the familiarity should help make for a smooth transition. Senior captains Eric LeBlanc (30 goals, 13 assists) and Owen Gallagher will spearhead the attack while senior captain Jack Lang will make an impact on both ends of the field while also handling faceoff duties. Junior Colin Bourne and sophomores Sam Stevens and Shane Kilkelly give the Tigers varsity experience in the midfield. Sophomore Frankie Ireland and freshman Remi Creighton will also figure into the mix on offense.
Devlin will have holes to fill on the defensive end but its excited about the skill that the Tigers have. Shane Murphy, Cullen Gallagher, and Matt Saba will be relied upon to carry the defensive unit while Rory Madden will handle LSM duties after missing last season. Nick Gillis will take over for Sean Cosgrove in net after impressing at the JV level.
“We are a couple years into rebuilding this program, which is difficult while playing in such a tough conference against some of the best players and coaches in the state,” Devlin said. “We’re young and inexperienced, but talented on defense. All I can ask is for my kids to play to their capabilities. If we do that I think we can win enough games this season to reach our goal.”
2017 Record: 7-11 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jon Shocket
New head coach Jon Shocket is excited and optimistic that the 2018 season will be a successful one on the lacrosse field for the Sharon Eagles.
Shocket believes the Eagles have the lacrosse IQ and skill to get back to the postseason after missing out on qualification by two wins. A big reason for the optimism is the senior class.
“I have a really good senior group,” Shocket said. “If everyone buys into the system and trusts the process, this should be a fun season. This year, we have to make better decisions and move the ball around. It’s about working as a team instead of as individuals.”
The Eagles have experience at all positions on the field, starting with returning goalie Johnny Greenberg. Greenberg enters his third year as the starting goalie and will have good size in front of him. Both Sam Spencer and Coleman Loftus stand at 6’2 and look to be key pieces in the Eagles’ defensive unit.
In the midfield, Jimmy Fitzhenry, Chase Waxman, and Spencer Hall give the Eagles a well-balanced and experienced group. The three provide a combination of speed, strength, and skill that will help Sharon transition from defense to offense. Junior Matt Callan will handle faceoff duties while freshman LSM Tyler Freidman will be in the mix as well.
Senior Brett Litner brings a strong shot to the offense and will be tough to stop on the inside. Classmate Kadin Nestler gives the Eagles speed on the outside and makes the move from midfield to attack this year. Freshman Drew Litner rounds out the Eagles’ attacking unit.
2017 Record: 4-12 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Pat Healey
After winning four games in its inaugural season at the varsity level, Stoughton boys lacrosse is hoping to continue heading in the right direction this spring.
The Knights picked up wins over Milford twice, Taunton, and Norton and will look to be in competition with those squads again this year. Leading the blue collar group will be captains Justin Ly, Sean Doherty, and Danny Nakhili. Ly is a three-sport athlete that is willing to do the dirty work, Nakhili provides a lot of leadership in the midfield and uses his speed to give the offense a boost, and Doherty will handle the faceoff duties and provide an offensive punch.
Twins Nate and Alex Wilson bring skill to the long poles, Marty Barrett and Josh Cohen will be key pieces on defense, and Charlie Morgan, Luke Bainton, and Mike Tracey will all be in the mix offensively.
“I’m hoping for more wins,” said SHS head coach Pat Healey said in an interview with Stoughton Media Access. “Last year we got four under our belt which is great for a first-year program. We brought up a lot of freshmen this year from the youth program. But baby steps, this is a tough league so we’ll do as best as we can.
Now in its third year as a varsity program, Taunton is aiming to progress day by day to continue to build the program.
The Tigers went without a win last season but bring seven starters back with another year of success on their belts. Junior goalie Ryan Williams returns in cage to give the Tigers a familiar face on the defensive end. Williams has been manning the cage for Taunton since the team moved to a varsity schedule.
In front of Williams will be junior Justin Demoga, a captain, that handles close defense. Head coach Brendan Chambers noted Demoga is great with positioning, takes a great approach, and is willing to learn and improve every day. Chambers noted Demoga will be tasked with menacing opponents’ best attack throughout the season.
In the midfield, junior captain Dylan Nichols provides leadership and experience for the Tigers. Nichols has the speed to make an impact on both ends of the field and Chambers is hoping for some offensive production out of the junior. Nichols will be joined by senior Chris Kanabayashi who will contribute to the offense with his hard shot.
Junior Noah Kuczewski is making the jump from JV to varsity and will be one of the Tigers’ main pieces on attack. Chambers is also relying on junior captain Joel Delgado, who put a lot of time in during the offseason to improve, to be an important part of the offense.
“Our goal this year is to continue to build on what we did last year,” Chambers said. “We want to increase our lacrosse IQ and try to be more competitive in all our games. Ideally, we’ll win a couple games and get better every day.”
CANTON, Mass. – If there was one word that describes how Foxboro head coach Matt Noone wants his offense to play, patient would be near the top of the list.
With limited depth, Noone stresses long offensive possessions that lets his defense get plenty of rest. On Monday night, the Warriors were able to convert enough of those long possessions into goals and limited the Bulldogs’ time on attack, especially in the second half, to manufacture a 4-2 win.
“We were pressing early, making a lot of mistakes,” Noone said. “It felt like they were tight or just pushing too hard, thinking they all had to do it individually. At halftime, talked about doing all the little things right. Making simple 10 yard passes, changing the formation up a bit. We just made some adjustments and the boys just possessed the ball better in the second half.”
Foxboro earned a pair of man-up opportunities in the first quarter but couldn’t convert on either chance. On the first chance, the Warriors nearly broke through when senior Trey Guerrini collected a pass in close and ripped a shot but Canton freshman Jack Connolloy (11 saves) robbed him with a point blank save.
After neither side scored in the opening 12 minutes, Foxboro finally broke through with the first goal of the game. The Warriors were actually whistled for a penalty but forced a turnover and took control on offense. Sophomore Brendan Tully spun past his defenseman and found Guerrini right in front for an easy finish to make it 1-0.
Foxboro’s goal seemed to give the Bulldogs a little but of a spark as Canton controlled the final four minutes of the half.
Canton tied the game just over three minutes after giving up the first goal. Senior Ryan Lodge held possession in the corner and hit Griffin Roach – streaking in from the bench on a sub – in stride and the sophomore bounced his shot in to tie the game.
Just over a minute, the Bulldogs netted their second goal of the game. Lodge once again held possession in the corner but this time, he eluded his defenseman, sprinted toward goal, spun past a second opponent and bounced his shot in from in close to give Canton a 2-1 lead at halftime.
Although Canton took the momentum into the halftime break, it was Foxboro who controlled the entire second half.
The Warriors took advantage of long possessions on the offensive end while allowing just three shots on net for the entire second half.
“We have to possess the ball,” Noone said. “When we go back and forth, we just don’t have the depth. If we can possess the ball and rest our defense, our defense is damn good, they’ll get the ball back to you. We’re still getting better at offense. Every win is a win and then its onto the next one.”
Foxboro’s lengthy possessions finally paid off with two goals in the final four minutes of the third quarter. Senior Mike Moses faked his way around a defender and gained just enough space to tie the game with his shot with 3:44 to go in the third.
The Warriors took possession once again and worked the ball around. With under a minute to play, their patience paid off once again. Moses fed junior James Silveria and his bounce shot through traffic put the visitors up 3-2 heading into the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Canton registered just two shots total on goalie Jake Addeche in the second half.
“All we kept saying is be patient on the offensive end,” Noone said. “We talked about playing five minutes and 30 seconds of defense total tonight…we did it in the first eight minutes of the game so it was a lesson. We had have to possess the ball a lot if we want to win. That’s a great team, [Bill Bendell] is a great coach. We’re the same…small town, we both have freshmen out there. Guys are always learning. Ronnie MacLellan was a little out of sorts on Saturday, he was one of our best defenseman today. Matty Lathrop also had a big game, another freshman.”
Foxboro netted an insurance goal just over the midway point of the final quarter. After another lengthy possession, Louis Piccolo fed Guerrini with a perfect pass right and front and the senior buried it with what was essentially a one-timer.
Canton had a couple of offensive possessions in the final minute but none resulted in a shot on goal – two resulted in turnovers because of poor passes and Foxboro’s Patrick Kaveny forced another.
“They pressed out a lot, especially off ball and especially against our attack and we really didn’t handle it well,” said Canton head coach Bill Bendell. “We have pretty good attack so it was a little unusual for us. We tried to attack from the midfield in the second quarter, we did a great job of doing it. Then by the third quarter I think we were a little tired. They had some long possessions, they made us work. They do a great job of possessing the ball. When we got on offense, we were a little gassed by the end.
“They wear your down. They’re so well coached. They are aggressive but they have such long possessions, they make you learn it. They’ve played some close games, they have a great schedule. I think this where we can learn some things. We’ll see how we’ll respond because this was our first close loss and first loss in the league. It was a lot of fun but we came up just short.”
Canton (4-2, 2-1) looks to bounce back the same day when they host North Attleboro in another key divisional showdown.
FOXBORO, Mass. – With 2:38 remaining in the game, Canton senior attacker Ben O’Neil stepped into a shot that seemed destined for the bottom corner. He put his arms up to celebrate what he thought was the go-ahead goal, but then just as quickly dropped them when he realized that Foxboro goalie Jake Addeche had somehow stopped the ball on the line.
The game stayed tied and Foxboro transitioned into the attack. The ball swung around to Andrew Whalen who drove at the net and flicked a behind-the-back pass to sophomore Louis Piccolo with time and space. He fired a rising shot just over the stick of Canton goalie Chris Albert (10 saves) and under the bar.
Piccolo’s goal with 2:03 remaining, his third goal of the game, handed Foxboro a come from behind 5-4 victory at Sam Berns Community Field and command of the Davenport division at the midway point of the league season.
Each of the last three seasons, this match-up has produced games that have come down to the wire. Three years ago, Canton ended a long losing streak with an overtime win on its way to a league title and last year the Bulldogs won by two goals to help Sharon get to the top of the division.
Foxboro coach Matt Noone did not hide the importance of this game to his players. He explained, “I told them this could be the season today. You want to play for something and that’s what we’re playing for – the Hock.”
There is a lot of respect between the two programs and two coaches and the rivalry has turned into one of the most competitive in the Hockomock. Noone added, “We’re the same. It’s two small towns getting after it; it’s fun.”
Canton coach Bill Bendell saw his team lose a 4-2 lead in the second half, but he also stressed the importance of having this rivalry to prepare his team for making a run in the postseason.
“It’s just great for the league and great for us to play teams like this,” he said. “Sometimes it’s those bounces, those pipes, those one or two plays that can make the difference.”
Albert made four of his saves in the first quarter alone, as the Bulldogs struggled to mount a sustained attack. Foxboro was also off to a tough start with a number of shots sailing high or wide. But, with the clock winding down Trey Guerrini spun past his first marker, bounced off a second, and then spun a third time before beating the goalie from the edge of the crease at the buzzer.
Canton would take the lead in the second quarter by beating the Warriors in transition. Shaun Kirby scored the first of his two goals with a bouncing shot to the far post on a man-down situation to tie it at 1-1.
With 4:14 left in the quarter, Kirby would feed freshman Mike Shaw on the break to make it 2-1. The play started with Albert, who made a great save on the other end and then fired a perfect half-field outlet pass to the attackers.
Kirby extended the lead to two goals just 47 seconds into the second half with a rip to the bottom corner, but a two-minute locked in penalty to Jake Ragusa offered Foxboro the chance to get back in it.
Piccolo scored his first on a rip just under the bar 10 seconds into the EMO, but Canton would answer back 22 seconds later when Joe Mulkay spun middle and bounced a man-down goal past Addeche.
The game did not feature a lot of attacking play from either side, as the defensive units were mostly on top. Ragusa and Mike Pigeon were major factors for the Bulldogs, while Bobby Kierce and Brian Buckner continued to make plays for the Warriors.
“They were hurting us a little bit with their exchanges behind, so we went to a little bit of a zone and it seemed to help out a lot,” said Noone. “We were pressing early and they were killing us in transition, so we sat back, conceded the ride and figured lets have them beat us six-on-six.”
Piccolo would cut the lead to one with 5:32 left in the third with a shot on the run and then three minutes later, Foxboro completed the comeback when Guerrini dodged past his marker to set up Brendan Tully.
“In a game like this it’s really a playoff atmosphere but we fought hard the entire game…I think they just out-executed us,” said Bendell. “Things that we normally do well, they took us out of our comfort zone, and we didn’t execute things as well as we would’ve liked.”
Foxboro hit the post midway through the fourth quarter and Addeche (six saves) and Albert traded big stops to keep the game tied. Finally, with 2:03 remaining Piccolo found a seam and made no mistake with his shot.
“We called a timeout to call pressure defense down by a goal and we just didn’t execute it. We usually do,” said Bendell.
The Canton coach heaped praise on Albert for keeping the team in the game and having another big performance against Foxboro. He said, “Goalies feel like they’re responsible and I’m sure Albie feels that way too, but that’s not his fault. That was a beautiful shot. He had his hands free, we weren’t on his hands, but [Chris] played a great game.”
Noone called Piccolo a “goal-scoring machine.” The sophomore was coming off a career-high, 11-assist game against Milford on Wednesday, but Noone shook his head when asked if that game (a 25-1 win) had any positive impact on how his team played on Friday.
He said, “I don’t think we learned anything from that game to be honest…Feelings are hurt on both sides. We were running the clock the whole time; we’re not getting anything out of that.”
The Warriors (7-2, 5-0) have the edge in the Davenport at the moment, but have several tough games coming up in the league and Bendell knows that Canton (4-4, 2-4) has important games coming up to stay in the mix.
He said, “I didn’t know how I was going to like going from two games down to one…but it does add more meaning to this game. This is a big game. We’ll see if someone can upset them and I’m sure that Foxboro-Sharon and Canton-Sharon will be big games.”
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
2015 Record: 11-7
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Bill Bendell
The Bulldogs have won two Davenport division titles in the last three years and will be looking for a third in 2016. With a beefed up non-league schedule, Canton will be looking to make a deep run in the D2 South tournament this season.
“I really like this team and I think we will be very difficult to beat once we figure things out,” head coach Bill Bendell said. “Our goal this year is to trust the process…ignore the scoreboard and instead focus on doing your job to the best of your ability and the wins will follow.”
Canton will be relying on an experienced defense this season. Senior Chris Albert returns to the cage while senior Jake Ragusa and junior LSM Michael Pigeon will anchor the backline. Senior Dan Nadeau, junior Jonathan Sutton and sophomore Gabe Galeotos all saw time on defense last season and will fit in nicely again this year.
On offense, Ben O’Neill – one of the best offensive players in Canton history – enters the season with 125 career points. He’s got a high lacrosse IQ and can battle through defenses to find the net. Shaun Kirby, Dan Dillon, Bobby Mullaney and Eddie McCabe will all chip in with O’Neill offensively.
2015 Record: 12-8
2015 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals
Coach: Matt Noone
Foxboro graduated a handful of talented players last season but the biggest loss might be losing last year’s leading scorer Pat McCarthy to a knee injury this year. But with five seniors and plethora of youth, Warriors will look to try and claim their first Davenport title since 2011.
“You can’t replace Pat McCarthy, thankfully we still have his leadership, he will help the young guys,” Foxboro head coach Matt Noone said.
Connor McNamara and Brian Buckner are both entering their third year on varsity and will be relied upon heavily. McNamara is a factor at both sends of the field, Noone adding “He can carry us at times.” Buckner, a defenseman, possess great speed and positions himself well, Noone saying “His athleticism and IQ make him tough to beat on and off the ball.”
Foxboro will rely on Andrew Whalen, Louis Piccolo and James Silveria – all sophomores – on attack. McNamara will be complemented in the midfield by senior Austin Ryan and juniors Colin Spinney and Trey Guerrini. Noone called all three great athletes. Defensively, two year starters Tom Piccolo and Bobby Kierce will work alongside Buckner while sophomore Pat Kaveny has improved his game as well.
Expect sophomore Jake Addeche and junior Tyler Silveria to battle for the starting goalie job.
2015 Record: 2-17
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ralph Bono
Milford will be looking to try and improve after recording just two wins in the 2015 season. New head coach Ralph Bono will try to turn things around in his first year at the helm.
The Scarlet Hawks graduated their two top scorers from last season in Nick Mobilia (30 points) and Spencer Lawson (19 points) so there will be some questions to answer up front.
In midfield, junior Alex Salamone registered 10 points last season and had 12 grounds balls while sophomore Andrew Gallagher made an impact with nine points in his rookie campaign. Jack Boyle, Nick Lurie and Ian Bucal all factored into the scoring last year as well.
Defensively, Harrison Bliss led the Scarlet Hawks defensemen in grounds balls as a sophomore while Andrew Palaria and Riley Burns also saw time. In goal, Pietro Bon Tempo made 123 saves last year in 17 games played and should provide some experience in the back.
2016 Record: 6-10
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chris DiGiacomo
After missing out on the playoffs last season, second year skipper Chris DiGiacomo will be relying on a large senior class to try to get back to the postseason.
“There is a lot of positive energy surrounding the program currently,” head coach Chris DiGiacomo said. “The boys have been working very hard, and we are very excited to get started.”
Senior attack Matt Gilson is back for his fourth year on varsity to pace the offense while senior Jake Aronson returns to man the goal for the Tigers. Senior captain middie Aidan Connly will be relied upon to take care of both ends of the field.
Connly will be joined by classmates Mike Sullivan, Jack Long, Connor Howe and Max Bamford so the Tigers will boast a very experienced midfield. On defense, senior Max Sheldon will anchor the backline in front of Aronson.
2015 Record: 10-9
2015 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East First Round
Coach: Peter DeSisto
The Eagles are looking to get back to the top of the Davenport mountain and are hoping former Canton player Peter DeSisto will lead them there in his first year at the helm.
“I am really excited for this season, we are a young team but the captains and upperclassmen have really set the tone for this season,” DeSisto said. “They’re showing the newer players what it takes to be successful at this level. We’ve set high expectations for ourselves, but we know that if we come together as a unit and work hard we are completely capable of reaching our goals.”
After coming up just short in the division race last year, Sharon has a strong returning core to try to win the division for the second time in three years. Senior captains Mark Bloom and Craig Titus will be the focus of the attack again this year while sophomore Jon Greenberg will be back in goal after a terrific freshman campaign in 2015.
UMass commit Josh Rotman will be paired with senior captain Matt Cancian in the midfield to provide a power 1-2 punch while sophomores Spencer Hall and Chase Waxman will also see a lot of time in the middle of the field. Sharon will have to fill some holes defensively but expect junior Jared Zunenshine and sophomore Zach Reingold to step in.