CANTON, Mass. – On Monday night, it took Canton almost the full 80 minutes before they found the breakthrough goal and picked up a crucial two points. Two days later at WWII Veterans Memorial Field, the Davenport division-leading Bulldogs did all their scoring in the first quarter to make it a sweep of the series with North Attleboro.
Olivia Rodman scored twice in the opening nine minutes on Wednesday and the Canton defense recorded its third clean sheet of the season, leading the Bulldogs to a 2-0 win over North that keeps them two points clear of Foxboro at the top of the league standings.
While the attack, which is tied for the league lead with 25 goals this season, will get a lot of the attention, first-year coach Idris Senyonjo praised his defense for continuing to make things difficult for the opposition.
“That’s how we’re going to be able to win games like this, if you play as a whole team, defend as a team,” he said. “We’ve come a long, long way. You can’t win games if you don’t defend and for me that’s a key. Defensively, I’ve got to make sure we stay compact all the way from the forwards all the way to the back.”
Momentum seemed to carry over from the first meeting, as Canton jumped all over North in the opening quarter. The Bulldogs found a lot of success down the right wing. Alexandra Lopez found a lot of space out by the touchline and it was her crosses that led to the goals.
The first came after just five minutes. Lopez got free down the wing and played a low cross right to the foot of Rodman eight yards from goal. The Providence College-bound senior didn’t bother taking a touch, smashing a first-time shot inside the post, giving North keeper Kaylah Seavey no chance.
Five minutes later, another Lopez cross wasn’t fully cleared at the top of the box. Rodman harried the North defenders and kept the play alive. When the ball popped loose, Rodman was the first to react and hit a left-footed shot back across goal into the bottom corner for a 2-0 lead.
“This time, we played a different formation so we could counter what they were doing,” Senyonjo said about how his team adapted from the first game against North. “I wanted to be unpredictable. I put Alex there and they thought she wasn’t going to be a threat, but that’s where all the balls came from.”
North looked sluggish in the opening 20 minutes and struggled to put pressure on the Canton back line. A long ball from Autumn Hewitt nearly found the run of Emma Pratt but Canton goalie Elyse Broderick was out quickly to collect. Pratt also had a go from 20 yards that went wide, but that was about all that the Rocketeers could muster in the first.
“We were playing a little bit back on our heels,” North coach Bill Wallace explained, “so the space between midfield and forward was just too big and it’s something that we have to win more of those 50-50 balls in the middle of the field because if we’re constantly chasing then we’ve got two kids up top hung out to dry.”
There was a notable increase in energy from North after the first break. Two minutes into the second, Charlotte Moynihan’s free kick dropped in the penalty area but Anne Hoban was able to clear for the hosts.
Chances continued to be few and far between for both teams in the second half as the aggression level increased in the midfield and both teams made it difficult for anyone to have time on the ball.
Moynihan had another good set piece midway through the third quarter trying to pick out the run of Steph McKenna but again Hoban was there to clear. North got its first shot on target with three minutes left in the quarter. HHaley Sinacola’s long free kick forcing Broderick into a leaping catch.
The Rocketeers kept battling and nearly got an equalizer early in the fourth. Moynihan’s corner from the right side hit Caroline Ferrin at the near post and freshman Ava Gilmore was in the right place to clear it off the line.
“I was very encouraged about the way we came back after that first period,” Wallace said. “The good news is they learned from it. We’re still a fairly young team and hopefully they can take this and say, we need to play a full 80 minutes.”
With six minutes to play, Diletizia came close to adding a third. A Costello corner picked out the forward in traffic and Diletizia’s flick came back off the post.
“For me coming in as a new coach, step by step you can see what we’re trying to do,” said Senyonjo about his team’s progression this season and about the challenge of facing the three teams (North, Oliver Ames, and Foxboro) who have accounted for the last seven Davenport titles. “I told them if we can get through this then we’ll be even better prepared for Monday.”
Canton (6-0-0) will continue its run against unbeaten teams when it hosts Oliver Ames for senior night on Monday. North Attleboro (2-2-2) will look to get back on track when it travels to defending champ Foxboro.
2019 Record: 7-9-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Santos
Last year, Attleboro was just one win away from ending its playoff drought and while the Bombardiers aren’t going to have a tournament to look forward to this season they have plenty of experience and talent coming back to be in the mix in what should be a wide open Kelley-Rex division. The Bombardiers will also have an extra week to prepare after the first two games against Taunton were postponed.
Attleboro should be potent in front of goal this season. Senior forwards Isabella Salviati and Briley Harnois have been dynamic scoring threats for the past three years and have proved to be a tough combination for teams to handle. Senior Jessica Gates also returns to play provider and pull the strings from midfield.
Sophomore Emily Dunlea will pair up with Gates in the center of the midfield, while senior Cassondra Stuger and Meghan Panzer were on the outside. Panzer can also step in and give Attleboro minutes up top when Harnois or Salviati need a breather.
At the back, senior Eleanor Graber and junior Olivia Calderon have been teaming up in the center, while seniors Gabby Bosh and Riley Sullivan have been the outside backs. Sophomore Alexis Campbell will be back in goal after seeing time as a freshman last year. Experience won’t be an issue for the Bombardiers, which should help them cope with the challenges of a unique season.
“The rule modifications cater to our style of play maybe more than it does for other,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos. “There are a lot of returning players, so I think we’ll be okay. We just have to be able to adjust.”
2019 Record: 12-9-0 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal Coach: Idris Senyonjo
Canton made a run to the Div. 2 South semifinal a year ago and the perpetually young Bulldogs will be hoping to build on that experience and challenge Foxboro for the division title this fall. Former coach Kate Howarth is plying her trade with the NWSL’s Orlando Pride, so Idris Senyonjo takes over this season and picked up an impressive win on his debut with the team scoring eight goals in the process.
The attack has been a strength for Canton for the past several years and with senior forwards Olivia Rodman and Elisa Diletizia back to lead the line the Bulldogs have a pair of potential match winners up front. Junior Gabriella Herivaux adds a different dynamic to the forward line and senior Mia Gilmore emerged last year as one of the league’s top playmaking midfielders.
In the heart of the pitch, Canton has plenty of players who can contribute both on offense and defense. Sophomore Emily McCabe is coming off a strong rookie season and combines well with Gilmore in the middle. Senior Sarai Costello is another player that the coaches expect big things from this year.
Consistency on defense will be a big point of emphasis this year and junior defender Allie McCabe and junior goalie Elyse Broderick should give the Bulldogs a foundation to build on. Freshmen Mekhala Costello and Ava Gilmore have impressed coached during the preseason and both are expected to step in and add strength to the back line.
“I am coming into a program that has a great group of girls who love the game and play for each other,” said Senyonjo. “This made it easy for me to start implementing my philosophy and approach of the game. No matter how short the season might be, I believe we have a good group of girls who will be hungry for a great season.”
2019 Record: 16-2-2 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Katie Stalcup
Foxboro has won back-to-back Davenport division titles and comes into this season with eyes on a three-peat and a roster loaded with talent and experience. The Warriors had one of the best attacks in the Hock in 2019, scoring 80 goals as a team, while only allowing 12. Expectations are very high for Foxboro to win a third title in a row, something it hasn’t done since winning the league from 1985-90.
Attack continues to be one of the strengths for the Warriors led by senior forward Jordyn Collins. The Bryant University-commit scored 23 goals last year and already has two to her name after one game this fall. Junior Kailee McCabe is the lynchpin of the midfield, dominating with and without the ball and adding to the team’s scoring punch. Senior Katelyn Mollica can get up and down the wing and her crossing ability gives the strikers more opportunities to get on the board.
It isn’t all about the offense. The Warriors are also stingy on the other end of the field. Senior defender Emma Dahl will lead the back line this season and senior Grace Ferguson will be a key player in the heart of the midfield, helping Foxboro play the possession style of soccer that it prefers. Senior Morgan Sylvestre gives the Warriors an experienced, talented shot-stopper in goal.
“We are all just so excited to be playing soccer and I am so excited about this team and our talent,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “We know that this season will look a little different, but we are going to make the most of it and enjoy ourselves and enjoy winning soccer games.”
2019 Record: 12-5-1 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tom Geysen
Franklin had one of the league’s top defenses in 2019, holding teams scoreless in 11 of the final 12 games of the 2019 regular season. The Panthers will hope to be just as stingy this year and, with the rule changes in place, try to add more scoring punch, as they look to get back on top of the Kelley-Rex division standings for the first time since 2015.
Sophomore Norah Anderson will be back in the heart of the Franklin defense after an impressive rookie campaign and her physicality will be important after the graduation of Sabrina Addi. Senior Carissa Alers will partner Anderson in the middle and junior Izzy Arnold will be on the outside. Senior Julia Bertone and freshman Rachel Welch will both see time in goal, replacing Brenna Atwood.
Senior Erin Quaile will be in the heart of the midfield for the Panthers, providing endless running and contributions in both boxes. Sophomore Bridget Leo saw a lot of time at the end of last season and she will be in the midfield again. Junior Stella Regan is also back after a long time out with broken leg and gives Franklin a different option with her skill on the ball as she continues to work back to 100 percent.
In the attack, senior Sydney St. Marie will be the primary goal scorer, and she is off to a good start after two goals in the season opening win against Milford. Junior Riley Fitzpatrick will join St. Marie up front and there are several younger players that could step in and help out the offense, including freshman Anya Zub, who had an assist on her debut.
“We’re moving along,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “it’s just hard to assess progress because of the changes in rules and everything. The kids are hesitant. My advice is play as hard as you have to play to get the job done and if they call an indirect, then they call an indirect.”
2019 Record: 21-1-0 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Gary Pichel
King Philip reached the Div. 1 South final last year, for the second time in three seasons, but enter the fall without not only the program’s top two all-time scorers but with a large group of seniors that helped the program win two of the last three league titles and nearly finish an undefeated season. Even without some of the big names from last year, KP brings back a number of players who saw action in that finals run and will be counted on for bigger roles this year.
With Chloe Layne and Avery Snead, goals were never an issue for the Warriors. This season, several players will look to pick up the scoring load. Sophomore Ella Pisani and senior Kiera Lindmark will both lead the attack but will get help from senior midfielder Jenny Montville, who had several big goals during the playoff run in 2019.
Seniors Ava Tormey and Maeve Lawlor will provide control in the midfield and will get a boost from the return of senior Charlotte Majer to the program. Majer spent last year with a development academy program and will be a big boost to the Warriors in the center of the pitch.
Defense could be a strength for KP, with several returning players. Sophomore Grace Lawler was impressive as a freshman, regularly marking the opposition’s top attacker. Senior Paige Varvarigos is also back after a strong season at outside back. Seniors Taryn Greenberg, Jillian Anderson, and Taylor Thompson will also help out at the back. Senior Emma Glaser will take over in goal.
“We will all do the best we can and hope for the best in a much abbreviated season,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “I hope the best for all of our teams and to have fun and to do it safely. The most important thing is to keep our girls healthy while returning to competition so they can do what they like to do best!”
2019 Record: 6-8-4 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Kevin Smith
Last season was a learning experience for a young group of Hornets, but even with only four returning varsity players Mansfield finished just one win shy of a playoff appearance. This year, Mansfield brings back 18 players from last season’s roster, including nine starters, so the Hornets will expect to quickly return to being one of the challengers for the Kelley-Rex title.
Even with all of the returning players, Mansfield remains a young team. There are three freshmen, five sophomores, and six juniors on the roster. Despite their youth, many saw plenty of time on the field last year and will be leaning on that experience for more success this fall.
Junior Katie Miller returns in the heart of the midfield and gives Mansfield a foundation to build its attacks and to stifle the opposition. Junior Maria Sevastos will return in the defense and the speedy converted forward gives the Hornets a threat on the outside. Junior Tarynn Smith will be back up top after a solid season leading the line and sophomore Olivia Salisbury returns in goal after a strong rookie year.
“After a year of experience under the young kids’ belts, I’m excited to see how much they’ve learned and how they can apply it this fall,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith.
2019 Record: 9-6-4 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Lou Colabello
Milford made a run at a league title last fall and reached the state tournament, but now the Hawks are moving into the Kelley-Rex division and doing so without 32 goals and several key pieces from the spine of last year’s team. With experience at the back and in goal, the Hawks will be hoping to be tough to beat and let the young attack have a chance to win games.
Senior Carly Ferreira is back in goal this season and has already been busy, coming up with more than 20 saves in the season opener against Franklin. With seniors Catherine Madden and Alyssa Monahan in the back line, the Hawks won’t lack for leadership and experience in the defensive third. Senior Brianna Franzini will add more of that veteran presence in the midfield, which was hard-hit by graduation.
Up top will be sophomore Dani Atherton, who reached double digits in goals during her freshman season and can play as a forward or as a creative midfielder. Sophomores Brooke Ferreira, Serena Borges, and Brooke Guerreiro all saw limited action as freshmen, but will be expected to step into bigger roles this year to shore up the center of the pitch and push into the attack.
“I think the season will depend on how quickly we adjust once games begin,” said Milford coach Lou Colabello. “Replacing key players in the midfield will be a big part of how successful we are. Hopefully, we can get better from game to game. One thing is for sure, we will play hard and have fun doing it.”
2019 Record: 4-10-4 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro will have a lot of new faces in the lineup this season, coming off a tough, four-win campaign. Although many of the names will be new, the Rocketeers feel confident that the revamped defensive unit will make them tough to beat this year and allow them to compete against the top teams in the division, as they proved in a scoreless draw with Oliver Ames in the season opener.
Senior Jordyn Sullivan and junior Summer Doherty are the lone returning players that saw time in the back line last year, but they will be pushed by a host of other players ready to step in. Seniors Ari Newth and Katie Manning, juniors Charlotte Moynihan and Autumn Hewitt, and sophomores Brooke Sullivan and Haley Sinacola will all see time in the defense. Senior Kaylah Seavey and sophomore Maddie Ferrin will be in goal this season.
After missing last season with a knee injury, senior Lydia Santos will provide leadership in the midfield. Classmates Abby Noreck and Ari Rice will also see time in the middle, while a trio of sophomores – Clara Giuliano, Lily Adams, and Caroline Ferrin will add energy and speed in the center.
Up top, senior Tess Collins and junior Steph McKenna are back to lead the line with their speed and creativity. Senior Ally Scott and junior Brayden Rice will give North depth and different looks up top, while sophomore Emma Pratt is a newcomer that could contribute in the attack right away.
“We are working hard to figure this all out,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “Spirits are high and practices have been productive. Girls are possessing better and better and hopefully that will equate to more success on the scoreboard.”
2019 Record: 14-5-2 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Britt Sellmayer
Oliver Ames returns to the Davenport division this fall. The Tigers won three straight Davenport titles before moving to the Kelley-Rex (making it four straight titles in their first year in the new division) and with an experienced, if still relatively young, group they expect to challenge Foxboro’s place at the top of the standings this season.
The Tigers have only four seniors on the roster this year, but they have 17 players with varsity experience. While the attack will certainly miss the scoring Erin Holmberg’s scoring touch and the new rules will hinder OA’s typically prolific set piece scoring, there is plenty of strength throughout the roster to be both tough to break down and tough to keep away from goal.
Senior Emma Pereira is a dominant presence in the middle of the pitch and she will be joined by Reese Pereira and Lauren Sellmayer to try and take control of the midfield. Junior Allison Evin can play up top or in the midfield and classmate Camryn O’Connor is a dynamic playmaker and tough to stop when she starts running at defenses.
Kathryn Gibson will solidify the defensive unit, while Jenna Gilman provides speed on the wings. In goal, OA has two solid options with senior Emma O’Donnell and junior Emily Meyers sharing time between the pipes.
OA coach Britt Sellmayer said, “The biggest issue for the new rules is the interpretation by referees, we have had them come to practice twice and one scrimmage. Let’s just say the games were different. Hopefully the kinks get worked out.”
2019 Record: 0-17-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Catherine Sullivan
Despite its record last season under first-year head coach Catherine Sullivan, Sharon demonstrated the ability to compete with the top teams and Sullivan is hoping that with an experienced corps and the addition of talented younger players the Eagles will be a tough team to beat in a very competitive Davenport division this year.
Experience will be a key at the back. Three-year starting goalie Cass Barbera has proven to be a solid shot-stopper and her leadership is a confidence boost for the entire defensive unit. Senior Molly McAlevey will be the anchor of the back line with her physicality and communication. Sophomore Sally Brouhard is coming off a strong freshman season, where she emerged as one of the team’s top defenders.
Senior Amelia Scappaticci adds steel to the midfield and gives cover to the back line and classmate Emily Griffin adds the speed from the center of the pitch to get forward as often as possible. Sophomore Sofia Goclowski and freshman Kate McLaughlin are a pair of newcomers that should step into the midfield and add a different dimension with their skill. With new faces helping out in the attack, Sharon will be looking to find the back of the net more consistently this year.
“We have excellent leadership this season with a great mix of strong returning players and new talent stepping in,” said Sullivan. “The Davenport division looks to be extremely competitive this year, but our kids are dedicated to improving our style and speed of play, and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of growth in short time this season.”
2019 Record: 3-13-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Hermes Lima
Stoughton made strong strides last season, scoring 34 goals as a team, which was three times the total from the year before and the Black Knights will be hoping to keep that going this fall under new coach Hermes Lima. A tough loss to Canton on the opening day won’t deter Stoughton, which is hoping to continue building on the experience gained last season.
The attack should be potent again with the combination of sophomore forward Shayla Ford, coming off an impressive rookie campaign, and four-year starter and leading scorer Mackenzie Manning, who has developed into a dynamic playmaker either up top or in the midfield. Senior Rebecca Desousa and sophomore Isabella Rodrigues will both be expected to use their speed and aggressiveness to add to the offense, as the Black Knights promise to be a threat on the counterattack.
Senior Nikki Anderson is a versatile defender who can play in the center of the pitch or drop into the back line and she will be counted on to lead a young defensive group. Sophomore Sabrina Rodrigues is tenacious at the back and Liv Tran’s speed will help stymie the opposition. Speed and pressure will be two keys for the Black Knights at the back this season.
“I am here to continue the growth and culture of this program while also helping them become young successful individuals not only on, but off the field,” said Lima. “My goal is to ensure players learn a few things, create their own path, and reach for the moon!”
2019 Record: 2-14-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Michael Couture
For the second time in two seasons, Taunton heads into a new season with a new coaching staff and with the goal of building a foundation for the program to compete against the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division. First-year head coach Michael Couture will be counting on a mix of experience and youth to improve on last year’s results.
The Tigers have players up front that can ask questions of the opposing defenses and on the other end of the field Taunton will try to soak up pressure and break quickly. They will also get an extra week of practice before games kick off after the games with Attleboro were postponed.
Experience will come from a group of seniors that have spent multiple years at the varsity level. Seniors Emily O’Gara and Madison Ribeiro can both play up top or in the midfield, while classmates Caitlin Smith, Kayla Botelho, and Morgan Zakrzewski provide leadership in the defensive third. Junior Isabella Anslow will be between the pipes this season. Sophomore midfielders Abigail Gamble and Christina DeCosta and sophomore forward Emily Calderon will provide energy and could step right in to contribute this season.
“Our main goal during the season is to get better every single day and play like it can be taken away from us at any time,” said Taunton coach Michael Couture. “We are on our way to building something special here at Taunton High and have the right group of dedicated girls.”
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The long wait for the soccer season to finally kick off ended on Monday night at Beaupre Field when North Attleboro hosted Oliver Ames, but the wait for the first goal celebration will last at least two more days.
In a game of few clear-cut scoring chances, neither side was able to find the back of the net and went home with a point apiece.
OA, which was making its return to the Davenport division after four years in the Kelley-Rex, would have gotten on the scoresheet under normal circumstances, but a goal on a late corner was wiped away because headers aren’t allowed under the new modified rules.
“It went alright,” OA coach Britt Sellmayer said about the return to play with the new rules in place. “It’s tough for the kids getting used to the rules, in terms of the kick-ins and stuff. We were a little panicky today. I have to do a better job coaching them that if someone encroaches, don’t kick the ball just wait.”
The Tigers started the game well, dominating the midfield led by senior Emma Pereira. OA was struggling to find the final ball to turn its possession into scoring opportunities and the North defense continued to deny the visitors any good chances near the penalty area. Summer Doherty and Haley Sinacola consistently intercepted passes or stepped up to clear balls from the edge of the box.
“I’ve got one defensive starter back, but I’ve got some good defenders,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “I usually don’t sub in on defense but now I’ve got the luxury of doing that. Even at the end there, I took Katie Manning, who’s a defender and told her to get to balls and she did a great job. It’s the one area we’ve been working on the most is defense and the girls have kind of embraced it.”
Kathryn Gibson had a shot from distance for the Tigers, but it was easily saved by North keeper Kaylah Seavey. Eight minutes into the second quarter (another modified rule for this season), Jenna Gilman stole the ball in the attacking third and played Allison Evin behind the fullback but her shot from the left channel was saved.
Evin then teed up classmate Camryn O’Connor for an effort from 18 yards but it was again comfortable for Seavey. A minute before halftime, North had a chance when Emma Pratt danced past a pair of defenders and had a shot that went wide.
OA has a history of being tough to defend on set pieces and the Tigers nearly made the breakthrough with a long free kick five minutes after the break. Lauren Sellmayer’s ball landed just behind the North defensive line but keeper Maddie Ferrin was quick off her line and read the bounce in traffic to make the catch.
The new rules almost cost the Tigers a minute later. Two defenders struggled with a bouncing ball, as they weren’t able to head it, and Steph McKenna nearly took advantage to run clear on goal. Lily Adams’ cross from the right wing to McKenna in the middle was cut out by Ella McDonough and then Tess Collins sliced a volley wide.
O’Connor started to assert herself at the end of the third quarter, having a series of chances from distance that were on target but didn’t trouble the keeper. Alexa Lane went close with nine minutes left but her cross from the right went straight through the box and slipped just wide of the post.
Sellmayer explained, “We need to have a little more composure. We played 80 minutes of soccer and neither goalie had to make a good save. They did a great job. They were organized at the back and we need to do a better job breaking them down. Maybe a few more diagonal runs rather than going straight at them all the time and when we have our chances we can’t serve it right at the goalie.”
Although OA turned a corner in that would in most seasons have been the game-winner, both teams left the field feeling like a draw was a fair result and both were happy to just be back on the pitch.
“I’ve got 24 kids and we played all 24,” said Wallace. “These kids are just so happy to be out here and you can see it in their play.”
2018 Record: 8-9-2 2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round Coach: Kate Howarth
The Bulldogs finished third in the Davenport division last season and made it back to the state tournament, despite carrying a relatively young roster. Now, a year later, Canton brings back a strong corps, especially in the attack, and will look to take steps forward to try and challenge for the league title.
The best form of defense may be the attack for the Bulldogs, who will pair juniors Olivia Rodman and Elisa Diletizia again in the forward line. The classmates are a dynamic pairing and critical to Canton scoring 52 goals last season, which was the fifth-best total in the league. Senior Morgan McCabe and sophomore Gabriella Herivaux add depth to the forward line.
In the midfield, sophomore Allie McCabe is coming off an impressive rookie season as a playmaker and will be the engine in the heart of the pitch. Sarah Collins will be tough to replace in the defense, but seniors Alexa Maffeo, Caroline Tourgee, and Kerstin Hansen are back. Sophomore Elyse Broderick is back to take over between the posts and will be the anchor of the defensive unit.
“I think the key for us this year will be consistency,” said Canton coach Kate Howarth. “Our girls are bought in and want to find ways to win! I think we will find ways to win some tough games and get better every single day! That’s always our goal. Every time we step out onto that field, improve and get better. If we do that, we will put together a great year.”
2018 Record: 15-2-3 2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Katie Stalcup
Last season, a young Warriors roster brought home the program’s first league title since 1993 and it could start a run of success for Foxboro, which graduated only four players from last year’s team that led the league in scoring and allowed less than a goal per game. Adding a year of experience could make this year’s team even more of a threat not only for a division crown but for a deep tourney run.
Youth was on display all over the pitch last season, particularly up front. Junior Jordyn Collins had a breakout season putting her speed together with clinical finishing to become one of the league’s most dangerous forwards. There is plenty of help for the forwards from the midfield, senior Lizzy Davis and junior Kailtyn Mollica are both dangerous on the wings, creating chances and the odd goals as well.
The lynchpin last year was a freshman. Sophomore Kailee McCabe, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, had a remarkable rookie season. She controlled the midfield and drove forward to add scoring punch. Senior midfielder Kendra Wentling also adds a layer of protection for the defense, which will miss the graduated Alex Stamatos but has experience in senior Yara Fawaz and junior goalie Morgan Sylvestre.
“I am so excited about this team and what we are capable of this season,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “I know if we stay focused and work together we will do great things.”
2018 Record: 5-12-0 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Lou Colabello
This is the second season in charge for Milford coach Lou Colabello and he is hopeful that his team will build a comfort level with his expectations and systems to try and get the Hawks into the state tournament picture and push up the Davenport division standings. With a strong core of returning players, many with two or three years of experience on varsity, Milford has the opportunity to make a leap this fall.
The midfield will be a strength for the Hawks with seniors Juliana France and Ashleigh Starks are capable of breaking up opposition attacks and turning those quickly into attacks. Freshman Daniella Atheron will jump right into the attack and is expected to contribute goals this season. Defensively, the Hawks have experience in the form of seniors Maddie Boyle and Annie Flanagan and can count on solid play from both goalies, senior Olivia Marshall, and junior Carly Ferreira.
“We are really excited about our opportunities this year,” Colabello said. “With a heavy nucleus returning on defense and in the midfield, we hope to improve offensively. With a good mixture of experience and youth, I feel that we will make a vast improvement from last year.”
2018 Record: 12-3-4 2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro is entering a transition season after graduating 14 seniors, including nine starters, from last year’s Davenport division runners-up. The Rocketeers will especially have to cope with the loss of leading scorer, and 2018 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Ashlyn Gaulin, but there is hope that the new faces will be able to step in and rise to the challenge this fall.
The attack looks very different this season with junior Tess Collins, who is battling a preseason injury, taking on the responsibility of leading the line along with Steph McKenna. There have been promising signs from that duo during the preseason. Midfield is more experienced for North this year, with seniors Alex Moulson, Abi Slaney, and Lily Cameron back from last year, while Olivia Wills and Abby Noreck are making the jump from JV. The defense is mostly new, but senior Lydia Hershey is back and will offer much-needed leadership, while senior Regan Fein has the starting job in net.
“Right now we have six players who have been unable to practice preseason with injuries,” said North Attleboro coach Bill Wallace. “Once we get everyone healthy we should iron out some assignments and figure out our rotations.”
2018 Record: 2-15-1 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Catherine Sullivan
Second-year head coach Catherine Sullivan will have a lot of new faces to work with this season after graduating 11 seniors from last year’s roster and she is hoping that the Eagles can use an experienced midfield to create more scoring opportunities and continue to improve over the course of the season.
The midfield combines technically-sound players with energy and speed. Seniors Marika Fillion sets the tone with her work rate and senior Bella Berger is one of the team’s top playmakers. Junior Amelia Scappaticci adds skill to the team’s passing game, while freshman Olivia Soby is expected to provide an attacking spark in the middle of the pitch. Up front, junior Emily Griffin will try to use her speed to create chances. In the back, junior goalie Cass Barbera got a lot of experience between the pipes last season and she will count on classmate Molly McAlevey to hold things down in front of her.
Sullivan said, “I’m excited about the mix of strong returning players and new talent stepping in this season. It’s a great group of kids who are dedicated to improving our style and speed of play, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”
2018 Record: 0-17-1 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Tara Daniels
It has been a decent preseason for the Black Knights and head coach Tara Daniels hopes that they carry that over once things kick off for real. Stoughton has been building cohesion for the last several seasons and Daniels believes that there is the right mix of upperclassmen and newcomers to make the Black Knights a competitive team this fall.
Senior Nicole Weir has found a spot in the back line and will provide the vocal leadership that the defense needs. Senior Brianna Buckley has won the starting job in goal this year after earning time between the posts last season. Junior Mackenzie Manning is the key to the Stoughton midfield, having led the team in points in each of her first two seasons on varsity and continuing to be the team’s primary playmaker. Freshman Shayla Ford will step into the attack this season and there is hope that she can make an instant impact with her speed and finishing ability. One of the most important developments of the preseason is the growing understanding between Manning and Ford going forward.
“This year we have a strong core of returning upperclassmen that have worked the past few years to help shape and strengthen this overall program, with the level of play I am seeing from this group of upperclassmen and the freshman class, it is going to be an extremely competitive season for the Knights,” said Daniels.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Having played each other twice in the regular season, including an 11-inning epic a little more than a week ago, there were no secrets between North Attleboro and Dartmouth in Saturday afternoon’s Div. 1 South first round game at Kelly Field. It all came down to execution.
The Rocketeers scored seven times with two outs, including six runs after having two outs and no one on base, while the Indians stranded 10 runners and North ran away with an 8-0 victory that not only sealed a win of the season series but sent Big Red into the D1 South quarterfinal to face top seed Bridgewater-Raynham.
“I thought our defense played really well today,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “When you see a team twice…Bella [Erti] throws hard, but that wow factor is gone. For us, they throw the lefty and come back with the righty, but we know that. When you only have three strikeouts and they put the ball in play 18 times then you’ve got to make the plays.”
Two-out hitting has been a theme of late, as North used a series of two-out hits to beat Taunton in the regular season finale and had a similar burst in the first inning on Saturday. With two outs, Ashley Cangiano (3-for-3, three RBI) singled to left, Annabelle Hebard drew a walk, and Katie Daby brought both runners in with a ringing double that bounced off the fence in right center.
“It just got us hyped and started and just play our defense after that,” said Cangiano about the quick start.
In the second inning, Olivia Capobianco reached on an error to lead things off. Abby Gallagher dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt and Capobianco showed off her wheels to go from first to third. She scored when Cangiano ripped a line drive to the centerfielder. It was the only run that North scored with less than two outs.
Wallace said, “It’s so much easier playing ahead than playing behind. When we bunted with Olivia on first, she goes first-to-third, you might not try that down a run.”
Mandi Hanewich drew a lead-off walk in the fourth and stole second on a pitch in the dirt. Capobianco bunted her to third and with two outs Cangiano came through with another line drive hit to right center to make it 6-0.
The runs kept coming, as North tacked on insurance runs off Dartmouth’s reliever Hannah Arruda (who hit a pair of home runs and drove in five the last time the two teams played), always wary of a dangerous Dartmouth lineup. With two down (again), Gallagher doubled to right center, the ball skipping past the centerfielder. Cangiano followed with a carbon copy, this time heading to third with an RBI-triple. Hebard doubled to left and North led 8-0.
This was far from an easy win for the Rocketeers. Dartmouth consistently put pressure on Erti and the defense, but North made the plays it needed, including a couple of spectacular grabs in the outfield. Gallagher got things started on the first out of the game, laying out in right to take a hit away from Arruda. Capobianco took extra bases away from the Indians in the fifth when she chased down Samara Turgeon’s drive to the fence, flipping over the fence after pulling in the catch.
Erti finished with only three strikeouts and Dartmouth left two runners on in the first, fourth, sixth, and seventh, but Cangiano praised her pitcher’s approach to grind her way out of jams.
“She just gets so focused and she knows what she’s doing,” Cangiano said about Erti bearing down with two outs. “She’s been pitching for so long that she’s so used to that kind of stuff.”
“Her biggest improvement this year has been limiting the walks and I know she walked two today but part of that was trying not to just pound the strike zone,” said Wallace. “I think a lot of those runners on base were with two outs and, honestly, if you want to point a finger at the game that was the difference: we had two-out hits and also made two-out plays. That’s huge.”
North Attleboro (16-5) will move on to the Div. 1 South quarterfinal to face top seed Bridgewater-Raynham on Monday.
TAUNTON, Mass. – As she walked off the field following the final out, North Attleboro third baseman Annabelle Hebard, smile on her face, head back, lifted her outstretched arms up and took a big breath. It had been a long couple of days for the Rocketeers, who traveled to Taunton on Friday night for their third game in three days. After suffering back-to-back losses, North went into the regular season finale against its fellow league champion trying to build momentum entering the playoffs.
North showed no ill effects from its busy schedule, jumping out to a four-run lead in the first inning, twice led by the Tigers by five runs, and then held off a late Taunton rally to earn a 6-5 victory at Jack Tripp Field. It was exactly the response that head coach Bill Wallace wanted from the Davenport division champions.
“We kind of needed this tonight,” North coach Bill Wallace explained. “We lost two games that weren’t the easiest to swallow, if you know what I mean, and this one, the kids are like okay we’ve got our mojo back. We did the little things, we bunted, we moved runners along.”
While North had been playing every day, Taunton had been off for five days and there was a little rust at the beginning of the game. Starting pitcher Kelsey White retired the first two North hitters, but then Ashley Cangiano beat out an infield hit on a slow roller to short. Hebard followed with almost the exact same play. Katie Daby made it three straight hits, lining a single to right to score the first run.
After Emily Nardelli drew a walk, Alex Moulson got North’s third infield hit, this time right up the third base line, and brought in the second run. Belle Clarkin, North’s No. 8 hitter, doubled the lead with a bloop single to right that scored a pair of runs.
“They came through with the hits when they needed them,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry, “but sometimes you’ve got to make those dribbler plays when you need them too. We were a little bit slow reacting today.”
A one-out error proved costly in the second inning for Taunton. Cangiano bunted Abby Gallagher to third with two outs and Hebard got her second hit of the day, grounding it right back up the box, to make it 5-0. All five runs were scored with two outs.
“That was really helpful,” said Wallace. “Bella [Erti] has thrown 24 innings in the last three days against three really good teams, so I think she could relax a little bit. She’s got more guts and that’s what it was, a gutsy performance.”
Despite having pitched 17 innings in the previous two days, including an 11-inning outing against Dartmouth on Wednesday, North starter Bella Erti came out firing. She struck out a pair in the first and didn’t allow a hit until the third. She only allowed six hits overall.
Taunton got one back in the fourth inning. Hanna Aldrich drilled a lead-off homer to straightaway center that made it 5-1. An error put McKenzie McAloon on and it looked like the Tigers might be able to start chipping away at the deficit but Moulson and Nardelli turned a quick 6-4-3 double play that effectively ended Taunton’s momentum.
The reason that Taunton was still in the game was the relief effort from Alexa White. The senior replaced her sister in the circle with two outs in the second and retired the first 11 batters she faced, nine of them by strikeout. She finished with 12 strikeouts in just 5-1/3 innings and allowed only one hit.
“She was amazing, especially considering she hasn’t pitched much in the last month,” said Lewry about White. “She pitched an inning or two here or there, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Today she was right on, kept us in it.”
North did manage a crucial insurance run in the sixth. With one out, Clarkin hit a deep fly ball to left that went off the fielder’s glove. Mandi Hanewich dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Clarkin to third and then lead off hitter Olivia Capobianco stunned Taunton with a perfect safety squeeze to get the run in.
That run proved to be the game-winner because the potent Taunton offense found its footing against a tiring Erti in the bottom half of the inning.
Abigail McDonough singled to center with one out to start the rally. Aldrich ripped a single up the middle and then both runners read a pitch in the dirt to move into scoring position. McAloon walked to load the bases and then Payton Ceglarski belted a single to right to score a pair.
After a fly ball for the second out, Paige Silvia got her first hit of the game, singling to center to score another two runs and bring the Tigers back within one. Erti managed to escape with the lead, getting a grounder to third to end the threat.
“I think we developed some character tonight,” said Lewry. “We haven’t been in that position this year, we haven’t had to play from behind. I didn’t know how they would react, but they reacted pretty well. We learned that we can come back and we had some kids come through with some big hits tonight.”
Erti made quick work of the seventh, getting the Tigers in order to secure a win that has ramifications in the league title race, in the seeding for the upcoming tournament, and for North Attleboro (15-5, 13-3) confidence as it looks to make a run at bringing home a trophy.
Wallace said, “Part of what made this so important for a lot the kids is that we haven’t done very well against the Kelley-Rex (four of North’s five losses came against teams from the opposite division) and we were wondering, where are we? Now, we showed we can play with anyone.”
Taunton (19-2, 13-2) will now go into Saturday night’s rivalry game with King Philip needing a win to secure the outright league title and also to hang out to one of the top two or three seeds in D1 South.
“It’s a big game tomorrow,” Lewry admitted. “We want to win the Hock outright, so we need to win tomorrow. It’s as simple as that. It’s another big game, we just need to play from inning one not inning four.”
CANTON, Mass. – With an opportunity to make history for the program, North Attleboro put together a near perfect performance on Friday night under the lights at Walsh Field. The Rocketeers shut down division rival Canton, with junior pitcher Bella Erti throwing a five-inning perfect game, and the bats came alive, pounding out 17 hits and 13 runs.
It all came together for Big Red, which rolled to a 13-0 victory and secured at least a share of the program’s first league title since 1990. On top of that, it was also the 250th win of head coach Bill Wallace’s 20-year career (18 at North and two at Walpole).
After the game, the team presented Wallace with a ball signed by all the players and they gathered in the outfield and at home plate with a sign that had 1990 crossed out on one half and 2019 written on the other.
“We had a team meeting before the bus and we said, this is it,” Wallace explained after the game. “This is the homestretch and we need to get our focus and start winning every pitch. Not win every inning, every game, it’s got to be every pitch and the kids were really dialed in today.”
Canton freshman pitcher Sophia Santos threw a perfect top of the first, but the Rocketeers got to the Bulldogs starter in the second. Annabelle Hebard (4-for-4) led off with a double to left center and Katie Daby (3-for-3) followed with a single. Emily Nardelli walked to load the bases and then Alex Moulson lined a two-run single to left.
After a sac bunt moved two runners into scoring position and a walk to No. 9 hitter Mandi Hanewich (2-for-2), Olivia Capobianco drilled a base hit to center, aggressively taking second just ahead of the throw, to plate two more. A sac fly from Abby Gallagher made it 5-0, but the inning ended with Canton centerfielder Liz Bickett throwing out Capobianco as she tried to advance to third.
Erti started the game strongly, striking out two in each of the first two innings. In the third, North tacked on three more. Ashley Cangiano (2-for-3) singled and took second on a wild pitch before scoring on a hit by Hebard. After Caroline Hughes took over in the circle for the Bulldogs, Daby drilled a triple over the head of the right fielder. Daby scored on a groundout by Nardelli.
The Bulldogs continued to struggle at the plate, but started making contact against Erti, striking out only once after the second inning. North’s infield defense made no mistakes to keep Canton off the base paths.
“They played so clean and I look at all nine positions they play the game the right way,” said first-year Canton coach Dave Bohane.
He added, “Against some girls you can try to be patient because they might have a wild streak to them but with Bella Erti, she’s in control out there. But, our kids went up there not overwhelmed. We can play better than that but again no shame in losing to them.”
North sealed the win in the fourth with five more runs. Hebard drove in her second run of the night, Moulson brought in her third run with a hard grounder off the third baseman and Hanewich cleared the bases with a double pulled straight down the line and right over the first base bag.
“I thought Hughes came in and did well,” Bohane said. “She’s a veteran and battled. I know it’s a lot of runs, but they’re a good hitting team. The bottom of the order has gotten us in both games too.”
In the bottom of the fifth, the Rocketeers clearly wanted to finish off the perfect game for Erti. She induced grounders from SSteph Trendell, Jackie Morrissey, and Hughes. The last one went to first baseman Alivia Byrne, who took it to the bag herself and set off the team’s celebration.
“They’re so happy,” said Wallace about the team pulling for Erti to get the perfect game. “That means a lot to me. At the end of the day, that is what’s important and they really pull for each other.”
When asked about what it meant for the program to get over the hump (North had a stretch of three straight seasons that it finished one game out of first place) and claim an elusive league title, Wallace pointed out that his team has made the playoffs 11 out of the last 12 years, reached two South semifinals, and one South final.
As he explained, North’s 29-year wait for a league crown was more a product of the level of competition that the Rocketeers faced within the league.
“Part of it was that we were in the Kelley-Rex division with Taunton and King Philip,” Wallace said. “And then there was Milford, which lost like three games in two seasons. It shows how strong the league is. Since 2008, we’ve missed the tournament just once and yet this is our first league title.”
North Attleboro (12-3, 10-2) can clinch the outright Davenport division crown on Monday with a win at Foxboro. Canton (6-10, 5-9) will host Milford on Tuesday and needs a win against Dedham on May 23 to secure a playoff spot thanks to the Sullivan rule.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In a showdown between two of the Hockomock League’s top pitchers, North Attleboro’s Bella Erti and Stoughton’s Nicole Baker both delivered.
Erti, a junior, allowed just one run on four hits and one walk, striking out 13 in the circle for the Rocketeers. Baker, a sophomore, was also strong with just two runs (one earned) allowed on three hits, no walks, and 11 strikeouts, including 10 swinging.
A game with two great pitchers is likely to come down to one or two plays, and that’s exactly what happened.
Stoughton took the lead in the top of the fourth inning, but the Rocketeers answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. And then erased the tying run at the plate in the top of the sixth on a nice defensive play by North Attleboro junior catcher Ashley Cangiano.
“It was nice to respond,” said North Attleboro head coach Bill Wallace. “We’re still a young team, we had four girls that it was their first varsity start. Having said that, they know the game. We knew that we’d have to put the ball in play.
“Baker did a really nice job, Bella did a really nice job. It was classic pitcher’s day…the wind blowing in, cold…and both pitchers did exactly what they were supposed to. A game like that comes down to one or two plays, and the bunt and the play are home were the two plays.”
Both pitchers had it going early on. Bella retired the first nine Stoughton batters in order, six by strikeout. Baker allowed just two base runners to start, one on an error in the first and Katie Daby’s leadoff single in the second. But neither runner advances past second and Baker had seven strikeouts through three.
“That was a great game and it really could have gone either way,” said Stoughton head coach Deb Parker. “Nicole had a great day, that’s how she throws every day. She keeps her composure and does what she needs to do. She’s going to keep us in every ball game.”
The offenses for both teams came alive in the fourth inning. Stoughton senior Jordan Lyons sliced a one-out triple over the right fielder’s head. Two batters later, junior Lexi Baptista hit a hard grounder through the right side for a two-out RBI and a 1-0 lead for the visiting Black Knights.
Stoughton’s Bri Ferrandiz followed with a single up the middle to put runners on first and second but Erti bounced back with a three-pitch strikeout to escape further damage.
North Attleboro had an immediate response in the bottom half of the fourth. Cangiano led off with a single up the middle. Annabelle Hebard followed with a bunt up the third base line. The ball was bobbled into foul territory, and Cangiano hustled to an open third base, which allowed Hebard to take second.
Daby hit a soft grounder up the middle but the throw to first was high and both Cangiano and Hebard came home safely. Stoughton freshman Sydney Menz made a terrific catch in right and doubled the runner at second to help the Black Knights keep the deficit at one.
“That’s two juniors and a senior making those plays,” Wallace said of leaning on more experienced players while the younger players gain experience. “We only started the one senior today, we have a handful of juniors. We have to learn as we go. We still made some mistakes but we got through it.”
Stoughton threatened with the tying run at third in the sixth but North Attleboro denied the Black Knights. Karly Estremera led off with a walk and moved to second on a single from Baker. A short grounder allowed Estremera to take third and Baker moved to second.
On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Cangiano was able to block the ball down. It looked like it had gotten away from her and Estremera took off for home but Cangiano recovered nicely, grabbed the ball and made a diving play to tag the Black Knight base runner as she slid into home for an out.
“Ashley did a great job on that play,” Wallace said. “I thought she could have had her the play before, the girl got caught leaning a little but I think it surprised Ashley a little bit. But I think that helped because then she was aware and felt like she could have gotten her, and then she did a great job blocking and tagging her.
“I trust our lineup, one through nine we can get it done,” Parker said. “If we’re going to be aggressive and take a chance, I thought that was a chance worth taking. It just didn’t go our way.”
Baker retired the final six batters in order while Erti had a 1-2-3 seventh inning, including back-to-back strikeouts to end it.
North Attleboro softball (1-0 overall, 1-0 Hockomock) is back in action on Monday when it entertains Oliver Ames. Stoughton (1-1, 1-1) has its first home game on Tuesday against Attleboro.
2018 Record: 9-12 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Homer
After back-to-back playoff appearances, the expectations are high around the Attleboro program this spring. The Bombardiers return eight of nine starters from last year’s team and the lineup should be loaded with good hitters, as well as multiple players who can step into the circle and produce a good start. With the depth on the roster this season, Attleboro will be eyeing another postseason berth.
Senior McKenzie Bergdoll is one of the top power hitters in the league and will be back for another spring in the heart of the Attleboro lineup. She will be joined by classmates Jordyn Lako and Kayla Battisti as starters. Junior Makenzie Killough will be back at shortstop and also batting cleanup and providing protection for Bergdoll in the order. Sophomore Lora Woyton returns behind the plate, sophomore Autumn O’Connell will be in center and batting second and junior Ashley Macia will be out in left. Sophomore Brenna Morse will be taking over in rightfield. In the circle, Attleboro has plenty of depth with juniors Emily and Jenna Gittle and Bergdoll all able to step in. The Bombardiers will try to take advantage of their overall team speed and head coach Mark Homer said there are a few freshmen who may see playing time right away.
“The bar was set high from last season,” said Homer. “So the girls are onboard to perform well again this season with high hopes of competing in every game they play. They have set some goals to achieve one a\t a time. I am cautiously optimistic with our chances of winning more games this season than we have in the past. Knowing that there are no easy games on our schedule so we have to come to play every night.”
2018 Record: 8-13 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Dave Bohane
Canton had quite the turnaround in 2018 under second-year head coach Jennifer Robillard, winning eight games, seven more than in 2017, and making a return to the state tournament. Robillard, last season’s HockomockSports.com Coach of the Year, has moved on to a position at Bentley and football coach Dave Bohane has taken over a team that has seen an influx of young talent and has momentum on its side heading into the spring.
Junior pitcher Caroline Hughes is one of the reasons for optimism in the program, as she is looking to build off a strong sophomore season in which she pitched almost every inning. Hughes was also one of the team’s top hitters and she will be at the heart of the lineup along with sophomore outfielder Liz Bickett, who batted .409 last season. Bickett is just one of several sophomores who the Bulldogs will be counting on, including infielders Olivia Lanci and Sarah Kelly, catchers Steph Trendell and Amanda Vrabel. Junior catcher Jackie Howard and seniors Haley Donovan and Ally Chin will provide leadership for this young group to try and get the Bulldogs right back into the state tournament mix.
“I am very excited to be coaching this team,” said Bohane, who has previously served the program as an assistant coach. “They are extremely hard working and devoted to the program. I think they will set the standard for our future players who come through the program. It’s a very tough league, but we will take it one game at a time and try to improve each game”.
2018 Record: 11-12 2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Mark Maguire
Foxboro made a run in the Div. 2 tournament last season, winning a pair of games before being knocked out in the quarterfinals, and the Warriors will hope to build on that exciting finish to 2018 by making a run at the Davenport crown this spring. Even with the loss of catcher Hannah Davis, who was instrumental in the team’s playoff run, Foxboro has a strong returning core and some talented young players stepping in to give head coach Mark Maguire confidence ahead of the new season.
Senior Emma Rohan will be back in the circle for her fourth year as the Foxboro starter and she has the experience of pitching in a number of big games and against the top teams in the league. Senior Cam Willis will play first this season, but can also step in and pitch if needed along with junior Amelia Stowell. The pitchers will have a rookie to throw to, as freshman Allie Willis will be stepping in behind the plate. Sophomore Morgan Sylvestre returns at shortstop after a strong first season on varsity and will be one of the leaders of the infield. Senior Chelsea Gibbons is at third base and freshman Peyton Feldman takes over at second. Sophomore Nicole Theriault will be in centerfield but can play a number of positions, senior Riley Martignetti gives the team pop from the right side of the plate, and senior Jill Finn can play all three outfield positions.
“Preseason is going great as the girls are working very hard to be ready for the season,” said Maguire. “We have a group of girls who work hard. I think team defense should be good with our senior leadership, and the younger players who aggressively look to make plays in the field. I have high expectations for this team, as we look to compete for a Davenport title and gain a state tournament berth.”
2018 Record: 9-11 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Kate Fallon
Franklin has consistently been right behind perennial league leaders Taunton and King Philip in the Kelley-Rex division standings but has narrowly missed out on the playoffs by a single win in each of the past two seasons. This year, the Panthers have eight seniors coming back with the goal of getting the team back into the postseason and use a typically tough schedule to prep for a tournament run.
Pitching will be a strength for the Panthers this year with seniors Jackie Cherry and Emily Valentino giving the team depth and different options in the circle. Throwing strikes will be the key for both and limiting opposition base runners. Behind the plate, Franklin has plenty of experience as well with seniors Ally Shea and Maggie Hobby both capable of stepping in and handling the pitchers as well as providing power at the plate. Senior Tara Hartnett will be back at shortstop and provides strong defense up the middle. Junior Anna Balkus will be in centerfield and will set the table for the offense as the lead-off hitter. Junior Maddy White will be at third base and joins Shea and senior Kylie-Jade Bouzan as the team’s primary run producers.
“We are excited to see the Panther players on the field again,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. “Overall our tough league and non-league schedule will keep us focused for tournament and we will rely on our solid pitching and defense.”
2018 Record: 21-4 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Norm Beauchemin
Every season King Philip loses important players and every season the Warriors seem to be right back in the mix for the league title. This spring should be no different. KP will have several important players to replace in the lineup, but it expects to challenge for a 12th title in the past 13 seasons and also make another tournament run, following last year’s South final loss to Kelley-Rex rival Taunton.
Meghan Gorman is the player to watch for the Warriors this season, as the senior shortstop is one of the top defensive players in the state and also the spark plug at the top of the lineup. Senior Faith Turinese will move from the outfield into the circle and will split time with classmate Heather Nix as the top pitchers for the Warriors. Turinese also batted over .400 last year and will be an important bat in the middle of the order. Junior Destiny Goyco will step in behind the plate, after overcoming an injury from basketball season, and fellow junior Liliana Rolfe will take over at third. Grace Kelley will be at second base and Anna Bradley will be at first. The outfield will be filled with speed, including Kara McWhinnie in left, sophomore Paige Berdos in center, and either Ryan Stagg or junior Reaegan Simeone in right.
“One to nine, everyone hits the ball,” said KP coach Norm Beauchemin. “I’m looking forward to another solid season. The league overall is going to be very competitive, so it should be fun.”
2018 Record: 7-13 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield is looking to bounce back from a tough 2018 season in which the Hornets struggled in the Hockomock (going 4-12 in league play) and missed the playoffs. This year, Mansfield hopes for a quick turnaround and return to the state tournament with an experienced roster that brings back 11 players, seven starters, and seven seniors from last season.
The battery of senior pitcher Sarah Cahill and senior catcher Caty DeMassi is back and should give the Hornets a good foundation on which to build on this season. Seniors Megan Letendre and Kara Bendanillo will hold down the left side of the infield and provide pop in the middle of the lineup, while Mady Bendanillo returns in centerfield to give Mansfield a dynamic defensive player and another strong bat. There is an influx of youth as well with two sophomores and a freshman jumping into varsity and having the chance to contribute right away.
“Our goal is to make it back to the tournament this year and with strong leadership from our captains and our seniors, I think we will have a good shot at it!” said Mansfield coach Lori Letendre.
2018 Record: 18-3 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Steve DiVitto
The biggest question for Milford is how do the Hawks move on from a group of 10 seniors that won a combined 79 games, four league titles, and the 2017 state championship? Milford has been the team to beat in the Davenport division for six years and a relatively inexperienced group will have to face a season in which the target for every team in the league is squarely on their backs.
Junior Megan Hart is one of the primary options to replace Kelley Reichert in the circle to start the season, with freshman Olivia Morelli showing potential to step in and contribute innings right away. Senior Lucy Creedon can step in at first or in the outfield. Junior April Swain will jump into the outfield along with classmate Taylor Waldrup, while junior Amanda Wenckus can play either position on the left side of the infield and sophomore Carly Ferreira can play either corner infield spot. Sophomore Elise Fauerbach can play behind the plate or in the outfield, while her classmate Natalie Casilli will take an outfield spot. There are a lot of spots to fill this year, but head coach Steve DiVitto is talking about that as an opportunity for a new group of players to step into.
“We understand that lack of experience is something that we will need to combat with, however the bar will continue to be set high!” DiVitto said. “Each year a new page is turned over, and as always the focus is: what’s your legacy going to be? Keeping our awesome team chemistry will be an important part of this season. We’re excited for the challenges of playing in the best league in the state!”
2018 Record: 16-5 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Bill Wallace
Two seasons ago, North Attleboro was a young team that made a surprise trip to the South semifinal, but this year the Rocketeers will have much higher expectations. North is now the experienced team in the Davenport division and has aspirations of unseating Milford and winning a first league title since 1990 and adding to the league’s recent history of strong tournament performances with another deep run.
Junior pitcher Bella Erti will be one of the league’s top pitchers again this season, after a 15-5 sophomore season in which she struck out 137 batters. She also hit .357. Junior Ashley Cangiano is also back for her third year as a starter and is one of the top catchers in the league. Abby Gallagher returns to the North outfield after hitting .500 last season as a sophomore and senior Olivia Capobianco will be back in centerfield and the middle of the North lineup. Freshman Mandi Hanewich and sophomores Emma Bailey and Belle Clarkin will compete for the third outfield spot after impressive preseasons. Senior Katie Daby is at first, while sophomore Emily Nardelli moves from shortstop to second base. Junior Alex Moulson takes over at short and her classmate Annabelle Hebard will be at third. Emily Bedard and Makenzie Nardelli add to North’s infield depth and Alivia Byrne will give Erti a rest in the circle and is another big bat in the lineup.
“We will need to be more multi-dimensional, as late in the year we couldn’t sustain our offensive start to the season,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “This group really wants to make their mark on the league and they know how much work that is going to take.”
Last season was a struggle for the Tigers, with only three wins and head coach Lindsey Allison is hoping that a group of younger players can add to the returning core and make a push to get Oliver Ames back into the state tournament. Allison is confident that the offense will get into the swing of things for the Tigers after scoring only 66 runs last season, second-lowest in the league.
Senior Kayla Georgeu will be back in the circle for OA and in the heart of the lineup. The Tigers will count on sophomore Emma Varella to provide some innings at pitcher, as well as playing in the infield. Senior first baseman Katie Mills is a big bat for the Tigers and junior Katie Abreu can step in at either shortstop or centerfield depending on the game to provide vocal leadership. Sophomore Grace Simone will be behind the plate this season.
“Every spot is open for the taking and there are many young players who are hungry to be on the field,” said Allison. “This group of players seem like a team – not just a group of individuals. They compete with one another for positions, but also support each other. They hold each other accountable and communicate. I am excited to see what hard work can accomplish this season.”
It was definitely a rough debut season for Sharon coach Heather Poliferno, but it was also a chance for a number of young players to get experience at the varsity level. This spring, there is renewed enthusiasm with a crop of underclassmen joining the experienced players to give Poliferno and the Eagles confidence for a much better spring.
Freshman Trinity Payne is the player to watch for the Eagles this season as she takes over as the starting pitcher and has already drawn the attention of coaches in the Davenport division. She will be used at a couple of different positions and gives the Eagles versatility in the lineup. Senior Alli Small will be back at shortstop this season, while classmate Jody Goldenberg is back at first, and senior Rebecca Clayman will be the leader of the outfield group. As the program is growing, Sharon is hoping for much different results this season.
“We are very excited for this season!” said Poliferno. “We have many returning players leading our varsity team, as well as the addition of a very talented freshman class. Though we have only had a handful of practices, one of our clear strengths is our desire to be the best on the field.”
2018 Record: 7-13 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Deb Parker
Stoughton struggled to find a groove in 2018 and ended up missing the playoffs under first-year head coach Deb Parker, who had made the switch from Sharon before last season. This year, the Black Knights bring back starters in key positions and once again have the potential to make a run at a state tournament berth and even challenge for the Davenport title.
Seniors Nikki Coppola (second base) and Jordan Lyons (shortstop) give Stoughton a strong combination up the middle and senior Karly Estremera brings plenty of experience at third base. Sophomore pitcher Nicole Baker will take over full-time in the circle this season and Parker is impressed by the work that she put in during the off-season to get ready. Baker will be throwing to an experienced catcher, as senior Brianna Ferrandiz is back behind the plate for the Black Knights. Junior Lexi Baptista will lead the outfield crew in center and could also be one of Stoughton’s top hitters this season. Freshmen Melody Casna and Sydney Menz will give the Black Knights versatility by playing multiple positions.
“This team has come together so quickly, it is a real tribute to the leadership of our captains,” said Parker. “This team knows what they are playing for this year and we have high expectations going into the season. Softball in the Hockomock League is incredibly competitive but if we continue to work hard, we should have a great season.”
2018 Record: 26-2 2018 Finish: Won D1 State Championship Coach: Dave Lewry
How do you follow up a state championship? For Taunton, it just may be to make a run at a repeat. The Tigers lost the second, third, and fourth hitters in the lineup (including league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Kya Enos), who combined for 88 RBI, but there is a ton of talent coming back from last season, all of whom contributed at one point or another during Taunton’s run to the title.
It starts in the circle where sophomore Kelsey White will be the starter again this season after going 16-2 as a freshman and pitching every inning during the playoff run (not to mention batting .418). Her sister Alexa will also see time at pitcher, along with freshman Olyvia Mendonca, but will also play most of the season in centerfield. The infield will be a strength for the Tigers, with all four players back. Senior Jaime Brown (batted .469) is back for her fifth year at third base and is one of the top hitters in the league, sophomore Hanna Aldrich (.385 average with four homers and 30 RBI) is in her third year at shortstop and was this site’s Underclassman of the Year in 2018, sophomore McKenzie McAloon returns at second base for her third season, and junior Paige Silvia is back at first. Silvia and junior Riley Murphy are also in the running to replace Enos behind the plate, while junior Abbie McDonough takes over in left and eighth-grader Ava Venturelli could start the season in right.
“While we lost three outstanding players to graduation, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “We have a good nucleus of returning players looking to defend our D1 state championship.”
MANSFIELD, Mass. – It was a game that felt like a preview of the Div. 1 South tournament, with both teams defending in numbers and chances at a premium. Mansfield and North Attleboro, both defending division champions, demonstrated tough team defense and got timely goalkeeping in a fast-paced, scoreless draw on Wednesday night at Alumni Field.
“That was a good game,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith. “It was a state tournament-level game. It was physical, it was fast, and every mistake was punished by both teams.”
North created early chances in the first half. Emma Gaulin was particularly active in the Rocketeeers midfield winning the ball back and pushing North into the attack. A give-and-go with her sister Ashlyn allowed her to run at Emily Vigeant but the Mansfield defender was able to get back in time.
Just a minute later, Lydia Santos lined up a 30-yard free kick that dropped right into the middle of the box but was punched away by Mansfield keeper Lauren Whitman. The rebound fell to Haley Ferrin but her effort went over the bar. Kayla Pasquel played Emma Gaulin in behind on the left side of the box but her shot was saved by a diving Whitman (four saves).
Mansfield also passed the ball well in the opening half and was finding some space behind the North fullbacks. Sydney Mulkern played a ball into Steph Kempon the left edge of the box and her cross bounced off a defender in the box and bounced to Katie Garvin, who hit the volley over the bar.
Kemp had a neat turn in the box to get space for a shot that was blocked on its way to goal by Olivia Bishop. On the ensuing corner, Vigeant nearly curled it directly in, but North goalie Emma Noreck was able to get a fingertip on it. Emma Gaulin nearly opened the scoring a few minutes later but Whitman made the kick save.
Just before halftime, Vigeant again came close from a set piece. This time it was a 50-yard free kick that she put just under the crossbar but Noreck was able to get up and tip it away.
“Emma Noreck had probably her best game,” North coach Bill Wallace said. “At halftime I wanted to pull her because she’s been under the weather all week, but she told me to leave her in.”
The second half was a much cagier 40 minutes, as both teams clamped down in the midfield. Melissa Reef helped out the Hornets back line in limiting the touches for Ashlyn Gaulin and the center back pairing of Mikaela Maughn and Vigeant kept just about everything in front of them. On the other side, Sam Hawkins, the only returning defensive player from last year, and Brieann Westcott were equally tough to beat.
“They just played their hearts out,” Wallace said. “Twice this year we’ve changed what we normally do for teams and the girls reacted great to it. That’s not normally how we play but boy they did it to a ’T’. The longer you keep them off the board, the smaller the goal seems, the more those passes tend to go longer, and that was our intent.”
Mansfield had a good opportunity six minutes after the break when Garvin played Cassidy McMahon into space but Noreck was able to save. Vigeant’s corner found Garvin at the back post but her header was blocked by a host of North defenders.
Alex Moulson had a chance off a North corner but her header went narrowly wide. Kemp reacted first to a loose ball and had a go from 20 yards, just missing the target at the near post.
The best chance to break the deadlock came with 10 minutes to play. Santos slipped Pasquel into space on the right and she crossed to Ashlyn Gaulin in the box but the league’s leading scorer couldn’t get full purchase on her shot and it was saved comfortably by Mansfield’s second keeper, Caty DeMassi.
Wallace remarked, “We’re really happy with the point and now we’re one away from the tournament…Both teams played really strong and that’s a great tournament warm up.”
Mansfield was playing for only the second time in nearly two weeks and there was an element of rust, which North was able to amplify. Smith explained, “Our first touch just wasn’t there. Whether it was the first touch on the pass or on the receive and go, it was just a little too far away from ourselves and their speed and pressure was real intense, so we couldn’t afford that.”
North Attleboro (7-2-3, 6-2-3) will host Stoughton on Friday afternoon. Mansfield (9-0-2, 8-0-2) travels to Attleboro on Friday and then hosts Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) on Saturday.