With just 15 minutes left in the D2 South Sectional Final, the Bulldogs were knotted at 1-1 with the 15th-seeded Shamrocks of Bishop Feehan.
Dating back to the start of last year’s state tournament, it was the first time in eight playoff games that Canton did not lead entering the final period. And on top of that, it was the first time in that same stretch that the Bulldogs didn’t have a two-goal cushion with one period left.
But in a matter of 19 seconds, Canton’s #19 — senior forward and captain Johnny Hagan — broke the game wide open. Hagan scored twice in that time span, tacking on an empty netter late to finish with four goals to lead the Bulldogs to a 4-1 decision over the upset-minded Shamrocks.
With the win, Canton claims its second straight D2 South Sectional title and returns to the TD Garden to defend its D2 State Championship.
“For all the experience we have in that locker room, we haven’t had the experience of really have to grind out a third period and the end of a game in the playoffs the last two years,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “And that’s what they had to do tonight, they stepped up. All the credit in the world to Bishop Feehan, what a season they had. They are a heck of a team, well-coached, a lot of skill and they had a great run in the tournament.
“The playoffs so far, we’ve had our way against teams. We talked in-between periods how this is how it’s supposed to be, it’s supposed to be 1-1 going into the third in a championship game. We had to embrace that, we had to embrace the hard part of the game. I think the mentality went from being afraid to lose, to winning the final period. I think the switch in that mentality plus our second line and red line played great in the third, they set the tone for the third period.”
In last year’s playoffs, Canton led by an average of nearly four goals going into the final period of play. This year, the Bulldogs led by scores of 4-0 (against Taunton), 6-1 (against Medway) and 3-0 (against Whitman-Hanson) going into the final stanza.
Canton was close to taking a one-goal lead into the third when Hagan opened the scoring in the game with 2:25 left in the middle period. The senior converted a partial breakaway with a great low shot that beat the goalie five-hole to put the top-seeded Bulldogs ahead.
But Feehan needed just five seconds on the power play to knot the score. Jason Sullivan’s low show through traffic from the right circle found its way into the back of the net with just 30.4 seconds left in the middle frame.
With just 15 minutes to play, the Shamrocks were level with the Bulldogs.
“I think they outplayed us in the second,” Hagan said. “We came back into the locker room and decided as a team that we had 15 minutes left, it was in our own hands and that we control our own destiny. Feehan is a good team, if they did the seedings the right way [strength of schedule], they’d probably be a top-five seed. It’s a playoff game, it’s the South final so we knew it was going to be close.”
Similar to the first period, the Canton offense applied a lot of pressure over the course of the first couple of minutes of the third. The Bulldogs’ second line of Tommy Ghostlaw, Shane Marshall, and Timmy Kelleher set the tone with a couple of good chances early.
Senior defenseman Owen Lehane found Marshall for a shot in the slot with Kelleher screened, but Feehan goalie Ryan D’Amato (saves) was in position for the stop. Seconds later, Ghostlaw connected with Marshall, who dished it along to Kelleher for a shot but again D’Amato made the stop and then stuffed Marshall on the doorstep on the rebound.
Senior Chris Lavoie carried the puck into the zone down the left side and tossed it in front. With a handful of bodies in front, the puck popped free to Hagan and he buried his shot to make it 2-1 with 10:19 left in the game.
Hagan needed just 19 seconds to complete his hat trick, pinching down to the right corner and winning a battle. He carried the puck toward goal and picked the top corner on the near side to make it 3-1 with 10:00 to play.
“What a career he’d had…he’s arguably the greatest player that I’ve coached, one of the greatest athletes we’ve seen at Canton High,” Shuman said. “He’s a fierce competitor and he was going to go out there and do what he could in that third period.”
Bishop Feehan was limited to just three shots on goal in the third period but had a couple of serious chances. The Shamrocks stormed into the offensive zone just past the midway point with an odd-man rush but Bulldog defenseman Declan Pfeffer made a decisive sweeping motion to knock the puck free and break up the chance.
And the Shamrocks’ best chance, again on the stick of Sullivan, came with just over two minutes to go after a Bulldog turnover gave him an open look right in front but Joe Cammarata stood tall to deny the chance.
With just over a minute to go, Canton caught the Shamrocks in a line change and tacked on an empty net goal to seal the win.
While it was all Canton in the first period (15-5 advantage in shots on goal), the Bulldogs couldn’t break through. Lavoie, Hagan, and Donny McNeice all registered serious scoring chances in the opening minute, and sophomore Eamon Kelly had a nice shot saved with 10 minutes to go.
Ghostlaw and Kelleher did their best but couldn’t solve D’Amato, the goalie making a toe save on Kelleher at the midway point. Hagan blasted a shot off the mask with five minutes to go, Kelly’s tip on a rip from Sam Carlino was denied with four minutes to go, and Lavoie dangled past a pair of defenseman only for his shot to be stopped.
After scoring seven goals on the Shamrocks in the regular season matchup, Canton was held to just one through two periods.
“I think these guys have done a good job of forgetting past games against teams. [Thomas Reilly] is a great player for them, a game-changer, and we didn’t see him the first time. Their goalie [Ryan D’Amato] was on a heck of a run and we didn’t see him the first time, so we knew it was going to be a different game. Plus they are just a really good team.
“We caught them on a bad night the first time around. We knew this would be a tough game. They are not a 15 seed…strength of schedule rankings they would be up higher…clearly one of the best teams in the south that deserved to be there at the end.”
Canton boys hockey (21-3-1) returns to the D2 State Championship game on Sunday at the TD Garden, with the time yet to be announced. The Bulldogs will take on either Triton or Lincoln-Sudbury, who battle for the North sectional title on Monday. Lincoln-Sudbury handed Canton its lone loss of the season in February (6-4 on February 12th).
Hawks head coach Brian Edwards knew his side needed to make a change, so he quickly obliged when junior Leo Coelho approached him before overtime with a request to play forward.
“He told me he wanted to win this game,” Edwards said. “It made me look really smart but it was all his idea.”
Edwards moved Coelho from his defensive center mid spot to striker, and the decision paid dividends nearly immediately.
Coelho scored the lone goal of the game just under 90 seconds into the sudden-victory overtime period, handing the second-seeded Hawks a 1-0 verdict over #6 Bishop Feehan.
“I was playing through an injury and it felt like nothing was going to go my way, I felt like it was probably one of my worst games,” Coelho said. “I asked coach if I could play up top in overtime, and he had the trust and confidence to put me there, and I was able to get it done.”
Milford went to work quickly in the extra session, applying pressure as it had done for the majority of the 80 minutes of regulation. This time, the Hawks were able to find the back of the net.
Senior Pedro Araujo hustled to a ball down the right flank, battling a defender off to earn possession. He got the ball on his right foot and fired a cross/shot that was parried away by Feehan keeper Thomas Potenza.
But the ball fell right to the feet of junior Joao Pedro Da Silva, who was quickly surrounded by a trio of Shamrock defenders. Da Silva calmly carried away from goal before sliding a pass to Coelho at the far post, and the junior let the ball come across his body before depositing a shot into the back of the net for the game-winner.
“We had to change something up, the ball wasn’t going in,” Edwards said. “I trust him and he rewarded our faith in him. He played a tremendous game, I thought everyone did. But we couldn’t get the ball in the net. Thankfully we made the play when we needed to.”
While the ball wasn’t going in, it wasn’t for a lack of possession or chances. The Hawks controlled the game from start to finish, putting nearly a dozen shots on frame while limiting the Shamrocks to just two chances, both coming within seconds of each other.
Coelho registered the first serious chance for either side in what was a rare foray into the attacking third. The junior midfielder controlled a clearance, took a touch towards goal, and fired a shot from 25 yards out but his bid clanked off the top of the crossbar and stayed out in the 14th minute.
JP Da Silva took a pass from Lucas Da Silva and forced a save from Potenza, but the Hawks couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing chance. Two minutes later, Coelho found Jordan Borges but his chance went over the bar.
Bishop Feehan’s best three chances all came in the final 15 minutes of half. A cross to the far post eluded the Milford keeper but Chris Tocci was in position to head the first ball up, and Dan Santos cleared the second ball to keep the game scoreless.
The Shamrocks nearly jumped ahead in the final moments of the first half. A lackadaisical play on a loose ball afforded Feehan’s Zach Stephenson possession. He used his speed to get past the Hawks’ defense and rifled a shot alone with the keeper but Milford sophomore Kevin Gomes made the leaping stop.
The rebound bounced to the Shamrocks’ left wing and to the feet of Samir Kassel, who had a good look to bury the rebound, but his chance was denied by Gomes as well to keep the game scoreless
“Kevin has done a good job, we didn’t ask him to do a lot tonight (two saves) but he actually did a nice job coming off his line tonight,” Edwards said. “He snuffed out some chances and he was very decisive when he came off his line. And that’s important against a team like this that’s relying on you to make a mistake defensively so Kevin was big for us.”
Milford continued to control possession in the second half but the Shamrocks often had five or more players behind the ball, making life difficult for the Hawks’ offense that likes to connect on short passes.
The chances still came though as Borges saw his shot go just over the bar in the 44th minute, and Araujo’s header at the far stick was handled in the 50th minute. Potenza came up with a save on a low strike from Borges in the 57th minute and had plenty of time to recover and handle the loose rebound.
“They could have been wearing red and white (North Attleboro),” Edwards said of Feehan, comparing their defense-first approach to that of the Rocketeers. “They played so well defensively. From what we saw leading up to this game, they gave us a very different look. Credit to their coaching staff and players, they were able to adopt a very different strategy against us that was very effective.
“I think we were more frustrated that it wasn’t going in. I think we generated more chances in the second half. I wasn’t happy with the first half, especially defensively, but we adjusted. I thought we were better in the second, and I think we kept our composure.”
After Feehan made a push into the offensive third, Milford countered with one of its best chances. With more space than usual, Coelho pushed forward with possession, using a nice stepover move to get past a defender. He unleashed a shot from 30 yards out that froze the keeper, but it smacked off the post and stayed out in the 58th minute.
“The first half, I think we were all being a little too selfish,” Coelho said. “We were a little too excited, everyone was trying to be the hero. We talked at halftime about playing our game, and if we do that, we can get the job done. They definitely played like North Attleboro, behind the ball, and we had some difficulty breaking it down.”
Milford had a flurry of chances late in the game but couldn’t unlock the Shamrocks with a final product. Potenza made a leaping stop but the rebound was deflected right off Borges’ foot, too hard for him to control in short range.
Tocci’s cross found the feet of Araujo and he tested the keeper with a low shot but Potenza smothered it. A minute later, Araujo beat his defender to the touchline and fired a low cross across the face of goal to Borges at the far post, but the ball found his weaker foot and was cleared after the first touch, and regulation ended scoreless.
Coelho’s winner sends the Hawks to their first-ever D2 South Sectional Final. The last final appearance for Milford boys soccer was in 1999 when they played in the D1 Central Final.
With Milford as the predetermined site for the sectional final, the Hawks (17-0-2) will end up “hosting” Nauset but as the away team, on Sunday at 3:30.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Sophomore Kelsey White and the Taunton softball team didn’t give third-seeded Bishop Feehan many chances, but the Shamrocks took advantage of the little opportunities they had.
Meanwhile, the Tigers had a handful of opportunities, putting at least one runner in scoring position in five innings, and a runner on base in six of the seven innings, but an uncharacteristic performance from second-seeded Taunton put an end to its season.
Bishop Feehan scored single runs in the first, sixth, and seventh innings while Taunton was limited to just one run, leaving six runners on base in scoring position as the Shamrocks earned a 3-1 win a D1 South Semifinal contest.
“We had many chances,” said Taunton head coach Dave Lewry. “It comes down to a game of execution. You have to execute at the plate, in the field, and on the bases, and we picked the wrong game not to execute. It wasn’t a good game for us all around. We didn’t execute. We took too many called strike threes. We played well all year, but the wrong game to play poorly.”
The Shamrocks got off to an ideal start with leadoff hitter Jessica Levesque clubbing a triple to right center field. White (7IP, 6H, 1BB, 3R, 1ER, 3K) induced a ground ball to shortstop and the runner originally held, but after a brief bobble a throwing error allowed Levesque to score and the Feehan runner to get to second.
After a walk, McKenzie McAloon started a double play to get two outs and White got a fly ball to center to strand a runner at third and minimize the damage to just one run.
Taunton had a bevy of chances to tie the game and even take a lead, but couldn’t find the timely hit necessary.
“We had timely hitting,” said Feehan coach Bill Milot. “We did not play a flawless game but fortunately [Taunton] wasn’t able to capitalize on our mistakes and we were able to capitalize on theirs.”
In the bottom of the first, sophomore Hanna Aldrich ripped a two-out double but Feehan pitcher Brooke Scorzinski (7IP, 4H, 4BB, 1ER, 9K) got a pop up in foul territory behind the plate for the third out.
Heads up base running allowed White to get to second on an error in the second with one out, and quickly moved to third on a ground out. But the Tigers couldn’t get the run in as Scorzinski got one of her nine strikeouts to end the frame.
Jaime Brown doubled with one out in the third inning, Alexa White walked, and both advanced on a passed ball to put runners in scoring position with one out. But again Scorzinski got a big strikeout (looking) for the second out. McAloon was hit by the pitch to load the bases but Taunton couldn’t manufacture anything as Scorzinski got a soft line drive back to the circle.
A walk and an error put Kelsey White and Paige Silvia on first and second with no outs but neither runner would advance any further as the Tigers failed on a sac bunt attempt and had three straight fly ball outs.
“I would definitely say it was uncharacteristic,” Lewry said. “Defensively we had a couple of silly little plays, not being aware of the base runners…not being able to get down bunts, that was critical. We tried three or four times and we didn’t get one down. We talked about executing bunts all year, we’ve practiced it all year, we just didn’t do it tonight.
Meanwhile, Kelsey White was cruising on the mound. She retired the side in order in each the second and fourth innings and didn’t let a one-out single past first in the second. A two-out single from Sierra Basara went nowhere in the fifth went nowhere when White got a big strikeout.
“Kelsey had to really battle tonight,” Lewry said. “Some of her pitches weren’t working the way they normally do so we had to go a different way and I thought she did a heck of a job. We could have been out of there allowing one run if we made a couple of plays, it came down to execution and we didn’t get it done.”
The Shamrocks added to their lead with a run in the top of the sixth inning as Caroline Deem blooped a one-out single and took second on a ground ball. Scorzinski sliced a single to right field that Abbie McDonough fielded, firing a throw home but it wasn’t handled at the plate and the runner from second came across.
Taunton finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth but again left runners in scoring position. Silvia had a one-out single and moved to second on a two-out walk from Rylie Murphy. Brown sliced an RBI double to left field to bring a one run in and make it 2-1. With runners on second and third, Scorzinski got the third out with a strikeout.
Feehan tacked on a big insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Haley Coupal had a one-out single and moved to third on a soft grounder in front of the plate. With two outs, Levesque was able to reach when her grounder was bobbled at first, and Coupal ran all the way from second to home before the Tigers could fire a throw home.
The Tigers brought the heart of their lineup for the seventh inning but Scorzinski retired the side in order for the first time all game.
Taunton softball finishes the season at 22-3 while Bishop Feehan will play Bridgewater-Raynham in the D1 South Final on Sunday.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The parking lot was packed on Saturday afternoon, fans forced to make the trek up to the New England Sports Village from the street, and the stands were filled to the brim for a battle of neighbors. Bishop Feehan’s reaction after pulling out a 1-0 win over North Attleboro matched the atmosphere pulsating down from the crowd.
Feehan’s players swarmed each other at the final horn, while North players dropped to the ice in anger and frustration. This felt like a Div. 2 playoff game, not one being contested before Christmas with the teams having played only a handful of games between them.
“We did enough to win, but we’re fighting through back breaks,” said North Attleboro coach Ben McManama. “It’s tough. The kids are working hard, they’re good kids, so it’s harder for me to watch them have to go through that. We’re turning the page; it’s not where we start, but where we finish.”
Having had a week off between its opening game against Oliver Ames and its meeting with Feehan, North took a while to get its skates under it. Senior goalie Ryan Warren (26 saves) was on top of his game, however, and held the Shamrocks off the board during a dominant opening period.
Warren made nine saves in the first, while the Rocketeers managed only three on the other end. Just two minutes into the game, Warren was forced into a big pad stop to deny Ben Gaucher as North freshman defenseman Austin Comery chased back to hassle the Feehan forward.
With six minutes left in the first, Warren got a big helping hand from his defense. After Warren was knocked out of goal making a save, junior Jeff Baker reacted first to clear a loose puck off the line. Warren was caught wide of the goal in a mass of bodies and the puck went out to the point, Comery stepped in front of a goal bound shot to prevent the opening goal (in the process suffering an injury that forced him out of the game).
Feehan continued to attack and Gaucher had another chance with a tip on the edge of the crease but again Warren managed to get his pad across to make the stop.
“He was great,” McManama said of Warren. “That’s what we need from him for the rest of the season and I’m confident we’re going to get it from him.”
North’s first good scoring chance came early in the second when Dennis Morehouse dragged the puck through a pair of defensemen and was stopped from a tight angle. A minute later, the Rocketeers were positive that they had the lead. John Connolly got free in the slot and his shot clanged off a post and out towards the corner. North was sure that it hit the back of the net and everyone seemed to pause for a second but there was no signal from the officials.
“We did get the puck in the net, but they called it back,” said McManama, who was clear in his disdain for Saturday’s officiating. “It’s not right. It’s hard for our boys to work hard and compete when they really get the short end of the stick.”
Feehan had its fair share of chances to grab the lead as well. A minute into a penalty kill, North was given a major penalty, meaning 50 seconds of a two-man advantage and then more than four more minutes of power play to kill.
C.J. Botelho had a pair of chances, one saved by Warren and the other that he sent wide of an open net, and Jack Murphy’s shot from the point was redirected in front by Kevin Barrera but Warren managed to keep his pad on the ice to keep the shot out.
Surviving the long power play opportunity seemed to spark the Rocketeers into life. Jake Ebert had a good chance right after North got back to even strength and Will Yeomans had a shot from the point kicked aside. With 90 seconds left in the second, Todd Robinson backhanded a pass across ice to Connolly, who rode a check and managed to get a shot on net.
It was a good flurry for North in the attacking zone and foreshadowed a strong third period push. After being outshot 20-11 through the first two periods, North outshot Feehan 14-7 in the third.
McManama explained, “I think we have to do a better job getting pucks to the net. They did a good job blocking shots, but we’re trying to stickhandle it into the net instead of get it on net and go after the rebounds.”
Anthony Zammiello saucered a pass to Robinson on an odd-man rush and the senior forward forced Feehan goalie Rory Geraghty into a shoulder save. Connolly had another chance from inside the left circle but that was stopped too.
“It’s just because we spent the rest of the game in the box,” said McManama about the North attack in the third period. “It was nice to be able to play five-on-five for a little bit. The captains just talked about, we know what to do, we know we’re the better team, let’s just show it. We just ran out of time.”
Warren was forced into two big stops on the other end to keep the game scoreless and North broke up ice quickly with Justin Moccia forcing Geraghty (24 saves) into another stop. The chances kept coming for North, which was in control of the period, including a series of close calls on a power play opportunity with four minutes left.
But, with just 1:43 on the clock, Feehan managed to find one good scoring chance and made it count. Kevin Borah roofed his shot as he cut across the crease to give the Shamrocks the lead.
North had one more great chance when Robinson, despite Feehan going on the power play during a scrappy closing sequence, got behind the Shamrocks defense but Geraghty stood tall again and made a solid pad save to deny the breakaway and the opportunity for a tie.
North Attleboro (0-2) will be back on the ice on Thursday afternoon at Levy Rink when it opens the Burrillville (R.I.) Hockey Winter Classic against Cumberland (R.I.).
By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor
TAUNTON, Mass.- The No. 2 seed Taunton Tigers took an early lead against Bishop Feehan Wednesday night at Jack Tripp Field and didn’t look back as they beat the visiting No. 4 seed Shamrocks 9-1 to advance to the Div. 1 South final.
“It feels great,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “It’s been a while since we’ve been [to the South final] and we’re just taking it one game at a time. We treat every game as if it’s the championship.”
On the mound, Taunton freshman starter Kelsey White put up a strong performance, surrendering just one run and six hits, while striking out two in a complete game win.
For Feehan, the loss went to senior Shauna Hamill, who gave up 14 hits, nine runs (six earned) and two walks while striking out two in a complete game performance.
At the plate, the Tigers saw several strong contributions, starting from the leadoff spot. Junior third baseman Jaime Brown went 3-for-3 with three runs and an RBI on two singles, a double and a walk. Senior catcher Kya Enos also impressed at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a pair of both runs and RBI.
For the Shamrocks, the offense was lead by sophomore catcher Gabrielle Comeau, who went 2-for-3 scoring the team’s only run of the evening.
The Tigers wasted little time in getting on the board as a leadoff double by Brown in the bottom of the first put a runner on for the hosts, who would come home off a sacrifice bunt by Enos to make it 1-0.
“That was huge,” Lewry said of the run. “We went suicide squeeze on that. I like to get the first run, I like to put the other team behind and make them push a little bit.”
The Shamrocks would push a little in the top of the second, as a leadoff single up the middle by Comeau turned into the tying run three at-bats later as a simple short hit to shallow left by sophomore designated player Hannah Ramer brought in Comeau from third and quickly drew the action back even.
However, things wouldn’t stay even for long.
The Tigers struck back in the bottom half of the inning, as a single by junior second baseman Alexa White became the go-ahead run off of a base-clearing triple from sophomore first baseman Paige Silvia. Silvia was brought in two at-bats later as a single to left by Brown allowed her to score and make it 3–1 in favor of the home team.
The middle innings were fairly quiet for both offenses, as both pitchers settled in to their grooves, particularly Kelsey White, who went three straight innings with three straight outs.
“She’s incredible,” Lewry said of White. “I’ve grown out of superlatives for her, she is just an incredible pitcher for a ninth grader, for any grade. She throws the spots, she’s got nice stuff, she throws hard and she does not get rattled out there.”
The Taunton offense roared back to life in the bottom of the fifth, as walks to Brown and Enos to start the inning gave the hosts a good scoring chance, but they quickly found themselves down two outs. A shallow infield pop up by freshman shortstop Hanna Aldrich looked likely to end the inning, but the ball bounced off Hamill’s glove, allowing Aldrich to load the bases and Kelsey White to clear them with a deep double just an at-bat later, doubling the Tigers’ lead to 6-1.
Three more runs would follow as the Tigers batted around in the bottom of the sixth. Six straight singles put Taunton in control, with Enos scoring Brown, senior outfielder Mackenzie Handrahan scoring Liana Duarte and Aldrich scoring Enos respectively, making it 9-1.
Comeau lead off the top of the seventh for Feehan with a single, but a comeback wasn’t meant to be for the Shamrocks, as two fielder’s choices and a fly out to right would end both their chances and their season.
Three games now separate the Tigers from a D1 state title, and for players like Handrahan, their desire for the trophy grows stronger every day.
“We’ve never wanted something so much for each other,” said Handrahan. “We’re just so close, this team’s so close… and we have ‘it,’ so we have to bring ‘it.’”
The Tigers will look to bring it on Friday when they face a familiar foe in the South final – Kelley-Rex rival King Philip.
“King Philip’s a great team,” said Lewry. “We had two outstanding games with them this year, both of them one run games, and I expect another one like that.”
“This game is really big to us,” said Handrahan. “We want to win so bad”
Taunton (23-2) and King Philip (21-3) will face off Friday at 7 p.m. at Taunton High School’s Jack Tripp Field.