Girls Soccer: 2017 Davenport Division Preview

2017 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview
The Davenport division is wide open in girls soccer in 2017 and the six teams will all have their sights set on competing for a title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview

Canton

2016 Record: 10-8-2
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal
Coach: Kate Howarth

For each of the past two seasons, Canton has finished second in the Davenport division and, with only three seniors graduating from the 2016 roster, the Bulldogs are poised to make another run at a league title this fall. Enthusiasm is also high after a strong closing stretch to last year, which included a draw with Kelley-Rex champ Mansfield and playoff victories over Greater New Bedford and Milton.

Senior Riley Duserick is the focal point of the Canton midfield and her ability to open space, pick out the right pass, and shoot from distance gives the Bulldogs a consistent threat in the attack. Junior Julia Hamilton emerged last season as a solid counterpoint to Duserick in the heart of the midfield with her tenacity and speed adding even more cover to the back line. Sophomores Lauren and Morgan McCabe will be added to the midfield options after strong rookie seasons. Lauren Fitzpatrick could see more time up front to replace the graduated Hannah Link and Tessa Cudmore and head coach Kate Howarth expects several freshmen to contribute as well.

The defense had inconsistent moments early in 2016, but the Bulldogs seemed to figure things out midway through the season and with the back four all returning defense should be a strength for Canton. Seniors Sarah Connolly and Carly Hutchinson will lead the defensive unit and junior Sarah Collins brings energy and speed from her right back spot.

“We are working really hard every day to get better at the little things that will push us beyond being a good team this season,” Howarth said. “I think our biggest weakness last year was consistency, so if we can get ahead of that right away we will be in a much better place than we were last year.”

Foxboro

2016 Record: 11-9-0
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Katie Stalcup

Foxboro had an inconsistent 2016, but demonstrated the talent in the program by beating perennial power Notre Dame Academy in the first round of the playoffs and nearly going on the road to beat Medfield in the second round, only to fall in a penalty shootout. The Warriors have seven returning players, so this will be a young team in 2017, but new head coach Katie Stalcup will be familiar with those players after her stint as the JV coach last year.

The Warriors will be able to count on senior Lily Sykes. The four-year starter is one of the most dynamic players in the league and is capable of dominating the midfield by beating a defender off the dribble or picking out a defense-splitting pass. Senior Shaina Abbott will be one of the forwards that Sykes will be looking to set up, while senior Olivia Dantona adds speed on the wings. Senior Mackenzie Cusack is also back to lead the defensive unit along with junior Alex Stamatos.

Stalcup is counting on a number of young players to step in and contribute right away. Sophomore Lizzy Davis played for Stalcup on JV last year and brings speed and physicality to the forward position. Among the freshmen that will be on the roster are midfielder Katelyn Mollica, forward Jordyn Collins, and defender Emma Dahl.

“I am very excited about being the new varsity coach this year,” said Stalcup. “We have seven returning varsity players, four seniors who are all captains and five very impressive freshmen on the team for this season as well as some great players coming up from JV. We are a young team, but I am excited to see how well we can play together.”

Milford

2016 Record: 5-9-4
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jay Mastaj

Milford is looking to bounce back from a five-win season to challenge for a spot in the state tournament this fall. The Hawks have a roster filled with youth and bring the majority of the starting lineup back and head coach Jay Mastaj is confident that the talent is there to make a push up the table and compete with the top teams in the league.

The Hawks are deep and experienced on the back line and the defense could be a real strength for Milford this season. Seniors Rachel LeBlanc and Brianna Braza will be the leaders in the heart of the defense and will try to keep everyone organized. Senior Leeanne Kibbee will lead the attack and will be counted on to finish off chances created by senior Maggie Boyle and sophomore Ashleigh Starks, who will look to create from the center of midfield.

Mastaj said of the attackers, “The combination brings strong skills, familiarity and solid varsity experience.” He is also excited about the younger players and what they can bring to the table this year, including sophomores Madelyn Boyle, Julianna France, and Annie Flanagan.

“This season we expect to be very competitive across the entire league,” Mastaj added, “and with a little bit of luck we believe we can challenge for the top of the Davenport.”

North Attleboro

2016 Record: 14-4-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Bill Wallace

Despite changing coaches midway through the 2016 season, North Attleboro rolled to its first league title in its first season in the Davenport division. The Rocketeers racked up 14 wins and a goal differential of plus-40. Expectations are even higher coming into this fall with North returning a roster filled with experienced upperclassmen.

URI-commit Haley Guertin is the player to watch for the Rocketeers, as the senior forward is both a goal threat and also a playmaker who consistently opens up opportunities for her teammates. Her 37 career assists is tied for the most in program history. Head coach Bill Wallace said that there is a change in systems coming up front, but with Leah Jette and Ashlyn Gaulin joining Guertin, North will have a formidable attack.

In the midfield, Aine Mendonca returns to hold things down in the center of the pitch. Her poise in posession and ability to break up opposing attacks is critical for the Rocketeers. Of course, if anyone gets through, HockomockSports.com Best XI defender Rachel LaBonte and fellow senior Emily Chiasson are on hand to clean it up. North also returns both Nina Beauvais and Emma Noreck in goal.

“We should be up tempo and have a lot of depth,” said Wallace. “These kids have played together for years and generally care about each other. As always, the Hock is a ‘bear’ of a league and for us to continue last years success we are going to have to work hard and continue to improve!”

Sharon

2016 Record: 7-9-2
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Furnival

Sharon narrowly missed out on reaching the playoffs last season under first-year head coach Brad Furnival. This year, making the playoffs could be even more difficult after the team lost nine seniors and seven starters from last year’s team. The Eagles will be building with youth this fall and gaining experience for a number of new faces.

One returning player that the Eagles will be counting on is senior Ally Filipkowski, who is coming off an exciting summer that saw her named to the U-20 Puerto Rican national team. The George Washington-commit is one of the most talented players with the ball in the league and she will be tasked with creating most of the chances for the Eagles. Senior Sabrina Robbins will step into a leadership role at the heart of the Sharon defense this fall and will be counted on to organize a young group.

Among the new faces to watch is junior Maxine Gordon, who will be starting in the attack this fall and is hoping to build off her experience from last season to be a consistent goal scorer. Sophomore Bella Berger is another player that Furnival believes could be in for a strong season. Berger will be influencing the game from the center of midfield.

“This season will be more of a transition season for Sharon girls,” Furnival said. “We have a very young team so the vision for this team is a couple of seasons down the line. We are hoping to continue playing an attacking brand of soccer and are looking forward to coming up against some top opposition that the Hock will pit us up against.”

Stoughton

2016 Record: 0-17-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Tara Daniels

Stoughton has been in a rebuilding mode for the past couple of seasons, but entering 2017 head coach Tara Daniels is making changes to the formation and counting on an experienced back line to get the Black Knights moving up the table in the Davenport division.

The leader for Stoughton is senior Sarah Widrow, who was the team’s lone league all-star last fall and impressed during the HockomockSports.com Charity All-Star Game. As an attacking fullback, Widrow pushes the Black Knights forward and adds vocal leadership to the back line. She will be joined at the back by the speedy Gabriela Diaz, who was converted from striker to defender. Senior Mia Greene will be the focal point in the midfield to try and keep possession for Stoughton.

Sophomore Chinazo Odunze returns from a injury-shortened season to lead the line for the Black Knights attack. She had a strong start to her freshman campaign before her injury and Daniels calls her combination of speed and physicality a “game-changer” for the attack.

Daniels said, “This season we are trying a new formation to give us more offensive opportunities…Staying healthy and in good shape is key to a successful season. We are looking to step up our possession game and having more of an offensive push this year.”

Bulldogs Find Defensive Form to Beat Sharon

Canton girls soccer
Canton celebrates a second half goal by Catherine Leonetti (14) that sealed a 2-0 win against Sharon. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – The pitch was slick from two days worth of rain, but the Canton defense showed no ill effects and zero slip-ups, as it corralled Sharon’s top two attacking threats, Alex Rabb and Ally Filipkowski, limiting the Eagles to only a couple clear scoring chances.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

It was a major turnaround for the Bulldogs, who had allowed six goals last time out against Milford. The back four, with help from the midfield, held firm on Saturday morning at World War II Veterans Memorial Field and Canton pulled out a 2-0 victory that edges the Bulldogs closer to a spot in the state tournament.

“After the Milford game, I took the back line and we talked about some issues,” explained Canton coach Kate Howarth, “and there was a little bit of confusion I wasn’t aware of. We cleared everything up and you could see the back line was so solid today.”

Chances were at a premium for both teams in the first half. The Bulldogs has the first shot on goal when Tessa Cudmore’s shot was handled by Sharon keeper Natalie Gray. A corner three minutes later from Sarah Connolly had to be cleared off the line by Amanda Klayman and then Lauren McCabe had the rebound saved by Gray in the bottom corner.

The Bulldogs’ best scoring opportunities were coming from Connolly’s set piece deliveries. She fired in a long free kick that Gray caught cleanly and then in the 27th minute she was credited with the opening goal when her corner was deflected off the leg of a Sharon defender and just over the line.

The defensive effort for Canton started with the midfield trio of Julia Hamilton and freshmen cousins Lauren and Morgan McCabe, who bottled up Filipkowski by sending multiple players at the junior playmaker as often as possible. Even without Riley Duserick, who was out with an injury, the Bulldogs put the clamps on the Sharon midfield in the first half.

“She’s a good player and I think when you can shut her down they don’t really create a lot of chances,” said Howarth of Filipkowski. “[Julia] fought hard and I think she stood her ground with Ally.”

When the Eagles did get the ball forward, Rabb was regularly alone up top surrounded by Connolly and Carly Hutchinson. At halftime, the Eagles made an adjustment to try and get more runners out wide and it created Sharon’s best chance in the 46th minute.

Filipkowski managed to shrug off the attention of the Bulldogs and slid a pass into Victoria Zambello angling in from the right wing but Canton keeper Kathryn Doody was off her line quick to block the shot. Ally Steinberg also started to find space on the right side going one-on-one with Canton right back Sarah Collins and created a couple dangerous crosses that Doody and the defense managed to clear in front of Rabb.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We made a formation change in the second half to try and isolate Ally [Steinberg] one-on-one out wide,” said first-year Sharon coach Brad Furnival. “We were able to create a few chances. Their keeper dealt well with some crosses, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough players in the box to score goals, which kind of killed us in the end.”

When asked about opponents focusing on Filipkowski to try and stunt the Eagles attack, Furnival replied, “I thought Filipkowski had a good game. I’d like her to get more shots off but even if teams put two or three players on Ally, she’s still going to create chances because she’s that kind of player.”

Canton had its chances to close out the victory. Cudmore was causing problems with her speed, running at the Sharon back line, and Lauren Fitzpatrick added some good minutes off the Bulldogs bench.

Cudmore nearly doubled the lead in the 48th minute when she chased down a deflected pass but it was saved by back-up keeper Isabella Berger and the follow-up by Hannah Link sailed over the bar. In the 52nd minute Cudmore had another good look but her curling effort from the edge of the box smacked off the bar.

“We had a couple other chances that would have been easy finishes,” said Howarth, “and we didn’t get them in and those are the ones that we talk about every week. If we put away some of the easy chances…we would be beating teams by a lot more than we are.”

In the 64th minute, Cudmore set up the goal that sealed the win. She hustled to keep a loose ball alive on the near side of the box and laid a pass into the path of Catherine Leonetti, who had just come into the game, and she hit it first time off the underside of the crossbar and across the line.

Howarth said, “Once we got that I think everybody calmed down a little bit. It took the pressure off and we could finish the game.”

With the win Canton (7-6-1, 7-5-1) moves back into second place in the Davenport, one point ahead of Foxboro, which the Bulldogs will face on Tuesday afternoon. Sharon (5-9-1, 4-9-1) will step out of the league on Monday for a trip to Norwood.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Girls Soccer: 2016 Davenport Division Preview

2016 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview
After the league realignment, North Attleboro comes into 2016 as a favorite for the Davenport title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview

Canton

2015 Record: 13-5-1
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Kate Howarth

The Bulldogs will be happy to see Oliver Ames move on to the Kelley-Rex after finishing just behind the Tigers in the Davenport title race each of the past two seasons. Head coach Kate Howarth is now in her fourth season and Canton seems poised to make an even bigger impact this year with a number of returning players, despite still being a very young team that has only three seniors on the roster.

Canton’s strength starts at the back where senior goalie Kathryn Doody has developed into a solid shot stopper and also an extra sweeper who can cover when the defense steps up to press the play. Just in front of the keeper, Sarah Connolly will be in her third year on varsity and brings “loads of experience,” according to Howarth.

Junior Riley Duserick is back to run the middle of the pitch for the Bulldogs after a pair of all-star seasons. Her range of passing and her long-range shooting will force defenses to keep an eye on her at all times, which can open lanes for the pass into senior forwards Hannah Link and Tessa Cudmore. Both are in their fourth year on varsity and Howarth is counting on their experience to be in the right place to finish opportunities.

Howarth added, “We have some great depth this year. When we make subs I don’t think our quality will go down at all and that is very exciting.”

Foxboro

2015 Record: 9-9-0
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Kaitlin Lamothe-Vaughn

The Warriors were one of several teams that battled injuries last season. Foxboro started the fall without its starting keeper, one of its primary forwards and with its star midfielder playing through an injury suffered in the off-season. The Warriors still reached the postseason but with a full roster set to start 2016, expectations are even higher.

The key player is junior midfielder Lily Sykes, who head coach Kaitlin Lamothe-Vaughn referred to as the team’s “rock.” Sykes has recovered from the injury problems she dealt with last year and will be the primary playmaker in behind the forwards. She will have plenty of experienced players to look for with the return of senior Kristen Bortolotti, who was one of Foxboro’s top scorers as a sophomore but missed all of last year with injury. Also up top, the Warriors will feature Olivia Dantona, Shaina Abbott, and Hannah Burns.

Another key returner is senior goalie Hallie Canfield, who missed significant time last year. She adds even more confidence to a returning back four of seniors Devon Mollica, Lauren Flahive, and Jamie Gorman and sophomore Alex Stamatos. With Hailey Maling and Riley Collins running the wings, Foxboro has plenty of familiar talent coming back to try and win the program’s first league title since 1993.

Milford

2015 Record: 8-9-2
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Jay Mastaj

For the past several seasons, Milford has been incorporating younger players in an effort to get back to the postseason, but injury troubles have limited the Hawks in the ultra-competitive Hock. This year, the Hawks have a good balance between senior leadership and young talent and could be poised for a breakthrough season.

The key players for Milford are senior captains Nicole Dahlgren, who is a strong presence in the center of defense with the ability to step into the midfield, and Kristen Franzini, who was the team’s leading scorer from a year ago with nine goals. The four-year starters will have help from midfielder Maggie Boyle and defender Rachel LeBlanc.

Head coach Jay Mastaj is excited about a strong crop of freshmen, including Maddie Boyle, Ashleigh Starks, Annie Flanagan, and Juliana France. Mastaj said that the team has plenty of depth this season. He added, “This is the most talented team that we have fielded in my four years here at Milford.”

North Attleboro

2015 Record: 13-5-3
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Glenn Pasquel

While the Rocketeers had a solid regular season under first-year head coach Glenn Pasquel, not many expected North Attleboro to make a run through league rivals OA and Franklin to reach the Div. 1 South semifinal (a 2-1 loss to Whitman-Hanson). Key players like Hana Caster and Grace Guertin are gone, but North has a lot of returning talent for its first season in the Davenport and expectations are high at Kelly Field.

Much of the excitement around the program is in the attacking third where junior Haley Guertin will try to have another season like 2015 in which she scored 19 goals, led the league in scoring, and was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. She will receive help up top from winger Felicity Monfils, who emerged last year as a threat on the right wing for the Rocketeers. Emily Schromm and Julianna DiRenzo will try to fill the holes in midfield from the strong crop that graduated.

Goals are important but it was the development of the North defense that propelled the Rocketeers to a tournament run. The move of Rachel Labonte to sweeper turned into a masterstroke as she seemed to block every attack and move the ball quickly back into the attack. Emily Chiasson will join Labonte in the back line in front of new goalie Emma Noreck. Pasquel said, “Great start to the season, plenty of returning players…Looking forward to a great season.”

Sharon

2015 Record: 3-13-2
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Furnival

First-year head coach Brad Furnival has spent the preseason installing his style of play and building the organization needed to compete in the Hockomock League. So far, he said that results have been positive and he is excited to get the season underway. It may be a new coaching staff, but the Eagles have plenty of familiar names from last year’s young and talented squad.

Senior captains Anna Crosby and Ally Steinberg will be the players that Furnival is expecting to be leaders on and off the pitch and both have the potential to make an impact in the midfield. Ally Filipkowski has the foot skills and moves to create scoring chances for herself and her teammates.

In addition, Sharon will also have St. Michael’s College-commit Victoria Zambello and Ithaca College lacrosse commits Alex and Samantha Rabb back this season to add aggressiveness and energy to the team. There is a lot of talent on hand and Furnival is trying to find the right “vision” to mold the talent into a competitive team. He said, “I’m looking to have the perfect balance this season between players with a technical and physical prowess, which will make Sharon a much harder team to play against.”

Stoughton

2015 Record: 4-14-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Tara Daniels

Head coach Tara Daniels enters her second season with the Black Knights looking to continue the development of the program to compete in the very competitive Davenport division. Stoughton has several players that Daniels believes could make a big impact this season and see the Black Knights make a move up the standings.

The key for Stoughton will be the midfield where Emerson Sprague will try to run things from the center of the pitch. Daniels praised Sprague’s distribution and her ability to keep the Black Knights in possession. On the outside, senior captain Amelia Cochran will be racing up and down the wing and junior Mia Greene will be helping Sprague with the playmaking duties. Up front, sophomore Gabby Diaz will try to build on a solid freshman campaign.

The defense is led by junior captain Sarah Wildrow. Daniels said of the vocal outside back, “I’ve never seen Sarah get out-hustled.” Daniels added, “Hard work and staying healthy will be key to our success. Our goal this season is to keep our mind focused on teamwork and connecting passes.”