2017 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview

2017 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview
Sophomore attacker Sophia DiCenso (1) and Foxboro will be favorites for a sixth straight Davenport division crown this season but will face tough challenges from North Attleboro, Sharon, and Canton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 6-12
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Kevin Patton

Attleboro is still a relatively young program but has taken strides to be competitive with the rest of the teams in the Hockomock and first-year head coach Kevin Patton is hopeful that the large number of players at tryouts is a sign that the Bombardiers are heading in the right direction.

One of the reasons for Attleboro’s confidence coming into the spring is the experienced players that will take the field, including senior Mish Logie, who is a four-year varsity midfielder. Joining Logie as a captain for this year’s team is goalie Hadley Porreca, who is in her second year in net.

In addition. juniors Emily Patton and Ali Wall return in attack, while classmates Kim White and Graycen Cassidy will keep things tight on the defensive side of the ball. Midfield depth will be provided by sophomores Kyra Lyons and Alex Compton, who are both coming off strong rookie seasons on varsity. Freshman Sydney DiLiddo will also have the chance to step in and contribute in midfield this season and junior Ashlyn Salisbury and sophomore Shea Harrison will see time on defense.

“We had our largest player turnout in the program’s history,” said Patton, “and we have girls that want to work hard and succeed. With only two seniors on this year’s team, I will be looking to certain underclassmen to take on added leadership roles. This will help us not only this year but going forward.”

Canton

2016 Record: 8-9
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Christine O’Connor

Canton won five of its final seven games last season to get back to .500 and qualify for the state tournament and the Bulldogs will be hoping to carry that momentum over to this spring with a roster that features nine seniors and eight juniors.

Some of the key returning players for Canton this season include senior attacker Mary Kent, senior defender Tessa Cudmore, and senior goalie Kathryn Doody, who form a solid spine for the Bulldogs to build on. Caroline Hagan, Rebecca Eckler, and Maria Mackie are among the other seniors that will be contributing for Canton.

One of the younger players to watch is sophomore attacker Leah McClellan, who is one of several players that helped the girls’ hockey team reach the state title game at the TD Garden. Another sophomore, Maggie Malloy, has already had strong seasons for the field hockey and ice hockey teams and will provide depth this spring.

“We look to gain strength as the season progresses,” said O’Connor. “We will look to the seniors for leadership and intensity in order to be competitive.”

Foxboro

2016 Record: 16-5
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East Semifinal
Coach: Brittany Sherry

Foxboro won its fifth straight Davenport division title last spring and returned to the Div. 2 South semifinal for the second straight season and expectations will be even higher this season for head coach Brittany Sherry, as the Warriors return 15 players to try and make it six league titles in a row.

Among the many experienced players coming back is an exciting core of sophomores that have made instant impacts, including the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Sophia DiCenso, who scored 65 goals and had 31 assists last year. Joining DiCenso up front will be classmates Caroline McGeary and Meghan Curran and juniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano.

Defensively, senior Hallie Canfield will be back to anchor things and provide leadership. Junior Christina Rogers and sophomores Jenna Stamatov and Molly Murphy will also be back to limit opposing offenses. Freshman Sara Addeche will take over in goal and is another in a line of talented underclassmen that Sherry is excited to see develop over the course of the season.

“Our goals stay about the same every year, most importantly getting another round further!” Sherry said. “The last two years our season has ended in the semi finals but I’m hoping with the scheduling and tourney experience last year we will have the edge we need to get to the finals.”

Franklin

2016 Record: 19-5
2016 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 State Semifinal
Coach: Kristin Igoe Guarino

Another spring and another league title for Franklin, which completed another perfect season in the Hockomock and then carried that success into the playoffs to win a second Div. 1 East title with a dramatic, one-goal victory over Acton-Boxboro. Even though they only return five players, the Panthers enter the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and with sights set on challenging for a state title.

There is experience coming back for the Panthers with seniors Grace McDermott and Dana Lewandowski coming back to control things on the defensive end, while former Underclassman of the Year Kendall Reardon and fellow senior Caroline Lounsbury will provide leadership in the attack.

Franklin always seems to have players ready to step in and, despite there being a youth movement on the varsity team, the Panthers have already started 2-0 with wins against Needham and Lincoln-Sudbury. Sophomore midfielder Annie Walsh and her freshman sister Erin have both gotten off to strong starts with sophomore Halle Atkinson helping out with a hat trick in the win over L-S as well.

“I am very excited for the 2017 season!” said Igoe Guarino. “Our freshmen and sophomores bring a lot of energy and competitiveness to practice and games, while our juniors and seniors bring the discipline and experience. The two combined could bring us very far again this year!”

King Philip

2016 Record: 12-10
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East Quarterfinal
Coach: Julie Boudreau

King Philip surprised some last spring when the Warriors went on the road to beat Westford Academy in the first round of the Div. 1 East tournament and that experience could pay dividends as KP returns a number of key players with the intent making a run at earning a first league title since 2012.

Senior Angela Vellante is back and head coach Julie Boudreau called her the “quarterback” for the attacking unit. Vellante will be looking to feed junior Katie Crowther, who was the team’s and the league’s leading scorer as a sophomore with 111 points. Senior Meghan Wagner was a starter as a freshman and scored in every game but missed the last two years with an injury and is now back to make an impact on offense.

KP can also count on a strong sophomore class led by a core of midfielders: Caroline Klim, Alli Meehan, Victoria and Olivia Tormey, and Dana Truini. Also back is sophomore goalie Caroline Watson behind a defense of juniors Molly Mullins, Christina Hathaway and Izzy Agricola. Also making a return is assistant coach Mary Pasquantonio, Boudreau’s sister, who brings experience as a former KP player and will help the current crop of Warriors on draw controls.

“We have a deep bench with many sophomores and will be looking to run lines and sub regularly to keep everyone fresh,” said Boudreau. “Our theme for the season is ‘grit=hard work + passion’.”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 5-11
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Alexis Kobey

Mansfield won its opening two games of the 2016 season, but the Hornets struggled during a difficult middle part of the spring and missed out on the state tournament. The Hornets showed flashes of potential during the year, including a close loss to perennial tournament team Hingham, and hopes are high that they can get back into the postseason this year.

Expectations are boosted by the return of a strong core of experience players. Senior Maire Foley will be a focal point of the Hornets attack this year, while classmate Maggie Dunn and junior Ann Maher will return in the midfield. Senior Jen McCabe will provide leadership in defense and sophomore Kaity Garvin will build off her rookie season in attack.

Among the new faces this spring are sophomore midfielders Maggie Danehy, who had a solid winter with the girls’ basketball team, and Lauren Whitman

“Our team really has been working together as a unit day one,” said head coach Alexis Kobey. “They came into the season ready to go and work on what they needed to work on to get better, from draw controls, ball movement, attack/defense they have been showing up everyday. They also really love playing with each other, working with each other, making each other better.”

Milford

2016 Record: 3-15
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Tim Dowd

It has been a tough run for Milford since moving to the Hockomock League, but the Hawks bring back an experienced roster for first-year head coach Tim Dowd and he is hopeful that the program will continue to improve over the course of the season.

Dowd’s excitement for the new season is in part built on the leadership of his senior class, including captains Taylor Dube, Jill Burley, and Jordyn Lombardo, who Dowd said would all have “incredible seasons.” He praised all three for their competitive spirits and for pushing their teammates to improve.

Another senior, Brainna Croteau, will be in charge of the defensive unit and Dowd is counting on the development of a talented group of sophomores and juniors. Milford also has two freshmen, Hannah Bangert and Anne Flanagan, who will be on the varsity roster this season and who Dowd thinks will make an impact.

“I think one of our strengths is going to be teamwork and work ethic,” said Dowd. “We want to be a team that goes the extra mile for each other and constantly works to win battles on the field. We’re going to try to outwork other teams. We’re going to try to focus on the little things to hopefully make big improvements.”

North Attleboro

2016 Record: 13-7
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Vitelli

Under first-year head coach Mike Vitelli (who had previously led King Philip to a Hockomock League title and a South final), North Attleboro made a jump into second place in the Kelley-Rex division and won 13 games, while reaching the playoffs for the first time. After a loss to eventual state champ Walpole, Vitelli has built up North’s schedule with perennial powers Notre Dame Academy, Natick, and Walpole to get the Rocketeers prepared for a tournament run.

North will clearly miss last year’s Player of the Year Hana Caster (who is now at UMass Lowell), the Rocketeers return a number of important players, including six of the team’s seven defenders. Seniors Samantha Taggart, Emily Schromm, Emma Cromidas, and Alaina Mello will provide an experienced defensive unit in front of junior goalie Kayla Moulin, who Vitelli believes will have a great season.

Up front, North will turn to junior Kenzie Rosenberg and senior Erin Holley, who had breakout seasons for the Rocketeers in 2016. Chloe Olsen, Julia Dakin, and Julia Tolfa will also be counted on to provide offense for North Attleboro, while Camille Pizzaro and freshman Katie Lindstrom will be newcomers to watch this spring.

“I really like the depth of our bench as well,” said Vitelli. “Lots of hybrid players who can play in many roles…Biggest question I’ve gotten this offseason has been ‘how can you replace Hana Caster?’ My response is we can’t. But that being said, I don’t think any player is replaceable…It just becomes an opportunity for other players to step in and make their mark.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 8-11
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round
Coach: Abby Tepper

Oliver Ames reached the postseason last year by finishing second in the Davenport division and will look to build on that in 2017 in the Tigers first season in the Kelley-Rex and first season under new head coach Abby Tepper, who is only one year removed from the end of a very successful college playing career at Salve Regina and a solid first season as coach of the OA field hockey program this fall.

Tepper inherits a roster with several key returning players that provide a foundation for the Tigers, who won the opening two games of the spring. Junior captain Sofia Masciarelli will be the main attacking cog for OA this season with senior Katie Davenport back in the heart of the defense and junior goalie Ari Waldorf will be back between the pipes.

Also back for OA and expected to make a step up into the starting lineup are senior captain Kendall Clifford in the midfield, junior Chloe Kilkelly in the attack, and sophomore midfielder Olivia Piazza.

“The girls have been working hard each day at practice to prepare for the tough schedule they will face,” said Tepper. They continually improve their skills and lacrosse IQ each day. I have been impressed with how the girls have pushed one another to get better and have committed themselves to the program.”

Sharon

2016 Record: 10-9
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round
Coach: Colleen Carchedi

In her second season in charge, Sharon head coach Colleen Carchedi (née Manning) led the Eagles to their first ever playoff appearance. On their home grass, the Eagles put in a great performance to battle perennial playoff competitor Bishop Feehan and the experience has generated a lot of excitement in the program as the new season begins.

Sharon has five key players returning from last season, including leading scorer Alex Rabb and twin sister Sam, who is one of the team’s top defensive players. Senior Anna Crosby will be the motor in the midfield and junior midfielder Sabrina Robbins has verbally committed to the University of Colorado. Carchedi said of Robbins, “She is someone who always gets the job done and deserves more credit than she gets. She is reliable and hard working, never afraid to take a risk.”

Sophomore Emma Eberhardt is another player coming back that Carchedi believes will be able to take on a much larger role this spring. Eberhardt will add size in the midfield and, particularly, on draw controls. Carchedi said, “She is an all around stud athlete and is for sure a player to watch.” Sophomore Rose Wald is a newcomer that takes over in goal.

“I know we are going to be a really well balanced team,” Carchedi added, noting that the Eagles had six different goal scorers in the season opener against Milford. “I am so excited for the season and ready to hit the ground running after a big game against my old high school, KP.”

Taunton

2016 Record: 2-16
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Kerry Northup

With a win against Norton on Monday, Taunton avenged a pair of losses to the Lancers from 2016 and is halfway to last year’s win total. The Tigers are still a young program at the varsity level and, as such, head coach Kerry Northup knows there will be a learning curve against Hockomock opponents, but she is also excited about the team’s potential.

The Tigers will turn to seniors Delaney Powell, Annie Tate, and Abbey Kingman to provide consistent offense this spring and all three had big games in the opener against Norton, combining for 12 of the team’s 17 goals. Powell led the way with six goals in the win and junior Lorna Li had 12 saves in another strong performance for the Tigers’ “confident” goalie.

Taunton also has plenty of youth that will be gaining valuable experience this spring, including three sophomores, a pair of freshmen, and three eighth graders. One of the eighth graders, Alana Tavares, made the most of her varsity debut on Monday, potting five goals against Norton and will be one of the newcomers to watch in the Hock this season.

“We have a solid group of girls this season,” said Northup. “Our strength players have a nice balance throughout the field from offense, mid, to defense. We are not a powerhouse team, but a team with passion, drive, and grit. These girls play to the end and don’t give up until that last whistle sounds.”

Girls Lacrosse: Davenport Division Preview 2016

Davenport girls lacrosse
Canton and Foxboro have been the top two teams in the Davenport the past few seasons, but other programs are developing and could challenge them this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

CANTON
2015 Record: 7-12
2015 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round
Coach: Chrissy O’Connor

There is a new coaching staff for the Canton girls’ lacrosse this season and first-year head coach Chrissy O’Connor is looking forward to surprising a few people with a strong spring.

Seniors Casey Bradley (attack) and Olivia Devoe (midfield) will be the team leaders and the keys to the Bulldogs making a charge at Foxboro for the league title. Sophomore midfielder Molly Colburn and freshman Leah McClellan will be newcomers to watch this year as well.

O’Connor said, “I think the league will be surprised with Canton’s tenacity this season.  They are a confident and smart group of athletes who have handled having a new coaching staff extremely well.  This should be an exciting season for Canton lacrosse.”

FOXBORO
2015 Record: 14-7-1
2015 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East semifinal
Coach: Brittany Sherry

At the end of last year’s Div. 2 East semifinal, Foxboro coach Brittany Sherry was emotional about losing the crop of seniors that had joined the program the same year she began. That group had won four straight league titles and gone further than any other team in program history. But when Sherry was asked about the future, she was confident in the talent coming back and believed that her fifth season could be another title-winning spring.

Senior Melissa Lynch was a standout in goal last year and will be back between the pipes and will have a strong defensive core in front of her including junior Hallie Canfield and senior Annie McGeary. Offensively, Foxboro will be looking for continued development from junior Lauren Flahive and sophomore Catherine Luciano, who will both be asked to fill in for senior Chloe Hurley, who begins the season with an injury.

Young players helped Foxboro on its run to the semifinal and freshman Sophia Dicenso is the next in line to try and make an instant impact for the Warriors. Juniors Ally Curran and Molly Farrell could also be poised for breakout seasons.

All eyes are on the matchup with Franklin in May, as the two teams have won their respective divisions each of the past four years, but Foxboro also has Hingham, Medfield, and Walpole on its schedule as it sets its sights on another tournament run.

MILFORD
2015 Record: 2-16
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jason Gelmini

Milford comes into the new season with a young roster after losing eight seniors from last year’s squad and head coach Jason Gelmini is hoping that the many underclassmen who saw playing time in 2015 will be ready to step into bigger roles in 2016.

The Hawks will be led by senior midfielders Morgan Smith and Julie Dam and senior defender Erin Fleming and Gelmini is counting on his captains to provide leadership. In addition, the Hawks will lean on junior defender Brainna Croteau, junior goalie Hannah Cairney, junior middie Jillian Burley, and junior attackers Taylor Dube and Jordyn Lombardo.

Gelmini said, “We definitely have a young team this year, so our goals are to get better each game and compete each time we step on the field.”

OLIVER AMES
2015 Record: 10-9
2015 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East preliminary round
Coach: Craig Gardner

Oliver Ames is coming off a strong season in which the Tigers reached the Div. 1 East sectional before falling to Bishop Feehan in the opening round. This year, OA has a lot of returning players who experienced what a playoff run was like and head coach Craig Gardner is counting on that experience to pay dividends this spring.

The Tiger will be led by a strong senior class, including midfielder Erin Fitzgerald and defenders Cassie Gavin and Sarah Lewis. Senior attackers Abby Duvall and Sam Lang will help Fitzgerald provide attacking power while senior midfielder Carly Cidado and junior defender Katie Davenport will help lock things down at the back.

Gardner also noted a few young players that could be impact players this season, including sophomores Sofia Masciarelli, Chloe Kilkelly, and Ariana Waldorf and junior Kendall Clifford. Freshman defender Olivia Piazza will also be a newcomer to watch this season.

“We have a very strong and focused group of experienced upperclassmen athletes, coupled with some strong developing underclassmen athletes,” said Gardner. “The team has great chemistry, which I hope translates into a competitive season for us.”

SHARON
2015 Record: 7-10
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Colleen Manning

Sharon had a program best record of 7-10 last season under first-year coach Colleen Manning, who is expecting the Eagles to take an even bigger leap this year by making the postseason for the first time.

Sharon only has three seniors (Alex Miller, Alexa Levitt, and Heather Seggelin), but plenty of young talent including “top shooter” Alex Rabb, attacker Anna Crosby, and defender Samantha Rabb (all juniors).

Sophomore Sabrina Robbins is drawing attention from colleges and will be a force for the Eagles on draw controls, while freshman Lydia Chase will add a new face to the Sharon defense.

Girls Basketball: Davenport Division Preview 2015-16

Alecia Quinones
Alecia Quinones (13) and Stoughton have a new coach and will be hoping to get into the mix for the league title with the likes of Foxboro this winter. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

CANTON

2014-15 Record: 4-16 (2-14)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Jim Choquette

There has been significant progress made in the three years that Jim Choquette has been in charge of the program and he is hoping that this year “will be another step forward” for the Bulldogs. Canton comes into this winter with momentum after winning four games down the stretch of last season and, as Choquette explained, narrowly missing out on a handful of other wins.

Senior captains Meaghan Hunter (who did not play high school basketball until her sophomore year) and Shannon Foley will be the leaders of the team and counted on to get the team into its offense. Junior Emma Murphy is back for her third season on varsity and she continues to develop as a post player. As Choquette noted, Murphy has already started 40 games in her Bulldogs career, so experience is not an issue.

Junior Casey Shea will join Murphy in the post and she is another player that continues to develop. Sophomore Hannah Jerrier had a big season with her AAU team at Mass Premier and Choquette thinks that she is primed for a breakout season along with classmate Jess Powers, who emerged at the tail end of last season.

The Bulldogs will also look to incorporate a pair of freshmen into the system with Erin Devine, who Choquette said has already grown to 6-foot-3, and incoming point guard Julia Hamilton, who may be a star in the making.

“There’s a lot of buzz about this team,” he said. “The girls have really bought into the system. Now we just have to learn how to win those close games.”

Foxboro

2014-15 Record: 21-3 (14-2)
2014-15 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South final
Head Coach: Lisa Downs

Experienced is not generally an adjective used when describing a team that is going to start four sophomores at the beginning of the season, but all four of the underclassmen in Foxboro’s starting lineup saw significant playing time during the Warriors’ run to the sectional final last year. With HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and Hock MVP Kat Tamulionis graduated, the ball is now going to be in the hands of these young players and they will be given every opportunity to produce.

The primary ball-handler will be sophomore Ashley Sampson. Sampson had a breakout rookie season in which she became one of Foxboro’s best weapons off the bench and showed no fear against even the best teams in the league and the state. Classmate Lily Sykes will join her in the backcourt and adds another good shooter and defender at the guard position. Cassidy Harrison will be the lone senior in the starting five and will provide shooting on the wing.

Sophomore Grace Tamulionis showed tons of potential last season and is a versatile forward that can step back and shoot and has the size to crash the boards. She will be joined in the post by classmate Shannon Smalley, who head coach Lisa Downs said had a great summer. Downs also noted that junior Lauren Flahive could come off the bench as a defensive option and senior Carolynn Will is another option as a shooter at the forward position.

Foxboro could see a big boost a couple of weeks into the season if junior small forward Kristen Bortolotti returns from a concussion suffered during soccer. In the meantime, Downs has no concerns about turning to her underclassmen. She said, “It’s so important that they had a year of experience. Kat [Tamulionis] was good for them because she had confidence in them and they played like it.”

MILFORD

2014-15 Record: 7-13 (5-11)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: T.J. Dolliver

Milford enters a new season with a new coach. T.J. Dolliver moves into his first head coaching position at the high school level, after being an assistant for boys’ coach Paul Seaver, and he is “excited” by the potential that the Hawks have shown in the opening weeks of practice and during the opening game of the season (a 44-21 win over Hopedale).

There is only one senior on the roster, but the Hawks gained a lot of experience last year. The focal point for the Hawks offense (and for opposing defenses) will be sophomore guard Kate Irwin. The dynamic lefty has quickness, vision, and shooting touch and she provides Milford with a spark on both ends of the floor. She will get plenty of help from junior forwards Nicole Dahlgren, Christine Pye and Brianna Croteau.

The lone senior on the roster is Jill Powers, who knocked down a couple of threes in the season opener. Sophomore forward Gill Valanzola will add depth at the forward position and junior guards Emma Liskov and Jill Burley will give Irwin help in the backcourt. Dolliver is also hoping to get sophomore Emily Piergustavo back at some point this season to help the Hawks spread the floor with her shooting.

Dolliver appreciates the depth and versatility in the Hawks roster this season and is already worried about making sure he spreads the minutes around to get everyone a chance on the court. “It’s exciting being at the head of the program,” said Dolliver. “We’re having a lot of fun. It’s about defense first and we make sure to keep them working hard.”

Oliver Ames

2014-15 Record: 12-9 (10-6)
2014-15 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South first round
Head Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook

The Tigers finished second behind Foxboro in the Davenport last year and expectations are high that this Oliver Ames team will challenge the Warriors again this winter. Team chemistry seems to be as high as ever in the Tigers group with a smaller roster of just nine players that have battled illnesses and other obstacles during the two weeks of preseason practice. Head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook is hoping that her team will rally around each other and can make a good start to the season.

Although she has missed a few days of practice with illness, junior Francesca Calabraro is going to be the player that OA counts on the most this season. Calabraro was the team’s leading scorer last season and also one of the league’s best in picking up steals. Calabraro is lethal on the break and that is a key to how the Tigers like to play. Sophomore Kayla Raymond, who saw plenty of time as a rookie, has shown the potential of being a top scorer and a force on both ends of the court.

Senior captain Kaitlyn McCarthy was credited with holding things together for the Tigers during the tumultuous opening weeks of practice and she is joined in the leadership role by fellow captain Sam Bamford who is a tenacious defender at the point guard position. Junior forward Niyera Mitchell gives the Tigers size and athleticism in the middle. Hannah Carroll and Abby Reardon will add depth at the guard position.

There may not be a lot of players on the varsity roster this season for OA, but Clement-Holbrook  believes this may be the closest her team has been. She said, “There is a lot of energy in the gym and a level of enthusiasm that shows they want to be out there. I hope the players can come together and find support from each other on the court.”

Sharon

2014-15 Record: 5-15 (4-12)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Cliff Tomassian

In his first season in charge, Cliff Tomassian took over a program that had reached the sectional final at UMass Boston for the first time in decades but one that lost its three best players including HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Karlie O’Driscoll. The Eagles were competitive throughout the season, particularly on defense, but struggled on the offensive end and missed the tournament, something Tomassian believes can change this winter.

If Sharon is going to improve on offense and make a charge at the postseason then the Eagles will need a full season out of senior forward Alyssa Piazza. The team’s leading scorer last year has missed portions of each of the last two seasons, but when she is on the court is a strong post scorer and dominant rebounder. Tomassian said, “When she’s on the court, she’s one of our most productive players.”

Sophomore guard Shira Stoller will also be back this year and Tomassian has urged the point guard to look for her own shot more and take some of the pressure off Piazza. With a point guard that can get to the basket and a forward that can score in the post, the perimeter should open up for Sharon and that is where seniors Ashley Mukasa and Charlotte Ransom can excel as spot up shooters.

The Eagles will once again be counting on young players to acclimate to the varsity level quickly, including sophomore Jessica Allan and freshmen Emma Eberhardt and Veronica Wallace. “Once the girls get used to the physicality of the varsity level we’ll be fine,” explained Tomassian. “Our expectation is making the tournament.”

Stoughton

2014-15 Record: 3-14 (3-13)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Charmaine Steele-Jordan

After three decades in charge, Janet Sullivan stepped down as the head coach at Stoughton and the program turned to someone who knows all about the program to step in this winter. Former Stoughton player and 1,000 point scorer Charmaine Steele-Jordan, who played at Quinnipiac and was an assistant coach at Boston University, takes over and had already brought a buzz to the Black Knights heading into the season. “There couldn’t have been a better place to fall,” said Jordan about the chance to take over at her alma mater.

Senior Alecia Quinones gives Steele-Jordan a weapon to work around. The forward has the size to match up with opposing post players and the athleticism to match up with wings. On offense she also adds versatility with an improving jump shot and good moves on the block. Fellow senior Jess Greer is the primary ball-handler and can also knock down the three.

Senior forward Ava Seigel is the third captain this season and is another important cog on both ends of the floor. Senior Bridgette Whalen and sophomore Valerie Whalen will add more size and strength in the paint for the Black Knights. Defense was always a strength of Stoughton and that will certainly continue under the new coach.

Last season, the Black Knights struggled in the half-court offense and Steele-Jordan has already introduced a much higher pace to the team during the first couple weeks of practice and is hoping that Stoughton can get up and down the court to get points in transition. She explained, “We want to get up and down the floor and only set up when we have to. We want to be able to press and try different things this year.”

For a list of 10 Players to Watch in Hockomock League girls’ basketball this season, click here.

Defense And Third Quarter Dominance Lift Milford

Milford sophomore Kate Irwin drives to the basket in the second half against Hopedale. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Milford sophomore Kate Irwin drives to the basket in the second half against Hopedale. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
MILFORD, Mass. – After a slow start to the game, Milford scored nearly three quarters of its points in the middle two quarters to pull away from rival Hopedale for a 44-21 win.
Between turnovers, nerves and a clock issue that required a stoppage, there was little to no flow in the first quarter of the first game for both squads.
After the teams combined for just 13 points in the first frame (an 8-5 edge to the Scarlet Hawks), Milford was about to create some separation.
“We started off very slow,” Milford first year head coach TJ Dolliver said. “It didn’t help with all the technical difficulties we were having, we just didn’t start off well. But I keep preaching it — all the little fouls, we have to get rid of them.”
First it was a combined five points from juniors Jill Burley and Brianna Croteau. Once Hopedale pulled close again, senior Jill Powers drained a pair of three pointers and junior Christina Capone added three more to give Milford a 22-11 advantage at the break.
“I told them at halftime we needed to get rid of those little fouls,” Dolliver said. “We were only up 11 at halftime. I told them if we get rid of the little fouls and keep the intensity up, we’ll be in a good position. And they listened for the most part.”
The speech seemed to work and once the second half started, it was all Scarlet Hawks.
Milford sophomore Kate Irwin, who missed a good chunk of the first half after picking up two fouls, started the second half with a steal and a pair of converted free throws and just the next series, repeated the same sequence. On the next possession Irwin drained a three to complete a quick 7-0 run for the Scarlet Hawks.
“That’s the type of player she is, she’s very skilled,” Dolliver said. “I think she learned a lesson early on with the fouls and one of those two first fouls could have been avoided, one of those small fouls. She did pretty well with it too in the second half and I think she only ended with two fouls so she definitely listened and took direction which is great, all of these girls have been very coachable which is all you can ask for.”
The home side went on to outscore their neighbors 18-2 in the third quarter with five points from junior Emma Liskov, two each from Juliana Tracy and Croteau and two more from Irwin.
While Hopedale tried to get their offense in gear, they struggled to keep possession. By the end of the third quarter, the Blue Raiders had turned the ball over 25 times. One big reason that the offense couldn’t get into gear was the press from Milford, which used it from the get go.
“We have a lot of athletes and they’ve been pressing for years,” Dolliver said. “And they’re very good at it from what I’ve seen so far. It’s not even made to steal the ball but they do a good job at matching up to whoever’s closest to them and they do a good job at forcing turnovers.
Irwin finished with a team-high 13 points, Powers and Croteau each added six and Liskov and Gill Valanzola (seven rebounds) each had five points. Tracy and Jess Tomaso combined for nine boards as well as the Scarlet Hawks won the rebounding battle.
The Scarlet Hawks only allowed Hopedale to convert five field goals while the Blue Raiders went 11/19 from the line.
Milford (1-0) will begin its league schedule on Tuesday when they host North Attleboro, the defender Kelley-Rex division champs, at 6:45.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.