Taunton’s Vincent Moving Up BSU Scoring Charts

Alana Vincent
Taunton grad Alana Vincent has battled back from an injury that ended her sophomore season and is climbing the all-time scoring list at Bridgewater State. (Bridgewater State Athletics)

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With a brace against Wentworth on Thursday, taking her total to 10 goals for the season, former Taunton standout Alana Vincent took over sole possession of seventh place on the all-time scoring list at Bridgewater State. Despite missing almost all of her sophomore season to injury, the senior forward and two-time All-MASCAC performer continues to solidify her place among the program’s top goal scorers.

“It feels amazing,” Vincent said the day after her two goals against Wentworth. “Honestly, I didn’t even know I was close to being that until I started reading the bottom of the pages of the articles [on the BSU website]. I just want to keep going and get as many points as I can every game.”

Vincent has 64 points for her career and is just a point short of sixth place and 12 points behind fifth place, which is held by former King Philip star and Foxboro coach Kaitlin Lamothe-Vaughn.

She could already be at that level if not for the ankle injury that she suffered as a sophomore. Coming off an all-conference rookie year, in which she led the Bears with six goals and 13 points, Vincent tore the AFTL (anterior talofibular ligament) in her right ankle during a September practice.

“I went to stop a girl from shooting the ball and I didn’t lock my ankle,” she explained. “When I landed down on it, it just rolled every which way. I knew immediately when it happened that I was done. It swelled up immediately, all the way up to my leg, it was bad.”

It was the first serious injury that Vincent had suffered in her career and she struggled having to watch her team make a run at the postseason without her. She said, “I didn’t even cry when it happened but when I was told I was out for the rest of the season is when I broke down.” The rehab process was a long one, and Vincent found herself having to rebuild the strength in her leg after being forced to wear a boot and being on crutches.

Just before the start of preseason in her junior year, Vincent’s ankle wasn’t responding the way that the doctors hoped, so they gave her a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection to facilitate the healing process and avoid another surgery. It worked. Vincent made it back on the pitch at the start of preseason, although there were still some mental hurdles to get past as well.

“I was so excited,” she recalled. “I mean, I was nervous going in, just recapturing it in my head that I would do the same thing over and over again, but it felt great being back on the field with my team. My coach knew and kept saying, ‘You can’t be scared. You can’t be scared,’ because that can only make it worse.

“Going half into a tackle is worse than going into a full tackle but as soon as I got the confidence back in me I was good.”

The confidence returned quickly and Vincent got right back among the goals for the Bears. She finished her junior season with seven goals and an assist and was named to the all-conference team for the second time.

“Not playing sophomore year has given me so much motivation because I missed so many games and it really dawned on me that I only had two years left to give it my all,” Vincent said. “I knew I missed out on one season, so I needed to kill it on the next two.”

That mantra has continued into her senior year. She has scored 10 goals, including a pair of game winners, and recorded four assists. The Bears had a tough non-league schedule but have won six of the last nine games, including a 2-1 record in the MASCAC, heading into Saturday’s game with Salem State.

“It was tough to see those losses and overcome them but it was early in the season and our schedule was very hard,” she said. “We’ve definitely improved from there and learned from our mistakes in those games.”

While she was at Taunton, Vincent didn’t really consider that her career would continue beyond high school. After playing for the Tigers as an eighth grader, she transferred to Bristol-Plymouth for two years to study cosmetology. When she realized that she didn’t see a future in that career, she came back to Taunton and was part of the best season in the program’s history.

Vincent scored the game-winner against Mansfield to earn the Tigers a first-ever playoff appearance and then added a goal and an assist against Wellesley to secure the team’s first state tournament victory as well.

“I still think about the game that we beat Mansfield and it got us in the playoffs for the first time in a decade or something like that,” Vincent said. “I just think about the goal I got and the excitement that ran through your body knowing that you’d overcome such a hard thing to beat because Taunton was never known to get into the playoffs.”

Even as a senior at Taunton, Vincent wasn’t thinking about continuing her soccer career in college, but the opportunity arose to play at BSU and she jumped at it. That is a decision that has paid off for Vincent and for the Bears. Now, as she looks to the end of her collegiate career, Vincent is focused on adding another dramatic finish by leading the Bears to a MASCAC crown.

“It’s my last year, so I want to put my all into it,” she explained. “It would be an amazing accomplishment just because I know we’ve worked so hard as a group and individually I’ve worked so hard and I would love that my senior year.

“All together we have a lot of talent and, when we bring that all to the table, we’re an amazing team. We just need to do that every game.”

Editor’s Note – Bridgewater State moved above .500 on the season and to 3-1 in the MASCAC with a 2-0 victory over Salem State on Saturday. Vincent assisted on the game-winning goal with a left-footed cross in the seventh minute that was headed home for an early 1-0 lead. With that assist, Vincent moves into a tie for sixth place on the program’s all-time scoring list. Mansfield’s Kaitlyn Bongarzone was part of the Bears’ defense that held on for a clean sheet, while Milford grad Katie Brown, who was featured in an earlier story, played for Salem State.

Taunton’s Mass Takes Hoops Career Across the Pond

Fawaz Mass
Former Taunton and Bridgewater State standout Fawaz Mass has continued his collegiate basketball career in an unlikely spot, Bournemouth (U.K.) University, where is studying for a Master’s degree in business. (Courtesy Photo)

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Playing basketball has taken Fawaz Mass a long way. From the Boys & Girls Club as a youth to three seasons on varsity at Taunton High to one season at Bristol Community College (BCC) to three years at Bridgewater State University (BSU) and now all the way across the Atlantic to England.

Mass, who was an all-star guard for the Tigers (both in the Old Colony League and the Hockomock) and was twice named an All-MASCAC player at BSU, has taken an opportunity to study and to play at Bournemouth (U.K.) University. Located about 90 minutes to the west of London, Bournemouth plays in the British Universities and College Sport (BUCS) Western Division and currently tops its table with a 7-0 record (and a remarkable point differential of plus-337).

The chance to take his talents across the pond came after a scout saw him play at Bridgewater State, where he was the Bears leading scorer at 15.9 points per game his senior season. BSU coach Joe Farroba got an email saying there might be a scholarship to play in England and work towards a graduate degree.

“I was interested right away and didn’t know where specifically in England I’d be going at the time,” Mass said in an email this week. It turned out that the location would be Bournemouth University where Mass is taking part in a one-year, accelerated program to earn a master’s degree in business administration.

He already has family living in London and language wouldn’t be an issue, so Mass jumped at the chance to take his game to a new country. He started school in September and his season on the First Performance Squad began a month later.

“I’ve fit pretty smoothly into the team,” Mass said. “My coaches and teammates have been great, and it’s a good balance between British and other internationals.”

His long history with the game at a high level has made him a natural leader for the team. Mass explained, “I would say I’m an experienced veteran as well as a couple others on the squad who have some similar backgrounds and the coaching staff really looks for me to be that leader with my game and vocally to set the tone for the team.”

Mass was battling a nagging ankle injury during the early part of the season, but Bournemouth has been on a break to start the winter. Its last game was on Dec. 12, a 117-62 win over Cardiff University, and the next game on the fixture list won’t be until Jan. 30 against the University of Southampton (which Bournemouth beat 97-70 back in October). The break has given Mass the chance to recuperate and he is ready to come back strong when the season resumes.

“For me personally it was a great start,” he said. “The break helped a bit…now it’s all about continuing rehab and trying to get the 100% for the tougher part of the schedule.”

Basketball is a growing sport in England, lagging in popularity behind traditional games like soccer, rugby, and cricket, and the competition, especially in the Western division, isn’t at the same level that Mass faced at BSU and the game is officiated a little differently (“They allow you use your hands a bit more here.”), but he is expecting things to get a little tighter as the season hits the home stretch.

“The competition compared to Bridgewater isn’t as high [because] the specific region we are located in has a lot of British players,” he said, “but as we progress through the season the competition is supposed to get really tough and well play more teams with more internationals so I’m excited for that.”

In addition to league play, Bournemouth is also involved in a knockout cup competition, the BUCS Basketball Trophy. Bournemouth is into the last 16 and will face East London’s second team on Feb. 6 to try and reach the quarterfinal.

Having family just 90 minutes away and having the opportunity to play basketball competitively gives Mass a slice of home that has made it easier to get acclimated, but there are of course things he misses.

“I miss my family and friends and wish I could see my little brother play in his basketball games,” Mass admitted. “I also miss watching NBA games frequently, but I can’t with the time difference…and I almost forgot my mom’s cooking!”

After this year is up, Mass isn’t sure what the future will hold. He will have a master’s degree and some experience living and playing in Europe, which may open doors for him going forward. He is open to what may come his may and is just enjoying the unique experience that he has been offered.

“I’ve already gained a lot from being here and just being in a different environment and having to adjust,” he said. “Who knows what else this opportunity will give me…It’s been positive so far, hopefully it continues.”

Just for Kicks: North’s Crear Gives BSU Football Leg Up

Jacob Crear
North Attleboro grad Jacob Crear (94) has joined the Bridgewater State football team as a kicker this season and his extra point turned out to be the game-winner in week one. (Bridgewater State Athletics)

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The last time that Jacob Crear had put on full pads and stepped into a competitive football game was in either third or fourth grade (long enough ago that he couldn’t remember which). He spent one year in Mighty Mites before turning his attention almost completely to soccer. It appeared that his football career was over before middle school.

But then, last Saturday, Crear made an unexpected return to the gridiron. The former North Attleboro soccer standout threw on the pads again and walked out onto the field as the kicker for Bridgewater State in its season opener against Buffalo State College at Swenson Field.

The senior, who had not played a competitive sport since taking part in club hockey as a freshman at Springfield College, nailed a 36-yard kick in the first quarter that tied the game and also made 3-of-4 extra points (his only miss was blocked), including one with 27 seconds remaining that turned out to be the game-winner.

“The last PAT, they almost blocked it again,” he said in a phone call this week. “It actually tipped off the guy’s finger and barely made it over the bar, maybe a foot over the bar.”

He joked, “I never would’ve thought that I would play football. That was only the second time that I’ve ever worn full pads and it’s a little different kicking with full pads on.”

Crear had no plans to join the football team this season. He was convinced by his roommates, and fellow North Attleboro alumni, junior offensive lineman Austin White and sophomore defensive lineman Max Kroll that he could help the Bears. They knew he was a strong soccer player for the Rocketeers and that he was still active playing in men’s leagues, so they took him out to the field to see how he would do with a football.

“I wasn’t really doing anything anyway, so it gave me something to do during the day and if I’m good at it then why not?” Crear explained.

The football team had already held a preseason scrimmage and did not have someone dedicated to kicking on the roster. The job was going to be filled by one of the receivers who had kicked a little in high school. Kroll and White took Crear out to kick on a Wednesday just to see how he would do. Two days later, a day after the Bears scrimmaged, they had him in front of the Bridgewater coaches for a tryout.

“I guess it went well,” Crear joked. “They liked how I was kicking, so they asked if I wanted to be on the team, if I was fully committed, and I said yeah. They seemed pretty happy about it.”

When asked how he felt walking into a tryout for a sport that he had only played for one year as a youth, Crear admitted, “It was a little nerve-wracking because I didn’t know if my kick would go straight or where it would go because I haven’t done it often. I didn’t know if I’d be able to control it, but it’s pretty similar to a soccer ball.”

He used his years of experience on the pitch, especially playing as a center back for his men’s league team, to quickly pick up the motion for kicking field goals. He described kicking the football like sending a lofted ball across the field, except that instead of striking it with the laces you use the ball of the foot and instead of “pinging the ball somewhere on a line” more height is needed.

The hardest transition has been the rhythm and the timing of the snap and the the hold. “We started working on timing, just keeping the rhythm every day,” Crear said. “We’re doing the same drills to strengthen my leg or work on accuracy or height of the ball. You can see the progression is getting better as the days go by.”

Crear had little time to think about his first collegiate kick. In the first quarter against Buffalo State, the Bears had a drive stall trailing 3-0 and Crear was thrown right in for a 36-yard kick.

“I was thinking hopefully my first kick will be a kickoff, second kick will be a PAT and then maybe after that will be a field goal,” he said. “My legs were shaking before, standing there to kick, but after that it was a sigh of relief that it actually went in.”

His teammates were thrilled. Crear said, “Everyone was pumped because they’re not really used to having someone who could kick. They were pumped that it went in and it tied up the game. It was just an overall good feeling.”

Crear had one of his extra points in week one blocked (which allowed him to make his first collegiate tackle) and in week two at Endicott he had a pair of field goals blocked as well (he went 1-for-3 in a 17-3 loss). It is still a work in progress for Crear just a couple of weeks after kicking a football for the first time, but he is relishing the experience of being part of a team and adding a different dimension to his final year of college.

“It’s good to be part of a team again,” he said. “The biggest thing for me is to enjoy it because I haven’t played a competitive sport in a long time.”

This week, the Bears will open league play at Framingham State.

DeAndrade and O’Driscoll Net 1,000th Collegiate Points

Karlie O'Driscoll Rocky DeAndrade
Former Hockomock League MVPs and HockomockSports.com Players of the Year Rocky DeAndrade and Karlie O’Driscoll each reached 1,000 points in their collegiate careers over the span of two days this week. (Caldwell University Athletics/Bridgewater State University Athletics)

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In 2014, Sharon’s Karlie O’Driscoll and Mansfield’s Rocky DeAndrade compiled impressive lists of achievements during their senior years of high school. Both reached the South sectional final (O’Driscoll in Div. 2 and DeAndrade for the second straight year in Div. 1), both were named Hockomock league MVPs by the coaches, and both were selected as Player of the Year by this website.

This week, now as seniors in college, they were both making headlines again.

O’Driscoll, a forward at Caldwell University (N.J.), scored her 1,000th point on Jan. 24 in a 72-49 victory over Felician College. The next night, DeAndrade notched his 1,000th career point in a 68-58 victory over Fitchburg State.

“Going into college, there’s definitely a possibility [of scoring 1,000 points] if I do my job and do what I have to do, but it wasn’t a goal for me because I wanted to do more about the team aspect,” O’Driscoll said in a phone call on Friday. “Each game I wasn’t thinking, oh I need to score to get closer to my 1,000, I was just thinking I need to score to make my team win and it just kind of happened.”

DeAndrade had similar thoughts about getting to 1,000 points for the Bears. He said, “It’s not something you think about really. I expect to get there, so you just work hard and do your thing. I knew if I stayed there for four years that the chances of getting it were pretty inevitable.”

Chasing 1,000 points and dealing with the excitement that builds up as you get closer to the milestone was something that O’Driscoll dealt with in high school. She also reached that total at Sharon and knew what to expect. She had also seen two of her fellow seniors, Kristen Drogsler and Sharell Sanders, reach that mark in the past two years.

“At Sharon, it was an amazing experience to be able to do that and in college I’ve had so many teammates in the past four year who have reached that milestone, so it was special for me to be able to join so many amazing players,” she explained.

Coming into the game, O’Driscoll needed 15 points to get to 1,000. She got off to a great start, scoring 14 points in the first half. “I wasn’t trying to force it too much,” she said. “I know a lot of my teammates were trying to get me the ball and I told them midway through the first half to stop forcing the ball to me, it will happen when it happens.”

Just a point away in the third quarter, her team ran a play for her to start the half, but it did not go as planned and the ball was knocked away. The inbound was also intended for O’Driscoll, but again it was tipped out of play. Finally, on the third try, the ball got into guard Tina Lebron and she drove and dished to O’Driscoll for a layup and the foul.

“It was a lot more emotional this time,” said O’Driscoll, who finished that night with 20 points and 10 rebounds. “In high school, I knew I was playing in college, so I knew I had four more years to play basketball. I think it’s really setting in now that this is my last year, my last few games, so to do something like this to represent my school and myself was such a different experience.”

DeAndrade came close to reaching 1,000 points in high school, scoring more than 900 for his career, but never had the countdown or the hype that surrounded the milestone until this season. He went into the Fitchburg game knowing that he had a shot to get there, but tried to keep it out of his mind.

“Before the game, I wasn’t nervous at all,” he said. “I was excited. I thought I was going to have a really big game.” He was right. DeAndrade scored 13 points to get within a basket with most of the second half remaining and the Bears holding onto a lead, but that last two points took a while to happen.

“I needed two points with 11 minutes to go in the second half and I was like, okay I’m going to get this, just play your game,” he recalled. “Sure enough, the clock just kept going and we’re under two minutes and I still need two points, so I was like oh jeez I need to get going now.”

DeAndrade reached his milestone at the line, knocking down a pair of free throws with 1:48 left to play. When the Bears got the ball back, they stopped the game to celebrate his accomplishment. He said, “I think the whole hype of the night, you know, and the expectation to get 1,000 that night it was a relief to get it over with. It was awesome though.”

When asked what it felt like to say he was a 1,000-point scorer, DeAndrade said, “I haven’t thought of that, but it’s always good and my name will be in the rafters, so that’s cool.”

Not surprisingly, both players have their teams in good positions heading down the stretch of the season.

DeAndrade is leading the Bears with more than 16 points and nearly four assist per game and has Bridgewater at 5-1 through the first half of MASCAC play. O’Driscoll is second on the team with 11.3 points per game and has helped Caldwell to a 17-3 overall record, including 10-1 in the CACC.

For both seniors, the personal milestone was fun and important, but they each want to close out there collegiate careers like they did their high school ones – with league titles.

“I think we’ve made the changes we need to since last year and getting the whole team involved in doing their jobs and doing what we need to win,” said O’Driscoll, whose team reached the conference final but lost to University of Sciences and was knocked out in the first round of the Div. II NCAA tournament.

“Me and my fellow seniors have been together since the beginning,” she added, “and we’re really excited and really confident about winning the league this year. That’s a very strong goal we’ve had since the beginning and to do it our senior year and go out with a win would be incredible.”

DeAndrade had plenty of success in his four years and Mansfield and is hoping to translate that knowledge of how to win to the second half of the MASCAC campaign. He explained, “That would mean a lot. That would cap off the college experience.

“We put in a lot of work in from Oct. 15, so if you get to the end of the season and you can come away with the championship that’s obviously the big goal.”

Williamson Brothers Team Up At Bridgewater State

Carlton and Cameron Williamson
Former Oliver Ames players Carlton (20) and Cameron (2) Williamson have teamed up to help the Bridgewater State football team to a pair of wins this season. (Courtesy Photo)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

Growing up in the youth football programs in Easton, Carlton and Cameron Williamson used to talk about how someday they should head to the same college and play football together. That childhood dream has come true with Carlton, a senior running back, and Cameron, a sophomore defensive back, both contributing as starters for Bridgewater State.

“It’s a great experience and, to me, it’s a blessing,” said Carlton on Thursday, two days before the pair lined up in a game against Fitchburg State. “Not too many siblings get to share that special moment in time to be able to play a sport that we love together.”

It wasn’t until Carlton’s senior year at Oliver Ames that the brothers shared the field together. After Cameron spent a year on the freshman squad, he was ready to join the Tigers varsity as a sophomore.

“I always looked forward to playing with my older brother,” said Cameron. “We feed off each other, which is a good thing for me. If someone’s having a bad day, the other is right there to pick you up and get you back in the game.”

Two years after Carlton decided to enroll at Bridgewater State, Cameron made the same choice. As the older brother, Carlton offered advice during the process of choosing a college, but said that he only told Cameron to focus on academics and to keep his options open.

But, when his younger brother made the decision to join him in Bridgewater, it was a proud day for Carlton.

“I was very, very excited,” he explained. “It was a morale booster for me and definitely lifted up my spirits and actually motivated me to work even harder.”

“It’s a good confidence booster to look over and your brother is right there. I do things to help me out and he does a lot to help me too.”

Carlton Williamson
(Bridgewater State University Athletics)

Cameron added, “When we were kids, we always talked about how we should go to the same college and do all these things together. The way it worked out is beautiful.”

It also offered Cameron a built-in support system when he walked on the Bridgewater State campus and put on the pads for the Bears for the first practice of his freshman year. Rather than walking into a new situation without knowing anyone or without someone to guide him. cameron could look across the field and see his brother and learn from his example.

Cameron said, “A lot of freshmen, when they come in, are looking for a place to be and for people to direct them but with my brother there the transition was so much easier.”

“He’s one of the hardest working men I know. With someone that great in front of you, you can’t let him down and not do what you’re supposed to do.”

Cameron Williamson
(Bridgewater State University Athletics)

“It was almost surreal,” said Carlton. “At the beginning, we were like wow we’re really here right now. We were talking about it as kids and it actually happened. As the practices continued, we both got used to it and it’s become an every day thing.”

The support system became a cheering section on game days as the brothers watched each other from the sidelines and could celebrate each other’s successes on the field, such as Cameron leading the team with three tackles for loss in a win against Worcester State or Carlton’s leading the Bears in all-purpose yards in each game this season.

“When he made a few plays, I was actually more excited about him making plays than myself,” said Carlton. “I was his biggest fan, his biggest cheerleader, on the sideline. Actually, a few coaches saw me screaming very loudly for him.”

There is no question the Williamsons have each others backs, but there is also a natural competitiveness between them as well. In fact, practices can sometimes get heated when they face off.

“Any time we get to go against each other we compete very heavily,” said Cameron with a laugh. “Sometimes people have to separate us because we get too into it but that’s that sibling rivalry.”

That also comes from the fact that Cameron and Carlton have very different styles on the field. Carlton tends towards restraint, flipping the ball back to the official Barry Sanders-like after each play, while Cameron, as a defensive player, can be emotional and excitable.

“He’s on the defensive side of the ball so he’s always displaying some emotion and he’s very aggressive,” said Carlton. “I kind of get up and hand the ball to the ref and get right back to business.”

This isn’t a new development, he added. “It’s been this way since Pop Warner.”

As children, the Williamson brothers dreamed of playing together in college and they are going to make sure that they enjoy the final six weeks of Carlton’s career.

“The theme this year is the last ride because it could possibly be the last time I play with my big dog right here,” said Cameron. “Every day is special, every practice, you have to cherish it.”

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.