Girls Soccer: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2018 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
King Philip and Mansfield shared the league title last season and look like being favorites to make another run at the crown this fall. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 4-13-1
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs.
Coach: Steve Santos

Attleboro improved last season, scoring 18 goals and showing signs of an improved passing game, which head coach Steve Santos has been trying to build over the past few years. An exciting group of younger players added speed to the Bombardiers and the team’s increased depth allowed them to be competitive against even the league’s best teams.

That group has continued to develop and sophomore forwards Isabella Salviati and Briley Harnois will be counted on to provide a consistent threat to the opposition defense. The midfield should be a strength for the Bombardiers this season with a group of versatile players that will set the foundation for the Attleboro passing game. Senior Sam Fasoldt will be joined by juniors Julia Reyes and Ashley Dame, who returns after missing 2017 with a knee injury, and sophomore Jessica Gates. Junior Sophia Salviati will help out in midfield and defense, where Attleboro returns just one starter from last year. Seniors Felicia Laguerre and Ashley Lauzier will be at the heart of the defense in front of goalies Taylor Drake (senior) or Ashley Macia (junior).

“The team looks good and is playing some good passing soccer,” said Santos about the Bombardiers in the preseason. “As a team, our speed is where we need it to be to keep teams on their heels and not let them dictate play.”

Franklin

2017 Record: 10-8-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round.
Coach: Tom Geysen

Franklin battled injuries throughout the 2017 season and those injuries tested the Panthers depth, but heading into a new season head coach Tom Geysen is confident that this year’s squad can withstand the rigors of Hockomock play. The Panthers will be tested early, with King Philip, Mansfield, and Canton in the opening four games.

Versatility will be a key for the Panthers this season with players capable of slotting into different positions. One of those players is junior Anna Balkus, who can play up top or drop back into the midfield depending on the formation. Sophomore Sydney St. Marie will also play up top and Geysen said that she has shown real progress from last year. Junior Carly Alston will be in the heart of the midfield, while senior Halle Atkinson will give Franklin an outlet on one wing and sophomore Erin Qualie, fresh off an impressive rookie campaign, will be on the other. Defensively, Franklin will count on third-year center back Grace Gallo, fellow senior Maddie Stewart, and junior Sabrina Addi, who moved from the midfield to defense last fall. Athletic junior Breanna Atwood will jump into goal and continue Franklin’s run of strong goalkeepers.

“We have a good nucleus of kids coming back and kids moving around to new positions,” said Geysen. “There are a lot of freshmen with potential to develop into strong players. Everyone had a good attitude and has been working hard.”

King Philip

2017 Record: 20-2-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 state semifinal.
Coach: Gary Pichel

King Philip put together a dominant season in 2017, winning a league title for the first time since 2002 and then winning the Div. 1 South title as well. The Warriors scored 18 more goals than any other team in the Hockomock last year and also allowed fewer goals than all but two teams. With a loaded roster back this fall, KP has its sights set on even more in 2018.

Expectations are sky high for the Warriors this season because of the return of junior forwards Chloe Layne and Avery Snead, the reigning league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year. Layne and Snead were the top two scorers in the Hock last season and they continue to develop and improve. KP wasn’t a two-player team and they will also count on senior Abby Baker in the midfield along with wingers Makayla Griffin and Ally Stanton to provide outlets when defenses crowd the forwards and close down the middle of the park. Junior Olivia Berry will be in the heart of the defense and look to provide the leadership and physical play of graduated defender Emma Corcoran. Junior Faye Veilleux also stepped in at the end of last season and showed her growth as a defensive presence in midfield.

KP coach Gary Pichel said, “The team’s strength’s lie in the ability of our offense to create a great deal of scoring opportunities. There is a relentless desire to push hard up top and keep it there through pressure on ball at all times. We are fortunate to have players that have the ability to do so on a consistent basis.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 13-2-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round.
Coach: Kevin Smith

While King Philip earned a lot of attention for their run to the state semifinal, Mansfield was equally as strong in the league last year. The Hornets matched the Warriors step for step and earned a share of their second straight Kelley-Rex division title. With a number of players back again this year, Mansfield looks ready to battle for a three-peat and make a deep tournament run.

The Hornets feature 13 seniors on this year’s roster, so experience won’t be an issue. Melissa Reef and Bryn Anderson headline the midfield group, with Reef providing cover for the back line and Anderson acting as the fulcrum that gets the offense in motion. The defense will be spearheaded by Emily Vigeant, who has been on the top defenders in the league for the past couple of seasons. She is joined by versatile and physical defenders like Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, and Erin Daniel. Goalkeeper Lauren Whitman will be back between the sticks this season.

There will be plenty of depth in the Mansfield attack this fall with Stephanie Kemp, Sydney Mulkern, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy McMahon, and freshman Maria Sevastos all expected to contribute. “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith.

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 11-8-0
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round.
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

Oliver Ames had a number of new faces last year, but the Tigers were still able to earn a postseason appearance and were the only team in the league to beat King Philip during the regular season. With another year of experience, OA should be ready for another postseason run.

Defense should be a strength for the Tigers this season with plenty of varsity experience on the back line, including seniors Gabriele McLaughlin, Maeve Hogan, and Brianna Gibson. The defensive unit will help sophomores Emma O’Donnell and Emily Meyers get comfortable in goal, as they try to replace EMass all-star Regan Benton. Junior Abby Hodges will be a key component in the OA midfield this season. Junior Erin Holmberg and senior Maggie Ault will be up front for the Tigers, who will hope to improve on the 31 goals they scored last year.

OA coach Britt Sellmayer said, “We have a good mix of experienced players and younger players that have potential to develop into a good team. The key will be replacing one of the best keepers in EMass in Regan Benton. We are counting on the seniors in the back line staying healthy and providing leadership.”

Taunton

2017 Record: 5-13-1
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs.
Coach: Edith Dixon

It has been a few seasons since Taunton made history with a trip to the postseason and a road playoff win at Wellesley, but the program is continuing to build and head coach Edith Dixon expects the Tigers to be an “interesting” team in 2018 with a mix of youth and experience.

Taunton will clearly miss leading scorer Sam Tichelaar and defensive stalwart Kayla Felix, who both graduated after last season, but there is a lot of talent for the Tigers to build around. Grace Pimenta will be back between the pipes and her aggressiveness off her line will help the Taunton defense. Maggie Sullivan will be counted on to be the field general in midfield and Dixon praised her “never-ending motor.” Up front, speed will be a strength for the Tigers, who are hoping to use it to create numerous chances in transition and being aggressive attacking the opposition goal.

Dixon said, “ The best part about this team is their amazing attitude as a group. Everyone has bought into the team concepts and wants to contribute everything they have towards the team goals. This is the first season I’ve had at Taunton where there are no superstars, just 11 players all working together with great synergy.”

Rocketeers Use Late Flurry to Pull Away From OA

North Attleboro girls soccer
North Attleboro forward Ashlyn Gaulin (3) battles through a host of Oliver Ames defenders in Wednesday night’s win at Muscato Stadium. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – North Attleboro kept probing, trying to find a hole in an Oliver Ames defense, but the Tigers held resolute for 66 minutes of Wednesday night’s meeting of defending league champions at Muscato Stadium. Despite North controlling the lion’s share of the possession, it looked like the Tigers would come away with a point.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

In the 67th minute, with the help of a massive deflection (and according to the OA bench, a handball on the edge of the box), North found the breakthrough. The first one opened the floodgates and the potent Rocketeers attack put the result beyond doubt, scoring four goals in the final 13 minutes of the game to pick up an impressive 4-0 road win.

“We played a pretty good first half and I don’t think we played better in the second half, but we finished,” said North coach Bill Wallace.

After a strong opening half in which it forced OA keeper Regan Benton into five saves (although none that were particularly demanding), North had two golden scoring chances in the first five minutes after the break.

Ashlyn Gaulin got on the end of Haley Guertin’s flicked header, but flashed her shot just past the outstretched hand of Benton and past the post. Two minutes later, Guertin cut in from the right and teed up Kayla Pasquel who made an unmarked run down the left wing, but the junior’s first-time shot was pulled wide.

When asked if he was starting to think that it may not be North’s night after those two chances went begging, Wallace laughed and said, “Yes, but no two games, no two days are the same. It’s a crazy game and what makes it great is that you can lose control and come out with a positive result and, conversely, you can control a game and come out with a negative result.”

North was dominating possession and controlling the midfield led by senior Aine Mendonca. The young Tigers were struggling to keep the ball against the North press, but when North went forward the OA defensive unit of Maeve Hogan, Athena Sarafoglou, Brianna Gibson, and Gabrielle McLaughlin had an answer.

“They’ve got so much offense up front and we really struggled in the midfield today,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “We can play much better and we need to have a little more composure. We played physical today; the last two games we weren’t aggressive enough.”

Wallace told his team to just keep pushing. He explained, “My halftime speech was pretty simple – patience. You could see we were getting frustrated. I just said, be patient and trust your gut.”

In the 67th minute, North had a long free kick and senior Rachel Labonte played it to Guertin on the edge of the box. Her first effort was blocked but the ball rebounded back to the forward, who took another touch and had a second go. This shot took a huge deflection that wrong-footed Benton and found the back of the net.

Just two minutes later, North doubled its lead. Pasquel took the ball down the outside on the left and got to the byline before crossing to the back post where Mackenzie Rosenberg had found a foot of space. The sub pulled it down, took a touch and hit a half-volley to make it 2-0.

“Kenzi’s goal was a backbreaker,” said Wallace. “Good for her; she makes the most of her minutes when she gets out there and I’m so happy for her.”

Down by two goals, OA still could not find a way to create a chance for Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, or Anabella Walsh. Sellmayer credited the North defense, including center backs Emily Chiasson and Labonte, and especially right back Sam Hawkins.

He said, “The three players at the back were so solid. I mean, No. 9 (Hawkins) played a great game and we couldn’t match up with her.”

In the 72nd minute, North sealed the points with a third goal. Haley Ferrin flicked the ball into the box and it ricocheted past Benton, who had slid out to stop the first shot. Leah Jette was on hand to tap in. Ally Blaisdell wrapped it up directly off a corner (which came after the best of Benton’s 11 saves) when her cross bounced at the near post and skipped into the back of the net.

“After starting out with Franklin,” Wallace said, “we’re still curious what kind of team we’re going to be. We certainly have the talent, it’s just that we have to out it together in all phases of the game.”

He added, “The girls are thrilled, it’s going to be a fun bus ride home, and then back to work against Canton.”

North Attleboro (2-1) will put its two-game win streak on the line on Friday when it travels to Davenport division rival Canton. Oliver Ames (3-1) faces a tough trip to unbeaten Franklin.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Girls Soccer: 2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Mansfield and Oliver Ames shared the Kelley-Rex division title last season and both expect to be in the mix again this fall. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 2-15-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

Goal scoring has been the biggest issue for the Bombardiers in the past few seasons, including a league-low eight in 2016, but head coach Steve Santos is confident that this year’s squad has the speed and experience to take advantage of counter attacks and he expects Attleboro to create a lot more scoring chances this fall.

While goal scoring is a focus of the preseason work, it is at the back that Attleboro boasts the most experience with the entire back line returning. Senior Jordyn Forte is the leader at the back, using her “good soccer IQ,” according to Santos, to keep things calm and making the right plays. She is joined in the defense by fellow seniors Morgan Laplume and Graycen Cassidy. In goal, Madison Brown returns to give Attleboro a solid presence to control the penalty box.

Turning that defense into attack will be the responsibility of senior midfielder Julia Hayes, who will be a key player in the center of the pitch. Junior Ashley Lauzier and senior Kara Thornton will be hoping to take advantage of the opportunities that are created. Santos is also excited about the youth coming into the program with three freshman on the varsity roster to start, including Riley Harnois, who will help out in the attack.

“We have a little more speed this year,” said Santos, “and we’ve been generating a little more in the transition. This year I can rest [the starters], bring people off the bench and the pace doesn’t drop off. They’re great kids, they work hard, and they fight for the team every day.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 10-3-5
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tom Geysen

After six straight league titles, Franklin had an atypical season in 2016. The Panthers only lost three times all season, but drew five times, struggling to find consistent goal scoring that would turn a tie into a win. Franklin only allowed nine goals, but only scored 36, which was 20 goals fewer than league champ Mansfield. This year, head coach Tom Geysen is working on a new formation to get the best out of his attacking options with the goal of returning to the top of the league standings.

The Panthers return leading scorer Miranda Smith and the senior takes advantage of her size to create scoring opportunities in the box. Junior Halle Atkinson is back for her third year on the varsity and gives Franklin speed on the wings and is an accurate crosser of the ball to give Smith plenty of chances. Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira are also back and will give the Panthers a consistent presence in the center of midfield, while Emily Mastaj is another option on the wing.

The key to Franklin’s defense this season will be senior goalie Cat Robbins. Stepping in between the posts last year, Robbins turned in an impressive year and quickly became one of the top goalies in the league. This year, there will be several new faces and younger players that will be counted on to step up on the defensive side of the ball, including senior Molly O’Reilly and juniors Grace Gallo and Madison Stewart.

Geysen noted that there are several underclassmen that could step in during the season to add to the Panthers’ depth. He added, “We need to find the right mix. If we can patch things together and they can gain experience over the course of the season I’m confident that we will get better.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 12-8-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Gary Pichel

It was a great turnaround for King Philip from 2015 to 2016. The Warriors were snakebitten by injuries the year before, losing almost an entire starting 11 many of them to long-term injuries, but last year a large and talented freshman class stepped in to supplement the players who were back healthy helping the program jump from just two wins to 12 last fall.

Expectations are even higher for the Warriors this year, as that freshman group gained a year of experience playing in the Hock. The sophomores are led by Avery Snead, last year’s Underclassman of the Year, who excelled up front or in the midfield and sealed the team’s playoff victory over Mansfield with an overtime headed winner. Chloe Layne showed off silky skills and finishing ability in the box and Olivia Berry stepped right into the heart of the defense and showed that she belonged.

It is not all about the underclassmen. Senior Emma Corcoran is back for another year at the heart of the defense and as the primary dead ball specialist, being named an Eastern Mass. All-Star in 2016. Senior Emma Durant has grown into the role of starting keeper and was a solid and steady presence between the posts last season. Senior Julian Massarone is a three-year varsity player and will be one of the primary playmakers in the center of the pitch.

“Overall, we made great strides in improving our game last year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “We want to continue to become more advanced in all three phases of our game. Last year, we turned a corner. This year, we want to move full speed ahead and compete hard against all of our opponents in the Hock!”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 14-1-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Kevin Smith

Mansfield is coming off the program’s best ever season. The Hornets set records for wins, points, goals scored and claimed their first ever league title, finishing the regular season unbeaten. An overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs to league rival KP was a tough finish to 2016 and trying to replace the production of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Hannah Reiter will be a challenge, but the Hornets return a ton of talent to make a run at another title.

Juniors Melissa Reef (an Eastern Mass. All-Star last season) and Bryn Anderson will be back in the midfield this fall, breaking up opponents’ attacks and pushing Mansfield into the attack. Their ability to cover a lot of ground in the center of the pitch and pick out the right pass to start the transition will be key. Classmate Stephanie Kemp will be back at the top of the attack, after scoring nine goals as a sophomore. Junior Emily Vigeant will lead an experienced defensive unit and also gives the Hornets a dangerous weapon from set pieces.

Mansfield coach Kevin Smith likes has a lot of players that he can call on this season. In the attack, Kemp will be joined by Sydney Mulkern, Allee Bezeau, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy MacMahon, and Emma Oldow. Defensively, the Hornets will turn to Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, Erin Daniel and goalkeeper Lauren Whitman.

Smith said, “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers and relying on the experience of 13 juniors and three seniors who were on varsity last year to fill the roles of the five starters who graduated.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 14-3-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

Last fall, Oliver Ames made the switch from the Davenport to the Kelley-Rex division, but it had little effect on the success of the program. The Tigers shared the league title with Mansfield, the fourth title in a row for OA and seventh since 2007. That run of success may be tough to keep going this year, as the Tigers graduated 10 seniors and are battling injuries to start 2017.

Losing players like Francesca Calabraro (who was injured midway through last season) and Kiana Lozzi is tough enough, but the Tigers lost almost an entire starting 11. To make matters worse, the strong central defensive pairing of Emily Freeman (knee) and Zoe Chazan (academy) are both missing to start the season. Senior goalie Regan Benton is back and will give the Tigers one of the best goalies in the league and in Eastern Mass. to backstop the rebuilt defense.

Offensively, the Tigers have been known for pace and strength, particularly on set pieces, and this year will count on three senior to try and provide consistent scoring opportunities. The pacy group of Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, Annabella Walsh will be the primary focus of the attack. There will be a lot of new faces on the pitch this season, trying to keep the legacy of OA success going for another fall.

“We have quite a few players who had limited minutes last year,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer, “but they practiced against some good players every day. If we can stay healthy I feel confident.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 3-14-2
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Edith Dixon

It has been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers over the past few seasons under head coach Edith Dixon. In 2015, Taunton reached the postseason for the first time in program history and made it count by beating Wellesley on the road in the opening round and gave top seed Bishop Feehan a tough game in the second round. But, after losing a number of players to graduation, Taunton won only three games last season and are looking to bounce back behind a young roster in 2017.

The key for the Tigers is senior Samantha Tichelaar, who is coming off a league all-star and HockomockSports.com Best XI season, and gives Taunton speed, control, and leadership either as a forward or dropping deep into the midfield. Her versatility opens opportunities for her teammates. Classmate Kayla Felix will be the leader at the back for the Tigers, adding aggressiveness to the defense from her sweeper position.

Numbers are good for the program overall and Dixon expects that the younger players, including a strong crop of freshman and even eighth graders could make an impact on the varsity as the season goes along. She said that many of the younger players are “ahead of their age performance-wise.”

Dixon added, “Some of our younger players are going to step up and change how we play, but our upperclassman and seniors will remain the core of our team. I believe that their leadership and team-first mentality will push us to do well this year and set the program up for long-term success as the underclassmen mature.”

Oliver Ames Falls To Natick In D1 South Semifinals

Oliver Ames girls soccer
Oliver Ames’ Lauren Wright attempts to dispossess a Natick player in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
MILFORD, Mass. – There were plenty of obstacles that the Oliver Ames girls soccer team had to overcome throughout the regular season and playoffs, yet the Tigers put together an undefeated season.

Unfortunately, Oliver Ames was unable to clear the hurdle that was Natick, the top-seeded team in the sectional. The Redhawks (19-1) scored a goal in each half to hand the Tigers their first loss of the season, 2-0, in the D1 South Semifinals.

“They’re a really good team…you have to worry about this player, then that player, then this player,” Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer. “We couldn’t get to the keeper. That was the place I thought if we could get to. We played 80 minutes, didn’t get a corner until the 81st minute.”

“We played hard, I thought we played better in the second half when we were going into the wind. It was a great season. It’s a marathon, you can’t put it all on today, you have to look at all of the accomplishments. I thought we showed a lot of grit in the second half, even having to go into the wind. We had more chances in the second than the first half. Natick is tough to mark, they move the ball well, they switch positions, they move well. Their two forwards are a handful to deal with.”

Natick had the majority of play from the get-go, Shelia McQuillen rocking the crossbar less than three minutes into the game.

After some back and forth play, Natick found the back of the net for the first time in the 19th minute. Julia Adelmann created some space just outside the area and quickly hit the shot just under the crossbar for a 1-0 lead.

“Natick getting that goal going against the win was huge,” Sellmayer said. “The wind definitely affected the play today but it affected both teams. We mis-marked them on that play. We were trying to figure out how to mark them and I thought we were a little cautious in the back at times.

“We never had a big chance, we came close when Zoe hit that ball in in the second half and it bounced around but it just never came about, it is what it is.”

Oliver Ames created a pair of chances late in the first half. First in the 26th minute, Dana Lowney’s cross popped to Jackie Mills but her bid hit off the crossbar and stayed out. In the 35th minute, sophomore Zoe Chazan uncorked a free kick from 35 yards out but it was flashed wide.

Tigers goalie Regan Benton was called upon less than two minutes into the season half. McQuillen did well to beat her defender in the corner and fired a near post shot but Benton pushed it aside and the rebound was dealt with by the defense.

In the 43rd minute, the Tigers had a legitimate shout to get even in the game. Abby Reardon and Mills created some space in the area, the ball falling to the feet of the latter. With Mills’ back towards goal, a Natick defender appeared to clear her out from behind. Instead of a penalty, the ref played on.

McQuillen had another chance in the 48th minute but clanked the post. In the 62nd minute, Gwyn Godin found Adelmann wide open in front of the net but an incredible diving save from Benton kept the deficit at one.

“Regan and Emily Freeman had a great game in the back,” Sellmayer said. “We switched Zoe into the midfield to create some chances so we were a little shorthanded in the back but Emily gave it all she could for 76 minutes. Regan is a field general, she had a couple of huge saves. That second goal went through someone’s legs so she was screened, can’t fault her there.”

A move to midfield helped Chazan create a pair of chances for Oliver Ames just before the 70th minute mark. First, a long service on a free kick bounced into the area, popping free from Natick keeper Ashley Bianco but no one on OA could latch on before it was cleared.

Two minutes later, Chazan’s switch found Lauren Wright but her one time bid towards the near post was stopped by Bianco.

Just moments after OA’s chance, the Redhawks tacked on an insurance goal. Kalyn Onorato connected her cross with McQuillen for a one timer that snuck past an OA defender, giving Benton little chance at the near post.

Oliver Ames girls soccer had a final chance late on a corner kick, but the ball bounced through the area and was eventually cleared, summing up the Tigers’ frustrating night.

The Tigers finish at 16-1-4 with the program’s first ever Hockomock League Kelley-Rex division title and the team’s fourth straight league title.

“It took over 20 games for us to lose,” Sellmayer said of the season. “Eight games in the season, when Francesca [Calabraro] went down, everyone wrote us off. Then Julia [Roy] went two games after that. Those were our two leading goal scorers at that point. A lot of people stepped up, a lot of people grew. A lot of people talked a lot about how we were always the small side champions in the Hock. We went to the big side this year and we were still champs.”

Early Goals Help Tigers Beat Warriors in Quarterfinals

Oliver Ames girls soccer
Oliver Ames’ Kiana Lozzi jostles with KP’s Kyleigh Remmis in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – When the Oliver Ames girls’ soccer team traveled to Wrentham to take on King Philip for their second meeting of the season in mid-October, the Tigers scored early but had to rely on the heroics of goalie Regan Benton late to escape with two points.

When the Tigers hosted the Warriors for their third meeting, this time in the D1 South Sectional Quarterfinals, Oliver Ames once again found the back of the net early on.

But this time around, they made sure to add some insurance goals.

With a 3-1 win over King Philip, #5 Oliver Ames advances to the D1 South Semifinals to take on top-seeded Natick on Friday afternoon.

“Oh yeah it’s tough,” Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer said about playing a team for a third time. “I mean especially a team like KP because they have a lot of freshman so they’re not really freshman anymore, they’re essentially sophomores — a lot of their players have come a long way. They’re going to be a team to reckon with in the future. They cause a lot of problems, they knock the ball around really well. Those two tall girls in the middle [Maddie Smith and Avery Snead] were good.”

The Tigers seized the lead in the eighth minute, minutes after Benton made a key save on a corner kick to deny KP an early chance. After some miscommunication between a defender and the keeper, OA junior Abby Reardon snuck in, got a touch to get the ball behind and ran onto it to bury it to put the Tigers up 1-0.

Reardon nearly grabbed a second a minute later in similar fashion but KP keeper Emma Durant was quick to react and smothered the chance.

But four minutes later, Reardon was able to find the back of the net for the second time of the game. In the 13th minute, sophomore Zoe Chazan whipped a corner kick to the far post where junior Sofia Masciarelli nodded the ball back in front of the goal and Reardon headed it in from close range.

King Philip gradually gained control of the game and enjoyed the majority of the possession for the final 20 minutes of the half. KP’s pressure paid off with a couple of chances. First Maddie Smith’s shot from distance was saved by Benton. In the 30th minute, Emma Corcoran dropped a free kick into the area that popped out to Abby Baker but her shot was just wide.

Finally in the 33rd minute, the Warriors were able to break through. Corcoran delivered a perfectly weighted ball to the back post and Smith met it with her head and found the back of the net to cut the deficit in half shortly before the halftime break.

“We felt like the last 20 minutes of the first half they were passing the ball around a little bit so we wanted to pressure a little bit more [in the second half],” Sellmayer said. “In our 4-5-1, our outside players usually attack more but they came back and had to help.”

While KP aimed to capitalized on its late first half momentum early in the second frame, Oliver Ames was able to steal it all back just three minutes in.

A cross was bounced around in the area before coming loose. OA senior Lauren Wright pounced, ripping a shot to the far post leaving no chance for Durant to make it 3-1.

From there, Oliver Ames controlled the play for the second half.

The final 10 minutes saw a flurry of chances but neither side could find the back of the net. With just under 10 minutes to go, Rachel Hogan played Avery Snead along the line and her cross found Chloe Layne, but the shot from in close was blocked out for a corner.

OA had a chance a minute later when Kiana Lozzi dropped a diagonal ball in for Wright, but Duggan was quick off her line to smother the chance. In the 74th minute, Jackie Mills tracked down a long ball and cut it back, laying it in the area for Tori Wyman but her bid rolled just wide of the post.

“Kiana Lozzi did a tremendous job for us in the midfield,” Sellmayer said. “She does a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. And Regan Benton isn’t always busy but she made the great saves when she had to. Stopping that corner kick in the first five minutes of the match was huge. She’s so solid and I think she makes everyone else feel better because she’s so solid back there.”

It looked as though OA had a golden chance to seal the game in the 76th minute when Chazan looped a long ball for Wyman, who centered for an open Mills but Durant stood tall and blocked the open shot.

“I thought Oliver Ames came out pretty fast and hard and it was unfortunate the first goal we gave up, it was a bouncer and should have been picked up,” KP head coach Gary Pichel said. “That set them up for another one and gave them the momentum. They’re an undefeated squad and this could be their year. We’re proud to be able to play with them and have the chance to get a shot at them. We improved so much over last year. We were 2-16 and now this year we finish 12-8-2, that’s a big change. 

“OA worked very hard. We were missing a key player tonight but we should have been able to get a little bit more offense. It just didn’t happen, they shut us down. Their back four was outstanding.”

Oliver Ames girls soccer will take on #1 Natick on Friday at 3:30 at Milford High School. King Philip finishes the 2016 campaign at 12-8-2 — but with plenty of optimism for the future.

Mansfield, OA Finish Even Again in Division Showdown

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – With the Kelley-Rex title on the line, it’s no surprise that offense was at a premium and mistakes were few and far between at Val Muscato Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

Oliver Ames entered its final league game of the year with a one point advantage over Mansfield, who still has a game to go. A win for either side would have clinched the Kelley-Rex division but the Tigers and Hornets finished 1-1 – their second draw of the season.

“They’re a great team, they’re a tough team,” Mansfield head coach Kevin Smith said. “It’s great to play against a great team. We’re happy with the point. It’s two great teams battling the heck out of each other. It was great defense all around, midfield play was strong. Any attacking was at a premium because the teams were both playing so hard. Both goalies made some good stops. It was just a great game all around, OA is a great team.”

Mansfield controls its own destiny with its last league game on Friday night against Canton at Gillette Stadium. A tie against the Bulldogs would mean a share of the title and a win would equal the division crown outright. Oliver Ames would earn a share of the title along with Mansfield if there is a tie and would win the title outright if the Bulldogs beat the Hornets.

“I was very pleased with how the team came back in the second half,” Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer said. “They showed a lot of composure, a lot of character. Mansfield is a great team, they’re well coached.”

Between the weather – wind and rain – and the high stakes of the game, neither side was able to get into a real groove in the opening half. Mansfield had the best two chances of the half, starting with Stephanie Kemp‘s shot in the seventh minute that was saved.

Four minutes later, Mansfield’s Hannah Reiter nearly opened the scoring, ripping a shot from just inside the area that looked destined to sneak under the crossbar. Instead, Oliver Ames junior keeper Regan Benton timed her jump perfectly, punching the shot over the bar.

Oliver Ames’ back line of Dana Lowney, Zoe Chazan, Emily Freeman and Maggie Ault– with Claudia Ferrara in front as a defensive mid – limited the Hornets from registering any other chances.

On the other end, center backs Emily Vigeant and Emily Sullivan anchored the Hornets back line with Allison Verge, Mikaela Maughnand Kerina Geminianiall seeing time as outside backs in front of keeper Emily Gaumond.

Both teams settled down in the second half as the rain ramped up. It took the Hornets less than four minutes into the second stanza to find the opener.

Mansfield earned a free kick along the right sideline, just outside the area. Vigeant delivered the service to the near post where Reiter ran onto and latched onto it with a volley that found the far post for a 1-0 lead.

“Hannah Reiter’s a special player, it took her four years to get a goal on us,” Sellmayer said. “You can’t give [Mansfield] restarts near the box. Vigeant and [Reiter] have been a great combination all year long.”

“With her, you have a leader that’s been through some battles,” Smith said of Reiter. “Her club team has been #1 in the nation, she’s played in the finals. She knows what it’s like to play in big games. She’s just a field general out there, she’s calming people down. She actually called our timeout, she said we needed it because we were a little flustered and I trust her to make judgements like that.

“She calls the plays out there, she reads the game so well. She steps up in the big times. She scored against Franklin the first game, she scored here…she has so many game-winning goals in the big games, like King Philip the other day. She likes to pop up at the right times, it’s a joy to coach her.”

Oliver Ames was close to finding the equalizer in the 62nd minute when Chazan’s free kick from the wing hit off the crossbar and out. Two minutes later, Mansfield almost doubled the lead when Bryn Anderson connected with Kemp but her bid was over the bar.

A minute later, the Tigers did come through with the tying goal. Freeman, from her own half, delivered a perfect diagonal ball through Mansfield’s defense. Lauren Wright ran onto and slotted her shot past an oncoming Gaumond, the ball hitting the far post and going in to make it 1-1.

“We started to play with four forwards near the end because we were desperate,” Sellmayer said. “We played with three in the back, three in the middle and then sort of a diamond up top. Losing 2-0, 3-0 didn’t make a difference, we had to go for it and we did. We played better in the second half.”

The Hornets had a chance three minutes after OA’s equalizer with a pair of corner kicks. On the first, Vigeant’s service skipped through the area for a close chance but Freeman was in perfect position to block the shot.

With a lot of numbers pushed forward at the end, Oliver Ames had one final chance in the final seconds. After a partial clearance, OA’s Jess Robarge sent a ball back in that was deflected down. Junior Abby Reardon sprinted towards the ball but Gaumond came off her line and smothered the loose ball to preserve the tie.

Mansfield (14-0-3, 12-0-3) will look to earn the division title when they play Canton at Gillette Stadium on Friday at 8:00. Oliver Ames girls soccer (13-0-4, 12-0-4) will conclude the regular season with a trip to Brockton on Saturday at 1:00.

Mansfield, Oliver Ames Settle For Scoreless Draw

Mansfield girls soccer
Oliver Ames’ Kiana Lozzi dribbles against Mansfield’s Kerina Geminiani in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Both Oliver Ames and Mansfield entered Friday’s division showdown unbeaten on the season – and that’s exactly how they emerged from it.

The Tigers and Hornets battled each other – and the wet conditions – for 80 minutes but neither side could break through as the teams settled for a 0-0 draw.

“It’s a good tie, [Mansfield] is a great team,” Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer said. “[Mansfield head coach] Kevin and I go way back, we have a great relationship. They’re well coached, they have some good players. Hannah Reiter is an unbelievable player. I thought our girls did a nice job on her. And I thought we had some of the younger players step. It was little bit of an eye opener for them, things got a lot faster when you play Mansfield.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Oliver Ames was without senior captains Francesca Calabraro and Jessica Robarge as well as talented junior Jackie Mills. Mansfield pounced early, seizing a lion’s share of possession early on but couldn’t produce a scoring chance. The possession evened out over the next half hour but neither side could find the back of the net.

The first real chance fell to OA when Kiana Lozzi played Lauren Wright through on the left wing but her shot was stopped by Mansfield keeper Emily Gaumond and the rebound was cleared.

The Tigers took control for the final 10 minutes of the first half, registering a pair of chances inside a minute. First, Julia Roy latched on to a long ball and forced a diving save from Gaumond. A minute later, Tori Wyman hit a cross that forced Gaumond to paw it clear.

“That’s a good point for us,” Smith said. “Oliver Ames is a great team. I know they’re missing [Francesca] Calabraro, Jackie Mills and Jess Robarge but they’re still a great team. They’re deep, they have great players and it seemed like a great even game both ways. Both teams were hitting hard, passing well, attacking well. Both goalies made some nice saves, both defenses were tested but neither broke.”

The home side threatened just minutes after Gaumond’s saves. Reiter collected possession in the midfield and used a pass to spring Stephanie Kemp in behind the defense. The sophomore uncorked a tight angle shot but OA keeper Regan Benton got a hand to it and kept it out.

Mansfield tested Oliver Ames early in the second off a free kick. Emily Vigeant‘s service in the 45th minute skidded on the slick turf and was spilled by Benton, but the junior was quick to cover up the loose ball.

Twenty minutes later, the Hornets had another free kick in a dangerous spot. Reiter’s shot from 25 yards out floated just over the bar to keep the game scoreless.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Kemp had a good chance in the final minutes of the game, taking a shot from just outside the area but it just slid wide in the 76th minute.

“They are such a great team, they play quickly,” Sellmayer said of Mansfield. “It was a great learning experience for our younger players. Our back four – great game, they were solid. I think we limited them to two corners. Hopefully we’ll get some players back. It should be a great game at the end of the year when we see them again.”

Smith was equal in his praise for the visiting Tigers.

“I’m sure the stats will show that OA had a couple more shots, and we probably had more possession but what’s more possession without scoring?” Smith said. “It’s not like we dominated 80-20, it was close. It was a good game all around, both teams.”

Mansfield girls soccer (9-0-1, 7-0-1) will look to remain unbeaten when they travel to take on North Attleboro on Friday. Oliver Ames (8-0-2, 7-0-2) will try to do the same when they host Milford on Wednesday.

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Oliver Ames Snaps Skid Against North Attleboro

Oliver Ames girls soccer
Oliver Ames senior Lauren Wright takes a touch forward during the Tigers’ game against North Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – There was no hiding or denying it: Oliver Ames girls’ soccer has had September 16th circled on its schedule for some time.

After the Tigers enjoyed decade of success against North Attleboro, the Rocketeers have been on the winning end of games in recent history. Big Red picked up a 3-0 win back in 2014 and then 2-1 in the regular season last year. Most notably, North Attleboro scored an upset with a 3-2 win at Muscato Stadium in the MIAA D1 South tournament last season.

Oliver Ames got back on the winning side of the rivalry on Friday afternoon, scoring an early goal in the first and tacking on two more in the second for a 3-0 win at Kelly Field on the campus of North Attleboro High School.

“Yeah, of course it was [circled],” OA head coach Britt Sellmayer said. “For our seniors, this is their first win against [North]. There were some interesting calls today. We scored an honest one early and then we didn’t give up any goals. We still have a ways to go, we still need to be calmer on the ball. But maybe it was our turn, we’ve had some bad luck here too but that’s part of the game.”

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After a back and forth opening, Oliver Ames picked up the key first goal just ahead of the 10 minute mark. Sophomore Zoe Chazan sent a free kick in from just beyond midfield, which took a deflection off the head of a North Attleboro player. Senior Lauren Wright ended up with the ball at her feet and offered an off-balance shot as she was falling. The ball hit the grass, bounced off the inside of the post and in, handing OA an ideal 1-0 start.

“It was huge, it kind of gives you an ease, now you’re up a goal,” Sellmayer said.

Neither side had a true scoring chance for the final half hour of the first half. OA had a chance on a scramble in the 20th minute when a cross was bobbled but Rachel LaBonte came away with a clearance for North. Kiana Lozzi nearly had a chance in the 30th minute but Big Red once again came up with a stop.

North’s best chance came on a corner kick in the final minutes of the first half. Aine Mendonca‘s in-swinger clanked off the near post and stayed out.

Oliver Ames added a pair of goals in the second half, but not without some controversy.

Both sides had chances in the opening minutes. North’s Kayla Pasquel had a free kick go over the bar from a tough angle and then Wright had a bid on the other end, taking a flick from Francesca Calabraro and dribbling around the keeper, but her tough angle shot was high as well.

Just over 10 minutes into the second half, it looked as though North Attleboro had drawn a foul inside its own area to get a free kick out. Instead, play continued for a second and a collision resulted in a penalty kick for Oliver Ames. Julia Roy made no doubt about the finish though, going low to the right to double OA’s lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Julia Roy’s calm, cool and collected and she’s scored some big goals for us,” Sellmayer said. “Lauren just has a gear, she’s tiny, but she has a gear that other people don’t have so she can get around the corner. That’s who we were working for in the second half.”

The Rocketeers had a pair of chances just before the midway mark of the second half. Felicity Monfils served in a pair of crosses from the right wing, the first met by Pasquel but right into the waiting arms of OA goalie Regan Benton. The second bounced in the area but was cleared by the Tigers.

There was some more confusion 10 minutes later, as Chazan played a ball over the top as Oliver Ames’ strikers were jogging back as North’s defense stepped up. Wright ran onto the ball and the referee elected to not call offside. Wright charged in alone and calmly finished to make it 3-0.

“I always preach that a great soccer game is going to be 2-1. You’re going to give up a goal, you’re human you make mistakes or they hit a brilliant shot and you tip your cap. We didn’t though, which was nice. Regan was solid in net, she didn’t have to do anything outstanding but she did everything she had to do. Then our back four, they had a solid game today. I mean, [North Attleboro’s Haley Guertin] is probably the top striker in the league. I thought we played better as the game went along. We had those first game nerves with North Attleboro – they are a very good team.”

North Attleboro head coach Glenn Pasquel was clear in how he felt the calls went.

“We got robbed, that’s what it comes down it, we just got robbed,” Pasquel said. “When Britt comes over and tells me you got two goals robbed out of you, that PK and then the offsides. He’s a man of few words, he’s a good guy but to come over and tell me that, it’s crazy. But we just have to do what we’re supposed to do, we’re supposed to put the ball in the back of the net and today we just couldn’t do it. [OA] is a good team, they were the team we were looking out for. We absolutely want to see them again.”

Oliver Ames girls soccer (5-0, 4-0) has a big week ahead with Franklin coming to Easton on Tuesday and then a visit from an upstart King Philip squad scheduled for Friday. North Attleboro (2-1, 2-1) hosts Canton on Tuesday in a key Davenport matchup before welcoming King Philip to town for a non-league contest.

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Lowney Nets Winner for Oliver Ames at Foxboro

OA Girls Soccer
Dana Lowney throws her hands in the air to celebrate her game-winning goal against Foxboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – When Oliver Ames pays a visit, teams know what they are in for. It is going to be a physical matchup and it is critical to not give OA set pieces in the attacking end of the field. Foxboro showed that it is capable of holding its own on the physical side of the game, but then with 16 minutes remaining in a scoreless game the ball went out for a corner.

Zoe Chazan played the ball into the middle of the Foxboro penalty area and it skipped off a crowd of players to the edge of the box. Senior right back Dana Lowney was standing alone just outside the 18 and she collected the loose ball and fired a shot just under the bar.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

That goal was all that would separate the sides in an otherwise even match between former Davenport division rivals. The 1-0 win at Sam Berns Community Field was already the third victory for OA even though the season is less than a week old.

“You’re going to score off headers and the two ‘garbage’ players we have hang at the 18 on both posts, I tell them if you hang there then sometime during the season it’s going to come to you and put it in,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer.

Kaitlin Lamothe-Vaughn, who also played against the Tigers during her time at King Philip, said, “We played a very good game against OA, we dominated them for a lot of it, but we gave up corners. You can’t give up corners against OA; you just can’t.”

Lowney was wearing a bandage on her head and a black eye from a collision in one of the other games this week. While she explained after the game that it did not hurt, it was a visible representation of the way the game played out. Both teams set up to disrupt their opponent, close down all over the pitch, and never shy away from contact.

The aggressiveness of both teams made it difficult to connect passes and for the first half hour the Tigers had the only good scoring opportunities. Francesca Calabraro created the first opening with a run down the right sideline, but her cross was knocked over by Kiana Lozzi inside the six-yard box. Calabraro also had the second chance six minutes later when she pounced on an errant header but she pushed her shot just wide of the post.

Foxboro had its first shot on target in the 32nd minute. A throw-in on the near sideline found junior Shaina Abbotton the edge of the OA box. She spun to create a sliver of space and sent a chip that looked destined for the back of the net until junior goalie Regan Benton leapt to get a fingertip on it and keep it out.

“I think sometimes it’s harder too when you’re not touching the ball a lot to stay focused, but she was solid for us,” said Sellmayer. “She did a great job.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Warriors thought they had another chance at a goal two minutes after the break when senior Kristen Bortolotti appeared to be bundled over in the box. Despite the contact, the official waved away appeals from the Foxboro bench and pointed for a goal kick.

Although she did not get the call, Bortolotti was Foxboro’s best attacker in the game. She dropped deep into the midfield and ran at the OA defense time and again and twice her movement opened up chances for Riley Collins coming off the wing, but neither led to a goal.

Lamothe-Vaughn was ecstatic to have Bortolotti back after she missed all of her junior season with an injury. “Kristen is everywhere,” said Lamothe-Vaughn. “She’s amazing. Last year, we just had injury after injury and hers being huge and her not coming back it really hurt us. So, having her we’re very lucky.”

Both teams were focused on limiting the top attackers, so Calabraro and Foxboro’s Lily Sykes struggled to make an impact on the game. The Tigers back four (Lowney, Chazan, Emily Freeman, and Emily Short) and the Foxboro back line (Devon Mollica, Lauren Flahive, Olivia Dantona, and Alex Stamatos) kept everything in front and bottled up both ends of the pitch.

Sellmayer said, “They’re good, it was hard for us to break them down. We only had like two corner kicks and it took us 60 minutes to get one. They limited Francesca on shots and they did a nice job. They’re solid, but we persevered.”

With 16 minutes to play, a long shot was tipped aside by Foxboro goalie Hallie Canfield. The Tigers got their second of three corners and Lowney made it count. It was the second late goal allowed in as many games by the Warriors, but Lamothe-Vaughn left with a good feeling about how her team played.

“We’re just going to take this and move forward,” she said. “Against Mansfield, we just completely unfolded and that’s why we lost. We didn’t lose this because of not playing a full 80 minutes. I’m proud of them.”

The game had been moved up because of a scheduling conflict later in the season, so OA played on back-to-back days and three times in four days. The Tigers came through the tough stretch with a perfect six points out of six.

“We’re playing well, just keep working hard everyday,” Sellmayer said. “It’s a good start.”

Oliver Ames will host Sharon on Monday, while Foxboro will travel to King Philip looking for its first win.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Girls Soccer: 2016 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2016 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Reigning league MVP Francesca Calabraro (left) and OA will look to challenge Franklin’s Kelley-Rex supremacy this year. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2015 Record: 6-12-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

The Bombardiers won six games last year, including an upset of rival North Attleboro in the annual Blue-Red Game near the end of the season. Head coach Steve Santos is hoping that the momentum will carry over for his relatively inexperienced group this fall. The Bombardiers return 10 players from last year’s roster but not all were regular contributors. “They need to play simple and play quick,” said Santos, who mentioned that the program is developing with three freshmen seeing time in scrimmages.

The loss of Paige Medeiros to graduation leaves a big hole to be filled, especially with her set piece prowess, but Attleboro will turn to senior attacking midfielders Rebekah Entwhistle and Chloe Vieira to produce the killer pass and set up scoring opportunities. Up front, Hannah Meier will be counted on to finish those chances and give Attleboro the scoring punch it needs.

Defensively, Attleboro can count on junior goalie Maddie Brown, who is coming off a stellar sophomore season, and the center back pairing of Jordyn Forte and Morgan Laplume, who Santos said had a “high soccer IQ”. It is a junior-heavy roster, but one still in need of seasoning. Santos explained, “They’re great kids and hard workers. They just need some experience under their belts.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 17-1-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Tom Geysen

The Class of 2016 won a state title, two Div. 1 South titles, went to three straight South finals, and won the Kelley-Rex division four times. That is quite a legacy for the program and, while he has a number of new faces to try and incorporate into the lineup, head coach Tom Geysen is confident that this year’s Panthers will be team to contend with by the end of the season.

One reason for optimism is the combination of sophomore Halle Atkinson and junior Jess Krouschl up front (once Kroushl comes back from a niggling injury). Both players saw time in the attack last season and showed the potential to be a strong pairing with one as the forward or playing as the wings. The forwards will be helped by energetic midfielders Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira, two more players who saw plenty of playing time down the stretch in 2015.

Defensively, Franklin returns one half of its back four. Nadia Havens will continue as an outside back, while Abby Gibson, who stepped in to have a strong season on the outside last fall, will move in as one of the centerbacks. Junior Kat Robbins will take over from Dani Lonati between the pipes.

Geysen said, “We’re thin and we’re green…It’s a work in progress. But, by the end of the season I think we’ll give people a test.”

King Philip

2015 Record: 2-16-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Gary Pichel

The Warriors did not just have an injury or two to deal with in 2015, but almost entire starting 11 ended up with injuries that left King Philip head coach Gary Pichel scrambling to fill roster spots with players from the JV and freshman teams. As 2016 begins, many of the key players are back and healthy and the Warriors are hoping to spring a surprise on the Kelley-Rex.

Junior defender Emma Corcoran (“the heart and soul” of the defense, according to Pichel) has been a rock in the middle of the back line and will have a lot more help with seniors Sarah Fleck (ACL) and Katherine Turner (ankle) back after missing all but one game last year. Corinne Palumbo and Julia Massarone will also chip in from the midfield and will be counted on turning defense into attack quickly.

Up front, Rachel Hogan returns after leading KP in scoring for the past several seasons and she will be joined by fellow senior Maddie Smith, who is back from a quad injury. The seniors will be paired with talented freshman Chloe Layne, who is already drawing rave reviews. Pichel said, “We had a very tough season last year but will look to rebound with a new look and a new strategy to improve our chances in a very competitive Hockomock League.”

Mansfield

2015 Record: 12-6-2
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Kevin Smith

The Hornets are only bringing back three players who started regularly last season and that includes two goalkeepers. Senior Emily Gaumond started the season in net but missed the final month with a concussion, which meant that then freshman Lauren Whitman had to step in between the pipes. The only returning outfield player is senior Hannah Reiter. The Quinnipiac University-commit, who comes into the season as a contender for Player of the Year, was a standout in central defense, midfield, and up front last year.

While Mansfield does not return a lot of starters, there is plenty of experience on the roster. Head coach Kevin Smith utilizes a large roster and makes sure that a majority of the players get time on the field. Senior forward Emma Goulet and senior defender Emily Sullivan will be the captains and each has multiple seasons on varsity. Sophomore Stephanie Kemp and junior Allee Bezeau will be counted on to provide scoring punch and sophomore Melissa Reef will be taking a bigger role in the midfield this year.

With five freshmen and three sophomores playing “significant” minutes last year, Smith is confident that Mansfield will be able to challenge for the Kelley-Rex title. He said, “So even though we are very young we do have some players with some experience under their belts.”

Oliver Ames

2015 Record: 14-3-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

The Tigers have won the Davenport division each of the past three years and will now set their sights on claiming the Kelley-Rex title at the first opportunity. Head coach Britt Sellmayer has a squad capable of claiming the crown and with the potential to make a deep tournament run as well. With seven returning starters, including four league all-stars, and 10 seniors, the Tigers have the most experienced roster in the Kelley-Rex and arguably the deepest.

It starts with reigning Hockomock MVP Francesca Calabraro. The senior scored 24 goals last season and has been talked about as a potential All-American in the preseason. With Calabraro moving between a midfield and a forward role, it opens up space on the wings for the speedy Jackie Mills, who chipped in with nine goals last year and could be ready for a breakout junior season. Seniors Dana Lowney and Jess Robarge will also provide midfield support for the Tigers.

Defensively, OA has a strong core of returning players. Sophomore Zoe Chazan stepped in as a rookie and turned into one of the league’s top central defenders and her partnership with junior Emily Freeman will be a tough one for teams to break down. Behind the back line, OA has three solid goaltenders led by junior Regan Benton. Sellmayer said, “[We’re] looking forward to the challenge of playing in the large Hock.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 9-9-3
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Edith Dixon

The Tigers made history last season, becoming the first team in the program’s history to win a playoff game, knocking off Wellesley on the road. That Taunton team was filled with upperclassmen but head coach Edith Dixon wants the program to keep moving forward and believes that there are players ready to step up and take over.

One of the players leading the way for Taunton is senior captain Emily O’Brien, who Dixon credits with setting the tone at practice. The Tiger will turn to junior Sam Tichelaar for offensive production as the three-year starter is healthy after an injury-plagued sophomore campaign and is ready to be the “driving force” in the Taunton midfield. Senior Livi Sweeney will be the forward for Tichelaar to connect with up top.

Defensively, the Tigers will miss goalie Kayla Wentworth, who is now playing at Iona, but junior Kayla Felix will lead the defensive corps and help make Taunton tough to beat. Dixon said, “Last season was a great step forward for the program, but we’re not satisfied with making the tournament just once. Our upperclassmen want to get back there again and they’re being pushed every day in practice by some very talented eighth and ninth graders.”