CANTON, Mass. – The Oliver Ames girls soccer team started the season without a win in its first four games.
The Lady Tigers ended the 2020 campaign as the hottest team in the Hockomock League, earning a pair of trophies including the Hockomock Challenge Cup with a 3-1 win over Davenport division champion Canton.
Canton girls soccer Oliver Ames girls soccer
After defeating King Philip on Tuesday to win the Hockomock Cup, the Tigers avenged their only loss of the entire season by taking down the Bulldogs in the Challenge Cup. The Challenge Cup was created after Canton was forced to quarantine out of an abundance of caution after playing a team that had a positive COVID test. It gave the Bulldogs, the top seed out of the Davenport, a chance to play in the postseason after having to forfeit their first round of the Hockomock Cup.
“We’re a young team and it’s also about a coach learning who can do what,” said Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer of the turnaround from the start of the season. “We’re not playing the same positions that we were the first couple of games. COVID put everybody behind but for us, it was just a little bit more because we were younger. When you have experience, when you come back you get rolling a little bit sooner. We peaked at the right time, I’m very proud of the girls for how they played at the end of the year.
“Canton got a chance to play another game, they are a great, great team that I really feel like taking two weeks off didn’t help their cause. They were on a roll themselves when they were playing. They have some super players and the coach has done a great job in his first year. But it’s tough to sit out for two weeks and come out and play a team that’s hot, and we’re playing well, and we’ve been playing every three days for the past two weeks. I think that kind of hindered them a bit. I don’t want to take anything away from them being a great team.”
The Tigers started with four straight ties, finally breaking into the win column in their fifth game with a 2-0 decision over Sharon. Canton and OA tied in their first meeting of the season, and the Bulldogs handed the Tigers their only loss (3-1) in the second meeting.
OA caught fire after that loss, winning five straight to win the Hockomock Cup, and earned its sixth straight victory with the win on Thursday evening.
“We weren’t overly excited about [playing again] at first but then we looked at what it meant for Canton,” Sellmayer said. “And I said to my seniors ‘this is it, this is a chance to play one more game’ and we talked about playing for the seniors. We made sure all the seniors played.”
Although the result wasn’t what Canton, who had just one loss in the regular season, had hoped, the Bulldogs relished in the opportunity to get back on the field. The Bulldogs hadn’t played or practiced since the final week of the regular season, getting one training session in on Wednesday evening.
“It was amazing to least get out there to have one more chance to compete…a team that was having such a great season only to be cut short by, unfortunately, unforeseen events,” said first-year Canton head coach Idris Senyonjo. “Our seniors, especially, they needed this. Of course it didn’t end how we wanted it, but they needed to finish the season. They’ve worked so hard to be able to get there.
Canton girls soccer Oliver Ames girls soccer
“A big layoff is such a big difference in this spot, it means everything. Even if you only take a couple of days, but you take 10 days …that’s a long time not kicking the ball. We practiced for the first time just last night out in the cold. [OA] had a gameplan, they stuck to it and they were the better team today, so you can’t take that away from them. You just hope we could have done better on a couple of chances in the first half but that’s how the game goes. If you don’t take your chances, the other team will.”
The Tigers scored in each the first and second quarters, and tacked on a key insurance goal in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs pulled one back in the final minutes.
Before Oliver Ames opened the scoring late in the first quarter, Canton had a pair of chances to take the lead. Just nine minutes in, Gabriella Herivaux played a through ball into the area for Olivia Rodman but her chance from in close was met with a terrific stop from OA keeper Emma O’Donnell. Minutes later, Rodman returned the favor for Herivaux but her bid skipped wide at the far post.
Off a kick-in in the attacking third, Katie Gibson knocked down a service into the area. Alexa Lane was the first to pounce on the loose ball, a quick touch past the keeper from in close to give the visitors a 1-0 lead going into the second quarter.
At the midway point of the second quarter, OA senior Emma Pereira took down a clearance and used her time and space to turn and fire a rocket inside the far post from 25 yards out to double the Tigers’ advantage.
Canton opened the second half with a pair of chances to get back into it but Mia Gilmore’s free kick a minute in was just off frame, and an intercepted pass by Elisa Diletizia led to a chance but her shot was over the bar.
Canton girls soccer Oliver Ames girls soccer
COVID restrictions nearly led to a goal for the Tigers in the 50th minute when Pereira’s cross was met with a good take off Carly Gibson’s shoulder but it was right at the keeper.
Canton’s Allie McCabe came up with a big stop on the goal line to deny a shot from Lane to keep the score at 2-0 at the end of the third quarter, but the score didn’t stay that long at the start of the fourth.
Oliver Ames was quick to clear a Canton corner and sophomore Jenna Gilman latched into the loose ball and used her speed to race up the right wing. Her cross into the area was cleared away by a defender but only as far as Pereira, who brought it down and laid it off to junior Lauren Sellmayer. Sellmayer took a touch to put it on her left foot and fired a perfectly placed shot off the far post and in to make it 3-0.
“Emma had a great goal, Lauren had a great goal, and Alexa’s scored two games in a row coming off the bench for us, and her work and her speed has helped with pressure,” Britt Sellmayer said. “We’re not the most skilled team but I think we’ve outworked everybody the last four games. Our work rate in the midfield, contesting every 50-50 ball. They showed a lot of heart. Canton is definitely more skilled than us but I think we had a little more work rate today and maybe our team is a little bit deeper. But we’re also fresher, those two weeks off is huge. I tip my hat to [Canton], they are a great team, and congrats on being Hockomock champs.
“We definitely connected a lot more passes today than the first two times we played Canton. We started playing better as a team, the communication came together. Plus, finding the right role for everybody. Sometimes as a coach, it takes a while to put people in the right spot where they can be successful.”
Canton continued to fight back against OA’s back four of Sophia Byron, Mary Cross, Allison Evin, and Madeleine Taylor. After coming close on a couple of chances before, Gilmore blasted a free kick from 30 yards out just under the bar to get the Bulldogs on the board.
“It’s been a rollercoaster for us, having to start late and then cut the season short, only to go back again,” Senyonjo said. “The team had a new coaching staff so they had to adjust to the new system, the way we want to play. So kudos to them, it speaks volumes the kind of kids that are here. I’m definitely looking forward to going again next year.”
Oliver Ames girls soccer finishes the season at 8-1-5 and won both the Hockomock Cup and the Challenge Cup. Canton’s record finishes at 8-3-1, though one loss was via forfeit at the start of the Hockomock Cup.
CANTON, Mass. – It was a frustrating Monday night for the Davenport division leaders at WWII Veterans Memorial Field. Canton was pressing forward, trying to find an equalizing goal that would maintain its unbeaten start to the season, but the Bulldogs kept running into the wall of the Oliver Ames defense.
As the clock ticked down under three minutes remaining, sophomore Emily McCabe collected a loose ball 30 yards from goal and let fly. The shot dipped down just under the crossbar and just over the fingertips of OA keeper Emily Meyers, securing a 1-1 draw and a point that pushes the Bulldogs back above Foxboro at the top of the league standings.
“Emily’s job was to make those runs into the final third and hopefully we’d have doubled up numbers to see if we could get more people shots,” said first-year Canton coach Idris Senyonjo. “We closed the gaps and give them no time on the ball then we were able to create more chances in the final third.”
It was typically hard-fought game between two rivals who were used to battling for the Davenport crown until the Tigers moved into the Kelley-Rex division for four seasons. Both teams pressed high up the pitch, compressing the space and giving little time on the ball for anyone to take an extra touch.
The OA defense was going to be under pressure against Canton’s prolific attack, but the combination of center backs Allison Evin and Mary Cross stymied the Bulldogs.
“They have two DI players up top and I thought with did a really nice job on them,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “Defensively, I was happy with what we did. We just couldn’t hold on for those last few minutes.”
Elisa Diletizia had a good early chance for Canton, after a Sarai Costello through ball, but the forward shot wide with a defender on her back. Lucinda Cotter set up Carly Gibson for a good chance in the middle of the Canton penalty area, but Allie McCabe charged down the shot.
OA grabbed the lead in the final minute of the first. Madeleine Taylor touched the indirect kick, teeing it up for Lauren Sellmayer to have a go from 35 yards. The ball was smashed just inside the post, giving Canton keeper Marissa Staffiere no chance.
The Bulldogs tried to answer early in the second. Olivia Rodman played the ball into the middle to Diletizia, who slipped a pass into the right channel for Gabriella Herivaux. With defenders racing over to try and block the shot, Herivaux hit it early but sent it narrowly over the bar.
As the half wore on, the Tigers seemed to be taking control of the tempo and the style of the match. Jenna Gilman intercepted a clearance and nearly set up Alexa Lane, but she couldn’t bring it under control in the six-yard-box.
Midway through the second, Camryn O’Connor had a steal in midfield, raced forward nearly 30 yards and then played in Reese Pereira, but her shot went just wide. With two minutes to play in the half, Sellmayer played a cross from the right that O’Connor knocked down for Emma Pereira, but the shot was over the bar from the edge of the box.
“Just getting in the final third and making their goalie make a great save, we just kicked some field goals and Reese had a chance that just went wide,” said Sellmayer. “Cam didn’t score for us but she had some great through balls, which we’ve been working on.”
The third quarter was largely a stalemate. Neither team was able to create a clear-cut scoring chance for the first 18 minutes. Mia Gilmore nearly changed that with a late free kick that she flashed just across the face of goal and just past the outstretched toe of Diletizia sliding in at the back post.
With 20 minutes to go and trying to avoid a first defeat, Canton started pressing into the attack and the OA defense started soaking up more and more pressure.
Senyonjo said, “We started playing too much of their game. I told them we have to stop that because if we do that then we’re not going to get a goal. We had to stay composed on the ball and our chances would come.”
Just three minutes into the fourth, Costello picked out Diletizia in the middle but her shot was over the bar. Seven minutes later, Gilmore had a go from 30 yards and that too was just over the top. Gilmore also had a free kick opportunity in the 73rd minute, but Meyers was able to make the save and it looked like Canton’s chance at staying alone in first place was gone.
Then McCabe stepped up to save the day and get an important point for the hosts, while the Tigers remained unbeaten as well, but had to settle for a fifth draw this season.
“One of the things I tell them all the time is if you keep playing and keep fighting hard then the chances are going to come,” Senyonjo explained. “The hardest lead to keep is a 1-0 lead because the more pressure you put on the other team, the more they just try to keep the lead instead of scoring a second goal. If we can keep moving then it will give us a chance to put some shots on target.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – When Foxboro and Oliver Ames meet there is a distinct clash in styles, with one team trying to keep the ball on the ground and trying to pass its way up the field and the other looking to be more direct and hit longer passes for quick transitions. Regardless of the approach, both teams are very effective with what they do best.
On a rainy Friday night at Sam Berns Community Field, Foxboro and OA showcased their different approaches but neither was able to get the upper hand in an entertaining 1-1 draw. For the second time in two days, the teams went home with a point apiece.
“We just struggled with our finishing,” Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup said. “I was playing a flat back three and had the midfield and offense packed, and we created plenty of chances, we just couldn’t put the ball in the net.”
After storming back with two late goals to earn the tie on Wednesday, Foxboro carried that momentum into Friday’s game and took a lead in the opening minutes. Aislinn Servaes’ cross from the wing found Kailee McCabe in the middle and the junior midfielder showed off her skills with the ball at her feet to work a shooting opportunity and continue her torrid start to the season.
Foxboro also hit the side netting in the early going, as the Warriors got off to a great start, but OA worked itself back into the game and used set piece opportunities to cause problems. Allison Evin had a corner kick routine deflected right in front of Foxboro keeper Morgan Sylvestre and then cleared and Lauren Sellmayer had a free kick chance that went just over.
In the 17th minute, the Tigers found the equalizer. It came on another corner routine, as Camryn O’Connor took the short pass from Evin and then laid it back into her path on the left corner of the box. Evin took a touch and then curled a shot over the keeper’s outstretched hand and into the top far corner.
Another OA corner caused a scramble in front and a chance for Ali Byron but her shot went over the bar and then McCabe teed up Katelyn Mollica for a shot from the edge of the box that also went high.
The Tigers nearly grabbed the lead five minutes into the second, but Sellmayer’s free kick from 20 yards out struck the post. Emma Pereira hit a long free kick into the path of Reese Pereira, whose cross from the right pinballed to Jenna Gilman at the back post but the touch was heavy and Sylvestre saved. Mccabe tried to put Foxboro ahead in the final minute of the half but her 35-yard free kick was wide of the goal.
Foxboro came storming out of halftime and put together its best quarter of the match.
Jordyn Collins finally started to get a little room against an almost constant double team from Emma Pereira and Evin. Just two minutes into the third, Collins got loose in the right channel but her shot was saved by OA keeper Emily Meyers. A minute later, Meyers came up with an even better stop down low to her right to deny Alyssa Vandenboom’s effort from the edge of the box and then did well to palm a dipping McCabe free kick over the bar.
“Our keepers really stood up today, both Emma )O’Donnell) and Emily, and Emma Pereira two games in a row has shut out Jordyn, which doesn’t happen a lot. Jordyn’s a great player,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “Our keepers and backs played great today, but our mids and our forwards have to improve. We’ve got to get more chances up front.”
All the pressure seemed to be on the OA defense, but O’Connor nearly snuck a goal against the run of play. She picked off an attempted outlet pass on the right side of the box. Seeing Sylvestre off her line, O’Connor went for the shot and sent it inches over the bar. It was a scare for the Foxboro back line, marshaled by Emma Dahl, which had otherwise been dealing with OA’s attacks.
Stalcup said, “I was really happy with the way the defenders played. I told them, I know it can be frustrating when a team plays kick and run. It breaks up the flow of our passing, but they did a good job stopping the dangerous plays.”
In the final minute of the third, Collins showed the physical side to her game, holding off Pereira and Evin to get behind the OA defense but Meyers was equal to the shot. Then rebound was cleared to Servaes who let fly from distance but the keeper was ready for it and made a comfortable stop.
Seven minutes into the fourth quarter, Collins would have her best chance to try and snag two points for the Warriors. A through ball by Vandenboom split the OA defense and left Collins free on goal, but Meyers reacted quickly to slide out and close the space, flashing her left arm to rob the Foxboro striker of a potential winner.
“We were moving the ball around so well and keeping possession,” Stalcup said. “It was exactly what I wanted. I told the midfielders to not be afraid to attack the goal and for Jordyn to lay it back and play off of them. We just couldn’t find a goal.”
As the clock stopped with two minutes remaining, OA had a break down the right wing. Gilman carried the ball from just inside her own half all the way to the Foxboro penalty area, but seemed to run out of steam there and her shot was right at Sylvestre.
“We’re very athletic,” Sellmayer explained. “Taking away the corner kicks and being able to head the ball and being able to play really takes away from us but we’re adjusting and doing our best. Foxboro is a great team. They move it really well but we hung in there.”
Foxboro (2-0-2) will be back home on Monday to host Stoughton. Oliver Ames (0-0-4) will return home to take on Sharon.
2019 Record: 7-9-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Santos
Last year, Attleboro was just one win away from ending its playoff drought and while the Bombardiers aren’t going to have a tournament to look forward to this season they have plenty of experience and talent coming back to be in the mix in what should be a wide open Kelley-Rex division. The Bombardiers will also have an extra week to prepare after the first two games against Taunton were postponed.
Attleboro should be potent in front of goal this season. Senior forwards Isabella Salviati and Briley Harnois have been dynamic scoring threats for the past three years and have proved to be a tough combination for teams to handle. Senior Jessica Gates also returns to play provider and pull the strings from midfield.
Sophomore Emily Dunlea will pair up with Gates in the center of the midfield, while senior Cassondra Stuger and Meghan Panzer were on the outside. Panzer can also step in and give Attleboro minutes up top when Harnois or Salviati need a breather.
At the back, senior Eleanor Graber and junior Olivia Calderon have been teaming up in the center, while seniors Gabby Bosh and Riley Sullivan have been the outside backs. Sophomore Alexis Campbell will be back in goal after seeing time as a freshman last year. Experience won’t be an issue for the Bombardiers, which should help them cope with the challenges of a unique season.
“The rule modifications cater to our style of play maybe more than it does for other,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos. “There are a lot of returning players, so I think we’ll be okay. We just have to be able to adjust.”
2019 Record: 12-9-0 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal Coach: Idris Senyonjo
Canton made a run to the Div. 2 South semifinal a year ago and the perpetually young Bulldogs will be hoping to build on that experience and challenge Foxboro for the division title this fall. Former coach Kate Howarth is plying her trade with the NWSL’s Orlando Pride, so Idris Senyonjo takes over this season and picked up an impressive win on his debut with the team scoring eight goals in the process.
The attack has been a strength for Canton for the past several years and with senior forwards Olivia Rodman and Elisa Diletizia back to lead the line the Bulldogs have a pair of potential match winners up front. Junior Gabriella Herivaux adds a different dynamic to the forward line and senior Mia Gilmore emerged last year as one of the league’s top playmaking midfielders.
In the heart of the pitch, Canton has plenty of players who can contribute both on offense and defense. Sophomore Emily McCabe is coming off a strong rookie season and combines well with Gilmore in the middle. Senior Sarai Costello is another player that the coaches expect big things from this year.
Consistency on defense will be a big point of emphasis this year and junior defender Allie McCabe and junior goalie Elyse Broderick should give the Bulldogs a foundation to build on. Freshmen Mekhala Costello and Ava Gilmore have impressed coached during the preseason and both are expected to step in and add strength to the back line.
“I am coming into a program that has a great group of girls who love the game and play for each other,” said Senyonjo. “This made it easy for me to start implementing my philosophy and approach of the game. No matter how short the season might be, I believe we have a good group of girls who will be hungry for a great season.”
2019 Record: 16-2-2 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Katie Stalcup
Foxboro has won back-to-back Davenport division titles and comes into this season with eyes on a three-peat and a roster loaded with talent and experience. The Warriors had one of the best attacks in the Hock in 2019, scoring 80 goals as a team, while only allowing 12. Expectations are very high for Foxboro to win a third title in a row, something it hasn’t done since winning the league from 1985-90.
Attack continues to be one of the strengths for the Warriors led by senior forward Jordyn Collins. The Bryant University-commit scored 23 goals last year and already has two to her name after one game this fall. Junior Kailee McCabe is the lynchpin of the midfield, dominating with and without the ball and adding to the team’s scoring punch. Senior Katelyn Mollica can get up and down the wing and her crossing ability gives the strikers more opportunities to get on the board.
It isn’t all about the offense. The Warriors are also stingy on the other end of the field. Senior defender Emma Dahl will lead the back line this season and senior Grace Ferguson will be a key player in the heart of the midfield, helping Foxboro play the possession style of soccer that it prefers. Senior Morgan Sylvestre gives the Warriors an experienced, talented shot-stopper in goal.
“We are all just so excited to be playing soccer and I am so excited about this team and our talent,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “We know that this season will look a little different, but we are going to make the most of it and enjoy ourselves and enjoy winning soccer games.”
2019 Record: 12-5-1 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tom Geysen
Franklin had one of the league’s top defenses in 2019, holding teams scoreless in 11 of the final 12 games of the 2019 regular season. The Panthers will hope to be just as stingy this year and, with the rule changes in place, try to add more scoring punch, as they look to get back on top of the Kelley-Rex division standings for the first time since 2015.
Sophomore Norah Anderson will be back in the heart of the Franklin defense after an impressive rookie campaign and her physicality will be important after the graduation of Sabrina Addi. Senior Carissa Alers will partner Anderson in the middle and junior Izzy Arnold will be on the outside. Senior Julia Bertone and freshman Rachel Welch will both see time in goal, replacing Brenna Atwood.
Senior Erin Quaile will be in the heart of the midfield for the Panthers, providing endless running and contributions in both boxes. Sophomore Bridget Leo saw a lot of time at the end of last season and she will be in the midfield again. Junior Stella Regan is also back after a long time out with broken leg and gives Franklin a different option with her skill on the ball as she continues to work back to 100 percent.
In the attack, senior Sydney St. Marie will be the primary goal scorer, and she is off to a good start after two goals in the season opening win against Milford. Junior Riley Fitzpatrick will join St. Marie up front and there are several younger players that could step in and help out the offense, including freshman Anya Zub, who had an assist on her debut.
“We’re moving along,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “it’s just hard to assess progress because of the changes in rules and everything. The kids are hesitant. My advice is play as hard as you have to play to get the job done and if they call an indirect, then they call an indirect.”
2019 Record: 21-1-0 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Gary Pichel
King Philip reached the Div. 1 South final last year, for the second time in three seasons, but enter the fall without not only the program’s top two all-time scorers but with a large group of seniors that helped the program win two of the last three league titles and nearly finish an undefeated season. Even without some of the big names from last year, KP brings back a number of players who saw action in that finals run and will be counted on for bigger roles this year.
With Chloe Layne and Avery Snead, goals were never an issue for the Warriors. This season, several players will look to pick up the scoring load. Sophomore Ella Pisani and senior Kiera Lindmark will both lead the attack but will get help from senior midfielder Jenny Montville, who had several big goals during the playoff run in 2019.
Seniors Ava Tormey and Maeve Lawlor will provide control in the midfield and will get a boost from the return of senior Charlotte Majer to the program. Majer spent last year with a development academy program and will be a big boost to the Warriors in the center of the pitch.
Defense could be a strength for KP, with several returning players. Sophomore Grace Lawler was impressive as a freshman, regularly marking the opposition’s top attacker. Senior Paige Varvarigos is also back after a strong season at outside back. Seniors Taryn Greenberg, Jillian Anderson, and Taylor Thompson will also help out at the back. Senior Emma Glaser will take over in goal.
“We will all do the best we can and hope for the best in a much abbreviated season,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “I hope the best for all of our teams and to have fun and to do it safely. The most important thing is to keep our girls healthy while returning to competition so they can do what they like to do best!”
2019 Record: 6-8-4 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Kevin Smith
Last season was a learning experience for a young group of Hornets, but even with only four returning varsity players Mansfield finished just one win shy of a playoff appearance. This year, Mansfield brings back 18 players from last season’s roster, including nine starters, so the Hornets will expect to quickly return to being one of the challengers for the Kelley-Rex title.
Even with all of the returning players, Mansfield remains a young team. There are three freshmen, five sophomores, and six juniors on the roster. Despite their youth, many saw plenty of time on the field last year and will be leaning on that experience for more success this fall.
Junior Katie Miller returns in the heart of the midfield and gives Mansfield a foundation to build its attacks and to stifle the opposition. Junior Maria Sevastos will return in the defense and the speedy converted forward gives the Hornets a threat on the outside. Junior Tarynn Smith will be back up top after a solid season leading the line and sophomore Olivia Salisbury returns in goal after a strong rookie year.
“After a year of experience under the young kids’ belts, I’m excited to see how much they’ve learned and how they can apply it this fall,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith.
2019 Record: 9-6-4 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Lou Colabello
Milford made a run at a league title last fall and reached the state tournament, but now the Hawks are moving into the Kelley-Rex division and doing so without 32 goals and several key pieces from the spine of last year’s team. With experience at the back and in goal, the Hawks will be hoping to be tough to beat and let the young attack have a chance to win games.
Senior Carly Ferreira is back in goal this season and has already been busy, coming up with more than 20 saves in the season opener against Franklin. With seniors Catherine Madden and Alyssa Monahan in the back line, the Hawks won’t lack for leadership and experience in the defensive third. Senior Brianna Franzini will add more of that veteran presence in the midfield, which was hard-hit by graduation.
Up top will be sophomore Dani Atherton, who reached double digits in goals during her freshman season and can play as a forward or as a creative midfielder. Sophomores Brooke Ferreira, Serena Borges, and Brooke Guerreiro all saw limited action as freshmen, but will be expected to step into bigger roles this year to shore up the center of the pitch and push into the attack.
“I think the season will depend on how quickly we adjust once games begin,” said Milford coach Lou Colabello. “Replacing key players in the midfield will be a big part of how successful we are. Hopefully, we can get better from game to game. One thing is for sure, we will play hard and have fun doing it.”
2019 Record: 4-10-4 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro will have a lot of new faces in the lineup this season, coming off a tough, four-win campaign. Although many of the names will be new, the Rocketeers feel confident that the revamped defensive unit will make them tough to beat this year and allow them to compete against the top teams in the division, as they proved in a scoreless draw with Oliver Ames in the season opener.
Senior Jordyn Sullivan and junior Summer Doherty are the lone returning players that saw time in the back line last year, but they will be pushed by a host of other players ready to step in. Seniors Ari Newth and Katie Manning, juniors Charlotte Moynihan and Autumn Hewitt, and sophomores Brooke Sullivan and Haley Sinacola will all see time in the defense. Senior Kaylah Seavey and sophomore Maddie Ferrin will be in goal this season.
After missing last season with a knee injury, senior Lydia Santos will provide leadership in the midfield. Classmates Abby Noreck and Ari Rice will also see time in the middle, while a trio of sophomores – Clara Giuliano, Lily Adams, and Caroline Ferrin will add energy and speed in the center.
Up top, senior Tess Collins and junior Steph McKenna are back to lead the line with their speed and creativity. Senior Ally Scott and junior Brayden Rice will give North depth and different looks up top, while sophomore Emma Pratt is a newcomer that could contribute in the attack right away.
“We are working hard to figure this all out,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “Spirits are high and practices have been productive. Girls are possessing better and better and hopefully that will equate to more success on the scoreboard.”
2019 Record: 14-5-2 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Britt Sellmayer
Oliver Ames returns to the Davenport division this fall. The Tigers won three straight Davenport titles before moving to the Kelley-Rex (making it four straight titles in their first year in the new division) and with an experienced, if still relatively young, group they expect to challenge Foxboro’s place at the top of the standings this season.
The Tigers have only four seniors on the roster this year, but they have 17 players with varsity experience. While the attack will certainly miss the scoring Erin Holmberg’s scoring touch and the new rules will hinder OA’s typically prolific set piece scoring, there is plenty of strength throughout the roster to be both tough to break down and tough to keep away from goal.
Senior Emma Pereira is a dominant presence in the middle of the pitch and she will be joined by Reese Pereira and Lauren Sellmayer to try and take control of the midfield. Junior Allison Evin can play up top or in the midfield and classmate Camryn O’Connor is a dynamic playmaker and tough to stop when she starts running at defenses.
Kathryn Gibson will solidify the defensive unit, while Jenna Gilman provides speed on the wings. In goal, OA has two solid options with senior Emma O’Donnell and junior Emily Meyers sharing time between the pipes.
OA coach Britt Sellmayer said, “The biggest issue for the new rules is the interpretation by referees, we have had them come to practice twice and one scrimmage. Let’s just say the games were different. Hopefully the kinks get worked out.”
2019 Record: 0-17-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Catherine Sullivan
Despite its record last season under first-year head coach Catherine Sullivan, Sharon demonstrated the ability to compete with the top teams and Sullivan is hoping that with an experienced corps and the addition of talented younger players the Eagles will be a tough team to beat in a very competitive Davenport division this year.
Experience will be a key at the back. Three-year starting goalie Cass Barbera has proven to be a solid shot-stopper and her leadership is a confidence boost for the entire defensive unit. Senior Molly McAlevey will be the anchor of the back line with her physicality and communication. Sophomore Sally Brouhard is coming off a strong freshman season, where she emerged as one of the team’s top defenders.
Senior Amelia Scappaticci adds steel to the midfield and gives cover to the back line and classmate Emily Griffin adds the speed from the center of the pitch to get forward as often as possible. Sophomore Sofia Goclowski and freshman Kate McLaughlin are a pair of newcomers that should step into the midfield and add a different dimension with their skill. With new faces helping out in the attack, Sharon will be looking to find the back of the net more consistently this year.
“We have excellent leadership this season with a great mix of strong returning players and new talent stepping in,” said Sullivan. “The Davenport division looks to be extremely competitive this year, but our kids are dedicated to improving our style and speed of play, and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of growth in short time this season.”
2019 Record: 3-13-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Hermes Lima
Stoughton made strong strides last season, scoring 34 goals as a team, which was three times the total from the year before and the Black Knights will be hoping to keep that going this fall under new coach Hermes Lima. A tough loss to Canton on the opening day won’t deter Stoughton, which is hoping to continue building on the experience gained last season.
The attack should be potent again with the combination of sophomore forward Shayla Ford, coming off an impressive rookie campaign, and four-year starter and leading scorer Mackenzie Manning, who has developed into a dynamic playmaker either up top or in the midfield. Senior Rebecca Desousa and sophomore Isabella Rodrigues will both be expected to use their speed and aggressiveness to add to the offense, as the Black Knights promise to be a threat on the counterattack.
Senior Nikki Anderson is a versatile defender who can play in the center of the pitch or drop into the back line and she will be counted on to lead a young defensive group. Sophomore Sabrina Rodrigues is tenacious at the back and Liv Tran’s speed will help stymie the opposition. Speed and pressure will be two keys for the Black Knights at the back this season.
“I am here to continue the growth and culture of this program while also helping them become young successful individuals not only on, but off the field,” said Lima. “My goal is to ensure players learn a few things, create their own path, and reach for the moon!”
2019 Record: 2-14-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Michael Couture
For the second time in two seasons, Taunton heads into a new season with a new coaching staff and with the goal of building a foundation for the program to compete against the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division. First-year head coach Michael Couture will be counting on a mix of experience and youth to improve on last year’s results.
The Tigers have players up front that can ask questions of the opposing defenses and on the other end of the field Taunton will try to soak up pressure and break quickly. They will also get an extra week of practice before games kick off after the games with Attleboro were postponed.
Experience will come from a group of seniors that have spent multiple years at the varsity level. Seniors Emily O’Gara and Madison Ribeiro can both play up top or in the midfield, while classmates Caitlin Smith, Kayla Botelho, and Morgan Zakrzewski provide leadership in the defensive third. Junior Isabella Anslow will be between the pipes this season. Sophomore midfielders Abigail Gamble and Christina DeCosta and sophomore forward Emily Calderon will provide energy and could step right in to contribute this season.
“Our main goal during the season is to get better every single day and play like it can be taken away from us at any time,” said Taunton coach Michael Couture. “We are on our way to building something special here at Taunton High and have the right group of dedicated girls.”
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The long wait for the soccer season to finally kick off ended on Monday night at Beaupre Field when North Attleboro hosted Oliver Ames, but the wait for the first goal celebration will last at least two more days.
In a game of few clear-cut scoring chances, neither side was able to find the back of the net and went home with a point apiece.
OA, which was making its return to the Davenport division after four years in the Kelley-Rex, would have gotten on the scoresheet under normal circumstances, but a goal on a late corner was wiped away because headers aren’t allowed under the new modified rules.
“It went alright,” OA coach Britt Sellmayer said about the return to play with the new rules in place. “It’s tough for the kids getting used to the rules, in terms of the kick-ins and stuff. We were a little panicky today. I have to do a better job coaching them that if someone encroaches, don’t kick the ball just wait.”
The Tigers started the game well, dominating the midfield led by senior Emma Pereira. OA was struggling to find the final ball to turn its possession into scoring opportunities and the North defense continued to deny the visitors any good chances near the penalty area. Summer Doherty and Haley Sinacola consistently intercepted passes or stepped up to clear balls from the edge of the box.
“I’ve got one defensive starter back, but I’ve got some good defenders,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “I usually don’t sub in on defense but now I’ve got the luxury of doing that. Even at the end there, I took Katie Manning, who’s a defender and told her to get to balls and she did a great job. It’s the one area we’ve been working on the most is defense and the girls have kind of embraced it.”
Kathryn Gibson had a shot from distance for the Tigers, but it was easily saved by North keeper Kaylah Seavey. Eight minutes into the second quarter (another modified rule for this season), Jenna Gilman stole the ball in the attacking third and played Allison Evin behind the fullback but her shot from the left channel was saved.
Evin then teed up classmate Camryn O’Connor for an effort from 18 yards but it was again comfortable for Seavey. A minute before halftime, North had a chance when Emma Pratt danced past a pair of defenders and had a shot that went wide.
OA has a history of being tough to defend on set pieces and the Tigers nearly made the breakthrough with a long free kick five minutes after the break. Lauren Sellmayer’s ball landed just behind the North defensive line but keeper Maddie Ferrin was quick off her line and read the bounce in traffic to make the catch.
The new rules almost cost the Tigers a minute later. Two defenders struggled with a bouncing ball, as they weren’t able to head it, and Steph McKenna nearly took advantage to run clear on goal. Lily Adams’ cross from the right wing to McKenna in the middle was cut out by Ella McDonough and then Tess Collins sliced a volley wide.
O’Connor started to assert herself at the end of the third quarter, having a series of chances from distance that were on target but didn’t trouble the keeper. Alexa Lane went close with nine minutes left but her cross from the right went straight through the box and slipped just wide of the post.
Sellmayer explained, “We need to have a little more composure. We played 80 minutes of soccer and neither goalie had to make a good save. They did a great job. They were organized at the back and we need to do a better job breaking them down. Maybe a few more diagonal runs rather than going straight at them all the time and when we have our chances we can’t serve it right at the goalie.”
Although OA turned a corner in that would in most seasons have been the game-winner, both teams left the field feeling like a draw was a fair result and both were happy to just be back on the pitch.
“I’ve got 24 kids and we played all 24,” said Wallace. “These kids are just so happy to be out here and you can see it in their play.”
WRENTHAM, Mass. – It is never easy to beat a team three times in a single season, but King Philip continues to meet all challenges this year and continues to show that there is a lot more to the team than just its two superstars.
The Warriors dominated the ball, limited Oliver Ames to a handful of half chances until late in the match, and had three different players find the back of the net in a 3-1 victory on Thursday afternoon that completes a sweep of the season series with the Tigers and sends the top seed into the Div. 1 South semifinal.
“You always worry about beating a team a third time, but my worries started to diminish when I saw how hard we came out and we were just taking it to them,” said KP coach Gary Pichel.
He added, “The kids came out with so much more energy at the opening whistle than they did against Hingham, so they learned their lesson. It’s not going to be a cake walk against a 16-seed and then you get OA and of course it’s always a battle against Britt (Sellmayer) and his team. We’re just happy to be moving on.”
OA’s defense was put under pressure from the opening kick. A long ball down the left channel was kept in bounds on the end line by Chloe Layne who created a corner, which Makayla Griffin curled it to the back post where it had to be cleared off the line. A minute later, Ally Stanton took a shot from distance that OA keeper Emily Meyers palmed out for another corner. Avery Snead headed the corner on target but Olivia Carroll was able to block on the line.
In the 12th minute, Layne again showed her ability to hold the ball up under pressure and passed it to Makenzie Shandley, who teed up Stanton for a shot that was saved. Three minutes later, Stanton played provider to set up Snead, who held off her defender but then blazed a shot over the bar.
The chances kept coming in the 23rd minute when Snead showed off her quick feet to dance around a couple of defenders but then dragged her shot wide of the post.
Allison Evin, the hero of OA’s overtime win against Franklin in the first round, nearly stunned the home crowd when she forced an Abigail Hodges free kick over the line, but it was ruled out for offside.
Led by Hodges, Carroll, and Emma Pereira, the OA defense had held the KP attack at bay, until the 36th minute. A bouncing ball landed at the feet of Jenny Montville, who hit a speculative shot on the turn from 25 yards. The half-volley looped towards goal and eluded the leap of Meyers before nestling into the top corner.
OA coach Britt Sellmayer said, “She hit it and it went up and came down in the net, so it was kind of deflating.” He joked, “It’s so hard to keep Chloe off and then Avery, I was thinking if we could stop those two, but we haven’t stopped them in four years, thank god they’re going to college.”
It was almost 2-0 in the closing seconds of the first half. Jenna Hitchen raced down the left side and forced a good diving save out of Meyers and then Montville saw her brace erased by a goal line clearance from Jenna Gilman.
“We’re trying to figure each other out in that first half,” Pichel said. “I was trying to figure out what his plan was, which was obviously to mark up with at least one person on Chloe and Avery, but I thought they were more defensive at the outset. We were just all over them.”
Eight minutes after the break, KP doubled its lead. Griffin set up Hitchen, who cut inside on her right foot and forced a save out of Meyers. The keeper managed to tip the shot onto the bar, but Snead was the quickest to react to the rebound and tapped it home.
In the 60th minute, the Warriors put the game away. A corner was half-cleared out to Stanton, who hit it first time through a crowd and into the bottom corner.
Pichel said, “We’ve worked hard the whole season to get them more involved with the play. Even though Chloe and Avery do the bulk of the scoring, we get big contributions from Jenny Montville and Jenna Hitchen and Ally Stanton. That’s three other players they have to worry about other than Chloe and Avery and that’s been a big plus for us all season long.”
“Sometimes you underrate their defense because of Chloe and Avery,” Sellmayer explained, “but it took us 70 minutes before we started getting some corner kicks and creating some chances on them.”
Leah Johnson had a chance blocked by Berry and Varvarigos was forced to clear a Hodges free kick off the line, while the rebound was sent over the bar. A Hodges corner in the 75th minute was met by a glancing header from Camryn O’Connor, but it went narrowly wide of the far post.
The Tigers avoided the shutout in the final minute. Johnson found herself with room on the left side of the box and picked out O’Connor alone in the middle. The sophomore took a touch and fired a shot into the side netting.
“We had some chances, but we didn’t get the luck that we needed in the first half,” Sellmayer reflected. “To beat a great team like KP, you’ve got to have some luck. We worked hard but it didn’t bounce our way today.”
King Philip (20-0) advances to face No. 12 seed Needham in the semifinal, which will be played on Wednesday at Whitman-Hanson.
That was just one of many positive mantras Scott Dolan was known for, and it was the perfect way to describe Monday evening’s clash between #8 Oliver Ames and #9 Franklin.
Eighty minutes wasn’t enough to decide the physical contest between the two league rivals, with neither team willing to give an inch.
But finally, in the 89th minute, OA sophomore Allison Evin delivered the game-winner with a perfectly struck shot to the far post, just sneaking inside the far post into the side netting to give the Tigers a 1-0 emotional overtime win over the Panthers.
“I felt like we could score one goal we had a chance,” said Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer. “The last time [Franklin] gave up a goal was forever ago. They had 12 shutouts in the last 13 games and the only team that scored against them was KP and they only got two. They are just so hard to break down because they have such quality players back there.”
Dolan, a longtime OA assistant coach, passed away last week after a courageous battle with cancer at the age of 48. Whether it was at the high school, with Legacy Soccer Club, Easton Youth Soccer, or a local camp or clinic, Dolan had a strong impact on all the members of this year’s Tigers squad. Even when Dolan worked at the college level, he was always on the OA sideline for the playoffs.
“I’m just very happy for the girls, it’s been a very emotional week,” Sellmayer said. “Come tournament time, Scotty would always be here. I could say something that they’ve heard all year long but I could have Scotty tell them and they’d listen. And then he’d be there to help me with my coaching too.
“A kid could make the worst play in the world and Scotty would say ‘Hey darling, don’t worry about it, this is what you have to do.’ And make them feel like a million bucks. Just a big booming voice, just a super guy.”
Evin’s game-winner was the first goal that the Tigers scored against the Panthers this season. The two sides battled to a scoreless tie in Easton in early October while the Panthers earned a 2-0 decision in one of the final games of the season.
“We won one, we tied one, and now they’ve won one so you can’t get much more even than that,” said longtime Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “[Oliver Ames] was the better team tonight. They were able to force us into some things that we haven’t done since the beginning of the year, so kudos to them.”
Chances were few and far between throughout the 80 minutes of regulation. The Tigers had five corners and put four shots on net but all were handled by Franklin keeper Bre Atwood. OA keeper Emily Meyers was equal to the task, handling four corners and three shots on goal by the Panthers.
Sophomore Lauren Sellmayer connected with classmate Camryn O’Connor on a throw, but her cross was partially blocked. That led to a clearance from the defense but it was intercepted by Evin just outside the area. She took a touch around a defender and rifled a shot just out of the reach of Atwood’s diving attempt to give the Tigers a win.
“That was [a big girl soccer goal],” Sellmayer said. “[Evin] cramped up and I was sitting her for a little bit but in overtime, we just went with it. There were moments Allison wasn’t giving us a lot of defense but she couldn’t move. It was a trade-off so we went for it.”
The limited number of chances had a lot to do with strong defense from both sides. Even when it looked like there might be a chance for a shot, a defender would often intervene.
Evin and O’Connor linked up in the 10th minute with the latter giving the hosts their first shot on goal. Atwood tipped away a corner kick from Abby Hodges in the 28th minute and came up big again in the 35th minute when OA’s Emma Pereira lofted a ball over the defense but Franklin’s Sabrina Addi help shield the ball and the keeper was there before Erin Holmberg could pounce.
Franklin’s Riley Fitzpatrick got in behind the defense in the 9th minute but Pereira was quick to get back and win possession back. Sydney St. Marie sent a shot just wide of the net in the 21st minute, and Erin Quaile’s bid from distance was handled easily in the 32nd minute.
Panther freshman Norah Anderson made a terrific recovery in the 58th minute, getting back in time to take away a shot from Holmberg from inside the area. On the other end, Franklin’s Sam Powderly smashed a shot wide of the post after taking down a clearance.
The Tigers were close to a winner in regulation when Katie Gibson linked up with Holmberg at the far post but her point-blank chance was saved by Atwood to keep the game scoreless and force overtime.
“We talked about it halftime but we weren’t able to do it…we needed to play the ball wide over the defender, and the forwards who made the initial pass need to make a run,” Geysen said. “But we never got the ball up in the air and make them change them what they were doing.”
A nice give-and-go between Quaile and Carly Alston resulted in the former putting a shot on target to start the overtime period, but that would be it in the attacking end for Franklin.
Two minutes later, OA almost had a winner when a ball was played into the area that eluded Atwood, causing a little scrum in front of the net but Anna Balkus and Bridgette Ginley helped clear the line and keep it out.
After starting the season with one win in its first four games, Franklin lost just once in its final 13 games. And in the span, the Panthers allowed just three goals.
“We started 1-3 and I wasn’t sure how the rest of the season would go,” Geysen said. “We made the change to put Anna [Balkus] in the back and that changed the whole defensive scheme for us. That’s when we started to play better. If you play well defensively, you’re in every game. We only gave up two goals twice, the first was an early game to Canton and the second one was KP, and they’ll score two on anybody.”
Oliver Ames girls soccer (14-4-1) will look continue to play “big girl soccer” when it hits the road on Thursday to visit top-seeded King Philip. Franklin finishes at 12-5-1.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames was seconds away from escaping the first half unscathed, just moments away from going into the halftime break scoreless against a Foxboro side that had a plethora of chances through the opening 40 minutes.
But just before the halftime whistle, the Warriors were finally able to solve Oliver Ames goalie Emily Meyers (12 saves), who had denied bid after bid from Foxboro.
That goal, off of the foot of sophomore Kailee McCabe, proved to be the game-winner and Foxboro added an insurance tally just over midway through the second half to secure a 2-0 win over the Tigers on the new turf field at Val Muscato Stadium.
“We were ready for this one,” said Foxboro head coach Katie Stalcup. “We knew they were undefeated just like we are, Britt [Sellmayer] is a great coach, he always puts together a great team. They are dangerous on corners, they always press hard. So we knew we had to come out ready to play today.”
Both sides had good chances in the opening minutes as OA’s Camryn O’Connor dispossessed a Foxboro defender but had her shot go wide. The Warriors had a similar chance on the other end but Jordyn Collins’ bid was just off frame.
From there, it was mostly chances for Foxboro for the rest of the half. Katelyn Mollica forced Meyers into a diving save on a shot from 25 yards out in the 10th minute. Two minutes later, McCabe and Alyssa VandenBoom combined with the latter being denied by Meyers.
Foxboro’s opportunities continued to pile up as sophomore Jordan Carman found Mollica inside the 18 but Meyers made a leaping stop to tip the shot over the bar. Two minutes later, Meyers made a pair of stops, denying Carman point-blank from in close, and then handling a shot from Lizzy Davis on the bounce.
Meyers’ best save came in the 25th minute as Mollica connected with Carman, who put a shot labeled for the back of the net but a great one-handed stop kept the ball from crossing the line.
“Emily Meyer played great for us,” Sellmayer said. “We have two great goalies, with Emma O’Donnell coming back from an injury. Emily really stepped up today and made a lot of great saves, she kept us in the game.
“[Foxboro] is just so strong, I think they have a legitimate chance to make a run in D2. You have to play a perfect game to beat them. We’re young from everywhere from the midfield to up front and it showed today. I thought my back four played as best as they could. We’ll learn from this and get better from it.”
Davis had another chance in the 28th minute but had her shot go over the ball after good pressure from OA defenders Abby Hodges and Leah Johnson, who both had strong performances along with outside backs Emma Pereira and Olivia Carroll. A corner kick in the 38th led to a chance by McCabe but Carroll was well-positioned at the far post.
McCabe started the sequence that led to the goal by winning a challenge near midfield. After Mollica played a ball wide for Davis, McCabe made a darting run through the defense and Davis played her in behind. She took a touch, was able to shield off a pair of defenders and slotted her shot in at the far post to make it 1-0.
“The chemistry is there with the girls. We’ve been working a lot in the preseason and so far during the season offensively, just about switching up our runs, using quick passes, and playing off each other well. And I feel like it’s clicking, it’s working.
“We had a frustrating result the other day so it was nice to get the win. We had a lot of chances like we did the other game but something felt different about this one. I think the girls learned a lot from the Milford game so I think they did a good job of turning things around quickly.”
Oliver Ames looked like a different team coming out of the halftime break, applying a lot of pressure on the Warriors’ defense over the first 10 minutes. O’Connor and Allison Evin combined to get into the area but Foxboro’s Kendra Wentling disrupted the chance.
Despite a strong push to open the half, Foxboro’s defense stood tall and preserved the lead.
“We didn’t have Yara [Fawaz] today and she’s our starting center back, she’s our rock on defense,” Stalcup said. “So I was a little nervous on how we’d respond but I was happy with how they played. Grace, my other center back, stepped up for us, and Emma [Dahl] came in and they held it, they did an awesome job.”
Foxboro added a second goal in the 64th minute as junior Ryan Sullivan won a foot race to a loose pass, eluding the oncoming keeper and burying a shot into the open net to make it 2-0.
OA had one final push late but Warriors’ goalie Morgan Sylvestre did well to come off her line and make the clearance.
Foxboro girls soccer (4-0-1 Hockomock, 4-0-1 overall) has a big non-league test on Monday with a trip to Medfield. Oliver Ames (4-1-0, 5-1-0) renews acquaintances with rival Mansfield on Tuesday night.
2018 Record: 6-11-1 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Steve Santos
The Bombardiers have made great improvements over the last couple of seasons, jumping from eight goals scored as a team to 26 and then 24 in 2017 and 2018, and now head coach Steve Santos is looking for Attleboro to take the next step and make its first state tournament appearance since joining the Hockomock League. With an experienced corps and several talented newcomers, Santos hopes this will be the year to get a taste of the postseason.
The attack has been led by junior forward Isabella Salviati, who had half of the team’s goals last year and assisted on seven other goals. The forward play flows through her, but the Bombardiers will be hoping to get more contributions from junior Briley Harnois, who had a breakout sophomore campaign, and from midfielder Jessica Gates, who has the vision to find the key pass that will spring one of the forwards. Also helping out through midfield and into the attack with be seniors Ashley Dame and Julia Reyes.
There is also experience in the heart of the Attleboro defense with senior Sophia Salviati paired with classmate Emily Antonik. Junior Vanessa Laguerre makes the move up from JV this season and will be slotted into the back line as well. Goalie has been a position of strength for the Bombardiers for several seasons but this year it is in flux as senior Ashley Macia is slated to be the starter, but she is also capable in defense and saw a lot of time as an outfield player last year. Freshman Alexis Campbell could eventually step in between the posts. Junior Riley Sullivan could contribute right away and is capable of playing multiple positions and sophomore Emily Khang adds another player with ball skills.
“We have a lot of returning players,” said Santos, “and I think we have more depth so we won’t have to rely on the starters for as many minutes. We have a lot of players who can contribute and fill in the pieces. The key this season will be being consistent for 80 minutes and keeping our pace for the whole game.”
2018 Record: 10-3-5 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tom Geysen
Franklin lost only three games all of last season and had one of the league’s best defensive records, allowing only 10 goals in 18 games. That solidity in the defensive third will be hard to replicate, as the Panthers graduated three of last year’s back four, but there is also hope that the promising young attackers can take some of the pressure off by improving on the team’s 40 goals scored, which was seventh best in the Hock.
Senior Sabrina Addi is the lone returning defender for the Panthers, but she will get help from senior goalie Breanna Atwood to try and organize an inexperienced defense. Freshman Norah Anderson will jump into the center of the defense and looks ready for the physical challenge of Hock play. Senior Sam Powderly will drop back from midfield to help out as well.
Once the Panthers get the ball back, there are plenty of familiar faces to try and get goals. Senior Anna Balkus can play a number of different positions, including in the heart of midfield, the wing, or in the attack. Sophomore Stella Regan is coming off a breakout rookie season and adds even more pace to the center of the pitch, while senior Carly Alston is a solid performer on both sides of the ball. In the attack, juniors Erin Quaile and Sydney St. Marie are looking to make the leap to add more consistent scoring.
“I know the kids with experience won’t back down,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen, “but I need to see how the younger kids will react to this level. I need to see if they can physically cope with playing where I need them to play.”
2018 Record: 12-5-2 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Gary Pichel
When you bring back players the caliber of seniors Avery Snead and Chloe Layne, the expectations will be very high for the upcoming season. King Philip enters 2019 as the favorite to bring home a league title but also with the goal of matching the run that the Warriors made in 2017, when they won the South title in double overtime and reached the state semifinal.
Layne, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, and Snead, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and two-time league MVP, have been among the league’s leading scorers each of the last three years and will make one more run at a league title. They are joined up top by senior Ally Stanton. The trio was one of the league’s most dynamic attacking groups, combining for 50 goals and 33 assists last season
Senior Jenna Hitchen and juniors Emma Glaser and Jenny Montville will also contribute to pushing the Warriors forward, while freshman Ella Pisani is a newcomer to watch in the attack. A lot of attention will (rightfully) be paid to KP’s attack, but its defense is also experienced. Seniors Makayla Griffin and Olivia Berry and junior Paige Varvarigos return to the back line with a combined eight years on varsity. Junior Taryn Greenberg and freshman Grace Lawler will also contribute in defense in front of junior goalie Taylor Butler.
“I am very excited about the prospects for our team this year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “That being said, we will remain laser-focused on not overlooking any team that we play. We will not look ahead but instead, will prepare for each team we have on our schedule with great intensity, one game at a time.
2018 Record: 15-3-4 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Kevin Smith
The Hornets have had an unprecedented level of success over the past three seasons, winning three straight Kelley-Rex division titles, and reaching last year’s Div. 1 South semifinal, but Mansfield enters the fall with an almost entirely new roster and having only one player on the team with more than one year of varsity experience.
Senior Erin Dooling is by far the most experienced player on the roster, but defender Maria Sevastos and midfielder Katie Miller both saw a lot of playing time as freshmen and impressed during their rookie campaigns. Senior midfielder Kerrin Sears and senior defender Megan Krone join Dooling as captains this season and will both need to provide leadership for a team with four freshmen on the roster.
Mansfield coach Kevin Smith said, “We are young and learning each day with an entire new starting lineup, four freshmen on the roster and 18 of 24 players new to the team. Erin is the lone player with more than one year of varsity experience while Maria and Katie earned a lot of minutes last year. All three will be leaned on to share their experience with the team.”
2018 Record: 11-5-3 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Britt Sellmayer
Oliver Ames continues to turn out competitive teams ready to challenge the best teams in the league and put themselves in the state tournament picture. This fall will be no different, as the Tigers have six returning starters and 14 players who saw varsity action last year. While there is still a relative lack of experience, the Tigers remain a team with high expectations.
Defense has also been a strength of the program and this year is no different with seniors Olivia Carroll, Abigail Hodges, and Leah Johnson providing a strong backbone for the team and will be a unit that is hard to break down. Junior goalie Emma O’Donnell is dealing with a preseason injury, so sophomore Emily Meyers will get the start for the season opener. Seniors Erin Holmberg and Abby Evin will lead the forward line, but there were strong rookie seasons from Camryn O’Connor and Allison Evin that give confidence for additional help in the final third.
“For OA to return to the tournament we will need some of our less experienced players to step up,” said Oliver Ames coach Britt Sellmayer.
2018 Record: 3-16 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Joe Rocha
Former Taunton boys soccer coach Joe Rocha takes over the girls program this fall and will continue a rebuilding effort to try and get the Tigers off the foot of the division standings, which is a difficult task in the loaded Kelley-Rex division. Rocha knows it will be a process with a relatively young roster and is looking for improvements over the course of the season.
Senior Grace Pimenta will be back in goal for the Tigers this season, after missing part of last year with an injury. Pimenta will add leadership to the defensive unit that features senior Emma Silvia and sophomore Isabella Anslow in the middle. Keeping things solid in the center will be the key and Taunton will hope that the forwards can stay active and put pressure on the opposing defenses. Seniors Paige Tolan, Allison Calderon, and Kerla Sylvestre, and juniors Emily O’Gara and Morgan Zakrewski will be counted on to step up and improve Taunton’s goal-scoring numbers (after scoring 16 goals as a team last season).
“We are a very young team and will have some growing pains,” Rocha said. “As a first-year coach, my players are learning a new system and once we all get on the same page, I feel that our play will improve.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”