FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin and Foxboro have been the dominant girls lacrosse programs in the league for several years, winning a combined 14 league titles in a row (including this spring’s Kelley-Rex and Davenport crowns) and perennially making deep state tournament runs as well.
While the two teams have shared success in the league, the head-to-head matchup has recently been one-sided. The games have typically been close, but it is Franklin that has regularly come out on top, as part of the Panthers incredible win streak against Hockomock opponents that stood at 70 games entering the yearly matchup with the Warriors on Wednesday night at Pisini Field.
This felt like a year that Foxboro could flip the script and end the Panthers’ long unbeaten run, but instead it was a familiar storyline. Annie and Erin Walsh scored four goals apiece, Franklin goalie Gianna Cameron made eight saves (six in the second half) and the Panthers pulled out an 11-5 victory.
“They came out with a lot of energy, a lot of passion,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino. “it was our senior night so we were honoring them and that energy translated on the draw. Annie did a great job, our circle people (Hailey Toolin, Erin, and Kelsey MacCallum) did awesome fighting for the ball.”
Franklin won 9-of-10 draws in the opening half, which limited the Warriors ability to get the ball into the sticks of their talented attacking corps. Also, the Panthers took full advantage of the opportunities that they were presented with.
“They were using every opportunity they had, for the most part, and capitalizing on them,” said Foxboro coach Brittany Sherry. “When it’s only being done on one side for us, the defense can only do so much, Sara [Addeche] can only make so many saves.”
Following a Nicole Houlihan steal, Annie Walsh put Franklin in front with a shot over Addeche’s stick into the top corner. Less than a minute later it was Erin Walsh bursting through the middle of the Foxboro defense to double the lead.
The Warriors got on the board three minutes later when senior Cat Luciano found space in the middle of the Franklin defense. Erin Walsh answered back with a pump fake and finish, but Foxboro again got the lead down to one with a lefty shot on the run by Sophia DiCenso.
Kelsey MacCallum scored her first of the night to make it 4-2 and then the Franklin defense made several big plays to keep Foxboro at arm’s length. Grace MacCallum was the vocal leader for the defensive unit, calling out switches, slides, and double teams. With the help of Halle Atkinson, MacCallum forced a turnover and scooped the ground ball to win possession back and on the other end Annie Walsh went high-to-low for Franklin’s fifth.
“Grace has been on this team for four years, so she’s a huge leader on the defensive end, kind of the director of the team,” said Igoe Guarino. “We’ve been pushing the defense to get even better and she’s been leading the way.”
She added, “Our communication was up, we were just playing as a team out there. Our doubling, we had a second slide ready and then our goalie just backing us up when they did shoot.”
Foxboro got one back with man-up goal by Molly Murphy off a perfect pass from DiCenso. With three minutes left in the half, Kelsey MacCallum was denied in transition by Addeche, but Franklin forced a turnover on the clearance and Erin Walsh found MacCallum with a precise pass across the crease for a close-range finish.
“We were moving the ball and ball-moving is great but eventually you’ve got to put points on the board,” said Sherry about the Foxboro attack. “We weren’t attacking the cage, we were looking to just a few players to get it done and when those players aren’t getting it done then other players need to step up.”
Murphy had one more chance before the half but Cameron read the bouncing shot and was able to deflect it up over the bar just as the horn sounded. At the start of the second half, Foxboro had several chances in the first few minutes to cut into the lead, but Cameron made three saves to keep it 6-3. Franklin then broke the game wide open.
“When we need her to save it, she does,” said Igoe Guarino of Camerron. “She had 15 saves against Walpole (on Monday) and she had a ton today against some of their best shooters. We’re just lucky to have her.”
Erin Walsh picked up her second assist when she connected with a cutting Katie Jones and the freshman went behind her back on the run for a highlight-reel finish. Walsh then added back-to-back goals on free positions to put the Panthers up by six. Annie Walsh got into the scoring with a drive from the left side to complete her hat trick.
“They play the whole game,” said Igoe Guarino of the Walsh sisters. “They hustle to get ground balls and win us possession and they just do an excellent job of reading when to take one-on-one and when to pass. They draw a lot of attention, but they both finished really well today.”
Murphy scored again to end the Franklin run and Mackenzie Cusack got the benefit of a bouncing ball through traffic on what appeared to be a pass that slipped past Cameron to make it 10-5 with 3:31 left, but Annie Walsh scooped a ground ball on the far sideline and took it herself to seal the win.
Foxboro came into the game on a nine-game win streak and had key players battling illness, but Sherry admitted that Franklin might be in the Warriors’ heads at this point.
“We love competition with Franklin,” she said. “We had the win streak going and…we’re just scared of Franklin. Every time we hear Franklin, we just don’t get it done and if this was any other team we would have a better result.”
Franklin (12-4, 9-0) has not lost a league game since April 2012 and the Panthers will try to complete another perfect league campaign next Wednesday against Canton. Foxboro (11-3, 7-1) will try to bounce back on Thursday with a trip to North Attleboro.
2017 Record: 2-16 2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Kevin Patton
Attleboro went into 2017 with an inexperienced lineup and first-year head coach Kevin Patton tried to bring together a roster that had essentially never played together at the varsity level. With all but two players back for this spring, Patton is expecting the Bombardiers to be improved in all facets of the game and to be more competitive in the league.
Leading scorer Kyra Lyons is back for her third varsity season and the junior midfielder will be a key player, as the Bombardiers look to improve on last season’s league-low 88 goals. The offense will be bolstered by senior Emily Patton, who is a four-year varsity player, and fellow senior Alison Wall. Junior Alex Compton will also be back for a third season to make an impact for Attleboro. On defense, seniors Graycen Cassidy and Kim White will provide much-needed leadership for a unit that allowed 273 goals last year.
“Because we only lost two players to graduation last year, we have a lot of varsity experience on both sides of the field,” Patton said. “I am looking for the upperclassmen to take a leadership role and am looking forward to seeing the girls in essentially their second year all playing together on varsity.”
Canton has a new coaching staff this season that will try to build on a talented crop of underclassmen to get the Bulldogs back into the postseason. Laurie Chabot has taken over this spring and the coaching staff is excited to get the season underway and see what this Bulldogs roster, which has only three seniors, can accomplish.
Senior midfielder Molly Colburn will be the leader for the Canton attack this season, while fellow captain Colleen Boucher provides vocal leadership in the defensive zone to keep everything in check. Senior Jess Powers is still battling an injury, but Canton has a host of younger players that can step in, including juniors Maggie Connolly, Lauren Fitzpatrick, Maggie Malloy, and Leah McLellan and sophomore Alexa Maffeo, who all had success with their winter teams.
Chabot said, “With three seniors (all captains) we are looking at a young but skilled and talented group of girls. With speed and a strong stick skillset our girls are ready to compete.”
2017 Record: 17-5 2017 Finish: Reached D2 East Final Coach: Brittany Sherry
Last season, Foxboro reached the Div. 2 East final for the first time in program history, continuing the program’s upward trend as one of the top D2 teams in the state. The loss to Walpole in the final has left the Warriors, who had only four seniors on last year’s roster and return 10 starters, wanting more and the team comes into a new season experienced, battle-tested, and loaded with talent, including 2017 league MVP Sophia DiCenso, who in her two varsity seasons has already made quite an impression with her all-around game.
Joining DiCenso in the potent Foxboro attack is fellow junior Meghan Curran, who is coming off a breakout season and is capable of finishing against the best defenses. Senior Caroline Boudreau returns as one of Foxboro’s biggest threats on the draw and classmate Christina Rogers is back to lead the defensive unit, which is an aggressive group that puts a lot of pressure on the opposition. Sophomore Sara Addeche is back in goal after a very strong rookie season.
“Going into this year we’re looking to pick up where we left off,” said Foxboro coach Brittany Sherry. “Losing to Walpole in the sectional finals left us wanting more. These girls are ready to progress to the next level. They’ve dedicated their off-season and preseason to preparing our comeback.”
Franklin has emerged not only as the top program in the Hockomock League but in recent seasons as one of the top programs in the state. The Panthers have won the Div. 1 East title in three of the past four seasons, although they have yet to find a way past the state semifinal and get the opportunity to play for a state championship. Despite being a team loaded with underclassmen again this spring, Franklin comes into the new season once again as the team to beat in the league and with state title aspirations.
Reigning Underclassman of the Year Annie Walsh is back to spearhead the Franklin attack and create scoring opportunities for herself and for her teammates. One of the teammates that benefits is her sister Erin. The sophomore is a creative finisher around the crease and will be a top scoring threat again this year. Sophomore Gianna Cameron is back in goal for the Panthers after an impressive rookie campaign and senior Grace MacCallum is back to lead Franklin’s stingy defensive unit. Sophomore Kelsey MacCallum will be a player to watch in the midfield, while freshman Katie Jones is a newcomer that could make an instant contribution.
“We are definitely still young, but now our youth has experience,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino. “The team is doing a great job so far of playing fast, smart and together. We have some excellent leadership in our senior class, and we are working hard every day to get better!”
It was an up-and-down spring for King Philip in 2017, but it certainly finished on a high as the Warriors pulled off a pair of upsets in the state tournament to reach the Div. 1 East semifinal and a rematch with rival Franklin. The Warriors will have a new coach, Kourtnie Wilder takes over this season, and a number of returning players to make a run at unseating the Panthers from the top of the Kelley-Rex division, including senior attacker Katie Crowther, who comes into the season with more than 200 goals for her career.
One of the strengths for KP this season will be the defense, which is loaded with experience and vocal leaders. Christina Hathaway and Victoria Tormey will be the key defensive returners along with Caroline Watson, who has been one of the league’s top goalies for the past two seasons. The midfield will chip in on defense and help Crowther in the attack. Dana Truini, Alli Meehan, and Caroline Klim will all be back to solidify the midfield unit.
“We are going into the season with a clean slate and working to improve each week and being focused at practice,” said Wilder. “This is a hard-working and dedicated team and it will be exciting to see their hard work pay off.”
2017 Record: 10-9 2017 Finish: Reached D1 East First Round Coach: Alexis Kobey
Mansfield got back into the tournament last season and gave Bishop Feehan all it could handle in the first round. The Hornets come into this spring motivated by unfinished business, as they look to not only get back to the postseason but also to make a deep tournament run. The first week of the season will provide a good early test with Mansfield facing Natick, Sharon, and North Attleboro, all 2017 playoff teams, right out of the gates.
The Hornets return four seniors from last year’s team and they will be expected to provide the leadership to push a talented group of juniors. Ann Maher will be back to add steel to the midfield and will try to get the ball forward to senior attacker Lauren Whitman and junior Katie Garvin. The defense will be as strong as its ever been, according to head coach Alexis Kobey, anchored by senior Danielle Skinner and with senior Hannah Sternberg back in goal.
“Making the tournament last year but losing by two to Bishop Feehan, we are definitely coming into the season with a bit of a chip on our shoulder,” said Kobey, “and want to improve on our record from last year and want to make it deeper into the playoffs.”
2017 Record: 4-14 2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Tim Dowd
In his second year in charge, Milford head coach Tim Dowd said that his team is focused on trying to outwork teams this season and to be “scrappy on the field,” as the Hawks look to make a move up the standings and compete with what has developed into a very deep league. The Hawks return several key players and have a few freshmen that will be added to the mix and given the opportunity to contribute right away.
Junior Emily Haley is the leader of the attack and Dowd said that he is expecting her to “have an incredible season.” Joining Haley in the midfield and attack are senior Jadyn White, junior Brianna Maietta, and sophomore Annie Flanagan. The defense has several players back from last season, including seniors Emily Condon and Alexa Lancisi, who provide the necessary vocal leadership to keep the defensive unit organized. Dowd added that there are a number of underclassmen that will play important roles this season, as the Hawks use their team speed to cause problems.
“We’re looking to be the team that goes the extra mile for each other and constantly works to win battles on the field,” said Dowd. “One of the things I’m looking for is improvement every day. We’re going to try to focus on the little things to hopefully make big improvements.”
North Attleboro has achieved quite a bit in the past few seasons, including its first home playoff game and its first playoff victories, and new coach Colleen Carchedi, who comes over from Sharon after achieving similar success in building that program up, is hoping to continue the Rocketeers’ upward trajectory. North will have a tough non-league schedule to prepare itself to make a deep tournament run.
One of the key players that North will rely on this season is senior midfielder Mackenzie Rosenberg, who was in the league MVP conversation last season and has been one of the league’s top scorers for the past two seasons. Senior Alaina Mello and senior goalie Kayla Moulin will lead the defensive effort along with classmate Caroline Vigorito. North will have plenty of speed to call on in the midfield this season with senior Julia Tolfa and sophomores Katie Lindstrom and Lindsey Spratt. The attack will be led by seniors Camille Pizarro and Julia Dakin, who are part of a very experienced roster that wants to lift North beyond the second round for the first time.
“These girls have been working really hard in the off-season and we are not willing to settle,” said Carchedi. “I have found that this team plays with passion and if we can continue to play with that energy and determination we are up for a great season.”
2017 Record: 8-12 2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Nicole Lang
Oliver Ames is another developing program that has added depth to the Hockomock League in recent seasons and the Tigers are poised to make a breakthrough into the postseason as first-year coach Nicole Lang takes over this spring. While the coach is one of several new faces for the Tigers this season, Lang believes that OA will be able to build on its successes from the past few years to continue building the program.
Senior goalie Ariana Waldorf, fresh off a trip to Israel this winter to help spread the game of lacrosse, will be back between the pipes this spring for the Tigers, one of many talented goalies across the league. Chloe Kilkelly and Olivia Piazza, who was named to the HockomockSports.com Second Team last year, will provide leadership and be counted on to step up in all phases this year.
Lang said, “Our girls have been preparing harder than ever for the upcoming season. We have a lot of new faces to the team and are looking to our seasoned players to lead the way to a potential playoff berth.”
Sharon has been a program on the rise for the past several seasons, including best-ever second-place finishes in the Davenport division, the program’s first playoff appearance, and last spring the Eagles added a first playoff win as well. While Sharon will move on this year with a new coach and without leading scorer Alex Rabb, the Eagles still have the talent to make a run at the postseason and new coach Shara Ginthwain has been an assistant at Sharon for the last three years, so it should be a smooth transition for the players.
Senior Sabrina Robbins is back to add dynamism to the midfield in both defense and attack and she will be joined by junior Emma Eberhardt, who adds speed, size and finishing ability from the middle of the field. Senior Abbi Solomon is back in the attack and junior Bridget McManus will be back in the heart of the defense. With 10 returning players, experience will be a strength for the Eagles, particularly on the defensive side where goalie Rose Wald also returns. Freshman midfielder Jenna Goldstein is a newcomer to watch for Sharon this year.
“Having our first playoff win in program history last season really lit a fire for a lot of these girls, it’s clear that the girls put in a lot of work in the off-season and they are ready to go!” Ginthwain said. “The girls are really motivated to work hard and to win. They are determined to be competitive in the Hock and into playoffs.”
Taunton is still a relatively young program and it enjoyed its best season in 2017 with seven wins, including a pair of wins in the league, and now the Tigers are going to try to build on that despite the loss of several players that had significant impacts. The focal point for Taunton this spring will be freshman midfielder Alana Tavares, who put together a stellar rookie campaign as an eighth grader and was one of the league’s leading scorers.
While much of the attention will, deservedly, be on Tavares and the attack, senior goalie Lorna Li is also back to give the defense some solidity after a really strong junior season. Seniors Hannah Moniz, Diana Brens, and Kayla Phillips will also be back to try and chip in with goals and leadership, while sophomore Kamryn Li could take on a larger role after the graduations of Abbey Kingman and Delaney Powell. Freshmen Anastasia Lajoie and Rosemary McGrath also saw time with Tavares as eighth graders last year and could step in to contribute more this season.
“We lost some talented seniors but have a lot of promise in some of our younger players,” said Taunton coach Kerry Northup. “We are excited to see what they can bring to the team this year.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – Foxboro won the final draw control of the game and charged down the field. But with just under 10 seconds remaining, there wasn’t enough time to set a up a play. Instead, time ran out just before the Warriors could release their final shot.
If there was another second left, Foxboro might’ve scored its seventh goal of the half and completed a stunning comeback.
Instead the clocked hit double zeros and Franklin recorded its second straight one goal victory, 9-8, over Foxboro in a battle of division leaders. The win clinched at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title for Franklin — the sixth straight for the Panthers.
Foxboro’s Molly Murphy cut the deficit to just one with 11 seconds to play, but Foxboro couldn’t get a shot off to tie the game before the buzzer.
Similar to its victory over defending state champions Westwood on Monday, Franklin relied on its defense and clung to its lead.
“Franklin is top three in the state,” Foxboro head coach Brittany Sherry said. “So hanging with them first of all, and winning would be a plus. We’ve never beat them – it’s a program goal of ours, always has been.”
When the division champions battled a year ago, Franklin handled Foxboro 13-8 — and this year’s game began in similar fashion.
Senior Caroline Lounsbury scored the first two goals for Franklin on feeds from freshman Erin Walsh. The senior attack caught both feeds at full speed, cut towards the net and finished to the left of Foxboro goalkeeper Sara Addeche. A mishap in front of the net led to an own goal for Foxboro, giving the Kelley-Rex leading Panthers an early three goal advantage.
But after that, Foxboro’s defense settled in. The Warriors’ zone stifled the Panthers over the last 35 minutes allowing just six goals to a Franklin team which had previously been held to single digit scoring just four times this season. Addeche compiled 10 saves while her counterpart, Franklin freshman Gianna Cameron, tallied eight.
“We kind of took advantage of the fact that they were young and our zone just kept their composure,” Sherry said. “We try not to put them on the line and make them make them mistakes.”
After trailing 5-2 at the half, Foxboro dictated pace in the second half. The possessions lengthened from barely half a minute in the first half to nearly two minutes per possession in the second half. The Warriors’ offense was patient and waited for opportunities to arise.
And they did.
Jackie Brion scooped a ground ball and cleared it the length of the field. She moved the ball on to Meghan Curran, who scored twice in the first half, as the sophomore was cutting down the alley. An additional pass reached Lauren Flahive before the senior fired it into the back of the net.
“If we played like we did in the second half in the first half I think we would’ve gotten a different result,” Sherry said.
In the few possessions, Franklin did capitalize. The Walsh sisters, Annie a sophomore, and Erin a freshman, combined for three of the last four goals of the games for Franklin. On the team’s second to last goal, Annie stood outside the circle of Warrior defenders and carefully lobbed the pass over their heads. The ball landed perfectly in a streaking Erin’s stick and the freshman cranked the shot just under the crossbar.
A few possessions later Lauren Bissanti ran from the bench straight through the Foxboro defense and caught a pass on the run down the center of the defense. She sent the eventual game winner to the bottom left corner.
Foxboro would make a late push with goals by Sophia DiCenso and Murphy, but it wasn’t enough and Franklin remained unbeaten in league play.
“A win is a win,” Franklin head coach Kristin Igoe Guarino said. “Our defense did well our goalie played well, we were aggressive but we could’ve played a lot better.”
Franklin (17-1 overall, 8-0 Hockomock) will look to clinch the Kelley-Rex title outright when it travels to Taunton on Thursday. Foxboro (13-3, 8-1) will look to bounce back on Friday with a trip to Attleboro.
2016 Record: 6-12 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Kevin Patton
Attleboro is still a relatively young program but has taken strides to be competitive with the rest of the teams in the Hockomock and first-year head coach Kevin Patton is hopeful that the large number of players at tryouts is a sign that the Bombardiers are heading in the right direction.
One of the reasons for Attleboro’s confidence coming into the spring is the experienced players that will take the field, including senior Mish Logie, who is a four-year varsity midfielder. Joining Logie as a captain for this year’s team is goalie Hadley Porreca, who is in her second year in net.
In addition. juniors Emily Patton and Ali Wall return in attack, while classmates Kim White and Graycen Cassidy will keep things tight on the defensive side of the ball. Midfield depth will be provided by sophomores Kyra Lyons and Alex Compton, who are both coming off strong rookie seasons on varsity. Freshman Sydney DiLiddo will also have the chance to step in and contribute in midfield this season and junior Ashlyn Salisbury and sophomore Shea Harrison will see time on defense.
“We had our largest player turnout in the program’s history,” said Patton, “and we have girls that want to work hard and succeed. With only two seniors on this year’s team, I will be looking to certain underclassmen to take on added leadership roles. This will help us not only this year but going forward.”
2016 Record: 8-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Christine O’Connor
Canton won five of its final seven games last season to get back to .500 and qualify for the state tournament and the Bulldogs will be hoping to carry that momentum over to this spring with a roster that features nine seniors and eight juniors.
Some of the key returning players for Canton this season include senior attacker Mary Kent, senior defender Tessa Cudmore, and senior goalie Kathryn Doody, who form a solid spine for the Bulldogs to build on. Caroline Hagan, Rebecca Eckler, and Maria Mackie are among the other seniors that will be contributing for Canton.
One of the younger players to watch is sophomore attacker Leah McClellan, who is one of several players that helped the girls’ hockey team reach the state title game at the TD Garden. Another sophomore, Maggie Malloy, has already had strong seasons for the field hockey and ice hockey teams and will provide depth this spring.
“We look to gain strength as the season progresses,” said O’Connor. “We will look to the seniors for leadership and intensity in order to be competitive.”
Foxboro won its fifth straight Davenport division title last spring and returned to the Div. 2 South semifinal for the second straight season and expectations will be even higher this season for head coach Brittany Sherry, as the Warriors return 15 players to try and make it six league titles in a row.
Among the many experienced players coming back is an exciting core of sophomores that have made instant impacts, including the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Sophia DiCenso, who scored 65 goals and had 31 assists last year. Joining DiCenso up front will be classmates Caroline McGeary and Meghan Curran and juniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano.
Defensively, senior Hallie Canfield will be back to anchor things and provide leadership. Junior Christina Rogers and sophomores Jenna Stamatov and Molly Murphy will also be back to limit opposing offenses. Freshman Sara Addeche will take over in goal and is another in a line of talented underclassmen that Sherry is excited to see develop over the course of the season.
“Our goals stay about the same every year, most importantly getting another round further!” Sherry said. “The last two years our season has ended in the semi finals but I’m hoping with the scheduling and tourney experience last year we will have the edge we need to get to the finals.”
2016 Record: 19-5 2016 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 State Semifinal Coach: Kristin Igoe Guarino
Another spring and another league title for Franklin, which completed another perfect season in the Hockomock and then carried that success into the playoffs to win a second Div. 1 East title with a dramatic, one-goal victory over Acton-Boxboro. Even though they only return five players, the Panthers enter the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and with sights set on challenging for a state title.
There is experience coming back for the Panthers with seniors Grace McDermott and Dana Lewandowski coming back to control things on the defensive end, while former Underclassman of the Year Kendall Reardon and fellow senior Caroline Lounsbury will provide leadership in the attack.
Franklin always seems to have players ready to step in and, despite there being a youth movement on the varsity team, the Panthers have already started 2-0 with wins against Needham and Lincoln-Sudbury. Sophomore midfielder Annie Walsh and her freshman sister Erin have both gotten off to strong starts with sophomore Halle Atkinson helping out with a hat trick in the win over L-S as well.
“I am very excited for the 2017 season!” said Igoe Guarino. “Our freshmen and sophomores bring a lot of energy and competitiveness to practice and games, while our juniors and seniors bring the discipline and experience. The two combined could bring us very far again this year!”
King Philip surprised some last spring when the Warriors went on the road to beat Westford Academy in the first round of the Div. 1 East tournament and that experience could pay dividends as KP returns a number of key players with the intent making a run at earning a first league title since 2012.
Senior Angela Vellante is back and head coach Julie Boudreau called her the “quarterback” for the attacking unit. Vellante will be looking to feed junior Katie Crowther, who was the team’s and the league’s leading scorer as a sophomore with 111 points. Senior Meghan Wagner was a starter as a freshman and scored in every game but missed the last two years with an injury and is now back to make an impact on offense.
KP can also count on a strong sophomore class led by a core of midfielders: Caroline Klim, Alli Meehan, Victoria and Olivia Tormey, and Dana Truini. Also back is sophomore goalie Caroline Watson behind a defense of juniors Molly Mullins, Christina Hathaway and Izzy Agricola. Also making a return is assistant coach Mary Pasquantonio, Boudreau’s sister, who brings experience as a former KP player and will help the current crop of Warriors on draw controls.
“We have a deep bench with many sophomores and will be looking to run lines and sub regularly to keep everyone fresh,” said Boudreau. “Our theme for the season is ‘grit=hard work + passion’.”
Mansfield won its opening two games of the 2016 season, but the Hornets struggled during a difficult middle part of the spring and missed out on the state tournament. The Hornets showed flashes of potential during the year, including a close loss to perennial tournament team Hingham, and hopes are high that they can get back into the postseason this year.
Expectations are boosted by the return of a strong core of experience players. Senior Maire Foley will be a focal point of the Hornets attack this year, while classmate Maggie Dunn and junior Ann Maher will return in the midfield. Senior Jen McCabe will provide leadership in defense and sophomore Kaity Garvin will build off her rookie season in attack.
Among the new faces this spring are sophomore midfielders Maggie Danehy, who had a solid winter with the girls’ basketball team, and Lauren Whitman
“Our team really has been working together as a unit day one,” said head coach Alexis Kobey. “They came into the season ready to go and work on what they needed to work on to get better, from draw controls, ball movement, attack/defense they have been showing up everyday. They also really love playing with each other, working with each other, making each other better.”
2016 Record: 3-15 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Tim Dowd
It has been a tough run for Milford since moving to the Hockomock League, but the Hawks bring back an experienced roster for first-year head coach Tim Dowd and he is hopeful that the program will continue to improve over the course of the season.
Dowd’s excitement for the new season is in part built on the leadership of his senior class, including captains Taylor Dube, Jill Burley, and Jordyn Lombardo, who Dowd said would all have “incredible seasons.” He praised all three for their competitive spirits and for pushing their teammates to improve.
Another senior, Brainna Croteau, will be in charge of the defensive unit and Dowd is counting on the development of a talented group of sophomores and juniors. Milford also has two freshmen, Hannah Bangert and Anne Flanagan, who will be on the varsity roster this season and who Dowd thinks will make an impact.
“I think one of our strengths is going to be teamwork and work ethic,” said Dowd. “We want to be a team that goes the extra mile for each other and constantly works to win battles on the field. We’re going to try to outwork other teams. We’re going to try to focus on the little things to hopefully make big improvements.”
2016 Record: 13-7 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East Quarterfinal Coach: Mike Vitelli
Under first-year head coach Mike Vitelli (who had previously led King Philip to a Hockomock League title and a South final), North Attleboro made a jump into second place in the Kelley-Rex division and won 13 games, while reaching the playoffs for the first time. After a loss to eventual state champ Walpole, Vitelli has built up North’s schedule with perennial powers Notre Dame Academy, Natick, and Walpole to get the Rocketeers prepared for a tournament run.
North will clearly miss last year’s Player of the Year Hana Caster (who is now at UMass Lowell), the Rocketeers return a number of important players, including six of the team’s seven defenders. Seniors Samantha Taggart, Emily Schromm, Emma Cromidas, and Alaina Mello will provide an experienced defensive unit in front of junior goalie Kayla Moulin, who Vitelli believes will have a great season.
Up front, North will turn to junior Kenzie Rosenberg and senior Erin Holley, who had breakout seasons for the Rocketeers in 2016. Chloe Olsen, Julia Dakin, and Julia Tolfa will also be counted on to provide offense for North Attleboro, while Camille Pizzaro and freshman Katie Lindstrom will be newcomers to watch this spring.
“I really like the depth of our bench as well,” said Vitelli. “Lots of hybrid players who can play in many roles…Biggest question I’ve gotten this offseason has been ‘how can you replace Hana Caster?’ My response is we can’t. But that being said, I don’t think any player is replaceable…It just becomes an opportunity for other players to step in and make their mark.”
2016 Record: 8-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round Coach: Abby Tepper
Oliver Ames reached the postseason last year by finishing second in the Davenport division and will look to build on that in 2017 in the Tigers first season in the Kelley-Rex and first season under new head coach Abby Tepper, who is only one year removed from the end of a very successful college playing career at Salve Regina and a solid first season as coach of the OA field hockey program this fall.
Tepper inherits a roster with several key returning players that provide a foundation for the Tigers, who won the opening two games of the spring. Junior captain Sofia Masciarelli will be the main attacking cog for OA this season with senior Katie Davenport back in the heart of the defense and junior goalie Ari Waldorf will be back between the pipes.
Also back for OA and expected to make a step up into the starting lineup are senior captain Kendall Clifford in the midfield, junior Chloe Kilkelly in the attack, and sophomore midfielder Olivia Piazza.
“The girls have been working hard each day at practice to prepare for the tough schedule they will face,” said Tepper. They continually improve their skills and lacrosse IQ each day. I have been impressed with how the girls have pushed one another to get better and have committed themselves to the program.”
2016 Record: 10-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round Coach: Colleen Carchedi
In her second season in charge, Sharon head coach Colleen Carchedi (née Manning) led the Eagles to their first ever playoff appearance. On their home grass, the Eagles put in a great performance to battle perennial playoff competitor Bishop Feehan and the experience has generated a lot of excitement in the program as the new season begins.
Sharon has five key players returning from last season, including leading scorer Alex Rabb and twin sister Sam, who is one of the team’s top defensive players. Senior Anna Crosby will be the motor in the midfield and junior midfielder Sabrina Robbins has verbally committed to the University of Colorado. Carchedi said of Robbins, “She is someone who always gets the job done and deserves more credit than she gets. She is reliable and hard working, never afraid to take a risk.”
Sophomore Emma Eberhardt is another player coming back that Carchedi believes will be able to take on a much larger role this spring. Eberhardt will add size in the midfield and, particularly, on draw controls. Carchedi said, “She is an all around stud athlete and is for sure a player to watch.” Sophomore Rose Wald is a newcomer that takes over in goal.
“I know we are going to be a really well balanced team,” Carchedi added, noting that the Eagles had six different goal scorers in the season opener against Milford. “I am so excited for the season and ready to hit the ground running after a big game against my old high school, KP.”
With a win against Norton on Monday, Taunton avenged a pair of losses to the Lancers from 2016 and is halfway to last year’s win total. The Tigers are still a young program at the varsity level and, as such, head coach Kerry Northup knows there will be a learning curve against Hockomock opponents, but she is also excited about the team’s potential.
The Tigers will turn to seniors Delaney Powell, Annie Tate, and Abbey Kingman to provide consistent offense this spring and all three had big games in the opener against Norton, combining for 12 of the team’s 17 goals. Powell led the way with six goals in the win and junior Lorna Li had 12 saves in another strong performance for the Tigers’ “confident” goalie.
Taunton also has plenty of youth that will be gaining valuable experience this spring, including three sophomores, a pair of freshmen, and three eighth graders. One of the eighth graders, Alana Tavares, made the most of her varsity debut on Monday, potting five goals against Norton and will be one of the newcomers to watch in the Hock this season.
“We have a solid group of girls this season,” said Northup. “Our strength players have a nice balance throughout the field from offense, mid, to defense. We are not a powerhouse team, but a team with passion, drive, and grit. These girls play to the end and don’t give up until that last whistle sounds.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – Foxboro coach Brittany Sherry called Wednesday’s league meeting with King Philip a “must win” game, as the Warriors try to build their resume ahead of the state tournament seeding on Friday.
As it has all season long, Foxboro has turned to its underclassmen to provide the scoring punch and freshmen Sophia DiCenso and Caroline McGeary came through in the clutch. The duo combined for the final three goals of the game to halt a KP comeback and lift Foxboro to a 15-13 victory that split the season series.
DiCenso led the way with six goals and three assists, all of which came on goals by McGeary, who finished with five, including the eventual game-winner with 5:51 left in the game.
“They’ve been playing together for so long, probably since sixth grade, and they just feed off each other,” said Sherry about the freshmen duo. “They play really well together and they know where each other are going.”
At the start of the game, it looked as though KP was going to be able to pull away a win similar to the first meeting (a 15-8 win at Macktaz Field). The visitors had a 3-1 lead with Katie Crowther, Abigail Buchanan, and Jen Lacroix all getting on the board and with KP winning each of the first five draw controls.
Foxboro made a change in the circle with Caroline Boudreau and Hallie Canfield taking the draws against Lacroix and the home team would win 10 of the next 11 draws to take control of the half.
“I put Hallie [Canfield] on the draw and different people around it,” Sherry explained. “Ultimately, we were losing to a 50-50 ball…so people in the circle needed to get it in their sticks and transition and not panic and stay poised.”
Junior Ally Curran spun and scored to cut the KP lead to one and then McGeary scored back-to-back goals both off DiCenso assists to put Foxboro ahead 4-3 and complete her hat trick. Foxboro extended the lead with another freshman, Lily Feeney, scoring a pair, the second on a great catch in traffic on a pass by classmate Megan Curran.
KP called a timeout to regroup and Lacroix gave the Warriors a boost by scooping a ground ball in the defensive zone and racing the length of the field for a goal. With 27 seconds left in the half, Lacroix repeated that trick, this time from half, to keep KP in it before the break.
“Jen is probably all-around our best player,” said KP coach Julie Boudreau. “For a middie who runs up and down the field, who is super tired, but still has the stick work when she gets down into attack and can score. We’ll definitely miss her and those are big shoes to fill.”
KP scrambled in a goal that cut the lead to 6-5 but again Foxboro had a response. DiCenso scored with a sidearm shot on a free position, sophomore Catherine Luciano added another, and DiCenso drove to push the lead to four.
“The momentum was definitely going back and forth,” said Boudreau. “I think we were rushing it a little on attack, getting a little frantic, but I was happy with how we played today going into tournament.”
With Foxboro leading 10-7 at the break, Luciano scored to make the lead four, but only a minute later Crowther got one back with a low angle shot and then 33 seconds after that Francesca Tonelli bounced in an eight-meter shot that made it a two-goal game.
McGeary temporarily halted the comeback with a drive, but Lacroix scored her third of the game while KP was up a player. After Buchanan cut the lead to one, KP got an important boost from an unlikely source. Dana Truini scored a pair of goals to give KP its first lead since early in the first half.
“I pulled her up from JV a couple games ago because she was doing great on the draws and ground balls,” said Boudreau. “We need a spark on the field, so I think different people have been being that for us.”
Sherry started feeling like the game was slipping away and starting to resemble the first meeting, so she called timeout to settle her team down.
“Once we called timeout, we caught our breath and I told them that we can’t be putting them on the line,” she explained. “We needed to limit our fouls and we need to win the draw and we need to hit the net.”
Sherry added, “I like for them to feel the pressure and see if they can figure it out but sometimes a timeout is necessary to give them a little head check.”
The timeout worked wonders as DiCenso scored with another free position to tie the game at 13-13 and a little more than a minute later she fed McGeary on a cut into the middle to put Foxboro back in front. With 3:08 left, DiCenso dodged past her marker and fired in a goal that put the game away.
Sherry said, “It was a must win for us. I love the game that we had, putting the pressure on us and we had to perform.
“If we want home field advantage or possibly a bye then we needed to win. It was huge that we did.”
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
FOXBORO, Mass. – Nine minutes into the second half, the game had seemed over. Freshman Sophia DiCenso beat the Ashland goalie under the bar and Foxboro held an 8-2 lead as the Clockers were forced to take a timeout.
But the Warriors only won four draw controls in the game and ever girls’ lacrosse coach will tell you that whoever wins the draws wins the game. The Clockers turned the game on its head with four goals in the next nine minutes to cut the lead to two and set up a frantic few minutes for Foxboro’s young attack.
With Ashland double-teaming the ball at every opportunity, Foxboro looked nervous and a little hesitant, until DiCenso picked out sophomore midfielder Catherine Luciano cutting through the middle for the goal that calmed everyone down and allowed the Warriors to hold on for a 9-6 victory.
“We panicked,” admitted Foxboro coach Brittany Sherry. “I think at that point I had three or four freshmen out there in attack, so we’re young and they need to realize get the ball moving and avoid the double, don’t let it come to you.
“Once that goal happened, we were like okay we can break it.”
DiCenso was once again Foxboro’s key player. The freshman has stepped right into the lineup for the defending league champions and she scored five goals and had that clutch assist in the closing minutes to lead the Warriors.
“She’s obviously our go-to,” said Sherry about DiCenso. “She gets it done on both ends of the field. When she’s on then everyone is on and she’s also a great feeder – she sees the open people and she gets it to them and she gets the ball moving.”
DiCenso got the scoring started three minutes into the game with a shot on the run and then added a second a few minutes later off a free position. She then forced a turnover on the ride and fed it to Ally Curran who ran straight to goal and scored with a backhanded shot.
Freshman Caroline McGeary had an overhand finish to make it 4-0 with 11:30 left in the half and Foxboro seemed to be cruising despite not having won any of the first five draws. The Warriors defense had been stalwart through the opening half, allowing only a few chances for the Clockers.
Defenders Annie McGeary and Hallie Canfield were aided by good pressure from DiCenso and Luciano and fellow midfielders Lauren Flahive and Mackenzie Cusack.
Sherry said, “We were struggling [on draws] and that’s when they were getting their opportunity and thankfully Ashland wasn’t able to capitalize on their offensive possessions but yeah defense kept us in the game in the first half.”
After Ashland got on the board, DiCenso cut through the middle and scored her third of the day. Melissa Lynch (five saves) came up with a big stop on an eight-meter chance and with only two seconds left in the half Curran scored on her eight-meter chance to make it 6-1.
Ashland started the second half with a goal, but Foxboro answered back quickly to regain the momentum. DiCenso scored on an assist by Luciano before Lily Feeney had a goal disallowed for a player in the crease. The Clockers then had a goal taken off the board because of an illegal stick and DiCenso scored her fifth to make it 8-2 with 15:52 left.
Sherry said of the way her team played the opening 40 minutes, “Coming out and getting the shots on net; defense came out strong with sticks up and putting the pressure on them to make the right move; our transition looked the best it’s probably been since the start of the season.”
She added, “I think we played about 35 minutes today, so we need to get to 50.”
The Clockers scored twice from eight meters and once in transition to cut the lead down to three. With 6:07 left and Ashland’s defense scrambling to pressure whoever touched the ball, the visitors tacked on another with a good passing sequence to make it 8-6 and force Foxboro into a timeout.
“We kind of got complacent with our possessions,” Sherry explained, “and we didn’t have that urgency any more. The draws – if you win the draws, then you win the game and thankfully we kept possession longer in attack but they had the momentum going forward for sure.”
Curran nearly got her hat trick with a bouncing shot that clipped off the post and the Warriors started to settle down. Nerves were noticeably calmed when DiCenso flicked a pass over an onrushing double team to a wide open Luciano and the sophomore finished from close-range.
Foxboro (8-2, 5-0) was able to run out the clock and preserve its third straight win. The Warriors will travel to Attleboro on Wednesday.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
2015 Record: 7-12
2015 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round
Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
There is a new coaching staff for the Canton girls’ lacrosse this season and first-year head coach Chrissy O’Connor is looking forward to surprising a few people with a strong spring.
Seniors Casey Bradley (attack) and Olivia Devoe (midfield) will be the team leaders and the keys to the Bulldogs making a charge at Foxboro for the league title. Sophomore midfielder Molly Colburn and freshman Leah McClellan will be newcomers to watch this year as well.
O’Connor said, “I think the league will be surprised with Canton’s tenacity this season.They are a confident and smart group of athletes who have handled having a new coaching staff extremely well.This should be an exciting season for Canton lacrosse.”
At the end of last year’s Div. 2 East semifinal, Foxboro coach Brittany Sherry was emotional about losing the crop of seniors that had joined the program the same year she began. That group had won four straight league titles and gone further than any other team in program history. But when Sherry was asked about the future, she was confident in the talent coming back and believed that her fifth season could be another title-winning spring.
Senior Melissa Lynch was a standout in goal last year and will be back between the pipes and will have a strong defensive core in front of her including junior Hallie Canfield and senior Annie McGeary. Offensively, Foxboro will be looking for continued development from junior Lauren Flahive and sophomore Catherine Luciano, who will both be asked to fill in for senior Chloe Hurley, who begins the season with an injury.
Young players helped Foxboro on its run to the semifinal and freshman Sophia Dicenso is the next in line to try and make an instant impact for the Warriors. Juniors Ally Curran and Molly Farrell could also be poised for breakout seasons.
All eyes are on the matchup with Franklin in May, as the two teams have won their respective divisions each of the past four years, but Foxboro also has Hingham, Medfield, and Walpole on its schedule as it sets its sights on another tournament run.
Milford comes into the new season with a young roster after losing eight seniors from last year’s squad and head coach Jason Gelmini is hoping that the many underclassmen who saw playing time in 2015 will be ready to step into bigger roles in 2016.
The Hawks will be led by senior midfielders Morgan Smith and Julie Dam and senior defender Erin Fleming and Gelmini is counting on his captains to provide leadership. In addition, the Hawks will lean on junior defender Brainna Croteau, junior goalie Hannah Cairney, junior middie Jillian Burley, and junior attackers Taylor Dube and Jordyn Lombardo.
Gelmini said, “We definitely have a young team this year, so our goals are to get better each game and compete each time we step on the field.”
2015 Record: 10-9
2015 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East preliminary round
Coach: Craig Gardner
Oliver Ames is coming off a strong season in which the Tigers reached the Div. 1 East sectional before falling to Bishop Feehan in the opening round. This year, OA has a lot of returning players who experienced what a playoff run was like and head coach Craig Gardner is counting on that experience to pay dividends this spring.
The Tiger will be led by a strong senior class, including midfielder Erin Fitzgerald and defenders Cassie Gavin and Sarah Lewis. Senior attackers Abby Duvall and Sam Lang will help Fitzgerald provide attacking power while senior midfielder Carly Cidado and junior defender Katie Davenport will help lock things down at the back.
Gardner also noted a few young players that could be impact players this season, including sophomores Sofia Masciarelli, Chloe Kilkelly, and Ariana Waldorf and junior Kendall Clifford. Freshman defender Olivia Piazza will also be a newcomer to watch this season.
“We have a very strong and focused group of experienced upperclassmen athletes, coupled with some strong developing underclassmen athletes,” said Gardner. “The team has great chemistry, which I hope translates into a competitive season for us.”
Sharon had a program best record of 7-10 last season under first-year coach Colleen Manning, who is expecting the Eagles to take an even bigger leap this year by making the postseason for the first time.
Sharon only has three seniors (Alex Miller, Alexa Levitt, and Heather Seggelin), but plenty of young talent including “top shooter” Alex Rabb, attacker Anna Crosby, and defender Samantha Rabb (all juniors).
Sophomore Sabrina Robbins is drawing attention from colleges and will be a force for the Eagles on draw controls, while freshman Lydia Chase will add a new face to the Sharon defense.