During his senior season, Devin Foster sat down with head coach Ryan Gordy to discuss his collegiate options. Canton’s all-time leading scorer (1,306 points), the 2019 Hockomock League MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, and the 2019 Red Auerbach Massachusetts “Mr. Basketball”, Foster had plenty of local options, but he wanted to play at the highest level.
“He said I think I can play at the highest level coach and I’m going to bet on myself and I’m going to go for it,” Gordy recalled. “You never want to hold a kid back from his dream.”
Rather than staying close to home, even if it meant passing up instant playing time or being the star of a team, Foster chose Clemson. He chose the ACC. After two years as a team manager, Foster’s bet on himself has paid off. Last month, he became an official member of the Tigers, wearing the orange No. 14.
“I was kind of hoping for it,” Foster said, “But, you know, coming out of high school, I was from a public school and I kind of wanted to stay home and play it safe [in high school], so I knew for college I wanted to do something a little different. I knew I was going to be willing to be around basketball in whatever capacity that was.”
He continued, “I’m more excited than anything. Last year was just a lot of hours behind the scenes, doing the little things, and now I get to be in the spotlight a little bit more. I’m just looking forward to it.”
Some BIG news for Canton coming out of South Carolina. Former @CHSDogsBball standout Devin Foster is an official member of the Clemson Men’s Basketball Team. Foster lead the Dogs to back to back league titles, scored 1306 points, won league MVP & @mbcaorg State Player of the Year pic.twitter.com/K1blTl7Px0
— Ryan Gordy (@CoachGordy) August 30, 2021
When Clemson opens the season with an exhibition against Georgia Southwestern State on Nov. 1, it will be Foster’s first chance to run out in front of a packed crowd at Littlejohn Coliseum as a player.
“It will definitely be surreal,” Foster said with a chuckle. “I feel like I’ve got a long way up until that point, I mean we just started full practice. I know how long it’s going to take to get there, so I’m just taking it day-by-day at this point.”
Gordy used the same word to describe his former player on an ACC roster. “When you talk about ACC, it’s pretty surreal,” he said. “That’s as big as it gets.
“I think what I’m proud of is the path that he took to get there. When got there, he put the work in and did everything the right way and won over the coaching staff. To be awarded a spot on that roster is a testament to who he is, the sort of personality that he has, the hard work, and what a great representation for our community in Canton.”
Unlike former King Philip star Jake Layman, who went to Maryland and is now playing in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Foster wasn’t a national recruit with a high profile in the ACC. He came to Clemson knowing that he would have to walk-on or be a team manager to be part of the program.
Although his first-semester schedule didn’t allow him to take part in the basketball program, when he returned in January for the second semester he was able to join as a manager. The pandemic made that a short experience, as the campus closed just two months later, but it was a taste of what Foster had missed without basketball in his life.
“I just missed basketball, missed being around the sport and obviously they have a great group of guys,” he said. “I was still working out on my own, maybe not basketball-wise but lifting, just trying to stay in shape, it was just what I was used to, I kind of didn’t know anything else. But once the opportunity opened up to be a part of the program, I kind of hopped right on it and ran with it.”
Last year, Foster was a full-time manager. He got to practice a little, running drills at first before moving up to the scout team, running the opponent’s sets. It started with defense, which allowed Foster to get his feet under him and acclimate himself to the coaches’ expectations.
“When I did get the chance to bring the ball up or give them a look on offense, it made it a little easier because I’d been on the court before,” Foster explained. “I felt like I’d shown them what I could do a little bit.”
Being a team manager isn’t a direct route to being a full member of the team. Foster said that wasn’t his goal when he signed on to help the program. He wanted the structure, the friendships that he developed with his new teammates, and gave him that niche that every new college student is looking for. His transition from manager to player will be helped by the relationships he has already built with his teammates.
“When I first joined, they were really welcoming,” he said. They’re a great group of guys. Now that I’m on the team, they’re really excited for me, just giving me support and encouragement. They embraced me for sure.”
There has also been plenty of support from his hometown. Former coaches, teachers, and staff have shared their excitement at the news on social media and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I love the town of Canton,” Foster said. “They’ve always been in my corner supporting me. It’s humbling though because I know the amount of work I put into basketball, the time I’ve spent in the gym. I’m definitely honored and extremely grateful for all the support they’ve given me and the encouragement even when I was a manager.”
Gordy noted, “He embodied what Canton wants to be and he was sort of a poster child for everything that we believe in – having a high character, setting your standards high, overcoming adversity, and being a great teammate. He really is a champion of excellence but not just on the court but in the way that he carries himself.” Gordy also knew exactly when Clemson would be paying a visit to Conte Forum to face Boston College (Feb. 26) and said there should be a cheering section of Foster’s former coaches in attendance.
That game is still a long way away and Foster will have plenty of new experiences over the coming months. There will be running out in front of the home crowd as a player for the first time or the first road trip to experience warming up in front of rabid ACC crowds. Maybe there could even be his first appearance as a Tiger.
“I’m really excited for what’s coming in the next few months,” he said, although he wouldn’t be pulled into discussions of playing time. “I just kind of go out there and give the scholarship guys the best look I can. I realize it’s not about me, it’s about the other guys. I’m not really thinking of myself when I’m out there, I’m thinking about getting those guys better.”
When he left Canton, Foster wanted the chance to prove himself at the top level. He is there now, although he admits it is hard to put it into perspective right now.
“I didn’t know if my career would continue but luckily I got an opportunity and I’m very grateful,” Foster said. “Right now, in the moment, I can’t see the bigger picture yet because I’m in it but it’s definitely surreal and it’s really exciting for me.”
CANTON, Mass. – Inside the opening 10 minutes of Wednesday night’s game at WWII Veterans Memorial Field, Foxboro saw itself go behind. A bad bounce (or fortuitous if you were on the Canton side) left the Warriors down, but far from out. The league’s second-highest scorer, Foxboro was confident that it could find one goal in the next 70 minutes.
As it turned out, the Warriors got five. Behind a Kailee McCabe hat trick, Foxboro turned around the early deficit to run out 5-2 winners at Canton, once again moving into a first-place tie with Oliver Ames atop the Davenport division.
“After we got down by that one goal, I could just see that they knew they were going to come back and win this game,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “I have that confidence in them and I think we’ve just come together so strongly as a team that they just have that faith in each other that they’re going to make it work.”
Foxboro nearly opened the scoring after seven minutes. Jordan Carman’s pass from the left wing picked out McCabe on the edge of the box. Elyse Broderick was able to get two hands to the shot and tip it over the bar. Just two minutes later, Canton found the opener. Sarah Dempster’s free kick from midfield took a huge bounce in the box, stranding Foxboro keeper Alexis Sougaris and ending up in the back of the net.
The Bulldogs were absorbing pressure but seemed buoyed by the early goal and were getting some success attacking down the wings. Fay Gallery won the ball in midfield and fed it to Emily McCabe, who in turn found Emma Cahill streaking down the right wing. The freshman’s cross just eluded Gallery at the back post. A few minutes later, it was McCabe on the right wing crossing but again Gallery couldn’t make contact on the far side.
Two goals in two minutes turned the game on its head and sophomore Erin Foley was the impetus behind both. First, she made a smart run in the box and was brought down by Broderick to earn a penalty that McCabe coolly put away. Just two minutes later, Foley pressured Dempster, forcing a turnover, and hit a curling, first-time shot over Broderick and under the bar from a tight angle.
“She’s just a grinder,” Stalcup said of Foley. “She just has so much competitive energy. I told her the other day that’s something I can’t coach. She just has so much emotion and passion and competitiveness that it fuels so much of her game.”
Canton continued to hold its own. Injuries have taken their toll for the Bulldogs, forcing Ava Gilmore to move out of defense into the midfield, but Allie McCabe was handling the Foxboro attacks and it remained a one-goal game for another 10 minutes.
Then Kailee McCabe made a goal out of nothing. The league’s leading scorer and reigning MVP, fired a shot from 35 yards out on the right side of the box and placed it into the far bottom corner to make it 3-1.
“Where we’re getting hurt most in the midfield,” said Senyonjo, who was missing two starters to injuries and had several other players banged up. “If we can put on this same performance with a few more healthy bodies then we might be able to get something out of the next few games and hopefully we can squeeze into the playoffs.”
With two minutes to go until halftime, Canton had a chance to get back within one. Gabriella Herivaux played a pass into Cahill charging down the right. The freshman cut back onto her left foot, but her shot from the edge of the box was parried at full stretch by Sougaris.
Momentum remained with the visitors coming out of the break. A cross from Brooke Barreira nearly found Foley for her second but the redirected shot went wide. Canton came close after a cross from deep by Kristina Keefe found Anne Hoban on the far side of the box. The senior’s glancing header went narrowly wide, possibly clipping the post on its way past the corner.
McCabe continued to be a thorn in the side of the Canton defense, finding little pockets of space on the edge of the area. Twice she forced great diving saves out of Broderick before finally completing her hat trick in the 63rd minute with a perfectly-placed shot from the edge of the box into the corner.
“She’s just this gift that was given to Foxboro and we’re just so thankful and grateful to have her,” Stalcup said. The pairing of McCabe with Carman up top has proved very fruitful for the Warriors. Stalcup explained, “That goal when Jordan passed it back to her and Kailee finished it, they just read each other so well and they’re just so quick on the ball. It’s just beautiful soccer.”
Like in the first half, Foxboro wasted no time adding another. A long ball from sweeper Lindsey Resnick found Carman behind the defense and she rounded Broderick before firing home from an acute angle.
Carman nearly added a second on a similar play a few minutes later, but this time her shot flashed through the box and out the other side. Just a minute before that shot, Cahill had gotten free on a rare foray into the attacking third and clipped the bar with a cross from the right.
McCabe forced another save out of Broderick in the 74th minute and the Canton keeper reacted quickly to clean up the rebound in front of Neve Taylor.
Canton would get a second goal in the closing minutes. Emily McCabe’s corner to the back post was met by Gallery, whose firm header from close range gave the keeper no chance.
“When you have a player that can make goals out of nothing, it’s just a killer,” said Senyonjo. “We had a game plan coming in, we stuck to it for the most part, and it worked. I still think the 5-2 scoreline doesn’t reflect how well we played but that’s the nature of the business we’re in. A couple mistakes here or there we could’ve avoided, we started well, but that’s a tough team.”
With the win, Foxboro (9-1-1) extended its unbeaten run to 10 games heading into Friday’s visit of state power Bishop Feehan. Canton (3-5-3) will get a few days off to heal before a visit from Attleboro on Tuesday.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Canton lost its opening two games of the season and gave up nine goals in the process. The Bulldogs were incorporating a lot of new faces in the defense and there was a learning curve. It is a curve that the team seems to have left in the rearview mirror.
With a 2-0 shutout of Mansfield on Tuesday night at Alumni Field, Canton has won its last seven games and moved into first place in the Davenport division. Defense has been a major factor in that win streak, as the Bulldogs have allowed only one goal in those seven wins and are now second in the league in goals allowed.
“Our defense is really stepping up,” said Canton coach Chrissy O’Connor. “We definitely started out slow. That was definitely one of the areas that we were trying to fill in some lost spots from last year. The first two games, there were some growing pains there, but they’re really starting to gel together.”
Things didn’t start off comfortably for Canton on Tuesday. Mansfield has speed on the wings and the Hornets tried to take advantage of that in the transition game. Midway through the first quarter, Celia Puleo got free down the left and knocked a cross into the circle. Maddie Brown did well to bring the head-high pass down and get a shot on target, but Canton goalie Carolyn Durand was able to make a double save to keep it scoreless.
It was the best scoring chance of the game for the Hornets, who forced Durand into only one more save for the rest of the night.
Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan said, “We lost it in the midfield, a combination of Canton making plays, poor decision-making on our part, and just not having enough people up on attack.”
Canton started to tilt the field, putting constant pressure on the Mansfield defense. Despite all the possession in the attacking half, Mansfield goalie Lily Danehy was largely untroubled. Ellie Bohane tried to create an opening 10 minutes into the game, but Sarah Cunningham’s shot on the turn went just wide.
It took 13 minutes for the Bulldogs to put a shot on target. A 10-yard shot through bodies off the stick of Maggie McCready was kicked aside by Danehy.
The second quarter was more of the same, Canton attacking in numbers and Mansfield repelling those attacks without allowing anything near the goal. After nine minutes, Bohane had a look that Danehy was equal to and, in the final minute of the half, Erin Lane’s goal-bound shot was blocked by Audrey Murphy before Danehy cleared the rebound.
“A lot of receiving issues, a lot of mistakes on our own that we need to clean up offensively,” said O’Connor about the lack of clear chances in the first half. “We do have a lot of different scorers, which is a positive, but we need to clean up some of the errors.”
While Canton was struggling at times to connect in the circle, a lot of the credit goes to Mansfield defender Caitlin Dumouchel, who seemed to always be in the right place to break up attacks and try to spring the Hornets down the other end.
“She’s a game changer for us,” Nyhan said of Dumouchel. “She’s a great last line of defense and an awesome first line of attack. It’s not just a whack, she carries out and she carries out with speed.”
After lacking the final touch in the first half hour, Canton wasted no time finding the opener after the break. Just two minutes into the third quarter, the Bulldogs got the game’s first corner and converted it into the game’s first goal. Cunningham played it out to Payton McDonough at the top of the circle. A touch put the ball onto Lane’s stick and she lifted a shot through traffic that found the back of the net.
Mansfield’s fast start on the break had faded and the Hornets were struggling to get anything going in the offensive end of the field. Dumouchel blocked an attempted shot off a corner and sent the outlet pass to Brown in the middle of the field, but her attempt to race forward was quickly stopped by the stick of Laura Valkanas.
Canton had a good chance to double its lead 11 minutes into the second half, with Bohane firing a pass in front to Audrey Koen, but Danehy came through with a huge double save. Two minutes later, off another corner, the Bulldogs got their second. This time McDonough played a pass to Cunningham at the near post. The first tip was stopped but got caught under Danehy’s feet and Cunningham was able to poke it across the line.
“Which is one of the things we’ve been struggling with is our corners, just getting off a shot and things we’ve been working on,” said O’Connor. “So, I was glad to see the girls actually capitalize on corners.”
The fourth quarter was largely a stalemate, as Canton continued to hold possession but was wiling to play field position and hold onto its lead. Mansfield did try to make one late push to get back into the game, winning its only corner with six minutes to play only to move too early and wipe away the opportunity.
“It’s kind of the way things have been going for us,” Nyhan explained. “We have three returning varsity players. We’re young and we’re struggling scoring. So, when they don’t score early I think they feel disappointed and then they just put so much pressure on themselves. They need to relax and play.”
O’Connor knows there is still a long way to go in the season and a lot of potential twists in the division’s title race, but she is thrilled with the progress her team is making. “Definitely gelling a little bit more,” she said. “The girls really stepped up and every game there’s somebody different that’s improving. They’re really starting to come into their own.”
CANTON, Mass. – On Wednesday night at the Masciarelli Gym, in a battle of division leaders and a rematch of last year’s Hock Cup semifinal, King Philip showed not only why its gone the opening nine matches unbeaten and why its in the running for a sixth league title in eight years, but also that it could be a strong contender in the Div. 2 state tournament.
Behind a dominant display at the net by junior hitters Emily Sawyer, Ahunna James, and Sami Shore, the Warriors swept Canton 3-0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-16) to continue its perfect start to the season. KP has lost only one of the 28 sets it has played in nine matches.
“That’s good and bad,” KP coach Kristen Geuss said. “We need to keep working hard. If we want to keep this going, then we need to work hard and I think they know it, I think they get it. I’m hoping that they continue to put the work in at practice and continue to get good results.”
Sawyer (16 kills and three blocks) set the tone from the opening point of the match. Listed at 6-foot-3, she towered over the Bulldogs and smashed home the first two points to put KP in front. Canton answered right back with a tip by Fatima Sidibay and a block and a kill from Jess Wright. James (eight kills) started to find the range on the outside with a pair of kills, including one that ended a long rally. A Shore kill and a pair of aces from James put KP up 10-5.
“We are strong at the net,” said Geuss, “which is great for our setters (Stella Bailey and Kiera Hagen) because they have so many options and not just having to set up one or two people. Having the options makes them more comfortable.”
Right from the opening set a pattern emerged. Both teams were excellent defensively, keeping rallies going on both sides of the net, but when it came time for the decisive swing KP’s attackers were more consistent in finding the open space.
“I’m very proud of the way my team played,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “We’re a scrappy defensive team and when we could get a good swing I think we tested their defense. Free balls, tips, they were all over them. We have to hit the ball.”
With Sawyer able to overpower Canton’s defense either on the outside or in the middle, the Warriors started to pull away in the first. Three straight Sawyer kills pushed the lead to 19-8, then James stepped in with a pair and scored a third point with a well-placed bump. Shore and then Olivia Carey closed out the first with kills and KP took the lead in the match.
The second set was far more even, as Canton started to turn its strong play on the back row into points at the net. Again Sawyer put KP up 2-0 with back-to-back kills, but then Wright got a couple of good swings and Talya DeGraw found an opening with a tip. After a Sydney Gallery kill on the outside, the set was tied at 8-8.
KP would rattle off seven of the next eight points and seemed poised to pull away, but the Bulldogs kept scrapping and answered right back with a run of their own, tying the second at 16 apiece. James put KP back in front with a block and Shore smashed a hit off the blocker to regain the advantage.
Canton showed off its defense again, with freshman Zoe Scibelli laying out to keep the play alive and Anna Verille finding a point with a bump inside the line. Momentum for the hosts was short-lived as Shore got a point at the net and then the service line and Sawyer rose up to bury the final point of the second.
“We’re a young team,” Cawley explained. “We had a really slow start, losing our first two [matches], and we changed our lineup making Anna Verille our libero. She’s amazing. Taylor Reynolds, my setter, I can’t say enough about her.”
She added, “We didn’t play well in the first set, but the next two sets I think we gave it everything we had and we’ve got 12 matches left and I think we’re getting better every day. I couldn’t be happier coaching this team, every day we see improvement.”
Trailing by two sets, the Bulldogs came out with extra fight in the third. Amaiah Christian got her first kill, Gallery’s block led to an error, and DeGraw fired in an ace to grab a 10-7 lead. KP has dropped only one set all season (last time out against Milford) and the Warriors were able to stay focused and come right back. Carey’s kill tying the set up at 10-10.
Down by three, Sawyer gave KP a spark when her third attempt at a kill finally eluded the Canton defense. Bailey added an ace and the set was tied again. Bailey (19 service points) would go on a run at the service line, turning a three-point deficit (13-10) into a five-point lead. She had two aces and Sawyer had a pair of blocks in the run.
James would put the final touches on the third set, with two kills and an accurate tip down the line helping the Warriors over the line in a match that felt closer than the final score.
“Canton is always very competitive,” said Geuss. “We have to play our best no matter what against Canton because they never give up. They are scrappy, they are fast, and that was great competition for us.”
Cawley was effusive in her praise for the Warriors. She said, “KP is a legitimate team. I could see them going all the way in D2. They have height, they have strength, they’re a great team. Both middles are legitimate and obviously Ahunna James is amazing.”