Maher, Todesco Help Mansfield Ice Canton

Mansfield girls lacrosse
Julia Todesco (right) scored three goals and made several defensive plays to help Mansfield improve to 2-0 on the season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry

MANSFIELD, Mass. – The wind was whipping across Alumni Field on Wednesday afternoon and it felt more like the middle of the winter than the start of spring, but the turf was clear of snow and so Mansfield and Canton each took the field for the second time this season.

It took a little longer than usual for the two teams to warm up, the first half was dominated by turnovers and misplaced passes, but in the end the teams went right down to the wire. Seniors Caroline Maher and Julia Todesco each scored hat tricks for the Hornets to pull out a 10-8 victory and push Mansfield to 2-0 on the season.

Mansfield coach Alexis Kobey was not surprised that her upperclassmen led the way on Wednesday. She said, “Both Julia and Caroline played amazing. Claire Maroney anchored our defense back there…Those three are really the backbone of our team. They anchor everything for us.”

Things did not start well for the hosts. Canton opened the scoring nearly four minutes in when Caroline Hagen bounced a shot past Mansfield goalie Tori Lawlor. Jill Pulutchko answered off a feed from Katie Garvin to tie it for the Hornets two minutes later, but Canton came right back with the first of two goals by senior Casey Bradley, on an assist by Abby Colburn.

Todesco and then Maher went back-to-back for Mansfield to give the Hornets their first lead of the game at 3-2 but then Bradley tied the game and classmate Mary Nee smacked the post on a quick break. On her next chance, Nee went over the top of Lawlor (10 saves, seven in first half) to make it 4-3 Bulldogs.

Midway through the first half, Kobey made a change on the draws. She put Todesco on the initial draw and moved Maher up to the edge of the circle with Maggie Dunn and occasionally freshman Emily Vigeant to try and gain control. The switch worked and the Hornets won 8-11 draw controls in the first half and 14-20 for the game.

“We kind of switched it around to get different looks and Emily Vigeant, a freshman, we were trying to get her some looks on the draw,” said Kobey. “But Caroline is so good with those one-handed catches, she has such a good eye.”

Lawlor made a huge kick save to block a chance from Bradley with 9:25 left in the half and two minutes later Maher spun past her marker to tie the game at 4-4. Vigeant put Mansfield ahead at halftime, 6-4, with a pair of goals, the first of her career.

The first came off a turnover that she forced directly in front of Canton goalie Kathryn Doody and the second after she had earned a free position opportunity.

“Her first varsity goals, so that’s big for her,” said Kobey. “She was excited. Her and Katie Garvin are our two freshmen and they came right in and made an impact on the game.”

Canton came out of halftime with renewed energy and immediately got back into the game. Just 1:43 after the break, Colburn took advantage of a restart with Lawlor out of the cage and found Rebecca Eckler alone in front to make it 6-5.

Mansfield pressed forward looking to extend the lead but was denied by Doody, who made seven of her 12 saves in the second half, including four in the opening six minutes. Her stops allowed the Bulldogs to tie the game with 19:48 left on Nee’s second of the game.

“She had a great game; a few big saves,” said Canton coach Chrissy O’Connor of Doody. “She really stepped up and had a great game.”

O’Connor added, “I thought they did a good job in the second half of kind of pulling it together. We’re still kind of early on in the season, so we’re still trying to work some things out.”

Mansfield took less than a minute to regain the lead. Todesco forced a turnover in the defensive zone and started a quick transition that went from Mary Folan to Dunn for a 7-6 lead.

Olivia Devoe answered right back for Canton from a free position chance, but then Todesco scored two in a row, both slicing across the Bulldogs’ defense, to put the Hornets ahead 9-7.

Maroney picked up a card and Canton had an extra player on the field, but the Bulldogs struggled to make the advantage pay. Finally, Nee made a steal on defense and sparked a quick transition. Bradley picked out Hagen in the middle and she cut the lead to just one with 10:57 left.

O’Connor said, “I think it took us a little while to figure out to double team on the man down, but they did a good job of starting to pressure. Our shooting – we hit the post a couple of times, had a couple of overthrows but overall I’m happy with how they played.”

As the clock wound down under six minutes remaining, Canton was probing for the tying goal. The Bulldogs had more than a minute of sustained pressure, but the Mansfield defense was staying with cutters and not allowing good looks. The one chance that the Bulldogs had was stopped by Lawlor.

“I think that’s what really saved us, making that save that gave them the extra confidence,” said Kobey. “When the goalie saved, they’re like yeah! When we went to the timeout, we had the lead and I told them it’s our game.”

Todesco made another play, this time on the defensive side of the game, when she scooped up a ground ball to end Canton’s possession. The play transitioned into the attack and Maher capped her hat trick with a finish that made it 10-8 with 5:17 to play.

The game was sloppy at times, but Kobey admitted that the conditions were at least partly to blame. She explained, “The cold conditions are tough because the blood’s not flowing a much and your hands are freezing and you can’t feel the stick.”

O’Connor is in her first year as head coach and has started with back-to-back losses to perennial power Franklin and now Mansfield. Despite the defeats, she is pleased with how the team is coming together.

She said, “Starting off with Franklin is difficult, but I was happy with how they came back and stayed in this game. It wasn’t the outcome we wanted but I was happy with the fight the whole game…baby steps.”

Mansfield will put its perfect (2-0) record on the line on Friday against King Philip. Canton will be looking for its first win on Friday when it hosts Taunton for the first time.

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

Girls Lacrosse: Kelley-Rex Division Preview 2016

Kelley-Rex girls lacrosse
Franklin is once again the favorite in the Kelley-Rex with senior midfielder Emily Spath one of the key returning players. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

ATTLEBORO
2015 Record: 6-11
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jackie Beland

Attleboro comes into its third season of varsity play after winning  pair of Hockomock games last spring and six games overall. As the Bombardiers continue to develop, head coach Jackie Beland will be hoping that Attleboro can start climbing the standings and be competitive with the strong teams above it in the Kelley-Rex as well as with Taunton, which is beginning its first season in the league.

Attleboro will be led by its senior captains Katie Patton and Hannah Lamothe in attack and Sam Spaziano and Kayla Merritt in the midfield. Mish Logie will highlight the juniors, who will be stepping in to fill the void left by Kerri Beland’s graduation, and senior Amy Cadle will be back in goal this spring. Sophomore Grace Mayer saw some time last year as a freshman and could be ready for a breakout year.

FRANKLIN
2015 Record: 15-5
2015 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East semifinal
Coach: Kristin Igoe Guarino

Franklin enters this season as it does just about every season, as the heavy favorite to win another Kelley-Rex division title. The Panthers will need to replace the scoring and all-around game of Emily Jeffries, but have plenty of players that can step in to fill that production.

Senior midfielders Kenzie Pleshaw and Emily Spath will continue Franklin’s strength in the middle of the field and Sam Jones will be back to lead the defense. University of New Haven-commit Julia Jette will spearhead the attack along with junior Kendall Reardon, last year’s Underclassman of the Year.

Freshmen Annie Walsh and Halle Atkinson will also step into the lineup and show the future remains bright for the league’s top program.

Head coach Kristin Igoe, who has loaded the schedule this year with six of the top seven teams in the state, said, “We have a lot of talent, and when we put all the little pieces together, it is fun to watch. Our goal is to win the Hock and make it back to the sectional final.”

KING PHILIP
2015 Record: 10-11
2015 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East first round
Coach: Julie Bourdeau

King Philip has been a perennial power in the Kelley-Rex division and will be hoping that a large pool of players that came out this spring will help the Warriors get back on top for the first time since it shared the title with Franklin in 2012. The key for KP this season is the senior class, especially in the midfield.

Jen Lacroix is back after a season in which she scored 60 goals and has been a four-year starter and draw control specialist for the Warriors. While Lacroix gets forward to score the goals, fellow captains Abigial Buchanan and Olivia Dort provide the defensive coverage in midfield. Defensively, KP will miss Rylie Dalzell, who is out injured, but Makenzie Nickerson is back after missing most of last season with an injury and fellow seniors Meghan Reilly and Francesca Tonelli will try to keep things away from KP’s freshman goalie.

In the attack the Warriors will turn to their underclassmen Katie Crowther and Angela Vellante and will also be bringing senior Katharine Yetman from defense to add another weapon up front. Head coach Julie Boudreau said, “We have a strong team this year, we are just looking to pull together a dynamic attack with multiple goal scorers…Last year we had a small team and didn’t have the opportunity to sub much-this year we will many different players in the midfield and on attack.”

MANSFIELD
2015 Record: 6-11
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Alexis Kobey

Mansfield got off to a strong start to last season, including an overtime win over Hingham that was later turned into a tie, but the Hornets could not sustain it and missed the playoffs. This year, Mansfield is looking to build on that and get back into the tournament behind senior attacker Caroline Maher, who was one of the league’s top scorers last year.

In addition the Hornets will count on seniors Julia Todesco and Claire Maroney and juniors Maggie Dunn, Maire Foley, Meg Lydon and Tori Lawlor. Head coach Alexis Kobey is also hoping that freshmen Emily Vigeant and Katie Garvin can steo right in and contribute this year.

Kobey said, “We missed out on the tournament and are ready to get back there (to the tournament) as well as really compete with a tough Hockomock league. Our key returning players are all seasoned veterans and we will be looking to them as the backbone of the squad.”

NORTH ATTLEBORO
2015 Record: 13-6
2015 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East first round
Coach: Mike Vitelli

Last year, North Attleboro had the program’s best ever season with 13 wins and a trip to the state tournament. The Rocketeers were knocked out in the first round, but come back this season with renewed energy and high expectations under first-year coach Mike Vitelli, who won five straight league titles and a sectional championship while at King Philip.

The Rocketeers will lean on UMass Lowell-commit Hana Caster for offense and senior goalie Brooke Ebert will be a key for the North defense, which promises to be much-improved this spring. Sophomore Kenzie Rosenberg has drawn praise from opposing coaches and will be a solid addition to the attack along with classmates Chloe Olsen, Julia Tolfa and Julia Dakin. Emily Schromm and Sam Taggart will join sophomore Alaina Mello to try and lock things down at the back.

Vitelli said, “There’s a lot to digest, but as I’ve told the kids it’s a marathon not a sprint. Mistakes we’ll make in March, April and early May should turn into great results come mid May and hopefully beyond.”

TAUNTON
2015 Record: n/a
2015 Finish: n/a
Coach: Kerry Northup

Taunton is opening its first season of varsity play (and already has recorded its first win with a blowout of Bristol-Plymouth), so its entire roster is filled with newcomers that will be learning on the job. Head coach Kerry Northup admits there will be bumps in the road, but that there is also a chance for the Tigers to “make a name” for themselves in the Hock.

Layne and Abbey Kingman and Delaney Powell will be the key players for Taunton in the first season and combined for 10 goals in the season opener. Hannah Moniz will be another player that the Tigers will be counting on this season. 

Northup said, “My goal for what I want my girls to accomplish this season is to come out hard and showcase what they’ve got…We know it may be a difficult season being our first year, so we are staying positive, keeping up the morale, and maintaining our resilience.”