Boys Soccer: 2019 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2019 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview
Mansfield will try to defend its Kelley-Rex division crown this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2018 Record: 5-10-3
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Peter Pereira

The Bombardiers have put last year’s season in the rearview mirror and are aiming to get back to the state tournament in 2019.

Attleboro will rely on its eight returners from last year’s squad plus a good amount of new faces to try and make a push for the playoffs. Senior captains Mike Russo, Nathan LaPlume, and Josh Smith will provide leadership both on and off of the field for the Bombardiers. All three have a good amount of varsity experience with LaPlume and Smith tasked with anchoring the Bombardiers’ defensive unit. Both started a season ago so the defense should be a strength to start the season. Russo started in the midfield a year ago and will be in charge of leading that unit. Attleboro will have to fill the shoes left by leading scorer Will Halben (seven goals, five assists) but there is a strong group of forwards that includes Joey Soucy, Justin Lurssen, and Hugo Henriquez — all of whom have varsity experience — that is ready to pace the offense. Patrick Raczkowski and Kevin Raczkowski should give Attleboro help defensively, junior Jackson Singer bolted academy and should give the Bombardiers a boost in the midfield while junior Zackary Brown takes over in goal.

“I am looking to get some leadership and good play from my tri-captains and I’m hoping for a better season [than last year],” said longtime head coach Peter Pereira. “The team’s attitude has been great and we are working hard.”

Franklin

2018 Record: 10-7-2
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Fran Bositis

Franklin was one of the hottest teams in the league over the second half of the season last year and the Panthers are hoping to carry that momentum into 2019.

When the calendar turned to October, the Panthers finished the regular season 7-1-1. Longtime head coach Fran Bositis has the pieces to continue that success to begin this year and contend for a league title. A strong suit for the 2019 squad will be the defensive unit, featuring returning keeper Jack Rudolph and center backs Sam Stowell and Jacob Cummings. Anytime a team returns two center backs and its keeper, especially a unit that allowed just three goals in its final nine regular seasons, it’s a big positive. Matt Szczepanowski and Trevor O’Neill, both seniors, will factor in defensively as well. Sophomore Terry O’Neill anchors the midfield from the center of the pitch after a successful freshman campaign while the addition of junior Ethan Cain should give Franklin one of the top midfielder duos, and sophomore Tyler Powderly will likely play in a variety of roles. The challenge for Franklin this season will be finding a consistent offense but there is experience up top with Donny Tappin and Lucas Moura back.

“I think we have the potential to be pretty good, but it all comes one game at a time,” Bositis said. “I think if we can score some goals consistently, we can be pretty dangerous this year.”

King Philip

2018 Record: 4-12-2
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mike O’Neill

King Philip begins a new chapter in program history as Mike O’Neill takes over after Nick Gale stepped down following a successful stint with the Warriors.

O’Neill will be looking to help the Warriors bounce back from a four-win season, the first time the squad missed the state tournament in over a decade. King Philip graduated nearly a dozen seniors from last year’s squad but have some key players back in key positions. Senior captain Brian McCarthy has a lot of varsity experience and O’Neill will lean on him to organize the midfield. Senior captains Wes Orzell and Matt Clarke anchor the back line and will be tasked with helping the Warriors keep possession by playing out of the back. Behind the defense, senior Grant Orzell and junior Aidan Lindmark are both strong options in goal. Juniors Evan McEvoy and Camron Lawrence both begin their third season on varsity and are poised to have big years at midfield.

“The team is eager to get started, the seniors want to make their mark after a tough season last year, and the juniors and sophomores are hungry to prove themselves,” O’Neill said. “We will need to stay organized and committed to team defending if we are going to be able to compete in the difficult Hockomock League.”




Mansfield

2018 Record: 13-3-5 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Steve Sheridan

The Hornets have won two division titles in the past four years and took second place in the other two seasons, so it’s safe to assume Mansfield will be in the mix once again this year.

In that span of success, Mansfield has been one of the best defensive teams year in and year out, average under a goal against in each of those seasons, including just 0.67 goals against in 2018. The big challenge this season will be replicating that stingy defense because the Hornets graduated their entire back four. The good news is that Mansfield has Anthony Salisbury back in net after he set the program record for shutouts while Cam Bovey serves as the backup keeper, though he is pushing for minutes this season. The strength of the 2019 squad will be in the midfield where senior captains Peter Oldow and Colin Caridi will be. Both have a good amount of varsity experience and will be joined by fellow returners Robbie Healey, Raffi Marzella, Tommy Lanzillo, Colin True, and Evan Eames. Sophomore Dylan Buchanan made a strong impression during his freshman season and will be joined up front by senior Owen Mullahy, who also picked up some valuable minutes a year ago.

“Our biggest question will be, ‘Who’s going to take over our defense that graduated?”, said head coach Steve Sheridan. “That is what I’m trying to figure out and hopefully it will iron itself out during the preseason.”

Oliver Ames

2018 Record: 8-4-5
2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: John Barata

A lot of people learned last year what we already knew: Under head coach John Barata, Oliver Ames doesn’t rebuild, it reloads. The Tigers had to replace their entire starting lineup last season but still had a shot at the division title heading into the final week.

Oliver Ames has a healthy amount of returning players that either started or saw valuable minutes at the varsity level last year starting with seniors Jon Freeman and Matthew Nosalek, who will be key pieces along the back line for the Tigers. Senior Harry Ahearn is another experienced player that will factor in defensively, senior Josh LaBrosse could see time in the midfield or defense, and seniors Nick Farley and Andrew Hanna could get minutes up top. OA has a strong junior class that learned a lot during last season. Colin Milliken, last year’s HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year, will organize the Tigers from the midfield while Anthony DaCosta, Kevin Louhis, and Jimmy Keane are all strong attacking options. Drew Nickla will take over as the starting keeper this year.

“It is too early to tell what we will look like but I’m looking forward to a great season with the boys,” Barata said. “We are excited for the opportunity to compete this season in the Hock. There are lots of talented teams coming back, from the defending champions to the schools with new coaches ready to make a mark. It’s going to be one of the toughest seasons in my tenure and we hope to be competitive.”

Taunton

2018 Record: 3-12-4
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Taylor Whitters

While the record might not reflect it, it felt like Taunton took a step in the right direction last year, and the Tigers are expecting to take another one this season.

One area of improvement that head coach Taylor Whitters is excited about is the defensive group. The Tigers had the most goals allowed in the Kelley-Rex division but have a reinforced back line ready to fend off the top offenses the Hockomock League has to offer. Senior Colton Medeiros, who had a terrific freshman year before missing time to academy and injury, will anchor the defense in the middle alongside freshman Riley Rebelo. Khalil Ba, a transfer in from Tolman, gives Taunton an outside back that can join in on the attack, while Nolan Melo returns as the starting keeper. Alec Nunes and Colby Fernandes are two dynamic, experienced players that can play both in the midfield or up front. Junior Travis Nunes returns from injury and classmate Hunter Cabral is a versatile player that will play in various roles.

“We have a lot of versatility this year, we’re going to be able to move guys around based on each game,” Whitters said. “No one is locked into a position, we’re going to take it game by game this season.”

Second Half Comeback Lifts Taunton Over Sharon

Taunton boys soccer
Taunton’s Mateusz Hagemajer fends off Sharon’s Isaiah Stessman late in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – The Taunton boys soccer team didn’t win the battle of possession or have the most chances in the game, but it did have the advantage where it mattered most: the score.

The Tigers weathered a strong attack from Sharon, countering with two second half goals, including the game-winner in the final five minutes, to pick up a 2-1 win.

“For this team, it’s about a belief system,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters. “They have to really believe in what they are capable of, because they are capable of a lot, this team has a lot of talent. It’s about being confident. This team in particular, they don’t give up. They are really embracing the “we” mentality over “me” and I think thats’ carrying them through.

“They are determined and resilient, and that showed today. We can’t come out flat like we did. But I couldn’t be prouder of the whole team for staying with it.”

With the game tied 1-1, Taunton senior Brett Beaulieu won a one-on-one battle on the left flank, dribbled into open space and drove a perfectly weighted cross into the senior. Junior Mateusz Hagemajer was in the right spot, heading it just under the bar through the keeper’s hands for the game-winner.

Sharon had the majority of the play, especially in the first half. The Eagles applied a ton of pressure in the opening 20 minutes but couldn’t solve the Tigers’ defense, anchored by Evan Melo and Liam Crowley, or goalie Nolan Melo (10 saves).

Senior Antonio El-Khoury had a nice rip from 25 yards out sail just over the bar, junior Isaiah Stessman drove a low shot from the top of the box off the post, and the Eagles had a couple of crosses go without an answer.

The Eagles finally broke through in the 26th minute when Stessman tucked a header just inside the far post off a nicely taken corner from senior Eli Berkowitz.

Before the end of the half, Taunton settled in some and developed a pair of chances on their own. In the 33rd minute, Hagemajer hit a half volley that was smothered on the bounce by Sharon keeper Ethan Kantor. Five minutes later, hard work from Jared Roderick nearly led to a chance for Hagemajer in the box but Sharon’s Daniel Gunduz interjected and cleared.

After some back and forth play in the early second, Taunton came up with the equalizer just over the midway point of the half. Beaulieu came up big again, gaining possession just over half and linking up with Colby Fernandes in the final third.

Fernandes took a touch into space before taking a shot from 25 yards out. The shot deflected off a player and hit off the inside of the post, just outside the reach of the diving keeper, to make it 1-1. It was Beaulieu’s first of two assists on the night.

“We rely on Brett a lot,” Whitters said. “He’s a very smart player and he’s very tactically aware. He’s very versatile so I can have him go in the middle to calm things down or he can be an attacking option out wide. He really sets a positive tone for us, he’s a workhorse out there.”

Sharon nearly responded right away when Berkowitz was played in alone in the 67th minute but Melo made a terrific one-on-one stop to keep the game level. Eight minutes later, Hagemajer had the winner.

“It’s deflating. We completely dominated that game, dominated the chances,” said Sharon head coach Bryan Kelly. “I’m in shock…we stopped running the last 10 minutes of the game. It was unlucky [Taunton’s] first goal took that deflection. But a break like that gives a team like that hope. We’re not a bad team…I know we’re 0-3-3 but we’ve dominated almost every single game we played.

“We’re missing by just inches and then we give up two lousy goals. It just completely annihilates us. We’re working our butts off, we’re dominating the midfield, we’re getting through balls but with no results. Their goalie was busy but we were missing the frame a lot. Everything was just a few inches off here and there. But give [Taunton] credit, they played their butts off and showed a lot of heart. They had no quit in them.”

Taunton boys soccer (1-1-2 Hockomock, 1-2-2 overall) is back in action on Monday night when it visits Franklin. Sharon (0-2-3, 0-3-3) is in action the same night, taking on Canton in its first ever night game at Sharon High.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 09/07/18


Today’s games are listed below.

Game of the Week – Football
King Philip, 7 @ North Attleboro, 14 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
1st Quarter: (NA) Brendan McHugh 16-yard run, Tyler DeMattio XP good; (KP) Ryan Halliday 80-yard run, Cole Baker XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (NA) B. McHugh 33-yard run, T. DeMattio XP good.

Football
Milford, 7 @ Attleboro, 21 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (A) Jason Weir 16-yard pass to Ethan Cameron, Colby Briggs XP good.
3rd Quarter: (A) J. Weir 1-yard rush, C. Briggs XP good.
4th Quarter: (A) Justin Cote 33-yard rush, C. Briggs XP good. (M) Lucas Rosa 1-yard rush, Sean Lehane XP good.

Canton, 25 @ Dighton-Rehoboth, 20 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (DR) 2-yard rush, XP good; (DR) 10-yard rush, XP good.
3rd Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 24-yard pass to Jace Emma, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (C) J. Hagan 30-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed; (C) Gersom Rivera 3-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed; (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 5-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good. (DR) 5-yard rush, XP failed.

Foxboro, 6 vs. Hingham, 22 – Final
1st Quarter: (H) Charlie Egan 8-yard rush, Jonathan Bearden 2pt rush.
2nd Quarter: (H) Jack Johnson 11-yard pass to Kevin Shea, C. Egan 2pt rush; (F) Liam Foley 32-yard pass to Rob Fay, 2pt conversion failed.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (H) J. Bearden 9-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed.

Franklin, 34 vs. Andover, 10 – Final
1st Quarter: (A) Field goal good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Sean Hofferty 1-yard rush, Parker Chevront XP good; (F) Nick Gordon 1-yard rush, P. Chevront XP good; (F) Austin Jordan 44-yard interception return, P. Chevront XP good.
3rd Quarter: (A) 1-yard rush, XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) N. Gordon 66-yard rush, P. Chevront XP good; (F) Jack Nally 4-yard rush, P. Chevront XP good.

Mansfield, 21 @ BC High, 7 – FinalClick here for a recap of this game.
1st Quarter: (M) Damani Scott 18-yard pass to Nick Marciano, Nico Holmes XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (BCH) Jacob Perez 12-yard rush, XP good; (M) Cincere Gill 18-yard rush, N. Holmes XP good; (M) C. Gill 4-yard rush, N. Holmes XP good.

Oliver Ames, 19 @ Concord-Carlisle, 20 – Final
1st Quarter: (OA) Cam Perron 20-yard pass to Nathan Cabral, C. Perron XP good; (OA) N. Cabral 12-yard rush, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (CC) Christian Gemeli 17-yard rush, XP failed; (CC) C. Gemeli 27-yard pass to Cam Ladd, XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (CC) C. Ladd 20-yard rush, XP failed; (OA) C. Perron pass to Shane Kilkelly, 2pt conversion failed.

Sharon, 7 @ Nauset, 6 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (S) Aaron Strong 25-yard rush, Mitchell Director XP good.
4th Quarter: (N) 50-yard pass, XP failed.

Stoughton, 43 @ Framingham, 22 – Final
1st Quarter: (S) Jeff Grier 86-yard rush, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (S) Chris Ais 10-yard rush, Malachi Green-Hightower 2pt rush; (F) Jack Beverly 41-yard pass to RJ Viele, J. Beverly 2pt pass to Dante Marino.
3rd Quarter: (S) J. Grier 5-yard rush, M. Green-Higtower 2pt rush; (S) Anthony Burke 20-yard pass to J. Grier, Josh Cocchi XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) J. Beverly 29-yard to Gabe Paixao, J. Beverly 2pt pass to R. Viele; (S) M. Green-Higtower 1-yard rush, J. Cocchi XP good; (S) J. Cocchi 25-yard interception return, J. Cocchi XP good. (F) Reece LaChance 5-yard rush, 2pt failed.

Taunton, 7 @ New Bedford, 6 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (NB) Latrell Canto 10-yard rush, XP failed.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (T) Noah Leonard 65-yard pass to Brayden Merrill, Coby Adams XP good.

Boys Soccer
Milford, 2 @ Franklin, 1 – FinalMilford junior Walisson de Oliveira scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner with under 10 minutes to go, to lift the Hawks to a win on the road. de Oliveira opened the scoring off an assist from Anthony Salvador but Franklin freshman Terry O’Neill tied the game just before halftime. de Oliveira scored the unassisted game-winner with seven minutes to play.

Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 2 – FinalKing Philip sophomore Camron Lawrence bagged a brace to lead the Warriors to their first win of the season. After Zac White drew a foul at the top of the box, Lawrence placed his shot back post to put KP up 1-0. With Sharon pushing numbers late to tie it, KP intercepted a pass and Lawrence was able to place a shot into the empty net to seal the deal in the 78th minute.

Mansfield, 4 vs. Dartmouth, 1 – FinalMansfield senior Luke Savoie scored a hat trick for the second straight game as the Hornets dispatched of visiting Dartmouth. Junior Owen Mullahy opened the scoring for the Hornets just two minutes into the game, finishing off a free kick from Derek Meuth. The Hornets doubled their lead when Savoie scored off a long throw from Cam Eddy. Dartmouth cut the deficit to one at half but Mansfield added two more in the second half. Savoie headed in a feed from Ethan Brill-Cass and completed the hat trick with seven minutes to go, scoring off Tommy Lanzillo’s free kick. Anthony Salisbury made 11 saves in net for Mansfield.

North Attleboro, 1 @ Taunton, 1 – FinalNorth Attleboro jumped ahead just before the midway point of the first half but Taunton found the equalizer in the 66th minute to earn a point. Gerson Bonilla cleaned up a rebound in the 18th minute to put the Rocketeers up. Joe Hilf’s header was denied on a terrific save by Taunton goalie Nolan Melo but Bonilla buried his chance. In the 66th minute, Taunton’s Colby Fernandes took advantage of a turnover and used a volley to bring the Tigers level. Kyle Briere made three saves for North Attleboro.

Stoughton, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo Gallery of this game.

Girls Soccer
Franklin, 4 @ Milford, 0 – FinalErin Quaile, Calen Frongillo, Carly Alston, and Sydney St. Marie each scored in the first half to put Franklin in control of its season opener. Grace Gallo and Halle Atkinson each had assists in the win.

King Philip, 6 @ Sharon, 0 – FinalChloe Layne opened her account for the season and finished with a hat trick, while Avery Snead scored two and assisted on two others, as KP got its first win of the season. Makayla Griffin added a goal and two assists and Lauren Anderson had a pair of assists in the win. Sophia McLaughlin earned the clean sheet in net. KP finished with 17 shots in the game.

Field Hockey
Foxboro, 3 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final

Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 12 – FinalKing Philip opened its season with a big win at home over visiting Sharon. Senior Alli Meehan had four goals and three assists, freshman Meghan MacDonald netted a hat trick and added two assists and Olivia Kulesza scored three goals for the Warriors.

Volleyball
Foxboro, 1 @ Tri-County, 3 – Final

Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 3 – FinalKing Philip began its 2018 season with a 3-0 sweep of Sharon (25-17, 25-12, 25-14). Catherine Waldeck had 10 kills for the Warriors while Nicole Coughlan added four kills and three aces. Kat Kmetz finished with three kills, three aces, and 18 service points and Grace Ely added three aces, three kills, and six service points.

Oliver Ames, 3 vs. Bridgewater-Raynham, 0 – FinalOliver Ames bounced back from its season-opening loss to earn a win over visiting Bridgewater-Raynham (25-17, 25-15, 25-16). Senior defensive specialist Grace McCallum had a strong game for the Tigers with six digs, five aces and two kills. Senior Sadie Homer added 18 digs, junior Allie Kemp finished with 21 assists and three aces, and junior Jordan Bosse put down 11 kills with two aces.

Golf
North Attleboro, 172 @ Foxboro, 177 – FinalNorth Attleboro’s Jillian Barend earned medalist honors for the Rocketeers, carding a team-low round of 40.

Attleboro, 174 @ King Philip, 163 – Final

Taunton, 92 @ New Bedford, 77 – Final (Stableford) – Taunton’s Kyle Robinson had a team-best round of 43 to pace the Tigers to a win at the Whaling City Golf Club. Spencer Andrews and Sean Bunker each shot 45 to help Taunton.

Boys Soccer: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2018 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview
Taunton’s Colby Fernandes and Franklin’ Nitin Chaudhury battle for possession last season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Boys Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 4-9-5
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Peter Pereira

Attleboro is aiming to use a strong nucleus of returning players to get back into the state tournament after a couple of years of being on the outside looking in.

“We are excited about the team and looking forward to doing well in the Hockomock, which is not an easy task since there is a lot of talent and good teams in the league,” said Attleboro head coach Peter Pereira.

The Bombardiers bring back a seasoned group of defenders that will hopefully give them stability in the back. Colin Levis brings the most varsity experience to the group and will be joined by Connor Dunn, Josh Smith, and Nathan LaPlume. Senior transfer Aaron Flynn and classmates Jared Cooper and Alex Naughton give the Bombardiers a solid group of veterans in the back. Seniors Andre Menard and Tyler Biller are candidates for the starting goalie position.

Pereira has a lot of options to work with in the midfield, including senior Aidan Lancaster. Lancaster has experience playing defense as well so can provide an extra layer of defense when needed. Another familiar face back in midfield will be Michael Russo, who showed flashes of great skill during his sophomore season. Russo and Lancaster will be joined by Brady Holander, Hugo Henriquez, Kevin Raczkowski and Patrick Raczkowski.

There will be another familiar face up front as Will Halben returns as the feature striker. Halben has been Attleboro’s leading scorer the past two seasons and will be a major factor up front again this year. Eli Araujo, Joey Soucy, Justin Lurssen, and Guilherme Machado are expected to provide help up top as well.

Franklin

2017 Record: 5-9-4
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Fran Bositis

After going through some growing pains throughout the 2017 season, the Panthers are looking to make it back to the state tournament.

It all starts with the Panthers’ three senior captains, who will be relied upon to help Franklin compete in a very talented Kelley-Rex division.

Nitin Chaudhury, Nick Barry, and Sam Stowell are all veteran players and will be joined by 10 other returners from last year’s team that got better as the season went on. The Panthers must replace talented goalie Freddie Beckmann but head coach Fran Bositis is expecting good things from junior Jack Rudolph because of his excellent athletic ability.

Chaudhury will once again be the engine of the team from the midfield position while Stowell is back for his third year in the heart of the Panthers’ defense. Jacob Cummings will be another weapon for Franklin in the midfield while senior Tim Duval and junior Donny Tappin return up top.

“As always we are looking forward to competing in the very competitive Hockomock League,” Bositis said.

King Philip

2017 Record: 11-8-2
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Nick Gale

The Warriors have had back-to-back successful seasons and are looking to make it three straight, despite losing six experienced starters to graduation.

While King Philip certainly has some shoes to fill, head coach Nick Gale has a lot of options to work with and is aiming to make another appearance in the state tournament.

Senior captains Zac White, Tony Bozza, and John Cullen have all seen plenty of varsity minutes over the past couple of seasons and are ready to lead the 2018 Warriors. White and Cullen will be major factors in the midfield while Bozza gives the Warriors some pace up top. White and Cullen will be joined in the midfield by a trio of sophomores – Evan McEvoy, Camron Lawrence, and Ajae Olsen – all of whom saw some minutes as freshmen a year ago.

KP’s defense has been among the best in the league over the past two seasons but will need some new faces to step up to continue that trend this year. The Warriors do have some experience with senior Andrew Thompson and juniors Brian McCarthy and Wesley Orzell all expected to step up in the back for KP.

“We’re a much smaller team this year, but we haven’t lost our willingness to fight while defending,” Gale said. “Our focus will be on improving team defending and our ability to press intelligently. We have defenders returning with varsity experience and they’re committed to working together to ensure we’re organized and defending as a team.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 10-3-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Steve Sheridan

Although Mansfield graduated over a dozen seniors, and the majority of its starting lineup, the Hornets have a strong presence in the middle of the pitch and are looking to build off that to compete for the Kelley-Rex title.

The Hornets bring back EMass All Star Sam Nugent at center back and he’ll be joined by Ethan Brill-Cass, who had a bright sophomore season but missed all of last year due to injury. Mansfield’s defense will feature all seniors as Derek Meuth and Matt O’Donnell fill out the back four for the Hornets. Tony Salisbury and Cam Bovey are competing for the starting spot in goal.

Mansfield also has seniors Luke Savoie and Luke Devine back in the center of the pitch to patrol the midfield. Both Savoie and Devine were key pieces for last year’s Hornets team, which came within one point from earning a share of the league title with OA. One spot that Mansfield is looking for new faces is up top, but options include Colin Caridi, Owen Mullahy, and Raffi Marzella.

“Having to fill the loss of 14 seniors from last season is going to be challenging,” said MHS head coach Steve Sheridan. “We have a variety of guys on offense that I’ll be expecting big things from, time will tell who will step up.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 15-3-4 (Kelley-Rex Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D2 State Final
Coach: John Barata

It’s not often a team graduates its entire starting lineup and then some, but that’s the situation defending Kelley-Rex champions Oliver Ames finds itself in.

The Tigers lost a whopping 20 seniors to graduation and return just four players from last year’s roster so it there will be a completely new look for OA in 2018. But that doesn’t mean the standards will be any lower for the Tigers, who have made three state final appearances in the last four years.

“We have a completely new team and we are looking forward to working hard,” said OA head coach John Barata. “Our primary objective is to get better every day and try to compete in a very difficult and talented Hockomock League.”

OA’s defense was among the best in the entire state last season, allowing just 15 goals in 22 games played. Barata will be looking for Aaron MacDonald, Andrew Leite, Harry Ahearn, Matthew Nosalek, and Jon Freeman to step up and fill in the spots along the back line. Senior Jacob Lerman and sophomore Drew Nickla are battling for the starting spot in goal.

On the offensive side of the ball, Barata is looking for contributions from Colin Milliken, Anthony DaCosta, Matt Nikiciuk, Sean Flaherty, Niko Byron, Kevin Louhis and Haendal Louhis to carry to load.

Taunton

2017 Record: 3-14-2
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Taylor Whitters

A solid nucleus returning from last season and more cohesiveness are two of the top reasons for optimism for the Taunton High boys soccer team.

The Tigers have players back all over the field and are hoping that the combination of experience and some fresh faces leads to a competitive season in a very competitive division. Junior Nolan Melo made a splash last season when he took over as starting keeper and looks to be one of the top players at that position in the league.

Senior Evan Melo will be tasked with anchoring the defense from his center back position while Taunton will look for some new faces to step alongside him. Colby Fernandes returns to his defensive midfield spot and Liam Crowley is back as the attacking midfielder in the middle to give the Tigers a nice steady presence up the center of the pitch.

Leading scorer Brett Beaulieu (nine goals, four assists) is back as the featured striker while Alec Nunes can either pair with Beaulieu up top or drop into the midfield when needed. Kyle Aubin is another returning midfield option for the Tigers.

“We have seven returning starters this season and a team with solid technical ability as well as great team chemistry and athleticism,” said Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters.