Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 04/01/16

Today’s games are listed below.
Baseball
North Attleboro, 7 @ Bishop Feehan, 13 – Final
Boys Lacrosse
Franklin, 13 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Ben O’Neill netted a pair of goals for the Bulldogs and Shaun Kirby added one in the loss. 
Foxboro, 3 @ North Attleboro, 2 – Final – Louis Piccolo, Austin Ryan and Andrew Whalen scored for the Warriors.
Oliver Ames, 2 @ King Philip, 17 – Final – Senior Sam Agricola led the Warriors with four goals and two assists and junior Tim Watson had five goals and one assists. Harry Fallon’s made a big impact with his hustle and ball movement, which resulted in four assists for KP. John DeLuca added three goals and junior midfielder Zach D’Amico had nine ground balls. Shane Frommer, freshman Wes Bishop and freshman Colin DeVellis all had their first varsity points. Paul Macrina had 10 saves in net for KP.  

Mansfield, 16 @ Milford, 0 – Final
Girls Lacrosse
Canton, 16 @ Franklin, 2 – Final – Julia Jette led Franklin with seven points, potting three goals and adding four assists. Emily Spath had a pair of goals and three assists and Jordan Jette netted a pair of goals. Dani Lonati had nine saves in goal for Franklin. Mary Nee and Casey Bradley had the goals for the Bulldogs.

North Attleboro, 9 @ Foxboro, 19 – Final

King Philip, 17 @ Oliver Ames, 5 – Final Erin Fitzgerald scored a hat trick for Oliver Ames.
Milford, 6 @ Mansfield, 22 – FinalCaroline Maher led the way for the Hornets with seven goals and Julia Todesco added six. Also for Mansfield, Maire Foley had four goals and Tori Lawlor made five saves in goal. Junior Fiona Raleigh scored a pair of goals for Milford, her first career goals for the Hawks.
Boys Volleyball
Milford, 3 @ Essex Tech, 0 – Final
Taunton, 3 vs. Braintree, 1 – Final – Taunton picked up its second win of the season in as many days with a 25-18, 25-19, 17-25, 25-14 win. Lance Law led the Tigers with 17 kills, six aces and five digs while Ricardo DaFonseca had 29 assists, six aces and three kills. David Perry chipped in with six kills and Dawid Fusiecki played well defensively and with seven digs, two aces and three kills. 

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 03/31/16

Today’s games are listed below.
Boys Lacrosse
Taunton, 6 vs. Bristol Plymouth, 7 – Final (OT)Taunton rallied from a 6-1 deficit in the fourth quarter in its first ever varsity game but fell to BP in overtime. Lee Gobin scored a pair of goals for Taunton while Andrew Wellington, Jason Stern, Griffin Speicher and Cam Welby each scored once. Ryan Williams made six saves in net.
Girls Lacrosse
Franklin, 14 @ Needham, 15 – Final (2OT) – Seven different players found the back of the net in Franklin’s opening game. Kenzie Pleshaw led the way with a team-high four goals and Emily Spath netted three goals. Sam Jones forced three turnovers on defense and had a pair of ground balls. Dani Lonati made seven saves in net. 
Taunton, 17 vs. Bristol Plymouth, 1 – FinalThe Tigers picked up a win in the program’s first ever varsity game. Layne Kingman led the way for Taunton with three goals and three assists. Delaney Powell scored five goals, Abby Kingman and Hannah Moniz each had two goals and an assist and Breanna Conlon and Kayla Phillips each scored a pair of goals.
Boys Tennis
Taunton, 3 vs. Durfee, 2 – Final – Brett Beaulieu picked up a marathon win at first singles (6-4, 5-7, 6-4), Mike Briggs won at a third singles (4-6, 6-1, 6-4) and Connor Briggs and Charlie Fiske teamed up for a 6-4, 6-1 win at first doubles. 
Girls Tennis
Taunton, 5 @ Durfee, 0 – Final – Jordan Pagliuca picked up a win at first singles (6-1, 6-2), Olivia Sweeney won at second singles (6-1, 6-0) and Delaney DeAvila rallied for a win at third singles (4-6, 6-2, 7-6). In doubles play, Emily Moor and Ashleigh Eason had a sweep at first doubles (6-0, 6-0) and Caroline Herbert and Jillian Pagliuca teamed up for a 6-1, 6-2 win at second doubles. 
Outdoor Track
Boys
North Attleboro, 105 vs. Oliver Ames, 31 – Final
Girls
North Attleboro, 73 vs. Oliver Ames, 63 – Final
Boys Volleyball
Taunton, 3 vs. Norwood, 0 – Final – The Tigers opened the season with a 3-0 sweep over Norwood, 25-11, 25-21, 25-16. Sophomore Lance Law led the way with 14 kills, 10 digs and three aces while Ricardo DaFonseca picked up right where he left off last year, notching 24 assists. Lens Esquil had five kills and a block, Malik Charles added four kills, three aces and a block and Nate Grant had four kills, and ace and a strong game at the net. Head coach Toby Chaperon praised the work of David Perry and Dawid Fusiecki during the game. 

The 2015 Hockomock Girls Soccer All Stars & HMs

playeroftheweek_2015_calabraro_HP
Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Soccer All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Francesca Calabraro, Oliver Ames

Hockomock League All Stars

Paige Medeiro, Attleboro
Sarah MacQuarrie, Canton
Riley Duserick, Canton
Victoria Stowell, Franklin
Dani Lonati, Franklin
Meghan Dieterle, Franklin
Alexis Stowell, Franklin
Carolynn Will, Foxboro
Lily Sykes, Foxboro
Rachel Hogan, King Philip
Hannah Reiter, Mansfield
Jaclyn Carchedi, Mansfield
Patricia Murphy, Mansfield
Jennifer Kemp, Mansfield
Kristen Franzini, Milford
Haley Guertin, North Attleboro
Rachel LaBonte, North Attleboro
Hana Caster, North Attleboro
Francesca Calabraro, Oliver Ames
Jacqueline Mills, Oliver Ames
Delaney Benton, Oliver Ames
Zoe Chazan, Oliver Ames
Ally Steinberg, Sharon
Samantha Tullis, Stoughton
Alana Vincent, Taunton
Abby Small, Taunton

Honorable Mentions

Rebekah Entwistle, Attleboro
Tessa Cudmore, Canton
Lauren Rudolph, Franklin
Riley Collins, Foxboro
Brooke Thomas, King Philip
Anna Chairolonza, Mansfield
Katie Brown, Milford
Grace Guertin, North Attleboro
Emily Freeman, Oliver Ames
Ally Filipkowski, Sharon
Marissa Williams, Stoughton
Emily Serpa, Taunton

The 2015 Hockomock Girls Soccer All Stars & HMs

playeroftheweek_2015_calabraro_HP
Below are the official Hockomock League Girls Soccer All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Francesca Calabraro, Oliver Ames

Hockomock League All Stars

Paige Medeiro, Attleboro
Sarah MacQuarrie, Canton
Riley Duserick, Canton
Victoria Stowell, Franklin
Dani Lonati, Franklin
Meghan Dieterle, Franklin
Alexis Stowell, Franklin
Carolynn Will, Foxboro
Lily Sykes, Foxboro
Rachel Hogan, King Philip
Hannah Reiter, Mansfield
Jaclyn Carchedi, Mansfield
Patricia Murphy, Mansfield
Jennifer Kemp, Mansfield
Kristen Franzini, Milford
Haley Guertin, North Attleboro
Rachel LaBonte, North Attleboro
Hana Caster, North Attleboro
Francesca Calabraro, Oliver Ames
Jacqueline Mills, Oliver Ames
Delaney Benton, Oliver Ames
Zoe Chazan, Oliver Ames
Ally Steinberg, Sharon
Samantha Tullis, Stoughton
Alana Vincent, Taunton
Abby Small, Taunton

Honorable Mentions

Rebekah Entwistle, Attleboro
Tessa Cudmore, Canton
Lauren Rudolph, Franklin
Riley Collins, Foxboro
Brooke Thomas, King Philip
Anna Chairolonza, Mansfield
Katie Brown, Milford
Grace Guertin, North Attleboro
Emily Freeman, Oliver Ames
Ally Filipkowski, Sharon
Marissa Williams, Stoughton
Emily Serpa, Taunton

Rocketeers Continue Upset Run With Win at Franklin

North Attleboro girls soccer
The North Attleboro girls’ soccer team knocked off its second straight Hockomock champion on Sunday to advance to the Div. 1 South semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FRANKLIN, Mass. – Hana Caster was the only player to score a goal against the Franklin defense during the regular season. On Sunday afternoon at Pisini Field, Caster also became the only player to score against the Panthers in the postseason and in the process knocked Franklin out of the tournament in the Div. 1 South quarterfinal.

Caster scored just nine minutes into the game to give North Attleboro a lead that it would never relinquish. The 1-0 victory advances the Rocketeers into the semifinal and ends Franklin’s streak of sectional final appearance at three (and four of the last five).

If there were any nerves going against the league champions, North Attleboro certainly hid them well. The Rocketeers, coming off a 3-2 win against Davenport champion Oliver Ames, started well with pressure in the midfield and quick transitions to the front two of Haley Guertin and Caster.

“Franklin, I’ve always said, there’s no question they’re the best team in the league,” said North coach Glenn Pasquel, “but when we came out we thought, it’s just another game.”

He added, “The main thing is these girls focusing. When they focus, we’re on fire; they’re unstoppable.”

In the ninth minute, the pressure paid off when Guertin sprung Caster down the right channel only for the senior forward to hit a tame shot at Franklin keeper Dani Lonati. The ball was quickly heading back towards the Franklin goal and Grace Guertin flicked a header towards Caster who split the central defenders with her speed and then composed herself to chip Lonati.

“She’s a huge impact to our offense the way she’s moving the ball,” said Pasquel.

North continued to pile on the pressure and in the 15th minute, Ellie Teixeira was forced to clear a ball of the line.

Franklin had a chance in the 29th when left back Abigail Gipson crossed but barely missed the head of Molly Duncan and the toe of Meghan Doherty. In the 34th minute Alexis Stowell went on a long, weaving run only to hit a shot from the edge of the box right at North keeper Kiersten Bixby.

“They were the better team,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “That [goal] was the difference but it doesn’t tell the tale of the game. We couldn’t create anything up front, nothing consistent.”

The lack of sustained attack for Franklin was putting extra pressure on the defense to step up and just four minutes after the break, North almost doubled the lead. Haley Guertin got behind the defense but with the goal at her mercy dragged a shot narrowly wide.

In the 54th minute North again came close to the back-breaking goal when a ball was played over the top to Caster and she showed off her speed to outpace Lauren Rudolph. With only Lonati to beat, Caster elected to square the ball and it was cleared.

Two minutes later, another ball was played behind the defense and bounced toward Lonati. Caster never gave up the chase and there was a terrible collision between the keeper and the forward. Caster took a blow to the head and was down for several minutes before walking off with assistance. She would not return following that very scary moment.

Pasquel said, “Hana or anyone of our players, when we see them on the ground, and when she went down and wasn’t moving that was scary, the whole team said to itself that we have to help Hana and go out and win this game.”

Franklin knew that it had to press for an equalizer and the attack started to create more chances and to push higher up the pitch. The problem for the Panthers was that every time Victoria Stowell or Emily Spath or Meghan Georges got any momentum Rachel LaBonte was there for North to sweep up and to lear the attack.

LaBonte spent her freshman season playing mostly as an attacker, but Pasquel moved her back to sweeper in the preseason. He explained, “She’s unbelievable, She reads the play instantly. I just saw it and said to myself, you know what, she’s a defender and I’m going to give her a try.”

The best chance for Franklin came in the 71st minute when Gipson stepped into a full volley off a Stowell corner but hit it right into the chest of Bixby. A yard either side and the game would have been tied.

With four minutes remaining, Geysen called timeout to rally his team. He explained, “You have to push up. Everything goes over the top and you have to go get it. They created some chances but it was too little too late.”

Pasquel told his team, “This is the time we have to get past those injuries and we have to work together. We have four minutes left and then we go on to the next step.”

The clock wound down to nothing, the final whistle sounded, and for the second time in four days, North Attleboro raced onto the pitch to celebrate a victory at the home of one of its rivals.

“It’s the heart that leads this team,” said Pasquel, “and these girls have the biggest heart. Our goal from the beginning was that we’re going to finish to the end.”

Geysen struggled to put into context all that his senior class had accomplished in four years at Franklin. From a state championship as freshmen to three straight sectional finals (in one of the most competitive brackets in the state) to four straight league titles, the seniors had a lot for which to be proud.

“That may be one of the few teams that we’ve lost at home to in four years,” he said. “I had seven [senior] starters and three coming off the bench and they all played well tonight. They each gave it their all.”

North Attleboro will face Whitman-Hanson in the Div. 1 South semifinal on Veterans Day at Marshfield High.

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

Stowells Provide Goals For Franklin Against Walpole

Victoria Stowell
Victoria Stowell (16) scored direct from a corner kick for waht turned out to be the game-winner against Walpole on Friday. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FRANKLIN, Mass. – There was little energy on the pitch, the passing was far from crisp, chances were practically non-existent and it seemed like both teams were grateful that halftime was only nine minutes away so they could try and regroup.

It was exactly how visiting Walpole and coach Bill Wallace wanted the first 31 minutes to go.

“When you play them in the tournament that’s how it goes,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “I’m lucky it didn’t come down to penalty kicks because that’s how they play.”

“They don’t generate a whole lot of offense, but it’s always close with them because they don’t give you much.”

Then Victoria Stowell stepped up and curled a corner kick into the top corner to give Franklin the lead and changed the outlook for both teams at halftime.

“The corner kick screwed up our plan,” said Wallace, who had taken over two weeks ago when head coach Erin Kearney went into labor. “We usually don’t play a formation with five at the back and I think they did a great job on one day of preparation.”

He added, “She hit a laser…what are you going to do? With a team like that, then 1-0 is like 3-0.”

The goal stood as the game-winner, but also sparked a much-improved second half for the Panthers who ran out 3-0 winners and advanced to face league rival North Attleboro, which Wallace used to coach, on Sunday in the Div. 1 South quarterfinal.

There were chances in the first half, but all came within a four minute span. First Victoria set up her sister Alexis with a corner to the far post but the forward could not keep her header on frame.

Two minutes later, Walpole had a golden opportunity when Franklin’s normally rock solid defense allowed a player clean through on goal, but she dragged her shot wide of the post.

The Rebels had another chance shortly after when Meghan Dieterle and Dani Lonati had a miscommunication on a throw that bounced to Tayla Randall but she steered her header wide as well.

“The kids in the back, I don’t know if it was jitters or whatever, but they weren’t as tight as they usually are,” said Geysen. “I called timeout and told them to calm down on both sides of the ball.”

It was easier to calm down after Stowell’s “Olimpico” and at halftime Geysen reinforced his message that the Panthers needed to get back to playing their game.

“I said that you can’t allow them to be knocking you off the ball,” he explained. “I said, you have to put your big girl pants on an go after them and we kind of did that a little bit in the second half.”

Walpole was forced to come out of its shell a little in the second half and chase a goal, but also the Panthers started to move the ball with more purpose and make more runs off the ball to create scoring chances.

Victoria Stowell had the first chance on a free kick that skimmed the crossbar on its way past. Three minutes later and Alexis Stowell almost finished off a long throw by Ellie Teixeira, but Walpole keeper Kaitlin Brown did well to block.

Teixeira had a chance of her own after a good run forward by left back Abigail Gipson opened space in the middle but again Brown was on hand to make the save. Molly Duncan also had a chance from long range that forced Brown to back pedal and tip the shot over the bar.

With eight minutes to go, Alexis Stowell doubled Franklin’s lead. There was a mad scramble in the box, with several shots blocked by Brown and/or her defenders, and the ball popped loose to Stowell who managed to squeeze it inside the post.

Walpole had created no scoring opportunities since the opening minutes, so the lead looked safe, but Meghan Doherty ensured the win with a deflected shot from the edge of the box that gave Brown no chance.

Geysen hopes that the goal by Doherty and the performance of several young players will give them confidence against the Rocketeers in the next round. He explained that he writes a poem to the team before every game and that in this game’s poem he told them, “if you have butterflies that’s a good thing, it means you’re ready.”

He joked, “And some of them had more than butterflies.”

Franklin will host North Attleboro at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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

Stowell Brace Clinches League Title for Franklin

Victoria Stowell
Victoria Stowell (16) scored a pair of goals in the second half to beat Mansfield and earn Franklin a sixth straight league title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FRANKLIN, Mass. – During Franklin’s win on Friday, head coach Tom Geysen noticed that senior Victoria Stowell was getting frustrated because, despite her team leading 7-0, she could not find the back of the net.

He took her aside and told her to save the goals for the games that matter most to the Panthers. On Monday night, Geysen explained, “Anybody on this front line and in the middle can score against these teams, there are certain teams that they can’t and those are the teams you want to focus on.”

Stowell paid attention and on Monday she celebrated Senior Night against Mansfield with a pair of second half free kick goals that gave Franklin a 2-0 win and clinched the program’s sixth consecutive Kelley-Rex Division title.

“He says score in the important games and that’s what I did,” said Stowell with an ear-to-ear grin. “They’re rivals; I have to score against our rivals.”

In a game that featured few chances for either team, Franklin had a golden opportunity in the 53rd minute. The ball was flicked forward by Alexis Stowell into the path of Emily Spath and the senior was able to chip it past the onrushing freshman keeper Lauren Whitman but then watched helplessly as the ball skipped off the far post.

Just seconds later, Franklin won a free kick and from 35 yards out, Victoria Stowell smashed the ball off the far post and in for the game’s opening goal to make it 1-0.

Megan Georges hit the bar for Franklin 12 minutes later and then with five minutes remaining Stowell again teed up a free kick – this time from 40 yards out. Once again (and for the third time in two games against the Hornets this seaon), she was able to curl the ball into the top corner to make it 2-0.

“They had two fantastic free kicks – upper 90 far post and then upper 90 near post,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith. “How do you defend that unless you have a 6-foot-4 keeper?”

“If someone’s going to beat you, let it be on something like that.”

Geysen praised Stowell after the first win against Mansfield as a big game player. She lived up to that billing in the rematch as well.

He added, “She’s rock solid and shows no emotion during the course of the game. It’s all business until it’s over and then maybe you’ll get a smile from her.”

Mansfield’s best chance came with two minutes remaining. Jen Kemp laid a pass into the path of Rebecca Bornstein and the senior smacked the ball off the crossbar from the edge of the 18.

It was one of the few shots that the Franklin defense allowed and only second shot that Mansfield put on target in the game. The Hornets put junior Hannah Reiter up top to be the focal point, but the Panthers defense closed down her space and closed off the passing lanes to her fellow forwards.

“The movement off the pass to her wasn’t in the spaces we needed,” said Smith. “We talked about playing, like Franklin does, move forward, pas backward and play forward. When we played forward, there was no back pass because we weren’t moving into that space.”

Geysen explained, “I told my two center backs (Lauren Rudolph and Meghan Dieterle), you have to decide who is going to pick her up higher because she’s going to end up unmarked and the other one has to be behind. The two of them have been rock solid all season.”

The Panthers defense, which also features Nadia Havens and Abigail Gipson, is a major reason why another they claimed another league title. Franklin has yet to allow a goal through 14 games, which is even more remarkable because three of the four starters from last year (Lindsay Mastaj, Leah Benson, and Nicole Ellin) needed to be replaced.

“I thought that I would have a huge job this year,” said senior keeper Dani Lonati, “but honestly I’ve had not even a dozen shots. They communicate really well and, I don’t know, we just work really well together and it’s been one of the more solid parts of the team.”

When asked if the team talks about not giving up a goal, Lonati cut off the question before it was finished and like a pitcher during a no hitter would not talk about it. She smiled and said, “Nope, keep quiet, we don’t want to jinx it.”

Following the Senior Night celebration, Stowell noted, “We’ve faced a lot of adversity this year, losing Bailey [Knous] quick, losing Megan Adams quick, and inexperienced players have to step up and learn the ropes quickly…and I think the sophomores and juniors have done a good job stepping up to replace that defense.”

Franklin (13-0-1, 12-0-1) will put its unbeaten record on the line on Thursday evening at Taunton. Mansfield (9-3-2, 8-3-2) will travel to North Attleboro on Friday afternoon.

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

Taking Stock of the Hock: Girls Soccer 2015

Victoria Stowell Francesca Calabraro
Victoria Stowell (blue) and Francesca Calabraro lead the midfields of the top two teams in the Hock and are among the players contending for Player of the Year this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Who is the current soccer Player of the Year?
Perry: For the past three years, a Franklin girls’ soccer player has been named Player of the Year. It started with Kristi Kirshe, who split the award by division the first year that we gave it out, and Taylor Cogliano won it each of the past two years. At the moment, I think the Panthers’ domination of this award will continue.

Senior Victoria Stowell continues to dominate the middle of the pitch for Franklin, especially against the top teams, as Mansfield can attest. Even with a host of new and inexperienced players around her in the midfield, she continues to keep the Panthers offense rolling with incisive passing and a bite in the tackle that helps protect the defense by keeping the ball high up the pitch. Stowell is second in the league with 18 points, including 13 assists, and is the main cog in a team that remains unbeaten and has yet to give up a goal.

There are plenty of great players in the Hock and many who have had great first halves but Stowell remains the most influential player on the top team in the league.

Lanigan: There are a handful of really talented players this year and a couple that could very well be picked as the top player. As of right now, I’d say Oliver Ames’ Francesca Calabraro is the Player of the Year. Through the first half of the season, the junior has netted 11 goals, which is currently second in the league and has a total of 15 points, which is fourth in the league. The Tigers sit atop of the Davenport Division and have only allowed four goals this season while finding the back of the net 33 times. They were able to keep both Franklin and Mansfield, two other top teams in the state, scoreless in the game and both had to focus a lot of their attention on stopping Calabraro. The 2014 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year should certainly be in the conversation for the league’s top player this year.

Who is the soccer Underclassman of the Year?
Perry: Coming into the season, I would’ve assumed that Lily Sykes would be a sure bet to win this award, but injuries to her teammates have moved her back into a more central midfield position (taking away some of her scoring punch from last year) and another sophomore has stepped in to become the league’s leading scorer. North Attleboro’s Haley Guertin is the focal point of a talented Rocketeers attack and she leads the league with 13 goals and 23 points She is skilled on the ball, strong in the air, and seems to always be in the right position to get the goal when North counters with its vaunted pace. Her partnership up top with Hana Caster has combined for 23 goals.

Guertin may be the frontrunner at the midway point, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a charge from Sykes in the second half of the season, as she and her teammates get healthier. Don’t count out players like Riley Duserick of Canton or Sam Tichelaar of Taunton making a push as well.

Lanigan: Sometimes stats don’t tell the entire story, but in this case they certainly do. North Attleboro sophomore Haley Guertin has had a superb first half of the season, leading the Hockomock League with 13 goals and is second in the league with 10 assists. The partnership she has formed with senior Hana Caster has been one of the most dangerous in the entire league. With 37 goals scored this year, the Rocketeers are one of the top offenses in the league. With seven league games left, Guertin and North Attleboro are just three points out of first place undefeated Franklin Panthers.

What has been the biggest surprise this season?
Perry: I’m not at all surprised that Franklin is back on top of the league and has a serious chance at winning another league title, but the fact that the Panthers have allowed exactly zero goals through the opening 10 games of the season is shocking. After losing Nicole Ellin, who was a rock at center back last year, and both outside backs, I assumed Franklin would need some time to mesh defensively. But Lauren Rudolph and Meghan Dieterle have been immense at the back and on the outside converted midfielder Nadia Havens has slotted in at right back like she’s played there forever. Of course, having four-year starter Dani Lonati in goal also helps with the organization and confidence of the Franklin back line. There is a ton of talent on this squad, but seriously no goals allowed in 10 games? That is a remarkable accomplishment.

Lanigan: Certainly Franklin having a +38 goal differential (with zero goals against) is quite the feat but I’d say the biggest surprise so far has been North Attleboro. The Rocketeers graduated two very talented players in Nicole Chretien and Courtney Hewitt, both of which had the ability to find the back of the net. But they haven’t skipped a bit with Glenn Pasquel in his first year at the helm. Between Hana Caster, Haley Guertin, Grace Guertin and Shannon Kingsley, among others, the Rocketeers are second with 37 goals scored this year. North still has two games left against Franklin, who has yet to surrender a goal.

HockomockSports.com Midseason Best XI
Perry:
G – Dani Lonati, Franklin
D – Delaney Benton, Oliver Ames
D – Hannah Reiter, Mansfield
D – Meghan Dieterle, Franklin
D – Sarah MacQuarrie, Canton
M – Victoria Stowell, Franklin
M – Francesca Calabraro, Oliver Ames
M – Lily Sykes, Foxboro
M/F – Hana Caster, North Attleboro
F – Haley Guertin, North Attleboro
F – Jackie Carchedi, Mansfield

Lanigan
G – Dani Lonati, Franklin
D – Hannah Reiter, Mansfield
D – Sarah MacQuarrie, Canton
D – Delaney Benton, Oliver Ames
M – Victoria Stowell, Franklin
M – Francesca Calabraro, Oliver Ames
M – Hana Caster, North Attleboro
M – Alexis Stowell, Franklin
F – Haley Guertin, North Attleboro
F – Jackie Carchedi, Mansfield

At this point, which team will be going the furthest in the tournament?
Perry: I’m not really going out on a limb, but I think at this point it would be hard to pick against Franklin. Even with injuries starting to hit the Panthers attack, freshman Halle Atkinson has stepped in and provided a spark and, as mentioned above, the defense is playing at a very high level.

But, I will say that there is a chance that we could see a deep run from Canton this season. Division 2 South is wide open with a lot of very good teams, but without a powerhouse like Hingham at the top. While the Bulldogs will have to go through the likes of Scituate and Medfield (and probably Hingham), Canton has made huge strides in head coach Kate Howarth’s third year and showed against Mansfield at Gillette that it can pass the ball and control possession as well as any team in the league, which becomes particularly important in the tournament.

Lanigan: I think there’s a very good chance we could see the Panthers return to the D1 South Sectional game for the fourth straight year. Between Mansfield, Franklin and OA, they might have to go through one another in a very talented D1 South bracket. You win games with defense and so far, the Panthers have done just that as they haven’t allowed a goal. I think all three of those teams will all be tough to play in the playoffs.

What is your bold prediction for the rest of the season?
Perry: I’m not great at bold predictions. I’m almost invariably way off or my pick is far from bold. But here goes: my bold prediction is that this fall a girls’ soccer team wins silverware for the league in the tournament. At first glance, Franklin looks the most likely, but Mansfield, Oliver Ames, and North Attleboro will be teams that the likes of Whitman-Hanson and Bishop Feehan will want to avoid in D1 and Canton and Foxboro have potential to cause problems in D2. The league looks increasingly deep and before the season ends one of the teams will have a trophy to show for it.

Lanigan: My bold prediction is that Franklin won’t allow a goal all regular season. It will be a very tough task with two games left against North Attleboro and one against Mansfield but I think the Panthers have a chance at doing it. With Meghan Dieterle anchoring a strong back line and with Dani Lonati, one of the best goals in the state over the last four years, in net, it will be a challenge for teams to score against Franklin.

Panthers Shut Out Mansfield in Battle of Unbeatens

Bailey Knous
Franklin senior forward Bailey Knous scored the eventual game-winner just four minutes into the game against Mansfield on Monday. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

MANSFIELD, Mass. – The air was cool, even chilly, the lights were on at Alumni Field and Monday evening’s matchup between unbeaten Mansfield and Franklin girls’ soccer did not feel like the fifth game of the season.

The action on the pitch felt like a state tournament game and the reaction of the Mansfield players after the final whistle showed just what it meant to the Hornets.

“It’s five games in and my girls wanted it so bad that they’re upset right now,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith. “They’re saying that we did not play at the level we want to and I’m very happy with that.”

Franklin went on the road and sent a message to its division rivals that it was still the team to beat with a 3-0 victory. Bailey Knous, Jamie Dragsbaek and Victoria Stowell were on target for the Panthers, but it was the back four and the defensive pressure in the midfield that both coaches credited for the win.

“The pressure up front was causing them problems,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “It makes them less apt to pushing everyone forward and in the first half they started getting away from what they were doing and started whacking the ball long, which takes them out of their game.”

The Panthers needed only four minutes to take the lead. Megan Georges picked up the ball in the hole behind the forwards and hit a perfect through ball to Knous, who managed to hold off Anna Chiaralonza and slide the ball past the onrushing Emily Gaumond.

It was a struggle in the first half for the Hornets who had trouble matching Franklin’s pace and the control of the midfield. Mansfield created only one chance in the opening 40 minutes when Katie Bongarzone managed a shot from 20 yards that hit the angle of post and crossbar.

“We were running helter skelter,” said Smith. Our shape was terrible. Their spacing was fantastic but we were also letting them win easy 50-50s. I thought we cleaned that up in the second half and gave them a much better game.”

Franklin was not creating many clear-cut chances but was keeping the pressure on the Mansfield back four. Alexis Stowell had a chance with a header on a cross from her twin sister Victoria and then created another scoring opportunity for Knous minutes before halftime only for Gaumond to make the sliding save.

“When we come here, our girls really get up for them because they’re always very, very good,” said Geysen. “It’s the first time all season that we’ve played a full 80 minutes the way that we’re capable.”

“I told them that this is the best, total game in two years.”

The second half was far more even with Mansfield starting to get more involved in the physical battles, but it was still Franklin that had the majority of the chances. Knous flicked a header onto Stowell only for Gaumond to come flying out and make the save at the feet of the forward.

Mansfield made a change and brought junior Hannah Reiter from center back to the center of midfield to try and improve the Hornets attack. The Quinnipiac-commit made an instant impact with a dipping shot from 25 yards that forced Franklin keeper Dani Lonati to tip it over the bar.

Smith explained, “We were missing that link between the midfielders and the forwards who could just get a ball under composure and attack – not just kick it. Just to have that presence there…she won headers and helped us sustain attacks.”

Despite the Hornets increasingly putting pressure forward, the Franklin back four managed to clear everything that came its way. The central defenders, Meghan Dieterle and Lauren Rudolph, worked well in tandem with one going to the ball and the other always there to cover.

The outside backs, junior Nadia Havens and Abi Gipson, were able to keep track of Mansfield’s dangerous duo of Jackie Carchedi and Jen Kemp.

“Before the game, my other outside back told me that she was sick and couldn’t play so I grabbed Abby and said next body up and she played well,” said Geysen.

In the 70th minute, a Franklin break led to a corner. Rudolph played it into the middle and the ball bounced in the six-yard box before junior Jamie Dragsbaek volleyed in the loose ball to make it 2-0.

In the final seconds, Victoria Stowell, who had been a dominant force in the midfield for the Panthers, wrapped up the scoring with a 35-yard free kick that soared into the back of the net and added some gloss to the final score.

“When she stepped up I told her right on [net], right on,” said Geysen of his junior midfielder. “She steps up in big games. Against teams like this and OA, she steps up.”

Smith noted, “[The score] didn’t reflect the game, but the better team did win…They were slightly better than us and they earned it.”

Mansfield (4-1-0) will host Kelley-Rex rival North Attleboro on Thursday afternoon. Franklin (4-0-1) will be back home to play Taunton.

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