Franklin Offense Stalls In State Semifinal Loss

Franklin girls lacrosse
Franklin celebrates a goal by Annie Walsh (1) that cut the North Andover lead to one in the second half. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WELLESLEY, Mass. – The Franklin defense was able to keep the Panthers in Monday evening’s Div. 1 state semifinal at Babson College’s MacDowell Field, holding North Andover to just eight goals (two of them empty net goals in the final minutes), but the offense faltered against the Scarlet Knights’ zone look.

“Not many teams play it,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe of the North Andover scheme. “We’re used to man-to-man and we’re successful against it. We knew that they played a backer, so I told them it’s nothing we haven’t seen but it was the unforced errors – throwing it into their sticks or their goalie intercepting.”

The Panthers were limited to just two goals in each half, their lowest scoring output of the season, and saw their season come to a close with an 8-4 loss.

“Our ‘D’ has carried our game all season and I think they did it again tonight,” said North Andover coach Meredith Prior. “Two goals per half, that’s pretty low in lacrosse and I think Lauren Hiller came up huge and that’s why she’s the best goalie in the state.”

In the first half, senior Dani Lonati was a match for Hiller, a University of Massachusetts commit, with eight of her 10 saves. After Julia Jette opened the scoring 29 seconds into the game off an assist by Kendall Reardon, Lonati stopped four shots, including two free positions, on the first North Andover possession.

She continued to dominate the Knights as the half wore on and Diana Griffin doubled Franklin’s lead with 15:02 before the break on an assist by Caroline Lounsbury. Unfortunately for Franklin that would be the last goal that it would score for the next 27 minutes of game time.

“Six goals against…I thought our defense was amazing,” said Igoe. “Especially in that first half, Dani Lonati was on fire and she really kept us in the game. I think our trouble was offensively just capitalizing and then unforced errors kind of hurt us in the end.”

North Andover scored twice before halftime to tie the game and then added two more in the opening eight minutes of the second half. Freshman Annie Walsh got one back for the Panthers when she bounced in a free position goal that cut the deficit to just one.

“With the backer you can’t really dodge, so you can’t just go because there’s someone on the ball and someone waiting to back up that person,” said Igoe. “So, you have to be patient and move the ball and I thought we did a much better job of that in the second half.”

Again, the Knights had the answer, scoring the next two goals before Emily Spath ended the run with a free position with 4:40 remaining. By that time, Igoe had already called Lonati off the field to get an extra defender on and the Knights would take advantage of the empty net to tack on two more goals.

“I’ve been in that place, exactly where Franklin was, the past two years where you’re going as hard as you can and it’s not a fun place to be and I’m glad we’re on the other side of it this season,” said Prior.

While disappointed in the loss, Igoe refused to let that be the final word on the Panthers and the season that they have had, which included the program’s second sectional title and another undefeated Hockomock League championship.

“I told them don’t let one game define you,” said Igoe. “At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t sure how it would go. In the first Needham game, someone asked how we were going to do and I said, I don’t know; we could get killed and then we tied them and from there this team won a sectional championship.

“They worked hard all season long and credit to the seniors for bringing us this far and I’m excited for the future.”

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

Battle Tested Panthers Return to D1 East Final

Franklin girls lacrosse
Kenzie Pleshaw (15) led the Franklin girls lacrosse team to its second D1 East final in three years with a win over Feehan. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – For the second time in three seasons, Franklin will be playing in the Div. 1 East final, following a 14-7 victory on Tuesday night against fifth seed Bishop Feehan at Pisini Field.

The Panthers beat Feehan for the second time this season (Franklin won 10-3 in the regular season meeting) and the experience of playing a regular season schedule loaded with tournament-caliber opponents, including many ranked in the top 10 in the state, is paying off, according to head coach Kristin Igoe.

“I definitely think strength of schedule is a big factor,” she explained. “We’ve been in games where we’re up, we’ve been crushed, and we’ve been close at half…we’ve had every situation and I think that helps in the tournament.”

The Panthers have faced the likes of Westwood, Notre Dame Academy (Hingham), and Needham, which are widely considered the top three programs in the state, as well as perennial Div. 1 powers like North Andover, Lincoln-Sudbury, and Andover.

With that experience under their belts, Franklin was ready to play a type of defense that Feehan coach Nancy Anderson-Semple admitted was on a different level of physicality than the Shamrocks had encountered in the regular season.

“They’re playing teams that are tougher than ours during the season, so they’re used to playing that way,” said Anderson-Semple. “A lot of our kids have bruises everywhere, hits to the head, all that kind of stuff; we’re not used to that physical type of play.

“They have a tougher schedule where I guess they’re allowed to do that, so that was a little bit of a shock to the girls.”

While the Panthers had success against the Shamrocks in the regular season, Igoe insisted her team was focused to take on Feehan on Tuesday.

She said, “Our biggest thing was don’t underestimate Bishop Feehan. Even though we beat them in the regular season, it doesn’t matter. It’s tournament; it’s a whole new slate.

Thanks to strong play on the draws from senior Mandy Semple, Feehan was able to hang with the Panthers early in the game. Freshman Annie Walsh opened the scoring on a drive to her right hand three minutes in but the Shamrocks quickly answered to tie it.

Kendall Reardon scored on a low, eight-meter shot to regain the lead and Kenzie Pleshaw, who was recently named the Hockomock League MVP, made it 3-1 with a sidearm shot on the run, undeterred by a bump on her way to goal. Semple got one back but Emily Spath came down 24 seconds later to make it 4-2.

“They have an excellent draw taker and that’s where their momentum was,” said Igoe. “They would constantly win draws, which wasn’t good for us, but if they scored our defense shut them down on the next one of Dani [Lonati} made a save. It was important to not them get on a run.”

The defensive unit for Franklin proved to be the difference in the first half with a strong ride that stymied the Shamrocks in transition and then a settled defense that took away cuts and passing lanes. Led by Sam Jones, Olivia Truenow, Grace McDermott, and Dana Lewandowski, among others, the Panthers would limit Feehan to just three goals in the opening half.

Meanwhile, the offense was clicking into gear. Caroline Lounsbury assisted on Spath’s goal and on the next goal by Julia Jette that capped off a transition started by Truenow’s outlet pass. After Semple scored her second, Lounsbury converted an eight-meter try for her first goal of the game.

Pleshaw capped the half with a pinpoint shot across her body into the top corner with three seconds on the clock to give Franklin an 8-3 lead at the break.

Feehan tried to turn things around in the second half and again the draw controls played their part as the Shamrocks won the first two and turned both into goals by Caroline Toomey. But, Walsh snagged the next draw control for the Panthers and then converted on a free position for her second of the night.

“You would never know that she was a freshman,” said Igoe of Walsh. “The way she ran up and down the midfield today, she played like a senior. She may not get credit for all the goals and assists but the ground balls, the draws, she caused turnovers, she didn’t give them second chances.”

Semple converted her hat trick but Feehan still could not put a run together, as the score stayed 9-6 or five minutes before Diana Griffin put one under the bar for the Panthers, which was followed by goals from Pleshaw and Reardon to build the lead to six.

Feehan scored to make it 12-7 with 5:20 remaining but before the ensuing draw, lightning was seen and the teams had to take a 45-minute break until the weather cleared. Walsh scored off an assist by Pleshaw and then played provider on Griffin’s second to let the Panthers close out the game in style.

It was not unexpected to see the Panthers, the top seed in the sectional, get back into the final, but a little bit of a surprise is that it will be Acton-Boxboro making the trip to Franklin on Thursday night, not No. 2 seed Lincoln-Sudbury.

When asked about A-B, Igoe remarked, “I know they beat a great Concord team and a great L-S team, so they must be good. They were losing a bunch and people kind of doubted them and they said, who cares. They must be good and we’re not going to underestimate them.”

The final is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m.

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

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 06/02/16

Today’s playoff games are listed below.

Baseball
D1 South
#2 King Philip, 3 vs. #15 Catholic Memorial, 4 – Final

#4 Taunton, 1 vs. #13 Brookline, 2 – Final (8 inn.) – Luke Figueira pitched seven innings without surrendering an earned run but the Tigers couldn’t overcome a run by the Warriors in the top of the eighth inning. Figueira struck out seven and allowed three hits and four walks in a no decision. Christian Simoes, Jack Moynihan and Matt Machado each had two hits for Taunton, which totaled 11 hits as a team.

#9 Franklin, 4 @ #8 Durfee, 6 – Final – Franklin took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning but the Hilltoppers climbed back into the game with four in the bottom half and added single runs in the second and third. Offensively, Nick Santucci went 1-3 with an RBI, a walk and a run scored, Brad Jarosz was 2-3, Mike Skaza knocked in a run and both Steve Ferguson and Alex Bissanti scored a run for the Panthers. Sophomore Jake Noviello pitched well in relief for the Panthers, tossing four innings with just one run allowed while striking out five.

#12 Attleboro, 1 @ #5 Norwood, 0 – Final (9 inn.)Click here for a recap of the game.

D2 South
#12 Oliver Ames, 0 @ #5 Nauset, 9 – Final – Oliver Ames only registered a pair of hits against Nauset pitcher Paul Prue, who tossed a complete game shutout with seven strikeouts. Senior Josh Minuskin had a triple and sophomore Matt Muir had a single for OA.

#14 Canton, 1 @ #3 Middleboro, 0 – Final (9 inn.) – Canton senior Kevin Powers tossed a complete game, nine inning shutout to lead the Bulldogs past the defending D2 State Champions. Powers worked around a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the eighth and the Bulldogs went on to score the winning run in the top of the ninth. Jim Jenkins had his second hit of the game, a double, and moved to third on a bunt from Jimmy Hamrock. Sean Doyle then connected and Jenkins came home to score on an error. Powers stretched his scoreless inning streak to 24 straight, scattering five hits while striking out six batters. Mike McMahon also had two hits for Canton while Joe Peccia (11 putouts), Joe Bires and Matt Casamento each had a hit.

D3 South
#17 Foxboro, 1 @ #16 Scituate, 2 – Final

Softball
D1 South
#14 North Attleboro, 7 vs. #19 Walpole, 8 – Final – North Attleboro rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning but were unable to push the tying run across the plate. Liz Morehouse connected for a two-run home run and Kaylea Sherman had three hits on the day.

#15 Franklin, 4 vs. #18 Somerset Berkley, 6 – Final (8 inn.)

#16 Mansfield, 4 vs. #17 Notre Dame Academy 0 – Final – The Hornets scored all four runs in the third inning and senior pitcher Maddie Letendre struck out 12 while allowing just two hits as Mansfield advanced in the tournament. Megan Letendre and Marissa Staffier (2-3) each knocked in a run and Maddie Letendre (1-3) singled to score them both to take a 4-0 lead. Bri Homer and Jocelyn Reardon (1-2) scored runs for the Hornets. Mady Bendanillo, Kara Bendanillo and Rachel Carafa each added a hit for the Hornets.

#23 Oliver Ames, 4 @ #10 Norwood, 8 – Final – Oliver Ames scored three runs in the first inning and added another in the second but the Mustangs offense proved to be too much. Missy Krim (2-3, run scored) reached on a single to left, advanced on a bunt single from Rachel Han and bunt single from Victoria Ziner (2-4, run scored) loaded the bases. Jamie Gottwald (1-4, RBI, run scored) batted in a run for OA and then scored off a two-RBI hit from Caroline Mahoney (2-3, two RBI).

D3 South
#21 Foxboro, 9 @ #12 Westwood, 6 – Final

Boys Lacrosse
D1 South
#5 Franklin, 17 vs. #12 Bridgewater-Raynham, 2 – FinalAustin Kent scored four goals and had three assists for the Panthers, who also got four goals and an assist from Eric Civetti. Chase Tanner added three goals for Franklin and Jake Alexander had two, as well as winning 21-of-23 face-offs.

#11 King Philip, 6 @ #6 Mansfield, 5 – Final – Click here for a recap of the game. Click here for a photo gallery from the game.

D2 South
#8 Oliver Ames, 0 @ #1 Hingham, 17 – Final

Girls Lacrosse
D1 East
#1 Franklin, 11 vs. #8 Newton North, 3 – Final – Franklin raced out to a 7-0 lead at half and held the Tigers of Newton North scoreless for the first 35 minutes of the game. Kenzie Pleshaw had four goals to lead Franklin while Julia Jette had one goal three assists, Diana Griffin scored twice and had a pair of assists. Head coach Kristin Igoe credited her defense with a very strong game, led by Sam Jones, who won six draws and two ground balls.

D2 East
#8 North Attleboro, 10 @ #1 Walpole, 20 – FinalHana Caster scored four goals for the Rocketeers and Mackenzie Rosenberg added three in the loss.

Boys Tennis
D1 South
#13 Mansfield, 1 @ #4 Franklin, 4 – Final – Franklin got a pair of wins in both singles and doubles to advance in the MIAA tournament. Junior Eli Brooks battled back for a 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 win at second singles and freshman Dan Barrow won 6-4, 6-2 at third singles. Tom Mancini and James Johnston continued their stellar seasons with a 6-2, 6-1 win at first doubles and Jeremy Gan and Derek Wu won 6-0, 6-1 at second doubles. Mansfield’s Benny Lin won 6-2, 6-2 at first singles.

#6 North Attleboro, 5 vs. #11 Brockton, 0 – Final – North Attleboro won four of the five matches in straight sets to knock out the Boxers. Mitchell Dyer won 6-4, 6-3 at first singles, Zack Pfeffer won 6-1, 6-1 in second singles and Barsomo Nuay won 6-1, 6-1 at third singles. Jeff Yao and Ben Pfeffer won 3-6, 7-5, 8-6 at first doubles and Jake Fontes and Daniel Zhang won 6-0, 6-2 at second doubles.

D2 South
#13 Canton, 3 @ #4 Dighton-Rehoboth, 2 – Final
#14 Foxboro, 0 @ #3 Plymouth North, 5 – Final

Girls Tennis
D1 South
#14 Taunton, 4 vs. #19 Bridgewater-Raynham, 1 – Final

#18 Franklin, 5 @ #15 Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – Franklin won all three single matches in straight sets and won both doubles matches in tie breakers to get the sweep. Hannah Sweeney won 6-0, 6-1 at first singles, Anna Humphreys won 6-1, 6-0 at second singles and Anja Deric won 6-0, 6-1 at third singles. Stephanie Schaivo and Katelyn Davenport won 0-6, 7-6 (8-6) at first doubles and Selma Wu and Halle Love won 6-1, 4-6, 1-0 (10-2) at second doubles.

#20 Mansfield, 3 @ #13 Marshfield, 2 – Final – The visiting Mansfield Hornet swept doubles play and sophomore Sarah Doyle scored a big win at third singles to get the upset win. Doyle won 6-1, 6-2 to get Mansfield’s lone point in singles play. Senior Cathryn Heavey and junior Chloe Peterson won 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) and freshmen Tessa Garufi and Elizabeth Elsner won 6-2, 6-1 at second doubles.

D2 South
#4 Foxboro, 3 vs. #13 Westwood 2 – Final

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 04/22/16

Today’s games are listed below.

Baseball
Foxboro, 1 @ Attleboro, 9 – Final – Tyler McGovern was masterful on the mound and Nate Tellier was perfect at the plate as Attleboro picked up a win over visiting Foxboro. McGovern threw a complete game, scattering three hits and striking out 12 to get the win. Tellier was 4-4 at the plate with a pair of doubles and a triple. He also drove in a pair and had two stolen bases. Will Carter added a double and a triple and Jon Dunn had two hits and two RBI for the Bombardiers.

Mansfield, 3 @ Hingham, 2 – Final Mansfield rallied in the top of the seventh inning with two runs to beat the Harbormen on the road. Freshman Dan Saraceno led off the final inning with a triple and Max Boen knocked him in for the tying run with a single. Boen eventually came around to score the go-ahead run on a passed ball. Sophomore Tyler Dalton got the win on the mound in a complete game effort. Dalton struck out four, scattering five hits. He closed the door in the seventh by inducing a 1-6-3 double play.

Sharon, 1 @ Medway, 8 – Final

Stoughton, 0 @ Whitman-Hanson, 5 – Final

Softball
Attleboro, 6 @ Dartmouth, 7 – Final

Foxboro vs. Westwood, 3:45

King Philip, 7 vs. Bishop Feehan, 3 – Final – Kali Magane delivered a stellar performance in the circle to help the Warriors avenge a loss to the Shamrocks earlier this month. Magane struck out 12, allowing just three hits on the day. Christa Wagner was 4-4 on the day with a homerun, a triple and three runs scored. Jenn Hutnyan added a two-run double and Magane helped her own cause with a pair of hits at the plate.

Mansfield, 10 @ Holliston, 5 – Final – The Hornets capitalized on nine hits to double up on Holliston. Megan Letendre had two hits and two RBI, Kara Bendanillo had a pair of hits and Maddie Letendre had one hit and two RBI. Marissa Staffier and Bri Homer each had a hit, Mady Bendanillo had a triple and scored on an error and Sarah Bradley had her first varsity hit and an RBI for the Hornets. Maddie Letendre stuck out seven, allowing five hits in a complete game effort to get the win.

Oliver Ames, 5 @ Walpole, 1 – Final – Freshman Kayla Georgeu kept the Rebels at bay, tossing a complete game with five strikeouts and only four hits allowed. OA’s bats came to life with nine hits on the day. Missy Krim was 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored, Rachel Han was 2-3 with a double and a run scored, Katie Pursley had a big triple in the 7th to score Jamie Gottwald (hit, RBI) and Victoria Ziner was 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

Boys Lacrosse
Taunton, 0 @ Attleboro, 13 – Final

Girls Lacrosse
Sharon, 8 @ Attleboro, 7 – Final

Franklin, 17 vs. Medfield, 6 – Final – Franklin raced out to a 9-0 lead in the first half and never looked back against D2 powerhouse Medfield. Kendall Reardon led Franklin with three goals and two assists while Kenzie Pleshaw and Diana Griffin had three goals apiece. Julia Jette and Halle Atkinson each had two goals for the Panthers. Head coach Kristin Igoe said Dana Lewandowski played well on defense, causing three turnovers.

North Attleboro, 12 @ King Philip, 13 – Final

Boys Tennis
King Philip, 0 vs. Bishop Feehan, 5 – Final
Mansfield @ Holliston, 11:00AM

Girls Tennis
King Philip, 4 @ Bishop Feehan, 1 – Final

Monday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 04/18/16

Today’s games are listed below.

Baseball
Franklin, 5 @ Bishop Feehan, 6 – Final (8 inn.)

Milford, 3 @ King Philip, 7 – Final – Sophomore Ben Furfari’s first home run couldn’t have come at a better time. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning, Furfari connected for a walk off grand slam to give the Warriors’ a non-league win. Jake Cavanagh pitched four innings, scattering four hits with five strikeouts and two earned runs allowed. Jake Lannigan got the win in relief, going three innings with three hits allowing, one strikeout and one earned run allowed. King Philip had 10 hits as a team.

Oliver Ames, 7 vs. Silver Lake, 11 – Final – The Tigers scored seven unanswered runs but it was too little too late after handing the Lakers an early lead. Josh Minuskin had a pair of hits and knocked in four runs for OA while Chris Romero also had a pair of hits.

Taunton, 5 @ Coyle & Cassidy, 6 – Final (9 inn.) – Christian Simoes had three hits and three RBI for the Tigers, while sophomore Joe Manchester had a pair of hits and an RBI and Matt Machado had two hits and two runs scored. Freshman Jack Moynihan made his pitching debut for Taunton, striking out a pair in three innings of work while allowing two earned runs.

Softball
Franklin, 1 @ Bishop Feehan, 7 – Final

Boys Lacrosse
Attleboro, 3 @ Sharon, 22 – Final

Foxboro, 1 vs. Reading, 15 – Final – Jake Addeche made 12 saves for the Warriors and Brendan Tully scored Foxboro’s lone goal of the game.

Girls Lacrosse
Franklin, 10 vs. Bishop Feehan, 3 – Final – Kendall Reardon scored twice and had one assist to lead the Panthers while Diana Griffin and Annie Walsh each netted a pair of goals. Head coach Kristin Igoe noted the entire defense played well, led by five ground balls from Sam Jones.

King Philip, 7 vs. Medfield, 18 – Final

Boys Tennis
Franklin, 2 vs. Hopedale, 3 – Final

Girls Tennis
Mansfield, 5 @ Milford, 0 – Final – Mansfield junior Paulina Martin won 6-1, 6-1 at first singles, senior Kathleen Giffels won 6-3, 6-0 at second singles and sophomore Sarah Doyle won 6-2, 6-3 at third singles. The Hornets also got wins from senior Cathryn Heavey and junior Chloe Peters at first doubles (6-1, 6-2) and freshmen Tessa Garufi and Elizabeth Elsner at second doubles (6-3, 6-2).

Boys Volleyball
Milford, 3 vs. Nipmuc, 0 – Final

Pleshaw Fires Franklin to Comeback Win

Franklin girls lacrosse
Kenzie Pleshaw (15) scored five goals and the Panthers rallied from an early deficit to beat Concord-Carlisle. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – On Thursday evening, the Franklin girls’ lacrosse team began a run of five straight games against teams ranked among the top 25 in the state with the visit of Div. 1 Central/East rival Concord-Carlisle, which won the sectional title last spring.

After losing a second half lead against Needham in the season opener and eventually falling in overtime, this was an opportunity for the Panthers to pick up a marquee win early in the season and build momentum for a difficult portion of the schedule.

It did not start well. The Patriots jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first half, but senior midfielder Kenzie Pleshaw took over with four goals before the break and five in the game to spark a Franklin comeback that turned into a comfortable 13-7 victory.

“I think their speed kind of took us by surprise at the beginning,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe. “They were just charging right down, blowing by us. Once we kind of settled in a little bit and saw their strengths, our defense did a great job slowing it down and we figured out how to play against them.”

“From there we just played as a team.”

The Patriots, behind star senior Hannah Dudley, dominated the draw controls at the start of the game. Concord-Carlisle won the first six draws as they built an early lead and goalie Abby Flynn made three of her six first half saves to keep Franklin off the board.

The game changed when the Panthers switched things up in the middle. Sophomore Grace MacCallum was moved in and took the draws against Dudley. From that point on Franklin won five of the last seven draws in the first half and nine of the next 13 overall.

Concord-Carlisle coach Paul Morrison said, “I think their momentum came when they switched up on the draw. She did an excellent job, I think she won four or five in a row, and their possessions were excellent. They barely dropped the ball.”

Julia Jette, who reached the 100-goal plateau on Wednesday, scored to cut the Patriots lead to 4-2 and then 23 seconds later, after the Panthers won the draw control, Pleshaw notched her first goal and just like that Franklin was down by one.

Junior Kendall Reardon tied the game, but the Patriots answered back with 8:19 to play in the first half. Three minutes later, Pleshaw shook off her defender with a spin move and finished over the top of Flynn to tie it again. Two minutes later, she completed her hat trick with a shot on the run. With 1:39 left in the half, she made it 7-5 with a shot cutting across the middle.

Igoe said of Pleshaw, “Kenzie is fearless, she can use both hands, she’s an awesome dodger, but she’s just so competitive and has that drive for goal. Those three goals were really important and gave us a kind of cushion.”

The momentum did not waver after the break. Emily Spath stole a clearance and fed Jette for a goal four minutes after the break and then four minutes later Pleshaw earned a free position and finished it. When the Panthers added another on a quick transition between Reardon, Spath, and finished off by Diana Griffin, the visitors were forced to take a timeout.

In the huddle Igoe reminded the Panthers of the lead that they held against Needham in the season opener and how important it was to keep pushing to extend the advantage.

“We just kept playing hard,” said Igoe. “We got some saves when we needed to, got some ground balls when we needed to, so they were never able to go on a run to get momentum.”

A couple minutes after the timeout, Reardon got her second goal of the game, capping a 7-0 run that gave the Panthers a six-goal lead.

After the patriots ended the run, Spath added her second goal on a free position. Griffin would also get her second of the game to answer another Patriots goal with 2:25 to play.

The offense was clicking but it was the defense that turned the tables on the Patriots. Senior Sam Jones controlled the defense, as the Panthers closed off the middle of the field, and classmate Dani Lonati came through with eight saves, including a couple down the stretch that kept the Patriots from changing momentum.

Igoe said of Jones, “You can hear her on the sidelines, sending doubles and coming up with knock downs and ground balls. I’m really proud of our defense and how they figured them out and were able to crash on their top dodgers and slow them down.”

It was the perfect way to start this tough stretch for the Panthers (4-1), but Igoe wanted to make sure that her team was not getting carried away with a trip to North Andover looming on Saturday.

“We have a good stretch of games coming up and we’re going to kind of take it one-by-one,” she said. “I told them this is exciting, have fun with this win, but tomorrow we have stuff we have to work on. We’re happy, but we’re not satisfied.”

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

Mansfield Stings Franklin With Last Minute Goal

Caitlin Whitman
Mansfield celebrates Caitlin Whitman’s Last-minute penalty stroke goal that gave the Hornets a win in the Div. 1 South semifinal against Franklin. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Panthers had dominated from the beginning of the game, forcing Mansfield to defend deep and putting consistent pressure on the Hornets’ back line. Then, with a minute remaining, Mansfield broke forward on a rare attack on the Franklin net.

Franklin goalie Sam Jones made two kick saves, but in the mass of white and blue jerseys in the crease she was forced to cover up the ball to prevent a goal. The result was a penalty stroke with just 40 seconds left to play.

Mansfield junior Caitlin Whitman stepped up to the spot. The Hornets had been practicing and Whitman put the effort to good use, dispatching a shot into the bottom corner and past the outstretched leg of Jones.

The goal gave Mansfield a 1-0 win on Wednesday afternoon at a rainy and cold Alumni Field, decided the season series between the rivals, and advanced the Hornets to the Div. 1 South final.

“We always have a plan when we step up to the line,” said Whitman, who admitted that she had put in a lot of time practicing penalty strokes in the lead up to the game.

“I was nervous but working through the nerves is part of what we practice every day. I was trying to put the nerves aside and try to sink it.”

The Panthers jumped onto the front foot right from the opening whistle. The midfield, led by Mackenzie Pleshaw, Diana Griffin, Dana Lewandowski and particularly senior Taylor Reutlinger, blocked off every Mansfield attack and kept the ball in the Hornets defensive third.

“They’re like an onion – you peel one layer and there’s another layer and another layer,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan. She joked, “Sometimes I feel like they’re playing with 13 or 14 on the field.”

Despite the pressure that Franklin was exerting, Hornets goalie Brenna Prior was largely untroubled in the opening half. The Mansfield defense kept Franklin at bay. Ann Maher, Amalia Todesco, and Jennifer McCabe forced everything to the outside and limited Franklin to only a couple of shots that got through to Prior.

“They dominated but didn’t have a ton of shots,” explained Nyhan. “It was a lot of midfield play and even three-quarter play; they had it in that section.”

“When we got the chance to open up the field, we had some chances.”

Pleshaw had the ball in the net for Franklin in the 17th minute but it was from outside the arc and did not count. Ruetlinger had a shot kicked aside by Prior and it started a break with Maher racing into the counterattack. A steal by Whitman forced Jones into a save with just two minutes before the break.

“Early in the first half, we had more chances but nobody was going to the ball and everyone was standing there watching,” said Franklin coach Lisa Cropper. “My best attackers are freshmen and…sometimes it’s brilliant and sometimes it’s where are you? When you don’t take care of your chances then you give the other team the chance.”

Whitman had an early chance in the second half for Mansfield that was kicked aside by Jones and then Franklin went back on the attack. The Panthers had a second goal disallowed for a violation in the crease in the 34th minute and in the 42nd minute freshman Annie Walsh had a shot saved by Prior.

“I had one timeout but I wish I had four. I wanted to borrow some from Coach Redding, but I know he uses his all up,” Nyhan joked. “I was happy they used their timeout because…clearly we were back on our heels.”

Walsh had another chance in the 48th minute off a corner but no one could redirect her pass through the crease and the chance was gone. Six minutes later, Walsh again saw a shot find the side of the net not the back of it.

“Everyone says defense wins championships, but you don’t win if you don’t score,” said Cropper.

The Franklin midfield had been mostly impenetrable but as the clock wound down under a minute and the Panthers bench started making plans for overtime, the Hornets broke quickly. Julia Todesco found Caroline Maher with open field to run into for the first time all game and Mansfield turned it into a chance.

Jones made several big stops but the play developed into a scrum in front of goal with both teams trying their best to get a stick on the ball. In the end, Jones was forced to cover up and the penalty stroke was awarded.

Cropper had no complaints about the decisive call. She said, “The stroke was the correct call. We kind of broke down in the last minute and Sam had no choice but to cover it and the kid made a nice stroke.”

She added, “Their two best players really didn’t do a whole lot until right down there…we tried to have someone on them and we did it for the most part but you have to do it for 60 minutes not 59:30.”

Nyhan added “It’s unfortunate that it needs to be the game decider, but also you can’t bury the ball.”

The victory sends Mansfield to the Div. 1 South final at the expense of their rivals.

Whitman gushed, “They’re our biggest competitors in the regular season, so playing them in the tournament is a huge deal and we were all nervous, but luckily we could let that go and play our game.”

“We haven’t been here in so long. It just means so much.”

Mansfield will face perennial power Walpole on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Oliver Ames.

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

Sunday's Schedule & Scoreboard – 11/08/15

Today’s games are listed below.
Boys Soccer
D1 South
#5 Mansfield, 0 @ #4 Needham, 2 – Final
D2 South
#3 Oliver Ames, 3 vs. #6 Hingham, 2 – Final (2OT)
D3 South
#3 Foxboro, 6 vs. #6 Rockland, 0 – Final – Junior Anthony Barreira and sophomore Joe Morrison each recorded three goals and an assist in the win for the Warriors.
Girls Soccer
D1 South
#11 North Attleboro, 1 @ #3 Franklin, 0 – Final
#12 Mansfield, 0 @ #4 Needham, 1 – Final
Field Hockey
D1 South
#1 Mansfield, 1 vs. #8 Wellesley, 0 – Final

#4 Franklin, 3 vs. #5 Dennis-Yarmouth, 1 – Final – Caroline Lounsbury scored off a rebound with 59 seconds left in the first half to give the Panthers a boost going into the halftime break. Franklin carried that momentum into the second half as Diana Griffin doubled the lead just 30 seconds into the second frame. Head coach Lisa Cropper said freshman Annie Walsh scored a “beautiful top shelf” goal off a “sweet” pass from classmate Cassi Ronan to make it 3-0. Sam Jones made six saves, including two “incredibly athletic” diving saves with three minutes left to keep the lead. 

#11 Oliver Ames, 0 @ #3 Sandwich, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames goalie Cassie Gavin made eight saves while head coach Janice Sundell said Katie Davenport, Erin McCormick and Christina Boudreau played well on defense.

#23 Canton, 1 @ #2 Walpole, 3 – Final – Colleen Phelan scored late in the first half to send the game into halftime tied but the Porkers were able to find the back of the net twice in the second half to get the win. 

Sunday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 11/08/15

Today’s games are listed below.
Boys Soccer
D1 South
#5 Mansfield, 0 @ #4 Needham, 2 – Final
D2 South
#3 Oliver Ames, 3 vs. #6 Hingham, 2 – Final (2OT)
D3 South
#3 Foxboro, 6 vs. #6 Rockland, 0 – Final – Junior Anthony Barreira and sophomore Joe Morrison each recorded three goals and an assist in the win for the Warriors.
Girls Soccer
D1 South
#11 North Attleboro, 1 @ #3 Franklin, 0 – Final
#12 Mansfield, 0 @ #4 Needham, 1 – Final
Field Hockey
D1 South
#1 Mansfield, 1 vs. #8 Wellesley, 0 – Final

#4 Franklin, 3 vs. #5 Dennis-Yarmouth, 1 – Final – Caroline Lounsbury scored off a rebound with 59 seconds left in the first half to give the Panthers a boost going into the halftime break. Franklin carried that momentum into the second half as Diana Griffin doubled the lead just 30 seconds into the second frame. Head coach Lisa Cropper said freshman Annie Walsh scored a “beautiful top shelf” goal off a “sweet” pass from classmate Cassi Ronan to make it 3-0. Sam Jones made six saves, including two “incredibly athletic” diving saves with three minutes left to keep the lead. 

#11 Oliver Ames, 0 @ #3 Sandwich, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames goalie Cassie Gavin made eight saves while head coach Janice Sundell said Katie Davenport, Erin McCormick and Christina Boudreau played well on defense.

#23 Canton, 1 @ #2 Walpole, 3 – Final – Colleen Phelan scored late in the first half to send the game into halftime tied but the Porkers were able to find the back of the net twice in the second half to get the win. 

Walsh and Griffin Spark Franklin Sweep of KP

Kelsey McPhee
Kelsey McPhee (13) celebrates the opening goal against KP on Friday. It turned out to be the winner in a 4-0 victory. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin and King Philip faced off in the Div. 1 South tournament on Friday afternoon at the Beaver Street field. It was the third meeting between the two Kelley-Rex rivals this season with the Panthers winning each of the first two by a single goal both times.

Friday’s game would not be as close. The Warriors were coming off a thrilling, but draining, stroke-off win against Plymouth South in the opening round and the Panthers took advantage of the extra preparation time to create more offense.

It all worked for the home team and Franklin would come away with a 4-0 win that advances the Panthers to the sectional quarterfinal and a rematch with Dennis-Yarmouth on the Beaver Street turf on Sunday.

“I was not looking forward to having to beat [KP] a third time,” admitted Franklin coach Lisa Cropper after the game.

She added, “They had a long, emotional game on Wednesday, so I figured…they’d be pumped up and running on adrenaline, but maybe running on fumes and I felt if we got up on them early that we would have the upper hand the entire way.”

It was actually the Warriors that had the better chances in the opening minutes of the game. Franklin goalie Sam Jones was forced into two big saves right off the opening whistle and it looked like the confidence of Wednesday’s win may be leading KP to another upset.

But, after the first five minutes, Franklin took control. First the Panthers hit the post on a quick break and then Kelsey McPhee opened the scoring off an assist from freshman Annie Walsh in the 11th minute.

“They scored on some beautiful offensive corners,” said KP coach Liz Hathaway. “There was really no way to stop those and they’re strong; their defense is strong and it’s really hard to penetrate.”

In the 23rd minute, Franklin doubled its lead when another freshman, Cassi Ronan, found the back of the net on a first-time shot from senior Taylor Reutlinger’s assist.

“Having played them twice already,” explained Cropper, “we knew exactly how their defense was going to be and use what they do on defense against them. We kept using that short pass to Cassi and Annie.”

The Warriors tried to get the ball forward, particularly down the wings, looking for attackers Casie Curtin and Mary O’Connor, but each time the pay was cut off by Franklin’s strong midfield, including senior Kenzie Pleshaw who had a number of interceptions. As the game wore on, Franklin’s pressure intensified.

“We started out the first 10 minutes of the game really dominating and ready to go,” said Hathaway. “We got a few corner out of it and if we could have put one of those in then it could’ve been a different game.”

KP had a chance eight minutes after the break but again Jones was equal to the shot at her post and kicked it aside. Four minutes later and Franklin had the dagger. Walsh’s initial shot was saved by sophomore goalie Abby Campbell, who made 12 saves in the game, but Diana Griffin followed up and knocked in the rebound.

Two minutes after that, the Panthers struck again on the break. This time it was Griffin playing provider with a long pass out of midfield right to the stick of Walsh and the freshman coolly knocked it home.

“She was on fire today,” said Cropper of Walsh. “She was flying all over the place.”

“Our strength is definitely our midfield and our defense, our seniors, but she and Cassi and Christina [Quinn] provided a spark on offense.”

Although the final score was not as close as the two regular season games, Hathaway took nothing away from the play of her team and gave all the credit to the hosts.

She said, “I think that was just an amazing win [on Wedmesday]. We were ready for anything…but Franklin just did a good job today.”

A cheer went up from the Franklin bench when it was informed that the next opponent woul be Dennis-Yarmouth. The Panthers have been knocked out each of the last two seasons by D-Y and both times on the road. Now, D-Y has to come to Franklin.

Cropper joked, “Make them take the long ride this time.”

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