Mansfield, OA Finish Even Again in Division Showdown

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – With the Kelley-Rex title on the line, it’s no surprise that offense was at a premium and mistakes were few and far between at Val Muscato Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

Oliver Ames entered its final league game of the year with a one point advantage over Mansfield, who still has a game to go. A win for either side would have clinched the Kelley-Rex division but the Tigers and Hornets finished 1-1 – their second draw of the season.

“They’re a great team, they’re a tough team,” Mansfield head coach Kevin Smith said. “It’s great to play against a great team. We’re happy with the point. It’s two great teams battling the heck out of each other. It was great defense all around, midfield play was strong. Any attacking was at a premium because the teams were both playing so hard. Both goalies made some good stops. It was just a great game all around, OA is a great team.”

Mansfield controls its own destiny with its last league game on Friday night against Canton at Gillette Stadium. A tie against the Bulldogs would mean a share of the title and a win would equal the division crown outright. Oliver Ames would earn a share of the title along with Mansfield if there is a tie and would win the title outright if the Bulldogs beat the Hornets.

“I was very pleased with how the team came back in the second half,” Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer said. “They showed a lot of composure, a lot of character. Mansfield is a great team, they’re well coached.”

Between the weather – wind and rain – and the high stakes of the game, neither side was able to get into a real groove in the opening half. Mansfield had the best two chances of the half, starting with Stephanie Kemp‘s shot in the seventh minute that was saved.

Four minutes later, Mansfield’s Hannah Reiter nearly opened the scoring, ripping a shot from just inside the area that looked destined to sneak under the crossbar. Instead, Oliver Ames junior keeper Regan Benton timed her jump perfectly, punching the shot over the bar.

Oliver Ames’ back line of Dana Lowney, Zoe Chazan, Emily Freeman and Maggie Ault– with Claudia Ferrara in front as a defensive mid – limited the Hornets from registering any other chances.

On the other end, center backs Emily Vigeant and Emily Sullivan anchored the Hornets back line with Allison Verge, Mikaela Maughnand Kerina Geminianiall seeing time as outside backs in front of keeper Emily Gaumond.

Both teams settled down in the second half as the rain ramped up. It took the Hornets less than four minutes into the second stanza to find the opener.

Mansfield earned a free kick along the right sideline, just outside the area. Vigeant delivered the service to the near post where Reiter ran onto and latched onto it with a volley that found the far post for a 1-0 lead.

“Hannah Reiter’s a special player, it took her four years to get a goal on us,” Sellmayer said. “You can’t give [Mansfield] restarts near the box. Vigeant and [Reiter] have been a great combination all year long.”

“With her, you have a leader that’s been through some battles,” Smith said of Reiter. “Her club team has been #1 in the nation, she’s played in the finals. She knows what it’s like to play in big games. She’s just a field general out there, she’s calming people down. She actually called our timeout, she said we needed it because we were a little flustered and I trust her to make judgements like that.

“She calls the plays out there, she reads the game so well. She steps up in the big times. She scored against Franklin the first game, she scored here…she has so many game-winning goals in the big games, like King Philip the other day. She likes to pop up at the right times, it’s a joy to coach her.”

Oliver Ames was close to finding the equalizer in the 62nd minute when Chazan’s free kick from the wing hit off the crossbar and out. Two minutes later, Mansfield almost doubled the lead when Bryn Anderson connected with Kemp but her bid was over the bar.

A minute later, the Tigers did come through with the tying goal. Freeman, from her own half, delivered a perfect diagonal ball through Mansfield’s defense. Lauren Wright ran onto and slotted her shot past an oncoming Gaumond, the ball hitting the far post and going in to make it 1-1.

“We started to play with four forwards near the end because we were desperate,” Sellmayer said. “We played with three in the back, three in the middle and then sort of a diamond up top. Losing 2-0, 3-0 didn’t make a difference, we had to go for it and we did. We played better in the second half.”

The Hornets had a chance three minutes after OA’s equalizer with a pair of corner kicks. On the first, Vigeant’s service skipped through the area for a close chance but Freeman was in perfect position to block the shot.

With a lot of numbers pushed forward at the end, Oliver Ames had one final chance in the final seconds. After a partial clearance, OA’s Jess Robarge sent a ball back in that was deflected down. Junior Abby Reardon sprinted towards the ball but Gaumond came off her line and smothered the loose ball to preserve the tie.

Mansfield (14-0-3, 12-0-3) will look to earn the division title when they play Canton at Gillette Stadium on Friday at 8:00. Oliver Ames girls soccer (13-0-4, 12-0-4) will conclude the regular season with a trip to Brockton on Saturday at 1:00.

Girls Soccer: 2016 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2016 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Reigning league MVP Francesca Calabraro (left) and OA will look to challenge Franklin’s Kelley-Rex supremacy this year. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2015 Record: 6-12-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

The Bombardiers won six games last year, including an upset of rival North Attleboro in the annual Blue-Red Game near the end of the season. Head coach Steve Santos is hoping that the momentum will carry over for his relatively inexperienced group this fall. The Bombardiers return 10 players from last year’s roster but not all were regular contributors. “They need to play simple and play quick,” said Santos, who mentioned that the program is developing with three freshmen seeing time in scrimmages.

The loss of Paige Medeiros to graduation leaves a big hole to be filled, especially with her set piece prowess, but Attleboro will turn to senior attacking midfielders Rebekah Entwhistle and Chloe Vieira to produce the killer pass and set up scoring opportunities. Up front, Hannah Meier will be counted on to finish those chances and give Attleboro the scoring punch it needs.

Defensively, Attleboro can count on junior goalie Maddie Brown, who is coming off a stellar sophomore season, and the center back pairing of Jordyn Forte and Morgan Laplume, who Santos said had a “high soccer IQ”. It is a junior-heavy roster, but one still in need of seasoning. Santos explained, “They’re great kids and hard workers. They just need some experience under their belts.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 17-1-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Tom Geysen

The Class of 2016 won a state title, two Div. 1 South titles, went to three straight South finals, and won the Kelley-Rex division four times. That is quite a legacy for the program and, while he has a number of new faces to try and incorporate into the lineup, head coach Tom Geysen is confident that this year’s Panthers will be team to contend with by the end of the season.

One reason for optimism is the combination of sophomore Halle Atkinson and junior Jess Krouschl up front (once Kroushl comes back from a niggling injury). Both players saw time in the attack last season and showed the potential to be a strong pairing with one as the forward or playing as the wings. The forwards will be helped by energetic midfielders Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira, two more players who saw plenty of playing time down the stretch in 2015.

Defensively, Franklin returns one half of its back four. Nadia Havens will continue as an outside back, while Abby Gibson, who stepped in to have a strong season on the outside last fall, will move in as one of the centerbacks. Junior Kat Robbins will take over from Dani Lonati between the pipes.

Geysen said, “We’re thin and we’re green…It’s a work in progress. But, by the end of the season I think we’ll give people a test.”

King Philip

2015 Record: 2-16-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Gary Pichel

The Warriors did not just have an injury or two to deal with in 2015, but almost entire starting 11 ended up with injuries that left King Philip head coach Gary Pichel scrambling to fill roster spots with players from the JV and freshman teams. As 2016 begins, many of the key players are back and healthy and the Warriors are hoping to spring a surprise on the Kelley-Rex.

Junior defender Emma Corcoran (“the heart and soul” of the defense, according to Pichel) has been a rock in the middle of the back line and will have a lot more help with seniors Sarah Fleck (ACL) and Katherine Turner (ankle) back after missing all but one game last year. Corinne Palumbo and Julia Massarone will also chip in from the midfield and will be counted on turning defense into attack quickly.

Up front, Rachel Hogan returns after leading KP in scoring for the past several seasons and she will be joined by fellow senior Maddie Smith, who is back from a quad injury. The seniors will be paired with talented freshman Chloe Layne, who is already drawing rave reviews. Pichel said, “We had a very tough season last year but will look to rebound with a new look and a new strategy to improve our chances in a very competitive Hockomock League.”

Mansfield

2015 Record: 12-6-2
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Kevin Smith

The Hornets are only bringing back three players who started regularly last season and that includes two goalkeepers. Senior Emily Gaumond started the season in net but missed the final month with a concussion, which meant that then freshman Lauren Whitman had to step in between the pipes. The only returning outfield player is senior Hannah Reiter. The Quinnipiac University-commit, who comes into the season as a contender for Player of the Year, was a standout in central defense, midfield, and up front last year.

While Mansfield does not return a lot of starters, there is plenty of experience on the roster. Head coach Kevin Smith utilizes a large roster and makes sure that a majority of the players get time on the field. Senior forward Emma Goulet and senior defender Emily Sullivan will be the captains and each has multiple seasons on varsity. Sophomore Stephanie Kemp and junior Allee Bezeau will be counted on to provide scoring punch and sophomore Melissa Reef will be taking a bigger role in the midfield this year.

With five freshmen and three sophomores playing “significant” minutes last year, Smith is confident that Mansfield will be able to challenge for the Kelley-Rex title. He said, “So even though we are very young we do have some players with some experience under their belts.”

Oliver Ames

2015 Record: 14-3-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

The Tigers have won the Davenport division each of the past three years and will now set their sights on claiming the Kelley-Rex title at the first opportunity. Head coach Britt Sellmayer has a squad capable of claiming the crown and with the potential to make a deep tournament run as well. With seven returning starters, including four league all-stars, and 10 seniors, the Tigers have the most experienced roster in the Kelley-Rex and arguably the deepest.

It starts with reigning Hockomock MVP Francesca Calabraro. The senior scored 24 goals last season and has been talked about as a potential All-American in the preseason. With Calabraro moving between a midfield and a forward role, it opens up space on the wings for the speedy Jackie Mills, who chipped in with nine goals last year and could be ready for a breakout junior season. Seniors Dana Lowney and Jess Robarge will also provide midfield support for the Tigers.

Defensively, OA has a strong core of returning players. Sophomore Zoe Chazan stepped in as a rookie and turned into one of the league’s top central defenders and her partnership with junior Emily Freeman will be a tough one for teams to break down. Behind the back line, OA has three solid goaltenders led by junior Regan Benton. Sellmayer said, “[We’re] looking forward to the challenge of playing in the large Hock.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 9-9-3
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Edith Dixon

The Tigers made history last season, becoming the first team in the program’s history to win a playoff game, knocking off Wellesley on the road. That Taunton team was filled with upperclassmen but head coach Edith Dixon wants the program to keep moving forward and believes that there are players ready to step up and take over.

One of the players leading the way for Taunton is senior captain Emily O’Brien, who Dixon credits with setting the tone at practice. The Tiger will turn to junior Sam Tichelaar for offensive production as the three-year starter is healthy after an injury-plagued sophomore campaign and is ready to be the “driving force” in the Taunton midfield. Senior Livi Sweeney will be the forward for Tichelaar to connect with up top.

Defensively, the Tigers will miss goalie Kayla Wentworth, who is now playing at Iona, but junior Kayla Felix will lead the defensive corps and help make Taunton tough to beat. Dixon said, “Last season was a great step forward for the program, but we’re not satisfied with making the tournament just once. Our upperclassmen want to get back there again and they’re being pushed every day in practice by some very talented eighth and ninth graders.”