WRENTHAM, Mass. – The fireworks are typically saved for the end, but King Philip and Mansfield girls soccer wasted little game in getting things going in a highly anticipated matchup between two teams coming in undefeated.
Both teams scored inside the first five minutes of the game, and by the time 15 minutes elapsed, each side had another bid hit off the post. But in the end, it was a relentless attack from the visiting Hornets that was the story, resulting in a convincing 4-1 decision over the host Warriors.
Mansfield seized a 1-0 advantage in the fourth minute only for KP to tie the game just seconds later. However, the Hornets took the lead back in the 37th minute and cashed in twice in a second half that featured numerous chances to earn the two points.
“Avery [Snead] and Chloe [Layne] are fantastic, you have to give them all the credit, you have to respect them but you can’t over-respect them and just play defense, defense, defense,” said Mansfield head coach Kevin Smith. “That just feeds them more. You have to make [King Philip] play defense. With our speed on the wings, we wanted to make sure we could run onto the through balls. And that opened the space for our midfielders to do their job and they were fantastic at it.”
The pressure paid off early for Mansfield. Steph Kemp charged in on a through ball behind the defense, forcing KP keeper Taylor Butler off her line. Kemp was able to apply enough pressure and deflected the ball in behind. Freshman Maria Sevastos calmly tracked the loose ball down and tucked it into the open net for a 1-0 lead.
But the advantage lasted merely seconds. A punt from Mansfield keeper Lauren Whitman was brought down by Snead with a terrific first touch, and the junior didn’t hesitate before firing a shot from just over 35 yards out, catching the keeper off the line for a 1-1 scoreline.
Back on the other end, Kemp drew in the defense and then switched the ball over to Cassidy McMahon on the left side. The senior hit a one-time shot that looked destined for the back of the net but the bid clanked off the post and stayed out.
Snead found Ally Stanton in the area in the 14th minute, but a nice sliding stop from Whitman forced a corner. On that corner, Layne found Snead at the back post, but her header hit the post and stayed out. KP nearly cashed in on another corner in the 25th minute, but Snead’s header was blocked on the line by Mansfield defender Kerina Geminiani.
In the 28th minute, Layne drilled a 30-yard free kick off the crossbar.
For Mansfield, it was a big boost to not let the Warrior offense gain momentum after an opening strike. KP had scored at least three goals in its last five games.
“It starts with 19 seniors, five captains, five girls who have been varsity players for four years,” Smith said of not letting the early equalizer change the game. “You can’t feed on emotion, you have to just play. You have to do the right things, and the results will take care of themselves.”
Before the stroke of halftime, the Hornets were able to jump in front again. Bryn Anderson took possession and very intelligently switched fields in a quick manner. She found McMahon out on the left flank, and the senior centered for Kemp. Kemp calmly took a touch to control the cross and then deposited it in the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
Holding a 2-1 lead, the second half continued to belong to the visiting Hornets.
King Philip’s best chances came in the 45th minute (Stanton’s chance at an open net blocked again by Geminiani) and in the 69th minute when Snead’s cross found Layne at the near post, but pressure from Mansfield keeper Caty DeMassi forced the one-timer high.
Other than that, it was constant pressure from the Hornets attacking group. Mansfield continued to find space between the defense and used its speed to run onto the through balls.
In the 51st minute, a simple lay off from Katie Garvin put Anderson in behind and she one-timed it past an oncoming Butler for a 3-1 lead.
“We’re getting better every game,” Smith said. “And now we’re finally scoring. It’s been one goal, one goal, one goal and then all of a sudden we get four today.
“They had the goal, the post, and the crossbar and other than that, not many chances. But our defense starts in the front. Our forwards have to pressure, that lets the mids do their job, and makes it easier on the defense.”
Kemp nearly made it 4-1 just two minutes later, chipping the keeper but KP defender Olivia Barry made a terrific hustle play, beating the ball to the line and keeping it out.
With just under five minutes to play, the Hornets put the game on ice. On the right flank, Mansfield senior Erin Daniel found Anderson with a central pass. Anderson took one touch and unleashed a low shot to make it 4-1, putting a cherry on top of what was an impressive showing from Mansfield.
“I thought we’d be able to come from the outside in against their defense, but that didn’t happen,” said KP head coach Gary Pichel. “Their defense shut everything down, and the opposite happened with our defense. They were much quicker than us and their through balls had much better touch than ours. They were able run through and connect with their speed, and they took us down. Our midfield play was not nearly as good as I had hoped for. That formation they had, it really did a good job against us, it broke us down in every aspect.
“But we’ve learned from our mistakes, and hopefully this makes us a better team. I give [Mansfield] all the credit in the world, they were outstanding today. They came to play. We’ve had some easy games so now this will open their eyes, and we’ll have to do something different now.”
On top of a great offensive performance, the Hornet back line of Daniel, Geminiani, and center backs Mikaela Maughn and Emily Vigeant was outstanding. Snead and Layne, two of the top players in the entire state, were virtually shadowed everywhere they went by the center backs. And Daniel and Geminiani provided the help when needed.
“We’re blessed to have those two in the middle,” Smith said. “And then Kerina and Erin pinched in the middle to help take away the gaps. So when either one of them got the ball, Emily or Mikaela was right there, and then we’d have a mid back to double team. We wanted to force them to play backward.”
Mansfield girls soccer (7-0-1 Hockomock, 8-0-1 overall) will attempt to keep its undefeated streak alive when it travels to Stoughton on Monday. King Philip (7-1-0, 7-1-1) will try to bounce back when it travels to North Attleboro on the same day.
2017 Record: 4-13-1 2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs. Coach: Steve Santos
Attleboro improved last season, scoring 18 goals and showing signs of an improved passing game, which head coach Steve Santos has been trying to build over the past few years. An exciting group of younger players added speed to the Bombardiers and the team’s increased depth allowed them to be competitive against even the league’s best teams.
That group has continued to develop and sophomore forwards Isabella Salviati and Briley Harnois will be counted on to provide a consistent threat to the opposition defense. The midfield should be a strength for the Bombardiers this season with a group of versatile players that will set the foundation for the Attleboro passing game. Senior Sam Fasoldt will be joined by juniors Julia Reyes and Ashley Dame, who returns after missing 2017 with a knee injury, and sophomore Jessica Gates. Junior Sophia Salviati will help out in midfield and defense, where Attleboro returns just one starter from last year. Seniors Felicia Laguerre and Ashley Lauzier will be at the heart of the defense in front of goalies Taylor Drake (senior) or Ashley Macia (junior).
“The team looks good and is playing some good passing soccer,” said Santos about the Bombardiers in the preseason. “As a team, our speed is where we need it to be to keep teams on their heels and not let them dictate play.”
2017 Record: 10-8-2 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Tom Geysen
Franklin battled injuries throughout the 2017 season and those injuries tested the Panthers depth, but heading into a new season head coach Tom Geysen is confident that this year’s squad can withstand the rigors of Hockomock play. The Panthers will be tested early, with King Philip, Mansfield, and Canton in the opening four games.
Versatility will be a key for the Panthers this season with players capable of slotting into different positions. One of those players is junior Anna Balkus, who can play up top or drop back into the midfield depending on the formation. Sophomore Sydney St. Marie will also play up top and Geysen said that she has shown real progress from last year. Junior Carly Alston will be in the heart of the midfield, while senior Halle Atkinson will give Franklin an outlet on one wing and sophomore Erin Qualie, fresh off an impressive rookie campaign, will be on the other. Defensively, Franklin will count on third-year center back Grace Gallo, fellow senior Maddie Stewart, and junior Sabrina Addi, who moved from the midfield to defense last fall. Athletic junior Breanna Atwood will jump into goal and continue Franklin’s run of strong goalkeepers.
“We have a good nucleus of kids coming back and kids moving around to new positions,” said Geysen. “There are a lot of freshmen with potential to develop into strong players. Everyone had a good attitude and has been working hard.”
2017 Record: 20-2-2 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 state semifinal. Coach: Gary Pichel
King Philip put together a dominant season in 2017, winning a league title for the first time since 2002 and then winning the Div. 1 South title as well. The Warriors scored 18 more goals than any other team in the Hockomock last year and also allowed fewer goals than all but two teams. With a loaded roster back this fall, KP has its sights set on even more in 2018.
Expectations are sky high for the Warriors this season because of the return of junior forwards Chloe Layne and Avery Snead, the reigning league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year. Layne and Snead were the top two scorers in the Hock last season and they continue to develop and improve. KP wasn’t a two-player team and they will also count on senior Abby Baker in the midfield along with wingers Makayla Griffin and Ally Stanton to provide outlets when defenses crowd the forwards and close down the middle of the park. Junior Olivia Berry will be in the heart of the defense and look to provide the leadership and physical play of graduated defender Emma Corcoran. Junior Faye Veilleux also stepped in at the end of last season and showed her growth as a defensive presence in midfield.
KP coach Gary Pichel said, “The team’s strength’s lie in the ability of our offense to create a great deal of scoring opportunities. There is a relentless desire to push hard up top and keep it there through pressure on ball at all times. We are fortunate to have players that have the ability to do so on a consistent basis.”
2017 Record: 13-2-2 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Kevin Smith
While King Philip earned a lot of attention for their run to the state semifinal, Mansfield was equally as strong in the league last year. The Hornets matched the Warriors step for step and earned a share of their second straight Kelley-Rex division title. With a number of players back again this year, Mansfield looks ready to battle for a three-peat and make a deep tournament run.
The Hornets feature 13 seniors on this year’s roster, so experience won’t be an issue. Melissa Reef and Bryn Anderson headline the midfield group, with Reef providing cover for the back line and Anderson acting as the fulcrum that gets the offense in motion. The defense will be spearheaded by Emily Vigeant, who has been on the top defenders in the league for the past couple of seasons. She is joined by versatile and physical defenders like Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, and Erin Daniel. Goalkeeper Lauren Whitman will be back between the sticks this season.
There will be plenty of depth in the Mansfield attack this fall with Stephanie Kemp, Sydney Mulkern, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy McMahon, and freshman Maria Sevastos all expected to contribute. “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith.
2017 Record: 11-8-0 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Britt Sellmayer
Oliver Ames had a number of new faces last year, but the Tigers were still able to earn a postseason appearance and were the only team in the league to beat King Philip during the regular season. With another year of experience, OA should be ready for another postseason run.
Defense should be a strength for the Tigers this season with plenty of varsity experience on the back line, including seniors Gabriele McLaughlin, Maeve Hogan, and Brianna Gibson. The defensive unit will help sophomores Emma O’Donnell and Emily Meyers get comfortable in goal, as they try to replace EMass all-star Regan Benton. Junior Abby Hodges will be a key component in the OA midfield this season. Junior Erin Holmberg and senior Maggie Ault will be up front for the Tigers, who will hope to improve on the 31 goals they scored last year.
OA coach Britt Sellmayer said, “We have a good mix of experienced players and younger players that have potential to develop into a good team. The key will be replacing one of the best keepers in EMass in Regan Benton. We are counting on the seniors in the back line staying healthy and providing leadership.”
It has been a few seasons since Taunton made history with a trip to the postseason and a road playoff win at Wellesley, but the program is continuing to build and head coach Edith Dixon expects the Tigers to be an “interesting” team in 2018 with a mix of youth and experience.
Taunton will clearly miss leading scorer Sam Tichelaar and defensive stalwart Kayla Felix, who both graduated after last season, but there is a lot of talent for the Tigers to build around. Grace Pimenta will be back between the pipes and her aggressiveness off her line will help the Taunton defense. Maggie Sullivan will be counted on to be the field general in midfield and Dixon praised her “never-ending motor.” Up front, speed will be a strength for the Tigers, who are hoping to use it to create numerous chances in transition and being aggressive attacking the opposition goal.
Dixon said, “ The best part about this team is their amazing attitude as a group. Everyone has bought into the team concepts and wants to contribute everything they have towards the team goals. This is the first season I’ve had at Taunton where there are no superstars, just 11 players all working together with great synergy.”
Foxboro, 56 vs. Bishop Feehan, 36 – Final – Foxboro senior Joe Morrison hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, helping the Warriors pull away from the visiting Shamrocks. Morrison also scored 12 of his game-high 25 points in the second quarter while the Foxboro defense limited Feehan to just four points in the frame, taking a 27-15 lead at half. Bobby Harrison added 15 points in the win.
Mansfield, 69 vs. Brockton, 64 – Final – Mansfield senior Johnny McCoy poured in a career-high 35 points to lead the Hornets to a comeback win against the highly touted Boxers. Brockton held a 37-31 lead at halftime and took a 55-54 advantage into the fourth quarter. Mansfield outscored the Boxers 15-9 in the final frame. McCoy hit four three-pointers and went 13-for-19 from the line with five steals. Justin Vine added eight points while Damani Scott (five rebounds) and Ryan Otto each had seven points.
Milford, 74 vs. Tantasqua, 65 – Final – Milford had a dominant third quarter, pouring in 26 points in the frame to turn a five-point lead at halftime (30-25) into a 56-42 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Junior Brendan White had a team-high 16 points, senior Zach Tammaro added 12 points and Andrew Fraioli finished with 11 points. Kayden Kelley had a double-double for the Hawks with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Oliver Ames, 57 @ Walpole, 49 – Final – Oliver Ames seniors Jack Spillane and Matt Muir each dropped 23 points to lead the Tigers to the Walpole Hoop Classic Championship. The Tigers built a 32-23 lead at halftime with Muir, who notched a career-high, hitting three triples. Spillane and Noah Fitzgerald were named to the all-tournament team.
Stoughton, 76 vs. Lincoln-Sudbury, 53 – Final – Stoughton senior Cam Andrews dropped 25 points and classmate Colin Sanda added 15 points to lead the Black Knights to a win over Lincoln-Sudbury. The Black Knights will play host Waltham in the final of the Jake n Joe’s Basketball Cup on Tuesday at 7:00.
North Attleboro, 44 @ Attleboro, 56 – Final – Sam Pierce led the Bombardiers to the non-league win with a career-high 27 points. Jordyn Lako, Mackenzie Roberts, and Nyah Thomas each pulled down nine rebounds for Attleboro. Julia Santos was North’s top scorer with 12.
Mansfield, 60 vs. Marlboro, 21 – Final – The Hornets turned on the defense in the third quarter, holding Marlboro to only three points, and scored 23 points themselves to break the game open. Ann Maher scored 16 points, knocking down five threes, for Mansfield, while Maggie Danehy added 10. Erin Daniel, Meg Hill, Sydney Mulkern, and Kara Bendanillo each added six points apiece for the Hornets. Mansfield will face Lowell in the tournament final after the Red Raiders upset Coyle.
Stoughton, 52 vs. Norwood, 38 – Final – Aliyah Wright scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Black Knights, who closed out the regular season by winning 11 of their final 12 games. Stoughton, which held Norwood to only two points in the first quarter and seven in the opening half, also got 12 points from Val Whalen and nine points and 13 rebounds from Jordan Motley.
Taunton, 56 @ Durfee, 47 – Final – The Tigers closed out the season with a non-league road win, after rallying from a 15-point second half deficit. Kelsey White paced Taunton with 15 points. Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez each scored 11 for the Tigers, Hannah Moniz added nine, and Lily Patneaude had eight.
Foxboro, 2 vs. East Bridgewater, 3 – Final
Franklin, 3 vs. LaSalle Academy, 4 – Final
King Philip, 1 vs. Norwood, 3 – Final
Oliver Ames, 0 vs. North Reading, 5 – Final
Canton, 6 vs. Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake, 2 – Final – Junior Lauren Fitzpatrick recorded four points to held the Bulldogs skate past Whitman-Hanson. Fitzgerald scored hat trick and had one assist in the win.
King Philip, 3 @ Natick, 6 – Final
Stoughton, 0 @ Dover-Sherborn/Hopkinton, 7 – Final
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Mansfield had a lot on the line when it traveled to its biggest rival on Friday night. A win against Franklin would clinch at least a share of a third straight league title for the Hornets, while senior center Meg Hill was only seven points away from reaching 1,000 for her career.
With a layup off a feed from Mady Bendanillo late in the first quarter, Hill (17 points, nine rebounds) made quick work of her accomplishment, but the Hornets needed to battle to the end to pull out a 62-48 victory that sealed a three-peat of Kelley-Rex titles.
“We had a chance to come over here to get a share of the title with a 1,000-point scorer, lets get it all done tonight,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “I’m glad it’s over and now we can relax and a win against KP to win it outright takes a little pressure off when we play OA (in the league finale).”
Hill got on the board off the opening tip, as Franklin allowed the Hornets to take a quick lead in order to get points for senior forward Kate Morse, who is out for the season with an injury.
Ann Maher got off to a red-hot start from the outside to help Mansfield stretch the floor and open up an early lead. She hit the first of three from beyond the arc in the quarter off a Hill feed and then Hill knocked down a jumper for a 7-2 advantage. After the Panthers tied it up, another Maher three was followed by another jumper by Hill.
Ali Brigham (11 rebounds) hit a jumper, the first two of her team-high 16 points, but Maher again was able to answer with another shot from long distance. Sitting just one-point from 1,000, Hill reached the milestone with a transition basket, off a feed from Bendanillo (eight assists).
Hill, who became just the second female player in Mansfield history to reach 1,000 points, passed the credit for her milestone on to her teammates. She said, “I don’t shoot on my own. I don’t dribble the ball. So, passes from them are really how I get my points and I really couldn’t have done it without them.”
After a timeout to celebrate Hill’s career mark, Bendanillo closed out the first with a three for a 20-9 lead. The Hornets finished with nine threes as a team.
“We knew Maher was a good shooter and you try to rotate the defense to her and Meg and other set some good screens and she knocked down some quick ones but I thought it was the supporting cast that really shot well for them and really made the difference tonight,” said Franklin coach John Leighton.
Franklin did not back down and rallied in the second quarter. Mansfield tried to switch up defenses to limit Brigham and Bea Bondhus, but Breanna Atwood (10 points) banked in a three-pointer and got behind the defense for a layup off a feed by Megan O’Connell. O’Connell also scored six in the second, finding space at the high post.
“Our kids battled back,” said Leighton. “The shots kept falling for them but we kept battling back and working to get twos. It was a slog, but we stayed with it. I thought at the end of the first quarter we’d find out really quick who we were and we rebounded pretty well.”
Bendanillo (eight points) drilled a second three and Hill scored on an offensive rebound, but O’Connell’s drive in the final minute cut the lead to just 29-26 at halftime.
“She got it done early,” said Redding of Hill getting to 1,000 points, “but then after that they started to come on and had a great second quarter, but I thought we really came out in the third and reestablished ourself with a good inside-outside game.”
The Hornets broke the game open in the third quarter. Maher (15 points) hit the fourth of her five three-pointer on the night to get it started and Hill hit another jumper. Sydney Mulkern (nine points) scored five points in quick succession and suddenly it was a 13-point edge.
Bondhus (10 points) hit a three to get back within 10 but Mansfield showed its depth with Steph Kemp hitting a jumper, Emily Vigeant driving to the basket for two, and Erin Daniel draining a three to push the lead to 48-35 heading to the fourth.
Redding said, “We got a lot of points not by design. We just made smart passes against traps and found open people out of the offense.”
Both teams found scoring a struggle at the start of the fourth and Franklin was able to chip away at the lead, getting it as close as 56-48 after Bondhus finished in traffic, but the Hornets went 6-for-6 from the line to close it out.
“I thought Bea and Ali were super-aggressive in the fourth quarter and we needed them to be,” said Leighton. “All the shots didn’t fall but I thought we got the looks that we needed and we got some defensive stops that we needed.”
Wins at Franklin are always welcome for the Hornets. Four years ago a loss at Franklin cost Mansfield a share of the league title and the Panthers handed the Hornets their only league loss on the same court last season. So, Redding was pleased to walk away with the victory on Friday.
“Any win at Franklin is a tough one,” said Redding. “Both teams switching up defenses left and right and it seemed like both teams had answers. Ali played great, Meg played great, it was a great battle between two of the best teams in the Kelley-Rex.”
In between celebratory photos with teammates, family, and friends, Hill turned her attention not to the points she has scored in her career but to the fact that she has been part of three straight league championships. She said, “That’s what I really wanted. This is just a sidenote, but three league titles that’s really cool. I’m glad to be part of that.”
Mansfield (15-4, 13-1) can clinch the outright league title on Tuesday at King Philip. Franklin (11-7, 9-5) will try to bounce back when it travels to Attleboro.
Mansfield, 64 @ Attleboro, 51 – Final – Mansfield opened the second half with a 12-2 surge, turning a deficit into an eight-point lead and never looked back. Attleboro held a 30-28 lead at the break but Mansfield took control of the game by outscoring the Bombardiers 22-8 in the frame. Mansfield senior John McCoy dropped a career-high 24 points, hauled in nine rebounds, had five assists and four steals to lead the Hornets, who totaled 10 steals as a team. Damani Scott tied a career-high with 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Ryan Otto chipped in with 10 points. Attleboro sophomore Bryant Ciccio tied a career-high with 17 points.
Milford, 51 @ Canton, 61 – Final – Canton connected on 14 three-pointers as a team, jumping out to a 19-5 lead at the end of the first quarter, and a 30-17 lead at the break. The Bulldogs furthered the lead with a 21-12 third quarter. Senior Tony Harris led the way with 18 points while classmate Austin Maffie netted 17 points for the Bulldogs. Milford junior Brendan White led the Hawks with 14 points.
Stoughton, 41 @ Foxboro, 54 – Final – Foxboro increased its lead after each of the first three quarters to beat the visiting Black Knights. The Warriors led 16-11 after one, 31-20 at the halftime break, and 43-29 heading into the final quarter. Sophomore Brandon Borde led the way offensively with a game-high 19 points while senior Bobby Harrison added 14 points and senior Joe Morrison chipped in with 13 points. Stoughton head coach John Gallivan noted that Alex Sjoquist played well defensively for the Black Knights.
King Philip, 53 @ Oliver Ames, 51 – Final – King Philip outscored Oliver Ames 21-14 in the third quarter to take a lead and held off a late comeback attempt from OA to earn the win. The Warriors had eight players get on the score sheet, led by Brendan King’s 11 points. Both Pharoah Davis and Tom Madden added nine points while Tim Nault chipped in with seven points. Jack Spillane led Oliver Ames with 23 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, while junior Ethan Eckstrom scored 11 points.
North Attleboro, 67 @ Sharon, 61 – Final – North Attleboro overcame an early 16-2 deficit with a strong second half to earn the win. Sharon led 16-7 after the first quarter and 27-20 at the halftime break. Big Red came out with a huge third quarter, outscoring the Eagles 18-7 to seize a lead, and then built a 62-47 lead with just under two minutes to play. North senior Chad Peterson came off the bench, hitting three triples in the second half on his way to a game-high 15 points. Josh Montague added 13 points, Ethan Friberg scored a career-high 11 points (10 in the second half) and junior Jake Petersen had eight points. Sharon senior Malik Lorquet had a game-high 17 points and 12 rebounds while Alex Kaufmann added 16 points and Jimmy Fitzhenry had 11 points and three steals.
Attleboro, 31 @ Mansfield, 52 – Final – Mansfield opened a one-game lead on Attleboro in the league standings with the win. Meg Hill scored 15 points, had 11 boards, and blocked three shots for the Hornets, who also got 11 points from Erin Daniel, eight points and six assists from Mady Bendanillo, and eight points and nine rebounds from Maggie Danehy. Attleboro got 10 points from Sam Pierce and eight points from Liv McCall in the loss.
Foxboro, 74 @ Stoughton, 46 – Final – Ashley Sampson scored 23 points to lead the Warriors to a seventh straight win, six of which were by double digits. Lily Sykes added 15, Shannon Smally had 13, and Grace Tamulionis had 10 points for Foxboro. Stoughton sophomore Shyanne Trinh led the Black Knights with 10 points.
Franklin, 55 @ Taunton, 41 – Final – Sophomore center Ali Brigham recorded a triple-double to help the Panthers earn the road win and stay within a game of first place Mansfield. Brigham scored 15 points, recorded 13 rebounds, and had 10 blocks on the night.
Oliver Ames, 47 @ King Philip, 34 – Final – Leading 32-28 with four minutes to play, Oliver Ames closed the game with a 15-6 run to put the game away and earn the win. Senior Kayla Raymond had a monster night with 30 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks to lead the way for the Tigers, who trailed KP 16-14 at the half. Alex Sheldon added 10 points and eight rebounds in the win for OA.
Sharon, 51 @ North Attleboro, 49 – Final – Telishya Herbert led the way with 17 points for the Eagles, who earned their first league win of the season. Emma Eberhardt added 13 points in the win.
Franklin, 126 @ Attleboro, 45 – Final
Franklin, 103 @ Attleboro, 67 – Final
Attleboro, 134 @ Sharon, 127.6 – Final
Franklin, 130.85 @ Oliver Ames, 136.6 – Final – Franklin junior Mia Lizotte won the all-around for the third straight meet with a 35.95, edging out Oliver Ames’ Hannah Moynihan (35.5). Lizotte earned an 8.85 on beam, an 8.7 on bars and a 9.2 on both vault and floor. Franklin senior Liz Traphagen was second for the Panthers on the vault (8.2) and the floor (9.0). Junior Sadie Rondeau was second for the Panthers on both the bars and the beam.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Trailing by two points entering the fourth quarter, Mansfield knew that it would need a spark on the offensive end to come out on top against non-league rival Bishop Feehan in Friday night’s meeting in the James Albertini Gym.
The Hornets put the ball into the hands of junior point guard Mady Bendanillo and she delivered, personally outscoring the Shamrocks 15-12 in the final eight minutes. With Bendanillo leading the way, Mansfield, which had scored 36 points over the first three quarters, put up 30 as a team in the fourth.
Bendanillo finished with a game- and career-high 22 points and added five assists to lead the Hornets to a 66-50 victory over Feehan, which head coach Mike Redding said afterwards was his first coaching win against the Shamrocks.
“She put on a show tonight,” said Redding of Bendanillo. “She was money at the free throw line (9-of-10 in the fourth quarter), hit some big threes, and handled the ball. I think she played more minutes than anybody and never gets tired, never takes a possession off, and she’s definitely coming into her own getting confidence scoring.”
He added, “We know Meg’s going to get some points inside, Ann will hit some threes, but when Mady goes for double digits then we become a really good basketball team.”
Bendanillo got the fourth quarter started with a three-pointer to give the Hornets a one-point edge. After she hit a pair of free throws, junior Maggie Danehy got into the act with a baseline drive and finish to make it 43-38. Feehan scored, but Ann Maher (12 points and four assists) nailed a step-back three from the left wing to push the lead to six.
The speed of Bendanillo allowed her to break the Feehan press and turn any rebound into a quick break and her ability to get to the rim led to five different trips to the line in the quarter. She buried a three (her third of the night) off a Steph Kemp assist for a 51-43 lead then assisted on a Maher three that pushed the lead to nine.
Meg Hill (14 points and 10 boards) had a pair of baskets in the fourth, one off a Maher assist and the other on a putback, and Danehy added a layup, as the Hornets stormed to the final whistle.
“It was just a lot of different contributions when we needed it,” said Redding about the difference on this night compared to other meetings with Feehan in the past. “Where in the past we may have gone flat for a couple minutes and no one would make a play. Tonight we had a bunch of kids making plays to extend it and make it comfortable.”
The game looked similar to recent meetings between the two teams midway through the second quarter. With the Hornets struggling to make shots and with Hill, who had kept Mansfield in the game with eight points in the first quarter, on the bench with her second foul, Feehan built a 24-12 lead and looked poised to break the game wide open.
Instead of the game getting out of hand, the Hornets grabbed hold of the momentum and closed the half with a 14-4 run. Erin Daniel (seven points) drained a three that cut the lead to seven and Bendanillo followed with a steal and layup and then a three off an assist by her twin sister Kara.
After a Kemp steal, Kara Bendanillo scored her only basket of the night to tie the game at 26-26. Although Feehan added a bucket to lead at the break, it was the Hornets that went into halftime happier.
“When Meg got her second [foul], we sat her and said okay we just have to survive these last two [minutes] and we went on an 8-0 run with the subs,” Redding explained. “That really kind of set the tone going into the second half.”
He continued, “All of a sudden we have that run and it’s a ballgame and we came out with some confidence to start the second half.”
Sydney Mulkern hit a three after the break, her only points of the game, to give Mansfield its first lead since it was 2-0. Nicole Smith (15 points) answered with a three for the Shamrocks, but Maher stepped into a kick out pass by Hill to bury a three on the next possession. Daniel added four points in the quarter to keep the Hornets within two heading to the final eight minutes.
“It was a great game,” said Redding. “We’ll have out hands full over there and this will probably end up being the first of three of them. So, they’re all going to be fun to watch. It’s a high level of basketball for both teams.”
Mansfield (4-1, 2-1) will get a few days off before facing Franklin on Dec. 28 with a rematch against Bishop Feehan slated for Jan. 3.
The Bombardiers enter the season with a new coaching staff and a very different starting lineup to the one that nearly knocked off Mansfield in the Div. 1 South playoffs last season. Former King Philip coach Marty Crowley has taken over after Rick Patch stepped down in the off-season and he will have only a few returning varsity players to call on this winter.
Senior forward Sam Pierce will be the key piece on offense, as Attleboro tries to replace the more than 30 points per game that was lost with the graduation of Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan. Pierce has been a consistent scorer and rebounder for the past few seasons, but this will be the first time that she is the primary offensive weapon and could be poised for a breakout year. Junior Jordyn Lako and senior Grace Mayer are strong on-the-ball defenders and should help Crowley implement his high-pressure defensive scheme. Senior Kim White will also be one of Attleboro’s ball-handlers in the backcourt.
One of the players who saw a little time on varsity last season that is expected to make a big jump is sophomore Nyah Thomas, who has the length to be a tough defender and showed in her few appearances last year that she can rebound and take the ball to the basket. Sophomore Liv McCall is a fearless shooter that will stretch the floor and transfer Mackenzie Roberts will give the Bombardiers added size in the paint.
Crowley said, “For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound. Sam, I am sure, is going to draw a lot of attention from other teams, so we must make sure that we are smart offensively and get touches for everyone.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-14 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Jim Choquette
There has been excitement around the Canton program for the past few seasons and that continues this winter, as the Bulldogs look to secure a place in the state tournament behind an experienced lineup that has been developing together for several years.
Senior Hannah Jerrier is the key for the Bulldogs, as the forward is coming off a league all-star season in which she emerged as a potential double-double night after night. Jerrier is a solid rebounder and scorer in the paint, reaching the 20-point mark nine times last season and averaging more than 16 points and nine rebounds per game. Junior Julia Hamilton will be back at point guard for the Bulldogs to help get the Canton into its offensive sets and provide pressure, on-the-ball defense. Senior Jess Powers is also back after missing a season to a knee injury and will add a boost to the team’s outside shooting and take pressure off Jerrier on offense.
Junior Maggie Connolly returns for her second year in the backcourt and seniors Lindsey Barrett, Nikki Gefteas, and Leya Conard will all add depth to the Canton roster this season, while junior Erin Devine adds another important post presence on both ends of the floor. The versatility of the roster will allow head coach Jim Choquette to change his game plans every game, slowing it down to play half-court or ratcheting up the pressure to go up tempo.
“Canton remains focused on playing together and staying positive for the best season possible,” Choquette said. “Leading up to our first game there’s been an extreme amount of effort and energy by a large group of unselfish girls and our seniors have all been great examples of staying positive throughout all situations!”
2016-2017 Record: 22-3 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Semifinal Coach: Lisa Downs
After winning the Div. 2 South title and reaching the TD Garden last winter, this year’s Foxboro team will have high expectations, but with four starters returning, including reigning Hockomock League MVP Ashley Sampson, the Warriors will once again be the favorites to take home the Davenport division crown.
Having already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career, Sampson enters her senior season as the focal point of the Foxboro offense. Her ability to get into the lane and finish, as well as step back and knock down shots, makes her a tough cover and opens space for her teammates. Fellow senior Lily Sykes is one of the beneficiaries of that space and she can take advantage of open looks on the perimeter. Senior Grace Tamulionis is another player who can stretch the floor for the Warriors and can be an ‘X’ factor for Foxboro in big games. Senior Shannon Smally adds rebounding and post presence to keep defenses honest.
The Warriors are now the veteran team in the division, but there are also several younger players that have developed into critical pieces off the bench, including sophomore Abby Hassman, who has grown in the off-season into a strong rebounder. Freshman Katelyn Mollica will add backcourt depth with her tenacity on defense and already impressive court awareness. Junior Chelsea Gibbons is another player that is expected to step into a bigger role this season.
Foxboro coach Lisa Downs said, “This group of seniors have been part of our Varsity team since their freshmen year and with each year, they have learned and developed more – all of the girls on this year’s team put in the necessary work; now its time to execute.”
2016-2017 Record: 9-11 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: John Leighton
Franklin got off to a rough start last season, beginning 0-6 with an inexperienced roster, but then closed the year with nine wins in the last 14 games, just missing out on a return to the postseason. This year, the Panthers will try to build on that year of experience and book a return to the playoffs.
The Panthers will have strength in the middle to try and get off to a much better start this season. Sophomore Ali Brigham, last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, has received several Div. I NCAA offers, including one from the University of Minnesota, and at 6-foot-3 can dominate the paint on both ends of the floor. Franklin will also have outside scoring with junior guard Bea Bondhus, who is a consistent three-point shooter and will stretch defenses to open up the post for Brigham.
Franklin has plenty of size this season. Sophomore forwards Breanna Atwood (5-foot-9) and Megan O’Connell (5-foot-10) and senior forward Kate Morse (5-foot-11) will provide plenty of depth on the inside. Junior Shannon Gray will be back to run the point and senior Grace Sameski will add backcourt depth. Freshman guard Elizabeth Wilson is poised to make an instant impact for the Panthers, as she did in the season opener by knocking down three free throws in the final seconds to force overtime against Holy Name.
“We are a young team with only two seniors, but I am very pleased with the effort and progress of the team,” said Franklin coach John Leighton, who is excited about the return of the majority of the team’s scoring and the potential of the youth on the roster.
King Philip has a new coach this season, with former Wellesley assistant Amy Siggens taking over for Marty Crowley, and there could be a period of adjustment for a still relatively young Warriors roster to adapt to the new system, but there is excitement about the progress being made by the seven returning varsity players.
Boston University-commit Shannon O’Connor will once again be a player to watch for the Warriors this winter. The junior’s ability to shoot off the dribble, defend multiple positions, and take the ball to the basket has made her one of the league’s elite perimeter players. As O’Connor continues to develop as a playmaker that will create open looks for her teammates, including junior Julia Leroux and sophomore Faith Roy. Senior Christina Hathaway (one of only two seniors on the roster) will add strength in the paint on both ends of the floor.
The Warriors will not lack for size this season. O’Connor is listed at 5-foot-11, junior Catherine Cummings and sophomore Faye Veilleux are listed at 5-foot-10, and Roy is listed at 5-foot-9. The versatility of those players will give Siggens room to switch up lineups when needed. KP is still pretty young and Siggens has added two freshmen, Emma Glaser and Brianna James, to this year’s roster.
Siggens said, “Early on we will stress the importance of being unselfish on offense and being tough and aggressive on defense. Knowing mistakes will be made, there will be no small emphasis on the importance of playing hard all the time… I am encouraged by our team’s enthusiasm and attitude.”
2016-2017 Record: 20-4 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final. Coach: Mike Redding
Replacing the production of last season’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jen Peel is a difficult task, but Mansfield has the talent, depth, and experience in the roster to make it work. The Hornets return four starters from last year’s squad and will lean on a loaded and versatile junior class to try and make it a three-peat of league titles.
The key returner for Mansfield is 6-foot-3 center Meg Hill. The Stonehill College-commit is already the program’s best in blocked shots and is soon to be the career leader in rebounds, while improving her offensive game every season. With Peel gone, junior Mady Bendanillo will be tasked with getting the ball into the post to Hill and to fellow junior Maggie Danehy, who had an impressive start with a double-double against Medfield in the Endowment Game. Reigning HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year Ann Maher will also be back at shooting guard and is one of the team’s most consistent three-point threats.
Juniors Erin Daniel, Emily Vigeant, Sydney Mulkern and Kara Bendanillo will likely compete for the fifth starting spot and all should see plenty of playing time this year. With 5-foot-11 senior Maeve Carney and 5-foot-10 freshman Ashley Santos, the Hornets should be able to dominate the paint and sophomore Becca Hottleman will add depth at the point guard position.
Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “We have a chance to be very good again with our junior group getting a ton of experience last year and we hope to compete for league title again.” He added that the Hornets bolstered the schedule this season as well. Redding said, “Our record may not be as good as last year when we earned the No. 1 seed, but we will be more battle tested for the state tourney in March.”
2016-2017 Record: 10-11 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central first round. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
A year after returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012 (and nearly pulling off an upset of Marlboro on the road), Milford brings back seven seniors to try and make a push for a Davenport division title and another state tournament appearance.
The Hawks have a versatile lineup led by four-year starter Kate Irwin. The lefty point guard is one of the most dynamic perimeter scorers and playmakers in the league and she continues to improve each season. Her ability to get into the paint opens up room for her teammates and she can also step back and knock down threes. Irwin will be helped by fellow seniors Gillian Valanzola and Juliana Tracy, who add size on the post.
Senior Emily Piergustavo is a knock-down shooter from beyond the arc and her classmate Jess Tomaso has proven to be a solid rebounder from the guard position. There are also two sophomores and four freshmen on the roster this season to add depth and build for the future under third-year head coach T.J. Dolliver.
Dolliver said, “I am very excited for our team this year. This is my 3rd year with a lot of these girls and seeing how they have progressed over the years have really set this team up for a fun season.”
Last season, North Attleboro boasted one of the most experienced lineups in the league with five of its top six players being seniors, but this year the Rocketeers will be incorporating a number of new faces, as only six players (only starter) return from last winter.
The lone returning starter is junior guard Julia Feid, who had a breakout season on the wing and will be counted on to lead the offensive attack this year. Feid’s classmate Emily Haskell will also be on the wing for North this season and will also have a large chunk of the offense run through her. Senior Emily Pastore, junior Liz Smahi, and sophomore Michelle Pothier will also contribute scoring from the wing, while junior Lauren Pezzi and sophomore Olivia Forbes will run the point and distribute the ball in the half court.
The graduation of Caroline Collard and Liz Morehouse leaves an opening on the post, but North has several players that will step in to provide a presence in the paint. Senior Julia Santos and juniors Emma Noreck and Kaley Sullivan will each get opportunities to contribute. North faces a tough early season schedule with the likes of Franklin, Oliver Ames, Archbishop Williams, and Hingham, so it will be critical for the new players to find their feet quickly.
North Attleboro coach Derek Herber said, “The team has quickly began to gel and I am hopeful that we if we can survive the early part of the season, we can qualify for the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 13-8 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames struggled to find consistent offense last season and it kept the Tigers from being able to challenge Mansfield for the league title or make another run in Div. 2 South, but a healthy lineup with several key returning players has OA optimistic for improvements this winter.
The main focus will be on senior forward Kayla Raymond. The Stonehill College-commit is one of the most versatile players in the league, with the length and leaping ability to dominate in the paint and the range to step out and knock down jumpers. Raymond is listed as a forward/center but could potentially be used at multiple positions. Senior guard Abby Reardon is back to get the Tigers into their offensive sets and as one of the league’s top on-the-ball defenders. Classmate Katie Flynn also returns to give Raymond help in the post.
In addition to the seniors, junior Alex Sheldon will provide depth at the forward position and junior Sadie Homer was a dynamic scorer on the perimeter before an injury cut her season short last year. Homer was a solid three-point shooter last year and will be expected to stretch defenses again this season. Sophomore guard Meg Holleran emerged as a playmaker during her freshman campaign and could see a bigger role this year.
“OA is looking to blend some younger talent and are working hard to provide some depth in the backcourt,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “Looking forward to the fight for the Kelly Rex Division.”
In addition to a new coaching staff, Sharon will see a number of new faces on the roster, as several of last year’s players are focusing on other sports this winter. Former Rockland and East Bridgewater assistant Sandra Lombardi takes over for Cliff Tomassian and will have a young group to work with in her first head coaching position.
Junior small forward Emma Eberhardt is one of the returning players that will be expected to provide leadership and scoring for the Eagles. Eberhardt, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team performer last year, was Sharon’s top scorer last winter and also has the size to be a problem for opponents on the glass. She scored 16 points in Sharon’s win over Nipmuc in the season opener. Senior guard Miranda Cheung will also be back for Sharon to provide ball-handling and perimeter shooting.
Sophomore Telishya Herbert made the jump from JV to varsity midway through last season and had an instant impact on the Eagles with her athleticism and her ability to score in the paint. She had 10 points against Nipmuc and could be ready for a breakout year as Sharon’s second scorer to take some pressure off Eberhardt. Also back from last year’s roster are junior Evanjuline Elisma and sophomore Ally Brown.
Lombardi said of her new team, “We are going to be quick and aggressive. I’m excited to see what the season will bring.”
The Black Knights narrowly missed out on the postseason last year, despite having a number of underclassmen in the roster, and expectations for this season include a return to the playoffs under third-year head coach Charmaine Steele-Jordan.
Senior Val Whalen was the team’s MVP last season after leading the Black Knights with more than 13 points and nine rebounds per game. Whalen has improved every season and her intensity on defense and on the glass boosts is contagious. Stoughton is a physical team that likes to put pressure on the ball defensively and Whalen sets the tone. Senior Jordan Motley is also a tenacious rebounder and gives the Black Knights another strong presence in the paint.
Sophomore guard Shyanne Trinh had a breakout freshman campaign, scoring more than 10 points per game, and her ball-handling and long-range shooting opens things up for the post players. Fellow sophomore Aliyah Wright also had a strong rookie campaign and her size is a difficult matchup for many of the point guards in the Hock. Stoughton will also count on junior guards Lindsey McDonald and Hailey Egan and sophomore Lexi Baptista. Freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe has also been called up to add depth in the backcourt.
Steele-Jordan said of her senior forwards, “I’m looking forward to their leadership, hustle on the court and their defensive presence this year. Whalen and Motley’s veteran play along with our returning sophomores will be great for the Black Knights this season.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-21 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton is coming off a difficult season in which the Tigers finished with just one victory, but one game into the new year and Taunton has already matched that total. The season opening win over Cumberland (R.I.) fits with the optimism around the program, as the Tigers blend youth with experience in the hopes of making a run at a playoff spot.
The Tigers will be led by senior forwards Hannah Moniz and Mackenzie Handrahan, who combined for 26 points in the win at Cumberland and provide a mix of rebounding, scoring at the rim, and outside shooting to balance the Taunton offense. Junior Lily Patneaude also returns from an all-star season and is Taunton’s most dynamic scorer with range from well beyond the arc. Junior Alexa White is another guard that will provide solid contributions on both ends of the floor.
Junior Shantel Andrew, a 5-foot-7 forward, is expected to be a significant contributor this season, after missing two years with knee injuries. As usual, Taunton has plenty of youth on the roster with four freshmen making varsity, a couple of whom got playing experience last year as eighth graders. Forwards Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez and guards Kelsey White and Tori DaRosa are going to be counted on to play big roles this year for the Tigers.
Taunton coach Walter Harrigan said, “Our goal for this year is to continue to work hard while focusing on the development of good habits which will hopefully lead to team improvement and a trip to the state tournament.”
MANSFIELD, Mass. – While it is only about a third of the way through the league campaign, Monday night’s meeting between unbeaten Mansfield and Franklin at Alumni Field was an opportunity for one of the Kelley-Rex’s perennial powers to grab a slim advantage at the top of the table.
It was a opportunity that the defending division champion Hornets would not pass up. Mansfield dominated large portions of the game, created the majority of the few scoring chances that either team managed, and came away with a 3-0 victory that puts it one game up on the Panthers and King Philip.
“We played very well,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith after the game. “It’s good to play like that against a really quality opponent.”
As expected from a meeting between these two programs, the game was combative and fast-paced, but neither team was able to find space for a shot against two well-organized defensive units (the top two defensive teams in the league).
The game changed in the 14th minute when senior Taylor Smith played a long ball out of the back that bounced past the Franklin center backs and into the path of Kerina Geminiani. The junior beat Franklin keeper Cat Robbins to the ball and touched it past her into the open net.
“There’s so much pressure on the defense,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen, “and eventually someone is going to make a mistake and something bad is going to happen. Even if it’s not your fault, something is going to go wrong with all that pressure in the back.”
The first half was limited in offensive chances for either team. Stephanie Kemp had a shot easily saved by Robbins in the 25th minute, but it was one of only two saves that the keeper was forced into in the game. Meanwhile the Mansfield defense bottled up Franklin midfielder Molly Duncan and held the Panthers without an attempt on goal in the opening 40 minutes.
“We’re getting there,” said Smith about the defense, including Erin Daniel and Mikaela Maughn on the outside and Emily Vigeant and Taylor Smith in the middle. “There’s still a couple breakdowns here or there, lack of concentration, but we’re getting there.”
The defense also popped up with a goal for the Hornets. In the 38th minute, Vigeant lined up a 35-yard free kick. Her effort took a deflection off the end of the Panthers wall and bounced past the dive of Robbins for a 2-0 lead at half.
Smith admitted that goal was important for the Hornets heading into the break. He said, “It would’ve been weird to go in with that much possession, but again give Franklin credit. They really limited us, we didn’t have a lot of shots in the first half, and that’s a credit to their defense.”
Franklin made a change of system at halftime to try and give more of a challenge in the midfield. It seemed to work, as the Panthers got their first shot two minutes after the break when freshman Erin Quaile had her shot saved by Lauren Whitman.
Four minutes later, the Panthers nearly got back into the game. Jess Kroushl stole the ball in the midfield and showed off the speed that has made her a track standout to create a chance on the break. Her first effort was blocked and Duncan’s follow-up effort was also blocked by the retreating Mansfield defense.
“When they changed back to four in the middle,” Smith explained, “they overran us a little in the midfield and we had to make some adjustments and find the length in the corners. Once we did that, we could expand them and find space in the middle.”
With seven minutes left to play, the Hornets wrapped up the points. Smith played a long free kick into Allee Bezeau in the box and the senior forward flicked the ball across goal to the back post. Bryn Anderson ran onto it and calmly finished with one touch.
Kroushl gave the Panthers one more chance to ruin Mansfield’s clean sheet but her breakaway with two minutes remaining was stymied by a sliding Whitman, who managed to get a toe on the ball.
“They continued to fight hard,” Geysen said, “but we obviously need to make some changes because we didn’t generate much offense at all. We need to find ways to create some offense to take the pressure off the defense.”
Smith was happy to get the lead in the division, however slim it may be.
“Any kind of cushion gives you a little bit of breathing room,” he said, “but this league is so good…I think out of our last 10 games, seven are against above .500 teams. We might as well start the state tournament now, it’s that kind of quality.”
Mansfield (6-0) will get another top of the table test on Thursday when it plays host to second place King Philip. Franklin (5-1-1) will also be back in action on Thursday when the Panthers host Attleboro.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – After winning the program’s first ever league title last fall, Mansfield comes into this season with a deep and experienced roster, but it was youthful Foxboro that started Thursday evening’s season opener at Alumni Field with energy and confidence. The Warriors were pushing the Hornets back towards their own goal and putting pressure on the Mansfield back line.
But, 15 minutes into the game, the Hornets picked out a pass over the top, a bad bounce took it past the defender, and junior Amanda Mangano slid the ball past Foxboro keeper Jamie DeVellis to open the scoring.
That goal changed the game. The Hornets clicked into gear and dominated from that point on, running out to a 5-1 win behind a pair of goals and three points from junior forward Stephanie Kemp and a pair of assists by senior Emma Oldow.
“Foxboro came out flying. They were physical and quick and tried to press us as high as they could,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith. “They had five in the midfield and we couldn’t figure out how to play through it with our typical passing game. I said, stretch the field, just put it over into space. That will stretch them out and then we can go back to the middle.”
He added, “Once we trusted that, two balls over the top and two goals; the game changed because of that.”
Foxboro was putting pressure from the opening whistle, using a high line and high pressure to win the ball and then quickly releasing freshman Jordyn Collins into the channels. Collins was able to run at defenders along with sophomore Lizzy Davis and win the Warriors a few early corners. The best chance in the opening minutes was a 30-yard free kick by Lily Sykes that swerved over the bar.
In the 16th minute, Oldow fired a pass forward towards Mangano and the ball skipped through the center of the Foxboro defense to create a one-on-one with the keeper. Foxboro struggled to sustain the pressure after falling behind.
“We came out on fire and really working hard,” said first-year Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “The ball was in our half, we were in the attacking half for the first part of the first half and then they got that goal and we got a little deflated. That’s something I need to talk to the girls about, but they didn’t stop fighting.”
Once the momentum turned, Mansfield took full control of the game. Junior Cassidy McMahon sent a shot wide from the right corner of the box and then sent a free header over the bar from the six-yard box. Kemp, who had an early chance that she sent wide, doubled the lead in the 31st minute when she ran onto a long ball from Erin Daniel, rounded the keeper and tapped it in.
Kemp nearly played provider a minute later, but Oldow shot wide when free on goal and then Kemp missed a chance that DeVellis appeared to get a finger to, but was ruled a corner.
Foxboro could have made the game closer before halftime, but Sykes had a free kick saved at full stretch by Mansfield keeper Caty DeMassi. On the resulting corner, the ball was redirected up and off the bar to keep it 2-0 heading into halftime.
Despite the speed of the Warriors’ attack, the Mansfield defense was able to hold strong, particularly the combination of center backs Emily Vigeant, Daniel, and Taylor Smith, a senior defender who transferred from Seattle, Wash. (and is already committed to play soccer at the University of Minnesota next year).
“It’s nice to have three center backs,” Smith said, “so I can rest them when they need and so many kids are interchangeable. Erin plays defense, midfield, outside back, and I can put the players anywhere.”
The third goal came nine minutes into the second half. Bryn Anderson picked out Oldow with a defense-splitting pass but Foxboro keeper Morgan Sylvestre (who took over at halftime) made a sliding save. The ball bounced out to Kemp, who calmly side-footed the ball home. Two minutes later, Kemp knocked down a long ball, Anderson took a touch to her left, and curled a shot past a diving Sylvestre.
Sykes was being smothered by the Mansfield midfield, with Anderson and fellow junior Melissa Reef constantly keeping an eye on Foxboro’s star. She finally got space in the 54th minute and curled a shot that DeMassi could not hold. Mackenzie Fraser was first to the loose ball and patiently took a touch before finishing the rebound.
“She’s always going to be out there playing a big part in the game,” said Stalcup of Sykes, “but they new who she was and they knew how to shut her down and she had a really hard time tonight.”
In the 57th minute, Mansfield restored its four-goal advantage. Mangano had a chance in the box, but the ball was cleared off her foot by Mackenzie Cusack. The clearance went directly to McMahon on the right side of the box and she hit it first time into the far side-netting.
Smith said, “We talked about using our experience but now playing with urgency. You can’t just say, we’re good and show up. I thought they came out with some urgency, which is good.”
Stalcup knows that it was always going to be difficult starting the season against the defending champ. She said, “We’re a young team, but we know how to battle. We’re going to keep fighting and we can build from that. You can’t teach hard work and we have that.”
Mansfield (1-0) will travel to Canton on Monday night in a crossover game, while Foxboro (0-1) will host unbeaten King Philip.
2016 Record: 2-15-1 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Santos
Goal scoring has been the biggest issue for the Bombardiers in the past few seasons, including a league-low eight in 2016, but head coach Steve Santos is confident that this year’s squad has the speed and experience to take advantage of counter attacks and he expects Attleboro to create a lot more scoring chances this fall.
While goal scoring is a focus of the preseason work, it is at the back that Attleboro boasts the most experience with the entire back line returning. Senior Jordyn Forte is the leader at the back, using her “good soccer IQ,” according to Santos, to keep things calm and making the right plays. She is joined in the defense by fellow seniors Morgan Laplume and Graycen Cassidy. In goal, Madison Brown returns to give Attleboro a solid presence to control the penalty box.
Turning that defense into attack will be the responsibility of senior midfielder Julia Hayes, who will be a key player in the center of the pitch. Junior Ashley Lauzier and senior Kara Thornton will be hoping to take advantage of the opportunities that are created. Santos is also excited about the youth coming into the program with three freshman on the varsity roster to start, including Riley Harnois, who will help out in the attack.
“We have a little more speed this year,” said Santos, “and we’ve been generating a little more in the transition. This year I can rest [the starters], bring people off the bench and the pace doesn’t drop off. They’re great kids, they work hard, and they fight for the team every day.”
2015 Record: 10-3-5 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tom Geysen
After six straight league titles, Franklin had an atypical season in 2016. The Panthers only lost three times all season, but drew five times, struggling to find consistent goal scoring that would turn a tie into a win. Franklin only allowed nine goals, but only scored 36, which was 20 goals fewer than league champ Mansfield. This year, head coach Tom Geysen is working on a new formation to get the best out of his attacking options with the goal of returning to the top of the league standings.
The Panthers return leading scorer Miranda Smith and the senior takes advantage of her size to create scoring opportunities in the box. Junior Halle Atkinson is back for her third year on the varsity and gives Franklin speed on the wings and is an accurate crosser of the ball to give Smith plenty of chances. Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira are also back and will give the Panthers a consistent presence in the center of midfield, while Emily Mastaj is another option on the wing.
The key to Franklin’s defense this season will be senior goalie Cat Robbins. Stepping in between the posts last year, Robbins turned in an impressive year and quickly became one of the top goalies in the league. This year, there will be several new faces and younger players that will be counted on to step up on the defensive side of the ball, including senior Molly O’Reilly and juniors Grace Gallo and Madison Stewart.
Geysen noted that there are several underclassmen that could step in during the season to add to the Panthers’ depth. He added, “We need to find the right mix. If we can patch things together and they can gain experience over the course of the season I’m confident that we will get better.”
2016 Record: 12-8-2 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Gary Pichel
It was a great turnaround for King Philip from 2015 to 2016. The Warriors were snakebitten by injuries the year before, losing almost an entire starting 11 many of them to long-term injuries, but last year a large and talented freshman class stepped in to supplement the players who were back healthy helping the program jump from just two wins to 12 last fall.
Expectations are even higher for the Warriors this year, as that freshman group gained a year of experience playing in the Hock. The sophomores are led by Avery Snead, last year’s Underclassman of the Year, who excelled up front or in the midfield and sealed the team’s playoff victory over Mansfield with an overtime headed winner. Chloe Layne showed off silky skills and finishing ability in the box and Olivia Berry stepped right into the heart of the defense and showed that she belonged.
It is not all about the underclassmen. Senior Emma Corcoran is back for another year at the heart of the defense and as the primary dead ball specialist, being named an Eastern Mass. All-Star in 2016. Senior Emma Durant has grown into the role of starting keeper and was a solid and steady presence between the posts last season. Senior Julian Massarone is a three-year varsity player and will be one of the primary playmakers in the center of the pitch.
“Overall, we made great strides in improving our game last year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “We want to continue to become more advanced in all three phases of our game. Last year, we turned a corner. This year, we want to move full speed ahead and compete hard against all of our opponents in the Hock!”
2016 Record: 14-1-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Kevin Smith
Mansfield is coming off the program’s best ever season. The Hornets set records for wins, points, goals scored and claimed their first ever league title, finishing the regular season unbeaten. An overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs to league rival KP was a tough finish to 2016 and trying to replace the production of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Hannah Reiter will be a challenge, but the Hornets return a ton of talent to make a run at another title.
Juniors Melissa Reef (an Eastern Mass. All-Star last season) and Bryn Anderson will be back in the midfield this fall, breaking up opponents’ attacks and pushing Mansfield into the attack. Their ability to cover a lot of ground in the center of the pitch and pick out the right pass to start the transition will be key. Classmate Stephanie Kemp will be back at the top of the attack, after scoring nine goals as a sophomore. Junior Emily Vigeant will lead an experienced defensive unit and also gives the Hornets a dangerous weapon from set pieces.
Mansfield coach Kevin Smith likes has a lot of players that he can call on this season. In the attack, Kemp will be joined by Sydney Mulkern, Allee Bezeau, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy MacMahon, and Emma Oldow. Defensively, the Hornets will turn to Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, Erin Daniel and goalkeeper Lauren Whitman.
Smith said, “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers and relying on the experience of 13 juniors and three seniors who were on varsity last year to fill the roles of the five starters who graduated.”
Last fall, Oliver Ames made the switch from the Davenport to the Kelley-Rex division, but it had little effect on the success of the program. The Tigers shared the league title with Mansfield, the fourth title in a row for OA and seventh since 2007. That run of success may be tough to keep going this year, as the Tigers graduated 10 seniors and are battling injuries to start 2017.
Losing players like Francesca Calabraro (who was injured midway through last season) and Kiana Lozzi is tough enough, but the Tigers lost almost an entire starting 11. To make matters worse, the strong central defensive pairing of Emily Freeman (knee) and Zoe Chazan (academy) are both missing to start the season. Senior goalie Regan Benton is back and will give the Tigers one of the best goalies in the league and in Eastern Mass. to backstop the rebuilt defense.
Offensively, the Tigers have been known for pace and strength, particularly on set pieces, and this year will count on three senior to try and provide consistent scoring opportunities. The pacy group of Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, Annabella Walsh will be the primary focus of the attack. There will be a lot of new faces on the pitch this season, trying to keep the legacy of OA success going for another fall.
“We have quite a few players who had limited minutes last year,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer, “but they practiced against some good players every day. If we can stay healthy I feel confident.”
It has been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers over the past few seasons under head coach Edith Dixon. In 2015, Taunton reached the postseason for the first time in program history and made it count by beating Wellesley on the road in the opening round and gave top seed Bishop Feehan a tough game in the second round. But, after losing a number of players to graduation, Taunton won only three games last season and are looking to bounce back behind a young roster in 2017.
The key for the Tigers is senior Samantha Tichelaar, who is coming off a league all-star and HockomockSports.com Best XI season, and gives Taunton speed, control, and leadership either as a forward or dropping deep into the midfield. Her versatility opens opportunities for her teammates. Classmate Kayla Felix will be the leader at the back for the Tigers, adding aggressiveness to the defense from her sweeper position.
Numbers are good for the program overall and Dixon expects that the younger players, including a strong crop of freshman and even eighth graders could make an impact on the varsity as the season goes along. She said that many of the younger players are “ahead of their age performance-wise.”
Dixon added, “Some of our younger players are going to step up and change how we play, but our upperclassman and seniors will remain the core of our team. I believe that their leadership and team-first mentality will push us to do well this year and set the program up for long-term success as the underclassmen mature.”