Oliver Ames Earns Overtime Win Over Franklin

Oliver Ames girls soccer Allison Evin
Oliver Ames’ Allison Evin (left) is mobbed by teammates following her game-winning goal against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – “Big girl soccer.”

That was just one of many positive mantras Scott Dolan was known for, and it was the perfect way to describe Monday evening’s clash between #8 Oliver Ames and #9 Franklin.

Eighty minutes wasn’t enough to decide the physical contest between the two league rivals, with neither team willing to give an inch.

But finally, in the 89th minute, OA sophomore Allison Evin delivered the game-winner with a perfectly struck shot to the far post, just sneaking inside the far post into the side netting to give the Tigers a 1-0 emotional overtime win over the Panthers.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I felt like we could score one goal we had a chance,” said Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer. “The last time [Franklin] gave up a goal was forever ago. They had 12 shutouts in the last 13 games and the only team that scored against them was KP and they only got two. They are just so hard to break down because they have such quality players back there.”

Dolan, a longtime OA assistant coach, passed away last week after a courageous battle with cancer at the age of 48. Whether it was at the high school, with Legacy Soccer Club, Easton Youth Soccer, or a local camp or clinic, Dolan had a strong impact on all the members of this year’s Tigers squad. Even when Dolan worked at the college level, he was always on the OA sideline for the playoffs.

“I’m just very happy for the girls, it’s been a very emotional week,” Sellmayer said. “Come tournament time, Scotty would always be here. I could say something that they’ve heard all year long but I could have Scotty tell them and they’d listen. And then he’d be there to help me with my coaching too.

“A kid could make the worst play in the world and Scotty would say ‘Hey darling, don’t worry about it, this is what you have to do.’ And make them feel like a million bucks. Just a big booming voice, just a super guy.”

Evin’s game-winner was the first goal that the Tigers scored against the Panthers this season. The two sides battled to a scoreless tie in Easton in early October while the Panthers earned a 2-0 decision in one of the final games of the season.

“We won one, we tied one, and now they’ve won one so you can’t get much more even than that,” said longtime Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “[Oliver Ames] was the better team tonight. They were able to force us into some things that we haven’t done since the beginning of the year, so kudos to them.”

Chances were few and far between throughout the 80 minutes of regulation. The Tigers had five corners and put four shots on net but all were handled by Franklin keeper Bre Atwood. OA keeper Emily Meyers was equal to the task, handling four corners and three shots on goal by the Panthers.

Sophomore Lauren Sellmayer connected with classmate Camryn O’Connor on a throw, but her cross was partially blocked. That led to a clearance from the defense but it was intercepted by Evin just outside the area. She took a touch around a defender and rifled a shot just out of the reach of Atwood’s diving attempt to give the Tigers a win.

“That was [a big girl soccer goal],” Sellmayer said. “[Evin] cramped up and I was sitting her for a little bit but in overtime, we just went with it. There were moments Allison wasn’t giving us a lot of defense but she couldn’t move. It was a trade-off so we went for it.”

The limited number of chances had a lot to do with strong defense from both sides. Even when it looked like there might be a chance for a shot, a defender would often intervene.

Evin and O’Connor linked up in the 10th minute with the latter giving the hosts their first shot on goal. Atwood tipped away a corner kick from Abby Hodges in the 28th minute and came up big again in the 35th minute when OA’s Emma Pereira lofted a ball over the defense but Franklin’s Sabrina Addi help shield the ball and the keeper was there before Erin Holmberg could pounce.

Franklin’s Riley Fitzpatrick got in behind the defense in the 9th minute but Pereira was quick to get back and win possession back. Sydney St. Marie sent a shot just wide of the net in the 21st minute, and Erin Quaile’s bid from distance was handled easily in the 32nd minute.

Panther freshman Norah Anderson made a terrific recovery in the 58th minute, getting back in time to take away a shot from Holmberg from inside the area. On the other end, Franklin’s Sam Powderly smashed a shot wide of the post after taking down a clearance.

The Tigers were close to a winner in regulation when Katie Gibson linked up with Holmberg at the far post but her point-blank chance was saved by Atwood to keep the game scoreless and force overtime.

“We talked about it halftime but we weren’t able to do it…we needed to play the ball wide over the defender, and the forwards who made the initial pass need to make a run,” Geysen said. “But we never got the ball up in the air and make them change them what they were doing.”

A nice give-and-go between Quaile and Carly Alston resulted in the former putting a shot on target to start the overtime period, but that would be it in the attacking end for Franklin.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Two minutes later, OA almost had a winner when a ball was played into the area that eluded Atwood, causing a little scrum in front of the net but Anna Balkus and Bridgette Ginley helped clear the line and keep it out.

After starting the season with one win in its first four games, Franklin lost just once in its final 13 games. And in the span, the Panthers allowed just three goals.

“We started 1-3 and I wasn’t sure how the rest of the season would go,” Geysen said. “We made the change to put Anna [Balkus] in the back and that changed the whole defensive scheme for us. That’s when we started to play better. If you play well defensively, you’re in every game. We only gave up two goals twice, the first was an early game to Canton and the second one was KP, and they’ll score two on anybody.”

Oliver Ames girls soccer (14-4-1) will look continue to play “big girl soccer” when it hits the road on Thursday to visit top-seeded King Philip. Franklin finishes at 12-5-1.

Addi Brace Lifts Stingy Franklin Over Bombardiers

Franklin girls soccer
Franklin senior Sabrina Addi (4) helped the Panthers earn an 11th clean sheet in the last 12 games and also scored twice on free kicks. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Attleboro (7-9-2) arrived at Pisini Stadium on Monday night needing a win in its season finale to clinch a postseason berth for the first time under head coach Steve Santos and first time since the Bombardiers joined the Hockomock League. Unfortunately for the visitors, they were facing a team that has made its mark this season by frustrating opposing attacks.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin locked down defensively once again, recording its 11th shutout in its last 12 games (only league champion King Philip has managed to score against the Panthers in the last five weeks) and dashing Attleboro’s playoff hopes with a 2-0 victory.

The Panthers have allowed only eight goals all season, which is second best in the league, but six of those goals came in the opening five games. A lineup change, moving senior Anna Balkus to left back from her attacking midfield role, solidified that side of the field and allowed classmate Sabrina Addi to dominate in the middle. Freshman Norah Anderson and senior Sam Powderly have grown into their center and right back roles.

“We moved her to the back and she just took over and that allowed Sabrina not to have everything on her shoulders,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “Being able to move Anna around and now put Sammy on the side where she feels more comfortable, on the right side because she’s right-footed, makes things a little easier. And Norah has come a long way, for a freshman she’s played very well.”

Addi did more than just limit the Bombardiers to shots from distance, she also showed off her own long-range prowess. She found the back of the net twice on free kicks from 30-plus yards, supplying the Panthers with all the scoring they would need for the night.

“She’s been doing it all season,” Geysen said of Addi’s ability on set pieces. He added, “We don’t score a lot of goals (28 in 17 games) and that’s one of the problems we have, so if we don’t play good defense then we’re in trouble.”

It was a frustrating night for Attleboro coach Steve Santos, who watched the Bombardiers claw their way into contention with a hard-fought win against North Attleboro on Sunday afternoon in the annual Blue-Red Cup match. A day later and a little banged up, especially after junior forward Isabella Salviati was forced to the bench with a rib injury, the Bombardiers couldn’t find a way past the Franklin back line.

“We played yesterday in the rain,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos. “Everyone was coming in here a little ragged and that’s not the way you want to go into a playoff game. We battled hard. I’m proud of the team, they don’t quit. They give us everything they got left in the tank.”

Neither team was able to create many clear-cut chances through the first half. Sydney St. Marie had the first good look for the Panthers when she was played into the right channel, but Emily Antonik was able to put pressure on her and make it a comfortable save for Ashley Macia.

Five minutes later, Eleanor Graber had Attleboro’s first shot on target, but it was from a long way out and was an easy stop for Breanna Atwood (four saves).

Franklin nearly grabbed the lead midway through the half when Carly Alston’s corner was met by Erin Quaile, but the junior midfielder’s header smack the bar and stayed out. Macia was able to scramble and cover the rebound.

Attleboro had a couple of chances late in the half, but both were shots from well outside the area. Jessica Gatesstepped past a couple of Franklin defenders to open up space, but her shot was held by Atwood. A minute later, Briley Harnois got shooting space from 20 yards and sent a shot narrowly wide of the post.

“Their defense is so stingy, so difficult,” said Santos. “No. 4 (Addi) is a rock back there. She’s hard to get through. She’s strong on the ball, she goes into tackles strong. They didn’t give us much. We knew it was going to be a close one, we knew it was going to be a battle, and we were hoping that we’d get the bounce we needed.”

The hosts came storming out of the break determined to grab the lead and not allow the Bombardiers to get the advantage that they were desperately seeking. Quaile played in Alston between the center backs but she shot early and hit it straight at the keeper. Chloe Barca whipped in a cross from the right a few minutes later that St. Marie hit first-time but again Macia was in the right position to hold on.

“Those two kids up front,” Geysen said of Harnois and Salviati, “if you make a mistake they can hurt you and that’s what I told the girls at halftime. I said that they need to stop dropping, one of you take the person who’s there and the other will be the second defender. You can’t keep dropping and giving them more space.”

Ten minutes after the break, Addi broke the deadlock with an unstoppable rocket from nearly 40 yards out. Her shot smacked the underside of the bar on its way through. Fourteen minutes after that and from the other side of the field, she went for goal from more than 30 yards and was able to slip it just past the outstretched arms of the keeper to make it 2-0.

That goal put Attleboro in the unenviable position of having to score three goals in just 16 minutes against a team that had allowed only two goals in a month and hadn’t allowed three goals in a game once this season.

The best chance for the Bombardiers came nine minutes from full time when Harnois curled a ball into the box from the near midfield. The clearance was indecisive and fell to the feet of Emily Dunlea, who drew a save out of Atwood.

Santos explained, “Today was our tournament test. It’s tough. We wanted more for this team and we’ll always look back at a couple of those games that we wish we had back, but to be playing and fighting at this time of the year, we’re playing great soccer.”

Franklin (12-4-1) will find out its tournament opponent when the draw comes out on Friday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 09/27/19

Today’s games are listed below.

Game of the Week – Football
Stoughton, 0 @ Canton, 10 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 1-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good.
3rd Quarter: (C) O. Lehane 27-yard field goal.
4th Quarter: No scoring.

Football
King Philip, 26 @ Franklin, 14 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.
1st Quarter: (KP) Robbie Jarest 25-yard pass to Brian Wassersug, Dylan Conti XP good; (F) Thomas Gasbarro 53-yard pass to Cole Lakatos, Parker Cheuvront XP good.
2nd Quarter: (KP) Ryan Halliday 1-yard rush, D. Conti XP good; (KP) R. Jarest 11-yard pass to Andrew McKinney, XP blocked.
3rd Quarter: (F) Mack Gulla 1-yard rush, P. Cheuvront XP good.
4th Quarter: (KP) R. Halliday 11-yard rush, 2pt pass failed.

Taunton, 6 @ Mansfield, 31 – Final
1st Quarter: (M) Michael DeBolt 3-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; (M) Nick Marciano 58-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good; M. DeBolt 9-yard rush, M. DeBolt XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) M. DeBolt 35-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (M) Nico Holmes 7-yard rush; M. DeBolt XP good; (T) Josh Lopes 1-yard rush, XP no good.

Milford, 41 @ Sharon, 7 – Final

Boys Soccer
Foxboro, 1 @ Attleboro, 7 – FinalAttleboro erupted for three goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half, and added on three more in the second half to earn a big win. The Bombardiers and Warriors were knotted at 1-1 entering the final 10 before Attleboro scored in quick succession. Michael Russo scored four goals in the win.

North Attleboro, 2 @ Franklin, 0 – Final

Stoughton, 0 @ King Philip, 6 – FinalClick here for a photo gallery of this gameSix different Warriors found the back of the net as KP picked up two points at home on Friday afternoon. Ajae Olsen opened the scoring in the 18th minute, finishing off a shot from distance into the bottom corner. Owen Teixeira and Evan McEvoy added first half strikes for KP, who led 3-0 at half. Colin Wesley (penalty kick), Connor O’Neill, and Caleb Casseta-Waxman each scored in the second half.

Milford, 4 @ Taunton, 0 – FinalMilford scored twice in each half to earn two points on the road over the Tigers. Jordan Borges banged in a shot from distance off the bottom of the crossbar to make it 1-0 in 27th minute, and Dan Santos put the Hawks ahead 2-0 just five minutes later off an assist from Pedro Araujo. Araujo converted a penalty kick in the second half to make it 3-0, and Joao Pedro Da Silva capped the scoring for Milford off an assist from freshman Gabriel Godoy. Leo Oliveira and Kevin Gomes combined for the shutout in net while Carlos Terrinha and Leo Coelho had strong games defensively for Milford.




Girls Soccer
Attleboro, 0 @ Foxboro, 8 – Final

Mansfield, 1 @ Canton, 2 – FinalCanton scored a pair of goals in a three-minute span in the second half to earn a win at home over Mansfield. Freshman Emily McCabe knotted the score before junior Olivia Rodman bagged the game-winning goal to give the Bulldogs two points.

Franklin, 2 @ North Attleboro, 0 – FinalClick here for a Photo Gallery from this game. The Panthers scored twice on first half set pieces to secure the victory. Sabrina Addi’s long free kick was flicked on from the edge of the box by Erin Quaile midway through the half, catching the keeper off her line for the opening goal. Addi scored the second on a corner kick that bounced around in the North box. She finally latched onto the loose ball and lifted it into the back of the net. Lydia Hershey, Colette Petit, and Taylor Ward played well defensively for the Rocketeers, while Alex Moulson played a solid all-around game in midfield.

King Philip, 5 @ Stoughton, 0 – FinalKing Philip scored four goals in the final 25 minutes of the game, turning a one-goal game into a big win on the road, earning head coach Gary Pichel the 200th victory of his career. Ally Stanton put KP ahead in the 27th minute on an assist from Chloe Layne, and the duo linked up again in the 57th minute to make it 2-0. Layne added a goal of her own seven minutes later (assist by Ava Tormey), Makayla Griffin blasted a shot from 30 yards out with six minutes left, and Maeve Lawlor (from Brianna Quirke) made it 5-0 in the 75th minute. Taylor Butler recorded her seventh shutout of the season.

Taunton, 0 @ Milford, 3 – FinalMilford freshman Dani Atherton factored into all three goals as the Hawks defended home field with a win over visiting Taunton. Atherton scored a pair of goals and assisted on the other, setting up Jillian Michelson for a goal.

Field Hockey
Franklin @ Walpole – Postponed to Saturday 9/28 at 10:00.

King Philip, 1 vs. Algonquin, 2 – FinalThe Warriors pushed the unbeaten T’Hawks to the limit, the visitors scoring the game-winning goal with just 64 seconds left to steal two points from KP. Makenzie Manning shined in net with 23 saves for KP, who earned a penalty corner with no time left and registered two shots on could before Algonquin (8-0-1) got the clear to end the game. Senior Sammy Robison, junior Grace Crocker, and senior Char Colella all played well for KP.

Volleyball
King Philip, 3 vs. Walpole, 0 – FinalKing Philip defended home court with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-20) sweep over the visiting Rebels of Walpole High. The Warriors’ dynamic duo of Nicole Coughlan (13 kills, one ace) and Catherine Waldeck (11 kills, two blocks) continued to shine while Emma Brooks added four aces and three digs in the win.

Mansfield, 2 vs. Brockton, 3 – FinalMansfield jumped out to a 2-0 lead but Brockton rallied to win three straight as the Hornets dropped a 2-3 (25-16, 25-19, 23-25, 16-25, 10-15) decision at home. It was the third time in the week that Mansfield played five sets. Sam Sternburg shined defensively with 19 digs while Steph Walker had nine assists and 10 service points.

Milford @ Hopedale, 5:00

Golf
Attleboro, 162 @ North Attleboro, 153 – FinalNorth Attleboro’s Jillian Barend sank a birdie on the sixth hole and finished with a medalist round of one-over 36 at the middle course of Heather Hill to lead the Rocketeers past rival Attleboro. Jake Gaskin was right behind Barend with a 37 while Sam Gallagher (39) and Brett Dusel (41) also scored for North. Brendan Raymond had a team-low 37 for Attleboro, Brian Houle added a 39, Jack Handy finished with a 42, and Ben Wood chipped in with a 44.

Taunton @ King Philip, 3:30

Tuesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 09/24/19

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Soccer
Stoughton, 0 @ Foxboro, 2 – FinalFoxboro senior Dylan Barreira and sophomore Matt Angelini each scored once to lead the hosts to a win over Stoughton. Nolan Gerome made 11 saves in net for the Black Knights.

Franklin, 2 @ Taunton, 2 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 2 – FinalOliver Ames junior Kevin Louhis scored and had an assist to help the Tigers earn two points against visiting Mansfield. Louhis set up classmate Anthony DaCosta in the 30th minute to put the hosts ahead. Louhis then added an insurance goal in the 70th minute, running onto a through ball from Colin Milliken and finishing in alone on the keeper to make it 2-0. Anthony Salisbury had a strong game in net, making 18 saves.

Girls Soccer
Attleboro, 0 @ King Philip, 4 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery from this game.

Foxboro, 4 @ Stoughton, 1 – FinalFour different players scored for Foxboro as the Warriors picked up two points on the road. Jordyn Collins and Katelyn Mollica scored in the first half for Foxboro while Lizzy Davis and Kailee McCabe netted second half strikes. Jordan Carman, McCabe, and Mollica each had an assist in the win. Mackenzie Manning scored for Stoughton while Brianna Buckley had a strong game in net for the Black Knights.

Taunton, 0 @ Franklin, 2 – FinalThe Panthers made their possession count in the second half with a pair of goals to seal a league win. Erin Quaile opened the scoring midway through the second half and Sydney St. Marie added the second from the spot inside the final 10 minutes. Taunton goalie Grace Pimenta kept the Tigers in the game with numerous saves. Breanna Atwood made four saves to keep a clean sheet.

Oliver Ames, 2 @ Mansfield, 0 – FinalOliver Ames scored once in each half to lead the Tigers to a win on the road. Sophomore Katie Gibson finished off a cross from classmate Lauren Sellmayer midway through the first half to put the visitors up 1-0. Erin Holmberg curled in a corner kick in the 54th minute to make it 2-0. Sophomore Emily Meyers made six saves in net to earn the win while sophomores Caroline Peper and Allison Evin had strong showings for OA.

North Attleboro, 0 @ Milford, 3 – FinalAn early penalty kick gave Milford the advantage and the Hawks made it count with a big division win. Ashleigh Starks converted from the spot to put the Hawks up 1-0, and Juliana France converted off a corner kick as Milford led 2-0 at the break. Freshman Dani Atherton added a goal in the second half while Carly Ferreira played well in net for Milford. Melissa McDermott, Abby Valdez, Caroline Ferrin, and Ari Rice all had strong games for the Rocketeers.




Field Hockey
Foxboro, 1 @ Attleboro, 1 – FinalAttleboro’s Madison Ellis scored on an assist from Sarah McMahon in the 39th minute.

Canton, 2 @ Mansfield, 1 – FinalCanton junior Meghan LaBelle and sophomore Erin Lane each scored to help the Bulldogs pick up a win on the road at Mansfield. Alex Burnham scored for the Hornets.

Stoughton, 0 @ King Philip, 5 – FinalKing Philip sophomore Christina Gifun opened the scoring with seven minutes left in the first half and the Warriors scored four more in a win over visiting Stoughton. Junior Abby Nixon scored once and added two assists, while senior Raegan Simeone, junior Kayla O’Brien, and freshman Lauren Barriero each scored once. Senior Grace May earned the shutout for KP.

Milford, 0 @ Taunton, 4 – FinalTaunton had four different players find the back of the cage in a win at home over visiting Milford. Braeley MacDonald, Meaghan DeCouta, Alana Tavares, and Kat Robinson each scored for the Tigers while Jocelyn Pagliuca and Haylee Hartung played well in the win. Paige Reisman had 15 saves for Milford.

Volleyball
Foxboro, 3 @ Attleboro, 2 – FinalFoxboro rallied from a 2-1 deficit, winning the last two sets to grab its second straight 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 10-25, 25-12, 15-12) win. Kelsey Treweek (11 digs) had eight service points and three aces to help the visitors close out the fifth game. Maddie O’Brien added 19 assists, Pam Nelson had 13 digs, Shakirah Ketant put down seven kills, and Grace Boudreau finished with 17 service points (five aces) and 11 kills for the Warriors.

Canton, 3 @ Mansfield, 2 – FinalCanton rallied from a two-game deficit, winning three straight to steal a 3-2 (15-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-16, 15-9) decision on the road. Taylor Harris continued to dominate at the net with 18 kills along with three aces, Angie Elias added six blocks and six kills, and Jackie Morrissey dished out 31 assists to go with four kills. Mansfield’s Alina Nowakowski paced the Hornets with 10 kills, Olivia McGrath and Julia Kelly each added even kills, and Sam Sternburg grabbed 17 digs.

North Attleboro, 1 @ Franklin, 3 – FinalNorth Attleboro picked up a win in the third set to keep the match going but Franklin finished off the win in the fourth set to grab a 3-1 (25-15, 25-11, 20-25, 25-17) victory on the road. Allyson Bonnet-Eymard had a great game for the Panthers, slamming down 18 kills while sophomore Cailyn Mackintosh dished out 32 assists in the win. Grace Munley had seven kills for North while Eliza Dion added eight digs.

Stoughton, 0 @ King Philip, 3 – FinalKing Philip defended home court with a 3-0 sweep (25-17, 25-2, 25-21) of the visiting Black Knights. Junior Emma Brooks continued to be a force at the service line, registering 13 aces to go along with 10 digs while Catherine Waldeck (13 kills) and Ali McNamara (four kills) paced the Warriors’ offense at the net.

Milford @ Taunton, 5:00

Sharon, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – FinalOliver Ames took care of business with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-14) win at home, the team’s eighth straight win. Junior Sarah Morley had a strong showing for the Tigers with 10 digs and four aces, Allie Kemp registered 29 assists, and Jordan Bosse played well offensively with 13 kills and four aces.




Boys Cross Country
Attleboro, 36 @ Oliver Ames, 21 – FinalOliver Ames had four of the top five finishers in a win over visiting Attleboro. Junior Kyle Sarney took first place in 16:47.6 while Attleboro junior Nathan Seybert took second overall in 17:08.8.

Results: 1. Kyle Sarney, OA (16:47.6) 2. Nathan Seybert, Att (17:08.8) 3. Owen McMorrow, OA (17:19.3) 4. Rory McLaughlin, OA (17:26.1) 5. Owen Nipoti, OA (17:57.7) 6. Ethan Sylvia, Att (18:02.2) 7. Francis Wenner, Att (18:03.3) 8. Joey Looney, OA (18:10.3) 9. Neil Bowie, Att (18:18.7) 10. David Fiedorczyk, OA (18:38.7)

Canton @ Stoughton, 3:45

Foxboro, 43 @ Milford, 20 – FinalFoxboro’s Ryan Proulx won the race but Milford had the next seven runners cross the finish line to get the win as a team. Proulx won the race in 16:12 while senior Max Manor (16:31) was the Hawks’ top runner, taking second overall.

Results: 1. Ryan Proulx, Fox (16:12) 2. Max Manor, Mil (16:31) 3. Liam Bennett, Mil (17:46) 4. Samuel Vilt, Mil (17:57) 5. James Comisky, Mil (17:59) 6. Gabriel Pardo Cota, Mil (18:02) 7. Mark Butters, Mil (18:06) 8. Andres Alvzrez-Romero, Mil (18:23) 9. Nate Palter, Fox (18:28) 10. Gabe Soares, Mil (19:48)

Mansfield, 31 @ Franklin, 24 – FinalFranklin had the first two runners cross the finish line, and four of the top six, to pick up a win over visiting Mansfield. Senior Tyler Brogan won the race in 16:54 with junior Nicholas Calitri shortly behind for second place (16:59).

Results: 1. Tyler Brogan, Frank (16:54) 2. Nicholas Calitri, Frank (16:59) 5. Camden Harrington, Frank (17:37) 6. Declan Walmsley, Frank (17:56) 10. Clancy Golden, Frank (18:16).

King Philip @ Taunton, 3:45

Sharon, 19 @ North Attleboro, 40 – FinalSharon took five out of the top seven spots, and seven out of the top 10, to earn a win on the road at North Attleboro. Mark Starovoytov won the race in 17:02 for the Eagles while North Attleboro’s Daniel Nobrega took third overall as the Rocketeers’ top runner.

Results: 1. Mark Starovoytov, Shar (17:02) 2. Jordan Saks, Shar (17:05) 3. Daniel Nobrega, NA (17:15) 4. Bradley Weiss, Shar (17:18) 5. James Kong, Shar (17:19) 6. Chris Galligan, NA (17:32) 7. Siddharth Reddy, Shar (17:46) 8. Griffin Gouch, NA (18:12) 9. Jacob Dubin, Shar (18:15) 10. Michael Williams, Shar (18:21)

Girls Cross Country

Attleboro, 39 @ Oliver Ames, 21 – FinalOliver Ames juniors Meghan Reardon and Catherine O’Donnell were the first two finishers and the Tigers claimed six of the top eight spots in a win over Attleboro. Reardon won in 20:28.6 while O’Donnell was shortly behind at 20:36.7. Junior Kelly Neunendorf (21:01.7) took third overall.

Results: 1. Meghan Reardon, OA (20:28.6) 2. Catherine O’Donnell, OA (20:36.7) 3. Kelly Neunendorf, Att (21:01.7) 4. Kimberly Esteban, Att (21:24.1) 5. Julia Sarro, OA (22:36.0) 6. Ava Lerman, OA (23:35.9) 7. Kiersten Chan, OA (23:38.4) 8. Rachel Davis, OA (23:59.5) 9. Jazlyn Miller-Villanueva, Att (24:07.8) 10. Haley Braga, OA (24:13.9)

Canton @ Stoughton, 3:45

Foxboro, 28 @ Milford, 28 – FinalFoxboro and Milford split the points with 28 apiece but the Warriors earned the win via tiebreaker. Abby Hassman (19:41) won the race by over a minute while Jenn Yeomans took third for the Warriors. Milford’s Emma Lawrence took second overall at 20:51 while the Hawks took fourth through sixth.

Results: 1. Abby Hassman, Fox (19:41) 2. Emma Lawrence, Mil (20:51) 3. Jenn Yeomans, Fox (21:06) 4. Lexi Marcolini, Mil (21:27) 5. Kerry O’Connor, Mil (21:40) 6. Sara Comisky, Mil (21:59) 7. Emily Steele, Fox (22:35) 8. Isabel Hallal, Fox (22:48) 9. Anya Doherty, Fox (22:55) 10. Sophia Sougaris, Fox (23:15).

Mansfield, 37 @ Franklin, 21 – Final Mansfield had the first runner cross the line but Franklin had the next four to earn a win at home. Captains Sarah Giuliano and Sidney Hawkins took second and third, respectively for the Panthers while Caitlin Casey was fourth, Charlene Peng crossed fifth, and Lily Duffy was seventh overall. Mansfield’s Tessa Lancaster won the race in 20:38.

Results: 1. Tessa Lancaster, Mans (20:38) 2. Sarah Giuliano, Frank 3. Sidney Hawkins, Frank 4. Caitlin Casey, Frank 5. Charlene Peng, Frank 6. Emma Lamson, Mans (22:26) 7. Lily Duffy, Frank 8. Anne Riley, Mans (23:04) 10. Jess Alestock, Mans (23:26)

King Philip, 26 @ Taunton, 29 – FinalKing Philip’s Maya Evans and Ava Pisani finished first and second, respectively, to help the Warriors win a close race on the road. Nia Mainer-Smith was Taunton’s top runner, taking third overall.

Results: 1. Maya Evans, KP (20:29) 2. Ava Pisani, KP (21:45) 3. Nia Mainer-Smith, Taun (22:05) 4. Meg Sherwood, KP (22:13) 9. Abigail Simmons, KP (22:38) 10. Dayna Aubin, KP (23:02)

Sharon, 25 @ North Attleboro, 32 – FinalSharon swept the top three spots and added a key seventh place finish to earn a close win over North Attleboro. The Eagles’ Daphne Theiler (19:54), Juliana Dudziak, and Eliana Boxerman were the top three finishers while North’s Emily Manning clocked in at 21:05 to take fourth overall.

Results: 1. Daphne Theiler, Shar (19:54) 2. Juliana Dudziak, Shar (19:55) 3. Eliana Boxerman, Shar (19:59) 4. Emily Manning, NA (21:05) 5. Olivia Forbes, NA (21:06) 6. Melissa Sapini, NA (21:09) 7. Margaret Li, Shar (21:10) 8. Shruti Srinivasan, NA (21:18) 9. Catherine Hanewich, NA (22:06) 10. Natalie Kaiser, NA (22:38).

Golf
Attleboro, 180 @ Franklin, 161 – FinalFranklin’s Jack Paterson was the lone golfer to shoot under 40 in the match, earning medalist honors with a 38 to help the Panthers earn a win. Quinten Faro and Jack MacKinnon each shot a 40 while Pat Dolan added a round of 43. Jack Handy led Attleboro with a 43 while Brian Houle added a 45.

Mansfield, 150 @ Milford, 188 – FinalThe Hornets had a strong day on the links with five golfers finishing under 40 in a win over Milford. Brian See shot a one-over par round of 36 to earn medalist honors, Joseph Gormely added a 37, Ryan Dow finished with a 38, and Jason See and Nate Morreale each finished with a 39.

Stoughton, 209 @ Foxboro, 163 – FinalFoxboro’s Noah Hicks sank one birdie and had four pars on the day, finishing at 39 to earn match medalist honors and pace the Warriors to a win at home. Matt Lathrop and Jack Rounds each had four pars and finished at 41 while Matt Fossella (four pars) finished at 42. Patrick Smith led Stoughton with a 46.

Taunton, 194 vs. New Bedford, 203 – FinalTaunton’s Sean Bunker shot a team-low 45 to pace the Tigers to a win.

Layne Lifts King Philip Over Franklin With Early Goal

King Philip girls soccer Chloe Layne
King Philip’s Chloe Layne and Franklin’s Carissa Alers battle for possession in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The Franklin girls soccer team put on a nearly flawless defensive performance against visiting King Philip on Tuesday afternoon.

But the potent Warriors’ offense only needs one chance to punish teams.

Such was the case at Pisini Field as senior Chloe Layne scored inside the opening 10 minutes, the 100th point of her career, and the Warriors walked away with a hard-earned 1-0 decision over the Panthers.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

While King Philip’s lone goal came early, the Warriors had chances throughout the game that were either thwarted by the Panthers’ defense or denied by senior goalie Bre Atwood.

“Defensively, [Franklin head coach Tom Geysen] always comes up with a good scheme, you just have to try and work and work and work until you break through,” said King Philip head coach Gary Pichel.

The Warriors started on the front foot, keeping possession as they built towards their goal. In the eighth minute, senior Avery Snead controlled a service and linked up with Layne. Layne first carried towards the end line but cut back inside and fired a left-footed blast that powered through defenders and into the back of the net. The assist was also the 100th point for Snead in her KP career.

“You can’t let Chloe get in that deep, and all she needs is a little space,” Pichel said. “She just knocks it in with a lot of firepower. I thought Franklin did a good job [defensively] on Chloe and Avery, they were all over them, made it very difficult to get decent shots off. But that’s what you expect, a close game against Franklin.”

Minutes later, Snead nearly doubled the lead. She took a pass from classmate Jenna Hitchen and rifled a one-timer from just inside the 18 but her low shot was wide as Franklin senior Sam Powderly applied pressure.

The Warriors best chance to add onto their advantage in the first half came in the 22nd minute. Junior Paige Varvarigos lofted a corner kick that Snead rose up to meet but her header flashed just wide at the near post.

Although Franklin defended for the majority of the half, it did have some breaks that turned into looks offensively. In the 20th minute, Carly Alston served a corner kick to the near post. Anna Balkus was the first to the bar, getting a touch that eluded the keeper but the ball was cleared in front of goal by the KP defense.

King Philip had two great chances to add onto the lead in the opening 10 minutes of the second half but Atwood came up big for the Panthers on both occasions. In the 45th minute, Snead blocked a clearance attempt but Atwood quickly closed down and turned away her shot.

Four minutes later, Makayla Griffin found Ally Stanton with a corner kick, and Stanton’s header looked destined for the back of the net before Atwood made a terrific diving save to prevent the ball from crossing the line.

“I thought their goalie made some really good stops, especially on that corner it looked like Ally Stanton had taken care of it, it was going right in, and she got there right in the nick of time,” Pichel said. “We knew coming in that, the trouble they had with Milford, you forget about it. It’s KP against Franklin and it’s always a dogfight.”

Franklin got strong defensive performances from Powderly, senior Sabrina Addi, junior Carissa Alers, junior Erin Quaile, and freshman Norah Anderson.

“You have Snead, Layne, and Stanton…that’s a lot of firepower,” Geysen said of the KP attack. “When you look at their scoring, goals and assists, it all goes through the three of them. So we just tried to make it a little bit harder, tried to be in their face, and when you have the opportunity, double team them.

“Just one chance, that’s all it takes. And that’s what happens when you don’t score.”

Anderson applied pressure so Snead couldn’t get off a clean one-timer in the 63rd minute. Less than a minute later, Jenny Montville blasted a shot from 25 yards out but Atwood handled it on the bounce. And in the 69th minute, Stanton’s cross found Montville but good defending from Addi prevented a serious chance.

Franklin had its best chance of the second half come in the 73rd minute on a near post corner kick but KP keeper Taylor Butler came off the line and disrupted the service.

“I told Taylor she did a fantastic job of coming out when she needed to and taking care of business,” Pichel said. “I thought Grace Lawler did a fantastic job on defense, picking up some of their runs. Jenny Montville and Ava Tormey, things changed drastically when I put those two in the middle. They really picked it up for us and gave us a lot of energy.

We’re a work in progress. Who’s going to step up, who’s going to be consistent…and you just do the best you can. We don’t think we’re fantastic but we’re more of a meat and potatoes type team, just keeping fighting.

Hitchen intercepted a clearance in the 76th minute to give the Warriors one final chance, but the near post service was knocked away by Atwood before Layne could get a touch.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Bre played extremely well in the second half after being a little passive in the first half,” Geysen said. “Same thing with Sabrina [Addi], she had a great second half. They were both better today and it worked well.

“We beat Milford but we didn’t play very well, they physically knocked us all over the place and took advantage of our lack of aggressiveness. We needed to be more physical and aggressive today, that was the goal for today. I don’t care what the score was, we needed to play better. And I was very proud that they did that today.”

King Philip girls soccer (3-0 overall, 2-0 Hockomock) is back in action on Friday with a trip to Milford. Franklin (1-1, 1-1) is on the road at Canton on Thursday afternoon.

Girls Soccer: 2019 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2019 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Last fall, Mansfield won the league title for a third straight season but the rest of the loaded Kelley-Rex division will be aiming to take down the Hornets this year. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2018 Record: 6-11-1
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos
The Bombardiers have made great improvements over the last couple of seasons, jumping from eight goals scored as a team to 26 and then 24 in 2017 and 2018, and now head coach Steve Santos is looking for Attleboro to take the next step and make its first state tournament appearance since joining the Hockomock League. With an experienced corps and several talented newcomers, Santos hopes this will be the year to get a taste of the postseason.

The attack has been led by junior forward Isabella Salviati, who had half of the team’s goals last year and assisted on seven other goals. The forward play flows through her, but the Bombardiers will be hoping to get more contributions from junior Briley Harnois, who had a breakout sophomore campaign, and from midfielder Jessica Gates, who has the vision to find the key pass that will spring one of the forwards. Also helping out through midfield and into the attack with be seniors Ashley Dame and Julia Reyes.

There is also experience in the heart of the Attleboro defense with senior Sophia Salviati paired with classmate Emily Antonik. Junior Vanessa Laguerre makes the move up from JV this season and will be slotted into the back line as well. Goalie has been a position of strength for the Bombardiers for several seasons but this year it is in flux as senior Ashley Macia is slated to be the starter, but she is also capable in defense and saw a lot of time as an outfield player last year. Freshman Alexis Campbell could eventually step in between the posts. Junior Riley Sullivan could contribute right away and is capable of playing multiple positions and sophomore Emily Khang adds another player with ball skills.

“We have a lot of returning players,” said Santos, “and I think we have more depth so we won’t have to rely on the starters for as many minutes. We have a lot of players who can contribute and fill in the pieces. The key this season will be being consistent for 80 minutes and keeping our pace for the whole game.”

Franklin

2018 Record: 10-3-5
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tom Geysen
Franklin lost only three games all of last season and had one of the league’s best defensive records, allowing only 10 goals in 18 games. That solidity in the defensive third will be hard to replicate, as the Panthers graduated three of last year’s back four, but there is also hope that the promising young attackers can take some of the pressure off by improving on the team’s 40 goals scored, which was seventh best in the Hock.

Senior Sabrina Addi is the lone returning defender for the Panthers, but she will get help from senior goalie Breanna Atwood to try and organize an inexperienced defense. Freshman Norah Anderson will jump into the center of the defense and looks ready for the physical challenge of Hock play. Senior Sam Powderly will drop back from midfield to help out as well.

Once the Panthers get the ball back, there are plenty of familiar faces to try and get goals. Senior Anna Balkus can play a number of different positions, including in the heart of midfield, the wing, or in the attack. Sophomore Stella Regan is coming off a breakout rookie season and adds even more pace to the center of the pitch, while senior Carly Alston is a solid performer on both sides of the ball. In the attack, juniors Erin Quaile and Sydney St. Marie are looking to make the leap to add more consistent scoring.

“I know the kids with experience won’t back down,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen, “but I need to see how the younger kids will react to this level. I need to see if they can physically cope with playing where I need them to play.”

King Philip

2018 Record: 12-5-2
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Gary Pichel
When you bring back players the caliber of seniors Avery Snead and Chloe Layne, the expectations will be very high for the upcoming season. King Philip enters 2019 as the favorite to bring home a league title but also with the goal of matching the run that the Warriors made in 2017, when they won the South title in double overtime and reached the state semifinal.

Layne, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, and Snead, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and two-time league MVP, have been among the league’s leading scorers each of the last three years and will make one more run at a league title. They are joined up top by senior Ally Stanton. The trio was one of the league’s most dynamic attacking groups, combining for 50 goals and 33 assists last season

Senior Jenna Hitchen and juniors Emma Glaser and Jenny Montville will also contribute to pushing the Warriors forward, while freshman Ella Pisani is a newcomer to watch in the attack. A lot of attention will (rightfully) be paid to KP’s attack, but its defense is also experienced. Seniors Makayla Griffin and Olivia Berry and junior Paige Varvarigos return to the back line with a combined eight years on varsity. Junior Taryn Greenberg and freshman Grace Lawler will also contribute in defense in front of junior goalie Taylor Butler.

“I am very excited about the prospects for our team this year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “That being said, we will remain laser-focused on not overlooking any team that we play. We will not look ahead but instead, will prepare for each team we have on our schedule with great intensity, one game at a time.




Mansfield

2018 Record: 15-3-4
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Kevin Smith
The Hornets have had an unprecedented level of success over the past three seasons, winning three straight Kelley-Rex division titles, and reaching last year’s Div. 1 South semifinal, but Mansfield enters the fall with an almost entirely new roster and having only one player on the team with more than one year of varsity experience.

Senior Erin Dooling is by far the most experienced player on the roster, but defender Maria Sevastos and midfielder Katie Miller both saw a lot of playing time as freshmen and impressed during their rookie campaigns. Senior midfielder Kerrin Sears and senior defender Megan Krone join Dooling as captains this season and will both need to provide leadership for a team with four freshmen on the roster.

Mansfield coach Kevin Smith said, “We are young and learning each day with an entire new starting lineup, four freshmen on the roster and 18 of 24 players new to the team. Erin is the lone player with more than one year of varsity experience while Maria and Katie earned a lot of minutes last year. All three will be leaned on to share their experience with the team.”

Oliver Ames

2018 Record: 11-5-3
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Britt Sellmayer
Oliver Ames continues to turn out competitive teams ready to challenge the best teams in the league and put themselves in the state tournament picture. This fall will be no different, as the Tigers have six returning starters and 14 players who saw varsity action last year. While there is still a relative lack of experience, the Tigers remain a team with high expectations.

Defense has also been a strength of the program and this year is no different with seniors Olivia Carroll, Abigail Hodges, and Leah Johnson providing a strong backbone for the team and will be a unit that is hard to break down. Junior goalie Emma O’Donnell is dealing with a preseason injury, so sophomore Emily Meyers will get the start for the season opener. Seniors Erin Holmberg and Abby Evin will lead the forward line, but there were strong rookie seasons from Camryn O’Connor and Allison Evin that give confidence for additional help in the final third.

“For OA to return to the tournament we will need some of our less experienced players to step up,” said Oliver Ames coach Britt Sellmayer.

Taunton

2018 Record: 3-16
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Joe Rocha
Former Taunton boys soccer coach Joe Rocha takes over the girls program this fall and will continue a rebuilding effort to try and get the Tigers off the foot of the division standings, which is a difficult task in the loaded Kelley-Rex division. Rocha knows it will be a process with a relatively young roster and is looking for improvements over the course of the season.

Senior Grace Pimenta will be back in goal for the Tigers this season, after missing part of last year with an injury. Pimenta will add leadership to the defensive unit that features senior Emma Silvia and sophomore Isabella Anslow in the middle. Keeping things solid in the center will be the key and Taunton will hope that the forwards can stay active and put pressure on the opposing defenses. Seniors Paige Tolan, Allison Calderon, and Kerla Sylvestre, and juniors Emily O’Gara and Morgan Zakrewski will be counted on to step up and improve Taunton’s goal-scoring numbers (after scoring 16 goals as a team last season).

“We are a very young team and will have some growing pains,” Rocha said. “As a first-year coach, my players are learning a new system and once we all get on the same page, I feel that our play will improve.”

Franklin Drops Overtime Heartbreaker In State Semis

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin’s Megan O’Connell drives to the basket against Springfield Central in the D1 State Semifinal. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
WORCESTER, Mass. – Springfield Central is headed back to the MIAA D1 State Championship for the third straight year, but it wasn’t without a hell of a fight from the Franklin girls basketball team first.

The Panthers went toe-to-toe with the three-time West sectional champions, forcing overtime with a late bucket before bowing out of the tournament with a 64-57 loss at the hands of the Golden Eagles in the D1 State Semifinals.

“When you’re this close, you’re a game away, they are definitely disappointed,” said Franklin head coach John Leighton. “For the girls, I think in the next 24 hours, the sense of accomplishment will come back, but right now, it stinks. It’s raw because it just happened and was overtime. It’s one thing if you lose by 20, you know the season is done. But not here when you’re battling until the last 12 seconds. It’ll hurt tonight, but it’ll get better.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

For the second straight game, junior Megan O’Connell scored in the final seconds, this time a layup with 6.1 seconds left to tie the game at 48-48 to force overtime.

“We have a lot of faith in her,” Leighton said of O’Connell. “Her confidence has grown so much. It was a similar play to what we ran the other night, just with Ali or Meg with an inside-out option, and the lane was there so I give her credit. The kids have really grown confidence-wise. We’ve been in a lot of close games and come out ahead and I think that gives them a lot of confidence. We celebrated last game and then buried it but I think that confidence at the end helped us.”

Franklin carried that momentum into the extra period as O’Connell (16 points, 17 rebounds) drove to the basket on the opening possession to give the Panthers the lead, and two trips later, senior Shannon Grey drained a corner three for a 53-48 lead with 2:49 left.

But the Golden Eagles refused to go away, answering right away with a triple from Selenya Gonzalez (21 points). Franklin’s Ali Brigham (26 points, 25 rebounds) converted an offensive rebound to give Franklin a four-point cushion and then blocked a shot to give the Panthers possession back with under two minutes to go.

But a missed three resulted in two free throws for Jaliena Sanchez (34 points, eight rebounds) and then a turnover resulted in two free throws for Rosheda Guthrie, knotting the score at 55-55.

Turnovers hurt the Panthers all night, and their 19th and final one of the game led to one of the biggest plays of the game. After two misses, Franklin came down with another offensive rebound but a pass to the paint was picked off by Sanchez and she raced the length of the court and converted while being fouled, hitting the free throw to put Springfield Central up 58-55 with under a minute to play.

“There’s going to be plenty of swings throughout the game,” Leighton said. “I thought they had a couple of good stops, got us to turn it over a couple of times. And Sanchez was just on fire at the end, she couldn’t miss from the foul line. She did a lot of stuff, she finished strong and I thought she was the biggest difference in the game, especially in the second half and in overtime.”

Brigham answered on the other end with a pair of free throws but Sanchez went back to the line, where she finished 17-for-21, and sank another two to push the lead back to three, 60-57. Franklin was unable to convert its chance and Sanchez added four more from the line in the final seconds to ice the game.

It was back-and-forth for the majority of regulation, with neither team grabbing a significant lead at any point. Springfield Central jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game but Franklin settled in and took a 13-11 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Buckets from O’Connell and Brigham midway through the second helped the Panthers build a brief five-point lead at 19-14 but a 7-1 swing from the Golden Eagles put Springfield Central ahead. The Panthers got points from Bea Bonhus and Erin Quaile, plus four straight from Brigham to take a 28-26 lead into halftime.

Sanchez worked her way to the line early and often in the third, hitting five free throws but Brigham answered with a three-point play, a rare shooting foul called against the Golden Eagles while defending Brigham.

A four-point play from Sanchez — a made three plus another foul — gave Springfield Central a 37-33 edge and the momentum but the Panthers stole it back with a 10-0 run to end the quarter. Brigham scored the first four then O’Connell scored three straight baskets for a 43-37 edge heading into the fourth.

Franklin was held to just one point — a free throw from freshman Olivia Quinn — for the first six minutes of the fourth. The Panthers finished the game just 2-for-18 from three-point range.

“We’d love to have a couple more of those [threes],” Leighton said. “And the thing is, I thought we took good shots, we weren’t forcing them, they just weren’t falling. Not that we’ve been living off the three all year, but they were urging us to shoot it and we had to take the open shots. “

Quaile sank two free throws with 1:40 left to get Franklin within one before O’Connell’s tying basket late.

“This team is historic,” Leighton said. “They went further than any other Franklin girls team has ever gone. This is a cohesive group, which is really special. I’d love to take credit for it but I have nothing to do with it. These girls love each other.”

Franklin girls basketball finishes the season at 21-4.

O’Connell Beats Buzzer and Lifts Franklin to First Title

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin girls basketball celebrates on the court after beating Wachusett at Worcester State to earn the program’s first-ever sectional title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


WORCESTER, Mass. – Franklin got the look it wanted to try and win the game.

Down by one with less than 10 seconds remaining, Erin Quaile swung the ball around the perimeter to her backcourt partner Shannon Gray, who looped the ball into Ali Brigham on the left block. The 6-foot-3 junior center, who had 28 points to that point, turned into her smaller defender, took a dribble, and got a look at the rim.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Unlike so many other chances that Brigham converted in Friday night’s Div. 1 Central final at Worcester State University, this one didn’t find the bottom of the net. Instead, it kicked off to the far side, but her classmate Megan O’Connell was there and pulled down the offensive rebound between three Wachusett defenders.

O’Connell instantly went back up with an off-balance shot. It bounced on the right side of the rim, took a touch on the backboard, and dropped through to put Franklin ahead 61-60 just as the final horn sounded on the program’s first-ever sectional title.

“I was thinking, ‘oh my god, it’s not going to go in,’ and then it somehow did,” said O’Connell after the game. “I was thrilled, this is all we’ve been working for. I’m just happy it all worked out.”

Gray added, “It’s amazing. I can’t believe that we’re the first team in Franklin girls basketball history to ever get a sectional and that’s just so amazing…I can’t believe it’s real.”

When the ball dropped through the basket, O’Connell seemed to hesitate for a second before the celebrations kicked in, as though she wasn’t sure if she had really just done that. That she had just won the game. “I was in shock. I didn’t really process that it went in,” she explained.

“It was like every bad Disney movie at the end where you’re just waiting and waiting,” Franklin coach John Leighton joked. “We drew up a play to get Ali the ball but we talked about at the end of the game, whoever has the ball just shoot it, not to make the extra pass. [Megan] got it, she didn’t blink, she didn’t think twice, and she shot it right away.”

There were points in the second half when it looked like Franklin may run away from the Mountaineers and cruise to the title. But, Wachusett came in undefeated for a reason and stormed back in the fourth. A 4-0 run to close the third was followed by four more to start the final quarter with junior Belle Lanpher (21 points) getting a steal and then a transition basket to cut the lead to 47-45.

Brigham answered back with a basket plus the foul and senior Bea Bondhus (10 points) knocked down a pull-up jumper from the right to push the lead back to seven. A jumper by Rachel Vinton (14 points) was matched by a Brigham layup, off a feed from O’Connell, to keep the Panthers up 54-47.

That was when things started to get very interesting.

Lanpher drilled a straightaway three to cut the lead to four points and Vinton halved that with a pair at the line. Again, Franklin turned to Brigham, who added 14 rebounds and seven blocks to her game-high point total, and she responded with a basket from a Gray assist. A layup for Jill Post made it a two-point game and then Courtney Lanpher (14 points) buried a three to put the Mountaineers up 57-56. It was their first lead of the second half.

Bondhus got fouled in the backcourt and, despite the cacophony of noise from the Wachusett student section, buried two clutch free throws with 1:19 left to give the Panthers back the lead. Courtney Lanpher was fouled and knocked down a pair at the line to make it 59-58 with 1:06 left. After another foul, Gray (seven points) hit 1-of-2 to tie it with 1:01 remaining.

“The whole time we were just like let’s do it,” said Gray. “We’ve got it and let’s just finish.”

The score stayed the same until Lanpher was fouled going to the basket with 15.1 on the clock. She missed the first and Leighton took a timeout. The senior guard made the second and instantly Wachusett went into its press. Quaile got free to get the inbound and pushed the ball up court, where the Panthers got the ball into Brigham’s hands and then O’Connell provided the heroics.

“A quarter-inch difference and Wachusett wins the game and we’re going home,” said Leighton, adding, “If that bounced the other way, I’d be just as proud of the kids because what they did tonight was give everything they had against a great team. This was as complete a game as they could play and if that ball bounced out I don’t think I would feel differently.”

O’Connell said, “We worked so hard and we had a good run in the first half and we thought we were going to win and it turned around and we had to stay put and keep playing defense and we pulled it out.”

Wachusett came out firing and took an early 10-4 lead in the first. The Mountaineers scored 19 points in the opening quarter, mostly using a high pick-and-roll in the center of the court. Franklin was aggressively jumping out to the shooters and the Mountaineers were able to turn the corner time and again and get to the rim, where Brigham was nowhere to be found because she was forced to extend out.

The Panthers changed things up defensively in the second and held Wachusett to just 10 points in the quarter.

“They shoot the lights out…so we came out trying to limit their three-point shots,” said Leighton. “We adjusted and we tried to switch a lot more and put a person in that gap so it wasn’t a straight shot to the rim. That got Ali a lot of those blocks because she had time to get back.”

Brigham was on fire early in the game, as the Panthers got the ball inside early and often. O’Connell (10 points and nine rebounds), fresh off a 19-point game in the semifinal, was also getting free and taking the ball to the rim. Gray nailed a three in the final seconds to tie the game at 19-19 after one.

In the second, Franklin’s outside shooting started to find the range. Bondhus and Quaile each hit threes and Brigham added another six points as Franklin pushed the lead to as many as 10, 35-25. A quick 4-0 run at the end of the half got the top seed back within single digits at the break.

A Belle Lanpher three cut the Panthers advantage to 40-37 in the third, but then Franklin went on a 7-0 run to again push the lead to 10. Brigham got an offensive board and put-back and Bondhus drilled a three in the run. But again, Wachusett was able to score four straight to get back within six at 47-41 and set up an exciting finish to this rematch of the 2015 Central final.

Franklin (20-4) now advances to the state semifinal for the first time and will face West champion Springfield Central.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Panthers Find the Range in Second Half to Reach Final

Franklin girls basketball
The Franklin bench celebrates one of the team’s five three-pointers in the second half that allowed the Panthers to pull away from Concord-Carlisle. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WORCESTER, Mass. – When the ball swung around to Franklin guard Shannon Gray right in front of the Panthers bench, her teammates started to rise in anticipation of a shot. But Gray hesitated and passed it back up top. Franklin coach John Leighton urged the senior to let it fly when she gets the chance.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Gray heeded that advice and she knocked down a pair of threes on back-to-back possessions to stretch the Franklin lead from just four points to double digits. She knocked down three of her team’s five shots from beyond the arc in the second half, helping the Panthers pull away for a convincing 59-43 victory over No. 2 seed Concord-Carlisle in the Div. 1 Central semifinal at WPI’s Harrington Auditorium.

“We talked at halftime, start like it’s 0-0 and play like we do and the key is to keep reversing the ball,” Franklin coach John Leighton explained. “In the second half, they were just packed in so when we reversed it the kids were just wide open to take the shot and once one goes in that confidence starts coming.”

At halftime, Franklin held a slim, two-point lead over the Patriots and that was entirely because of two players, junior center Ali Brigham and her classmate Megan O’Connell.

The Panthers opened the game with a 10-0 run, as O’Connell took advantage of the attention on Brigham in the paint to find driving lanes. Brigham added an and-one off an offensive rebound and had four points in the first, but O’Connell was the aggressor in the paint and on the glass (13 rebounds), scoring 10 of Franklin’s 14 in the first. She finished with 19 points in the game.

“I had a pretty bad game last time and I really just wanted to get back to where I know I can be,” said O’Connell about her aggressive start. Leighton added, “I’m so happy for her because she’s been so patient all year. They were so hyper-focused on Ali that the lane just kept opening up. Early on everyone was a little tentative and she was aggressive.”

The Patriots crept back into the game, trailing by just six after one and then getting as close as two at several points in the second quarter. Franklin was determined to get the ball into the paint and Brigham (game-high 22 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks) scored all of her team’s nine points in the period, twice scoring on put-backs and twice getting baskets at the rim thanks to O’Connell assists.

While Franklin had the lead at the break, it was hard to envisage a trip to the final with only two players getting on the scoresheet, especially as the Patriots threw a variety of different defenses at Brigham in the post, almost daring the Panthers to shoot from the perimeter. That strategy worked for a half, but Franklin made the Patriots pay in the second half.

After an O’Connell drive for two, Bea Bondhus knocked down Franklin’s first three, and her only shot of the game, to make it 28-21. Concord-Carlisle, which came into the game with only one loss on the season, cut the lead back to just four points but then Gray stepped up and knocked down a pair to suddenly make it a 10-point edge.

“She’s our captain and she leads us in every way,” Leighton said of Gray. “She’s the most selfless kid. She makes us run, her composure…so for her to get a little bit tonight was really nice.”

Leighton added about the team’s outside shooting, “It broke what they were doing. They went into that triangle-and-two to look to pack the paint hoping we wouldn’t make any threes. I think it was vital to break their confidence in what they were doing.”

Again the Patriots rallied with back-to-back buckets, but Brigham answered with a rebound and score and then Teagan Collins finished a break with a scoop shot off the glass. As the clock wound down on the third, Erin Quaile put a punctuation mark on the quarter by drilling a three at the buzzer to give Franklin its largest lead at 43-31.

The Panthers scored nearly as many points in the third quarter as in the first two combined. That offensive barrage continued in the fourth. Brigham got a three-point play on a rebound and then finished off another rebound to make it 49-31.

Corcnord-Carlisle hit back with five straight points, but then the Panthers put the game out of reach. Gray snagged an offensive rebound and made a nice dish underneath to a wide open O’Connell for two. Gray then stepped back outside and nailed her third three-pointer of the afternoon and O’Connell added two more with yet another rebound.

“We just needed to slow down really,” said O’Connell. “We were getting ahead of ourselves and trying to make the perfect pass, but we just needed to make the easy pass and we’d get layups.”

Franklin (20-4) is making a second appearance in the D1 Central final, its first since 2015, and will face the top seed Wachusett.

“It’s definitely a big deal,” said O’Connell. “We’ve been working really hard every day in practice and we’re just trying to get as far as we can.”

Leighton praised his team for meeting its high expectations. “Two years ago, we started 0-6 and I brought the team that year to watch the finals at Worcester State,” he recalled. “We were like, this is where we want to be. This is what lays ahead, if we do what we need to do.”

He added, “For this team, hard work has been the key.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.