CANTON, Mass. – If there was one word that describes how Foxboro head coach Matt Noone wants his offense to play, patient would be near the top of the list.
With limited depth, Noone stresses long offensive possessions that lets his defense get plenty of rest. On Monday night, the Warriors were able to convert enough of those long possessions into goals and limited the Bulldogs’ time on attack, especially in the second half, to manufacture a 4-2 win.
“We were pressing early, making a lot of mistakes,” Noone said. “It felt like they were tight or just pushing too hard, thinking they all had to do it individually. At halftime, talked about doing all the little things right. Making simple 10 yard passes, changing the formation up a bit. We just made some adjustments and the boys just possessed the ball better in the second half.”
Foxboro earned a pair of man-up opportunities in the first quarter but couldn’t convert on either chance. On the first chance, the Warriors nearly broke through when senior Trey Guerrini collected a pass in close and ripped a shot but Canton freshman Jack Connolloy (11 saves) robbed him with a point blank save.
After neither side scored in the opening 12 minutes, Foxboro finally broke through with the first goal of the game. The Warriors were actually whistled for a penalty but forced a turnover and took control on offense. Sophomore Brendan Tully spun past his defenseman and found Guerrini right in front for an easy finish to make it 1-0.
Foxboro’s goal seemed to give the Bulldogs a little but of a spark as Canton controlled the final four minutes of the half.
Canton tied the game just over three minutes after giving up the first goal. Senior Ryan Lodge held possession in the corner and hit Griffin Roach – streaking in from the bench on a sub – in stride and the sophomore bounced his shot in to tie the game.
Just over a minute, the Bulldogs netted their second goal of the game. Lodge once again held possession in the corner but this time, he eluded his defenseman, sprinted toward goal, spun past a second opponent and bounced his shot in from in close to give Canton a 2-1 lead at halftime.
Although Canton took the momentum into the halftime break, it was Foxboro who controlled the entire second half.
The Warriors took advantage of long possessions on the offensive end while allowing just three shots on net for the entire second half.
“We have to possess the ball,” Noone said. “When we go back and forth, we just don’t have the depth. If we can possess the ball and rest our defense, our defense is damn good, they’ll get the ball back to you. We’re still getting better at offense. Every win is a win and then its onto the next one.”
Foxboro’s lengthy possessions finally paid off with two goals in the final four minutes of the third quarter. Senior Mike Moses faked his way around a defender and gained just enough space to tie the game with his shot with 3:44 to go in the third.
The Warriors took possession once again and worked the ball around. With under a minute to play, their patience paid off once again. Moses fed junior James Silveria and his bounce shot through traffic put the visitors up 3-2 heading into the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Canton registered just two shots total on goalie Jake Addeche in the second half.
“All we kept saying is be patient on the offensive end,” Noone said. “We talked about playing five minutes and 30 seconds of defense total tonight…we did it in the first eight minutes of the game so it was a lesson. We had have to possess the ball a lot if we want to win. That’s a great team, [Bill Bendell] is a great coach. We’re the same…small town, we both have freshmen out there. Guys are always learning. Ronnie MacLellan was a little out of sorts on Saturday, he was one of our best defenseman today. Matty Lathrop also had a big game, another freshman.”
Foxboro netted an insurance goal just over the midway point of the final quarter. After another lengthy possession, Louis Piccolo fed Guerrini with a perfect pass right and front and the senior buried it with what was essentially a one-timer.
Canton had a couple of offensive possessions in the final minute but none resulted in a shot on goal – two resulted in turnovers because of poor passes and Foxboro’s Patrick Kaveny forced another.
“They pressed out a lot, especially off ball and especially against our attack and we really didn’t handle it well,” said Canton head coach Bill Bendell. “We have pretty good attack so it was a little unusual for us. We tried to attack from the midfield in the second quarter, we did a great job of doing it. Then by the third quarter I think we were a little tired. They had some long possessions, they made us work. They do a great job of possessing the ball. When we got on offense, we were a little gassed by the end.
“They wear your down. They’re so well coached. They are aggressive but they have such long possessions, they make you learn it. They’ve played some close games, they have a great schedule. I think this where we can learn some things. We’ll see how we’ll respond because this was our first close loss and first loss in the league. It was a lot of fun but we came up just short.”
Canton (4-2, 2-1) looks to bounce back the same day when they host North Attleboro in another key divisional showdown.
2016 Record: 2-18 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled through a difficult 2016, the first season under new head coach Mark Homer, winning only two games while giving up a league high 177 runs and scoring a league-low 46. Heading into this spring, the Bombardiers will be counting on a group of young players to try and turn things around and it seems to be working so far, as Attleboro has played two games and already matched last year’s win total.
One of the true bright spots from last season was freshman pitcher MacKenzie Bergdoll, who showed flashes of the potential to be an ace for Attleboro, and this season she will be counted on to keep the Bombardiers in games and to provide big hits from the three-spot. Julia Woyton will be behind the plate this year while senior Ilea Caverley and junior Casey Whelan (outfield) and Jordyn Lako (second base) are the few returning players on the roster.
The Bombardiers are going to turn to youth this spring with freshman MacKenzie Killough taking over at shortstop. Freshmen twins Emma and Jenna Gittle will add depth to the Attleboro pitching staff and classmate Ashley Macia will take over in centerfield. Homer also said that there were underclassmen who would provide speed off the bench.
“The expectations are to play hard, be committed and get excited with every game and practice that they take part in,” said Homer. “With the added depth in each position this year, the girls hope to gain advantages from the previous year and reach their set goals for the season.”
2016 Record: 3-17 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Jennifer Robillard
Former King Philip and Sacred Heart University shortstop Jennifer Robillard takes over the Canton program this spring with the hope of bringing some of the success that she enjoyed playing for two state champions and a Division I college to the Bulldogs, who are coming off a three-win season.
The Bulldogs will be looking to their experienced players to help turn things around in 2017, including seniors Molly Loughran, Taylor Carrington, and Julia Ezepik and junior Hannah Jerrier, who are all captains this spring. Jerrier and Ezepik will start the season injured, but Robillard is hoping that other players can step up until they return. Canton will have depth in the circle, as both junior Caitlyn Cahill and freshman Caroline Hughes will see action at pitcher.
Lillian Carrington and Samantha Keefe are two other players that will be counted on to contribute and both provided home runs in a loss to Mansfield in the second game of the season. Robillard is excited about the opportunity to get back into the Hockomock League and she sees a team that “wants to learn.”
“This team has a lot of potential. If we can tap into this potential, I truly believe that we are going to take teams by surprise,” Robillard said. “I am here to share my passion for and knowledge of the game I love with these girls. It is important to me that these girls learn how to be strong, independent and respectful young women.”
2016 Record: 9-13 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Mark Maguire
In 2016, Foxboro finished 6-10 in the Hockomock League but got its chance to play in the postseason and took advantage with a preliminary round win over Westwood and a near-upset of Abington in a nine-inning classic. The Warriors will hope to build on that experience this spring with a number of key players returning.
League all-star Hannah Davis is back behind the plate for the Warriors and will be one of the top hitters in the Hockomock. Davis will likely be in the three-spot in the lineup and right behind her will be senior Kelly Fisher, who head coach Mark Maguire called one of the best first basemen in the league. Kelly McCarthy will try to set the table for the power hitters in the lead-off spot.
Sophomore pitcher Emma Rohan is back in the circle and Maguire expects that she will compete every game and build on her rookie campaign. Behind Rohan, Cam Willis will moved from second base to short and Chelsea Gibbons will provide good ‘D’ and a solid bat at third. Lefty Lexi Buckner could grab the second base spot and senior Jamie Gorham could provide an unexpected boost as a first-year player in the outfield. Mandy Ryan and Kayla Wheatley are two of the players coming up from JV that Maguire is hoping will step in to provide depth.
“They’re all working hard and they’re ready to build together as a team,” said Maguire. “The expectations are really to compete every game.”
2016 Record: 12-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Kate Fallon
Once the rains go away for a few days, Franklin will be able to open its new field and make official its move back to the high school after a couple seasons playing at Dean College. The Panthers are excited about the new facility and about the team’s potential for success this spring with seven returning starters from last year.
Leading the way is third baseman, and four-year starter, Olivia DiGiacomo, who has been a mainstay at the hot corner and provides leadership for the infield. To her left is shortstop Alyssa DaSilva, a three-year starter with two years of experience at short. Sophomore Allie Shea is back at first base and senior Clara DeCarvalho is back behind the plate and poised for a “breakout season,” according to head coach Kate Fallon. The outfield is also filled with veterans, including seniors Rachel Cousineau in left and Olivia Haba in center.
The seventh starter is senior Alex Niss, who started as a pinch hitter last season before taking over the DP role and turning into one of the top power hitters in the Hockomock League. The Panthers should be solid defensively and at the plate and Fallon is hoping that sophomore pitchers Jackie Cherry (who carried a shutout into the seventh in the season opening loss to North Attleboro) and Emily Valentino can make an instant impact in the circle.
“Win 11 games and make the tournament again,” said Fallon when asked about the expectations for the team this season. “I expect the seniors to provide leadership and be role models for the underclassmen. It’s always a dogfight in this league…but I think we are a good team.”
2016 Record: 24-4 2016 Finish: Won Div. 1 State Championship Coach: Norm Beauchemin
King Philip comes into 2017 on the back of its third state title in the past six years and, while expectations remain high for one of the region’s top programs, there are key pieces from last year’s team that need to be replaced in order for the Warriors to get back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and in the state.
The biggest absence this season is, of course, pitcher Kali Magane, who is now in the circle for Boston University and who was dominant during KP’s playoff run a year ago. Senior Jenn Hutnyan will step in to be the team’s starting pitcher after several starts and relief appearances in the past two seasons. Hutnyan will also be an important bat in the lineup. Junior Brie Lacy will be back behind the plate to help Hutnyan and head coach Norm Beauchemin noted that junior Jessica Bonner will be a solid defensive third baseman.
KP rarely rebuilds and almost always reloads for another title push. This year should be no different with a lineup that features several familiar names from last season’s title run, including sophomore Meghan Gorman and juniors Brooke Taute, Elise Pereira, and Hailey McCasland. Each of those players had important roles last season and will be ready to step up for the Warriors this spring as KP tries to regain the league title after Taunton ended its nine year run in 2016.
“Though it’s hard to replace last year’s seniors,” said Beauchemin, “we have a solid core of returning players ready to represent King Philip and its proud softball legacy.”
2016 Record: 13-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield is coming off a 13-win season that included a tournament win against Notre Dame Academy, but after four years of being able to count on Maddie Letendre in the circle the Hornets will be handing the ball over to a new pitcher this spring, although as it turns out only the first name will be changing.
Megan Letendre, who played shortstop as a freshman, will take over in the circle for the Hornets and her development as the No. 1 pitcher will go a long way to determining if Mansfield can repeat last year’s success. Pitcher is not the only position that needs to be replaces, as the Hornets will have a new catcher and three new infielders. Still, with nine returning players, there is plenty of experience on the roster.
Kara Bendanillo will move from third base to second, according to head coach Lori Letendre, and Megan Letendre will sometimes see time at second when not pitching. Liz Mackin will take over at first base, while Marissa Staffier and Amanda Giambanco will take the corner outfield positions. Mady Bendanillo will be back in center after an impressive first season for the Hornets.
“This is one of the hardest working teams I have had at Mansfield and they have been putting in a lot of effort to get ready for the season,” said Coach Letendre.
2016 Record: 17-5 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Steve DiVitto
Milford has been the class of the Davenport division for the past four seasons and the Hawks come into 2017 with the expectations of being heavy favorites for another league title, but, with three seniors and nine juniors on the roster and eight starters returning, head coach Steve DiVitto is hopeful that the talent will translate to a deep run in the state tournament.
The Hawks are one of the few contenders to return not just one but two starting pitchers from last season. Senior Ali Atherton is back to be the primary option in the circle and the Southern New Hampshire-commit has been dominant at times in her career. If Atherton gets into trouble or needs a rest, junior Kelley Reichert has demonstrated that she is more than just a fill-in but can also shut down opponents. They will be pitching to sophomore Emily Hartman, who will step into the starting lineup this season.
There are very few question marks in this year’s lineup with junior Emily Piergustavo moving from second to short to replace Jill Powers, which is Piergustavo’s natural position and one she has played several times in the past year. Junior Jess Tomaso is back at first base and in the heart of the lineup where she will be joined by senior outfielder Maggie Farrell and senior third baseman Kaitlyn DeCapua. Junior Kate Irwin will try to be the table-setter at the top of the order and juniors Maddy Bonvino (second base) and Shannon Cormier (outfield) will also be contributors.
“This has been a focused and driven group ever since the end of last season,” said DiVitto. “They have worked hard in the off-season and that was very apparent in the early stages of the season. We are excited to compete in the best league in the state, which will hopefully prepare us for a long run into June.”
2016 Record: 11-10 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro returned to the postseason in 2016 and for the Rocketeers to get back to the tournament this spring it will be the younger players that will lead the way. Head coach Bill Wallace knows that his team will be “green” (with only four seniors on the roster), but he is excited about North’s athleticism and versatility.
Pitching may be North’s biggest strength this season with five players in the rotation, led by freshman Bella Erti, who won her first career start, and last year’s starter Amelia Murphy. Juniors Olivia DesRoches, Jaclyn Buckley and Abby Warren could also step into the circle to help out. Senior Sam Courtemanche will be behind the plate to help the pitchers.
Senior Liz Morehouse returns at first base and Andrea Miceli will be at second. Meghan Barlow moves in from the outfield to take over at short (and provided the walk-off hit in North’s season opening win), while Murphy will see time at third when she’s not pitching. Olivia Capobianco will play center with Katherine Munley and Kristina Murphy in left and right with freshmen Ashley Cangiano and Abby Gallagher getting playing time.
“With only four seniors on the roster, I am hoping the learning curve will be brief!” said Wallace. “This may be the year we see a lot of pinch hitting and pinch running! For a young team, they are very focused between the lines!”
Oliver Ames finished in second in the league in 2016 and qualified for the postseason, but that will be an even tougher task now that the Tigers have made the move to the Kelley-Rex division. Even with facing the likes of defending state champion King Philip twice this spring, head coach Lindsey Allison is optimistic that the 10 returning players have the experience to get back into the playoffs.
Senior Victoria Ziner will be the spark on offense for the Tigers this season, but OA also has a number of juniors that Allison said can “do some damage at the plate.” Among those players is Caroline Mahoney, whose bat “is still as dangerous as ever,” according to Allison. Freshman Katie Abreu will be a newcomer to watch for the Tigers as her versatility will make her a valuable member of the lineup.
The Tigers will bring back sophomore Kayla Georgeu in the circle and will be hoping that she continues to develop and keep OA competitive against the league’s top teams. Junior Alexis Campbell will be a second pitcher and also help out at second base.
“We have a solid 10 players returning from last year’s roster,” said Allison, “and we are looking to fill holes behind the plate, in the outfield and at first base this year. Definitely hoping to use some of the speed we have on our team to our advantage this year.”
2016 Record: 4-16 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Deb Parker
Sharon is coming off a four-win season in 2016 but head coach Deb Parker believes that the Eagles have the potential to be a contender in the Davenport division this spring as long as the players continue to develop over the course of the season.
Although the Eagles are a relatively young team, Parker is counting on senior captains Clara Cook and Sam Marglous to provide the leadership needed to keep the team on the right track. Cook will be back in the circle for Sharon, while Marglous will be back behind the plate. Parker said, “Both have been solid contributors for their entire high school careers.”
Sophomore centerfielder Rebecca Clayman and shortstop Ally Small, who Parker referred to as “standouts,” will be the anchors of the defense. Freshman Shoshanna Lowe will step in to play third base and should have a positive impact in the lineup as well.
“I believe we have the right combination of experience, talent and drive to be a contender in the Hock,” said Parker. “This is a team that works hard every day to be better than they were the day before. They have great chemistry and our captains have done an excellent job leading them into the season.”
2016 Record: 10-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Tim Norton
The Black Knights made a return to the state tournament in head coach Tim Norton’s first season in charge, and nearly pulled out a win against Braintree, and Stoughton will be counting on last year’s freshmen to continue developing and keep the program heading in the right direction.
One of the sophomores that the team will be leaning on is third baseman Jordan Lyons, who brings a strong bat to the hot corner and her leadership skills had her named a captain for this spring. Brianna Ferrandiz will take over behind the plate for Sam Tullis and Karly Estremera will move into the infield and continue to be the table-setter as the leadoff hitter.
Norton is excited to have depth in the circle with Shannon Flaherty and Gina Carafa both capable of racking up innings and “setting great examples on and off the field.” Stoughton will also have depth in the outfield with first-year starters Krista Michienzi, Val Whalen and Alessandra Loffredo.
“We were extremely fortunate in Stoughton last year to have such a strong freshman class with great senior leadership,” Norton explained. “This year that sophomore class is going to have to come into their own. While this team is young they got a taste of the post season last year and are hungry for more.”
2016 Record: 22-2 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Dave Lewry
Last season, Taunton won its first outright league title, ending King Philip’s nine-year reign atop the Hockomock. It was a fitting coda to the impressive careers of Taunton’s senior class, but this spring the Tigers will now have to move forward with six new faces in the starting lineup, including at pitcher and the middle infield positions. Taunton typically reloads quickly and head coach Dave Lewry believes this year’s team has a plenty of potential.
Senior Courtney Fisher will step into the circle hoping to make a seamless transition from 2016 Player of the Year Aimee Kistner. Fisher tossed three shutout innings and had three hits in the season opener and got several opportunities to pitch in the past two seasons. She will be pitching to junior captain Kya Enos, who is making the move back to catcher after two seasons in the outfield. Other starters coming back include first baseman Katie VanZandt, junior outfielder Liana Duarte, and sophomore Jaime Brown, who is in her third year at third base.
The Tigers have always found young players who can step right in an make an impact at the varsity level and this year could be a breakout season for eighth grader Hannah Aldrich, who will take over from Jordan Wade at short. Sophomore Alexa White looks ready to step in at second, while senior Rebekah Lajoie and junior Hailey Medeiros are in line to start in the corner outfield places. Taunton could also get contributions at pitcher from eighth grader Kelsey White and freshman Jaylin Couto.
“While we lost six starters from last season, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Lewry. “I expect there will be some growing pains with six new starters in the lineup, but with some seasoned veterans and good young talent we are optimistic that we’ll be competitive this season.”
2016 Record: 6-12 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Kevin Patton
Attleboro is still a relatively young program but has taken strides to be competitive with the rest of the teams in the Hockomock and first-year head coach Kevin Patton is hopeful that the large number of players at tryouts is a sign that the Bombardiers are heading in the right direction.
One of the reasons for Attleboro’s confidence coming into the spring is the experienced players that will take the field, including senior Mish Logie, who is a four-year varsity midfielder. Joining Logie as a captain for this year’s team is goalie Hadley Porreca, who is in her second year in net.
In addition. juniors Emily Patton and Ali Wall return in attack, while classmates Kim White and Graycen Cassidy will keep things tight on the defensive side of the ball. Midfield depth will be provided by sophomores Kyra Lyons and Alex Compton, who are both coming off strong rookie seasons on varsity. Freshman Sydney DiLiddo will also have the chance to step in and contribute in midfield this season and junior Ashlyn Salisbury and sophomore Shea Harrison will see time on defense.
“We had our largest player turnout in the program’s history,” said Patton, “and we have girls that want to work hard and succeed. With only two seniors on this year’s team, I will be looking to certain underclassmen to take on added leadership roles. This will help us not only this year but going forward.”
2016 Record: 8-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Christine O’Connor
Canton won five of its final seven games last season to get back to .500 and qualify for the state tournament and the Bulldogs will be hoping to carry that momentum over to this spring with a roster that features nine seniors and eight juniors.
Some of the key returning players for Canton this season include senior attacker Mary Kent, senior defender Tessa Cudmore, and senior goalie Kathryn Doody, who form a solid spine for the Bulldogs to build on. Caroline Hagan, Rebecca Eckler, and Maria Mackie are among the other seniors that will be contributing for Canton.
One of the younger players to watch is sophomore attacker Leah McClellan, who is one of several players that helped the girls’ hockey team reach the state title game at the TD Garden. Another sophomore, Maggie Malloy, has already had strong seasons for the field hockey and ice hockey teams and will provide depth this spring.
“We look to gain strength as the season progresses,” said O’Connor. “We will look to the seniors for leadership and intensity in order to be competitive.”
Foxboro won its fifth straight Davenport division title last spring and returned to the Div. 2 South semifinal for the second straight season and expectations will be even higher this season for head coach Brittany Sherry, as the Warriors return 15 players to try and make it six league titles in a row.
Among the many experienced players coming back is an exciting core of sophomores that have made instant impacts, including the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Sophia DiCenso, who scored 65 goals and had 31 assists last year. Joining DiCenso up front will be classmates Caroline McGeary and Meghan Curran and juniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano.
Defensively, senior Hallie Canfield will be back to anchor things and provide leadership. Junior Christina Rogers and sophomores Jenna Stamatov and Molly Murphy will also be back to limit opposing offenses. Freshman Sara Addeche will take over in goal and is another in a line of talented underclassmen that Sherry is excited to see develop over the course of the season.
“Our goals stay about the same every year, most importantly getting another round further!” Sherry said. “The last two years our season has ended in the semi finals but I’m hoping with the scheduling and tourney experience last year we will have the edge we need to get to the finals.”
2016 Record: 19-5 2016 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 State Semifinal Coach: Kristin Igoe Guarino
Another spring and another league title for Franklin, which completed another perfect season in the Hockomock and then carried that success into the playoffs to win a second Div. 1 East title with a dramatic, one-goal victory over Acton-Boxboro. Even though they only return five players, the Panthers enter the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and with sights set on challenging for a state title.
There is experience coming back for the Panthers with seniors Grace McDermott and Dana Lewandowski coming back to control things on the defensive end, while former Underclassman of the Year Kendall Reardon and fellow senior Caroline Lounsbury will provide leadership in the attack.
Franklin always seems to have players ready to step in and, despite there being a youth movement on the varsity team, the Panthers have already started 2-0 with wins against Needham and Lincoln-Sudbury. Sophomore midfielder Annie Walsh and her freshman sister Erin have both gotten off to strong starts with sophomore Halle Atkinson helping out with a hat trick in the win over L-S as well.
“I am very excited for the 2017 season!” said Igoe Guarino. “Our freshmen and sophomores bring a lot of energy and competitiveness to practice and games, while our juniors and seniors bring the discipline and experience. The two combined could bring us very far again this year!”
King Philip surprised some last spring when the Warriors went on the road to beat Westford Academy in the first round of the Div. 1 East tournament and that experience could pay dividends as KP returns a number of key players with the intent making a run at earning a first league title since 2012.
Senior Angela Vellante is back and head coach Julie Boudreau called her the “quarterback” for the attacking unit. Vellante will be looking to feed junior Katie Crowther, who was the team’s and the league’s leading scorer as a sophomore with 111 points. Senior Meghan Wagner was a starter as a freshman and scored in every game but missed the last two years with an injury and is now back to make an impact on offense.
KP can also count on a strong sophomore class led by a core of midfielders: Caroline Klim, Alli Meehan, Victoria and Olivia Tormey, and Dana Truini. Also back is sophomore goalie Caroline Watson behind a defense of juniors Molly Mullins, Christina Hathaway and Izzy Agricola. Also making a return is assistant coach Mary Pasquantonio, Boudreau’s sister, who brings experience as a former KP player and will help the current crop of Warriors on draw controls.
“We have a deep bench with many sophomores and will be looking to run lines and sub regularly to keep everyone fresh,” said Boudreau. “Our theme for the season is ‘grit=hard work + passion’.”
Mansfield won its opening two games of the 2016 season, but the Hornets struggled during a difficult middle part of the spring and missed out on the state tournament. The Hornets showed flashes of potential during the year, including a close loss to perennial tournament team Hingham, and hopes are high that they can get back into the postseason this year.
Expectations are boosted by the return of a strong core of experience players. Senior Maire Foley will be a focal point of the Hornets attack this year, while classmate Maggie Dunn and junior Ann Maher will return in the midfield. Senior Jen McCabe will provide leadership in defense and sophomore Kaity Garvin will build off her rookie season in attack.
Among the new faces this spring are sophomore midfielders Maggie Danehy, who had a solid winter with the girls’ basketball team, and Lauren Whitman
“Our team really has been working together as a unit day one,” said head coach Alexis Kobey. “They came into the season ready to go and work on what they needed to work on to get better, from draw controls, ball movement, attack/defense they have been showing up everyday. They also really love playing with each other, working with each other, making each other better.”
2016 Record: 3-15 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Tim Dowd
It has been a tough run for Milford since moving to the Hockomock League, but the Hawks bring back an experienced roster for first-year head coach Tim Dowd and he is hopeful that the program will continue to improve over the course of the season.
Dowd’s excitement for the new season is in part built on the leadership of his senior class, including captains Taylor Dube, Jill Burley, and Jordyn Lombardo, who Dowd said would all have “incredible seasons.” He praised all three for their competitive spirits and for pushing their teammates to improve.
Another senior, Brainna Croteau, will be in charge of the defensive unit and Dowd is counting on the development of a talented group of sophomores and juniors. Milford also has two freshmen, Hannah Bangert and Anne Flanagan, who will be on the varsity roster this season and who Dowd thinks will make an impact.
“I think one of our strengths is going to be teamwork and work ethic,” said Dowd. “We want to be a team that goes the extra mile for each other and constantly works to win battles on the field. We’re going to try to outwork other teams. We’re going to try to focus on the little things to hopefully make big improvements.”
2016 Record: 13-7 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East Quarterfinal Coach: Mike Vitelli
Under first-year head coach Mike Vitelli (who had previously led King Philip to a Hockomock League title and a South final), North Attleboro made a jump into second place in the Kelley-Rex division and won 13 games, while reaching the playoffs for the first time. After a loss to eventual state champ Walpole, Vitelli has built up North’s schedule with perennial powers Notre Dame Academy, Natick, and Walpole to get the Rocketeers prepared for a tournament run.
North will clearly miss last year’s Player of the Year Hana Caster (who is now at UMass Lowell), the Rocketeers return a number of important players, including six of the team’s seven defenders. Seniors Samantha Taggart, Emily Schromm, Emma Cromidas, and Alaina Mello will provide an experienced defensive unit in front of junior goalie Kayla Moulin, who Vitelli believes will have a great season.
Up front, North will turn to junior Kenzie Rosenberg and senior Erin Holley, who had breakout seasons for the Rocketeers in 2016. Chloe Olsen, Julia Dakin, and Julia Tolfa will also be counted on to provide offense for North Attleboro, while Camille Pizzaro and freshman Katie Lindstrom will be newcomers to watch this spring.
“I really like the depth of our bench as well,” said Vitelli. “Lots of hybrid players who can play in many roles…Biggest question I’ve gotten this offseason has been ‘how can you replace Hana Caster?’ My response is we can’t. But that being said, I don’t think any player is replaceable…It just becomes an opportunity for other players to step in and make their mark.”
2016 Record: 8-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round Coach: Abby Tepper
Oliver Ames reached the postseason last year by finishing second in the Davenport division and will look to build on that in 2017 in the Tigers first season in the Kelley-Rex and first season under new head coach Abby Tepper, who is only one year removed from the end of a very successful college playing career at Salve Regina and a solid first season as coach of the OA field hockey program this fall.
Tepper inherits a roster with several key returning players that provide a foundation for the Tigers, who won the opening two games of the spring. Junior captain Sofia Masciarelli will be the main attacking cog for OA this season with senior Katie Davenport back in the heart of the defense and junior goalie Ari Waldorf will be back between the pipes.
Also back for OA and expected to make a step up into the starting lineup are senior captain Kendall Clifford in the midfield, junior Chloe Kilkelly in the attack, and sophomore midfielder Olivia Piazza.
“The girls have been working hard each day at practice to prepare for the tough schedule they will face,” said Tepper. They continually improve their skills and lacrosse IQ each day. I have been impressed with how the girls have pushed one another to get better and have committed themselves to the program.”
2016 Record: 10-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round Coach: Colleen Carchedi
In her second season in charge, Sharon head coach Colleen Carchedi (née Manning) led the Eagles to their first ever playoff appearance. On their home grass, the Eagles put in a great performance to battle perennial playoff competitor Bishop Feehan and the experience has generated a lot of excitement in the program as the new season begins.
Sharon has five key players returning from last season, including leading scorer Alex Rabb and twin sister Sam, who is one of the team’s top defensive players. Senior Anna Crosby will be the motor in the midfield and junior midfielder Sabrina Robbins has verbally committed to the University of Colorado. Carchedi said of Robbins, “She is someone who always gets the job done and deserves more credit than she gets. She is reliable and hard working, never afraid to take a risk.”
Sophomore Emma Eberhardt is another player coming back that Carchedi believes will be able to take on a much larger role this spring. Eberhardt will add size in the midfield and, particularly, on draw controls. Carchedi said, “She is an all around stud athlete and is for sure a player to watch.” Sophomore Rose Wald is a newcomer that takes over in goal.
“I know we are going to be a really well balanced team,” Carchedi added, noting that the Eagles had six different goal scorers in the season opener against Milford. “I am so excited for the season and ready to hit the ground running after a big game against my old high school, KP.”
With a win against Norton on Monday, Taunton avenged a pair of losses to the Lancers from 2016 and is halfway to last year’s win total. The Tigers are still a young program at the varsity level and, as such, head coach Kerry Northup knows there will be a learning curve against Hockomock opponents, but she is also excited about the team’s potential.
The Tigers will turn to seniors Delaney Powell, Annie Tate, and Abbey Kingman to provide consistent offense this spring and all three had big games in the opener against Norton, combining for 12 of the team’s 17 goals. Powell led the way with six goals in the win and junior Lorna Li had 12 saves in another strong performance for the Tigers’ “confident” goalie.
Taunton also has plenty of youth that will be gaining valuable experience this spring, including three sophomores, a pair of freshmen, and three eighth graders. One of the eighth graders, Alana Tavares, made the most of her varsity debut on Monday, potting five goals against Norton and will be one of the newcomers to watch in the Hock this season.
“We have a solid group of girls this season,” said Northup. “Our strength players have a nice balance throughout the field from offense, mid, to defense. We are not a powerhouse team, but a team with passion, drive, and grit. These girls play to the end and don’t give up until that last whistle sounds.”
BOSTON, Mass. – Things were looking good for Foxboro after pitching a shutout in the third quarter, seizing control of its D2 State Semifinal against Arlington Catholic.
Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t quite keep up with the outstanding defense.
The Warriors kept Arlington Catholic without a point for a near 12 minute stretch — the final 3:50 of there first half, the entire eight minutes of the third quarter and the first couple of seconds of the fourth quarter.
However, Foxboro went just 1/10 from the field in the final frame. Meanwhile, the Cougars’ offense finally came to life, scoring 18 points — eight from the charity stripe — and picked up a 37-30 win over the Warriors to advance to the D2 State Final on Saturday.
“Unfortunately, the shots just weren’t falling in the fourth quarter,” said Foxboro head coach Lisa Downs. “To hold a team like that scoreless in third quarter, it was looking pretty optimistic for us. But the shots just weren’t falling tonight.”
Arlington Catholic surged to a 19-10 lead halfway through the second quarter but Foxboro’s defense — and offense — turned it up. The Warriors didn’t allow any points the rest of the half while rattling off a 7-0 run. To start that run, junior Ashley Sampson (13 points, 11 rebounds) drained a three to eclipse the 1,000 point mark for her career.
“Obviously it’s great for her to get her 1,000th point and we’re extremely proud of her,” Downs said. “But she could have cared less about that tonight. She just wanted to win. That attitude bodes well for everyone on the team. The team chemistry, that’s what I’m going to miss more than anything to tell you the truth.”
“I honestly really didn’t care about scoring the 1,000th point, we just wanted to get the win,” Sampson said. “It didn’t happen but we’re going to work just as hard as we did this year to try and get back here next year and hopefully get the ‘W.’”
Riley Collins (five points) added a basket and Grace Tamulionis (five points, six rebounds) converted a put back just before the buzzer to get the Warriors within two, 19-17, at the break.
“We definitely had our looks,” Downs said. “Especially in the first half, we had some bunnies and some short jumpers. Usually our shooting percentage is far better than it was tonight, which will happen, but usually our defense will make up for that and give us additional opportunities. And we had those tonight, but they were very aggressive on defense. Ashley was getting double teamed, sometimes triple teamed and we just weren’t reversing the ball quite enough.”
Foxboro kept the momentum up in the third quarter. Lily Sykes gave the Warriors the lead with a three 90 seconds into the third quarter. Sykes added a free throw, Sampson hit three free throws and Collins drained a three in the final minute to give the Warriors a 26-19 lead through three.
“Those kids from Foxboro, their heart was ridiculous,” said Arlington Catholic coach David Brady. “I thought they scratched and clawed within the rules of basketball to rebound the ball. You get to this point, nobody wants to lose, nobody wants to quit. Foxboro was an incredible team tonight.”
Arlington’s offense came to life in the fourth quarter, mainly by attacking the basket and getting to the line. Erin Donlan (13 points) broke the scoreless streak with a free throw eight seconds into the final frame. Donlan then added two more free throws and then hit a layup to cut the deficit to 26-24. Monica Rayo (eight points, five points) then tied the game with just under six minutes to play and hit another basket a minute later to give the Cougars a 28-26 lead, capping a 9-0 run.
Foxboro’s offense finally broke into the scoring column in the fourth quarter, taking the lead back on a three from Tamulionis at 29-28. Lauren Flahive stretched the lead to two with a free throw with 2:31 to play, but that would be the last of Foxboro’s scoring.
AC’s Lena Perez 11 points, 15 rebounds) tied the game off an inbounds play with just under two minutes to go. Foxboro came up empty on its offensive possession, and the Cougars’ Alexandra Bell (eight rebounds) his a turn-around jumper with 1:20 to play to give AC the lead back.
Foxboro missed a shot and then had a turnover on the next possession, forcing the Warriors into foul mode. AC made five free throws in the final 44 seconds to seal the deal.
“I think defensively we were scrappy as we always are. We created opportunities for ourselves but on the offensive end, when we didn’t set the offense exactly as we normally do, we weren’t getting the looks we normally do. The ones we were getting weren’t the ones we wanted, it just wasn’t our night unfortunately.”
Brady admitted the Cougars’ main defensive game plan focused on Sampson.
“They hit some big shots but we had to live with it a little bit,” Downs said. “To try and take Sampson away, are you kidding me? That girls fantastic. It takes a village to stop her, she’s something else.”
Foxboro girls basketball finishes the season at 22-3 and as Davenport division champions.
BROCKTON, Mass. – Two years ago in the Div. 2 South final, freshmen Ashley Sampson and Grace Tamulionis combined for 20 points in a loss to eventual state champion Duxbury. On Saturday afternoon, Sampson, Tamulionis, and the Warriors returned to Brockton High and used that experience to good effect to rally Foxboro in the fourth quarter.
Sampson scored eight of her game-high 19 points in the final quarter (and added 10 rebounds as well) and Tamulionis scored six of her 11 points in the fourth to bring Foxboro back from a point down to beat Westwood 47-38 and claim the program’s first sectional title since 2003 and book a trip to the TD Garden.
“I think having been in here before, even though it was two years ago, was a huge advantage,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “I’m sure that a lot of their team hadn’t been in this venue with this many people. Even though they’re juniors, they play like seniors and they weren’t cautious at the end.”
Tamulionis added, “Knowing the environment really helped with all the fans and I know freshmen year everyone was nervous but this year almost all of us had been here before so it really helped.”
The Wolverines did not look overwhelmed by the environment early and came out strong in the first quarter with senior forward Carly Sugrue knocking down a pair of threes and scoring eight of her 13 points. Haley Connaughton also hit one from deep and Allison Morin had three assists, as the Westwood offense was clicking at the start.
Sampson was keeping the Warriors afloat on the offensive end with eight points in the first, all coming off drives to the basket. Foxboro’s aggressiveness driving to the basket led to seven Westwood fouls in the opening quarter. Junior Shannon Smally (six rebounds) also provided a spark with three points and a couple boards in the first.
“She did a lot of the things today that we’ve been asking her to do all along,” said Downs of Smally. “Luckily, it’s gotten to the point that she’s doing things in March we asked her to do in December, but she timed it perfectly.”
Foxboro trailed 17-14 after one and would continue to struggle shooting from the outside for the better part of the next two quarters. The Warriors stayed in the game in large part due to a defensive effort that held the Wolverines to only 21 points over the final 24 minutes.
“We just had to focus on our defense,” said Sampson. “Our shots weren’t falling, but our defense is what got us back into it.”
With Westwood leading 24-19, Foxboro inbounded the ball to Lily Sykes for a half-court heave as the half expired. The horn sounded and the shot fell short, but an official’s whistle blew just before the clock read all zeroes and Sykes made 2-of-3 free throws to cut the lead to just three.
In the second half, Downs made a change and put Sampson on Sugrue, a switch that limited the Westwood forward to just two points after the break.
Downs explained, “Ashley’s got these long arms because Carly does a good job with these step back jumps and Ashley can just get a little more in her face.”
Foxboro finally found the range from three. Sykes (seven points) buried her only shot of the game to cut the lead to 26-24. After a Westwood basket, Sykes drove baseline and kicked it all the way out to the three-point line for Riley Collins to knock one down and tie the game. The Wolverines responded with four straight but then again Collins got a clean look and hit from three sending Foxboro into the fourth down just 32-31.
Tamulionis said, “No one got frustrated and I think that really helped. When coach called timeout, she just kind of settled us down a little and we knew that we had to step it up.”
Catherine Bonfiglio (team-high 14 points) started the fourth with a drive to the basket to extend the lead to three, but her six points accounted for all of Westwood’s points in the fourth. After a ragged start in which both teams missed a lot of open looks, Foxboro clamped down and contested every Westwood chance.
On the other end, Sampson, the Hockomock League MVP, started to assert herself. She drove baseline and finished with a reverse layup plus the foul and then knocked down a jumper off a Sykes assist to give Foxboro its first lead (36-34) since the first quarter.
When asked if she knew that it was time to be aggressive at that point, Sampson replied, “I don’t know. When I got the third foul, I kind of got into my own head. I just had to calm down and play.”
Tamulionis stepped up next, knocking down a long jumper off a Smally kick out to extend the lead to four and then stepped a couple feet further back to drain an open three that made it 41-36 with 1:05 remaining.
Foxboro went 6-of-8 at the line in the closing minute to complete its run as the top seed in the South by lifting the sectional championship trophy.
“I knew we had it in us,” Downs said, “and I never panicked too much because I could see it in their eyes that they had this game within their grasp and it was theirs to win or lose. Defense was going to win it for us.
“It’s so exciting. The girls knew that they could win today and never looked back.”
Tamulionis said, “It’s awesome. The whole year, the whole team has worked so hard and we deserve it. Everyone has done a great job all year.”
Foxboro (22-2) advances to the Eastern Mass. final at the TD Garden on Monday at 5:45 to play the winner of Arlington Catholic and Hamilton-Wenham.
BROCKTON, Mass. – North Attleboro won the first meeting with Foxboro this season, thanks in part to a huge fourth quarter by senior Ashley Ahern. With Ahern out injured for the second meeting, Foxboro ran over the Rocketeers and clinched the Davenport title with a 26-point victory.
On Monday night at Massasoit Community College, the teams met for the third time to not only decide the season series but also to see which team would represent the Hockomock in Saturday’s Div. 2 South final.
With Ahern in uniform for the introductions, but not able to play, North came in with the plan of slowing the game down, turning it into a half-court battle, playing physical defense, and trying to take advantage of its edge in size in the post. The game plan worked perfectly, but Foxboro showed that it had some grit to go along with its ability to put points on the board.
Behind a game-high 20 points from league MVP Ashley Sampson and 17 from fellow junior Lily Sykes, Foxboro defended, crashed the boards, and found just enough offense to pull out a 49-39 victory that earns the Warriors a second trip to the South final in three seasons.
“We did exactly what we needed to do to beat that team,” admitted North Attleboro coach Derek Herber from the first row of the bleachers following the game. “You can’t let them run, you can’t let them shoot all those shots…Through three quarters we did what we needed to do; we just needed a little more offense to get to that spot.”
Foxboro coach Lisa Downs recognized the difficulty of playing an opponent for the third time and credited her team for finding a way to win.
“At this point, jitters are normal and we’re in a different gym, some of these girls have been here and some have not, so we’ll take a ‘W’ any day,” she said. “It wasn’t the prettiest of wins but they played with heart.”
The first quarter was not pretty, but the Warriors had a lead and it felt like they were ready to pull away as they did on their home court three weeks ago. Sampson and Sykes split the scoring in the first, each with six points, but Foxboro lacked the typical frenetic pace that it usually plays at.
North was slowing things down and shots were not falling, which made it difficult to get into the full-court press the Warriors prefer. Sykes opened the second with a drive that extended the lead to eight, but it was the only made field goal by the Warriors in the quarter.
The Rocketeers climbed back into the game with Julia Feid (six points) scoring on a drive and Samantha Taggart drilling a three (her only basket of the game) to cut the lead to four. Emily Haskell gave North a big lift right before the break with a steal and a layup and then a runner on the baseline. The junior’s only four points of the game made it 20-17 at the break.
“I think we were beating ourselves to be honest with you,” said Downs. “We were overthinking our shots because we had some wide open looks and we were just thinking too much instead of releasing the ball. We were only up because of our defense.”
When asked about the sloppiness of the first half, Herber insisted, “Part of the sloppiness is that everything we do, they know, and everything they do, I know, so the sloppiness is playing a third game against a team you’ve seen in a high stakes game.”
In the third quarter, senior forward Caroline Collard started to get going for North, scoring six of her team-high 10 points. Liz Morehouse added three of her five points, including a turn around jumper from the left block. After Feid pulled up for a jumper and Collard scored off an Emily Schromm inbound pass, North was within one at 29-28.
Foxboro was still struggling to find the range and in desperate need of a spark. Sykes stepped up and drilled a three off a Sampson assist to extend the lead to four and then Sampson was able to beat Feid in the post for a layup to give Foxboro a six-point edge heading to the fourth.
“When the shots weren’t falling, we were getting into our own heads, so we just had to settle down,” said Sampson of the Warriors struggles on the offensive end of the floor. “In the third quarter, Lily hit some huge shots and I think once she did that it made everyone more confident.”
Things started to get going for Foxboro in the fourth quarter. Grace Tamulionis opened the quarter with a jumper that Feid answered with a drive, but then Sampson drove and kicked it out to Riley Collins for a straightaway three (her only point of the night) and Foxboro finally had some separation.
“At this point in the season, 22 games in, we’re still telling them to shoot with confidence,” said Downs. “Grace finally warmed up a little bit in the second half, which was huge, and Ashley, so we stepped up when we had to step up and played with grit.”
Tamulionis had six of her seven points in the fourth and Sampson added six as well. North did not give up with Schromm knocking down a jumper and driving the length of the floor for a layup plus the foul. She missed the free throw but grabbed her own rebound with North down 44-38.
The Rocketeers had only more chance to get closer but a long three by Feid was halfway down and popped out and Tamulionis clinched it with an offensive rebound and score on a missed free throw on the other end.
“I’m so proud of the way the girls played,” said Herber. “We held them down as best we could to get to that point. We tried to muck it up as best we could and slow it down and take advantage of our post players.”
When asked about his senior class and what they have brought to the program, Herber could not hide his emotions. He said, “Every year we try to focus on our seniors, but these kids have been with our program as long as I’ve been here, for three years, and they’re just great kids. I just wish better for them today.”
For Sampson and the Warriors the win means a return to Brockton High where the Warriors played eventual state champion Duxbury in 2015. Sampson said, “It’s really exciting. We have an opportunity to win the South final, so it’s just really cool.
“It’s definitely tough. They beat us the first time and we beat them last time by 20-something, so they were out for blood. They wanted it and so did we. It was tough but we had to be mentally prepared for it.”
Foxboro (21-2) will face No. 7 Westwood in the Div. 2 South final on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Brockton High.
FOXBORO, Mass. – Coming off a difficult opening round game against No. 16 seed Scituate, top seeded Foxboro wanted to send a message right from the start in Saturday afternoon’s Div. 2 South quarterfinal against 2016 sectional runner-up Hingham.
The Warriors came out firing on all cylinders, started 7-for-9 from the field, with six assists on those seven baskets, and scored 21 points in the opening quarter against the Harborwomen, nearly half of what they scored in the entire first round game.
Thanks to the strong start, Foxboro never trailed at any point against Hingham. In fact, the Harborwomen never got closer than nine points (midway through the second quarter) and Foxboro eased into the semifinal with a 62-39 victory.
“That first game jitters,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs about the Warriors’ struggles in the tournament opener. “Even though they seem like a confident team, in that we’ve been here, until you step on the court in the state tournament…they freeze up a little bit, the shots get a little bit tighter, but they came right into the game tonight ready to take care of business.”
Senior guard Kristen Bortolotti was injured prior to the beginning of the playoffs and in her absence, junior forward Shannon Smally was given a spot in the starting lineup. She made it count scoring six of her 10 points in the first and providing a spark in the post on both ends of the floor.
“That was huge,” said Downs of Smally’s contribution, “and it’s been right below the surface for the entire season and I’ve been begging her to unleash it and she did tonight. She was just confident out there; she was strong with the ball; she was doing the things that she shows in practice all along. She was huge for us tonight.”
Lily Sykes drilled a pair of threes in the first and Grace Tamulionis knocked down a baseline jumper and a three to help Foxboro extend the lead out to 10 points, 21-11, by the end of the quarter. Defensively, the Warriors also made a switch from their typical man-to-man to a 2-3 zone to try and limit Hingham’s ability to get into the paint.
“I’m mixing it up,” said Downs. “Their game is primarily driving, so we were just trying to take away the middle and force them to shoot from the perimeter. They were starting to hit some and we weren’t boxing out well enough, so I was more comfortable settling back into what we know best, which is man.”
The second quarter was very different for Foxboro, which only scored six points and made two shots from the floor, but the defense, whether in man or zone, clamped down and held Hingham to only one basket and three points. Senior Lauren Flahive was an important cog in that defense with four first half steals, as well as six rebounds and two assists.
“She does so much out there that even someone four inches taller than her couldn’t be doing,” said Downs of Flahive. “She does all those intangible things that, unless you break her game down, you’re not going to recognize she does. She’s so effective at her craft.”
The Warriors led by 13 at the break and never allowed Hingham to get any closer, although there was still some trepidation that the Harborwomen could go on a run.
Ashley Sampson, who was named Hockomock MVP by the league coaches, had picked up a third foul (in what appeared to be a case of mistaken identity) and sat for a few minutes but Downs decided to bring her back with about three minutes left in the third and a 13-point lead.
“She’s smart enough that she’s not going to pick up that next foul,” Downs explained, “and I changed her defensive assignment too to someone who wasn’t as involved in the offense, but I needed her on the court.”
The move paid off. Sampson, who had only scored six points up to that point, buried a step-back three and then drove to the basket to close out the third quarter with Foxboro ahead by 17, 38-21.
In the fourth, Sampson took over. She scored 13 of her game-high 24 points, shooting 9-of-10 from the free throw line, as Hingham tried to extend the game with fouls. Tamulionis also came through in the fourth with five of her 12 points and Riley Collins nailed a corner three to add some separation in the final minute.
Although Hingham was never really that close in the second half, Downs admitted that it was only in the final couple of minutes that she started to feel like the game was in control.
She said, “I think it was only with four or five minutes left in the fourth that I said, okay I can breathe now. They’re a very good team and they came back against Oliver Ames. I never felt real comfortable until about four minutes left.”
As the Warriors move forward in the tournament, they will miss not having Bortolotti in the lineup but Downs is confident that the other players can pick up the slack on both ends of the floor.
“Of course it’s devastating not to have Kristen out there,” she said, “but if we all do just one or two more things that we don’t normally do…everybody pick up the slack a little bit, then everything will take care of itself.”
Foxboro (20-2) will face No. 4 North Attleboro in the Div. 2 South semifinal at Massasoit Community College on Monday night at 5:30. The teams split two meetings in the regular season.