FRANKLIN, Mass. – The Panthers recently clinched another outright Kelley-Rex division title, Franklin’s third straight outright league title and fifth in a row overall, but there was still a feeling that the team needed a marquee win to add confidence ahead of the state tournament.
On Saturday afternoon at Pisini Field, Franklin was determined to make a statement about its potential for another tournament run against Newton North. Behind six goals from junior attacker Eric Civetti, eight saves by junior Connor O’Rourke, and a strong performance at the face-off ‘X’ by sophomore Jacob Alexander, the Panthers jumped all over the Tigers and earned a 9-6 win.
“It was a good team we played and our kids responded real well,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi. “That’s a good quality team and a good, quality win for us.”
Despite being the focal point of the Newton North defense, Civetti showed the range of his skills, scoring from long range and using his strength around the crease. The Rutgers University-commit scored three goals in the opening quarter and left Tigers coaches scrambling for a solution.
Verrochi said, “Civetti’s a stud. He’s just a goal scoring machine. He’s so hard to control. He’s just so talented, he’s got strong hands, and he’s very difficult to strip of the ball. He definitely deserves All-American this year.”
The Panthers stormed out of the gates to take a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. Alexander won the opening face-off and the Panthers held the ball for two minutes before Packie Watson fed Civetti for a close range score.
The Tigers struggled to get any possession in the first and Franklin nearly doubled its lead when Nitin Chaudhury smacked the crossbar with a shot on the run. A minute later, Civetti muscled his marker to score on the edge of the crease.
With 2:22 left in the first, Civetti got his hat trick with a move from behind the cage. He pump faked a pass out in front that forced both Newton North defenders to take a step back and Civetti took advantage of the space to step in and finish with a backhand shot under the bar.
Verrochi was pleased with the great start that his team made. He said, “They were really excited to play this game today and part of the thought process was, from Packie Watson, ‘we haven’t beaten a real good team in a long time boys; we’re going to make sure this is a good game.’ They were very dedicated and very purposeful in what they did out here today.”
The Tigers got one before the end of the quarter (a highlight reel quality, behind-the-back shot by Bryce Adam) and then cut the lead to one early in the second. Civetti responded for Franklin. After smashing a shot off the bar that looked like it may have crossed the line, he collected a loose ball and went with a low angle shot into the corner.
Newton North had an opportunity to make it a very different game with eight minutes left in the half when it had a two-man advantage for 30 seconds, but O’Rourke denied the Tigers a crucial goal. O’Rourke made three saves during the man-down situation and Watson made the visitors pay when he scored in transition to turn a potential 4-3 game into a 5-2 lead.
“I can’t say enough about him,” said Verrochi about O’Rourke. “He’s our MVP. He plays lights out in big games and we’re very fortunate that he switched from attack to goalie. That was a huge transition for him and he’s been outstanding.”
That proved to be the turning point, as Franklin took control and put the Tigers on their heels. Sam Arsenault picked out Chaudhury on the edge of the crease to make it 6-2 and finish off a great move by the Panthers that saw everyone in attack touch the ball.
Civetti got his hands free and time for a rip into the top corner for a man-up goal early in the third and Arsenault added a goal off an assist by Kyle McEniry for a six-goal lead. The Tigers scored right before the end of the third, but Civetti restored the lead early in the fourth when he finished a transition sparked by a long run from sophomore pole Patrick Morrison.
The Tigers tried to make it close at the end, scoring the final three goals of the game to get back within three with 1:24 remaining. It was hard to get a run going though because Alexander continued to win every face-off for the Panthers. He won 17-of-20 for the game, including all five in the fourth quarter to help slow down the Tigers momentum.
“I think he’s the best in the state,” said Verrochi of Alexander, “even better than the [Lincoln-Sudbury] kid. I think he’s dominated every player he’s gone against this year and that’s huge. You’re almost guaranteed a possession every time there’s a face-off.”
Franklin (16-3) will finish off the regular season with Div. 3 power Dover-Sherborn on Wednesday and is expecting to be one of the top three or four seeds in the upcoming state tournament.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – When the showdown between rivals Mansfield and Franklin was moved from Tuesday to Thursday because of rain, it meant to two things: the winner of the game would now clinch at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title and Franklin’s starting pitcher would be different.
Franklin ace Jake Noviello toed the rubber on Wednesday against Attleboro, meaning that the Panthers would go with their number two starter.
But luckily for the Panthers, their number two is also an ace.
Junior Jason Ulrickson (6-0) scattered five hits in 5.2 innings of work to earn the win and also delivered at the plate, going 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored, leading the Panthers to a 6-3 win over the Hornets under the lights on the campus of Franklin High School.
“I was pumped,” Ulrickson said when he realized he would be starting the game after the postponement. “I’m always looking for the opportunity to pitch in the big games. At the beginning, it was a little rocky but once I settled in I was feeling good.”
The win clinches at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title for Franklin, the program’s first league title since 2012.
“We have all the respect in the world for Mansfield, coach Breen and that team,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown, who earned his first title in his fourth year at the helm. “We knew it would be a dog fight. They made it really tough on us.
“The thing we talk about all the time is that you have to earn it, you have to get 21 outs. They don’t come easy so I’m proud of our guys that when they had opportunities, they were able to make them.”
Franklin didn’t waste too much time to get its offense in gear, plating a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. Jake Lyons reached on an error to lead off, Ryan Hodgkins singled to move Lyons to third and Ulrickson lined singled up the right side to bring the first run in.
After a fielder’s choice, Tyler Gomes grounded a single through the hole to bring Ulrickson home.
“Getting on top early is huge, that gives the team a lot of energy,” Ulrickson said. “Once we get going, we can really start to hit.”
Mansfield was quick to respond, cutting the deficit in half in the next half inning. Cullin Anastasia singled and moved to second on a fielder’s choice. Kevin Dow took ball four, which turned into a passed ball, allowing Anastasia to take third. Anthony DeGirolamo hit a grounder that looked to be the third out, but the ball was dropped at first and Anastasia scored.
The Hornets then took the lead in the fourth inning, tacking on two more unearned runs against Ulrickson. Kyle Moran got things started with a two-out single and Dow followed up with another single to put runners on the corners — Connor Driscoll taking third as a pinch runner. DeGirolamo drove a shot to right field that required a tough play from the fielder and the ball fell out of the glove, allowing two runs to cross on the error.
“We just didn’t make the pitch when we needed to, we didn’t make the play when we needed to,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. The Hornets had three errors. “It was somewhat of an uncharacteristic game for us. Unfortunately when you play a team like Franklin, you don’t get to make that many mistakes and come out on top.
“Our guys fight, we battle…we’ve been down in other games and came back with different results. Our guys won’t stop fighting I know that. But when you play a team as good as Franklin, a team coached as well as they are, you can’t make the mistakes we made.”
Franklin came back to regain the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Senior Josh Macchi led off with a single and Gomes launched a double to put runners on second and third. Sophomore Alex Haba delivered the big hit of the game, doubling to left center to bring in two runs to give Franklin a 4-3 lead.
“Alex has been really steady for us offensively all year,” Brown said. “Even though he’s a sophomore, he certainly has a veteran’s soul. That at-bat there really spoke to his presence in the batter’s box, his poise in the game.”
The Panthers’ offense kept rolling an inning later, plating two more insurance runs in the sixth. Lyons notched his second hit of the game to start the inning and took third on a perfectly hit and run play with Hodgkins knocking a single into right. Ulrickson padded the lead with a two-run double into right center to put Franklin up 6-3.
“I don’t think Jason had his best stuff today on the mound but he’s always a great competitor,” Brown said. “Whether it was on the hill or in the batters box when we needed him, he was big for us so I was proud of him.”
Franklin junior Bryan Woelfel recorded the save, pitching 1.1 scoreless innings.
Franklin baseball improves to 12-3 overall in league play. The Panthers can win the title outright with either a win over King Philip on Monday or an Oliver Ames win over Mansfield on Tuesday.
“We have a ton of respect of all the teams in our league,” Brown said. “I really think that the Hockomock, top to bottom, every year is really tough and you have to grind it out. It’s really a testament to our guys and how consistent they’ve been this season.”
“It feels great, but we’re not done yet,” Ulrickson beamed.
Franklin baseball (13-4) is back in action on Friday with a trip to Framingham. Mansfield (13-5 overall, 11-4 Hockomock) hosts Oliver Ames on Tuesday.
FOXBORO, Mass. – Foxboro won the final draw control of the game and charged down the field. But with just under 10 seconds remaining, there wasn’t enough time to set a up a play. Instead, time ran out just before the Warriors could release their final shot.
If there was another second left, Foxboro might’ve scored its seventh goal of the half and completed a stunning comeback.
Instead the clocked hit double zeros and Franklin recorded its second straight one goal victory, 9-8, over Foxboro in a battle of division leaders. The win clinched at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title for Franklin — the sixth straight for the Panthers.
Foxboro’s Molly Murphy cut the deficit to just one with 11 seconds to play, but Foxboro couldn’t get a shot off to tie the game before the buzzer.
Similar to its victory over defending state champions Westwood on Monday, Franklin relied on its defense and clung to its lead.
“Franklin is top three in the state,” Foxboro head coach Brittany Sherry said. “So hanging with them first of all, and winning would be a plus. We’ve never beat them – it’s a program goal of ours, always has been.”
When the division champions battled a year ago, Franklin handled Foxboro 13-8 — and this year’s game began in similar fashion.
Senior Caroline Lounsbury scored the first two goals for Franklin on feeds from freshman Erin Walsh. The senior attack caught both feeds at full speed, cut towards the net and finished to the left of Foxboro goalkeeper Sara Addeche. A mishap in front of the net led to an own goal for Foxboro, giving the Kelley-Rex leading Panthers an early three goal advantage.
But after that, Foxboro’s defense settled in. The Warriors’ zone stifled the Panthers over the last 35 minutes allowing just six goals to a Franklin team which had previously been held to single digit scoring just four times this season. Addeche compiled 10 saves while her counterpart, Franklin freshman Gianna Cameron, tallied eight.
“We kind of took advantage of the fact that they were young and our zone just kept their composure,” Sherry said. “We try not to put them on the line and make them make them mistakes.”
After trailing 5-2 at the half, Foxboro dictated pace in the second half. The possessions lengthened from barely half a minute in the first half to nearly two minutes per possession in the second half. The Warriors’ offense was patient and waited for opportunities to arise.
And they did.
Jackie Brion scooped a ground ball and cleared it the length of the field. She moved the ball on to Meghan Curran, who scored twice in the first half, as the sophomore was cutting down the alley. An additional pass reached Lauren Flahive before the senior fired it into the back of the net.
“If we played like we did in the second half in the first half I think we would’ve gotten a different result,” Sherry said.
In the few possessions, Franklin did capitalize. The Walsh sisters, Annie a sophomore, and Erin a freshman, combined for three of the last four goals of the games for Franklin. On the team’s second to last goal, Annie stood outside the circle of Warrior defenders and carefully lobbed the pass over their heads. The ball landed perfectly in a streaking Erin’s stick and the freshman cranked the shot just under the crossbar.
A few possessions later Lauren Bissanti ran from the bench straight through the Foxboro defense and caught a pass on the run down the center of the defense. She sent the eventual game winner to the bottom left corner.
Foxboro would make a late push with goals by Sophia DiCenso and Murphy, but it wasn’t enough and Franklin remained unbeaten in league play.
“A win is a win,” Franklin head coach Kristin Igoe Guarino said. “Our defense did well our goalie played well, we were aggressive but we could’ve played a lot better.”
Franklin (17-1 overall, 8-0 Hockomock) will look to clinch the Kelley-Rex title outright when it travels to Taunton on Thursday. Foxboro (13-3, 8-1) will look to bounce back on Friday with a trip to Attleboro.
MEDFIELD, Mass. – Franklin did not follow the standard script on Monday night at Medfield High. Typically, girls’ lacrosse games are won by the team that has the ball the most. Coaches always preach winning draw controls and keeping possession, but the Panthers used a different formula to beat the Warriors.
Despite winning only 4-of-17 draws and spending long stretches of the game in the defensive zone, Franklin pulled out a 10-5 non-league victory over the perennial Div. 2 contender by hitting the Warriors with a series of quick counterattacks.
“I think that’s just a testament to our defense and our goalie,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino about the Panthers winning without having the ball for much of the game. “We can score quickly, but we’ve got to get better at those things.
“I said, we didn’t win the draws and we didn’t win possession of the game and we still somehow won, so imagine if we put it all together. We still have room to grow and improve.”
Franklin opened the scoring inside the opening minute with a lightning break that stemmed from a point-blank save by freshman Gianna Cameron (nine saves, including six in the first half). The ball quickly flew up field and Jette finished off the transition for a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Brooke Deady got a shot past Cameron only to see it carom back off the crossbar. Franklin scooped up the ground ball and took off on another fast break that led to an eight-meter try for Erin Walsh. The freshman put it away and made it 2-0.
Medfield responded with goals by Jordan MacLean and Maggie McCarthy to tie the game up with 14 minutes left in the half.
The score stayed the same for seven minutes until Jette picked out a cutting Annie Walsh for the go-ahead goal. Medfield would get another long spell of possession to close out the half, holding the ball for several minutes, but only managed one shot off target and Franklin held firm to force a turnover and keep the lead.
When asked about the halftime conversation, Igoe Guarino said, “Get the ball more, so draws, which we didn’t do and we need to get better at that; 50-50 balls, which I thought we did better when it was on the ground; and just making our possessions count on offense because we didn’t have the ball a ton.”
The Warriors won the opening draw of the second half (and won 9-of-11 after the break) but the Panthers stole the ball and MacCallum turned it into a goal with a drive to her lefthand and bounced shot. Just 31 seconds later, after a rare draw control, the Panthers made it 5-2 on an Annie Walsh free position.
McCarthy scored again for Medfield to cut the lead back to two and then nearly added another just minutes later only to be blocked by quick reactions from Cameron. A quick outlet turned the momentum around, as Walsh fed Caroline Lounsbury down the middle for the goal.
“Gianna is a huge factor,” said Igoe Guarino of her freshman netminder. “Our defense in front of her is very good, but then she makes amazing saves and is the key to our transition. If we’re not winning draws then we’re counting on her to make big saves and she does.”
MacCallum scored her second with a drive off a free position and answered a Medfield goal with another lefty chance and low shot to the corner for an 8-4 lead. Walsh got her hat trick off an eight-meter try and after Medfield cut the lead back tok four, sophomore Halle Atkinson hit Jette in front for a backhanded, sidearm finish.
Igoe Guarino praised her team’s balance on the offensive end. She said, “We don’t rely on one person. I think we have a team where everyone is comfortable sharing the ball and putting it on a teammate’s stick to score. We’re trying to get everyone to see the open player and that’s why our breaks were so effective.”
With Monday’s win, the Panthers are now 11-1 on the season despite a roster filled with underclassmen and a schedule that featured some of the top teams in the state. On Monday, seven of Franklin’s 10 goals came from freshmen and sophomores and Igoe Guarino was pleased with the way the younger players were adapting to the varsity level.
“The underclassmen have done a really great job,” she said. “They’re still learning and we’re picking out a lot of things in film and practice and they’re improving every day but I think they’re handling the schedule well and I think the challenging games are the best types for getting better as individuals and as a team.”
Franklin will be back at home on Wednesday afternoon to host North Andover in a rematch of last year’s state semifinal.
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. The Franklin High boys baseball team used a late two-out rally to force extra innings and eventually walked off with a 4-3 win over previously unbeaten Walpole.
Trailing 3-0 heading into the final at-bats, the Panthers were down to their last out. Senior Jake Lyons came through with a single into left, and Ryan Hodgkins followed that up with a single of his own. Tyler Gomes drew a walk, and with the bases loaded and two outs, Josh Macchi singled up the middle to score both Lyons and Hodgkins. With runners at the corners, Bryan Woelfel singled home Gomes to tie the game up at 3-3. After a passed ball, Franklin had runners at second and third, but Walpole managed to get a strikeout to send the game to extra innings.
“Our guys really fought to the end,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “We’ve been kind of scuffling a bit offensively, and it just felt like there was going to be a time where we broke through, and thankfully today it was in the seventh.”
Woelfel came in to pitch in relief in the eighth and induced a 1-6-3 double play after inheriting a runner at first. Woelfel then struck out Sean McCarthy, but a dropped third strike allowed him to reach base safely. Given new life, Brett Lavanchy singled which advanced McCarthy to third, but Tyler Page grounded to Macchi who took it to first himself for the out. In the bottom of the eighth, Franklin had a runner reach second but was picked off.
Woelfel struck out McCelaney to start the top of the ninth, but Andrew Moore singled, and after Cam Martin grounded out Charlie Auditore singled to advance Moore to third. With runners on the corners and two outs, Woelfel struck out Bryan Kraus to end the inning.
Lyons singled to kick off the bottom of the ninth. Tyler Gomes drew a one-out walk, setting up Macchi with runners on first and second. Macchi delivered, singling up the middle to score Lyons and give Franklin the 4-3 win.
“Josh has been a contributor for us for the last couple of years and is a mainstay in the middle of our lineup, so whenever he’s up we feel really good about our chances,” Brown added about Macchi’s 2-5, three RBI performance.
Walpole got on the board first in the bottom of the second when Lavanchy drew a walk and then Tyler Page hit a comebacker right up the middle that hit Franklin pitcher Jake Noviello in the knee and allowed him to reach with a single.
Noviello would manage to stay in the game, much to the benefit of the Panthers. After Page’s hit, an error by Franklin allowed Lavanchy to score from second, but Noviello would get Andrew Moore to ground out to short to end the inning. In the top of the third, the Rebels threatened again after Cam Martin doubled, but Franklin third baseman James Leofanti made a magnificent leaping grab on a line drive by Charlie Auditore that would’ve driven in Martin. Kraus got hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, but Noviello worked out of it, striking out Brian Gaughan and getting Sean McCarthy to line out to first.
Cam Schlitter completely shut down the Franklin bats early on, as he struck out five batters his first time through the order, only surrendering two hits. In the bottom of the fourth, Franklin threatened when with two outs, Alex Haba walked and then stole second, but in the process he took a shot to the face, and the collision forced both Haba and Walpole shortstop Jack Magane out of the game. A single by Noviello put runners at the corners, but Schlitter picked up his sixth strikeout to escape the jam.
The pitchers duel only continued from there, with Noviello only allowing one baserunner from the fourth through the sixth, while striking out three guys en route to seven total strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched.
Schlitter would exit in the bottom of the fifth after walking Leofanti and Hodgkins to put runners on first and second, but Walpole’s Matt Danato would get a fly out to left field to end the inning. In the sixth, Danato would allow a two out single to Noviello, who finished the day 2-4 in addition to his stellar performance on the hill, but that would be all.
Tyler Page would lead off the seventh with a single, and then Teddy McCelaney, the injury replacement for Jack Magane, drew a walk. Andrew Moore then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Dylan Hannafin, who pinch ran for Page, and McCelaney. With runners on second and third, Cam Martin laced a single into right field to score both Hannafin and McCelaney and put Walpole up 3-0. Leofanti came in to relieve Noviello, and he immediately picked off Martin and then got Charlie Auditore to fly out to right.
Franklin (3-2) gets back to action Thursday afternoon at 3:45 in Mansfield to take on the 3-2 Hornets.
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.”