Panthers Handle Patriots To Earn D1 East Crown

Franklin girls lacrosse
Franklin players celebrate with the D1 East Championship trophy after beating Concord-Carlisle. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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MILFORD, Mass. – For the second straight year, and third time in the last four seasons, the Division 1 East section runs through the Franklin girls lacrosse team.

After an overtime thriller in 2014, and one-goal win exactly one year ago, the top-seeded Panthers left the dramatics behind, cruising to a 16-7 win over second-seeded Concord-Carlisle on the turf of Milford High School.

“It wasn’t easy, Concord is an awesome team, they’re well coached, they have really good players but I think we were just prepared and peaking at the right time,” said Franklin head coach Kristin Igoe Guarino. “It was definitely nice to have a big lead though.”

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While Franklin had wins over eight of the state’s top 20 teams – and a handful of wins over teams just outside the rankings – the Panthers certainly overlooking the Patriots.

“We had some great competition this year but our thing this year was that playoffs is a whole new season,” said junior Jordan Jette. “We know at this time, anyone can beat anyone, you never know. The expectations are high for us so we’re just going to work that much harder to get here.”

“We’ve been playing hard teams all year so I don’t even think our young players were fazed,” Igoe Guarino said. “They don’t play like freshmen or sophomores, so it’s nice you can’t even tell we have such a young team.”

It didn’t take long for Franklin’s offense to get going as Caroline Lousnbury took a feed from Jette and opened the scoring just 22 seconds into the game. Before 90 seconds elapsed, Franklin doubled its lead with a goal from freshman Erin Walsh.

While the Panthers never trailed, Concord-Carlisle battled back to make it a 3-3 game with just over 10 minutes to play.

Franklin had a quick response though, Lauren Bissanti putting the Panthers back ahead on a feed from Annie Walsh, Walsh scoring on a cut in front on a feed from Jette, and Erin Walsh batting a loose ball out of the air into the net to make it 6-3.

“I think it’s just the pride in the team,” Jette said of the Panthers winning their third title in four years. “Coming into high school, you know about Franklin lacrosse because it’s been so successful for so long now. Everyone that comes into the program, we just want to live up to those expectations every year. We all work really hard, our coach works hard, and we just all work pretty well together.”

“I think the girls come in and we have a culture of hard work,” Igoe Guarino said. “The girls coming in each year know that and they come in in shape, with good stick work and they are playing more often. I think our alumni and current players have done a nice job of building that culture.”

Shortly after the Patriots cut the deficit to two, Franklin went up a man for a misconduct call on C-C. The Panthers took advantage as Annie Walsh weaved her way through the Patriots’ and found the back of the net.

“Annie does everything really well…draws, ground balls, she plays defense, and then she can score,” Igoe Guarino said. “She’s probably one of our most improved players this year in terms of shooting and field vision and you need a player like that to play well in games like this, and she has done it all tournament.”

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With under a minute to play, Jette found Annie Walsh right in front for another goal and freshman Kelsey McCallum completed Franklin’s 6-1 run off a restart with just seven seconds to play in the half to make it a 9-4 game.

The Patriots scored just 17 seconds into the second half to make it a four goal game but Annie Walsh responded a minute later to make it 10-5. And two minutes after that, Annie Walsh was at it again, taking a feed from Kendall Reardon to make it 11-5.

Concord-Carlisle scored to cut it to 11-6 and quickly gained possession back after another draw win, but Franklin freshman goalie Gianna Cameron (10 saves) came up with big stop to give possession back to the Panthers.

“We talked about playing defense as unit, not so much one on one defense,” Igoe Guarino said.
“I think they did a great job playing team defense and shutting down some of their best players. Gianna came up with some huge stops too. And that’s just a huge momentum shift when we can get the ball back.”

Bissanti (from Erin Walsh) and Concord-Carlisle’s Margaret Grace traded goals to keep the lead at five as the game clock ticked under 10 minutes to play.

If there was any hope of a comeback, Franklin finished the game with an exclamation point – scoring four goals over the final 9:24 of play.

Jette netted her first on a feed from Reardon, Annie Walsh scored her sixth and seventh tallies of the game and Reardon capped the scoring with a strong individual effort with just under two minutes left.

Franklin girls lacrosse (22-1) advances to the D1 State Semifinal and will take on the winner of Westboro (18-0) and Longmeadow (21-1) at Babson College. The game is schedule for either Monday or Tuesday night.

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Strong Start Sends Franklin Past Marshfield

Franklin baseball
Franklin’s Alex Haba throws to first after forcing a Marshfield runner out at second. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter

FRANKLIN, Mass. – After an eight day break between games, the Franklin baseball team was eager to get back out on the diamond.

That eagerness showed in the form of early offense, as the top-seeded Panthers scored six runs in the first three innings en route to beating 17th-seeded Marshfield 6-1.

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In the bottom of the first, senior Ryan Hodgkins singled with one out and stole second, then advanced to third on a groundout. Josh Macchi singled into center and scored Hodgkins to give Franklin an early 1-0 lead.

In the top of the second inning, Marshfield had a runner on first with two outs when Jarred Pellegrino hit what looked to be at least a single into the gap in left center, but a fantastic diving catch by Jake Lyons ended the half inning.

Franklin took that momentum and used it at the playing, rattling off three straight singles to load the bases. Cam Lupien brought Tyler Gomes home on a fielder’s choice to put Franklin up 2-0.

With runners at the corners, Lupien took off for second, and when Marshfield threw down to second, sophomore Alex Haba broke for the plate from third. Instead of trying to get Lupien out, Marshfield threw home but Haba beat the throw and Franklin went up 3-0.

A Jake Noviello double then put runners on second and third, and after Lyons grounded to third, Marshfield tried to get Lupien out at the plate but the throw was late and Franklin went up 4-0 and Lyons reached safely. Hodgkins then grounded out to second, but Noviello scored from third on the play and Franklin extended its lead to 5-0.

Marshfield starter Eddie Kielty got out of the jam by striking out the next hitter, but a 1-2-3 top of the third from Noviello let the Franklin bats get back to work.

On the strength of three singles, Franklin loaded the bases with just one out, but Marshfield got a force out at the plate. With Noviello at the plate, Kielty’s pitch in the dirt bounced away from the Marshfield catcher and Haba scored from third to put Franklin up 6-0.

“We work hard on just trying to manufacture runs, I don’t think we have a tons of guys who are going to hit home runs, so we have to find some different ways to score runs, and today was just another example of guys with heads up base running,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown about Franklin’s work on the base paths.

From then on out, the star of the game was Noviello, who pitched six innings, allowing just one unearned run and only four hits — all singles — while also striking out six and earning the win. Noviello also went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored a run in addition to his work on the mound.

“Every time he has the ball in his hand, we feel really confident that he’s going to give us a great effort, and he did a great job for six innings,” added Brown about Noviello.

Marshfield put a run on the board in the top of the sixth when John Viola reached on an error to start the inning and then advanced on a single from Sam Crawford before scoring on a single by Kielty. It would end up being the only inning Marshfield had more than one hit.

With the win, Franklin baseball moves on to play eighth-seeded Durfee at home at 4:00 PM on Monday. It will be a rematch of last year’s first round matchup, when the Hilltoppers beat the Panthers in Fall River.

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Late Franklin Rally Falls Short Against Xaverian

Franklin boys lacrosse
Franklin midfielder Nitin Chaudhury scored the opening goal in the the playoff loss to Xaverian. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – For the third year in a row, Franklin and Xaverian met in the Div. 1 South tournament but for the first time in this budding rivalry the Panthers entered Sunday evening’s game at Pisini Field as the favorite against the perennial power.

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Despite the Hawks entering the playoffs with an 8-10 record, Franklin was not taking the Catholic Conference runner-up lightly knowing the pedigree of its opponent and the fact many of the players are also neighbors.. In fact, Franklin coach Lou Verrochi thought that his team may have been too fired up before the playoff opener.

“I think that they just ratcheted up,” Verrochi said, “and I think they left a lot in the locker room before they even got on the field. Adrenaline-wise, I think it was just flowing so fast and so hard that they sort of had to dial it down.”

Franklin struggled offensively against the Hawks, going scoreless for more than 16 minutes between the second and fourth quarters, and saw a furious fourth quarter rally run out of time in an 8-7 loss. Junior Eric Civetti led the way for Franklin with four goals, all of them in the fourth, but for large portions of the game he struggled to find space against senior Connor Sullivan.

“They had a clamp-down defender on Eric and their goalie came up with some great saves early and we just couldn’t solve that,” Verrochi explained. “I’ve said it before, when Eric gets going the rest of our offense feeds off that and he had a hard time getting going.”

He added, “It was a tough seed and I knew it was going to be a competitive game. They’re a legit program.”

The Panthers jumped out to an early lead three minutes in. Sullivan knocked the stick and ball out of Civetti’s hands but Nitin Chaudhury reacted first, scooped the loose ball, and dodged from the ‘X’ before finishing with a wrap around shot just under the bar.

Xaverian scored the next two goals to take its first lead of the night, but Franklin answered with 5:04 left in the first to tie the game at 2-2. Kyle McEniry fired a pass from behind the goal to a cutting Sam Arsenault and he fired a low angle shot from behind his marker that found the corner.

Sophomore FOGO Jacob Alexander was struggling in the first, being called for two false starts, and Xaverian took advantage to regain the lead at 3-2 on a left-handed finish by Jared Grier. Alexander would win 4-of-7 face-offs in the first quarter, but went on to lose only one more for the rest of the game (the only lost face-off on a disputed false start in the fourth).

The Panthers created chances in the second quarter, but were frequently stymied by freshman goalie Alexander Teagan, who made eight saves on the game, most of them on point-blank chances. Franklin goalie Connor O’Rourke was equally impressive with 10 saves on the night to keep the Panthers in it while the offense tried to find a rhythm.

“I thought their goalie kept them in it too,” said Verrochi. “It could’ve gone either way. He’s only a freshman; we though we could get some early goals against him but he wasn’t rattled at all…Connor is just the real deal.”

Sam Jean scored the first of three goals on the night for the Hawks to build a 5-2 lead, but Chase Tanner unleashed a laser into the top corner six minutes later to cut the Xaverian lead to 5-3. Alexander won the ensuing face-off and raced straight down the middle only for Teagan to stuff him at the end and then O’Rourke came through with a big save to rob Andrew Lee right before halftime.

At the break, Franklin assistant coach Fran Bositis tried to stir the Panthers, who had allowed Xaverian to control the tempo in the first half, but the halftime team talk did not seem to have much effect in the third quarter. The Panthers went scoreless for the full 12 minutes and Grier and Jean (with just one second on the clock) pushed the Hawks lead to 7-3.

Trailing by four goals, Franklin turned to Civetti to try and bring the Panthers back into the game. He finally found the breakthrough two minutes into the fourth, ending Franklin’s barren run, with a long-angle release after bullying Sullivan into a shooting position.

O’Rourke robbed Lee again two minutes later and Civetti made it count with a ridiculous finish. The Rutgers-commit backed into his marker on the left side of the goal and rather than turn to his stronger right side he fired a backhanded, practically underhand shot into the top corner.

“[Sullivan] was bigger, faster, stronger than Eric and they slid to him early,” Verrochi explained. “Sometimes [Eric] has a tendency to hold the ball too long…we don’t move like we should off the ball to give him a look at an open stick, but once he gets his mind set to go to goal there’s no stopping him.”

The Franklin bench was fired up and momentum seemed to be with the hosts. Civetti took that energy up another notch 20 seconds later when he dodged from the ‘X’ to the left and fired a backhanded shot around the shoulder of his marker on the run and again picked the corner.

The finish had the Franklin bench going crazy, but Xaverian got possession back and set out to run the clock. Jean scored a crucial goal with 1:40 remaining to regain the two-goal lead and Franklin could not take advantage of a man-up opportunity in the final minute.

Verrochi said, “Fourth quarter we came to life and made a ballgame out of it. That eighth goal was a bit of a killer. That took the wind out of our sails.”

Civetti tacked on a consolation goal in the final second (another impressive behind the back finish), but it was the visiting bench that was able to storm the field and celebrate the win.

It was the fifth one-goal loss of the season for Franklin (16-5), all of them to teams that are currently alive in the tournament and three of them to teams that earned top seeds in their respective brackets (BC High, Dover-Sherborn, and Walpole).

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Walsh, Franklin Rally Past Natick In Second Half

Franklin girls lacrosse
Franklin’s Annie Walsh races past a Natick defender in the first half. (Peter Raider/HockomockSports.com Student Photographer)

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter

FRANKLIN, Mass. – As the reigning D1 East Sectional Champs, and current top seed, the Franklin girls lacrosse team knows there is a target on their back.

Natick came out firing on Thursday afternoon at Franklin High, but a strong second half effort and nine goals from sophomore Annie Walsh led Franklin to an 18-10 victory over eighth-seeded Natick.

Heading into halftime, Natick led 7-6, completely controlled time of possession and led in draw controls at the break.

Kendall Reardon started off the scoring for Franklin, scoring three minutes into the game, but on the ensuing Natick possession Annika Streeter would answer back to tie the game up at one. Streeter then set up teammate Victoria Norchi open in front of the net, and she scored to put the Redhawks up 2-1. Reardon would then score her second goal of the game to knot the game at two, but Norchi scored on an empty net to give Natick a 3-2 lead.

Click here for a full photo gallery from HockomockSports.com Student Photographer Peter Raider.

After Streeter scored again, Franklin got back to back goals from Erin and Annie Walsh to tie it back up at 4-4. Molly Burnes put Natick up 5-4, but Reardon’s third goal of the half tied the game up again. Back to back Natick goals from Streeter and Meghan Rodino would put the Redhawks up 7-5, but Annie Walsh scored her second goal of the game with 1:33 left in the half to cut the Franklin deficit to just one at 7-6.

“Natick wanted it more in the first half,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino about the first half. “They were winning the draws and the ground balls, so I kind of yelled at [my team] a little and said you gotta want it more, or you’re going home.”

The Panthers clearly took that message to heart, as seconds into the half Jordan Jette found Annie Walsh cutting to the net wide open for a goal to tie it at 7-7, and 30 seconds later freshman Kelsey MacCallum found the back of the net to make it 8-7 with 24:09 left to play.

Franklin wouldn’t look back from there with Annie Walsh netting five consecutive goals herself, to go up 13-7 with 10:58 left in the game.

Walsh’s fifth goal, which put Franklin up 10-7, was the 100th of the sophomore’s already incredibly successful career. She would finish with nine goals, including seven in the second half.

“She’s amazing at draws, ground balls, in between the 30s, and on offense, so I think that’s the kind of player to look for when you’re down, and she did it very well,” Igoe Guarino said about Walsh.

After Streeter scored the third of her five goals for Natick, Erin Walsh scored to make it 14-8 with 9:16 left to play, and then Reardon scored the fourth of her five goals to extend the Franklin lead to 15-8 with just over eight minutes to go in the game.

Streeter scored back to back goals to make it 15-10, but goals from Erin and Annie Walsh and Reardon would give Franklin a final advantage of 18-10.

Click here for a full photo gallery from HockomockSports.com Student Photographer Peter Raider.

For Franklin, the road to a state championship only gets tougher.

“We have to play 50 minutes. We have a target on our back, we’re the number one seed in the East and reigning East champions. Everyone’s going to want to beat us, and every single team in this tournament is good and capable of winning.” said Igoe Guarino about the rest of the tournament. “We want to win, but we have to play like, and I always challenge them to act like the number one seed, and that’s a lot easier said than done.”

With the win, the Panthers move onto the D1 East Semifinals, where they’ll play the winner of the King Philip-Lexington game, which will take place Saturday at 3:30 in Lexington.

Franklin girls lacrosse (20-1) is familiar with Hockomock League foe King Philip, beating the Warriors 18-6 on May 24th. The date and time of Franklin’s semifinal matchup is currently to be announced at the time of publication.

Civetti Scores Six, Panthers Score Marquee Win

Franklin boys lacrosse
Franklin junior attacker Eric Civetti scored six goals to lead the Panthers to a marquee win over Newton North. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

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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.

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