Panthers Pick Up Key Win Over King Philip

Franklin volleyball Allyson Bonnet-Eymard
Franklin junior Allyson Bonnet-Eymard swings at a ball against King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin looked like it was on its way to a three-set sweep of visiting King Philip in a battle of the top two teams in the Kelley-Rex division.

The Warriors wouldn’t go quietly though, putting their best performance forth and winning the third set to grab momentum and put the pressure on the hosts.

But the Panthers responded well, pulling away after a tight start to the fourth set to earn a 3-1 (25-17, 25-12, 22-25, 25-16) win and a regular season sweep over King Philip.

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With the win, Franklin moves into a first-place tie atop the division with the Warriors with four league games left apiece

“The girls are much more confident compared to the beginning of the year,” said Franklin head coach Kelsey Weymouth. “They were playing together for the first time then and now they’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in their roles. They know who does what, how girls like their sets, they are learning to do their jobs. I think they were all trying to do too much when the season started.”

The Panthers used a balanced attack offensively and a strong net presence defensively to earn the win.

Junior Allyson Bonnet-Eymard had a team-high 10 kills, senior Sophie Lyons (seven digs) chipped in with five kills, junior Emma Chase recorded four kills on .400 hitting along with three blocks, and senior Bridget Jackson finished with five blocks and four kills.

“Sometimes you’ll have a player or two that’s on, or a player or two that’s having an off night,” Weymouth said. “But tonight everyone was playing well, it was great to see.”

Franklin got off to a strong start, building a 10-7 lead. The Panthers went on an 8-2 run that featured a big kill from Lyons through a block. KP got within four points but Franklin hit back with four straight, punctuated by a kill from Bonnet-Eymard.

The teams traded points before a pair of KP errors set the Panthers’ up for set point. Off a set from sophomore Cailyn Mackintosh (26 assists, 12 digs, three aces), Chase hit around a block in the middle and hit the line for a kill to secure the 1-0 advantage.

It was all Franklin in the second set. The Panthers jumped out to a 5-1 lead and kept that advantage over the first 15 points. The separation came in the form of an 11-3 run that featured an ace from Bonnet-Eymard, a kill from Sarah Jackson, and a kill from Lyons off a KP block.

Holding a 19-8 lead, the Panthers finished the set behind another two kills from Bonnet-Eymard, including one that hit the 10-foot line on a cross court shot. In the set, KP only mustered five earned points.

“We didn’t play our game,” said KP head coach Kristen Geuss. “The better team won tonight. Our energy was definitely better in game three. We tend to start off slow, and unfortunately, we didn’t pick it up quickly enough.

“We couldn’t get more than a few points in a row. We’d win a point but then we ‘d have an unforced error or a serving error. You can’t win playing that kind of volleyball.”

But the Warriors were a completely different team with their backs against the wall in the third set. Senior Catherine Waldeck (15 kills, four blocks) gave the visitors an early spark, scoring four of KP’s first five points. Two came in the form of blocks while two were kills.

It was a lead that KP never surrendered, though the Panthers made a strong push to keep it close. Junior Nicole Coughlan (11 kills) had back-to-back big swings and junior Giovanna Fruci came up with a big block to give KP an 8-4 edge early.

An ace from Kristen Masse gave the Warriors a 13-7 advantage, and freshman Ahunna James and Waldeck had consecutive tip kills that forced the hosts into a timeout at 15-9.

Behind some strong serves from Jackson, the Panthers kept pace with KP, even getting within three on a kill from Mikayla Raffin. But the Warriors never let the lead slip, getting a key ace down Lauren Peterson.

Fruci, Coughlan, and Waldeck each recorded a kill to earn three of the final four points for KP, with the latter getting the set sealing shot to keep the Warriors alive in the match.

Both sides started strong in the fourth set with the teams tied at 6-6 and again at 8-8. But from there, the Panthers were able to slowly pull away to secure the win.

The big difference came in the form of a quick 6-0 burst that put the Panthers up 14-8. Bonnet-Eymard had a kill and an ace, Jackson added a block, and KP had three hitting errors in the sequence.

“I think the girls were a little too comfortable in the third set but they did a great job of coming back in the fourth,” Weymouth said. “We changed a couple of things up but we went back to what they are confident in and were able to pull away.”

KP got within four points with the help of a kill from James and a net violation, but Franklin’s Sarah Jackson landed a kill on the next play and the Panthers never looked back. Bridget Jackson had a solo block and combined with Bonnet-Eymard for another one down the stretch to help finish the match.

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Franklin used a double block on KP’s middle attacks throughout the match, with Jackson and Bonnet-Eymard’s last block highlight the success it had.

“We brought [the double block] anytime they went to the middle,” Weymouth said. “They got their share of hits but we were able to get some good blocks. We practiced it yesterday, we wanted to try and get four hands on the hit. Our blocking was on point tonight. The middles did a good job setting the block, and the defense around it did great too.”

Franklin volleyball (10-2 Hockomock, 11-2 overall) is back in action on Thursday with a trip to Franklin. King Philip (10-2, 12-3) will look to bounce back at home against Taunton on the same day.

Mansfield Takes Sting Out of Panthers Offense

Mansfield football
Vinnie Holmes was a force on both sides of the ball for Mansfield in a dominating 39-9 victory at Franklin. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – An early turnover gave Franklin the ball in Mansfield territory and the Panthers gained a couple of first downs before kicking a field goal to grab the lead. Then the Hornets took control with their defense, not allowing the Panthers another first down until inside five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

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Using a three down linemen look, Mansfield consistently got into the backfield without needing to blitz and, with a little assist from Mother Nature, disrupted Franklin’s typically potent passing attack on Friday night at Pisini Stadium. The Hornets scored 26 straight points to take control and rolled to a 39-9 victory that keeps them unbeaten in league play and alone atop the division standings.

“We’ve got a very, very good defense,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “They’re as athletic a team as we’re going to play but fortunately we’re pretty loaded in the secondary, but it’s a combination of us playing great ‘D’ and terrible weather conditions for them.

“We can run to the ball, we can cover, we can pressure, you throw in the conditions on top of that and it’s going to be hard for anyone to move the ball against us.”

The Panthers came in knowing that they still had a chance at possibly sharing the league title and the energy on the sideline was palpable. It got even louder when Jack Nally picked off Jack Moussette’s third-down pass on the opening series of the game and gave Franklin the ball at the Mansfield 37.

A 15-yard run by Owen Palmieri got the offense going and then a pair of completions from Thomas Gasbarro (18-30, 125 yards) to Jake Davis (seven catches, 92 yards) got Franklin down to the seven-yard-line. After going nowhere on three plays, Franklin got on the board with a 24-yard Parker Cheuvront kick.

It would be Franklin’s only possession of the half with the wind at its back.

Mansfield’s running attack was better suited for the blustery conditions and the Hornets used Michael DeBolt, Vinnie Holmes, Cincere Gill, and Anthony Comer on the opening drive to get into Franklin territory. A personal foul against the Panthers got the ball as far as the 18, but the Hornets went backwards and had to settle for a 41-yard kick by DeBolt to tie the game early in the second quarter.

The teams traded punts and Mansfield made its field position advantage pay off. Starting at its own 49, Mansfield would use five plays to grab the lead for good. Nick Marciano lined up at quarterback on the drive to give a different look and, on third and 12, he took a direct snap and found a seam on the left side of the line, racing 35 yards for the go-ahead score.

Marciano would also contribute to the game’s turning point. He hustled to down a Gill punt, pinning Franklin back at its own one. The snap flew over the head of Gasbarro and out of the back of the end zone for a safety and a 12-3 Mansfield lead.

After the kick-off, the Hornets started again in great position, at the Franklin 36. Moussette had a pair of completions to Danny Rapoza and one to Joe Cappalletti to get down to the 23. DeBolt took a sweep 10 more yards and, after a spike to stop the clock, Moussette hit Gill in the front corner of the end zone for a 13-yard strike.

Redding said, “It went to a two-score game and then the throw to Cincere when we weren’t even supposed to throw to, Jack saw the one-on-one and took advantage of it. We did a lot of good things keeping them at a healthy distance to keep the lead.”

Mansfield added to its lead in the third quarter, again making good starting field position pay off. The Hornets needed only four plays to score from the Franklin 29, with Holmes (nine carries, 55 yards) finding a hole on the left side and bursting through for a 21-yard touchdown run.

The Franklin passing attack was finding it hard to get going, mostly due to the pressure put on Gasbarro by TJ Guy, Chris Graham, and the Hornets’ defensive line. Mansfield was getting into the backfield and not giving the Panthers time to look downfield, while being able to keep plenty back in coverage in case the ball did get out.

“I don’t think he ever felt comfortable,” Redding explained. “Even when we didn’t bring people, our three guys were getting enough pressure to make him throw a little early. We funneled in six guys in those three spots to stay fresh.”

Franklin coach Eian Bain said, “We had planned to try and get the ball out quick, but it was kind of a tough spot going into the wind. We tried to run the football. I think we only had the first possession and didn’t have the ball with the wind until the fourth quarter.”

A glimmer of hope came with three minutes left in the third. Gasbarro hooked up with Davis on a 41-yard completion, the receiver juggling it before hauling it in and getting to the Mansfield 35. The same combo connected again a few plays later for a 20-yard touchdown.

Momentum was fleeting. Holmes burst through the line to block the extra point and then Gill took the ensuing kick-off 84 yards right up the middle of the field for a back-breaking touchdown.

“We still had our chances,” Bain said, “but we just couldn’t get out of our end of the field tonight and I think that was what was pretty frustrating.”

Ethan Thevenot tacked on a late touchdown for the Hornets with a 65-yard run to extend the final margin.

The Hornets were coming off a big win against King Philip last week, but Redding wasn’t afraid of a letdown from his team. He said, “There was no way we could have a letdown. Our guys knew how good Franklin was, so I think it was maybe best game we could’ve had after KP because we knew they were next in line and we had to bring our ‘A’ game.”

Mansfield (4-1, 3-0) will look to solidify its position atop the Kelley-Rex division and clinch at least a share of back-to-back league crowns when it hosts Oliver Ames on Friday. Franklin (3-2, 1-2) will try to solidify its position in the Div. 1 South bracket when it travels to Attleboro next Saturday.

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Franklin Upends Foxboro With Second Half Comeback

Franklin field hockey
Foxboro’s Lauren Foster and Franklin’s Amanda Lewandowski battle for possession in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FOXBORO, Mass. – Entering Thursday afternoon’s clash between division leaders, Foxboro’s stout defense had allowed just three goals against through nine games played.

The Franklin Panthers, who came in averaging a league-best 6.1 goals per game, saw it as a challenge.

Franklin’s offense roared to life in the second half, scoring a pair of goals in a five-minute span, the latter turning out to be the game-winner as the Panthers claimed a 3-2 decision over Foxboro.

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“We wanted to challenge them, we have a good offense but we knew we had to go out there and play hard,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “They pack it in [defensively], they are strong with their double teaming, and they do a good job of forcing you to play on the left side of the field. I give them credit for that, it slowed us down.

“Melissa [Bordieri] is a great coach, they always play us hard. I was hopeful we could penetrate the defense, even without one of our top scorers [Hanna Richardson].”

After trading goals in the first half, Foxboro came out on the front foot in the second half and grabbed its first lead. The Warriors scored 34 seconds into the frame as freshman Mya Waryas one-timed a cross from sophomore Kate Collins, putting the hosts ahead 2-1.

While Foxboro had its first lead, the goal seemed to spark the Panthers.

Franklin controlled a good stretch of the second half after going down a goal. The pressure paid off as junior Amanda Lewandowski used her speed to beat a pair of defenders along the left side before firing a cross into the middle where senior Olivia Rondeau tapped in her second goal, tying the game 2-2 with 20:16 to play.

Just under five minutes later, the offense came up with another strike for the Panthers. Lewandowski was the catalyst once again, gaining possession inside the circle before firing a shot, forcing Foxboro goalie Hannah Trombly (six saves) into a stop. The rebound fell right to Rondeau and she buried the loose ball, completing her hat trick and putting Franklin ahead, 3-2, with 15:21 left.

“I think their goal was an eye-opener,” Hess said. “A goal like that can go either way, you can fold or you can try to right that wrong and I think it sparked us.f

“We came out flat [in the second half], I think we took them too lightly because they are good. We needed a spark, I told them that the second half, it was their game and to go out and take it. We knew what we needed to fix, so let’s go. We started our passing game and I think that led to us playing better.”

Foxboro got its offense backing gear late in the game and made a couple of pushes up the field, including in the final minute, but Franklin senior Elizabeth Clark came up with a clearance to help seal the win.

“I think Franklin started to insert themselves and we had some breakdowns that they capitalized on,” said Foxboro head coach Melissa Bordieri. “I thought that we were still in it right until the end, and we were a little unlucky with some of the situations, but on the whole, I thought Franklin really put the pressure on.

“There was one span in the second half that it felt like we didn’t have a minute to gather ourselves and create some offense because they did a really good job pressuring us. Once we did get some offense going, it was late in the game.”

Franklin took the lead in the seventh minute of the game on its first shot of the game. Freshman Kaitlyn Carney helped the Panthers transition into offense, finding Lewandowski, who dribbled past a couple of Foxboro defenders. Drawing the last line of defense, Lewandowski dropped a pass off to Stephanie Bell, who ripped a cross to the far post for Rondeau to tap in.

Foxboro tied the game just over seven minutes later. A corner forced Franklin goalie Neilee Hess into a save but the ball wasn’t cleared out and Mya Waryas smacked the ball into the net to make it 1-1.

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The Warriors had a chance to take a lead at the end of the first half with three consecutive corners, but Foxboro was unable to register a shot on goal. Franklin’s Maeve Ledwith sniffed out a play, intercepting a pass before making a clear to keep the teams level.

“We just have to capitalize on our chances,” Bordieri said. “We had a lot of corners that we just left goals out there, you have to score on one of those. It felt like it could have gone either way, the girls worked hard to create chances but I think finishing was the issue today.”

Franklin field hockey (9-0-0 Hockomock, 9-1-0 overall) welcomes Attleboro to Beaver Street on Monday while Foxboro (5-1-3, 6-1-3) will try and bounce back from its first setback on the same day, hosting North Attleboro.

King Philip Uses Ground Game, Defense To Beat Franklin

King Philip football Ryan Halliday
King Philip’s Ryan Halliday breaks a tackle during a run against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The King Philip offense has had some success from the new wrinkles it’s added this season, but when it mattered most, the Warriors turned to their signature ground and pound running attack.

Senior Ryan Halliday rushed for 150 yards on 33 carries, including 17 in the fourth quarter, and scored a pair of touchdowns to pace the Warriors to a 26-14 win over rival Franklin, KP’s 16th straight win over the Panthers.

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After getting just one touch on each of King Philip’s first two drives of the second half — both quickly ended in punts — and Franklin playing with the momentum after cutting the deficit to six at 20-14, the Warriors turned to Halliday.

The senior back was the focal point in the game-clinching drive that spanned 75 yards over 13 plays, taking over eight minutes off the clock. Halliday ran behind an offensive line featuring senior Nolan Gunning, senior Wyatt Manzi, senior center Sean Piller, junior Pat Zarba, and senior Dan Mullen.

The senior back took 10 consecutive handoffs, picking up four first downs that included a fourth down conversion on 4th and 1 on the Panthers’ 28-yard line after an offside call on the defense.

After sophomore Crawford Cantave burst up the middle for nine years, the Warriors went back to Halliday for back-to-back carries, the latter an 11-yard dart up the middle that put the visitors ahead 26-14 with just 5:23 left. The drive started with 1:34 left in the third quarter.

“We’ve switched up the offense a bit this year and we’ve been passing a lot,” Halliday said. “But in the end, we kind of just played old KP football, played some nice defense and ran the ball.

“I’m gassed but I’m sure my hoggies are gassed too, I give a lot of the credit to them.”

Franklin ran just seven offensive plays after that King Philip drive and was limited to a total of 16 offensive snaps total in the second half.

“It worked for us last year,” said KP head coach Brian Lee of going back to the ground game. “[Franklin] is so explosive on offense, they have so many playmakers that you feel like if keep giving them chances…our defense was hanging in there but we just wanted to slow it down a little bit.”

King Philip’s defense did its part as well, holding the Panthers to 175 yards of total offense, 0-for-5 on third down, forcing three turnovers, and limited Franklin’s high-powered offense to just three plays over 20 yards.

“It’s hard to get pressure on them, the ball is out quick and they have a lot of playmakers,” Lee said. “Overall I’m very pleased with how the defense played.”

The Panthers didn’t help themselves much in the first half, fumbling on the opening possession after a completed pass. A quick three-and-out was followed by another fumble, giving KP great starting position at the Franklin 25-yard line.

It took KP just three plays to take advantage of the good field position as senior quarterback Robbie Jarest (11-for-17, 93 yards passing; 8 carries, 75 yards rushing) hit Brian Wassersug, who broke a tackle and sprinted up the sideline for a 25-yard touchdown. Dylan Conti’s point after attempt was good to put KP up 7-0.

Franklin had a quick response as senior quarterback Thomas Gasbarro (16-for-22,193 yards) scrambled to buy some time before finding a wide-open Cole Lakatos on the sideline, and the senior took it the rest of the way, getting a big block from Jake Davis, for a 51-yard touchdown. Parker Cheuvront connected on his first of two extra points to tie it 7-7.

Jarest got it done with his legs on KP’s ensuing drive, taking a QB option for 48 yards to get the Warriors’ offense going. A pass to Alex Behling got the Warriors into the red zone, and six plays later, Halliday followed Gunning into the end zone for a 1-yard score, converting a 4th and goal situation.

“He’s come a long way, he’s really bought in,” Lee said of Jarest. “For us to be throwing the ball as much, it’s different. But we have a new offensive coordinator [Cory Bailey] and he’s really stretching me to try and do some other things and take more risks. Robert’s making those plays with his arm and his legs, and in the end, I think that makes us more balanced.”

Franklin’s defense came up big two series later, stopping the Warriors on 4th and 1 from the Panthers’ 30-yard line with under a minute to go in the half.

But the momentum didn’t last long as KP’s Shawn Conniff applied pressure, forcing a fumble and sophomore Nick Viscusi came out of the pile with the ball.

Franklin nearly stopped the series when they grabbed an interception, but the Panthers were flagged for roughing the passer and KP kept possession. On the ensuing play, with just eight seconds left on the clock, Jarest delivered, finding an open Andrew McKinney for an 11-yard touchdown with only two seconds left on the clock, giving KP a 20-7 lead at halftime.

“We had the recipe of how to never play American football never again,” said Franklin head coach Eian Bain of the first half. “I’m at a loss for words for how to describe that first half really. You can’t beat great teams like KP when you have that many self-inflicted errors. Credit to a good opponent, sometimes they make you do that. We felt comfortable with our game plan but you can’t win putting the ball on the turf.”

Momentum swung in favor of the hosts as Franklin forced a three-and-out on King Philip’s opening drive of the second half. The Panthers’ offense capitalized, driving 77 yards on nine plays to make it a one-score game.

Highlighted by a pass and catch from Gasbarro to Jack Nally, and a fourth down completion between the same pair, Franklin marched down the field to the KP 1-yard line. Sophomore Mack Gulla punched it in from there, making it 20-14 with 4:27 left in the third quarter.

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Franklin only ran seven more offensive plays the rest of the game.

“They took the fourth quarter,” Bain said. “That’s what they do well, and that’s what we don’t do well. And by that point, they made us one dimensional but we continued to make mistakes. I’m disappointed because I think we can play better and execute better.”

King Philip football (1-0 Hockomock, 3-0 overall) now turns its attention to Mansfield, as the two rivals will do battle on Macktaz Field on Friday night. Franklin (0-1, 2-1) will try to get back into the win column when it travels to Oliver Ames on Saturday.