Panthers Run Ends At Xaverian in Quarterfinals

Franklin boys lacrosse
Austin Kent scored five goals and had three assists in the quarterfinal loss to Xaverian. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WESTWOOD, Mass. – Last season, the Franklin boys’ lacrosse team reached its first ever sectional semifinal after upsetting perennial power Xaverian at Pisini Field. On Sunday, a much younger Franklin team faced the same opponent at the same stage of the tournament, but in a different venue and with a much different final result.

The Panthers started well, but once the Hawks clicked on offense Franklin had little answer for a team that has found its footing (and its health) in recent weeks and is once again among the contenders for a Div. 1 title.

Xaverian pulled away in the second half and knocked out the Panthers 18-11, despite five goals and three assists from senior attacker Austin Kent, who was recently selected as the Hockomock League MVP.

“They were flat out better than us,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi. “[Sophomore goalie] Connor [O’Rourke] saw a lot of rubber today and…they’re just really good. They’re unselfish, they find the one more, they did all the things we’ve been preaching all year long.”

Verrochi continued, “We caught them at a time in the season when they’re on a roll. Early on, I don’t think they had found their identity, but now they have and I think they’re going to be a really tough team to beat.”

Xaverian jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Peter Thorbahn (four goals) and Nick Shaw, but Kent brought the Panthers back level.

On his first goal, Kent threw a shot fake that sent his marker tumbling to the ground before he unleashed a laser into the bottom corner past Michael Toomey. Two minutes later, Kent spun back to his left side and found the corner with an overhand finish to the far post.

The Panthers took the lead with Kent picking out sophomore Eric Civetti for the first of his three goals, but Xaverian answered right back to tie it again. In the closing seconds of the quarter, Kent fired a pass from the ‘X’ to a cutting Kyle McEniry, who put Franklin ahead 4-3 after one.

The score stayed the same for the next seven minutes before Thorbahn was given all day to line up a rip into the top corner to tie it. That started a 5-1 run for the Hawks that put them ahead to stay. Civetti scored with an overhand finish that make it 6-5 but Xaverian scored twice in the final minute, both on assists by Drew Lee to freshman Sam Jean.

“They spent a lot of time trying to shut off Nick Shaw and Pete Thorbahn and it really opened up room in between once we figured out how to get the ball to the back side to open areas,” said Xaverian coach Tim Gardner.

“When you spend a lot of time on one guy, the back side attack opens up and that’s why Sam Jean had a heck of a half.”

McEniry scored his second of the game, again on an assist by Kent, to open the second half, but another 5-1 run by the Hawks broke it wide open. After a Sean Sperzel goal, O’Rourke (nine saves) came up with the play of the game when he went post to post to somehow deny Lee when he was wide open at the back post. Packie Watson scored on an assist by Chase Tanner, but Xaverian answered with four straight before Civetti ended the run with a goal while being knocked down.

Franklin forced a turnover but a poor clearance was picked off by the Hawks for a dagger goal right before the end of the third quarter that extended the lead to 14-8.

Early in the game, the Franklin defensive unit of Sean Lockhart, Patrick Morrison, Gabe Murphy and Matt Pleshaw was shutting down the Hawks, but as the game wore on the Hawks just had too many weapons and were too good at forcing the Panthers to slide out of position.

“I think we did a good job of taking advantage of the opportunities and pressing our advantage,” said Gardner. “Obviously, they had a great game going on with their attack, but we got a lot of opportunities from the midfield coming downhill.”

Meanwhile, on the offensive side Franklin was stagnating as the Hawks sat on Kent and Civetti and tried to force other players to beat them. Verrochi saw plenty of promise from his younger players to give him confidence that in the coming years that strategy will not be as effective.

“One of the things we need to do is look to get more players involved,” he explained. “Our midfielders are kind of young, three sophomores, a freshman, and two juniors, so next year if these guys improve then we’re going to be able to be more dangerous.”

The Panthers could never mount much of a comeback in the fourth quarter, although Kent did score a hat trick in his final period with the Panthers.

“We’re going to definitely miss him,” said Verrochi. “He’s the real deal. He rose to the occasion today. This was a big challenge; they’re a big strong, physical defense and he sort of shut them up and put them in their place.”

Franklin finished the season with a record of 14-6.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Franklin Shut Out In Fourth Quarter at BC High

Franklin boys lacrosse
Austin Kent scored a pair of goals against BC High, but the Panthers could not hold onto a fourth quarter lead on the road. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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BOSTON, Mass. – For the second year in a row, Franklin held a lead against BC High, but also for the second year in a row the Panthers failed to hold onto it and allowed the Eagles to walk away with the victory.

BC High shut out the Panthers 5-0 in the fourth quarter, with senior attacker A.J. Kucinski recording a goal and three assists, and turned around a two-goal deficit to pull out a 10-7 victory in the Eagles’ season opener.

“We have to play teams like this,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi. “These guys are always going to be a good challenge, just the second year in a row that we sort of imploded in the fourth quarter.”

The Panthers got off to the perfect start on a blustery afternoon. Senior Jared Trainor opened the scoring inside the first minute and just two minutes later sophomore Eric Civetti scored the first of his three goals to double the lead.

A quick outlet pass by junior Patrick Watson sprung Civetti, who picked out senior Austin Kent for his first goal of the game and the Franklin bench was going crazy on the sidelines. The energy got ramped up even more when Kent forced a turnover in the attacking zone and then fed Civetti for his second and a the Panthers’ fourth.

Kucinski got on the board after a turnover early in the second quarter, but Civetti answered right back for Franklin just a minute later. It would be the last goal of the half for the Panthers, as the BC High defense started to clamp down.

“They shut down Eric and Austin and we just didn’t get enough out of our midfielders,” said Verrochi. “We just weren’t driving forward the way we should have…when those two start to tire we just don’t have the kids to throw in like we did last year.”

After a pair of goals by the Eagles, sophomore goalie Connor O’Rourke stepped up with a huge close-range save on Kucinski to keep the score 5-3. Franklin raced down the field and freshman pole Patrick Morrison had his goal wiped out because there was a man in the crease.

BC High sophomore Will Bowen took advantage of the ruling and beat Franklin in transition, racing straight down the middle of the field and beating O’Rourke in the bottom corner.

“We threw the ball away, we were in the crease a few times, bad substitutions, we were sloppy out of the box…but once we got ourselves set and it was time to make plays they stepped up,” said BC High coach Steve Lydon.

O’Rourke took over between the pipes this season after playing as an attacker during his freshman year. Verrochi said that there was an opening in goal and the sophomore spent the offseason learning the new position.

Verrochi said, “I can’t say enough about what he did this year. He went to all sorts of camps and he’s now playing goalie for Laxachussets in his age level. That says a lot about his athleticism and how he goes after the game.”

Junior Sam Arsenault restored the two-goal lead with a man-up goal three minutes into the third quarter, but Kucinski answered back for the Eagles. With time running down in the third, Kent capped a long possession with an unstoppable rocket into the top corner, which made it 7-5.

The Franklin defense, led by seniors Matt Pleshaw, Sean Lockhart, and Gabe Murphy, had managed to limit the chances for Kucinski and the Eagles attack. But in the fourth quarter, everything turned around.

Pat Greene scored to cut the lead to one, Andrew Helfrich completed his hat trick (on a Kucinski assist) to tie it, and then Kucinski gave BC High its first lead with a shot on the run, across his body, and into the top corner.

“We went to sleep on him,” said Verrochi. “I was disappointed in how our close defense played in that fourth quarter. I talked to the players that we can’t allow that to happen.”

“That type of stuff, with a senior defense, we can’t have that.”

Kucinski assisted on the final two goals of the game. Franklin’s chances were limited, although it did force BC High goalie Michael Haggan into four saves in the fourth and Kent smacked the post with a shot in the final minute.

“We had a couple guys go out and make plays for us,” said Lydon. “A.J. made a couple of really big plays in the fourth and our defense locked down after a slow start.”

Despite the loss, Verrochi insisted that it is a positive for his team to play top non-league competition and challenge his players early in the season.

He said, “Give credit to them; they’re bigger, faster, stronger than we are right now, but my kids worked their butts off. I think the better team won…but we played them really tough for three quarters.”

Franklin (2-1) will get back into league play on Wednesday with a trip to Sharon.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Boys Lacrosse: Kelley-Rex Division Preview 2016

Franklin's Austin Kent will be one of the top players in the league this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
Franklin’s Austin Kent will be one of the top players in the league this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

ATTLEBORO

2015 Record: 4-13
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chris Kiley

Now in its third year at the varsity level, Attleboro is looking to once again take another step in the right direction. With a handful of returning players back this season, the Bombardiers will look to improve on their 4-13 season in 2015.

Junior Sam Corrado shined in the cage on multiple occasions last season and will look to continue that this season. Seniors Brian Letourneau, Mitch Caruso and Owen McKenna were named captains for this year’s team and will all look to contribute.

Caruso found the back of the net throughout the 2015 while junior attack Jay Mota was another key piece to the offense. Junior Andrew Milliken is also back after earning Hockomock League Honorable Mention a season ago.

FRANKLIN

2015 Record: 17-4
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinals
Coach: Lou Verrochi

After a historic campaign in 2015 that saw the Panthers get to the D1 South Semifinals, Franklin is looking to build upon it in 2016.

Hockomock League All Stars Austin Kent, Sean Lockhart and Eric Civetti are all back along with a handful of experienced players. Kent will spearhead the Panthers attack and will be one of the most complete players in the Hockomock League in 2016. Lockhart was a lockdown defenseman during his junior year and will anchor that unit again this year. Civetti had a tremendous freshman year and will look to build on that this year, partnering with Kent up top.

Junior Packie Watson and senior Jared Trainor return to bring some experience to the midfield alongside newcomer Brian Vieten while freshman Jake Alexander will handle a lot of the faceoffs. Senior LSM Matt Pleshaw and senior Gabe Murphy will be key pieces in the defensive unit. Head coach Lou Verrochi said he expects junior Mike Keane and sophomore Connor O’Rourke to battle for the starting spot in goal.

“Hopefully we will be in the hunt for a league championship,” Verrochi said.

KING PHILIP

2015 Record: 14-8
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Jacob Kravitz

King Philip is looking to continue its growth as a program, hoping to take another step in the right direction in 2016. The Warriors return experienced players all over the field.

“We have a lot of two way guys in the midfield,” KP head coach Jacob Kravitz said. “We should be a balanced team that is led by our captains.”

The 2015 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Paul Macrina is back in goal after a stellar year and will be one the three captains for KP. Mike Riggs and Connor Khung are returning starters on defense along with Steven Eaton, a captain, that will see time at pole and LSM.

In the midfield, senior captain Anthony Truini will play a big role especially offensively while Kravitz is looking for a mix of other players to fit into the middle of the field. Offensively, seniors Sam Agricola and Harrison Fallon will look to take over at attack while junior Tim Watson is looking to to build upon his 29 goal season last year.

MANSFIELD

2016 Record: 10-9
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tim Frias

After making a late charge last season to reach the playoffs, the Hornets are returning a large core back this season. Mansfield won seven of their last 10 games to reach the playoffs and with only three very valuable players graduated, head coach Tim Frias is hopeful for another postseason trip.

“Our strengths will be the experience and play at the midfield and defense we will have to wait to see who pulls full time duty at attack for our seniors that we lost last year,” Frias said.

Senior captains Connor Finerty and Billy Grant will be key pieces in the midfield with Finerty also seeing time at attack. Senior Mike Wilcox will also be an important piece in the middle of the field while sophomores Hunter Ferreira and Joe Cox could have breakout seasons.

Defensively, Sean Powers is back in the cage while three year starter Josh Schafer will anchor the line in front of him along with Tommy Donnelly. Frias is relying on some of the younger poles to step up in that role. Offense will be one of the biggest questions after graduating some talent there but senior Ryan Smith is back and will be a big part of setting up the offense.

NORTH ATTLEBORO

2015 Record: 13-6
2015 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals
Coach: Kevin Young

The Rocketeers will have to replace the program’s all time leading scorer Sean Young but to start the season, head coach Kevin Young is confident they have the defensive end covered.

Senior captains Anthony Baiungo and Andrew Casson return and will be relied upon heavily to handle opponent’s offense. Junior Dan MacDonald will take over in the cage to help solidify the defensive end.

In the middle of the field, seniors Brody Barr and Connor Dunn bring a lot of experience to both sides of the field, which is another reason Young is confident in the defensive end. Patrick Nally will be look at to take over on face offs with help from LSM James Schromm.

When it comes to offense, although Big Red has to replace a near 300 point producer, junior Zach McGowan
has proved in the past he has what it takes to find the back of the net and create opportunities for teammates. Classmates Owen Costello and Jack Dakin will also make an impact on the offensive end for the Rocketeers.

TAUNTON

2015 Record: N/A
2015 Finish: N/A
Coach: Kris Metea

Taunton is looking to make a splash in its inaugural season after competing for two years at the JV level and posting 20 wins. Kris Metea, who guided the Tigers hockey team to a record season on the ice this season, is the head coach for the lacrosse team as well.

“The team has some good upperclassmen,” Metea said. “But the talent is on the young end which will take time for them to become successful against upperclassmen from solid Hockomock programs. The key to success will be how fast depth can develop and youth can step up.”

Seniors Santiago Lopez and Jared Williams will be called upon to anchor the defensive unit in front of freshman Ryan Williams, who will take the majority of minutes in goal. In the midfield, senior Ethan Patterson will be joined by sophomore Will Walsh and junior Andrew Wellington.

Offense can sometimes be the hardest challenge for new programs but Taunton will look to younger players Josh Grasso, a sophomore and Griffin Speicher, a freshman to take care of the attack.