Girls Soccer: 2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Mansfield and Oliver Ames shared the Kelley-Rex division title last season and both expect to be in the mix again this fall. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 2-15-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

Goal scoring has been the biggest issue for the Bombardiers in the past few seasons, including a league-low eight in 2016, but head coach Steve Santos is confident that this year’s squad has the speed and experience to take advantage of counter attacks and he expects Attleboro to create a lot more scoring chances this fall.

While goal scoring is a focus of the preseason work, it is at the back that Attleboro boasts the most experience with the entire back line returning. Senior Jordyn Forte is the leader at the back, using her “good soccer IQ,” according to Santos, to keep things calm and making the right plays. She is joined in the defense by fellow seniors Morgan Laplume and Graycen Cassidy. In goal, Madison Brown returns to give Attleboro a solid presence to control the penalty box.

Turning that defense into attack will be the responsibility of senior midfielder Julia Hayes, who will be a key player in the center of the pitch. Junior Ashley Lauzier and senior Kara Thornton will be hoping to take advantage of the opportunities that are created. Santos is also excited about the youth coming into the program with three freshman on the varsity roster to start, including Riley Harnois, who will help out in the attack.

“We have a little more speed this year,” said Santos, “and we’ve been generating a little more in the transition. This year I can rest [the starters], bring people off the bench and the pace doesn’t drop off. They’re great kids, they work hard, and they fight for the team every day.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 10-3-5
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tom Geysen

After six straight league titles, Franklin had an atypical season in 2016. The Panthers only lost three times all season, but drew five times, struggling to find consistent goal scoring that would turn a tie into a win. Franklin only allowed nine goals, but only scored 36, which was 20 goals fewer than league champ Mansfield. This year, head coach Tom Geysen is working on a new formation to get the best out of his attacking options with the goal of returning to the top of the league standings.

The Panthers return leading scorer Miranda Smith and the senior takes advantage of her size to create scoring opportunities in the box. Junior Halle Atkinson is back for her third year on the varsity and gives Franklin speed on the wings and is an accurate crosser of the ball to give Smith plenty of chances. Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira are also back and will give the Panthers a consistent presence in the center of midfield, while Emily Mastaj is another option on the wing.

The key to Franklin’s defense this season will be senior goalie Cat Robbins. Stepping in between the posts last year, Robbins turned in an impressive year and quickly became one of the top goalies in the league. This year, there will be several new faces and younger players that will be counted on to step up on the defensive side of the ball, including senior Molly O’Reilly and juniors Grace Gallo and Madison Stewart.

Geysen noted that there are several underclassmen that could step in during the season to add to the Panthers’ depth. He added, “We need to find the right mix. If we can patch things together and they can gain experience over the course of the season I’m confident that we will get better.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 12-8-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Gary Pichel

It was a great turnaround for King Philip from 2015 to 2016. The Warriors were snakebitten by injuries the year before, losing almost an entire starting 11 many of them to long-term injuries, but last year a large and talented freshman class stepped in to supplement the players who were back healthy helping the program jump from just two wins to 12 last fall.

Expectations are even higher for the Warriors this year, as that freshman group gained a year of experience playing in the Hock. The sophomores are led by Avery Snead, last year’s Underclassman of the Year, who excelled up front or in the midfield and sealed the team’s playoff victory over Mansfield with an overtime headed winner. Chloe Layne showed off silky skills and finishing ability in the box and Olivia Berry stepped right into the heart of the defense and showed that she belonged.

It is not all about the underclassmen. Senior Emma Corcoran is back for another year at the heart of the defense and as the primary dead ball specialist, being named an Eastern Mass. All-Star in 2016. Senior Emma Durant has grown into the role of starting keeper and was a solid and steady presence between the posts last season. Senior Julian Massarone is a three-year varsity player and will be one of the primary playmakers in the center of the pitch.

“Overall, we made great strides in improving our game last year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “We want to continue to become more advanced in all three phases of our game. Last year, we turned a corner. This year, we want to move full speed ahead and compete hard against all of our opponents in the Hock!”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 14-1-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Kevin Smith

Mansfield is coming off the program’s best ever season. The Hornets set records for wins, points, goals scored and claimed their first ever league title, finishing the regular season unbeaten. An overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs to league rival KP was a tough finish to 2016 and trying to replace the production of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Hannah Reiter will be a challenge, but the Hornets return a ton of talent to make a run at another title.

Juniors Melissa Reef (an Eastern Mass. All-Star last season) and Bryn Anderson will be back in the midfield this fall, breaking up opponents’ attacks and pushing Mansfield into the attack. Their ability to cover a lot of ground in the center of the pitch and pick out the right pass to start the transition will be key. Classmate Stephanie Kemp will be back at the top of the attack, after scoring nine goals as a sophomore. Junior Emily Vigeant will lead an experienced defensive unit and also gives the Hornets a dangerous weapon from set pieces.

Mansfield coach Kevin Smith likes has a lot of players that he can call on this season. In the attack, Kemp will be joined by Sydney Mulkern, Allee Bezeau, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy MacMahon, and Emma Oldow. Defensively, the Hornets will turn to Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, Erin Daniel and goalkeeper Lauren Whitman.

Smith said, “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers and relying on the experience of 13 juniors and three seniors who were on varsity last year to fill the roles of the five starters who graduated.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 14-3-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

Last fall, Oliver Ames made the switch from the Davenport to the Kelley-Rex division, but it had little effect on the success of the program. The Tigers shared the league title with Mansfield, the fourth title in a row for OA and seventh since 2007. That run of success may be tough to keep going this year, as the Tigers graduated 10 seniors and are battling injuries to start 2017.

Losing players like Francesca Calabraro (who was injured midway through last season) and Kiana Lozzi is tough enough, but the Tigers lost almost an entire starting 11. To make matters worse, the strong central defensive pairing of Emily Freeman (knee) and Zoe Chazan (academy) are both missing to start the season. Senior goalie Regan Benton is back and will give the Tigers one of the best goalies in the league and in Eastern Mass. to backstop the rebuilt defense.

Offensively, the Tigers have been known for pace and strength, particularly on set pieces, and this year will count on three senior to try and provide consistent scoring opportunities. The pacy group of Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, Annabella Walsh will be the primary focus of the attack. There will be a lot of new faces on the pitch this season, trying to keep the legacy of OA success going for another fall.

“We have quite a few players who had limited minutes last year,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer, “but they practiced against some good players every day. If we can stay healthy I feel confident.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 3-14-2
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Edith Dixon

It has been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers over the past few seasons under head coach Edith Dixon. In 2015, Taunton reached the postseason for the first time in program history and made it count by beating Wellesley on the road in the opening round and gave top seed Bishop Feehan a tough game in the second round. But, after losing a number of players to graduation, Taunton won only three games last season and are looking to bounce back behind a young roster in 2017.

The key for the Tigers is senior Samantha Tichelaar, who is coming off a league all-star and HockomockSports.com Best XI season, and gives Taunton speed, control, and leadership either as a forward or dropping deep into the midfield. Her versatility opens opportunities for her teammates. Classmate Kayla Felix will be the leader at the back for the Tigers, adding aggressiveness to the defense from her sweeper position.

Numbers are good for the program overall and Dixon expects that the younger players, including a strong crop of freshman and even eighth graders could make an impact on the varsity as the season goes along. She said that many of the younger players are “ahead of their age performance-wise.”

Dixon added, “Some of our younger players are going to step up and change how we play, but our upperclassman and seniors will remain the core of our team. I believe that their leadership and team-first mentality will push us to do well this year and set the program up for long-term success as the underclassmen mature.”

Early Goals Help Tigers Beat Warriors in Quarterfinals

Oliver Ames girls soccer
Oliver Ames’ Kiana Lozzi jostles with KP’s Kyleigh Remmis in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – When the Oliver Ames girls’ soccer team traveled to Wrentham to take on King Philip for their second meeting of the season in mid-October, the Tigers scored early but had to rely on the heroics of goalie Regan Benton late to escape with two points.

When the Tigers hosted the Warriors for their third meeting, this time in the D1 South Sectional Quarterfinals, Oliver Ames once again found the back of the net early on.

But this time around, they made sure to add some insurance goals.

With a 3-1 win over King Philip, #5 Oliver Ames advances to the D1 South Semifinals to take on top-seeded Natick on Friday afternoon.

“Oh yeah it’s tough,” Oliver Ames head coach Britt Sellmayer said about playing a team for a third time. “I mean especially a team like KP because they have a lot of freshman so they’re not really freshman anymore, they’re essentially sophomores — a lot of their players have come a long way. They’re going to be a team to reckon with in the future. They cause a lot of problems, they knock the ball around really well. Those two tall girls in the middle [Maddie Smith and Avery Snead] were good.”

The Tigers seized the lead in the eighth minute, minutes after Benton made a key save on a corner kick to deny KP an early chance. After some miscommunication between a defender and the keeper, OA junior Abby Reardon snuck in, got a touch to get the ball behind and ran onto it to bury it to put the Tigers up 1-0.

Reardon nearly grabbed a second a minute later in similar fashion but KP keeper Emma Durant was quick to react and smothered the chance.

But four minutes later, Reardon was able to find the back of the net for the second time of the game. In the 13th minute, sophomore Zoe Chazan whipped a corner kick to the far post where junior Sofia Masciarelli nodded the ball back in front of the goal and Reardon headed it in from close range.

King Philip gradually gained control of the game and enjoyed the majority of the possession for the final 20 minutes of the half. KP’s pressure paid off with a couple of chances. First Maddie Smith’s shot from distance was saved by Benton. In the 30th minute, Emma Corcoran dropped a free kick into the area that popped out to Abby Baker but her shot was just wide.

Finally in the 33rd minute, the Warriors were able to break through. Corcoran delivered a perfectly weighted ball to the back post and Smith met it with her head and found the back of the net to cut the deficit in half shortly before the halftime break.

“We felt like the last 20 minutes of the first half they were passing the ball around a little bit so we wanted to pressure a little bit more [in the second half],” Sellmayer said. “In our 4-5-1, our outside players usually attack more but they came back and had to help.”

While KP aimed to capitalized on its late first half momentum early in the second frame, Oliver Ames was able to steal it all back just three minutes in.

A cross was bounced around in the area before coming loose. OA senior Lauren Wright pounced, ripping a shot to the far post leaving no chance for Durant to make it 3-1.

From there, Oliver Ames controlled the play for the second half.

The final 10 minutes saw a flurry of chances but neither side could find the back of the net. With just under 10 minutes to go, Rachel Hogan played Avery Snead along the line and her cross found Chloe Layne, but the shot from in close was blocked out for a corner.

OA had a chance a minute later when Kiana Lozzi dropped a diagonal ball in for Wright, but Duggan was quick off her line to smother the chance. In the 74th minute, Jackie Mills tracked down a long ball and cut it back, laying it in the area for Tori Wyman but her bid rolled just wide of the post.

“Kiana Lozzi did a tremendous job for us in the midfield,” Sellmayer said. “She does a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. And Regan Benton isn’t always busy but she made the great saves when she had to. Stopping that corner kick in the first five minutes of the match was huge. She’s so solid and I think she makes everyone else feel better because she’s so solid back there.”

It looked as though OA had a golden chance to seal the game in the 76th minute when Chazan looped a long ball for Wyman, who centered for an open Mills but Durant stood tall and blocked the open shot.

“I thought Oliver Ames came out pretty fast and hard and it was unfortunate the first goal we gave up, it was a bouncer and should have been picked up,” KP head coach Gary Pichel said. “That set them up for another one and gave them the momentum. They’re an undefeated squad and this could be their year. We’re proud to be able to play with them and have the chance to get a shot at them. We improved so much over last year. We were 2-16 and now this year we finish 12-8-2, that’s a big change. 

“OA worked very hard. We were missing a key player tonight but we should have been able to get a little bit more offense. It just didn’t happen, they shut us down. Their back four was outstanding.”

Oliver Ames girls soccer will take on #1 Natick on Friday at 3:30 at Milford High School. King Philip finishes the 2016 campaign at 12-8-2 — but with plenty of optimism for the future.

Snead Header Stuns Hornets, Sends KP to Quarters

King Philip girls soccer
Freshman Avery Snead (9) scored an overtime winner, heading home a corner, to left KP to a 2-1 win over rival Mansfield in the first round of the tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – It looked as though Sunday evening’s playoff game was over in the final seconds of regulation. With the clock stopped at 2:00 and everyone waiting for the official’s whistle, Emma Oldow got free on the right side and sent in a curling cross just past the dive of King Philip goalie Emma Durant and onto the foot of Amanda Mangano at the back post.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Unfortunately for the Hornets, the sophomore forward had strayed just offsides and the celebrations of the home fans were cut short. Six minutes into the first overtime period and there was another celebration, this time from the traveling supporters behind the benches at Alumni Field.

Emma Corcoran’s deep corner to the back post was met by freshman Avery Snead, who nodded it back across the net and inside the far corner for a ‘golden goal’. The Warriors had pulled the upset over their league rivals, avenged two losses in the regular season, and ended the Hornets unbeaten season in the first round of the tournament.

“We practice all week on these corners and setting up the girls,” said KP coach Gary Pichel after his team’s 2-1 victory. “[Avery] came through with a huge one, just a huge one! It looked like it was going to go too deep and she was right where she needed to be.

He added with a laugh, “I thought I was going to have a stroke out there or something.”

Pichel was asked about his team talk before the overtime period and how he got the Warriors to refocus after being so close to having the season end on Mangano’s disallowed goal. He responded, “I didn’t even focus on that, didn’t even talk about it. I just told them what we needed to do for this overtime period.”

Mansfield coach Kevin Smith could only shake his head after the game. He had said before the game started that KP had improved over the course of the season and was a very dangerous opponent to have in the first round. He was proved right.

“We had a lot of chances,” he said. “Their goalie made some great saves, we missed a couple outside the post, Corcoran was great in their defense…it was a great game.”

The Warriors struck first in the 14th minute. Rachel Hogan got to a loose ball on the right corner of the penalty area and was brought down when she got a step on her defender. Corcoran stepped up and calmly dispatched the penalty into the top corner, leaving Mansfield goalie Emily Gaumond with no chance.

After falling behind, Mansfield was spurred into the attack and had several chances for the equalizer before the break. Stephanie Kemp had the first good chance when she ran onto a ball behind the defense from Hannah Reiter but Durant was off her line quickly to smother. Oldow saw a shot sail just wide of the post and then Kemp again got in behind the defense but her effort missed the corner by inches.

“Our seniors are such good leaders,” said Smith about the conversation down 1-0 at halftime. “They said, guys we’re yelling at each other and we don’t need to, we’re fine. I didn’t need to talk, they took care of it. They’ve set a leadership culture that they’re relaxed out there.”

In the 53rd minute, the Hornets evened the score with a golazo from sophomore defender Emily Vigeant. After a foul 40 yards from goal, Vigeant put her laces into the free kick and hit a laser just under the crossbar and past a helpless Durant to make it 1-1.

With the scores level, KP took a timeout to regroup and with the impetus on them to score again suddenly found their footing in the second half. Snead had the best chance after good footwork opened space for a shot that curled just wide. Maddie Smith created another chance with a steal in midfield and Chloe Layne’s one-touch pass freed Hogan but her shot was dragged wide.

Smith played a big role for the Warriors on Sunday, as she was tasked with marking Reiter, the Quinnipiac University-commit who was voted the league’s MVP this week. Pichel said, “She was questioning whether she could be more of a part of the offense but I told her it’s really critical to mark Hannah because she’s the field general out there.”

With six minutes left to play, Oldow sent in an angled cross that Durant stopped in the far corner but could not handle cleanly. The loose ball was prodded into the side netting by Allee Bezeau. Six minutes later, Mangano had her chance only to be denied by the whistle.

Smith said, “They bent and didn’t break until the free kick and we couldn’t find that toe poke in.”

In overtime, Snead rose highest. The freshman has been KP’s leading scorer this season and no goal has been bigger than the one she scored on Sunday.

“I told them that we could be the team that beat them,” said Pichel. “I told them they’d have to play the game of their lives and they’d have to give 150 percent…and they did. I’m so proud of them.

“It’s a culmination in the second half of the season of us gaining confidence, believing in what we can do as a team.”


While the season has come to a close for the Hornets (14-1-4), Smith reflected on what has been by almost every measure the best fall in the 29-year history of the program.

“Regular season undefeated, first league title ever, set records for goals scored…we’ve set almost every record in school history this year,” he said. “I’m proud of them for all that they’ve accomplished and it stinks that I don’t get to practice with them any more.”

King Philip (12-7-2) will get the chance to avenge two more regular season losses on Wednesday afternoon with a trip to another league rival, Oliver Ames.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield Holds Off KP, Sets Up Showdown for Title

Mansfield girls soccer
Mansfield celebrates Cassidy McMahon’s goal that pushed the lead to 2-0 against King Philip on senior night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Coming into Tuesday night’s game with Kelley-Rex division rival King Philip, Mansfield could have been caught in the trap of looking past the Warriors. On Thursday, the Hornets will travel to Easton to face Oliver Ames in a game that could decide the league title and on Friday night they have the opportunity to play on the Gillette Stadium pitch against Canton.

Mansfield’s seniors gathered the team together well before kick-off, even before head coach Kevin Smith had the chance to speak with his players, and re-focused their teammates.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The pregame talk worked, as the Hornets dominated the opening half and scored a pair of goals. King Philip rallied in the second half, but the Hornets held on for a 2-0 victory that keeps them within one point of Oliver Ames heading into the final two games of the regular season.

“These seniors,” Smith explained, “three have never started a varsity game until this year, but we get to the field and everyone gets together. ‘We are not underestimating this team, you’ve got to come out to play’…just the leadership they showed is incredible.”

The Hornets were fired up to start the game on senior night and controlled the majority of the opening half. They controlled possession and pushed the Warriors back into the defensive third for much of the opening 40 minutes but the first shot on goal took nearly 20 minutes. When the shot finally came, it gave Mansfield the lead.

A corner was played in from the near sideline and bounced around a few times in the six-yard-box before being tipped into the path of senior Hannah Reiter who prodded it home. Melissa Reef was given the assist out of the scramble.

Six minutes later KP had a rare foray forward and Katherine Turner pushed into the attack from her left back position before sending in a perfect cross. Abby Baker had a chance at the far post but her shot sliced wide of the post.

Emma Oldow picked off a poor clearance and set up a two-on-one with Stephanie Kemp, but Kemp’s shot from just inside the box was saved by KP keeper Emma Durant. The ensuing corner was cleared but the Hornets lofted the ball back into the box and the KP defense was caught trying the offside trap.

Reiter, a Quinnipiac University-commit, was left all alone in the middle of the box. The senior turned and took a touch before firing a low shot that Durant parried at full stretch. Sophomore Cassidy McMahon was the first to react and she knocked in the loose ball to double the Hornets lead.

“Since Mansfield’s first game with us (a 5-1 loss),” KP coach Gary Pichel said, “we made our adjustments and we’ve played really well but we can’t have these mental lapses where we’re leaving their best player, their leading scorer, unattended in the six.”

KP fashioned a couple of chances in the closing minutes of the half. Freshman Avery Snead turned her marker and fired a shot from the edge of the box that seemed destined for the back of the net until Mansfield keeper Emily Gaumond managed to save at full stretch.

“We played well except for that one shot they got,” said Smith, “which was an amazing shot and thankfully we got an amazing save, but King Philip is good. You have to be organized to play against them but I was proud of my kids. We pressed together, we stayed connected.”

Pichel added, “We’ve been bitten by the great saves of the goalie the last couple of games, but I like the way we came back in the second half and put pressure on them.”

The Warriors did turn the momentum after the break and turned the second half into an even contest. Maddie Smith had the first good chance of the half but her header on an Emma Corcoran corner flashed wide of the post.

Mansfield almost put the game away seven minutes after the break when Emma Goulet sprung Oldow with a through ball behind the KP defense. Durant was out quickly to close down the angle and palmed aside Oldow’s shot to keep it 2-0.

“We had a couple breakaways we should have scored,” said Smith. “We made some bad decisions too. We had two one on the goalie and we’re shooting from 30 yards when we should be dribbling around the goalie but that’s all learning.”

Bryn Anderson nearly set up Erin Daniel for the winner with another ball in behind the advancing KP defense, but Hanna Balunos> raced across to cover and knock the ball out for a corner with a last ditch tackle. Oldow would have another chance racing down the left channel but again Durant (seven saves) came up with the stop.

The Warriors had one more chance to cut the lead in half with 13 minutes to play but Smith could not keep her header down when she rose highest in the box and it slipped just above the crossbar.

“Overall I thought we played them even in the second,” said Pichel. “We changed our formation to add another player up top so it was a 4-3-3, which helped. We tried to get another person up top to create more pressure.”

Mansfield (14-0-2, 12-0-2) will now head into Thursday’s game with Oliver Ames knowing that a victory at Muscato Stadium will give the program its first ever league title. A draw against OA also keeps the title hopes alive as Mansfield has a league game in hand over the Tigers and would play Canton on Friday at Gillette knowing a result would clinch a title.

King Philip (11-7-1, 10-5-0) has lost two in a row, against the top two teams in the division, and will try to bounce back against Franklin on Thursday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Warriors Earn Draw Against Highly-Ranked Shamrocks

King Philip Girls Soccer
Emma Durant made a save with just seconds remaining to preserve a point for KP against Feehan. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – Makayla Griffin tried to play a ball forward in the attacking third with only seconds to play in Saturday afternoon’s match-up with Bishop Feehan at Macktaz Field. The ball took an unfortunate bounce off the heel of Rachel Hogan as she made a run into space and caromed to a Feehan player.

The King Philip defense tried to race back into position, but the Shamrocks countered with pace and created a chance for leading scorer Enisa Amedio. The forward sped into the box and fired a low shot only to be denied by KP goalie Emma Durant, who slid out to block the shot with her legs.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

That save preserved a 2-2 draw for the Warriors in game that they controlled for large portions against a Feehan team that is considered among the top 10 in the state. KP avenged a 1-0 loss to Feehan in the first meeting and moved one point closer to qualifying for the state tournament.

“I thought we carried the play for most of the game,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “When you play a quality team like that and you give it your best and they give it their best and you come out with a tie…I’m happy with that.”

The Shamrocks got off to the perfect start, scoring inside the first two minutes of the game. Bailey Conti kneed in a corner from Olivia Bishop to give Feehan the very early lead.

KP answered right back with a set piece of its own. Junior defender Emma Corcoran played an angled free kick from 35 yards on the left side that eluded everyone in the box except for freshman Avery Snead, who prodded the ball into the net at the back post to tie the game.

In the 18th minute, Corcoran passed on a chance to put a free kick into the box and squared the ball to Sarah Fleck on her right. Fleck took a dipping shot from almost 40 yards that the Feehan keeper stood no chance of reaching but that smacked off the crossbar. Just seconds later, the visitors earned a corner and Katie McCarthy nodded Feehan in front.

Other than the two corners, KP was pressing the play and putting the Shamrocks on their heels. The combination of Fleck and Griffin was opening up the Feehan midfield and Snead and classmate Chloe Layne had the Shamrocks defense twisting and turning.

Layne nearly tied the game just three minutes after Feehan took the lead with a series of feints and step-overs that split the right back and central defender. The chance was smothered by the Feehan goalie but was just a preview of the issues that Layne would cause running the left channel.

Feehan almost doubled the lead in the 33rd minute but Durant was quickly off her line and threw out a quick left hand to deny Shealyn Quinn. Seven minutes later, with halftime looming, Layne pulled KP level. Griffin sent in a cross from the left that Layne settled with one touch and created space just inside the box before depositing a shot under the bar to make it 2-2.

“Those two freshmen are my leading scorers,” said Pichel of Snead and Layne. “Chloe does some stuff with her feet that…she’ll juggle right in front of you and then she’ll bring it up to her head and push it right over the top and go around you.”

Just four minutes into the second half, Feehan had a rare opportunity from open play when a through ball split the defenders and gave Amedio a chance to run at the keeper, but Durant came flying out and got a hand to the ball to stop the chance.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

In the 50th minute, Corcoran lined up a 25-yard free kick and for the second time in the game, a KP player fired a shot off the bar. Durant (five saves) came up huge off another Feehan corner 15 minutes later to not only stop the initial header but also to stuff the follow up from point-blank range.

That aggressiveness paid off in the final minute of the game, as Durant came out quickly and blocked an Amedio shot with her legs that kept it at 2-2.

“That was a nail-biter right there,” said Pichel of the heart-in-mouth moment that the Warriors had at the end. “I thought, ‘oh no, after all this work.’ [Emma] came up huge.

“I had a little one-on-one with her and said that we need to stop being conservative in net. We need to be super aggressive in games like this, going forward all the way.”

Durant had plenty of help in front of her, including Corcoran and freshman Olivia Berry. The central defensive pairing was effective in compressing the space for the forwards and covering for each other when one decided to step forward, either to prevent an attack or to start one.

“Olivia walked on and immediately showed that she can play with the best of them,” said Pichel. “She looked like Emma [Corcoran] did as a freshman.”

He added, “When we got beat by the Franklins and Mansfields, the middle was wide open, so I decided to mix up my five backs in a jagged shape to stop the through balls.”

At the final whistle, KP felt a mixture of relief and disappointment because snagging a point from Feehan is a positive but the overall play had the Warriors believing that they were the team on top. That gives the Warriors confidence as they get back into league play this week.

“We’ve been improving steadily since those losses to the top teams in the Hock,” Pichel explained. “I like our chances. I really do. We may not win the division, but we’ll be close.”

King Philip (8-3, 9-5-1) will try to get the one point left to ensure a return to the state tournament against Attleboro on Monday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Girls Soccer: 2016 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2016 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Reigning league MVP Francesca Calabraro (left) and OA will look to challenge Franklin’s Kelley-Rex supremacy this year. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2015 Record: 6-12-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

The Bombardiers won six games last year, including an upset of rival North Attleboro in the annual Blue-Red Game near the end of the season. Head coach Steve Santos is hoping that the momentum will carry over for his relatively inexperienced group this fall. The Bombardiers return 10 players from last year’s roster but not all were regular contributors. “They need to play simple and play quick,” said Santos, who mentioned that the program is developing with three freshmen seeing time in scrimmages.

The loss of Paige Medeiros to graduation leaves a big hole to be filled, especially with her set piece prowess, but Attleboro will turn to senior attacking midfielders Rebekah Entwhistle and Chloe Vieira to produce the killer pass and set up scoring opportunities. Up front, Hannah Meier will be counted on to finish those chances and give Attleboro the scoring punch it needs.

Defensively, Attleboro can count on junior goalie Maddie Brown, who is coming off a stellar sophomore season, and the center back pairing of Jordyn Forte and Morgan Laplume, who Santos said had a “high soccer IQ”. It is a junior-heavy roster, but one still in need of seasoning. Santos explained, “They’re great kids and hard workers. They just need some experience under their belts.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 17-1-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Tom Geysen

The Class of 2016 won a state title, two Div. 1 South titles, went to three straight South finals, and won the Kelley-Rex division four times. That is quite a legacy for the program and, while he has a number of new faces to try and incorporate into the lineup, head coach Tom Geysen is confident that this year’s Panthers will be team to contend with by the end of the season.

One reason for optimism is the combination of sophomore Halle Atkinson and junior Jess Krouschl up front (once Kroushl comes back from a niggling injury). Both players saw time in the attack last season and showed the potential to be a strong pairing with one as the forward or playing as the wings. The forwards will be helped by energetic midfielders Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira, two more players who saw plenty of playing time down the stretch in 2015.

Defensively, Franklin returns one half of its back four. Nadia Havens will continue as an outside back, while Abby Gibson, who stepped in to have a strong season on the outside last fall, will move in as one of the centerbacks. Junior Kat Robbins will take over from Dani Lonati between the pipes.

Geysen said, “We’re thin and we’re green…It’s a work in progress. But, by the end of the season I think we’ll give people a test.”

King Philip

2015 Record: 2-16-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Gary Pichel

The Warriors did not just have an injury or two to deal with in 2015, but almost entire starting 11 ended up with injuries that left King Philip head coach Gary Pichel scrambling to fill roster spots with players from the JV and freshman teams. As 2016 begins, many of the key players are back and healthy and the Warriors are hoping to spring a surprise on the Kelley-Rex.

Junior defender Emma Corcoran (“the heart and soul” of the defense, according to Pichel) has been a rock in the middle of the back line and will have a lot more help with seniors Sarah Fleck (ACL) and Katherine Turner (ankle) back after missing all but one game last year. Corinne Palumbo and Julia Massarone will also chip in from the midfield and will be counted on turning defense into attack quickly.

Up front, Rachel Hogan returns after leading KP in scoring for the past several seasons and she will be joined by fellow senior Maddie Smith, who is back from a quad injury. The seniors will be paired with talented freshman Chloe Layne, who is already drawing rave reviews. Pichel said, “We had a very tough season last year but will look to rebound with a new look and a new strategy to improve our chances in a very competitive Hockomock League.”

Mansfield

2015 Record: 12-6-2
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Kevin Smith

The Hornets are only bringing back three players who started regularly last season and that includes two goalkeepers. Senior Emily Gaumond started the season in net but missed the final month with a concussion, which meant that then freshman Lauren Whitman had to step in between the pipes. The only returning outfield player is senior Hannah Reiter. The Quinnipiac University-commit, who comes into the season as a contender for Player of the Year, was a standout in central defense, midfield, and up front last year.

While Mansfield does not return a lot of starters, there is plenty of experience on the roster. Head coach Kevin Smith utilizes a large roster and makes sure that a majority of the players get time on the field. Senior forward Emma Goulet and senior defender Emily Sullivan will be the captains and each has multiple seasons on varsity. Sophomore Stephanie Kemp and junior Allee Bezeau will be counted on to provide scoring punch and sophomore Melissa Reef will be taking a bigger role in the midfield this year.

With five freshmen and three sophomores playing “significant” minutes last year, Smith is confident that Mansfield will be able to challenge for the Kelley-Rex title. He said, “So even though we are very young we do have some players with some experience under their belts.”

Oliver Ames

2015 Record: 14-3-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

The Tigers have won the Davenport division each of the past three years and will now set their sights on claiming the Kelley-Rex title at the first opportunity. Head coach Britt Sellmayer has a squad capable of claiming the crown and with the potential to make a deep tournament run as well. With seven returning starters, including four league all-stars, and 10 seniors, the Tigers have the most experienced roster in the Kelley-Rex and arguably the deepest.

It starts with reigning Hockomock MVP Francesca Calabraro. The senior scored 24 goals last season and has been talked about as a potential All-American in the preseason. With Calabraro moving between a midfield and a forward role, it opens up space on the wings for the speedy Jackie Mills, who chipped in with nine goals last year and could be ready for a breakout junior season. Seniors Dana Lowney and Jess Robarge will also provide midfield support for the Tigers.

Defensively, OA has a strong core of returning players. Sophomore Zoe Chazan stepped in as a rookie and turned into one of the league’s top central defenders and her partnership with junior Emily Freeman will be a tough one for teams to break down. Behind the back line, OA has three solid goaltenders led by junior Regan Benton. Sellmayer said, “[We’re] looking forward to the challenge of playing in the large Hock.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 9-9-3
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Edith Dixon

The Tigers made history last season, becoming the first team in the program’s history to win a playoff game, knocking off Wellesley on the road. That Taunton team was filled with upperclassmen but head coach Edith Dixon wants the program to keep moving forward and believes that there are players ready to step up and take over.

One of the players leading the way for Taunton is senior captain Emily O’Brien, who Dixon credits with setting the tone at practice. The Tiger will turn to junior Sam Tichelaar for offensive production as the three-year starter is healthy after an injury-plagued sophomore campaign and is ready to be the “driving force” in the Taunton midfield. Senior Livi Sweeney will be the forward for Tichelaar to connect with up top.

Defensively, the Tigers will miss goalie Kayla Wentworth, who is now playing at Iona, but junior Kayla Felix will lead the defensive corps and help make Taunton tough to beat. Dixon said, “Last season was a great step forward for the program, but we’re not satisfied with making the tournament just once. Our upperclassmen want to get back there again and they’re being pushed every day in practice by some very talented eighth and ninth graders.”

Canton Leave It Late But Hunter Goal Sinks Warriors

Meaghan Hunter Canton
Canton celebrates Meaghan Hunter’s goal with 12 minutes remaining that turned out to be the game-winner for the Bulldogs against KP. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Click HERE for a photo gallery from the game.

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

CANTON, Mass. – The ball seemed stuck in the King Philip defensive third. Canton was creating chance after chance but somehow between the post and Warriors keeper Maggie Hall (13 saves) the Bulldogs could not find the breakthrough.

Out of nowhere KP strung together a counter attack that had the potential to turn the game on its head.

With just 15 minutes left, the ball found its way to senior Kate Sexton on the left side and she beat her defender before sending in a low cross that picked out Maddie Smith in the box, but her first-time, point-blank shot was saved by Canton goalie Kathryn Doody, who had been little more than a spectator for most of the game.

It was a wake-up call for the Bulldogs that for all their possession the game was not yet won. Three minutes after the scare, Canton finally found the back of the net. Tessa Cudmore snuck a pass behind the right back to Sarah Collins whose shot was tipped onto the bar by Hall into the path of senior Meaghan Hunter for what turned out to be the game-winner.

Hannah Link added a second with just eight minutes left and Canton walked away with a 2-0 victory over KP on Wednesday night at World War II Veterans Memorial Field.

“They fight right to the last whistle and that’s why we got the result,” said Canton coach Kate Howarth. “Doesn’t matter if it was ugly or pretty, it’s a ‘W.’ We just have to work out a little bit of the first half.”

Cudmore nearly put the Bulldogs ahead in the third minute only to be robbed by a sliding Hall at the edge of the box. Two minutes later Rachel Hogan created a rare chance for the Warriors when her cutback found Victoria Ely but the freshman’s shot was stopped by Doody at full stretch.

Link had a chance in the 14th minute when she rolled her defender and had a breakaway but again Hall came to the Warriors’ rescue. In the 33rd minute, Hall was tested by a strong shot from Sarah Connolly but she was able to tip it over the bar. There was a scramble on the corner, but KP managed to clear.

“We had a chat before the game and I said that I need the old Maggie back and…she did,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “She came up big for us several times. It could’ve been 5-0 without Maggie there.”

The first half saw both teams pass the ball around in the midfield but after halftime it was almost entirely one-way traffic as the Bulldogs pressed KP back into its own third of the field. In the 50th minute, Hall had to be quick off her line to stop a Cudmore break and six minutes later Link beat Hall at her near post only to see the shot cannon off the post.

“In the second half, when we won all the 50-50 balls…we were in our attacking third almost the entire time and it changed the game,” explained Howarth.

“My kids were trying to defend for most of the game and that’s probably normal considering all the losses we’ve had,” said Pichel noting the six starters that he was missing due to injury. “I’m proud of them for keeping it a game until the last 10 minutes or so.”

It could have been a very different result when KP created its only chance. Doody managed to get her hands up, stay big, and block the shot from close range after great work down the left by Sexton.

“I thought that was going to go in,” said Pichel with a shake of the head. “That was a beautiful play and one of the few honest chances that we had. If that one goes in then it’s a different game.”

Howarth admitted that there was some frustration starting to set in for the Bulldogs after missing so many chances in the game. But, with 12 minutes left, Hunter found herself in the right place at the right time to tap in the goal that eased the tension.

“She’s that kid that works her butt off on the field and does whatever you ask,” said Howarth of the senior. “That’s what you need from your bench players is to go in and make a spark.”

After waiting so long for the first goal, the second seemed to follow right away. Link was first to a rebound after Hall made another smart save low to her left. The junior forward followed up and essentially wrapped up the win for the Bulldogs.

Howarth said, “She just goes hard for everything and that’s the kind of people you need up top. That’s how she scored the goal – she took a chance, followed up, and finished it.”

Not every win has to be pretty and Howarth shrugged and said simply, “It’s two points.”

Canton (2-0) will put its perfect record on the line against Foxboro on Friday, while KP (1-2) will open the school’s new turf field against Mansfield.

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