By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin celebrated its 15 seniors before its game with Taunton on Wednesday but neither side could celebrate two points after the game as the teams finished with a 1-1 stalemate.
Taunton came into the game hungry for its first league win, and they played like it, getting their first scoring opportunity off of a corner just one minute into the game. However, a save from Franklin goalkeeper Joe Kroon kept the game scoreless.
Franklin had an opportunity of their own at the four minute mark, when a Farley Asmath shot was saved by Taunton keeper Tim Gambaradella, who had a huge night for the Tigers and was essential in helping them earn a point.
In the 10th minute, Taunton threatened again, but a big defensive play from senior defender Sean Kilcoyne helped Franklin force a turnover and go back on the offensive
The Panthers thought they had broken through in the 16th minute, celebrating a goal that ended up being waved off due to an offsides call. Franklin stayed on the attack though, and in the 25th minute had another great scoring opportunity, but a big save by Gambaradella kept the Panthers off the board.
Franklin, after plenty of missed scoring chances, finally broke through in the 39th minute, when a deep pass from Sam Stowell found Farley Asmath in stride, and he chipped on over the goalie’s head, putting Franklin up 1-0.
Taunton didn’t take very long to respond, and in the 40th minute junior Daeshawn Duffie put one in the back of the net to knot the score up at 1-1.
Franklin head coach Fran Bositis was unhappy with his team’s performance, especially in the first half, saying, “We squandered many scoring opportunities, especially in the first half, and then we gave up what I think is an unforgivable goal at the end of the first half that never should have happened, it was careless marking.”
The second half started off back and forth, with both teams jockeying for position. In the 65th minute, Franklin finally broke through with a real scoring opportunity off of a corner, but it was well-defended by Taunton. Taunton turned Franklin’s next corner into a counter attack, creating an opportunity to score, leading to a shot from Hatim Brahimi that just went over the crossbar, keeping the game tied up.
In the 70th minute, Franklin had their best scoring opportunity of the half, but Kevin Hall’s header was played beautifully by Gambaradella, who made a huge save to preserve the tie.
Taunton had one final scoring opportunity of its own in the 72nd minute, but a leaping save from Kroon killed the attack.
Taunton head coach Taylor Whitters was very happy with her team’s performance, saying, “We are finally moving forward, building momentum, and breaking through where we know we can be and where we should be.
“Their mindset was a lot different tonight, and that’s what it takes, a positive mindset.”
For Taunton (1-13-2), they’ll look to carry their momentum into a Friday night home matchup against KP. Franklin (6-6-3) will look to avenge their early season loss to Mansfield this Friday.
2015 Record: 4-10-3 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Peter Pereira
Attleboro is only returning three starters from last year’s squad but the Bombardiers are hopeful that its incoming players will keep them competitive in the Kelley-Rex this season.
Senior captain Harry Lancaster will anchor the back line, showing his versatility by playing yet another position in his fourth year on varsity. Senior captain Ahijah Joseph will see time at both forward as well as some time in the midfield, alongside junior Zach White, another returnee. Junior Nick Hasenfus will take over as the starting goalie while seniors Tyler Treichler and Nick Lawrence will also emerge as key contributors this season. Head coach Peter Pereira also expects to get contributions from underclassmen including sophomore Will Halben and freshmen Mike Russo and Nathan LaPlume.
“We will be a hard working team that should get better every game,” Pereira said. “I think we will surprise some teams.”
2015 Record: 12-7-1 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Fran Bositis
Franklin has some big holes to fill around the field but returning nearly a dozen varsity players is a good start. Around 10 returning players saw valuable varsity minutes last season and that is something the Panthers will rely on.
The Panthers have to find replacements for midfielders Austin Kent and Nick Parent, along with defender Dan Geraci and goalie Henri Guilmette. However, Franklin doesn’t need to find any replacements for its strikers with both Farley Asmath and Kevin Hall back this year. Hall was second on the team with seven goals a season ago and Asmath is speedy, strong player that could add a lot to the attack. Hatim Brahimi (five goals, three assists in 2015) is one of the top returning players in the league and will lead the midfield for the Panthers this season. Franklin’s defense will consist of a rotation of five or six players, including Wesley Kozil and Noah Scafati. Senior Joe Kroon and junior Fred Beckmann will battle for the starting goalie spot.
“We’ve got a bunch of great athletes that are pretty good soccer players that work really hard,” head coach Fran Bositis said.
2015 Record: 8-8-3 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Second Round Coach: Nick Gale
The Kelley-Rex division title race expects to be a very contested one and King Philip looks like they’ll be right in the mix this season because of a strong balance of returning players.
Senior captains Cam Mullins and Ryan Coulter are returning to anchor the back line, which had a strong showing in 2015 with the fourth least goals surrendered in the Hockomock. Both have proved in the past to be reliable defenders, especially in the air against set pieces. Although the Warriors will have to replace the versatile Joe Kellett, KP has a handful of young players that saw valuable minutes on varsity and can make an impact this year. Tyler Mann will lead the attack, a year after scoring a team-high eight goals as a sophomore. Senior Colby Koch has shown his versatility in the past and will also be a factor for KP again this this. Juniors Connor Mullins, Larsen Keys and Mike Rowe also will be key players for the Warriors this season after each of them played meaningful minutes as sophomores.
“Our goal is to build off last year’s successes, continue to improve everyday, and compete hard,” head coach Nick Gale said.
“We know what we want, but we also know we have to earn it.”
2015 Record: 13-4-3 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Steve Sheridan
The defending Kelley-Rex champions will look to try to win back-to-back league titles for the first time in program history and they have a large amount of returning players that could help accomplish that goal.
Captain Max Gurnon, a 2015 HockomockSports.com Best XI selection, returns for his senior campaign to anchor an experienced back line that allowed just 15 goals last season. While Mansfield must overcome the graduation of Chris Elsner, juniors Nick Hyland and Harry Braidt both started on the back line last year while sophomore Ethan Brill-Cass looks to be the final piece to the defense. Mansfield will have to find a replacement for goalie Mike Kirejczyk but head coach Steve Sheridan said senior Jed Tolbert and junior Nick Ferraz will battle for the starting spot.
“As far as our strengths go, our defense should be strong,” Sheridan said. “Losing [Chris] Elsner is a big loss, but Ethan [Brill-Cass] saw a lot of time as a freshman last season and learned a lot from Chris. I’m hoping our offense is much improved over last season.”
The Hornets finished fifth in the league in scoring last year and graduated its top four scorers. However, there is a group of attacking players back that saw plenty of minutes. Senior captain Brendan Sullivan will be a speedy option up top while classmates Kevin Bouck and Ryan Amaral will figure into the offense. Senior captain James Chotkowski will lead a midfield unit along with Jackson Murphy, Cullin Anastasia and Sean Lanzillo.
2015 Record: 18-0-3 (Davenport Division Champions) 2015 Finish: Division 2 State Champions Coach: John Barata
Oliver Ames has had a target on its back for the last couple of years as they claimed four of the last five Davenport titles but after winning the program’s first ever Division 2 State Title last Fall, it’s bigger than ever.
The Tigers will have to replace two All-State players in Chris Romero and Keegan Nutt, as well as three seniors from their league-best defense last season. However, OA does return a good chunk of starters as well as experienced bench players from the state championship team.
Senior Thomas McCormick has been causing havoc for defenses for two years and will be relied upon to do so again this year. Nathaniel Cardoza, the 2015 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, will be back to control the middle of the pitch alongside Cam Vella, who showed his ability to get forward last season. Juniors Matt Campbell, Matt Alvarado, Jack Sheldon and Mason Galbato all saw time in the midfield last season and look to be contributors this year. Junior Jack Carroll is back in net again this year.
“We will try to be competitive this season and make another run at qualifying for the postseason,” head coach John Barata said. “Our path to the state tourney is extremely difficult this season as we join the Kelley-Rex. We look forward to a great season and hope to be in a position to qualify for the state tournament in late October.”
Barata noted that losing the back line, one that surrendered just 12 goals all season, will be a major challenge for the Tigers this season.
2015 Record: 2-13-2 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Taylor Whitters
With a new coach at the helm in Taylor Whitters, the Taunton Tigers are looking to build a new foundation for years to come. Whitters, who was previously the boys freshmen coach, is hoping the Tigers can rise up to the challenge of the very talented Kelley-Rex division.
Two key returning players include sophomore Hasan Farahat and junior Daeshawn Duffie. Both players possess strong soccer skills and will be vital parts for Taunton both ways as they patrol the midfield. Senior Sean Crowley will be tasked with pacing the scoring for the Tigers while freshman Colton Madeira, senior Dan DeAndreade and junior Jake DeAndrade will all be factors as Taunton pushes forward. Junior Liam Crowley will factor into Taunton’s defense and sophomore Liam Crowley will play a role in Taunton’s midfield.
“We are going to rise up in our league with respect, integrity,encouragement, unity and pride,” Whitters said.