2017 Record: 10-6-2 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Kate Howarth
Canton has been on the cusp of getting back to the top of the Davenport division in recent seasons and on their day the Bulldogs can be very difficult to play against. As one of the favorites for the league title this fall, consistency will be the biggest challenge for Canton as it tries to unseat North Attleboro at the top of the Davenport standings.
To get the attack in gear, Canton will be turning again to its youth. The Bulldogs will look to sophomores Olivia Rodman and Elisa Diletizia to run at opposing defenses and continue developing a partnership that was one of the most potent in the league last fall. Senior defender Sarah Collins will be the leader of the Canton defense, which will look to improve on the 34 goals allowed from last season. Junior Morgan McCabe will be stepping into a larger role this season, with her versatility as a forward or midfielder, and senior Julia Hamilton adds tenacity in the center of the pitch.
“I think this is going to be an exciting year for us, with strong players returning and some exciting new talent stepping in,” said Canton coach Kate Howarth. “Our goal as a group is to push passed being a really good team and become the great team we know we can be. The Hock is such a strong league and every team pushes each other to become better.”
2017 Record: 10-9-0 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Katie Stalcup
Last year was a transition season for Foxboro under first-year head coach Katie Stalcup, as a group of talented young players made their debuts at the varsity level. The Warriors improved over the course of the season, made the playoffs, and now with a year of experience for a young squad there is a lot of buzz about Foxboro this fall.
The graduation of Lily Sykes, who was one of the league’s top players for all four years of her career, leaves big shoes to fill, but Foxboro has a number of players with potential to make up some of her production. Senior Mackenzi Fraser will be the main striker for Foxboro this year but sophomore Jordyn Collins will add speed on the wing and freshman Kaitryn Franchino will contribute up top as well. Junior Kendra Wentling returns in the midfield and freshman Kailee McCabe is a player to watch in the center of the pitch. Defensively, Foxboro has a lot of experience in senior Alex Stamatos, who will be joined in the back line by junior Yara Fawaz. Sophomore Morgan Sylvestre will be in net again this fall.
Stalcup praised the team’s tenacity and speed. She added, “I am very excited about this season. Even though we are still a young team, I think we will do very well. We have a team full of hard workers and great attitudes.”
For the past several seasons, Milford has been on the verge of getting back to the playoffs and now new coach Lou Colabello, who formerly coached at Douglas, will look to push the Hawks up the league standings with a number of experienced players in key positions.
The midfield will be patrolled by seniors Siena Pierce and Cassie Probert and junior playmaker Juliana France, who was named a league all-star as a sophomore and demonstrated the ability to cover a lot of ground in the middle of the pitch. The Hawks scored only 24 goals last season, so the attacking unit will be hoping to step it up this year, including senior Hannah Martin and junior Ashleigh Starks. The defense also has plenty of experience with junior Olivia Marshall back in goal and her classmates Maddie Boyle and Annie Flanagan in front of her to keep things organized at the back.
Colabello said, “We should have a solid midfield and many other players who can play different positions,and we expect big things from our returning goalkeeper. I feel this team is capable of competing with some of the elite teams in the league. There work ethics and attitude have been outstanding,thus I expect it will be a rewarding season and hopefully a playoff berth.”
2017 Record: 14-3-3 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro will need a number of players to step into bigger roles this season, if the Rocketeers are going to make it three league titles in a row. North graduated 14 seniors and eight starters from last year’s team, but there are a number of familiar names and big contributors who are back and aiming for a three-peat.
The Rocketeers scored 60 goals last year and senior Ashlyn Gaulin contributed on 27 of those (17 goals and 10 assists). She will be the focal point of the attack this season, after the graduation of 100-point scorer Haley Guertin, and her sister Emma will try to provide the assists from the midfield. Seniors Kayla Pasquel and Haley Ferris will add to the experience in the center of the pitch for North and classmates Morgan Silver, Liz Smahi, Lexi Sinacola, and Lauren Pezzi will add depth in the midfield and defense. Seniors Sam Hawkins and Brieann Westcott will be at heart of the defensive unit with classmate Emma Noreck in goal.
North coach Bill Wallace said that sophomores Lydia Santos and Tess Collins will be contributors this season in midfield and attack. He added, “This group is a pleasure to work with, they want to work hard and get better.”
Sharon alum Catherine Sullivan takes over the program this season, as the Eagles look to rebuild and work towards a return to the state tournament. With the graduation of Ali Filipkowski, Sharon lost a lot of firepower but Sullivan is excited about the potential and the growth of the team during the preseason.
One of the key returning players is senior goalie Lydia Chase, who is a fearless shot stopper and her distribution will be important for the Eagles’ transition game. In front of Chase, senior Rose Wald is back in the heart of the defense and will partner with sophomore Molly McAlevey, who is a newcomer to the varsity but already showing a lot of composure on the ball. The midfield engine is senior Maxine Gordon, who will drive the Eagles forward, and junior Bella Berger will add playmaking and vision in the center of the pitch. Senior Bridget McManus will be the main forward and she will be expected to not only provide goals but also set up her teammates and get others involved in the attack.
“As a Sharon graduate, I’m really excited about the opportunity to once again represent the maroon and gold,” said Sullivan. “I think this team has a lot of talent and athleticism, and we will be striving to create a cohesive group that can consistently compete at a higher level.”
Although Stoughton was unable to pick up an elusive league win last season, Black Knights coach Tara Daniels felt that there was progress from the team, particularly in attack. A group of speedy, young attackers made Stoughton a more dangerous team and that experience has Daniels hopeful for even more in 2018.
Speed on the edges is going to be a key strength for the Black Knights this season led by senior outside back Cintia Khouzami and sophomore Nikki Anderson, who has gained a lot of confidence after playing a lot of minutes as a freshman. In the heart of the defense, senior Corina Kavanagh will be the leader of the group, ensuring everyone is organized. Sophomore Mackenzie Manning is another player who grew a lot over the course of her rookie season and will again be the primary playmaker for the Black Knights and a key to keeping possession. Senior Gabriela Diaz played a lot at the back last season, but this year her speed will be utilized up front to create even more opportunities.
Daniels said, “Our strength this year is our speed; our team has many players that excel on the track in the off-season. Last year we made big strides offensively and this year we plan on using the speed of many players to help us continue the offensive push we need.”
WEYMOUTH, Mass. – Just four days after being four seconds away from clinching a playoff spot at Stoughton, Canton was forced to play an extra four minutes on Tuesday night at Weymouth to try and extend its season and end a seven-year wait for a return to the postseason.
The Bulldogs watched a buzzer beater fall short at the end of the fourth quarter, regrouped in the huddle, and outscored the Wildcats 13-7 in the extra period to pull out a 65-59 road victory that means Canton (10-10) will be playing playoff basketball for the first time since 2011 and first time under head coach Jim Choquette.
“I thought Friday night (against Stoughton) might help us in the future,” said Choquette, “being on the road in a hostile environment where we have to come up with a win, and it did help us. I don’t think the girls panicked for a minute. The girls really stayed steady. Just staying positive through all of it was the most important part.”
Senior forward Hannah Jerrier, who saw the team jump from only two wins her freshman season to 10 wins this year, added, “Ever since the first day of tryouts my freshman year, the goal has always been get to the playoffs, get to the playoffs. Each year we got closer and closer but never got it, but now that we’re finally there it’s kind of amazing.”
Jerrier finished the game with 15 points and 14 rebounds, including nine points in the fourth quarter and overtime, but it was not her typical dominant performance in the paint. Instead, Canton turned to an unlikely hero. Sophomore Lilah Milton came off the bench to score a career-high 21 points and pull down 10 rebounds in the biggest game of Canton’s season.
“For a sophomore who never even played JV, for her to step in during the two biggest games of the season for us and have that success and that much confidence shows a lot of how far she’s come,” said Choquette of Milton.
Things did not start well for the Bulldogs. They fell behind by as many as 11 in the first quarter, trailing 15-4 to the Wildcats, who also won the first meeting between the teams back in January. Molly Ludwig scored on an offensive rebound and then Maggie Connolly scored off an assist by Jerrier to cut the lead to six at the end of one.
Connolly scored only four points on Tuesday, but was the most aggressive player on the floor, willing Canton back into the game in the early going. She finished with 12 rebounds and seven assists, as well as being a pest defensively.
“A few games ago, Maggie turned a light switch on and just refused to lose,” said Choquette. “She was going to, in her mind, do anything possible to get us to the playoffs. I told the girls in a timeout, she can’t do it alone; we have to step up.”
In the second, Canton started to clamp down on defense with Erin Devine getting a pair of blocks to fire up the traveling fans, which included the boys’ basketball team. Devine (12 points) also chipped in with six points in the quarter, as Canton started to get the ball into the paint.
Milton also started to get going in the second with a three-point play off a Devine assist and then a jumper off a pass from Julia Hamilton. Connolly fought for an offensive rebound in traffic and fed Milton for another layup to tie the game at 25-25. Hamilton drilled a three to give Canton its first lead since the opening basket.
“When we were down by a lot, we kept getting slow, everyone’s spirits were down,” Jerrier explained. “Once we started hustling that’s when we started scoring all of our points and going on those good runs.”
Weymouth took back the lead in the third quarter when it caught fire from beyond the arc. The Wildcats made four three-pointers, including a trio from Kerin McCarthy (18 points). Devine scored four points in the third and Hamilton (11 points) hit her second three, but the Wildcats led by one heading to the fourth.
The hosts scored the first four points of the fourth but Jerrier answered with banked three from the left wing to cut the lead back to two points. After another McCarthy three, Milton scored on an offensive rebound and knocked down a short jumper. Following a pair of free throws by Jerrier, Milton hit a turnaround off glass from the right box to give the Bulldogs a one-point edge with a minute to play.
“It’s amazing to have some of these underclassmen who haven’t had that much varsity experience come into these big games like this and take over,” said Jerrier.
Twice Canton appeared to have a steal that could have iced the game. Connolly was unable to get her feet set when she lunged to pick off an inbound pass and was called for traveling and then Jerrier had the ball knocked away after another inbound mistake by the Wildcats, but the officials ruled that she touched it last. On its third attempt, Weymouth got the ball to Delaney Spinney and she knocked down a jumper for a 52-52 tie.
On the other end, with under 10 seconds to play, a pass to Jerrier appeared to get knocked away by a Weymouth defender, but again the call went against the Bulldogs. The Wildcats would get one last chance and had a decent look but the shot did not fall and Canton stayed alive.
“We all knew that we were capable of winning,” said Jerrier of the conversation in the huddle, “but we just didn’t have our heads in the right place. We all had to focus on our goal, which was winning the game. When we all came together to do that, we got it.”
Twice Canton took the lead in the overtime only to have Weymouth answer back. Milton gave the Bulldogs the lead for good when she scooped up a loose ball and knocked down another mid-range shot. Jerrier added a jumper of her own and then Milton scored off a feed from Connolly for a six-point edge with 1:14 left.
A three cut the lead in half, but the players never looked as nervous as the people in the stands. Hamilton made 5-of-6 from the line in the final minute and Canton was finally playoff-bound.
“Ultimately, the one that we needed to have a win in, the girls came through,” said Choquette. “So many game we rely on Hannah to do everything. We need 30 points; we need 18 rebounds and thank God she can actually play that well. But tonight, I was so proud of the rest of the girls stepping up.
“The girls just decided tonight was our night and they got it done.”
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Even with a raucous crowd roaring just to her left, sophomore Lilah Milton knocked down the first of two free throws with fewer than 20 seconds remaining in the game to give Canton a one-point lead at Stoughton and put the Bulldogs on the brink of tournament qualification for the first time since 2011.
Milton’s second free throw bounced off the front of the rim and was rebounded by Stoughton junior Lindsay McDonald, as the home crowd somehow got even louder, adding to the playoff-like atmosphere of the rivalry game. Maggie Connolly came within inches of a steal for the Bulldogs at midcourt, but Aliyah Wright came away with it and found McDonald open in the corner.
With adrenaline pumping, McDonald’s shot sailed over the rim, over 6-foot-3 Canton center Erin Devine and right to the hands of Jordan Motley. The forward went up strong, finished around the outstretched arms of Devine with four seconds on the clock, and lifted Stoughton to a thrilling 49-48 come from behind victory.
Here is the frantic final sequence of tonight’s game, Lilah Milton hit the first of two free throws to put Canton ahead but Jordan Motley’s rebound and score gave Stoughton the win #hockomockpic.twitter.com/J8okWfH23T
A night that began with Motley being honored on the court with the rest of Stoughton’s senior class ended with her being swallowed up by her classmates who stormed the court after the final horn sounded.
“Canton played phenomenal and for us we just grinded it out with our defense,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “We missed a ton of free throws but we got it done at the end of the game and Jordan Motley came through like you hope for any senior on senior night with a tough finish down there.”
“Throughout the season we haven’t had a lot of fans,” Motley said in between photos with friends and family after the game, “but tonight they showed out and that pushed us even when we were down. Even when we were losing they still cheered for us and that was awesome.”
It was a heartbreaking finish for Canton, but the Bulldogs season is far from over. Canton will travel to Weymouth on Tuesday and a win will clinch the program’s elusive return to the playoffs.
“We always talk about playing our best towards the end of the year going into the tournament, whether we make it or not, and we are playing great right now,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “We put ourselves in the position to beat a playoff team and a team that beat us the first time around. The girls just dug deeper and deeper and deeper.”
Stoughton got off to a great start, leading 6-0 in the early going, but Canton bounced right back behind junior point guard Julia Hamilton, who caught fire from three-point range. Hamilton hit four from beyond the arc, scoring 12 of her team-high 14 points in the quarter. With Devine on the bench with foul trouble, Milton stepped in with four points to help the Bulldogs to a 16-10 lead after one.
The Black Knights came back strong in the second by getting the ball into senior forward Val Whalen (19 points and 14 rebounds). She scored nine points in the quarter and was helped by Wright (15 points), who also scored nine in the second. After a Whalen put-back, Connolly went end-to-end for a layup but Stoughton went into the break leading 31-28.
Canton came out strong in the second half, holding Stoughton to two points on a couple of free throws in the third quarter and putting together what ended up being a 17-4 run that put the Bulldogs ahead by as many as 10 points (45-35).
After being held to just five points in the first half, senior forward Hannah Jerrier (13 points and 14 rebounds) scored six in the third, including a layup off a Connolly offensive rebound and assist.
“Most games we know everyone is going to focus on her and do everything they can to stop Hannah,” said Choquette. “Once Julia hit some shots and Lilah was able to get some seams then it left Hannah open.”
In the fourth, Canton continued to be aggressive on the offensive end with Milton (12 points) competing a three-point play and Hamilton driving and dishing to a cutting Connolly (six points and 10 rebounds) for a layup that extended the lead to 10 points and forced a Stoughton timeout.
“We just said keep our heads up,” said Motley about the conversation in the huddle. “Our team is very young and they haven’t been in situations like this that often so Val and I as seniors we told them it’s our senior night, we want to win, and to keep our head up the whole game.”
The Black Knights regrouped, switched to man-to-man defense and were spurred on by one of the largest crowds the team has drawn this season. Wright scored off a Sydnee Hyacinthe assist in transition to start the comeback and Motley scored in the post to cut the lead down to five. A Whalen transition basket made it a three-point game and this time it was Canton forced to call time.
“We had several close games at the start of the season and it kind of prepared them to keep it together, keep their cool,” said Steele Jordan. “My team believed in each other and getting stops.”
Wright swooped across the rim for a lefty layup on the break to make it a one-point game at 45-44, but Hamilton answered with a pair of clutch free throws for the Bulldogs. Whalen assisted on a Wright basket to again make it a one-point game and then the senior made 1-of-2 at the line to tie it.
Had the Black Knights not gotten the win, free throw shooting would have been the story for the hosts, who made only 14-of-32 at the line.
Instead, the win gives Stoughton, which has now won 10-of-11 since a 1-7 start to the season, even more confidence heading into the tournament, especially if the Black Knights continue to get this level of support from the fans.
“Oh my goodness, the atmosphere was fantastic,” said Steele Jordan. “The stands were full. The fans were phenomenal. For me, this is the way you want a senior night to be.”
Choquette dismissed the idea of this being a tough loss to recover from with one game to play. He insisted, “No, we’re not bouncing back from some team that we should’ve beaten who’s 5-15. We lost on a last-second shot to a playoff-caliber team and we earned the right by playing so well all year to play another game and have a chance to go to the tournament.”
Stoughton (11-8, 10-6) will close out the regular season on Monday when Norwood pays a visit. Canton (9-10, 7-9) will travel to Weymouth on Tuesday night.
TAUNTON, Mass. – There was no hiding the fact that Wednesday’s game was a big one for both Taunton and Canton, two programs hovering around the .500 mark and trying to fight their way back to the postseason.
Behind 25 points and 15 rebounds from senior forward Hannah Jerrier and strong contributions off the bench on both ends of the floor, the Bulldogs turned a two-point halftime deficit into a 56-46 victory that brings them back to .500 overall and in the league.
“It was one of those things tonight where we said anything and everything we can possibly do, we need to do,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “We knew how good they were…we knew this was going to be a very long, tough night.”
Trailing by two at the break, the Bulldogs came out with a 2-2-1 full-court press and held Taunton without a made basket for the first seven minutes of the third quarter. Choquette said that Canton had not practiced the press this season, but the players decided it would be effective.
“It was very close, back and forth, and the girls at halftime said I think they’re getting nervous in the backcourt why don’t we do a two-guard press,” he explained. “We drew it up on the board…we went with it, they were confident, and it was probably the best thing we could’ve done.”
Following a pair of Taunton free throws, Jerrier scored in the paint off an assist by Erin Devine, who used her 6-foot-3 frame as a passer in the high post, and then Canton tied the game on a offensive rebound by Maggie Connolly (nine points and 12 rebounds). Julia Hamilton put the Bulldogs ahead with a pull-up jumper.
It was a lead that Canton would never relinquish.
Devine grabbed an offensive rebound and scored, as the Bulldogs pushed the lead to five points before the Tigers finally got a shot to fall in the second half. There were only 50 seconds left in the third when MacKenzie Handrahan (11 points and six boards) scored underneath on an assist by Tori DaRosa. Sonya Fernandez (nine points and eight rebounds) scored on a putback to cut Canton’s lead to 35-32 heading to the final eight minutes.
Canton broke the game open a little at the start of the fourth. Again, Devine played provider with an assist over the top of the Taunton defense to Jerrier on the block.
“She makes a difference because she’s able to pass high and catch high and Hannah is able to catch high and keep her position down low to get the inside shots,” said Harrigan about the connection between Devine and Jerrier. “They probably had 12-15 layups tonight and the offensive rebounds just killed us. We were trying to box but the size just killed us.”
Defense continued to turn into offense for the Bulldogs and Connolly scored off a steal and layup and then she scored on a back-cut off a feed from point guard Hamilton. Connolly scored seven points in the fourth.
“Maggie defensively is one of the ones who leads us,” said Choquette. “She’s obviously very fast, so when we get a steal we like to throw it ahead to her [because] we know she’s going to get it.”
The Bulldogs jumped out by nine points, but Taunton bounced right back with seven straight points. Handrahan scored in the post and then freshman Kelsey White (11 points) got a steal and a layup. After Handrahan scored on an offensive rebound to make it 43-41, Taunton got a steal but immediately lost the ball and Handrahan fouled out diving into the pack after the loose ball.
“We had a lot of momentum going at that point,” said Harrigan of the point when Handrahan committed her fifth foul. “We sort of felt like we had control of the game and it took the wind out of our sails at that point.”
He added, “Some of it is our inexperience. We’d get a steal and turn it over. We got it back down to three at one point and we stole the ball but turned it over and they went right down and got a layup.”
At times this season, Canton has struggled down the stretch of games. On Wednesday, the Bulldogs put Taunton away with a 13-5 run. Jerrier hit a pair at the line and got free underneath for two points on an inbound play. White drilled a three that cut the lead down to six but a Connolly steal and layup sealed the win.
“In the past few games, even in some of our wins, we’ve struggled to finish games off, so I think the difference tonight was getting loose balls and obviously most games we have a height advantage but that doesn’t always mean we win the rebounding or free throw battle and I think we did a good job of that,” Choquette said.
Taunton had the lead in the first half despite struggling offensively for long stretches. After an 0-for-11 start from the field, the Tigers made eight straight shots including a Fernandez jumper at the buzzer to have a 16-11 lead after one. Hannah Moniz scored all five of her points in the first.
In the second, Jerrier scored eight points and sophomore Lilah Milton added four of her eight, but the Tigers had another late flurry, including a White three in the final seconds of the half, to take a 25-23 lead at the break.
“The first quarter was 16-11 and I think we scored all 16 in three minutes and second quarter the same thing,” said Harrigan. “Give them credit, they dominated the boards and the inside and I think that was the difference in the game.”
Canton (6-6, 5-5) will step out of the Hockomock League on Monday when the Bulldogs travel to Dover-Sherborn. Taunton (6-9, 4-6) will try to bounce back on Tuesday at Stoughton.
MILFORD, Mass. – Holding onto a seven-point lead with a little more than a minute remaining in Tuesday night’s game against Davenport division rival Canton, Milford moved the ball around the perimeter to run clock. Despite the pressure from the Canton guards, the Hawks were able to keep the ball moving until it got to senior guard Kate Irwin on the left wing.
The lefty point guard took two hard dribbles to get space and pulled up from just inside the three-point line. Irwin got a clean look and hit nothing but net on the last of her game-high 26 points, 17 of which came in the second half.
Irwin’s jumper effectively sealed a 49-38 victory for the Hawks, who move into a tie with the Bulldogs for second place in the division ahead of the visit of league leading Foxboro on Friday.
“We played that to perfection,” said Milford coach T.J. Dolliver of the team’s penultimate possession. “I’m happy to see that because when we played Stoughton we didn’t handle the end of game situation well and that bucket there is the difference in the game. We ran 25 seconds off and made a bucket.”
Irwin had only two points in the first quarter, as Canton junior Maggie Connolly made her work for every shot. The imposing figures of 6-foot-3 Erin Devine and 6-foot-1 Hannah Jerrier in the paint also made it difficult to find good looks at the rim.
Senior guard Emily Piergustavo picked up the slack for the Hawks in the first with seven of her nine points, including a a three and a basket from an offensive rebound. Devine led the Bulldogs with four and it was a three-point edge for the Hawks heading to the second.
That was when Irwin started to catch fire. She opened the second with a traditional three-point play off a steal, scored off a Piergustavo offensive rebound and assist and then got another steal and transition basket.
“Getting to the hoop in the half court was going to be difficult,” said Dolliver about his team’s desire to run at every opportunity, “so luckily we got our good looks in transition and we were getting to the hoop.”
Canton continued to keep the game close, despite only getting four points from Jerrier. The team’s leading scorer was blanketed by Milford’s 2-3 zone with all of the Hawks making sure to know where the senior was at all times. The zone opened up opportunities from the outside and junior guard Julia Hamilton (nine points) made a pair of threes, the second of which tied the score at 24-24 in the third quarter.
“We get into a lot of situations where we defer to the bigs because they’re talented and it’s part of our game plan to utilize them, so it’s nice to have Julia do one of the things she’s good at and help our team get us ahead in that area,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette.
Jerrier (10 points and 11 rebounds) scored off a Connolly assist to give the Bulldogs a 26-24 lead, but Milford went on a 9-2 run to finish the third with a five-point advantage. Irwin scored eight of those final nine points, hitting a pair of pull-up jumpers and scoring twice off of steals.
“She always makes the difference,” said Dolliver of Irwin. “She’s a tough kid too. I get on her now and then and she handles it well.”
The game remained tight in the fourth quarter. Jerrier scored on a putback to start the fourth, but Gillian Valanzola scored off an Irwin assist to answer. Hamilton got the ball into Devine for a basket at the rim and, after Jess Tomaso scored to push the lead back to four, Molly Ludwig scored off another Hamilton assist to make it 37-35.
Again, the Hawks were able to close a quarter strongly. Kate Lobisser rattled in her only basket of the night to get the run started and Irwin added three more with a finish, plus the contact, following a steal. After the teams traded a series of free throws, Irwin got open in the corner and hit the dagger jumper to ensure the win.
“We didn’t execute enough to win,” admitted Choquette. “You have to give credit to Milford…at the end of the day, they just made more of those little things that they had to right. The score’s not as close as the game was, but in a close game it comes down to the team that makes the extra play.”
Milford’s ability to compete with Canton’s size on the glass was also a factor in limiting the Bulldog’s offense. Tomaso and Valanzola each finished with six rebounds, while Irwin and Juliana Tracy each finished with five.
Dolliver explained, “I don’t know how many offensive rebounds they had but they had their fair share and they’re going to get their fair share in every game, but that was a point of emphasis before the game because that’s where a lot of their points come from.”
Milford (5-2, 3-2) will host league leading Foxboro on Friday night. Canton (4-2, 3-2) will be back home on Friday to face Sharon.
Attleboro, 50 @ Canton, 53 – Final – Canton held a one-point lead at halftime (28-27) but used an 8-0 run to start the second half to create the separation it needed. The Bulldogs went up 51-41 with 5:29 to play, but Attleboro’s switch to a zone defense stalled Canton’s offense and got the Bombarders back into the game. Attleboro had a 9-2 run and had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer but the shot missed and Canton picked up its first win over Attleboro since 2013. Senior Tony Harris scored a game-high 18 points while hauling in 15 rebounds, senior Austin Maffie added 11 points and junior Devin Foster finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Attleboro junior Dom Victor had a team-high 16 points while sophomore Qualeem Charles had 12 points.
King Philip, 53 @ Milford, 47 – Final – Milford held the lead until the final minutes of the game, but King Philip took the lead late and earned the win on the road. Milford junior Brendan White dropped a career-high 20 points while senior Kayden Kelley had 15 points for the Hawks.
Oliver Ames, 64 @ Stoughton, 53 – Final – Stoughton rallied at the end of the first half, using seven straight points from senior Greg Firmin (career-high 14 points) to take a 34-32 lead at halftime. But Oliver Ames switched to a 2-3 zone and took control of the game in the second half. OA senior Jack Spillane led all scorers with 24 points while junior Jake Erlich scored 13 points for the Tigers.
Taunton, 64 @ Sharon, 62 – Final – Sharon overcame a 13-point deficit over the final 90 seconds and had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but came up just shy. Taunton jumped out to a 20-10 lead after the first quarter before taking a 34-25 lead into the locker room. The Tigers kept their lead in double-digits, 50-40, heading into the final quarter. Sharon outscored Taunton 22-12 in the final frame but the Tigers escaped with the win. Sophomore Dante Law netted a team-high 20 points for Taunton while junior Lou Vendrell scored a career-high 18 points. Sharon senior Malik Lorquet led all scorers with 22 points and 12 rebounds, Jimmy Fitzhenry added 14 points and Lester High had 11 points.
Canton, 39 @ Attleboro, 37 – Final – Hannah Jerrier scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Erin Devine added eight points, eight rebounds, three blocks, and three assists as Canton rallied in the final minute to open its season with a road victory. The Bulldogs trailed 37-36 with a minute left and scored to take the lead, adding a free throw in the final 20 seconds. Julia Hamilton added seven points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs. Attleboro was led by Sam Pierce’s 12 points, while Jordyn Lako scored 10 in the loss.
Foxboro, 43 @ Mansfield, 37 – Final – The Warriors got 12 points from Grace Tamulionis and nine points from Lily Sykes (on a combined five three-pointers) to win the Hockomock opener for both teams in a battle of last season’s league champions. The Warriors took the lead with a 15-6 fourth-quarter run. The game was tied 37-37 with 2:00 remaining and Shannon Smally scored the go-ahead basket for Foxboro. Mansfield got 11 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks from Meg Hill and nine points on a trio of three-pointers from Ann Maher.
North Attleboro, 37 @ Franklin, 61 – Final – Ali Brigham scored 16 points to lead Franklin to a win in the Hockomock League opener for both teams. Bea Bondhus added 15 points and freshman Elizabeth Wilson had 12 for the Panthers.
Milford, 56 @ King Philip, 64 – Final – Shannon O’Connor scored a game-high 26 points to give new head coach Amy Siggens a win in her first game in charge. Faith Roy added 10 points and Faye Veilleux had nine for the Warriors. Siggens said it was a total team effort and highlighted KP turning the ball over only 10 times in the game. She added, “They just played so well together.” Milford was led by Kate Irwin with 22 points and Emily Piergustavo scored 16 in the loss.
Stoughton, 48 @ Oliver Ames, 55 – Final – Oliver Ames held a comfortable 45-29 lead after three quarters, but the Knights rattled off a 17-4 run over the first five minutes of the final quarter to make it a three-point game. OA’s defense clamped down and allowed just two more points the rest of the way while Abby Reardon and Tori Harney hit key free throws to seal the win. Kayla Raymond scored 25 points and Caroline Flynn added 14 to lead Oliver Ames to a season-opening victory.
Sharon, 42 @ Taunton, 58 – Final – Taunton got 15 points from Hannah Moniz to open its season with a second straight win, exceeding the win total from last winter. Jaelyn Fernandez added 11 points, Mackenzie Handrahan had 10 points and seven boards, Alexa White had eight points and six steals, and Lily Patneaude and Kelsey White each had seven points in the victory. Emma Eberhardt scored 21 points and Kaitlyn Wallace added 16 for the Eagles.
Canton, 108.5 @ Attleboro, 49.5 – Final
The Bombardiers enter the season with a new coaching staff and a very different starting lineup to the one that nearly knocked off Mansfield in the Div. 1 South playoffs last season. Former King Philip coach Marty Crowley has taken over after Rick Patch stepped down in the off-season and he will have only a few returning varsity players to call on this winter.
Senior forward Sam Pierce will be the key piece on offense, as Attleboro tries to replace the more than 30 points per game that was lost with the graduation of Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan. Pierce has been a consistent scorer and rebounder for the past few seasons, but this will be the first time that she is the primary offensive weapon and could be poised for a breakout year. Junior Jordyn Lako and senior Grace Mayer are strong on-the-ball defenders and should help Crowley implement his high-pressure defensive scheme. Senior Kim White will also be one of Attleboro’s ball-handlers in the backcourt.
One of the players who saw a little time on varsity last season that is expected to make a big jump is sophomore Nyah Thomas, who has the length to be a tough defender and showed in her few appearances last year that she can rebound and take the ball to the basket. Sophomore Liv McCall is a fearless shooter that will stretch the floor and transfer Mackenzie Roberts will give the Bombardiers added size in the paint.
Crowley said, “For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound. Sam, I am sure, is going to draw a lot of attention from other teams, so we must make sure that we are smart offensively and get touches for everyone.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-14 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Jim Choquette
There has been excitement around the Canton program for the past few seasons and that continues this winter, as the Bulldogs look to secure a place in the state tournament behind an experienced lineup that has been developing together for several years.
Senior Hannah Jerrier is the key for the Bulldogs, as the forward is coming off a league all-star season in which she emerged as a potential double-double night after night. Jerrier is a solid rebounder and scorer in the paint, reaching the 20-point mark nine times last season and averaging more than 16 points and nine rebounds per game. Junior Julia Hamilton will be back at point guard for the Bulldogs to help get the Canton into its offensive sets and provide pressure, on-the-ball defense. Senior Jess Powers is also back after missing a season to a knee injury and will add a boost to the team’s outside shooting and take pressure off Jerrier on offense.
Junior Maggie Connolly returns for her second year in the backcourt and seniors Lindsey Barrett, Nikki Gefteas, and Leya Conard will all add depth to the Canton roster this season, while junior Erin Devine adds another important post presence on both ends of the floor. The versatility of the roster will allow head coach Jim Choquette to change his game plans every game, slowing it down to play half-court or ratcheting up the pressure to go up tempo.
“Canton remains focused on playing together and staying positive for the best season possible,” Choquette said. “Leading up to our first game there’s been an extreme amount of effort and energy by a large group of unselfish girls and our seniors have all been great examples of staying positive throughout all situations!”
2016-2017 Record: 22-3 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Semifinal Coach: Lisa Downs
After winning the Div. 2 South title and reaching the TD Garden last winter, this year’s Foxboro team will have high expectations, but with four starters returning, including reigning Hockomock League MVP Ashley Sampson, the Warriors will once again be the favorites to take home the Davenport division crown.
Having already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career, Sampson enters her senior season as the focal point of the Foxboro offense. Her ability to get into the lane and finish, as well as step back and knock down shots, makes her a tough cover and opens space for her teammates. Fellow senior Lily Sykes is one of the beneficiaries of that space and she can take advantage of open looks on the perimeter. Senior Grace Tamulionis is another player who can stretch the floor for the Warriors and can be an ‘X’ factor for Foxboro in big games. Senior Shannon Smally adds rebounding and post presence to keep defenses honest.
The Warriors are now the veteran team in the division, but there are also several younger players that have developed into critical pieces off the bench, including sophomore Abby Hassman, who has grown in the off-season into a strong rebounder. Freshman Katelyn Mollica will add backcourt depth with her tenacity on defense and already impressive court awareness. Junior Chelsea Gibbons is another player that is expected to step into a bigger role this season.
Foxboro coach Lisa Downs said, “This group of seniors have been part of our Varsity team since their freshmen year and with each year, they have learned and developed more – all of the girls on this year’s team put in the necessary work; now its time to execute.”
2016-2017 Record: 9-11 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: John Leighton
Franklin got off to a rough start last season, beginning 0-6 with an inexperienced roster, but then closed the year with nine wins in the last 14 games, just missing out on a return to the postseason. This year, the Panthers will try to build on that year of experience and book a return to the playoffs.
The Panthers will have strength in the middle to try and get off to a much better start this season. Sophomore Ali Brigham, last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, has received several Div. I NCAA offers, including one from the University of Minnesota, and at 6-foot-3 can dominate the paint on both ends of the floor. Franklin will also have outside scoring with junior guard Bea Bondhus, who is a consistent three-point shooter and will stretch defenses to open up the post for Brigham.
Franklin has plenty of size this season. Sophomore forwards Breanna Atwood (5-foot-9) and Megan O’Connell (5-foot-10) and senior forward Kate Morse (5-foot-11) will provide plenty of depth on the inside. Junior Shannon Gray will be back to run the point and senior Grace Sameski will add backcourt depth. Freshman guard Elizabeth Wilson is poised to make an instant impact for the Panthers, as she did in the season opener by knocking down three free throws in the final seconds to force overtime against Holy Name.
“We are a young team with only two seniors, but I am very pleased with the effort and progress of the team,” said Franklin coach John Leighton, who is excited about the return of the majority of the team’s scoring and the potential of the youth on the roster.
King Philip has a new coach this season, with former Wellesley assistant Amy Siggens taking over for Marty Crowley, and there could be a period of adjustment for a still relatively young Warriors roster to adapt to the new system, but there is excitement about the progress being made by the seven returning varsity players.
Boston University-commit Shannon O’Connor will once again be a player to watch for the Warriors this winter. The junior’s ability to shoot off the dribble, defend multiple positions, and take the ball to the basket has made her one of the league’s elite perimeter players. As O’Connor continues to develop as a playmaker that will create open looks for her teammates, including junior Julia Leroux and sophomore Faith Roy. Senior Christina Hathaway (one of only two seniors on the roster) will add strength in the paint on both ends of the floor.
The Warriors will not lack for size this season. O’Connor is listed at 5-foot-11, junior Catherine Cummings and sophomore Faye Veilleux are listed at 5-foot-10, and Roy is listed at 5-foot-9. The versatility of those players will give Siggens room to switch up lineups when needed. KP is still pretty young and Siggens has added two freshmen, Emma Glaser and Brianna James, to this year’s roster.
Siggens said, “Early on we will stress the importance of being unselfish on offense and being tough and aggressive on defense. Knowing mistakes will be made, there will be no small emphasis on the importance of playing hard all the time… I am encouraged by our team’s enthusiasm and attitude.”
2016-2017 Record: 20-4 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final. Coach: Mike Redding
Replacing the production of last season’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jen Peel is a difficult task, but Mansfield has the talent, depth, and experience in the roster to make it work. The Hornets return four starters from last year’s squad and will lean on a loaded and versatile junior class to try and make it a three-peat of league titles.
The key returner for Mansfield is 6-foot-3 center Meg Hill. The Stonehill College-commit is already the program’s best in blocked shots and is soon to be the career leader in rebounds, while improving her offensive game every season. With Peel gone, junior Mady Bendanillo will be tasked with getting the ball into the post to Hill and to fellow junior Maggie Danehy, who had an impressive start with a double-double against Medfield in the Endowment Game. Reigning HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year Ann Maher will also be back at shooting guard and is one of the team’s most consistent three-point threats.
Juniors Erin Daniel, Emily Vigeant, Sydney Mulkern and Kara Bendanillo will likely compete for the fifth starting spot and all should see plenty of playing time this year. With 5-foot-11 senior Maeve Carney and 5-foot-10 freshman Ashley Santos, the Hornets should be able to dominate the paint and sophomore Becca Hottleman will add depth at the point guard position.
Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “We have a chance to be very good again with our junior group getting a ton of experience last year and we hope to compete for league title again.” He added that the Hornets bolstered the schedule this season as well. Redding said, “Our record may not be as good as last year when we earned the No. 1 seed, but we will be more battle tested for the state tourney in March.”
2016-2017 Record: 10-11 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central first round. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
A year after returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012 (and nearly pulling off an upset of Marlboro on the road), Milford brings back seven seniors to try and make a push for a Davenport division title and another state tournament appearance.
The Hawks have a versatile lineup led by four-year starter Kate Irwin. The lefty point guard is one of the most dynamic perimeter scorers and playmakers in the league and she continues to improve each season. Her ability to get into the paint opens up room for her teammates and she can also step back and knock down threes. Irwin will be helped by fellow seniors Gillian Valanzola and Juliana Tracy, who add size on the post.
Senior Emily Piergustavo is a knock-down shooter from beyond the arc and her classmate Jess Tomaso has proven to be a solid rebounder from the guard position. There are also two sophomores and four freshmen on the roster this season to add depth and build for the future under third-year head coach T.J. Dolliver.
Dolliver said, “I am very excited for our team this year. This is my 3rd year with a lot of these girls and seeing how they have progressed over the years have really set this team up for a fun season.”
Last season, North Attleboro boasted one of the most experienced lineups in the league with five of its top six players being seniors, but this year the Rocketeers will be incorporating a number of new faces, as only six players (only starter) return from last winter.
The lone returning starter is junior guard Julia Feid, who had a breakout season on the wing and will be counted on to lead the offensive attack this year. Feid’s classmate Emily Haskell will also be on the wing for North this season and will also have a large chunk of the offense run through her. Senior Emily Pastore, junior Liz Smahi, and sophomore Michelle Pothier will also contribute scoring from the wing, while junior Lauren Pezzi and sophomore Olivia Forbes will run the point and distribute the ball in the half court.
The graduation of Caroline Collard and Liz Morehouse leaves an opening on the post, but North has several players that will step in to provide a presence in the paint. Senior Julia Santos and juniors Emma Noreck and Kaley Sullivan will each get opportunities to contribute. North faces a tough early season schedule with the likes of Franklin, Oliver Ames, Archbishop Williams, and Hingham, so it will be critical for the new players to find their feet quickly.
North Attleboro coach Derek Herber said, “The team has quickly began to gel and I am hopeful that we if we can survive the early part of the season, we can qualify for the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 13-8 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames struggled to find consistent offense last season and it kept the Tigers from being able to challenge Mansfield for the league title or make another run in Div. 2 South, but a healthy lineup with several key returning players has OA optimistic for improvements this winter.
The main focus will be on senior forward Kayla Raymond. The Stonehill College-commit is one of the most versatile players in the league, with the length and leaping ability to dominate in the paint and the range to step out and knock down jumpers. Raymond is listed as a forward/center but could potentially be used at multiple positions. Senior guard Abby Reardon is back to get the Tigers into their offensive sets and as one of the league’s top on-the-ball defenders. Classmate Katie Flynn also returns to give Raymond help in the post.
In addition to the seniors, junior Alex Sheldon will provide depth at the forward position and junior Sadie Homer was a dynamic scorer on the perimeter before an injury cut her season short last year. Homer was a solid three-point shooter last year and will be expected to stretch defenses again this season. Sophomore guard Meg Holleran emerged as a playmaker during her freshman campaign and could see a bigger role this year.
“OA is looking to blend some younger talent and are working hard to provide some depth in the backcourt,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “Looking forward to the fight for the Kelly Rex Division.”
In addition to a new coaching staff, Sharon will see a number of new faces on the roster, as several of last year’s players are focusing on other sports this winter. Former Rockland and East Bridgewater assistant Sandra Lombardi takes over for Cliff Tomassian and will have a young group to work with in her first head coaching position.
Junior small forward Emma Eberhardt is one of the returning players that will be expected to provide leadership and scoring for the Eagles. Eberhardt, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team performer last year, was Sharon’s top scorer last winter and also has the size to be a problem for opponents on the glass. She scored 16 points in Sharon’s win over Nipmuc in the season opener. Senior guard Miranda Cheung will also be back for Sharon to provide ball-handling and perimeter shooting.
Sophomore Telishya Herbert made the jump from JV to varsity midway through last season and had an instant impact on the Eagles with her athleticism and her ability to score in the paint. She had 10 points against Nipmuc and could be ready for a breakout year as Sharon’s second scorer to take some pressure off Eberhardt. Also back from last year’s roster are junior Evanjuline Elisma and sophomore Ally Brown.
Lombardi said of her new team, “We are going to be quick and aggressive. I’m excited to see what the season will bring.”
The Black Knights narrowly missed out on the postseason last year, despite having a number of underclassmen in the roster, and expectations for this season include a return to the playoffs under third-year head coach Charmaine Steele-Jordan.
Senior Val Whalen was the team’s MVP last season after leading the Black Knights with more than 13 points and nine rebounds per game. Whalen has improved every season and her intensity on defense and on the glass boosts is contagious. Stoughton is a physical team that likes to put pressure on the ball defensively and Whalen sets the tone. Senior Jordan Motley is also a tenacious rebounder and gives the Black Knights another strong presence in the paint.
Sophomore guard Shyanne Trinh had a breakout freshman campaign, scoring more than 10 points per game, and her ball-handling and long-range shooting opens things up for the post players. Fellow sophomore Aliyah Wright also had a strong rookie campaign and her size is a difficult matchup for many of the point guards in the Hock. Stoughton will also count on junior guards Lindsey McDonald and Hailey Egan and sophomore Lexi Baptista. Freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe has also been called up to add depth in the backcourt.
Steele-Jordan said of her senior forwards, “I’m looking forward to their leadership, hustle on the court and their defensive presence this year. Whalen and Motley’s veteran play along with our returning sophomores will be great for the Black Knights this season.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-21 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton is coming off a difficult season in which the Tigers finished with just one victory, but one game into the new year and Taunton has already matched that total. The season opening win over Cumberland (R.I.) fits with the optimism around the program, as the Tigers blend youth with experience in the hopes of making a run at a playoff spot.
The Tigers will be led by senior forwards Hannah Moniz and Mackenzie Handrahan, who combined for 26 points in the win at Cumberland and provide a mix of rebounding, scoring at the rim, and outside shooting to balance the Taunton offense. Junior Lily Patneaude also returns from an all-star season and is Taunton’s most dynamic scorer with range from well beyond the arc. Junior Alexa White is another guard that will provide solid contributions on both ends of the floor.
Junior Shantel Andrew, a 5-foot-7 forward, is expected to be a significant contributor this season, after missing two years with knee injuries. As usual, Taunton has plenty of youth on the roster with four freshmen making varsity, a couple of whom got playing experience last year as eighth graders. Forwards Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez and guards Kelsey White and Tori DaRosa are going to be counted on to play big roles this year for the Tigers.
Taunton coach Walter Harrigan said, “Our goal for this year is to continue to work hard while focusing on the development of good habits which will hopefully lead to team improvement and a trip to the state tournament.”
CANTON, Mass. – Just four minutes into Wednesday night’s game at World War II Veterans Memorial Field, Franklin opened the scoring, but instead of hanging its head and allowing the visiting Panthers to take control, Canton turned up the aggressiveness, pressured all over the pitch, and turned the game around.
“We know how to play soccer and we have good soccer players,” said Canton coach Kate Howarth. “If we come out with that mentality then we’re going to play games like this. If you have that passion and that drive and leaving it on the field then there’s no way you can lose. It’s not a lack of talent; it’s a lack of oomph.”
Inside the opening four minutes, Franklin took the lead. Molly Duncan slid a through ball between the Canton defenders to find Miranda Smith running down the right channel and the senior forward lifted her shot over onrushing keeper Lindsey Barrett.
Although the Panthers had the lead, it was Canton that was pushing the tempo and creating scoring chances. Duserick and Diletizia both had long shots saved by Franklin keeper Cat Robbins in the opening 15 minutes.
The Bulldogs pressure created the breakthrough in the 23rd minute. Sullivan made a long run to the end line and sent in an inch-perfect cross over the outstretched arms of Robbins and to Diletizia unmarked in the middle of the six-yard-box. The freshman forward got a shin to the ball and knocked it in for the equalizer.
Ten minutes later, Canton got the lead. Leianne Bruce won the ball in front of the Bulldogs’ bench and played it forward towards Diletizia, who cushioned a one-touch pass into the path of sophomore Morgan McCabe. Franklin right back Madison Stewart came all the way across to get a piece of the ball but it bounced right back to McCabe, who fired an unstoppable shot into the far corner.
“They knew we build from the back and that we build with the outside backs because they had them man-marked in the first half,” said Howarth. “We kept trying to play them and they would come in and counter. Once they turned and faced up, we could find our forwards and they found opportunities that way.”
Franklin had one chance before halftime but a first-time shot from the edge of the box was sent over the bar by Carly Alston. Otherwise, the Canton defense looked impenetrable with center backs Sarah Connolly and Carly Hutchinsoncutting off every Franklin pass.
“We didn’t play well defensively,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “We’ve got some problems we need to fix on the back line. We’re having problems all over the field at the moment. We don’t play the ball where we need to play the ball, we over-touch the ball, you saw how timid we were.”
He added, “You can’t play that way against them or against Oliver Ames or Mansfield or anyone else in this league because this is what you’re going to get.”
The second half was completely dominated by the Bulldogs. Franklin center backs Grace Gallo and Brenna Atwood seemed to be under constant pressure from the speedy Canton attack.
Diletizia had chance from the edge of the box saved by Robbins just one minute into the half. In the 47th minute, Duserick’s corner into the center of the box picked out Sullivan, who nodded home the third for the Bulldogs.
Howarth remarked, “I said at halftime, if we get one then we’ll get more than one. As long as we get that next one then it’s going to break them and we’ll get more after that.”
The chances kept coming for Canton. Diletizia set up Sullivan for a first-time hit from the edge of the box but it went narrowly over the crossbar. A minute later, Juliana Agnitti burst forward from midfield and set up Diletizia, but the shot was saved.
“They’re soccer players,” said Howarth about Diletizia and classmate Olivia Rodman. “They play the game all the time and they have instincts that you can’t teach kids. It’s different than just being a physically good athlete…they have soccer instincts and it’s a special thing.”
Lauren Fitzpatrick drove at the Franklin defense in the 56th minute and the ball was deflected by Atwood into the path of Julia Hamilton and she fired a shot that just missed the top corner.
In the 61st minute, Duserick wrapped up the win for Canton with a pinpoint 35-yard free kick from outside the right hashmark that sailed into top, far corner. After the game, Howarth called it the midfielder’s “sweet spot.”
“Front to back it was the best game mentality-wise we’ve had yet,” said Howarth. “We have had lots of goals scored on us and we haven’t in the past responded well. The passion has to be there; you have to respond well…Today, we finally responded the way that we try to instill.”
Canton (4-3-2, 4-3-2) will try to keep the momentum going on Friday with a trip to Taunton, while Franklin (6-3-1, 6-3-0) will look to bounce back when it hosts Stoughton.
2016 Record: 10-8-2 2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal Coach: Kate Howarth
For each of the past two seasons, Canton has finished second in the Davenport division and, with only three seniors graduating from the 2016 roster, the Bulldogs are poised to make another run at a league title this fall. Enthusiasm is also high after a strong closing stretch to last year, which included a draw with Kelley-Rex champ Mansfield and playoff victories over Greater New Bedford and Milton.
Senior Riley Duserick is the focal point of the Canton midfield and her ability to open space, pick out the right pass, and shoot from distance gives the Bulldogs a consistent threat in the attack. Junior Julia Hamilton emerged last season as a solid counterpoint to Duserick in the heart of the midfield with her tenacity and speed adding even more cover to the back line. Sophomores Lauren and Morgan McCabe will be added to the midfield options after strong rookie seasons. Lauren Fitzpatrick could see more time up front to replace the graduated Hannah Link and Tessa Cudmore and head coach Kate Howarth expects several freshmen to contribute as well.
The defense had inconsistent moments early in 2016, but the Bulldogs seemed to figure things out midway through the season and with the back four all returning defense should be a strength for Canton. Seniors Sarah Connolly and Carly Hutchinson will lead the defensive unit and junior Sarah Collins brings energy and speed from her right back spot.
“We are working really hard every day to get better at the little things that will push us beyond being a good team this season,” Howarth said. “I think our biggest weakness last year was consistency, so if we can get ahead of that right away we will be in a much better place than we were last year.”
Foxboro had an inconsistent 2016, but demonstrated the talent in the program by beating perennial power Notre Dame Academy in the first round of the playoffs and nearly going on the road to beat Medfield in the second round, only to fall in a penalty shootout. The Warriors have seven returning players, so this will be a young team in 2017, but new head coach Katie Stalcup will be familiar with those players after her stint as the JV coach last year.
The Warriors will be able to count on senior Lily Sykes. The four-year starter is one of the most dynamic players in the league and is capable of dominating the midfield by beating a defender off the dribble or picking out a defense-splitting pass. Senior Shaina Abbott will be one of the forwards that Sykes will be looking to set up, while senior Olivia Dantona adds speed on the wings. Senior Mackenzie Cusack is also back to lead the defensive unit along with junior Alex Stamatos.
Stalcup is counting on a number of young players to step in and contribute right away. Sophomore Lizzy Davis played for Stalcup on JV last year and brings speed and physicality to the forward position. Among the freshmen that will be on the roster are midfielder Katelyn Mollica, forward Jordyn Collins, and defender Emma Dahl.
“I am very excited about being the new varsity coach this year,” said Stalcup. “We have seven returning varsity players, four seniors who are all captains and five very impressive freshmen on the team for this season as well as some great players coming up from JV. We are a young team, but I am excited to see how well we can play together.”
2016 Record: 5-9-4 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jay Mastaj
Milford is looking to bounce back from a five-win season to challenge for a spot in the state tournament this fall. The Hawks have a roster filled with youth and bring the majority of the starting lineup back and head coach Jay Mastaj is confident that the talent is there to make a push up the table and compete with the top teams in the league.
The Hawks are deep and experienced on the back line and the defense could be a real strength for Milford this season. Seniors Rachel LeBlanc and Brianna Braza will be the leaders in the heart of the defense and will try to keep everyone organized. Senior Leeanne Kibbee will lead the attack and will be counted on to finish off chances created by senior Maggie Boyle and sophomore Ashleigh Starks, who will look to create from the center of midfield.
Mastaj said of the attackers, “The combination brings strong skills, familiarity and solid varsity experience.” He is also excited about the younger players and what they can bring to the table this year, including sophomores Madelyn Boyle, Julianna France, and Annie Flanagan.
“This season we expect to be very competitive across the entire league,” Mastaj added, “and with a little bit of luck we believe we can challenge for the top of the Davenport.”
2016 Record: 14-4-2 (Davenport Division Champions) 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Bill Wallace
Despite changing coaches midway through the 2016 season, North Attleboro rolled to its first league title in its first season in the Davenport division. The Rocketeers racked up 14 wins and a goal differential of plus-40. Expectations are even higher coming into this fall with North returning a roster filled with experienced upperclassmen.
URI-commit Haley Guertin is the player to watch for the Rocketeers, as the senior forward is both a goal threat and also a playmaker who consistently opens up opportunities for her teammates. Her 37 career assists is tied for the most in program history. Head coach Bill Wallace said that there is a change in systems coming up front, but with Leah Jette and Ashlyn Gaulin joining Guertin, North will have a formidable attack.
In the midfield, Aine Mendonca returns to hold things down in the center of the pitch. Her poise in posession and ability to break up opposing attacks is critical for the Rocketeers. Of course, if anyone gets through, HockomockSports.com Best XI defender Rachel LaBonte and fellow senior Emily Chiasson are on hand to clean it up. North also returns both Nina Beauvais and Emma Noreck in goal.
“We should be up tempo and have a lot of depth,” said Wallace. “These kids have played together for years and generally care about each other. As always, the Hock is a ‘bear’ of a league and for us to continue last years success we are going to have to work hard and continue to improve!”
Sharon narrowly missed out on reaching the playoffs last season under first-year head coach Brad Furnival. This year, making the playoffs could be even more difficult after the team lost nine seniors and seven starters from last year’s team. The Eagles will be building with youth this fall and gaining experience for a number of new faces.
One returning player that the Eagles will be counting on is senior Ally Filipkowski, who is coming off an exciting summer that saw her named to the U-20 Puerto Rican national team. The George Washington-commit is one of the most talented players with the ball in the league and she will be tasked with creating most of the chances for the Eagles. Senior Sabrina Robbins will step into a leadership role at the heart of the Sharon defense this fall and will be counted on to organize a young group.
Among the new faces to watch is junior Maxine Gordon, who will be starting in the attack this fall and is hoping to build off her experience from last season to be a consistent goal scorer. Sophomore Bella Berger is another player that Furnival believes could be in for a strong season. Berger will be influencing the game from the center of midfield.
“This season will be more of a transition season for Sharon girls,” Furnival said. “We have a very young team so the vision for this team is a couple of seasons down the line. We are hoping to continue playing an attacking brand of soccer and are looking forward to coming up against some top opposition that the Hock will pit us up against.”
Stoughton has been in a rebuilding mode for the past couple of seasons, but entering 2017 head coach Tara Daniels is making changes to the formation and counting on an experienced back line to get the Black Knights moving up the table in the Davenport division.
The leader for Stoughton is senior Sarah Widrow, who was the team’s lone league all-star last fall and impressed during the HockomockSports.com Charity All-Star Game. As an attacking fullback, Widrow pushes the Black Knights forward and adds vocal leadership to the back line. She will be joined at the back by the speedy Gabriela Diaz, who was converted from striker to defender. Senior Mia Greene will be the focal point in the midfield to try and keep possession for Stoughton.
Sophomore Chinazo Odunze returns from a injury-shortened season to lead the line for the Black Knights attack. She had a strong start to her freshman campaign before her injury and Daniels calls her combination of speed and physicality a “game-changer” for the attack.
Daniels said, “This season we are trying a new formation to give us more offensive opportunities…Staying healthy and in good shape is key to a successful season. We are looking to step up our possession game and having more of an offensive push this year.”