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.”
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – For most of the second half of Sunday afternoon’s game, everyone the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, including the Sharon defense, knew where Canton was going on the offensive end of the floor. The ball was going into the block to junior Hannah Jerrier as often as possible.
Knowing that she was going to get the ball did not make her any easier to stop.
Jerrier scored 26 points, including all 10 of Canton’s points in the third quarter and 18 of the 27 points the Bulldogs scored in the second half, and pulled down nine rebounds to lift the Bulldogs to a 58-49 victory and a season sweep of the Eagles.
“I think our team, now that we’re halfway through the year, is understanding their roles and they see Hannah being successful in the post, so they have more confidence in throwing it to her,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “Hannah stepping up has really helped us the last few games.”
The Bulldogs went to Jerrier on almost every possession in the third quarter, as they tried to protect a 12-point halftime lead. Guards Julia Hamilton and Maggie Connolly and fellow post players Emma Murphy and Erin Devine each had assists on the four baskets that Jerrier had in the third, as Canton utilized the high post to perfection and extended a run from the first half that built the lead to as many as 20 points.
“We were trying to go full-court press because that worked the first time we played them,” said Sharon coach Cliff Tomassian of trying to defend Jerrier. “Once they beat the press they were able to get it down to her for easy buckets. In the half-court, she’s just tough to defend.”
It took the Eagles a while to get going on the offensive end int he third quarter, but Sharon started to chip away at the lead. Shira Stoller hit a runner and freshman Tylesia Herbert (seven points and three steals) buried a three from the far corner. Stoller closed the quarter with a steal, a layup, and the foul that got Sharon back within 10 heading to the fourth.
“We stuck with it,” said Tomassian. “I thought the girls just stepped it up and made some plays. All we ask is that no matter what the score is, no matter who we’re playing is to keep fighting.”
In the fourth, Stoller (seven points) banked in a runner to cut the lead down to single digits at 45-36 and Veronica Wallace started to heated up for the Eagles. She answered a Jerrier basket with a drive to the hoop and took a defensive rebound and flew past everyone on her way to another layup that got Sharon as close as five points (50-45).
“The first game we played them she had five missed layups and I think she took it a little personal and she came to play today,” said Tomassian of Wallace, who had eight points in the fourth and a team-high 12 for the game. “No one wants to stop her. If she gets into the open court in practice, everyone stands still and doesn’t want to touch her.”
Choquette took advantage of a timeout to settle down the Bulldogs and remind them of his halftime message. He explained, “There’s always a letdown and a point where they’re hitting their stride. I’m not worried about that part, once we get to a certain point, we have to draw a line in the sand and answer.
“During one of the timeouts he called, I said okay that was their run and it’s right back to playing our game. That worked, we answered their challenge and won the game.”
Connolly (eight points and seven rebounds) had a drive to the basket plus the foul that got momentum back with the Bulldogs. She scored six of her eight points in the fourth and Jerrier added eight as well to close out the win.
Playing in a much different environment than they are used to, both teams came out a little flat to start the game. Sharon’s offense was not helped by two quick fouls on sophomore Emma Eberhardt, who is the Eagles’ leading scorer this season. Eberhardt missed most of the first half and finished with eight points.
“She usually doesn’t come out very much at all,” said Tomassian of Eberhardt. “It’s the second half of the season and we’re seeing teams again or they’re seeing her before they play us and they’re defending her much better.”
Canton was struggling a little with the Sharon press but as the first quarter wore on the Bulldogs started to find seams and score in transition. Hamilton had all seven of her points in the first half and Murphy added 11 of her 13 before the break, as Canton closed the second quarter on an 8-0 run to break the game open.
On Tuesday, Canton (4-9, 3-8) will try to make it three wins in a row when it travels to Oliver Ames. Sharon (5-10, 2-9) has to run the table to qualify for the state tournament and that begins on Tuesday with a trip to Franklin.
Franklin, 42 @ Canton, 46 – Final – Canton held Franklin to its lowest scoring output of the season, limiting the Panthers to 30 points to three quarters. The Bulldogs trailed 30-26 heading into the final frame before winning the fourth 20-12. It marks Canton’s first win over Franklin in over a decade. “Beating a team like Franklin is a tall order,” Canton head coach Ryan Gordy said. “We needed to execute and play with mental toughness every possession. We grew up as a team tonight.” Canton junior Tony Harris scored a game-high 15 points and hauled in six rebounds while sophomore Devin Foster had 12 points and four rebounds.
Taunton, 73 @ Foxboro, 72 – Final (OT) – Taunton freshman Dante Law connected on six three pointers on his way to a career-high 21 points to help the Tigers edge Foxboro in overtime. Senior Tommy MacLean added 15 points for Taunton, who improves to 10-4. Foxboro junior Joe Morrison dropped a career-high 23 points while Jamaine Few added 15 points and Mark Clagg finished with 13 points.
Mansfield, 67 @ Sharon, 52 – Final – Mansfield junior Tyler Boulter broke a school record, connecting on 10 three pointers to net a career-high 30 points in the win over Sharon. Boulter, who scored 15 points in the first quarter, broke the record previously held by Brian Hershman (2011 vs. Stoughton) and David Borkowski (2009 vs. Franklin). Sam Goldberg added 10 points and eight rebounds while Ricardo Ripley led Sharon with 14 points.
Oliver Ames, 61 @ Milford, 56 – Final – Oliver Ames erased an early five point deficit to take a 18-12 lead after one quarter and never looked back to pick up the win on the road. Milford cut the deficit to five at half (31-26) but Oliver Ames won the third quarter 16-10 to build a double-digit lead. OA’s Jack Spillane led all scorers with 21 points while Carter Evin added 18 points and Nick Welch finished with 14 points. Zack Tamagni led Milford with 18 points while sophomore Brendan White dropped a career-high 14 points.
Canton, 30 @ Franklin, 54 – Final – Franklin had three players reach double figures in a double-digit win over visiting Canton. Carli Koffinke led all scorers with a game-high 16 points while Ali Brigham and Bea Bondhus each chipped in with 10 points in the win. Canton sophomore Julia Hamilton scored a team-high 11 points for the Bulldogs.
Foxboro, 56 @ Taunton, 33 – Final – Foxboro junior Ashley Sampson led the way for the Warriors with a team-high 17 points while classmate Grace Tamulionis added 16 points in the win on the road.
Stoughton, 59 @ King Philip, 54 – Final (OT) – Stoughton ramped up its defensive effort in overtime to pick up the win on the road. Stoughton junior Val Whalen had another monster night for the Black Knights, notching her fifth double-double of the season with 21 points and 21 rebounds. Freshman Shyanne Trinh added 14 points for the Knights. Sophomore Julia Leroux scored a team-high 20 points to pace King Philip.
Sharon, 18 @ Mansfield, 65 – Final – For the second straight game, the Hornets held their opponent to under 20 points to earn a win at home. Offensively, the Hornets had a very efficient showing with junior Ann Maher going a perfect 8/8 from three point range in the first half – a school record – and junior Meg Hill scoring 14 points on 7/9 shooting.
Milford, 42 @ Oliver Ames, 58 – Final – Oliver Ames built a double-digit lead (30-18) by halftime and held onto it throughout the second half. OA junior Kayla Raymond had a game-high 24 points and hauled in 12 rebounds while Niyera Mitchell had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Tigers.
Stoughton, 3 @ Bellingham, 9 – Final – Stoughton’s Charlie Morgan and Ryan Buresh each scored their first varsity goal in the loss, while Brendan Campbell scored the other goal for the Black Knights.
Foxboro, 65 @ Attleboro, 90 – Final – Foxboro took first in the 50 free and the 400 free relay but fell to Attleboro. Foxboro’s Dan Egan took first in the 50 free (25:31) while the team of Dimitri Davis, Anthony Quarterone, Ben Dorman and Thomas VanDell took first in the 400 free relay (5:12.30).
North Attleboro @ Milford, 4:00
Foxboro, 72 @ Attleboro, 92 – Final – Foxboro had three first place finishes, including one relay team. Lexi Nelson was first in the 100 fly (1:06.47), Lindsey Nelson was first in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.09) and the team of Nelson, Nelson, Allison Curran and Jamie Gorham took first in the 200 medley (2:13.84).
North Attleboro @ Milford, 4:00
Franklin, 121.6 @ Oliver Ames, 136.15 – Final
King Philip, 3 @ Ursuline Academy, 4 – Final
2015-16 Record: 6-14 (3-13) 2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: Jim Choquette
The Bulldogs continue to add to the program both on the court and on the bench with former Canton and UMass Boston star Olivia Murphy joining the coaching staff this season to help out with the freshman team. It is a sign of the continued growth of the program under head coach Jim Choquette, who is hoping that the momentum built at the end of last season will carry over to this year.
Senior forward Emma Murphy returns after a league all-star season and will be joined on the front line by returning starters senior Casey Shea and juniorHannah Jerrier, who was an honorable mention for all-star last winter. Adding depth on the front line will be sophomore forwards Molly Ludwig and Erin Devine, who lacks inexperience but adds significant height.
“Our strengths will be scrappy defense and rebounding on both ends,” said Choquette. “our goal is to improve each game and be playing our best headed into the last part of the season…the faster we find chemistry the faster we’ll find the win column.”
2015-16 Record: 15-7 (11-5) 2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal Head Coach: Lisa Downs
Despite a lot of youth in the lineup, Foxboro has been one of the top teams in the Davenport division for several seasons and this year should be no different, as the Warriors enter the winter with very high expectations and as one of the favorites for the league title.
A lot of the interest in the Warriors stems from the continued development of junior point guard Ashley Sampson, who has turned into one of the best all-around guards in the Hockomock and is the player that the Foxboro offense flows through. Sampson has plenty of help in the backcourt with classmate Lily Sykes, who offers scoring from the perimeter, and seniors Lauren Flahive, Riley Collins (back after an injury), and Hailey Maling, who are all strong on the ball defenders.
In the front court, Kristen Bortolotti is back after missing last year with an injury and will add speed and a strong mid-range game. Junior Grace Tamulionis is another matchup nightmare for the opposition with her size on the boards and on defense and her ability to step outside and shoot the three. Junior Shannon Smally continues to improve and gives the Warriors an inside presence, while newcomers Chelsea Gibbons and Abby Hassmancould make big contributions for the Warriors.
“The girls have been playing together throughout the summer and fall and this familiarity should work to our benefit this season,” said head coach Lisa Downs. “We will continue to focus on our running game and our defensive efforts and I am fortunate to have the players that not only buy into this system, but, also appreciate this pace.”
2015-16 Record: 9-11 (5-11) 2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: T.J. Dolliver
After missing out on a playoff spot by one game a season ago under first-year head coach T.J. Dolliver, Milford enters this winter with high hopes of making the leap into the postseason with a deep and versatile roster that has gained a lot of experience together over the past few seasons.
The enthusiasm for the Hawks begins with dynamic junior point guard Kate Irwin, who has shown the ability to get to the basket at will, draw defenses to get open looks for her teammates and also be a pesky on the ball defender. With Irwin creating open shots, junior Emily Piergustavo’s return after missing last year with an injury will be a big boost on the perimeter along with senior guard Jill Burley.
“These girls have been playing together for a while and their team chemistry is amazing,” said Dolliver. “We are starting to learn the minor details of offense and defense in order to give our team a better chance of success.”
2015-16 Record: 11-10 (9-7) 2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South tournament Head Coach: Derek Herber
The Rocketeers head into their first season in the Davenport division with eight returning players from last year’s team that was two points away from a first round victory in the Div. 2 South tournament against Hock rival Oliver Ames.
Senior Ashley Ahern is a three-year starter at guard and was the team’s leading scorer last winter. Ahern will be the player that gets the offense going, but she will get plenty of help from her classmates, Emily Schromm and Samantha Taggart. Schromm was one of the top defenders in the league and can stretch a defense with her outside shooting and Taggart can play all three guard positions and led North in assists last year. In the paint, senior Caroline Collard is the team’s leading rebounder and showed a soft touch around the basket.
North can also look for improvements from sophomore Julia Feid, who got valuable minutes as a rookie last year, senior Liz Morehouse, who adds depth in the post, and juniors Julia Santos, who both brought athleticism off the bench at the wing positions. Sophomore forward Mackenzie Roberts is a newcomer who adds size and outside shooting and junior Emily Pastore can step in at all three guard positions.
The Rocketeers have plenty of experience on the roster and will be one of the favorites for the league title at the beginning of the season. While head coach Derek Herber can count on a number of returning players, he hopes to “mix in a few new faces into the lineup to help with depth.”
Sharon is another team that has been building with youth and has created a lot of depth on its roster and, despite losing three of its top four scorers from last winter, has garnered preseason hype as a potential sleeper to make a return to the postseason for the first time since the Eagles made a run to the Div. 2 South final in 2013.
The Eagles will be hoping for an improvement on the offensive side of the ball, which was a challenge at times last winter. Junior point guard Shira Stoller, a three-year starter, is continuing to improve at limiting turnovers and looking for her own shot as well as setting up teammates. One of the players that benefits from Stoller’s ability to get into the lane is sophomore Emma Eberhardt, who was third on the team in points as a rookie and continues to develop into a consistent wing scorer.
Sophomore Veronica Wallace has emerged as one of the top backcourt defenders during the preseason and is one of the fastest players on the Sharon roster. Senior Ana Crosby, who is also a standout on the soccer and lacrosse fields, is another player that is continuing to improve and will have an increased role this season. Freshman Kaitlyn Wallace is a newcomer to watch and could have a bigger role to play over the course of the year.
“Our defense is going to have to be our key in order to compete, and our girls know that,” said third-year coach Cliff Tomassian. “We get our best looks on offense off of great defensive stands. Our girls are going to have to be patient and vigilant on both ends and be ready to take chances.”
2015-16 Record: 7-11 (7-9) 2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
The Black Knights lost six seniors to graduation but this offers plenty of opportunities for a new crop of younger players to get playing time and learn the system of second-year head coach, and former Stoughton star, Charmaine Steele Jordan.
Two of the players that will be counted on most this season are junior forwards Val Whalen and Jordan Motley, who are two of the best rebounders in the league and can also get out on the break and score in transition. Their development in the half-court offense will be a key for Stoughton making a playoff push in the Davenport division this season. Senior Lili Njiem is another player that could make a big impact, as one of the team’s three captains.
The Black Knights will have as many senior as freshmen on this year’s roster (three) along with four sophomores and three juniors, so the foundation for the future is in place. Shyanne Trinh, Lexi Baptista, and Aliyah Wright are the three newcomers to the program who will be hoping to make an instant impact.
“So excited for the upcoming season,” said Steele Jordan. “We lost six seniors so there is lots of opportunity for our players to step up. Our returnees from last year will contribute for us despite being pretty young.”
CANTON, Mass. – It was one of those nights. The ball was moving well, solid screens were being set, the cuts were going to the basket and the passes were hitting the right players, but the shots were not falling for Canton on Friday night in the season opener.
The Bulldogs scored five or fewer points in the three of four quarters and, despite a strong defensive effort, lost 34-22 to Dover-Sherborn in the first game on Canton’s newly-laid court.
“If you asked us before the game, do you want to get a lot of layups and free throws and stuff…yes,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “Did we do that? Yes. So, we accomplished a lot tonight.”
The Bulldogs struggled out of the gates, scoring only four points in the opening quarter, two from senior Emma Murphy, who finished with six points and four rebounds in the game, and two from Hannah Jerrier (11 points). Jerrier’s first basket came off an inbounds play and Murphy had a layup to cut the lead to 6-4, which was the score after the opening quarter.
“Some of it was first game jitters,” Choquette said. “I don’t care if it’s home, away, if it’s a week from now or whatever, every time someone plays their first game you’re going to have a little of that first game type of stuff.”
Murphy and Hannah Jerrier each had four points in the second, as Canton had its best scoring quarter of the night with 10 points total. Jerrier had an assist to a cutting Murphy for a layup and then scored on a layup of her own from a Maggie Connolly assist to give Canton its first lead at 10-9.
Lindsey Barrett’s only basket of the night regained the lead at 12-11 but D-S answered with the next four points. Jerrier, who led the Bulldogs with 11 points and 10 rebounds, got Canton back within one at the half with a steal on one end and then a give-and-go with Julia Hamilton in transition for the layup.
Choquette said, “It’s no surprise that Emma is a league all-star and Hannah is one of our best offensive players, both of which just finished volleyball season, so they have to get into basketball mode and all those little things, that feel, the touch, it does come.”
Any momentum that the hosts had going into halftime did not carry over after the break. Canton went nearly seven minutes without a point and D-S was able to extend its lead to as many as 11 at 25-14 before Jerrier scored on a back cut off an inbounds pass. She added a free throw but that was all the Bulldogs would get in the third and trailed 26-17 heading to the fourth.
“The experience of being out on the court and everything we went through last year, helped us play better,” said Choquette. “If we make a few layups and hit a few free throws then we may win the game.”
The struggles continued in the fourth quarter with Canton making three free throws and only one shot from the field (Jerrier on a layup). Defensively though, the Bulldogs were able to pressure the Raiders, force turnovers and limited D-S to only eight points in the fourth and 34 for the game.
When asked if he thought the Bulldogs would win more games than not if they could hold teams to 34 points, Choquette said, “That’s what one of the coaches said to me when we stood up…The key is can we do that consistently. There are still things we need to work on because there were some letdowns and mistakes and frustration fouls but I think we’re going to get there.
The offense will largely come from the interior, but Choquette praised the backcourt for setting the tone on the defensive end. He said, “Our guards are fast. No matter who’s in there, whether it’s Julia, Maggie, the Carrington twins (Evelyn and Lillian), so I think defensively the guards will give us some offense.”
Despite the defeat on opening night, Choquette believed that it was the “details” that needed to be ironed out and he was optimistic because the Bulldogs have shown the ability in the past couple of years to be able to figure things out during the course of the season.
“The girls should be encouraged,” he said. “It’s going to be awesome to go play some of the best teams in the league and see where we stack up and see if we can correct things then it’s right back to them at their place and see how far we’ve come.”
Canton (0-1) will face the two favorites for the Kelley-Rex division title, Mansfield and Attleboro, in its next two games beginning with the Bombardiers on Tuesday.
MILFORD, Mass. – For the first 30 minutes of the D2 South Semifinal, 15th-seeded Canton was not only the better side, but the Bulldogs were dominating sixth-seeded Medfield and held a 3-1 lead.
But a late surge from the Warriors resulted in two goals in the final three minutes to bring the teams level just before halftime. Medfield used that momentum — and the advantage of the wind — to go on and score four goals in the second half and come away with a 7-3 victory of the Bulldogs.
From the opening minute, Canton seized control of the play,. Junior Sarah Connolly won possession just over half, dribbled her way through the Medfield defense and unleashed a shot from atop the area that forced a save.
Canton finally broke through in the 18th minute when Hannah Link sent a pinpoint through ball that Tessa Cudmore ran onto. Cudmore muscled her way past one defender and held off another as her shot from just inside the area found the far post for a 1-0 lead.
Four minutes later, the Bulldogs doubled the lead. Riley Duserick whipped in a curling corner kick that forced Medfield keeper Sarah Graham into a save but the rebound fell right to Julia Hamilton, who one-timed it in from in close.
Medfield applied pressure after a timeout, first with Kathryn Doody coming off her line to thwart a break from Alanna Cooney. But a minute after the save, Cooney gained some space on the right wing and ripped a shot to the far post to cut the deficit in half at 2-1.
Canton was quick to respond, with Duserick nearly scoring an olimpico off a corner but the linesman deemed it didn’t cross the line. In the 27th minute, the ball popped into the attacking area and Cudmore played it perfectly, shielding off a defender to get some space before placing it into the corner for a commanding 3-1 lead.
But in the 37th minute, Annie Phipps used a turn just outside the area to gain a bit of space and fired top shelf to bring the Warriors within one. Two minutes later, Phipps centered a cross to Taylor Sherman, who got a touch past Doody as she charged out, and slid the ball into the net to make it 3-3.
“The momentum swung in their favor completely and it hammered us,” Canton head coach Kate Howarth said. “I think it’s a completely different game if we go into halftime with a 3-1 lead. It took the wind out of our sails for sure. We had the momentum for the whole first half until the last 10 minutes and we just crumbled.
“You lose all the footage that you gained. Instead of going forward a step, you go back three steps. It was still a winnable game but we just didn’t have it today. If we came out like we did the last two games I think we would have destroyed them. We didn’t have 80 minutes in us today.”
Medfield scored the game-winner in the 55th minute as a long throw eluded Canton’s defense and Sherman raced onto it. The break forced Canton’s defense to commit and Sherman centered to Cooney in the middle for an open shot and goal.
The Warriors made it 5-3 when a long throw found Maggie McCarthy at the near post for a flick to the far post. Medfield added a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes as the Bulldogs pushed numbers forward.
In total, eight of the 10 goals scored in the game came from the team playing with the wind at its back.
“The wind affected the game a lot,” Howarth said. “It’s not just a breeze, it’s significant. It can help take the ball when you have it and it can kill you when you’re against it.
“We weren’t come at the same level that we were the last few games. Some games you come into and you can’t be beaten, some games you struggle through. This was one we were going to have to struggle through. We didn’t look good, they didn’t look good. They kicked the ball around a lot. It was going to be a struggle for both sides but they struggled better than us and found ways to score some goals. I think if we played the second half like we played the first 30 minutes of the game, it’s a completely different game.”
Canton girls soccer finishes the season at 10-8-2. The Bulldogs, who were seeded 15th in the D2 South Sectional, knocked off #2 Greater New Bedford and #10 Milton in their tournament run.
“I don’t think our wins and losses showed exactly how good this team was,” Howarth said. “We play in one of the toughest leagues around here. You go into the tournament against someone who’s 13-1 and play nobody, we were able to go in and destroy them. We gained from playing tougher teams during the regular season. We’ve been through the adversity.”
CANTON, Mass. – The pitch was slick from two days worth of rain, but the Canton defense showed no ill effects and zero slip-ups, as it corralled Sharon’s top two attacking threats, Alex Rabb and Ally Filipkowski, limiting the Eagles to only a couple clear scoring chances.
It was a major turnaround for the Bulldogs, who had allowed six goals last time out against Milford. The back four, with help from the midfield, held firm on Saturday morning at World War II Veterans Memorial Field and Canton pulled out a 2-0 victory that edges the Bulldogs closer to a spot in the state tournament.
“After the Milford game, I took the back line and we talked about some issues,” explained Canton coach Kate Howarth, “and there was a little bit of confusion I wasn’t aware of. We cleared everything up and you could see the back line was so solid today.”
Chances were at a premium for both teams in the first half. The Bulldogs has the first shot on goal when Tessa Cudmore’s shot was handled by Sharon keeper Natalie Gray. A corner three minutes later from Sarah Connolly had to be cleared off the line by Amanda Klayman and then Lauren McCabe had the rebound saved by Gray in the bottom corner.
The Bulldogs’ best scoring opportunities were coming from Connolly’s set piece deliveries. She fired in a long free kick that Gray caught cleanly and then in the 27th minute she was credited with the opening goal when her corner was deflected off the leg of a Sharon defender and just over the line.
The defensive effort for Canton started with the midfield trio of Julia Hamilton and freshmen cousins Lauren and Morgan McCabe, who bottled up Filipkowski by sending multiple players at the junior playmaker as often as possible. Even without Riley Duserick, who was out with an injury, the Bulldogs put the clamps on the Sharon midfield in the first half.
“She’s a good player and I think when you can shut her down they don’t really create a lot of chances,” said Howarth of Filipkowski. “[Julia] fought hard and I think she stood her ground with Ally.”
When the Eagles did get the ball forward, Rabb was regularly alone up top surrounded by Connolly and Carly Hutchinson. At halftime, the Eagles made an adjustment to try and get more runners out wide and it created Sharon’s best chance in the 46th minute.
Filipkowski managed to shrug off the attention of the Bulldogs and slid a pass into Victoria Zambello angling in from the right wing but Canton keeper Kathryn Doody was off her line quick to block the shot. Ally Steinberg also started to find space on the right side going one-on-one with Canton right back Sarah Collins and created a couple dangerous crosses that Doody and the defense managed to clear in front of Rabb.
“We made a formation change in the second half to try and isolate Ally [Steinberg] one-on-one out wide,” said first-year Sharon coach Brad Furnival. “We were able to create a few chances. Their keeper dealt well with some crosses, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough players in the box to score goals, which kind of killed us in the end.”
When asked about opponents focusing on Filipkowski to try and stunt the Eagles attack, Furnival replied, “I thought Filipkowski had a good game. I’d like her to get more shots off but even if teams put two or three players on Ally, she’s still going to create chances because she’s that kind of player.”
Canton had its chances to close out the victory. Cudmore was causing problems with her speed, running at the Sharon back line, and Lauren Fitzpatrick added some good minutes off the Bulldogs bench.
Cudmore nearly doubled the lead in the 48th minute when she chased down a deflected pass but it was saved by back-up keeper Isabella Berger and the follow-up by Hannah Link sailed over the bar. In the 52nd minute Cudmore had another good look but her curling effort from the edge of the box smacked off the bar.
“We had a couple other chances that would have been easy finishes,” said Howarth, “and we didn’t get them in and those are the ones that we talk about every week. If we put away some of the easy chances…we would be beating teams by a lot more than we are.”
In the 64th minute, Cudmore set up the goal that sealed the win. She hustled to keep a loose ball alive on the near side of the box and laid a pass into the path of Catherine Leonetti, who had just come into the game, and she hit it first time off the underside of the crossbar and across the line.
Howarth said, “Once we got that I think everybody calmed down a little bit. It took the pressure off and we could finish the game.”
With the win Canton (7-6-1, 7-5-1) moves back into second place in the Davenport, one point ahead of Foxboro, which the Bulldogs will face on Tuesday afternoon. Sharon (5-9-1, 4-9-1) will step out of the league on Monday for a trip to Norwood.
CANTON, Mass. – Coming off a 4-0 loss to North Attleboro on Tuesday, in a game that head coach Kate Howarth admitted her team was not ready to play, Canton was looking to bring back the intensity and defensive discipline that Howarth demands when it hosted Milford on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs brought back the physical play all over the pitch, stayed composed and organized in the back four, and got a first half strike from Riley Duserick to get back on track with a 1-0 victory over Milford at World War II Veterans Memorial Park.
“This is the first game that we played the way that I’ve taught for the past three years,” said Howarth. When asked if this could be a foundation on which the team could build, the always demanding coach added, “I think they need to.”
The outcome could have been very different if Milford took its early chance. In the 14th minute, Madeline Boyle played a corner from the left that just eluded the far post and was knocked out for a chance from the opposite side. Boyle’s second corner found Nicole Dahlgren alone in the box but her header was blocked on the line. The ball bounced around and a second chance from inside the six was saved by sprawling Canton keeper Kathryn Doody.
“Huge save,” said Howarth. “She time and time again comes up with these big saves and she just puts herself in the right place at the right time and it works. That’s just what she does and she’s done it for three years now.”
Milford coach Jay Mastaj added, “I think that point at time we had the momentum. We were starting to string together a few passes, we had them back on their heels, but again their defense came up including their keeper and that’s what you need.”
The save spurred Canton into action and the Bulldogs midfield started to assert itself, led by Duserick, Julia Hamilton, and Kendra Farrelly. Controlling the middle of the field allowed Canton to get the ball forward to Hannah Link and Tessa Cudmore in the channels and stretch the Milford defense.
It took to the 29th minute for the Bulldogs to create a clear scoring chance and Cudmore played a ball across the edge of the box that was deflected into the path of Duserick. The junior midfielder calmly side-footed a lefty shot inside the far post to break the deadlock.
“It doesn’t matter how much possession you have, how much of the ball, it doesn’t matter how many chances, if you don’t put one in then the game is still 0-0,” Howarth noted. “So, putting that in got us on a different level and we really started pushing after that.”
Canton upped the pressure another gear after the goal and again started to play balls in behind the Milford defenders. Morgan McCabe was nearly in on one chance only for Milford defender Rachel LeBlanc to get across at the last second and block the shot. Cudmore also struck the bar with a cross from the left two minute before the break.
In the second half, Canton started strongly again with Duserick having another shot from outside the box that sailed just over the bar. But Milford slowly grew into the game and had its chances going forward when Mastaj switched to a 4-4-2 to try and get help up front for Kristen Franzini.
Gabbie Riley added another outlet for the Hawks who won a corner that Doody needed to palm away and had a couple of chances that they could not put on target. Canton was finding room on the break and left back Sarah Collins found herself with room in the box to have a shot but it was blocked and center back Sarah Connolly let fly with a long-range shot that went over.
“Their defense kind of bent a few times but didn’t break,” said Mastaj. “We came up with stuff but they found a way and unfortunately luck wasn’t on our side in this one, but overall I was very happy. This was the intensity that we needed.”
The second half was mostly a battle of center backs with Dahlgren on the Milford side and Connolly on the Canton side both stopping attack after attack.
“Nicole since day one has just been a standout for us,” said Mastaj, “and she just continues to get better. Her calm on the field is such an influence on the kids. There’s no panic in her eyes at any point in time and she just plays the right ball.”
After shipping four goals earlier this week, Howarth was pleased to see her defense keep a clean sheet. She said, “This back line was completely different than the North Attleboro game. [Against North] we just came out flat and…we were horrible. When we have a solid back line and we possess out of the back, it’s different, you can tell that we can dominate.”
Canton (2-2) will try to continue the forward momentum on Monday at Sharon, while Milford (2-3-1) will try to get back to .500 when it travels to Foxboro.
BLACKSTONE, Mass. – Canton took a quick breather from Hockomock League play on Monday night and made the 45-minute drive to head coach Jim Choquette’s old stomping ground at Blackstone-Millville Regional. The trip was well worth it, as the Bulldogs returned home with ther first win of the season.
Sophomore Hannah Jerrier led the way for Canton with 14 points and 10 rebounds and the Bulldogs broke the game open with a 15-0 starting in the second quarter that led to a comfortable 46-30 victory.
“One of the things that we keep saying is to be consistent through four quarters and piece it together when we go through a substitution or something bad happens,” said Choquette,” who coached at BMR for four seasons prior to coming to Canton.
“We’ve had a few close games now where we’re really starting to learn that process of okay what does it really take to win this game.”
The Bulldogs jumped all over BMR to start the game. Senior Meaghan Hunter got things started with a corner three and then Jerrier started to get going on the glass. The sophomore forward scored six points and Canton led 9-1 and looked on the verge of putting the game away.
Instead, Canton took its foot off the pedal for a second and the Chargers started to find a groove. BMR started to get to the basket and switched to a full-court press that cause the Bulldogs issues. BMR scored 13 straight points and held a 14-9 lead after the first.
“We made a few coaching errors where we pressed them,” Choquette explained, “and they scored then we pressed them and they scored again where it was finally that’s not the trick tonight; let’s just get back to our solid halfcourt defense and that did the trick tonight.”
Jerrier started the second with a rebound put back and the foul off a missed free throw. Hunter added a layup and Emma Murphy knocked down a jumper for a quick 6-0 run to regain the lead at 15-14.
After a BMR basket, senior point guard Shannon Foley threw a perfect pass to hit junior Taylor Carrington on a back cut for a layup. The Chargers scored again to lead 18-17, but it would be the last point BMR would score until late in the third quarter. Canton went on a 15-0 run to grab total control of the game.
“They made a comeback and got back into the game,” said Choquette, “but you could tell from the bench, the encouragement of the two senior captains, saying settle down let’s get back to what we’ve been doing successfully.”
In the third quarter, Casey Shea (eight rebounds, four blocks) scored four points, both on offensive rebounds, Jerrier again finished around the rim, Hunter (eight points, seven boards) buried her second three of the game and Murphy scored in the paint. BMR was struggling on the glass and struggling to contain the Bulldogs offense.
“They’re being more aggressive and starting to get more free throws,” said Choquette of his team’s offensive attack. “It’s starting to click.”
“Our bigs are pretty quick so when you get it inside most bigs on most teams think this girl is a little bit quicker than I’m used to, so I think that’s a nice advantage.”
The Chargers scored four points for the second consecutive quarter and with five seconds leftin the third Canton built its largest lead when Julia Hamilton quickly got the ball up to Foley, who buried a three at the buzzer. It was 37-22 heading to the fourth.
A Murphy offensive rebound basket and another two for Jerrier extended the lead to 20 points and Choquette was able to empty his bench to cruise to a solid win.
He said, “When we went to halftime, we said hey we let our guard down at the end of the first quarter start of the second…I said at the start of this quarter let’s lock it down on defense, that’s the No. 1 thing we have to do…and it started to pay off and they wanted to do it more and more and that carried us.”
The Bulldogs schedule has been very difficult in the opening weeks. Canton has already played Franklin, Foxboro, Mansfield, and Oliver Ames, which at the time were all ranked in the top 20 in the state. Also, Canton has yet to play a home game.
On Friday, the Bulldogs battled Stoughton and, although they lost by one point, gained a lot of confidence that they could compete. That confidence rolled into Monday’s non-league road win.
Choquette said, “In our first set of games, we didn’t have a great opportunity to win. We competed and we worked hard but the abilities of those teams…I think we went into the Stoughton game thinking it’s not going to be one of those situations.”
He continued, “It doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but this is a team that we can compete with and we can challenge. We had a lot of excitement and got off to a great start and hit some shots in the first quarter.”
Canton (1-6, 0-5) will try to continue the forward momentum on Tuesday with its first home game of the season. The Bulldogs will welcome three-time defending Kelley-Rex champ North Attleboro.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.