Wager Scores Mansfield a Win Against Attleboro

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield sophomore Abby Wager (2) scored on a drive to the basket with :08 remaining to secure a win against Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Four games into her head coaching career, Mansfield’s Heather McPherson had her first chance to draw up a play in the closing seconds with the game on the line.

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Following a free throw by Emma Reilly put Attleboro up one with less than 20 seconds to play at the Albertini Gym, the Hornets got the ball on the side with three-quarters of the court to go. The play was designed to get the ball into the hands of sophomore Abby Wager and the athletic guard was supposed to drive and get to the rim.

The play worked exactly as planned.

Wager beat her defender, got to the basket for a layup with eight seconds to play, and put Mansfield ahead by one. When Reilly’s last-second three bounced off the rim, the Hornets celebrated a 54-53 victory.

“She just made me look like a hell of a coach because that’s what we wrote up. She made us look good,” McPherson said of Wager, who finished with a team-high 14 points and four steals and impacted the game on both ends of the court down the stretch.

Attleboro coach Marty Crowley added, “They made one more play than we did. I’m very proud of our effort. The kids we had (Lindsey and Hailey Perry were out for the game) played hard tonight and it came down to one play. It was a typical Mansfield/Attleboro game.”

The Bombardiers stunned the home crowd by dominating the first quarter and holding Mansfield, which scored 39 in the first half against North Attleboro over the weekend, to just one made field goal and three points. Attleboro’s quickness and length made it tough for Mansfield to run its sets.

On the other end, the Bombardiers were moving the ball to get good looks. Gabby Bosh (nine points and four steals) started the game with a theft and a layup, Reilly (13 points) drove for two, Meghan Gordon (game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds) banked in a jumper, and freshman Narissa Smith drained a deep three.

It certainly didn’t look like a game that was going to come down to the wire, as Mansfield trailed 15-3, but the Hornets turned the game around in the second.

Anna Darlington proved to be a spark off the bench, scoring only two points but grabbing four steals and slowing down Smith. McPherson said of Darlington’s impact, “She crushed it. Smith is very athletic, so quick, and Anna shut her down.”

Trailing 20-10, Ashley Santos (14 points and 10 rebounds) scored six straight points to get Mansfield right back into the game. The Hornets were starting to pass the ball well and break the press. Darlington scored on a putback and Wager drove to the basket to make it a two-point game.

Reilly answered with a pull-up jumper to put stem the tide, but Olivia Salisbury banked in her only points of the game and Kara Santos banked in a short jumper to send the teams into the break tied 24-24.

“They’re so athletic,” McPherson said about Attleboro, “but we just talked about playing good defense and getting those stops and playing a simple game. I think the big difference offensively was that one more pass. We weren’t hitting it in the first quarter and then it slowly started to come together.”

Both teams came out firing to start the second half, combining for 35 points in the third quarter. Kayla Vine (seven points) drilled a three off an Ally Prentis pass put the Hornets ahead for the first time in the game, 29-28.

Attleboro answered right back. Gordon rose above everyone for an impressive putback that made it 34-31. After a step-back three by Smith (six points and three assists), the Bombardiers were up 42-35 and threatening to pull away again. Mansfield closed the quarter on a 6-0 run, including a Vine basket in the dying seconds to make it a one-point game heading to the fourth.

Neither team could grab more than a five-point lead in the final eight minutes. A tough finish in traffic by Kayla Goldrick, who absorbed the contact and still got the ball to the rim, made it 47-43 for Attleboro.

Crowley said, “Our kids kept our composure tonight. We fought hard right to the end. It’s tough when someone makes a run on you like that, puts up 21 points in a quarter, which isn’t typical of our defense.”

Ashley Santos started to take over offensively, while Wager made plays on the defensive end. Santos knocked down a jumper then converted a Wager steal and long outlet into a three-point play that put the Hornets up 48-47 with 3:45 on the clock.

McPherson said, “Ashley was big. We’re kind of looking for her to get her momentum and she needed a game like this. She runs the floor well, she sees the floor, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

Wager then got another steal and assist on a Vine layup and blocked a Smith layup attempt, winning the ball back for the Hornets. Sarah Dooling (six points) scored with a drive to make it 52-47.

After a timeout, Attleboro settled down and got back into it. Gordon made two at the line and then stepped back to drill a three right in front of the bench that tied the game at 52 with 1:39 to play.

“That’s the thing about this team, any night it’s a different person,” said Crowley. “Meg hit some shots, Narissa made some big threes, Emma played very well again tonight. I feel for the kids because they work so hard but in less than two days we’re back at it again.”

With the clock winding down, Reilly went to the line and put Attleboro ahead, but Mansfield had one more chance and took advantage.

Mansfield (3-1) and Attleboro (2-1) will have a quick turnaround before facing each other again on Thursday night.

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Mansfield Handles Chaos, Comes Back to Beat KP

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield senior Ally Prentis (25) brings the ball forward against the KP press in the season opening win. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Early in Thursday night’s season opener at the Albertini Gym, Mansfield looked like it might be on the ropes. Even though it was only midway through the first quarter and the Hornets were only down single digits, the game was being played at the pace and style that King Philip loves. Chaos reigned.

Mansfield hung on with its defense, broke the press a couple of times, and built the confidence that would allow the Hornets to turn it around and pull out a 56-48 victory in their first game under first-year head coach Heather McPherson.

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“KP wants to embrace the chaos and they made us adjust to the chaos,” McPherson explained. “We knew it was coming but I think a lot of it has been the girls trying to figure out our new culture and new adjustments and then getting in this kind of game. I couldn’t be happier with my girls.

“It would’ve been easy for them to doubt it starting in that slow rut but I had 10 girls I was confident throwing in and I think the depth for us was huge.”

Even with head coach Dan Nagle watching the live stream at home after being sidelined because of COVID protocols, KP jumped right into its high-energy, fast-paced game plan. Grace Clyde kicked it out to Courtney Keswick for a three and a drive by Caroline Aaron (game-high 14 points) made it 7-2 early.

Although the Warriors were forcing turnover after turnover, they were unable to convert the defense into baskets, which helped keep the score close early.

“I tried to my best for Dan and keep with the system,” joked assistant coach Nicole Nunes, who was filling in for Nagle. “Our shots just weren’t falling. They kept getting the long ball deep off of the press, we weren’t getting back quick enough, weren’t getting rebounds.”

The Hornets chipped away and started to get behind the press. Kara Santos set up Brooke Berube (10 points and 10 rebounds) for a layup and Olivia Salisbury (four assists) laid a pass into Sarah Dooling (12 points and 10 rebounds) for another easy finish to cut the lead to 11-9.

Back-to-back baskets by Liv Lafond (eight points), including a steal and layup, pushed the lead back to six but Kayla Vine (team-high 13 points and seven rebounds) scored off a Salisbury assist to make it a four-point game after one.

After KP went back up by six, Mansfield went on a 7-0 run to grab its first lead of the night. Kara Santos knocked down a jumper off a feed from her sister Ashley, Abby Wager scored with a putback, and Anna Darlington capped the run with a steal that turned into a three-point play and 20-19 lead.

“That was our send home from the beginning,” McPherson said. “We’re going to make mistakes and it wasn’t going to be you’re coming out after a mistake but how you come back from that mistake that sets the tone. It can’t be a missed layup and then dogging it on defense, it’s got to be a sprint back.”

The Warriors bounced right back with six straight. Emily Sawyer scored in the paint off a Jackie Bonner assist and then Aaron went to work with back-to-back steals and transition buckets. She scored eight of her 14 in the second. Vine answered back with her first three of the night and the teams went into the break tied at 25.

Momentum was with the hosts and the Hornets turned it on in the third to break the game open. Mansfield outscored KP 13-4 in the quarter. Dooling scored on the press break (off a Berube assist) and Vine followed with her second three in as many quarters. After Santos finished at the rim, the Hornets led 34-27.

Aaron and Keswick got baskets for KP but an Ashley Santos jumper and then a Vine layup off a pinpoint long outlet pass by Kacey Veiking extended the lead to nine heading to the fourth quarter.

With the style that KP plays and the number of shots that the Warriors are going to get up in a short span, no lead feels safe, but Mansfield never allowed KP to get any closer than eight points in the final quarter. The Hornets strength in the paint proved too much to handle.

An Ally Prentis steal led to a Wager layup, but Keswick (10 points) answered with her second three. Berube scored with an offensive rebound to build the lead to back to double digits and then she fed Dooling for a three-point play and the largest lead of the night for the Hornets. Berube added four more points, both baskets coming off rebounds, and had six of her 10 in the fourth.

“We were waiting for that fire from our seniors,” said McPherson. “The senior leadership has been top notch. The poise of our team down the stretch was huge.”

KP kept running and Lafond added a layup and assisted on a Sawyer bucket to try and keep things close, but Mansfield was able to stay in control and see out the win.

“We were a little sloppy on the offensive side, a little rushed passes, not typical for KP,” said Nunes. “But it’s our first game, we’re in masks, it’s a little different for everybody. Good thing we play again on Sunday, right?”

Mansfield (1-0) and King Philip (0-1) will square off again on Sunday afternoon in the second game of a doubleheader.

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2020 Hockomock League Girls Soccer All Stars

Below are the official 20020 Hockomock League Girls Soccer All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Kelley-Rex Division MVP

Briley Harnois, Attleboro

Kelley-Rex Division All Stars

Briley Harnois, Attleboro
Isabella Salviati, Attleboro
Jessica Gates, Attleboro
Erin Quaile, Franklin
Sydney St. Marie, Franklin
Julia Bertone, Franklin
Kiera Lindmark, King Philip
Paige Varvarigos, King Philip
Maria Sevastos, Mansfield
Cathryn Cooney, Mansfield
Katie Miller, Mansfield
Dani Atherton, Milford
Catherine Madden, Milford

Davenport Division MVP

Kailee McCabe, Foxboro

Davenport Division All Stars

Mia Gilmore, Canton
Sarai Costello, Canton
Olivia Rodman, Canton
Elisa Diletizia, Canton
Allie McCabe, Canton
Kailee McCabe, Foxboro
Jordyn Collins, Foxboro
Jordan Carman, Foxboro
Camryn O’Connor, Oliver Ames
Emma Pereira, Oliver Ames
Stephanie McKenna, North Attleboro
Kaylah Seavey, North Attleboro
Sofia Goclowski, Sharon
Cass Barbera, Sharon

Honorable Mentions:
Eleanor Graber, Attleboro
Morgan Sylvestre, Foxboro
Anya Zub, Franklin
Ella Pisani, King Philip
Kara Santos, Mansfield
Alyssa Monahan, Milford
Summer Doherty, North Attleboro
Allison Evin, Oliver Ames
Molly McAlevey, Sharon
Sabrina Rodrigues, Stoughton
Isabella Anslow, Taunton

Cooney Goal Helps Mansfield Score Sweep of Franklin

Mansfield Girls Soccer
Cathryn Cooney (12) struck with a third quarter free kick to lift Mansfield to a second straight 1-0 win against Franklin. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – As Franklin raced away from the corner kick with the ball, there was the faint sound of a whistle. There was some hesitation but the Panthers kept running and, with no other signal from the officials, the Mansfield players chased back. The play continued upfield and Franklin was able to get off a shot that went wide of the post.

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Before Hornets goalie Olivia Salisbury could put the ball back into play, confusion erupted. The official that had been trailing the play ran across the field to talk to his partner. After a conversation, the officials ruled that a Franklin player had headed the ball on the corner and, despite the amount of time that passed, pulled play back to the edge of the Franklin penalty area for an indirect free kick.

Mansfield didn’t waste the opportunity. Isabella Lennon took the touch to set up Cathryn Cooney and the senior blasted an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner, out of the reach of Franklin keeper Rachel Welch’s dive.

It was the game’s only goal. For the second time in two days, the Hornets beat Franklin 1-0, sweeping the season series, making it six games unbeaten, and moving within two points of the league-leading Panthers in the Kelley-Rex division standings.

However controversial the decision that led to the goal, there was no question about the quality of Cooney’s strike. “She’s come up with a couple of those this year,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith. “She’s come a long, long way and controlling a lot of our attack. She’s everywhere and you can see that she wants to be on the ball. She’s playing really, really well.”

It was also a goal against the run of play. Franklin stormed out of the halftime break and had the Hornets on their heels.

Five minutes into the third quarter, Bridget Leo picked the pocket of a Mansfield player and started a quick transition that led to a long shot from Sydney St. Marie that was just wide. A minute later, Erin Quaile blocked a clearance and set up Anya Zub for a shot from the edge of the box that was charged down by Kayla Doherty.

The Panthers had another chance just a minute after that, Quaile again played provider, picking out Leo for a strike that Salisbury was able to collect on the second attempt. In the 51st minute, St. Marie forced another save with a shot off the bounce.

It was all Panthers until finally Mansfield got one good counter attack in the closing minutes of the quarter and forced a corner. Franklin cleared it. The Mansfield bench initially called for a free kick from a header but turned its attention to the Panthers’ break. Then came the call and Cooney’s go-ahead goal.

Franklin coach Tom Geysen said, “The official wouldn’t explain the call to me. He wouldn’t come to the sideline and explain why he made that call. It was at least 30 seconds after the infraction.”

“If you don’t score, you can’t win,” Geysen admitted, “I thought we played really well and kept them off-balance. I wasn’t happy with the result, but I was happy with the performance.”

The game certainly wasn’t over after the Hornets went in front. Quaile had a free kick from the left side that she played into the middle of the box. After a couple of good blocks by the Mansfield defense, including one from Kara Santos, the ball popped out to Katie Ewald whose deflected strike was punched out by Salisbury.

Cooney forced Welch into a save with a long distance strike and Olivia Homsi nearly doubled the lead when she slipped the ball under the onrushing keeper but Cariss Alers stretched to clear it off the line.

With three minutes to play, St. Marie took a kick-in from the far side of the field and played a low cross through the box to Clare Bowen, who hit it first-time just over the bar.

“The whole second half until maybe after the goal and they were starting to push and push and push and we had a little more space to play, they were on top of the game,” Smith said. “They’re an excellent team. They pass the ball well and their spacing is so disciplined. They knew exactly who to move. We had to fight tooth and nail to stay with them.”

The first half was more even and had fewer chances, as both teams played it around in the midfield and both defense stood strong.

Mansfield almost scored in the first minute when Cooney’s free kick was spilled by Julia Bertone and Tarynn Smith had a chance on the volley, but Bertone made amends with a good stop. It was the lone scoring chance of note in the opening 20 minutes.

Franklin started to get going in the second, as its winger started to get into the game. Zub nearly got on the end of a cross, only to be denied by a combination of Santos and Salisbury. Then Zub played in Leo, who set up Bowen on the left side, but the cross flashed across the face of goal with no Panthers on hand to get a touch.

Bertone had to be quick to recover and stop a deflected cross from Avery Hawthorne that nearly snuck in at the near post in the final minute of the first half.

Mansfield (4-2-2) faces a difficult stretch to close out the regular season, with two games against Milford over the weekend. Two wins could give the Hornets a shot at the league title. Franklin (6-2-0) needs two points to clinch at least a share of the league title and faces Attleboro on Monday.

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Attleboro Rallies to Earn Feisty Draw at Mansfield

Attleboro girls soccer
Attleboro’s Jessica Gates (11) and Mansfield’s Katie Miller (20) battle for a ball in the midfield on Monday night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – The new rule modifications in place this season are meant to limit physical contact between players, but once Monday night’s game at Alumni Field kicked off neither Attleboro or Mansfield was going to shy away from a challenge or give their opponents an inch.

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It led to a competitive, hard-fought match with chances to win it at both ends of the field. In the end, Eleanor Graber’s third quarter strike matched Amira Walcott’s second quarter opener and the teams walked away with a point apiece following a 1-1 draw.

Attleboro dominated the opening few minutes of the match, as Mansfield worked to meet the aggressiveness of the visitors. In the third minute, Emily Dunlea slid a pass into the run of Isabella Salviati but the Attleboro forward dragged her shot through the box.

Once the hosts settled down, Mansfield started to assert itself and take control of the game. Tarynn Smith had the first good look for the Hornets after nine minutes but Alexis Campbell was there for the save. Following a corner, Carly Devine teed up Cathryn Cooney but her shot was wide of the far post.

Cooney almost created an opener with a cross from the left but it was deflected out to defender Kayla Doherty, whose shot from distance was blocked into the path of Kaylee Smith. The senior took a touch and put a shot on target from eight yards, but it was right at Campbell.

“It was just a matter of weathering their first adrenaline rush and maintaining our compactness in the middle and at the back and absorbing it and completing a pass going out,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith explained. “Once we did we were able to get a foothold in the game.”

In the 27th minute, Attleboro got a look for Briley Harnois but the senior’s shot from 25 yards out went wide of the post.

Mansfield took the lead in the 33rd minute. Campbell went up in traffic to collect a long free kick from Maria Sevastos, but couldn’t handle it cleanly and Walcott was in the right place to knock in her second of the season.

The Hornets had several chances to double their lead before halftime. Cooney had an indirect kick inside the box blocked at the near post by Olivia Calderone and then Katie Miller played Tarynn Smith behind the right back but Campbell came up with a big save, palming the shot over the bar.

“We started off okay and we got away from our style of play and more into their style of play,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos, “and it felt like were trying to defend the long ball and the races, so we dropped our defense back a little bit in the second half and got a little more composed and the flow of the game got a little bit better.”

Campbell came up with another big stop to keep it a one-goal deficit in the 51st minute. A ball over the top picked out Abby Jean on the run. The Mansfield sophomore decided to cut it back onto her right foot and bring it to the center of the box, forcing a full-stretch save down to the keeper’s right.

Santos said, “Lexi played well. She came out at the right times, made a key save when we needed it. She just got unlucky on that transition bringing the ball down.”

That save proved to be crucial as just five minutes later Attleboro was level. Mansfield keeper Olivia Salisbury had an outlet pass intercepted by Graber just outside the box. The Attleboro midfielder drove forward and made the turnover count with a shot into the bottom corner.

“That was a great hustle play by Eleanor,” Santos said. “She was in the right spot at the right time, made the right moves, and finished it.”

Much like Campbell, Salisbury had the chance to atone for her mistake and came up with the save of the game. Graber picked out Cossandra Stuger in the middle, who split the lines with a pass into Harnois on the left side of the box. The Attleboro forward was clean through on goal but Salisbury came sliding out to make a game-saving block.

“We talked about that in the intermission (between quarters),” said Smith. “We said, alright so we made a mistake and it cost us a goal. What do we want to do? React. So, we want to have a good, positive reaction and I thought everyone did.”

Mansfield started to regain control after Attleboro’s post-goal surge, putting pressure with a series of long free kicks by Sevastos and freshman defender Kara Santos. Bridget Hanley’s through ball sent Devine free, but the shot was held by Campbell. Attleboro created one more notable chance after Graber and Jessica Gates played a one-two and Gates set up Harnois in the box but again Salisbury was held onto the shot.

Smith said, “We had a lot of good pressure, a lot of possession, and a lot of good passing movements, and once we broke that down in the second half then they started coming back at us. Then you get that goal, but the last 10 minutes we recovered.”

Attleboro (1-1-1) and Mansfield (1-2-2) will do it again in two days when the teams meet at Tozier-Cassidy Field. Expect the same level of intensity and physicality for round two.

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Pisani Brace Lifts King Philip to Win at Mansfield

King Philip girls soccer
KP goalie Emma Glaser dives at the feet of Mansfield’s Tarynn Smith to make a save right before halftime of a 2-0 win. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – As the clock wound down in the fourth quarter, the field felt titled towards the home team. It seemed only a matter of time until Mansfield was able to turn its domination into an equalizing goal and salvage a point. With five minutes to play and the Hornets pushing numbers forward, King Philip countered and sealed the win.

Ella Pisani’s second goal of the night, coming against the run of play, clinched a 2-0 victory for the Warriors and a sweep of the season series with Mansfield, setting up a battle of unbeaten league leaders next week against Franklin.

“Against these guys it’s always the same deal,” said KP coach Gary Pichel about playing Mansfield. “We’re always fighting neck-and-neck and there’s no blowouts or anything. I’m happy.”

The Hornets got off to a slow start, struggling to create scoring chances in the first quarter, but they grew into the game and their depth proved important as they seemed to have more energy in the final 20 minutes.

Cathryn Cooney had a good look from 20 yards but KP keeper Emma Glaser made the save down to her right. Four minutes later, Cooney’s free kick nearly picked out Tarynn Smith at the back post, but she was unable to bring it down cleanly and Glaser was off her line quick to secure the loose ball. The pressure was mounting on the KP back line, but Mansfield just couldn’t find the final ball.

KP sprung a counter with five minutes left. Pisani slid a ball down the left channel, playing Jenny Montville in behind the Mansfield right back and clean on goal. Montville’s chance was smothered by Hornets keeper Olivia Salisbury but the rebound popped out to Pisani. She took a touch and calmly curled a shot over the keeper to wrap up the win. It was her third goal of the young season.

“We also went three at the back and really two at the back as I was pushing everybody up, so what’s the difference between losing 1-0 or 2-0?” asked Mansfield coach Kevin Smith. “We’ve got to take the risks.”

Mansfield almost cut the lead in half with two minutes to go, but Isabella Lennon shot off an indirect free kick in the box was sent wide of the post.

Pichel praised his defense for holding onto the clean sheet, even with Grace Lawler sidelined with injury. He explained, “I used a freshman midfielder, Kylie Menendez, because she’s been playing so well in the mid and I said I’ve got to put her back there and see if works and she did a fantastic job with Paige [Varvarigos]. She held her own in a big game.”

The Warriors started well. Freshman Ellish McGowen had a shot from 20 yards in the first minute and forced Salisbury (five saves) into a diving stop. Montville nearly took advantage of a mix-up between a pair of Mansfield defenders but her shot from 25 yards was comfortable for the keeper.

“We were both a little slow,” Smith admitted. “If you watched Wednesday’s game (a 2-1 KP win), it was brilliant. Both teams played awesome. I think we were both just tired. Neither of has played two games in three days since February, so we’re all going to be rusty.”

In the final minute of the opening quarter, KP grabbed the lead. Kiera Lindmark was fouled when jumping for a cross from a corner kick and Pisani made no mistake from the spot.

“Ella took Avery [Snead]’s number (No. 9) on purpose because she adores Avery and wants to be like her,” said Pichel of Pisani picking up the scoring slack left by the Warriors graduating the program’s two all-time leading scorers. “She’s got some good moves and a good shot. She’s off to a good start.”

While it wasn’t the best start for Mansfield, the Hornets looked much better after the quick timeout. Maria Sevastos had a chance only three minutes into the second, getting free down the left wing, but her shot skimmed the bar on its way over. Anna Darlington then played Carly Devine down the right channel but she was unable to get the shot off under pressure from Varvarigos.

“I’m very happy with the girls,” said Smith. “They took that first quarter and put it in the back of their heads and got rid of it and switched back on and played well.”

KP could have doubled its lead with two minutes to go before halftime. When Mansfield tried to play out of its own penalty area, Paulina Baczkowski forced a turnover but her shot from a tight angle was pushed aside by Salisbury.

Kara Santos’ long free kick in the final minute of the second was on target and Glaser spilled the shot, but the keeper bravely dove at Smith’s feet to ensure there was no rebound opportunity for the Hornets forward and keep KP in front at the break.

King Philip (2-0) will e back home next week to host also unbeaten Franklin with first place in the Kelley-Rex on the line. Mansfield (0-2) will be back at Alumni Field on Wednesday to host Taunton in the season opener for the Tigers.

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