Girls Soccer: 2018 Davenport Division Preview

2018 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview
Canton and Milford will be among the teams looking to dethrone North Attleboro at the top of the Davenport division this fall. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview

Canton

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.”

Foxboro

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.”

Milford

2017 Record: 6-10-2
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs.
Coach: Lou Colabello

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.”

North Attleboro

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

2017 Record: 3-13-2
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs.
Coach: Catherine Sullivan

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.”

Stoughton

2017 Record: 0-15-3
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs.
Coach: Tara Daniels

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.”

Rodman Scores Brace, Canton Beats Milford

Canton girls soccer
Canton senior Riley Duserick (22) pushed the ball forward from midfield during Monday night’s win against Milford at WWII Vets Memorial Field. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Canton had a chance to cut North Attleboro’s lead in the Davenport division to just a single point last week, but a loss to the Rocketeers on Friday opened that lead back up to five points and made each of the remaining league games a must win if the Bulldogs were going to keep up the race for a title.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

On Monday night, the Bulldogs bounced back with a strong overall performance in a 3-0 win against Milford, sparked by a pair of unassisted goals from freshman phenom Olivia Rodman and a composed defensive effort.

Milford started the game well, combining well in the midfield to create opportunities in the final third. Sophomores Ashleigh Starks, Juliana France, and Annie Flanagan passed their way through the Canton midfield in the opening few minutes and Maggie Boyle and Hannah Martin each forced saves out of Canton keeper Briana Murphy.

“They connect passes really well,” said Canton assistant coach Sarah Handman of Milford. “I think we weren’t winning the 50-50 balls in the first 15 minutes and from then on that’s what made the difference.

The Hawks only struggle was finding the right pass to turn half chances into goals. Milford coach Jay Mastaj said, “That’s been our struggle all season, we’re playing with everybody but then the ball gets into the final third and we’re missing that little extra. We had our chances.”

The Bulldogs started to get a foothold in the game and in the 19th minute Rodman changed the momentum completely. The freshman ran onto a ball down the far touchline and cut infield onto her right foot before unleashing a rocket just under the bar and out of the reach of freshman keeper Carly Ferreira.

The goal turned the game on its head and the confidence started flowing for the hosts, who took control. Three minutes after the goal, Riley Duserick saw a 25-yard free kick smack off the crossbar and out and then right back Leianna Brune intercepted a pass on the right and sent a perfect early cross to an unmarked Rodman on the edge of the six, but the shot went over the bar.

“That’s where we start,” said Handman. “We work on building on the outside from the back.” In addition to Brune down the right side, central defender Sarah Connolly and left back Sarah Collins frequently stepped forward in possession and created space for the midfielders and forwards to take advantage.

Milford’s best chance of the game arrived in the 25th minute when sophomore Madeline Boyle lined up a 35-yard free kick and forced a stretching save out of Murphy, who managed to catch the ball just under the bar.

Madeline Boyle showed off her defensive ability a few minutes later when she reacted first to a low cross from the left to deny Lilah Sullivan a chance at the back post and then Rachel LeBlanc stepped just in front of Rodman to deny a goal scoring opportunity.

The chances kept coming for Canton with freshman Elisa Diletizia showing her strength to shoulder aside her defender and run onto a through ball from Juliana Agnitti before sending in a hard cross that Rodman just missed getting a foot on.

Diletizia had chances to extend the lead either side of halftime but sent both shots wide. Sullivan had another shot when Rodman’s run deflected off a defender’s leg and fell to the senior inside the box but Ferreira came up with one of her seven saves (six in the second half alone).

“The defense has been playing great all year,” said Mastaj. “Carly is a freshman goalie and being a freshman and stepping up to varsity isn’t easy and I think she’s been good back there.”

In the 54th minute, Rodman sealed the win for the Bulldogs. Diletizia sent a through ball over the top and Rodman got fortunate as she raced to the ball with Ferreira, as the ball deflected off her leg and rolled the ball past the keeper. Rodman hustled to the end line to keep the play alive and was able to cut the ball back towards the goal from an acute angle and, with the help of a defender’s foot, into the net.

Canton nearly added a third in the 74th minute but Brianna Braza cleared a Morgan McCabe shot off the line at the near post and then got up to block a shot from Lauren Fitzpatrick as well. The third did finally arrive with the final kick of the game, as McCabe finished a breakaway with a well-taken shot on the run.

Handman said, “Our goalkeeper only had to make two or three saves in the second half and I think we could have scored three or four goals with our runs up top. We had really good chances.”

Canton (7-4-2) is three points behind league leader North Attleboro with three league games remaining. The Bulldogs will try to stay in the title race on Thursday when they travel to Sharon. Milford (4-8-2) needs eight points from its remaining four games to get into the state tournament and will start its closing stretch with a trip to Foxboro on Thursday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Bulldogs Find Right Mentality and Dominate Franklin

Canton girls soccer
Canton freshman Elisa Diletizia (32) had a goal and an assist in the 4-1 win over Franklin. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

Riley Duserick, Elisa Diletizia, and Lilah Sullivan each recorded a goal and an assist, as Canton stormed back to dominate Franklin, winning 4-1 to get back above .500 for the season.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Girls Soccer: 2017 Davenport Division Preview

2017 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview
The Davenport division is wide open in girls soccer in 2017 and the six teams will all have their sights set on competing for a title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview

Canton

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

2016 Record: 11-9-0
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Katie Stalcup

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.”

Milford

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.”

North Attleboro

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

2016 Record: 7-9-2
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Furnival

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

2016 Record: 0-17-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Tara Daniels

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.”

Second Half Surge From Medfield Sinks Canton

Canton girls soccer
Canton’s Sarah Collins and Medfield’s Annie Phipps battle for possession on Friday afternoon. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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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.”

Bulldogs Find Defensive Form to Beat Sharon

Canton girls soccer
Canton celebrates a second half goal by Catherine Leonetti (14) that sealed a 2-0 win against Sharon. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Duserick Strike Decisive as Canton Beats Milford

Canton girls soccer
Riley Duserick scored the only goal of the game with 11 minutes to halftime to lift the Bulldogs back to .500. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

Girls Soccer: 2016 Davenport Division Preview

2016 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview
After the league realignment, North Attleboro comes into 2016 as a favorite for the Davenport title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview

Canton

2015 Record: 13-5-1
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Kate Howarth

The Bulldogs will be happy to see Oliver Ames move on to the Kelley-Rex after finishing just behind the Tigers in the Davenport title race each of the past two seasons. Head coach Kate Howarth is now in her fourth season and Canton seems poised to make an even bigger impact this year with a number of returning players, despite still being a very young team that has only three seniors on the roster.

Canton’s strength starts at the back where senior goalie Kathryn Doody has developed into a solid shot stopper and also an extra sweeper who can cover when the defense steps up to press the play. Just in front of the keeper, Sarah Connolly will be in her third year on varsity and brings “loads of experience,” according to Howarth.

Junior Riley Duserick is back to run the middle of the pitch for the Bulldogs after a pair of all-star seasons. Her range of passing and her long-range shooting will force defenses to keep an eye on her at all times, which can open lanes for the pass into senior forwards Hannah Link and Tessa Cudmore. Both are in their fourth year on varsity and Howarth is counting on their experience to be in the right place to finish opportunities.

Howarth added, “We have some great depth this year. When we make subs I don’t think our quality will go down at all and that is very exciting.”

Foxboro

2015 Record: 9-9-0
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Kaitlin Lamothe-Vaughn

The Warriors were one of several teams that battled injuries last season. Foxboro started the fall without its starting keeper, one of its primary forwards and with its star midfielder playing through an injury suffered in the off-season. The Warriors still reached the postseason but with a full roster set to start 2016, expectations are even higher.

The key player is junior midfielder Lily Sykes, who head coach Kaitlin Lamothe-Vaughn referred to as the team’s “rock.” Sykes has recovered from the injury problems she dealt with last year and will be the primary playmaker in behind the forwards. She will have plenty of experienced players to look for with the return of senior Kristen Bortolotti, who was one of Foxboro’s top scorers as a sophomore but missed all of last year with injury. Also up top, the Warriors will feature Olivia Dantona, Shaina Abbott, and Hannah Burns.

Another key returner is senior goalie Hallie Canfield, who missed significant time last year. She adds even more confidence to a returning back four of seniors Devon Mollica, Lauren Flahive, and Jamie Gorman and sophomore Alex Stamatos. With Hailey Maling and Riley Collins running the wings, Foxboro has plenty of familiar talent coming back to try and win the program’s first league title since 1993.

Milford

2015 Record: 8-9-2
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Jay Mastaj

For the past several seasons, Milford has been incorporating younger players in an effort to get back to the postseason, but injury troubles have limited the Hawks in the ultra-competitive Hock. This year, the Hawks have a good balance between senior leadership and young talent and could be poised for a breakthrough season.

The key players for Milford are senior captains Nicole Dahlgren, who is a strong presence in the center of defense with the ability to step into the midfield, and Kristen Franzini, who was the team’s leading scorer from a year ago with nine goals. The four-year starters will have help from midfielder Maggie Boyle and defender Rachel LeBlanc.

Head coach Jay Mastaj is excited about a strong crop of freshmen, including Maddie Boyle, Ashleigh Starks, Annie Flanagan, and Juliana France. Mastaj said that the team has plenty of depth this season. He added, “This is the most talented team that we have fielded in my four years here at Milford.”

North Attleboro

2015 Record: 13-5-3
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Glenn Pasquel

While the Rocketeers had a solid regular season under first-year head coach Glenn Pasquel, not many expected North Attleboro to make a run through league rivals OA and Franklin to reach the Div. 1 South semifinal (a 2-1 loss to Whitman-Hanson). Key players like Hana Caster and Grace Guertin are gone, but North has a lot of returning talent for its first season in the Davenport and expectations are high at Kelly Field.

Much of the excitement around the program is in the attacking third where junior Haley Guertin will try to have another season like 2015 in which she scored 19 goals, led the league in scoring, and was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. She will receive help up top from winger Felicity Monfils, who emerged last year as a threat on the right wing for the Rocketeers. Emily Schromm and Julianna DiRenzo will try to fill the holes in midfield from the strong crop that graduated.

Goals are important but it was the development of the North defense that propelled the Rocketeers to a tournament run. The move of Rachel Labonte to sweeper turned into a masterstroke as she seemed to block every attack and move the ball quickly back into the attack. Emily Chiasson will join Labonte in the back line in front of new goalie Emma Noreck. Pasquel said, “Great start to the season, plenty of returning players…Looking forward to a great season.”

Sharon

2015 Record: 3-13-2
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Furnival

First-year head coach Brad Furnival has spent the preseason installing his style of play and building the organization needed to compete in the Hockomock League. So far, he said that results have been positive and he is excited to get the season underway. It may be a new coaching staff, but the Eagles have plenty of familiar names from last year’s young and talented squad.

Senior captains Anna Crosby and Ally Steinberg will be the players that Furnival is expecting to be leaders on and off the pitch and both have the potential to make an impact in the midfield. Ally Filipkowski has the foot skills and moves to create scoring chances for herself and her teammates.

In addition, Sharon will also have St. Michael’s College-commit Victoria Zambello and Ithaca College lacrosse commits Alex and Samantha Rabb back this season to add aggressiveness and energy to the team. There is a lot of talent on hand and Furnival is trying to find the right “vision” to mold the talent into a competitive team. He said, “I’m looking to have the perfect balance this season between players with a technical and physical prowess, which will make Sharon a much harder team to play against.”

Stoughton

2015 Record: 4-14-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Tara Daniels

Head coach Tara Daniels enters her second season with the Black Knights looking to continue the development of the program to compete in the very competitive Davenport division. Stoughton has several players that Daniels believes could make a big impact this season and see the Black Knights make a move up the standings.

The key for Stoughton will be the midfield where Emerson Sprague will try to run things from the center of the pitch. Daniels praised Sprague’s distribution and her ability to keep the Black Knights in possession. On the outside, senior captain Amelia Cochran will be racing up and down the wing and junior Mia Greene will be helping Sprague with the playmaking duties. Up front, sophomore Gabby Diaz will try to build on a solid freshman campaign.

The defense is led by junior captain Sarah Wildrow. Daniels said of the vocal outside back, “I’ve never seen Sarah get out-hustled.” Daniels added, “Hard work and staying healthy will be key to our success. Our goal this season is to keep our mind focused on teamwork and connecting passes.”

Free Kick Downs Bulldogs in South Quarterfinal

Sarah MacQuarrie
Sarah MacQuarrie (9) and the Bulldogs were undone by a late free kick in a 2-0 loss to Medfield on Saturday. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

CANTON, Mass. – Saturday afternoon’s Div. 2 South matchup between Canton and Medfield at World War II Veterans Memorial Field was intense. Both teams pressured high up the pitch, the ball rocketed back and forth from one end to the other, and no one had more than a second on the ball to try and make a play.

In evenly matched games between good teams, sometimes it takes one moment of magic to decide the outcome. On Saturday, that moment of magic was provided by Medfield right back Sydney Joline.

The junior lined up a 25-yard free kick from the right side of the penalty area with 10 minutes remaining in a scoreless game. The angle and distance would normally require a cross into the box, but Joline was urged to shoot by the Medfield bench and she cooperated with a rocket that snuck just inside the far post breaking the deadlock and Canton hearts.

Medfield tacked on another goal in the final minute and came away with a 2-0 victory over the Bulldogs that moved the Warriors on to the sectional semifinal and a matchup with Notre Dame Academy (Hingham).

“It wasn’t savable by any stretch of the imagination,” said Canton coach Kate Howarth in frustration. “It is what it is; you can’t do anything about it.”

“We fought back and that’s all we can do…there was nothing we could do about that.”

Medfield coach Mike LaFrancesca, who said that Joline had the hardest shot he has seen in 20 years of coaching, added, “Having a weapon like that is so important. That was the difference tonight. We were able to get on the board because of a play like that.”

Canton had the first shot on goal in the third minute. Tessa Cudmore taking a shot from the edge of the box that was right at Medfield keeper Sarah Graham. A minute later, Medfield had its first chance when Canton keeper Kathryn Doody failed to handle the first shot that led to a scramble in the box. Doody ended up making two big saves before the ball was cleared.

Joline fired warning shots in the 20th and 31st minute. One free kick from the right sailed narrowly over the crossbar and her shot from the left forced Doody into another save on a tough dipping shot that bounced a foot in front of the keeper.

The Bulldogs had probably the best chance of the game in the 33rd minute. Sarah MacQuarrie spring Cudmore with a through ball in the left channel. Graham came out to the edge of the box but was unable to handle it cleanly and Cudmore touched it past the keeper. With the goal gaping, but at a tough angle, she missed the far post by inches.

“I think we did a good of being dangerous on the chances we had,” said Howarth. “I think we had more dangerous chances than they did; we just couldn’t finish one.”

The second half was played almost entirely in the midfield with neither team able to create consistent scoring opportunities. As the clock continued to wind down and the pressure ratcheted up, both teams became increasingly frenetic.

Howarth said, “I talked to a couple of my girls when we get a throw in or we get a free kick to just take a second and take a deep breath. Those are the moments when you can pause for a second and everyone can compose themselves.”

In the 70th minute, Joline struck for the Warriors and changed the way the game was being played. Canton needed to push forward more and take more chances. In the 74th it almost paid off for the Bulldogs when Cudmore had a breakaway down the right channel only to be denied at the last minute by Medfield left back Sarah Crofts.

MacQuarrie also had a shot from he edge of the box that forced Graham to get down well to tip it around the post. The ensuing corner was cleared.

In the final two minutes, Medfield had a throw in deep in its attacking third and the ball bounced into the penalty area where Maggie McCarthy slid across to knock it past Doody.

“Are they two goals better than us? No,” said Howarth. “But, that’s part of the reason you play the game and you love the game because any given day anyone can beat any team.”

Howarth praised the back four of Shannon Foley, Sarah Connelly, Hayley Mulford, and Sarah Collins for keeping Medfield at bay. Other than a chance in the first half, the Warriors striker Taylor Sherman has little impact on the game.

Overall, Howarth was proud of her team, while also disappointed in the one chance the separated the teams.

“We didn’t play badly at all,” she said. “We played with more intensity today than we had all season. We played the way we needed to and they got lucky and that’s part of the game.”

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

Taking Stock of the Hock: Girls Soccer 2015

Victoria Stowell Francesca Calabraro
Victoria Stowell (blue) and Francesca Calabraro lead the midfields of the top two teams in the Hock and are among the players contending for Player of the Year this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Who is the current soccer Player of the Year?
Perry: For the past three years, a Franklin girls’ soccer player has been named Player of the Year. It started with Kristi Kirshe, who split the award by division the first year that we gave it out, and Taylor Cogliano won it each of the past two years. At the moment, I think the Panthers’ domination of this award will continue.

Senior Victoria Stowell continues to dominate the middle of the pitch for Franklin, especially against the top teams, as Mansfield can attest. Even with a host of new and inexperienced players around her in the midfield, she continues to keep the Panthers offense rolling with incisive passing and a bite in the tackle that helps protect the defense by keeping the ball high up the pitch. Stowell is second in the league with 18 points, including 13 assists, and is the main cog in a team that remains unbeaten and has yet to give up a goal.

There are plenty of great players in the Hock and many who have had great first halves but Stowell remains the most influential player on the top team in the league.

Lanigan: There are a handful of really talented players this year and a couple that could very well be picked as the top player. As of right now, I’d say Oliver Ames’ Francesca Calabraro is the Player of the Year. Through the first half of the season, the junior has netted 11 goals, which is currently second in the league and has a total of 15 points, which is fourth in the league. The Tigers sit atop of the Davenport Division and have only allowed four goals this season while finding the back of the net 33 times. They were able to keep both Franklin and Mansfield, two other top teams in the state, scoreless in the game and both had to focus a lot of their attention on stopping Calabraro. The 2014 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year should certainly be in the conversation for the league’s top player this year.

Who is the soccer Underclassman of the Year?
Perry: Coming into the season, I would’ve assumed that Lily Sykes would be a sure bet to win this award, but injuries to her teammates have moved her back into a more central midfield position (taking away some of her scoring punch from last year) and another sophomore has stepped in to become the league’s leading scorer. North Attleboro’s Haley Guertin is the focal point of a talented Rocketeers attack and she leads the league with 13 goals and 23 points She is skilled on the ball, strong in the air, and seems to always be in the right position to get the goal when North counters with its vaunted pace. Her partnership up top with Hana Caster has combined for 23 goals.

Guertin may be the frontrunner at the midway point, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a charge from Sykes in the second half of the season, as she and her teammates get healthier. Don’t count out players like Riley Duserick of Canton or Sam Tichelaar of Taunton making a push as well.

Lanigan: Sometimes stats don’t tell the entire story, but in this case they certainly do. North Attleboro sophomore Haley Guertin has had a superb first half of the season, leading the Hockomock League with 13 goals and is second in the league with 10 assists. The partnership she has formed with senior Hana Caster has been one of the most dangerous in the entire league. With 37 goals scored this year, the Rocketeers are one of the top offenses in the league. With seven league games left, Guertin and North Attleboro are just three points out of first place undefeated Franklin Panthers.

What has been the biggest surprise this season?
Perry: I’m not at all surprised that Franklin is back on top of the league and has a serious chance at winning another league title, but the fact that the Panthers have allowed exactly zero goals through the opening 10 games of the season is shocking. After losing Nicole Ellin, who was a rock at center back last year, and both outside backs, I assumed Franklin would need some time to mesh defensively. But Lauren Rudolph and Meghan Dieterle have been immense at the back and on the outside converted midfielder Nadia Havens has slotted in at right back like she’s played there forever. Of course, having four-year starter Dani Lonati in goal also helps with the organization and confidence of the Franklin back line. There is a ton of talent on this squad, but seriously no goals allowed in 10 games? That is a remarkable accomplishment.

Lanigan: Certainly Franklin having a +38 goal differential (with zero goals against) is quite the feat but I’d say the biggest surprise so far has been North Attleboro. The Rocketeers graduated two very talented players in Nicole Chretien and Courtney Hewitt, both of which had the ability to find the back of the net. But they haven’t skipped a bit with Glenn Pasquel in his first year at the helm. Between Hana Caster, Haley Guertin, Grace Guertin and Shannon Kingsley, among others, the Rocketeers are second with 37 goals scored this year. North still has two games left against Franklin, who has yet to surrender a goal.

HockomockSports.com Midseason Best XI
Perry:
G – Dani Lonati, Franklin
D – Delaney Benton, Oliver Ames
D – Hannah Reiter, Mansfield
D – Meghan Dieterle, Franklin
D – Sarah MacQuarrie, Canton
M – Victoria Stowell, Franklin
M – Francesca Calabraro, Oliver Ames
M – Lily Sykes, Foxboro
M/F – Hana Caster, North Attleboro
F – Haley Guertin, North Attleboro
F – Jackie Carchedi, Mansfield

Lanigan
G – Dani Lonati, Franklin
D – Hannah Reiter, Mansfield
D – Sarah MacQuarrie, Canton
D – Delaney Benton, Oliver Ames
M – Victoria Stowell, Franklin
M – Francesca Calabraro, Oliver Ames
M – Hana Caster, North Attleboro
M – Alexis Stowell, Franklin
F – Haley Guertin, North Attleboro
F – Jackie Carchedi, Mansfield

At this point, which team will be going the furthest in the tournament?
Perry: I’m not really going out on a limb, but I think at this point it would be hard to pick against Franklin. Even with injuries starting to hit the Panthers attack, freshman Halle Atkinson has stepped in and provided a spark and, as mentioned above, the defense is playing at a very high level.

But, I will say that there is a chance that we could see a deep run from Canton this season. Division 2 South is wide open with a lot of very good teams, but without a powerhouse like Hingham at the top. While the Bulldogs will have to go through the likes of Scituate and Medfield (and probably Hingham), Canton has made huge strides in head coach Kate Howarth’s third year and showed against Mansfield at Gillette that it can pass the ball and control possession as well as any team in the league, which becomes particularly important in the tournament.

Lanigan: I think there’s a very good chance we could see the Panthers return to the D1 South Sectional game for the fourth straight year. Between Mansfield, Franklin and OA, they might have to go through one another in a very talented D1 South bracket. You win games with defense and so far, the Panthers have done just that as they haven’t allowed a goal. I think all three of those teams will all be tough to play in the playoffs.

What is your bold prediction for the rest of the season?
Perry: I’m not great at bold predictions. I’m almost invariably way off or my pick is far from bold. But here goes: my bold prediction is that this fall a girls’ soccer team wins silverware for the league in the tournament. At first glance, Franklin looks the most likely, but Mansfield, Oliver Ames, and North Attleboro will be teams that the likes of Whitman-Hanson and Bishop Feehan will want to avoid in D1 and Canton and Foxboro have potential to cause problems in D2. The league looks increasingly deep and before the season ends one of the teams will have a trophy to show for it.

Lanigan: My bold prediction is that Franklin won’t allow a goal all regular season. It will be a very tough task with two games left against North Attleboro and one against Mansfield but I think the Panthers have a chance at doing it. With Meghan Dieterle anchoring a strong back line and with Dani Lonati, one of the best goals in the state over the last four years, in net, it will be a challenge for teams to score against Franklin.