Mansfield Holds Off KP, Sets Up Showdown for Title

Mansfield girls soccer
Mansfield celebrates Cassidy McMahon’s goal that pushed the lead to 2-0 against King Philip on senior night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Coming into Tuesday night’s game with Kelley-Rex division rival King Philip, Mansfield could have been caught in the trap of looking past the Warriors. On Thursday, the Hornets will travel to Easton to face Oliver Ames in a game that could decide the league title and on Friday night they have the opportunity to play on the Gillette Stadium pitch against Canton.

Mansfield’s seniors gathered the team together well before kick-off, even before head coach Kevin Smith had the chance to speak with his players, and re-focused their teammates.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The pregame talk worked, as the Hornets dominated the opening half and scored a pair of goals. King Philip rallied in the second half, but the Hornets held on for a 2-0 victory that keeps them within one point of Oliver Ames heading into the final two games of the regular season.

“These seniors,” Smith explained, “three have never started a varsity game until this year, but we get to the field and everyone gets together. ‘We are not underestimating this team, you’ve got to come out to play’…just the leadership they showed is incredible.”

The Hornets were fired up to start the game on senior night and controlled the majority of the opening half. They controlled possession and pushed the Warriors back into the defensive third for much of the opening 40 minutes but the first shot on goal took nearly 20 minutes. When the shot finally came, it gave Mansfield the lead.

A corner was played in from the near sideline and bounced around a few times in the six-yard-box before being tipped into the path of senior Hannah Reiter who prodded it home. Melissa Reef was given the assist out of the scramble.

Six minutes later KP had a rare foray forward and Katherine Turner pushed into the attack from her left back position before sending in a perfect cross. Abby Baker had a chance at the far post but her shot sliced wide of the post.

Emma Oldow picked off a poor clearance and set up a two-on-one with Stephanie Kemp, but Kemp’s shot from just inside the box was saved by KP keeper Emma Durant. The ensuing corner was cleared but the Hornets lofted the ball back into the box and the KP defense was caught trying the offside trap.

Reiter, a Quinnipiac University-commit, was left all alone in the middle of the box. The senior turned and took a touch before firing a low shot that Durant parried at full stretch. Sophomore Cassidy McMahon was the first to react and she knocked in the loose ball to double the Hornets lead.

“Since Mansfield’s first game with us (a 5-1 loss),” KP coach Gary Pichel said, “we made our adjustments and we’ve played really well but we can’t have these mental lapses where we’re leaving their best player, their leading scorer, unattended in the six.”

KP fashioned a couple of chances in the closing minutes of the half. Freshman Avery Snead turned her marker and fired a shot from the edge of the box that seemed destined for the back of the net until Mansfield keeper Emily Gaumond managed to save at full stretch.

“We played well except for that one shot they got,” said Smith, “which was an amazing shot and thankfully we got an amazing save, but King Philip is good. You have to be organized to play against them but I was proud of my kids. We pressed together, we stayed connected.”

Pichel added, “We’ve been bitten by the great saves of the goalie the last couple of games, but I like the way we came back in the second half and put pressure on them.”

The Warriors did turn the momentum after the break and turned the second half into an even contest. Maddie Smith had the first good chance of the half but her header on an Emma Corcoran corner flashed wide of the post.

Mansfield almost put the game away seven minutes after the break when Emma Goulet sprung Oldow with a through ball behind the KP defense. Durant was out quickly to close down the angle and palmed aside Oldow’s shot to keep it 2-0.

“We had a couple breakaways we should have scored,” said Smith. “We made some bad decisions too. We had two one on the goalie and we’re shooting from 30 yards when we should be dribbling around the goalie but that’s all learning.”

Bryn Anderson nearly set up Erin Daniel for the winner with another ball in behind the advancing KP defense, but Hanna Balunos> raced across to cover and knock the ball out for a corner with a last ditch tackle. Oldow would have another chance racing down the left channel but again Durant (seven saves) came up with the stop.

The Warriors had one more chance to cut the lead in half with 13 minutes to play but Smith could not keep her header down when she rose highest in the box and it slipped just above the crossbar.

“Overall I thought we played them even in the second,” said Pichel. “We changed our formation to add another player up top so it was a 4-3-3, which helped. We tried to get another person up top to create more pressure.”

Mansfield (14-0-2, 12-0-2) will now head into Thursday’s game with Oliver Ames knowing that a victory at Muscato Stadium will give the program its first ever league title. A draw against OA also keeps the title hopes alive as Mansfield has a league game in hand over the Tigers and would play Canton on Friday at Gillette knowing a result would clinch a title.

King Philip (11-7-1, 10-5-0) has lost two in a row, against the top two teams in the division, and will try to bounce back against Franklin on Thursday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Girls Soccer: 2016 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2016 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Reigning league MVP Francesca Calabraro (left) and OA will look to challenge Franklin’s Kelley-Rex supremacy this year. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2015 Record: 6-12-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

The Bombardiers won six games last year, including an upset of rival North Attleboro in the annual Blue-Red Game near the end of the season. Head coach Steve Santos is hoping that the momentum will carry over for his relatively inexperienced group this fall. The Bombardiers return 10 players from last year’s roster but not all were regular contributors. “They need to play simple and play quick,” said Santos, who mentioned that the program is developing with three freshmen seeing time in scrimmages.

The loss of Paige Medeiros to graduation leaves a big hole to be filled, especially with her set piece prowess, but Attleboro will turn to senior attacking midfielders Rebekah Entwhistle and Chloe Vieira to produce the killer pass and set up scoring opportunities. Up front, Hannah Meier will be counted on to finish those chances and give Attleboro the scoring punch it needs.

Defensively, Attleboro can count on junior goalie Maddie Brown, who is coming off a stellar sophomore season, and the center back pairing of Jordyn Forte and Morgan Laplume, who Santos said had a “high soccer IQ”. It is a junior-heavy roster, but one still in need of seasoning. Santos explained, “They’re great kids and hard workers. They just need some experience under their belts.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 17-1-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Tom Geysen

The Class of 2016 won a state title, two Div. 1 South titles, went to three straight South finals, and won the Kelley-Rex division four times. That is quite a legacy for the program and, while he has a number of new faces to try and incorporate into the lineup, head coach Tom Geysen is confident that this year’s Panthers will be team to contend with by the end of the season.

One reason for optimism is the combination of sophomore Halle Atkinson and junior Jess Krouschl up front (once Kroushl comes back from a niggling injury). Both players saw time in the attack last season and showed the potential to be a strong pairing with one as the forward or playing as the wings. The forwards will be helped by energetic midfielders Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira, two more players who saw plenty of playing time down the stretch in 2015.

Defensively, Franklin returns one half of its back four. Nadia Havens will continue as an outside back, while Abby Gibson, who stepped in to have a strong season on the outside last fall, will move in as one of the centerbacks. Junior Kat Robbins will take over from Dani Lonati between the pipes.

Geysen said, “We’re thin and we’re green…It’s a work in progress. But, by the end of the season I think we’ll give people a test.”

King Philip

2015 Record: 2-16-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Gary Pichel

The Warriors did not just have an injury or two to deal with in 2015, but almost entire starting 11 ended up with injuries that left King Philip head coach Gary Pichel scrambling to fill roster spots with players from the JV and freshman teams. As 2016 begins, many of the key players are back and healthy and the Warriors are hoping to spring a surprise on the Kelley-Rex.

Junior defender Emma Corcoran (“the heart and soul” of the defense, according to Pichel) has been a rock in the middle of the back line and will have a lot more help with seniors Sarah Fleck (ACL) and Katherine Turner (ankle) back after missing all but one game last year. Corinne Palumbo and Julia Massarone will also chip in from the midfield and will be counted on turning defense into attack quickly.

Up front, Rachel Hogan returns after leading KP in scoring for the past several seasons and she will be joined by fellow senior Maddie Smith, who is back from a quad injury. The seniors will be paired with talented freshman Chloe Layne, who is already drawing rave reviews. Pichel said, “We had a very tough season last year but will look to rebound with a new look and a new strategy to improve our chances in a very competitive Hockomock League.”

Mansfield

2015 Record: 12-6-2
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Kevin Smith

The Hornets are only bringing back three players who started regularly last season and that includes two goalkeepers. Senior Emily Gaumond started the season in net but missed the final month with a concussion, which meant that then freshman Lauren Whitman had to step in between the pipes. The only returning outfield player is senior Hannah Reiter. The Quinnipiac University-commit, who comes into the season as a contender for Player of the Year, was a standout in central defense, midfield, and up front last year.

While Mansfield does not return a lot of starters, there is plenty of experience on the roster. Head coach Kevin Smith utilizes a large roster and makes sure that a majority of the players get time on the field. Senior forward Emma Goulet and senior defender Emily Sullivan will be the captains and each has multiple seasons on varsity. Sophomore Stephanie Kemp and junior Allee Bezeau will be counted on to provide scoring punch and sophomore Melissa Reef will be taking a bigger role in the midfield this year.

With five freshmen and three sophomores playing “significant” minutes last year, Smith is confident that Mansfield will be able to challenge for the Kelley-Rex title. He said, “So even though we are very young we do have some players with some experience under their belts.”

Oliver Ames

2015 Record: 14-3-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

The Tigers have won the Davenport division each of the past three years and will now set their sights on claiming the Kelley-Rex title at the first opportunity. Head coach Britt Sellmayer has a squad capable of claiming the crown and with the potential to make a deep tournament run as well. With seven returning starters, including four league all-stars, and 10 seniors, the Tigers have the most experienced roster in the Kelley-Rex and arguably the deepest.

It starts with reigning Hockomock MVP Francesca Calabraro. The senior scored 24 goals last season and has been talked about as a potential All-American in the preseason. With Calabraro moving between a midfield and a forward role, it opens up space on the wings for the speedy Jackie Mills, who chipped in with nine goals last year and could be ready for a breakout junior season. Seniors Dana Lowney and Jess Robarge will also provide midfield support for the Tigers.

Defensively, OA has a strong core of returning players. Sophomore Zoe Chazan stepped in as a rookie and turned into one of the league’s top central defenders and her partnership with junior Emily Freeman will be a tough one for teams to break down. Behind the back line, OA has three solid goaltenders led by junior Regan Benton. Sellmayer said, “[We’re] looking forward to the challenge of playing in the large Hock.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 9-9-3
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Edith Dixon

The Tigers made history last season, becoming the first team in the program’s history to win a playoff game, knocking off Wellesley on the road. That Taunton team was filled with upperclassmen but head coach Edith Dixon wants the program to keep moving forward and believes that there are players ready to step up and take over.

One of the players leading the way for Taunton is senior captain Emily O’Brien, who Dixon credits with setting the tone at practice. The Tiger will turn to junior Sam Tichelaar for offensive production as the three-year starter is healthy after an injury-plagued sophomore campaign and is ready to be the “driving force” in the Taunton midfield. Senior Livi Sweeney will be the forward for Tichelaar to connect with up top.

Defensively, the Tigers will miss goalie Kayla Wentworth, who is now playing at Iona, but junior Kayla Felix will lead the defensive corps and help make Taunton tough to beat. Dixon said, “Last season was a great step forward for the program, but we’re not satisfied with making the tournament just once. Our upperclassmen want to get back there again and they’re being pushed every day in practice by some very talented eighth and ninth graders.”