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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2020 Hockomock League Girls Soccer Preview

The Hockomock League kicked off its girls soccer season and we have the team-by-team rundown of how everyone stacks up this year. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2020 Hockomock League Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2019 Record: 7-9-2
2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos
Last year, Attleboro was just one win away from ending its playoff drought and while the Bombardiers aren’t going to have a tournament to look forward to this season they have plenty of experience and talent coming back to be in the mix in what should be a wide open Kelley-Rex division. The Bombardiers will also have an extra week to prepare after the first two games against Taunton were postponed.

Attleboro should be potent in front of goal this season. Senior forwards Isabella Salviati and Briley Harnois have been dynamic scoring threats for the past three years and have proved to be a tough combination for teams to handle. Senior Jessica Gates also returns to play provider and pull the strings from midfield.

Sophomore Emily Dunlea will pair up with Gates in the center of the midfield, while senior Cassondra Stuger and Meghan Panzer were on the outside. Panzer can also step in and give Attleboro minutes up top when Harnois or Salviati need a breather.

At the back, senior Eleanor Graber and junior Olivia Calderon have been teaming up in the center, while seniors Gabby Bosh and Riley Sullivan have been the outside backs. Sophomore Alexis Campbell will be back in goal after seeing time as a freshman last year. Experience won’t be an issue for the Bombardiers, which should help them cope with the challenges of a unique season.

“The rule modifications cater to our style of play maybe more than it does for other,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos. “There are a lot of returning players, so I think we’ll be okay. We just have to be able to adjust.”

Hockomock League Girls Soccer

Canton

2019 Record: 12-9-0
2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal
Coach: Idris Senyonjo
Canton made a run to the Div. 2 South semifinal a year ago and the perpetually young Bulldogs will be hoping to build on that experience and challenge Foxboro for the division title this fall. Former coach Kate Howarth is plying her trade with the NWSL’s Orlando Pride, so Idris Senyonjo takes over this season and picked up an impressive win on his debut with the team scoring eight goals in the process.

The attack has been a strength for Canton for the past several years and with senior forwards Olivia Rodman and Elisa Diletizia back to lead the line the Bulldogs have a pair of potential match winners up front. Junior Gabriella Herivaux adds a different dynamic to the forward line and senior Mia Gilmore emerged last year as one of the league’s top playmaking midfielders.

In the heart of the pitch, Canton has plenty of players who can contribute both on offense and defense. Sophomore Emily McCabe is coming off a strong rookie season and combines well with Gilmore in the middle. Senior Sarai Costello is another player that the coaches expect big things from this year.

Consistency on defense will be a big point of emphasis this year and junior defender Allie McCabe and junior goalie Elyse Broderick should give the Bulldogs a foundation to build on. Freshmen Mekhala Costello and Ava Gilmore have impressed coached during the preseason and both are expected to step in and add strength to the back line.

“I am coming into a program that has a great group of girls who love the game and play for each other,” said Senyonjo. “This made it easy for me to start implementing my philosophy and approach of the game. No matter how short the season might be, I believe we have a good group of girls who will be hungry for a great season.”

Foxboro

2019 Record: 16-2-2
2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Katie Stalcup
Foxboro has won back-to-back Davenport division titles and comes into this season with eyes on a three-peat and a roster loaded with talent and experience. The Warriors had one of the best attacks in the Hock in 2019, scoring 80 goals as a team, while only allowing 12. Expectations are very high for Foxboro to win a third title in a row, something it hasn’t done since winning the league from 1985-90.

Attack continues to be one of the strengths for the Warriors led by senior forward Jordyn Collins. The Bryant University-commit scored 23 goals last year and already has two to her name after one game this fall. Junior Kailee McCabe is the lynchpin of the midfield, dominating with and without the ball and adding to the team’s scoring punch. Senior Katelyn Mollica can get up and down the wing and her crossing ability gives the strikers more opportunities to get on the board.

It isn’t all about the offense. The Warriors are also stingy on the other end of the field. Senior defender Emma Dahl will lead the back line this season and senior Grace Ferguson will be a key player in the heart of the midfield, helping Foxboro play the possession style of soccer that it prefers. Senior Morgan Sylvestre gives the Warriors an experienced, talented shot-stopper in goal.

“We are all just so excited to be playing soccer and I am so excited about this team and our talent,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “We know that this season will look a little different, but we are going to make the most of it and enjoy ourselves and enjoy winning soccer games.”







Hockomock League Girls Soccer

Franklin

2019 Record: 12-5-1
2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tom Geysen
Franklin had one of the league’s top defenses in 2019, holding teams scoreless in 11 of the final 12 games of the 2019 regular season. The Panthers will hope to be just as stingy this year and, with the rule changes in place, try to add more scoring punch, as they look to get back on top of the Kelley-Rex division standings for the first time since 2015.

Sophomore Norah Anderson will be back in the heart of the Franklin defense after an impressive rookie campaign and her physicality will be important after the graduation of Sabrina Addi. Senior Carissa Alers will partner Anderson in the middle and junior Izzy Arnold will be on the outside. Senior Julia Bertone and freshman Rachel Welch will both see time in goal, replacing Brenna Atwood.

Senior Erin Quaile will be in the heart of the midfield for the Panthers, providing endless running and contributions in both boxes. Sophomore Bridget Leo saw a lot of time at the end of last season and she will be in the midfield again. Junior Stella Regan is also back after a long time out with broken leg and gives Franklin a different option with her skill on the ball as she continues to work back to 100 percent.

In the attack, senior Sydney St. Marie will be the primary goal scorer, and she is off to a good start after two goals in the season opening win against Milford. Junior Riley Fitzpatrick will join St. Marie up front and there are several younger players that could step in and help out the offense, including freshman Anya Zub, who had an assist on her debut.

“We’re moving along,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “it’s just hard to assess progress because of the changes in rules and everything. The kids are hesitant. My advice is play as hard as you have to play to get the job done and if they call an indirect, then they call an indirect.”

King Philip

2019 Record: 21-1-0
2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Final
Coach: Gary Pichel
King Philip reached the Div. 1 South final last year, for the second time in three seasons, but enter the fall without not only the program’s top two all-time scorers but with a large group of seniors that helped the program win two of the last three league titles and nearly finish an undefeated season. Even without some of the big names from last year, KP brings back a number of players who saw action in that finals run and will be counted on for bigger roles this year.

With Chloe Layne and Avery Snead, goals were never an issue for the Warriors. This season, several players will look to pick up the scoring load. Sophomore Ella Pisani and senior Kiera Lindmark will both lead the attack but will get help from senior midfielder Jenny Montville, who had several big goals during the playoff run in 2019.

Seniors Ava Tormey and Maeve Lawlor will provide control in the midfield and will get a boost from the return of senior Charlotte Majer to the program. Majer spent last year with a development academy program and will be a big boost to the Warriors in the center of the pitch.

Defense could be a strength for KP, with several returning players. Sophomore Grace Lawler was impressive as a freshman, regularly marking the opposition’s top attacker. Senior Paige Varvarigos is also back after a strong season at outside back. Seniors Taryn Greenberg, Jillian Anderson, and Taylor Thompson will also help out at the back. Senior Emma Glaser will take over in goal.

“We will all do the best we can and hope for the best in a much abbreviated season,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “I hope the best for all of our teams and to have fun and to do it safely. The most important thing is to keep our girls healthy while returning to competition so they can do what they like to do best!”

Hockomock League Girls Soccer

Mansfield

2019 Record: 6-8-4
2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kevin Smith
Last season was a learning experience for a young group of Hornets, but even with only four returning varsity players Mansfield finished just one win shy of a playoff appearance. This year, Mansfield brings back 18 players from last season’s roster, including nine starters, so the Hornets will expect to quickly return to being one of the challengers for the Kelley-Rex title.

Even with all of the returning players, Mansfield remains a young team. There are three freshmen, five sophomores, and six juniors on the roster. Despite their youth, many saw plenty of time on the field last year and will be leaning on that experience for more success this fall.

Junior Katie Miller returns in the heart of the midfield and gives Mansfield a foundation to build its attacks and to stifle the opposition. Junior Maria Sevastos will return in the defense and the speedy converted forward gives the Hornets a threat on the outside. Junior Tarynn Smith will be back up top after a solid season leading the line and sophomore Olivia Salisbury returns in goal after a strong rookie year.

“After a year of experience under the young kids’ belts, I’m excited to see how much they’ve learned and how they can apply it this fall,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith.




Milford

2019 Record: 9-6-4
2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Lou Colabello
Milford made a run at a league title last fall and reached the state tournament, but now the Hawks are moving into the Kelley-Rex division and doing so without 32 goals and several key pieces from the spine of last year’s team. With experience at the back and in goal, the Hawks will be hoping to be tough to beat and let the young attack have a chance to win games.

Senior Carly Ferreira is back in goal this season and has already been busy, coming up with more than 20 saves in the season opener against Franklin. With seniors Catherine Madden and Alyssa Monahan in the back line, the Hawks won’t lack for leadership and experience in the defensive third. Senior Brianna Franzini will add more of that veteran presence in the midfield, which was hard-hit by graduation.

Up top will be sophomore Dani Atherton, who reached double digits in goals during her freshman season and can play as a forward or as a creative midfielder. Sophomores Brooke Ferreira, Serena Borges, and Brooke Guerreiro all saw limited action as freshmen, but will be expected to step into bigger roles this year to shore up the center of the pitch and push into the attack.

“I think the season will depend on how quickly we adjust once games begin,” said Milford coach Lou Colabello. “Replacing key players in the midfield will be a big part of how successful we are. Hopefully, we can get better from game to game. One thing is for sure, we will play hard and have fun doing it.”

Hockomock League Girls Soccer

North Attleboro

2019 Record: 4-10-4
2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro will have a lot of new faces in the lineup this season, coming off a tough, four-win campaign. Although many of the names will be new, the Rocketeers feel confident that the revamped defensive unit will make them tough to beat this year and allow them to compete against the top teams in the division, as they proved in a scoreless draw with Oliver Ames in the season opener.

Senior Jordyn Sullivan and junior Summer Doherty are the lone returning players that saw time in the back line last year, but they will be pushed by a host of other players ready to step in. Seniors Ari Newth and Katie Manning, juniors Charlotte Moynihan and Autumn Hewitt, and sophomores Brooke Sullivan and Haley Sinacola will all see time in the defense. Senior Kaylah Seavey and sophomore Maddie Ferrin will be in goal this season.

After missing last season with a knee injury, senior Lydia Santos will provide leadership in the midfield. Classmates Abby Noreck and Ari Rice will also see time in the middle, while a trio of sophomores – Clara Giuliano, Lily Adams, and Caroline Ferrin will add energy and speed in the center.

Up top, senior Tess Collins and junior Steph McKenna are back to lead the line with their speed and creativity. Senior Ally Scott and junior Brayden Rice will give North depth and different looks up top, while sophomore Emma Pratt is a newcomer that could contribute in the attack right away.

“We are working hard to figure this all out,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “Spirits are high and practices have been productive. Girls are possessing better and better and hopefully that will equate to more success on the scoreboard.”

Oliver Ames

2019 Record: 14-5-2
2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Britt Sellmayer
Oliver Ames returns to the Davenport division this fall. The Tigers won three straight Davenport titles before moving to the Kelley-Rex (making it four straight titles in their first year in the new division) and with an experienced, if still relatively young, group they expect to challenge Foxboro’s place at the top of the standings this season.

The Tigers have only four seniors on the roster this year, but they have 17 players with varsity experience. While the attack will certainly miss the scoring Erin Holmberg’s scoring touch and the new rules will hinder OA’s typically prolific set piece scoring, there is plenty of strength throughout the roster to be both tough to break down and tough to keep away from goal.

Senior Emma Pereira is a dominant presence in the middle of the pitch and she will be joined by Reese Pereira and Lauren Sellmayer to try and take control of the midfield. Junior Allison Evin can play up top or in the midfield and classmate Camryn O’Connor is a dynamic playmaker and tough to stop when she starts running at defenses.

Kathryn Gibson will solidify the defensive unit, while Jenna Gilman provides speed on the wings. In goal, OA has two solid options with senior Emma O’Donnell and junior Emily Meyers sharing time between the pipes.

OA coach Britt Sellmayer said, “The biggest issue for the new rules is the interpretation by referees, we have had them come to practice twice and one scrimmage. Let’s just say the games were different. Hopefully the kinks get worked out.”




Hockomock League Girls Soccer

Sharon

2019 Record: 0-17-3
2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Catherine Sullivan
Despite its record last season under first-year head coach Catherine Sullivan, Sharon demonstrated the ability to compete with the top teams and Sullivan is hoping that with an experienced corps and the addition of talented younger players the Eagles will be a tough team to beat in a very competitive Davenport division this year.

Experience will be a key at the back. Three-year starting goalie Cass Barbera has proven to be a solid shot-stopper and her leadership is a confidence boost for the entire defensive unit. Senior Molly McAlevey will be the anchor of the back line with her physicality and communication. Sophomore Sally Brouhard is coming off a strong freshman season, where she emerged as one of the team’s top defenders.

Senior Amelia Scappaticci adds steel to the midfield and gives cover to the back line and classmate Emily Griffin adds the speed from the center of the pitch to get forward as often as possible. Sophomore Sofia Goclowski and freshman Kate McLaughlin are a pair of newcomers that should step into the midfield and add a different dimension with their skill. With new faces helping out in the attack, Sharon will be looking to find the back of the net more consistently this year.

“We have excellent leadership this season with a great mix of strong returning players and new talent stepping in,” said Sullivan. “The Davenport division looks to be extremely competitive this year, but our kids are dedicated to improving our style and speed of play, and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of growth in short time this season.”

Stoughton

2019 Record: 3-13-2
2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Hermes Lima
Stoughton made strong strides last season, scoring 34 goals as a team, which was three times the total from the year before and the Black Knights will be hoping to keep that going this fall under new coach Hermes Lima. A tough loss to Canton on the opening day won’t deter Stoughton, which is hoping to continue building on the experience gained last season.

The attack should be potent again with the combination of sophomore forward Shayla Ford, coming off an impressive rookie campaign, and four-year starter and leading scorer Mackenzie Manning, who has developed into a dynamic playmaker either up top or in the midfield. Senior Rebecca Desousa and sophomore Isabella Rodrigues will both be expected to use their speed and aggressiveness to add to the offense, as the Black Knights promise to be a threat on the counterattack.

Senior Nikki Anderson is a versatile defender who can play in the center of the pitch or drop into the back line and she will be counted on to lead a young defensive group. Sophomore Sabrina Rodrigues is tenacious at the back and Liv Tran’s speed will help stymie the opposition. Speed and pressure will be two keys for the Black Knights at the back this season.

“I am here to continue the growth and culture of this program while also helping them become young successful individuals not only on, but off the field,” said Lima. “My goal is to ensure players learn a few things, create their own path, and reach for the moon!”

Hockomock League Girls Soccer

Taunton

2019 Record: 2-14-2
2019 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Michael Couture
For the second time in two seasons, Taunton heads into a new season with a new coaching staff and with the goal of building a foundation for the program to compete against the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division. First-year head coach Michael Couture will be counting on a mix of experience and youth to improve on last year’s results.

The Tigers have players up front that can ask questions of the opposing defenses and on the other end of the field Taunton will try to soak up pressure and break quickly. They will also get an extra week of practice before games kick off after the games with Attleboro were postponed.

Experience will come from a group of seniors that have spent multiple years at the varsity level. Seniors Emily O’Gara and Madison Ribeiro can both play up top or in the midfield, while classmates Caitlin Smith, Kayla Botelho, and Morgan Zakrzewski provide leadership in the defensive third. Junior Isabella Anslow will be between the pipes this season. Sophomore midfielders Abigail Gamble and Christina DeCosta and sophomore forward Emily Calderon will provide energy and could step right in to contribute this season.

“Our main goal during the season is to get better every single day and play like it can be taken away from us at any time,” said Taunton coach Michael Couture. “We are on our way to building something special here at Taunton High and have the right group of dedicated girls.”

Fitzpatrick Nets Winner as Franklin Edges Mansfield

Franklin girls soccer
Sophomore Riley Fitzpatrick (11) scored on a Rachel Hogan cross eight minutes before halftime to hand Franklin a 1-0 win against Mansfield. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – In a game of few scoring chances, it took only one moment of skill, only one defensive lapse, to decide a winner in Friday night’s match at Pisini Stadium.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The only goal of the game arrived with eight minutes before the break, as sophomore Riley Fitzpatrick showed a deft touch to tap in Rachel Hogan’s cross on the edge of the six-yard-box and lift Franklin to a 1-0 victory over rival Mansfield.

“She’s awfully good athletically,” Franklin coach Tom Geysen said of Fitzpatrick. “She played far more aggressively than she has at any other point in the season and that makes a big difference. If you can put pressure up front on their backs, somebody’s going to make a mistake.”

Most of the game was played in the middle of the pitch, as the two teams did a good job of cancelling each other out and limiting the ability for either to get into the final third. When the teams did get the ball forward, both defenses stood tall to clear their lines and keep both goalies largely untroubled.

“Neither team,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith about the lack of clear scoring chances. He did note that the overall play had improved from the teams’ first meeting, adding, “We were both chatting about how we’ve been developing and both teams were passing, moving. The soccer is much better and both teams have grown.”

It took 18 minutes for the first shot in anger. A clearance by Franklin left back Anna Balkus popped out to Katie Miller and the sophomore had a go from 20 yards that was held by Breanna Atwood. A couple minutes later, Tarynn Smith had another chance for Mansfield, but freshman defender Norah Anderson forced the forward wide and made it an easier stop for Atwood.

Franklin needed half an hour to register its first shot on goal. It just happened to also find the back of the net.

Hogan battled to win the ball back on the right side of the Mansfield penalty area and she needed only a sliver of space to fire a cross to the edge of the six. Fitzpatrick made a late run towards the back post, cut across her marker, and side-footed a shot past Mansfield keeper Olivia Salisbury.

Fitzpatrick created Franklin’s other scoring opportunity of the first half when she won the ball in midfield and got it forward to senior Carly Alston. She cut inside on her right foot and fired a shot that was straight at the keeper.

Things opened up slightly at the start of the second half, as the Hornets created a scoring chance just a minute after the break. Smith played Avery Hawthorne down the left channel but her shot to the near post was grabbed by Atwood.

Eleven minutes later, Hawthorne hustled to pressure Franklin defender Sabrina Addi, blocking a clearance and getting free in the box only for Balkus to come flying across and block the goal-bound shot.

Fitzpatrick continued to be a menace for the Panthers. She created space for a cross from the right side that picked out Sydney St. Marie at the back stick but her volley was blocked by Megan Krone.

“We’ve been having that problem all season,” said Geysen. “We get a minimum number of shots. You have to score goals and we don’t. We have to play good defense and keep working our butts off to stay in the game.”

He added, “We need to be able to pressure the ball and get to it quickly. Not having Stella [Regan] (who is out with a broken leg) in the middle is a real kick in the butt because she’s so good moving the ball.”

With six minutes remaining in the game, Maria Sevastos had a free kick right on the edge of the box. The Franklin wall struggled to get itself set and gave Sevastos a look at the corner, but the shot skidded just wide.

The Hornets finished with a flurry, looking for an important equalizer that would get them one point closer to a playoff spot, but the Panthers held out and nearly doubled the lead when St. Marie couldn’t get full purchase on a volley off an Alston cross.

“It’s not going to be easy,” said Smith about Mansfield’s chances of getting into the postseason. “We needed that [challenge]. We’re getting there. I love working with these kids, they’re great.”

Franklin (8-4-1, 7-4-1) will travel to Taunton on Tuesday, while Mansfield (5-5-4, 5-5-3) will begin its quest for four points from its remaining four games with a trip to Oliver Ames.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Girls Soccer: 2019 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2019 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Last fall, Mansfield won the league title for a third straight season but the rest of the loaded Kelley-Rex division will be aiming to take down the Hornets this year. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2018 Record: 6-11-1
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos
The Bombardiers have made great improvements over the last couple of seasons, jumping from eight goals scored as a team to 26 and then 24 in 2017 and 2018, and now head coach Steve Santos is looking for Attleboro to take the next step and make its first state tournament appearance since joining the Hockomock League. With an experienced corps and several talented newcomers, Santos hopes this will be the year to get a taste of the postseason.

The attack has been led by junior forward Isabella Salviati, who had half of the team’s goals last year and assisted on seven other goals. The forward play flows through her, but the Bombardiers will be hoping to get more contributions from junior Briley Harnois, who had a breakout sophomore campaign, and from midfielder Jessica Gates, who has the vision to find the key pass that will spring one of the forwards. Also helping out through midfield and into the attack with be seniors Ashley Dame and Julia Reyes.

There is also experience in the heart of the Attleboro defense with senior Sophia Salviati paired with classmate Emily Antonik. Junior Vanessa Laguerre makes the move up from JV this season and will be slotted into the back line as well. Goalie has been a position of strength for the Bombardiers for several seasons but this year it is in flux as senior Ashley Macia is slated to be the starter, but she is also capable in defense and saw a lot of time as an outfield player last year. Freshman Alexis Campbell could eventually step in between the posts. Junior Riley Sullivan could contribute right away and is capable of playing multiple positions and sophomore Emily Khang adds another player with ball skills.

“We have a lot of returning players,” said Santos, “and I think we have more depth so we won’t have to rely on the starters for as many minutes. We have a lot of players who can contribute and fill in the pieces. The key this season will be being consistent for 80 minutes and keeping our pace for the whole game.”

Franklin

2018 Record: 10-3-5
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tom Geysen
Franklin lost only three games all of last season and had one of the league’s best defensive records, allowing only 10 goals in 18 games. That solidity in the defensive third will be hard to replicate, as the Panthers graduated three of last year’s back four, but there is also hope that the promising young attackers can take some of the pressure off by improving on the team’s 40 goals scored, which was seventh best in the Hock.

Senior Sabrina Addi is the lone returning defender for the Panthers, but she will get help from senior goalie Breanna Atwood to try and organize an inexperienced defense. Freshman Norah Anderson will jump into the center of the defense and looks ready for the physical challenge of Hock play. Senior Sam Powderly will drop back from midfield to help out as well.

Once the Panthers get the ball back, there are plenty of familiar faces to try and get goals. Senior Anna Balkus can play a number of different positions, including in the heart of midfield, the wing, or in the attack. Sophomore Stella Regan is coming off a breakout rookie season and adds even more pace to the center of the pitch, while senior Carly Alston is a solid performer on both sides of the ball. In the attack, juniors Erin Quaile and Sydney St. Marie are looking to make the leap to add more consistent scoring.

“I know the kids with experience won’t back down,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen, “but I need to see how the younger kids will react to this level. I need to see if they can physically cope with playing where I need them to play.”

King Philip

2018 Record: 12-5-2
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Gary Pichel
When you bring back players the caliber of seniors Avery Snead and Chloe Layne, the expectations will be very high for the upcoming season. King Philip enters 2019 as the favorite to bring home a league title but also with the goal of matching the run that the Warriors made in 2017, when they won the South title in double overtime and reached the state semifinal.

Layne, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, and Snead, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and two-time league MVP, have been among the league’s leading scorers each of the last three years and will make one more run at a league title. They are joined up top by senior Ally Stanton. The trio was one of the league’s most dynamic attacking groups, combining for 50 goals and 33 assists last season

Senior Jenna Hitchen and juniors Emma Glaser and Jenny Montville will also contribute to pushing the Warriors forward, while freshman Ella Pisani is a newcomer to watch in the attack. A lot of attention will (rightfully) be paid to KP’s attack, but its defense is also experienced. Seniors Makayla Griffin and Olivia Berry and junior Paige Varvarigos return to the back line with a combined eight years on varsity. Junior Taryn Greenberg and freshman Grace Lawler will also contribute in defense in front of junior goalie Taylor Butler.

“I am very excited about the prospects for our team this year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “That being said, we will remain laser-focused on not overlooking any team that we play. We will not look ahead but instead, will prepare for each team we have on our schedule with great intensity, one game at a time.




Mansfield

2018 Record: 15-3-4
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Kevin Smith
The Hornets have had an unprecedented level of success over the past three seasons, winning three straight Kelley-Rex division titles, and reaching last year’s Div. 1 South semifinal, but Mansfield enters the fall with an almost entirely new roster and having only one player on the team with more than one year of varsity experience.

Senior Erin Dooling is by far the most experienced player on the roster, but defender Maria Sevastos and midfielder Katie Miller both saw a lot of playing time as freshmen and impressed during their rookie campaigns. Senior midfielder Kerrin Sears and senior defender Megan Krone join Dooling as captains this season and will both need to provide leadership for a team with four freshmen on the roster.

Mansfield coach Kevin Smith said, “We are young and learning each day with an entire new starting lineup, four freshmen on the roster and 18 of 24 players new to the team. Erin is the lone player with more than one year of varsity experience while Maria and Katie earned a lot of minutes last year. All three will be leaned on to share their experience with the team.”

Oliver Ames

2018 Record: 11-5-3
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Britt Sellmayer
Oliver Ames continues to turn out competitive teams ready to challenge the best teams in the league and put themselves in the state tournament picture. This fall will be no different, as the Tigers have six returning starters and 14 players who saw varsity action last year. While there is still a relative lack of experience, the Tigers remain a team with high expectations.

Defense has also been a strength of the program and this year is no different with seniors Olivia Carroll, Abigail Hodges, and Leah Johnson providing a strong backbone for the team and will be a unit that is hard to break down. Junior goalie Emma O’Donnell is dealing with a preseason injury, so sophomore Emily Meyers will get the start for the season opener. Seniors Erin Holmberg and Abby Evin will lead the forward line, but there were strong rookie seasons from Camryn O’Connor and Allison Evin that give confidence for additional help in the final third.

“For OA to return to the tournament we will need some of our less experienced players to step up,” said Oliver Ames coach Britt Sellmayer.

Taunton

2018 Record: 3-16
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Joe Rocha
Former Taunton boys soccer coach Joe Rocha takes over the girls program this fall and will continue a rebuilding effort to try and get the Tigers off the foot of the division standings, which is a difficult task in the loaded Kelley-Rex division. Rocha knows it will be a process with a relatively young roster and is looking for improvements over the course of the season.

Senior Grace Pimenta will be back in goal for the Tigers this season, after missing part of last year with an injury. Pimenta will add leadership to the defensive unit that features senior Emma Silvia and sophomore Isabella Anslow in the middle. Keeping things solid in the center will be the key and Taunton will hope that the forwards can stay active and put pressure on the opposing defenses. Seniors Paige Tolan, Allison Calderon, and Kerla Sylvestre, and juniors Emily O’Gara and Morgan Zakrewski will be counted on to step up and improve Taunton’s goal-scoring numbers (after scoring 16 goals as a team last season).

“We are a very young team and will have some growing pains,” Rocha said. “As a first-year coach, my players are learning a new system and once we all get on the same page, I feel that our play will improve.”

Hornets Drop Heartbreaker In Double Overtime

Mansfield girls soccer
Mansfield’s Sydney Mulkern fights for a loose ball against Newton South in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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PLYMOUTH, Mass. – Time after time, the Mansfield defense thwarted long throws and corners kicks from top-seeded Newton South.

In the first overtime period alone, the Hornets fended off five long throws from the Lions’ throw-in specialist Larissa Williams.

While the Hornets limited Newton South’s restarts in the offensive third in the second overtime, the Lions finally got a throw-in in the final minute and cashed in. Williams’ long throw-in was cleared back to her on the sideline, and she delivered a service into the area that Audrey Lavey headed into the net, giving Newton South a 3-2 win over Mansfield.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We kept bending, bending, never breaking but the last one they finally find the free header,” said Mansfield head coach Kevin Smith. “Hats off to [Newton South], they are a fantastic team. The corners, the long throws….they were very dangerous and put us under pressure. We just couldn’t find that release pass. We had opportunities, we had a couple open nets we just couldn’t put it away.”

Mansfield had a pair of leads in the game, but the Lions had an answer each time, the second strike coming just seconds after the Hornets had regained the lead.

In the first overtime, the Lions applied the majority of the pressure with five long throw-ins, but the back line of Emily Vigeant, Mikaela Maughn, Erin Daniel, and Kerina Geminiani did an admirable job of handling it in front of keeper Caty DeMassi.

Newton South also had a pair of corner kicks in the first 10-minute span of golden goal, which is how the Lions tied the game in the second half, but Mansfield’s defense did its job.

While playing compact in the back, Mansfield’s best chances came on the counter attack. In the 86th minute, Sydney Mulkern nearly played Steph Kemp in behind but a nice play by the Newton South keeper cleared it away.

In the second overtime, Kemp made a nice run to the outside, got a touch around her defender and delivered a tempting ball into the area but there weren’t any Hornets in the vicinity.

“That’s the only thing you can do,” Smith said of the counter attack. “We couldn’t find a way to release the pressure in the midfield. When we got the ball up front, we were trying to make the pass too quickly and we weren’t there because it’s a 60 yard run with tired legs.”

The Lions nearly had the game-winner in the 94th minute when Cassie Lee snuck in behind the defense but DeMassi was quick off her line to thwart the opportunity.

Mansfield had a bright start to the match, having the majority of possession and keeping the ball in its attacking half. In the 12th minute, Daniel nearly opened the scoring with a well-taken one-timer from 30 yards out but the ball smacked off the cross bar, and Katie Garvin’s header on the rebound was saved.

The pressure paid off in the 28th minute as the Hornets Tok the lead. Cassidy McMahon delivered a corner kick to the far post and Melissa Reef rose up and headed the ball back across the goal inside the post for a 1-0 lead.

But the lead only lasted four minutes, as the Lions took advantage of a Mansfield miscue. In the defensive third, a miscommunication allowed Lee to get in between the defender and the keeper, blocking the clearance. The loose ball popped back to Lee’s foot and she buried her chance, sending the teams into half tied 1-1.

Mansfield regained the lead just over 10 minutes into the second half. Bryn Anderson settled a throw from Geminiani and gained just enough space to launch a high cross to the far post. McMahon skied into air and headed the service under the bar and into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.

Similar to the first lead, it didn’t last long. Newton South quickly marched up field and earned a corner kick, and Lucy Jenks nodded in a cross from Maia Madison to make it 2-2 in the 52nd minute.

In the 67th minute, DeMassi made a terrific play off her line to deny the Lions of a partial breakaway.

In the 70th minute, Mansfield nearly went ahead again. Kemp played McMahon wide, and she centered her pass but Anderson couldn’t get her foot on the cross in front and Mulkern saw her chance for over the bar at the far post.

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And in the 75th minute, the Hornets had a free kick from straight away from 20 yards out but couldn’t get the shot on frame.

“After their first goal, you could tell we were deflated and they had some momentum going for them,” Smith said. “We just couldn’t find our energy. We got it back at halftime and scored the goal to go up. I didn’t think we dropped after their second goal, I thought we still had opportunities, we just couldn’t find it. Their keeper made some nice plays, their defense was smothering. Our defense played great too. But they found that last one.”

Mansfield girls soccer (15-3-4) graduates 19 seniors from this year’s team, a group that made its mark on the program. The Hornets won three straight Kelley-Rex division titles, the first three in program history. In their four years, the varsity team went 54-12-12.

“It’s a special group, I’ve known most since they were 5 or 6 years old, since they were little kids,” Smith said. “They are like my daughters.”

Hornets Finish Off KP to Advance Past First Round

Mansfield girls soccer
Mansfield senior Bryn Anderson (5) drives forward with KP junior Faye Veilleux (21) in close pursuit during Saturday’s D1 South first round matchup. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield won its third straight league title this fall, and its first outright championship in program history, so the Hornets are no stranger to regular season success. But, in the state tournament, Mansfield has been knocked out in the first round each of the past two seasons.

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This group of seniors (of which there are 19 on this year’s roster) had not seen the second round since they were freshman year and they were hungry to add a playoff run to their league accomplishments. That hunger was intensified by Saturday evening’s opponent in the Div. 1 South opener at Alumni Field, as King Philip upset the Hornets in overtime two seasons ago.

The Hornets scored twice against the wind in the first half (and arguably against the run of play) and held on with a typically stout defensive performance to shutout the Warriors 2-0 and advance to the South quarterfinal.

“We definitely wanted to win,” said Mansfield senior Steph Kemp. “We weren’t willing to leave this field without a win. All of us seniors, the whole team, everyone worked together. We didn’t want this to be our last game and it showed.”

King Philip (12-5-2) opened the game with the wind at its back and the Warriors used it to put the hosts on their heels early on.

Inside the opening 10 minutes, Abby Baker had the first chance of the game for KP. A throw in from the left side went off the shoulder of Mansfield defender Mikaela Maughn and Baker forced keeper Lauren Whitman into the first of her six saves. Just two minutes later, Avery Snead threaded a pass to Ally Stanton, who laid it into the path of Chloe Layne but the shot lacked power and Whitman saved.

“We had some great chances, but didn’t finish,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “That’s the tale of this game. I thought we dominated in the first half and didn’t get anything from it and they had two shots and put them in. That’s the difference in the game.”

Despite the pressure from the Warriors over the opening half hour, it was Mansfield that got the game’s first goal with its first shot on target. Kemp battled KP defender Olivia Berry on the right side of the box and managed to squeeze it loose into the middle where Cassidy McMahon ran onto it and was able to side-foot it past keeper Taylor Butler.

The Warriors came right back with a series of chances. Snead rose highest to head a long free kick from Makayla Griffin but Whitman was there for the save, then right back Lauren Anderson fired a long pass up top to Layne, who flicked it into the path of Jenna Hitchen on the left side but again it was saved. In the 37th minute, KP’s forwards combined again – Stanton to Snead to Layne, but the junior’s finish was just wide.

Two minutes later and the lead was doubled. A throw in from the left side was flicked by Sydney Mulkern to Melissa Reef at the corner of the box. The senior midfielder spun past her marker and onto her right foot before curling an unstoppable shot into the top corner for a 2-0 advantage.

“That’s a goal that she’s been staying after practice for a whole week just to work on,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith explained. “She says that she gets so many of them and to see her hard work pay off is really cool.”

Mansfield got the wind in the second half and it almost paid immediate dividends when Bryn Anderson got to the end line and cut it back for Kemp, who blazed over the bar.

Even into the wind, the Warriors looked dangerous in attack. Baker touched one on to Layne, who fired over and then she had a second chance with a half-volley from a Faye Veilleux throw in but couldn’t get enough power on it to beat Mansfield’s second half keeper, Caty DeMassi. Hitchen set up Snead in the middle but she also sent her shot over the bar.

In the 62nd minute, Anderson drove forward from midfield but her shot from the edge of the box was inches over the crossbar.

In the final 20 minutes, Mansfield locked down on the defensive side. Maughn and fellow center back Emily Vigeant were keeping a constant eye on Snead in the middle of the field, while freshman Katie Miller was tasked with following Layne as closely as possible. Reef added to the defensive shape from midfield and outside backs Mulkern and Kerina Geminiani were always on the cover.

“Wow,” Smith said about the complete defensive performance of his team. “We had to be very organized.” Pichel added, “The wind was against us [in the second half] and they did a great job defending. It was a hard hole to climb out of.”

Both coaches raved about the play of their opponents and both admitted that Saturday did not feel like a first round game. “Two giants went at it and one is left standing,” said Pichel. Smith said, “It felt like a sectional final.”

The Hornets allowed a league-low eight goals this season and that defensive strength was evident as they closed out the game and protected a two-goal cushion. At the final whistle, the whole team raced to the far end of the field to celebrate the win.

“It’s definitely relieving and it’s exciting,” Kemp said. “We haven’t been in this position since freshman year and even then not a lot of girls were on the field, so it’s our first time being through this all 19 of us senior together. We’re excited to just go on and see what it feels like to be in the rest of the tournament.”

She added, “I was tired from coming off the field but I managed to make that sprint all the way to Cat.”

Mansfield (14-2-4) will travel to face No. 4 seed Bridgewater-Raynham on Monday in the sectional quarterfinal.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Warriors Regain Confidence With Win at Mansfield

King Philip girls soccer
King Philip junior Avery Snead (9) scored a pair of goals on Monday night to lead the Warriors to a 2-1 win at Mansfield. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Last season, King Philip and Mansfield shared the Kelley-Rex division trophy. Earlier this year it looked like both teams were in line to repeat before the two teams met for the first time. The Hornets won that game 4-1 and are now on the verge of a third straight title, while KP went into a tailspin, losing four straight.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

On Monday night at Alumni Field, the two teams met again. Behind a pair of goals from Avery Snead, the Warriors beat Mansfield 2-1 to force the Hornets to wait a few days before clinching the title and to regain some of their confidence with the state tournament looming.

“It’s nice to be back on track again,” admitted King Philip coach Gary Pichel. “We lost our way for four games, had some bad luck, but you’ve got to keep marching forward to get ready for the playoffs. Our record isn’t stellar but we may surprise a couple people along the way.”

KP has been trying out a number of different lineups and formations in the last couple of weeks to try and find a set up that would work best. On Monday, Pichel pushed Snead up top as the lone forward and moved Chloe Layne into a central midfield role to give her more touches and allow her to create.

“The four games we lost, I was experimenting where is Chloe best served and she showed it against Taunton in the center spot,” Pichel explained. “She just became old Chloe again. Now she’s back and thank God. When you separate them like that then it creates chances for Chloe coming from [midfield] and Avery if she gets chances then she’ll make the most of it.”

The formation shift nearly worked right from the opening whistle, as Layne squeezed between a couple of Mansfield defenders and created space on the left side of the box. Her cross flashed across the goal and was knocked out. On the ensuing corner, Faye Veilleux’s header from a few yards out went narrowly wide.

While it was a good start for the Warriors, Mansfield started to bypass the middle of the field and use its speed on the wings. The Hornets hit long diagonal passes in behind the KP fullbacks and were able to create a number of chances.

Katie Garvin slid a pass through to Sydney Mulkern down the right channel in the eighth minute and the winger was able to pick out Steph Kemp alone in front. KP goalie Taylor Butler (six saves) needed to be out quickly to smother the shot. It was a sign of things to come in the first half.

A cross from the right side by Erin Daniel found Melissa Reef in space on the far side of the box, but she was unable to keep her header down. In the 21st minute, Kemp dropped in to pick up the ball and she slipped Cassidy McMahon in behind the defense only for the junior winger’s shot to come back off the far post.

McMahon was causing havoc on the right side. She cut back onto her left foot and forced a diving save from Butler and she also set up freshman Katie Miller for a chance from 20 yards that went over.

“We had lots of opportunities,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith said. “Their game plan was great, to condense the space in the middle, so we had to do that. We couldn’t play through the middle. We found space on the outside, but we couldn’t find that final pass, that final score.”

The Hornets profligacy in front of goal, gave KP the chance to grab the lead against the run of play. A long ball forward bounced around and Abby Baker was able to head the ball between a pair of Hornets defenders. Snead chased after it and was able to use her long reach to just get a touch on the ball in front of Kerina Geminiani and with Mansfield goalie Lauren Whitman stranded.

The lead was very short-lived. Only a minute later and the Hornets were right back in it. Again it was McMahon that created the chance, cutting in from the right. She picked out Kemp in the middle, a good turn to free her right foot and the senior found an angle to slide her shot past Butler to make it 1-1.

“Just under a minute,” Smith said of the quick turnaround by his team. “Always keep it in mind that we can score when we’re down. And we had opportunities in the second half too.”

In the second half, the Warriors were more cognizant of the diagonal pass attacking the fullbacks to try and slow down the Hornets attack. Mansfield still had chances to take the lead, including a cross from McMahon on the left that nearly got to Mulkern on the back post if not for an intervention by Paige Varvarigos.

A throw-in from Daniel then found Kemp in space and she hit a low cross to McMahon, who had made a long run unmarked down the left, but her shot went over the bar.

KP started to come into the game after that chance and create scoring opportunities of its own. Snead picked the right pass to find Ally Stanton in space, but her shot was saved by Mansfield keeper Caty DeMassi.

In the 63rd minute, the Warriors were back out in front. Layne got free on the left side of the box, in a rare foray forward, and she hit a cross/shot that went through the six-yard-box and nearly snuck inside the far post. The ball caromed off the post and straight to the foot of Snead, who made no mistake with the empty net.

“You cross your fingers and hold your breath trying to beat Mansfield because it’s hard and we were just hoping that Avery could tuck a couple in and she did,” Pichel said. “Avery came through.”

McMahon had another chance racing in at the far post, but her shot went over the bar, and Emily Vigeant’s corner with three minutes to play found the head of Reef but Butler was able to save comfortably.

Smith said, “We got the pressure on them, we had corner kicks, we had shots, but we just couldn’t find that last little touch.”

With Snead moved back to the center of defense alongside Makayla Griffin and Olivia Berry, the Warriors packed it in and largely held Mansfield at bay for the closing stretch of the game. KP nearly put the game away on the break when Jaida Caruso freed Jenna Hitchen for a run at goal, but the shot went over.

It was the big win that KP had been waiting for and Pichel thinks it can be the result that will propel the defending Div. 1 South champs on another tournament run. “Huge amount of confidence, believe me,” he said. “This is just the medicine that the doctor ordered for us. It really is.”

King Philip (10-4-2, 10-4-1) will try to keep the momentum going on Thursday at Oliver Ames. Mansfield (11-2-3, 10-2-2) can move closer to clinching the league title when it visits Stoughton on Wednesday.

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Defenses On Top As Mansfield and North End in Draw

North Attleboro Girls Soccer
Mansfield keeper Lauren Whitman rises above a crowd and punches away a North Attleboro corner in a scoreless draw. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports,com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – It was a game that felt like a preview of the Div. 1 South tournament, with both teams defending in numbers and chances at a premium. Mansfield and North Attleboro, both defending division champions, demonstrated tough team defense and got timely goalkeeping in a fast-paced, scoreless draw on Wednesday night at Alumni Field.

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“That was a good game,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith. “It was a state tournament-level game. It was physical, it was fast, and every mistake was punished by both teams.”

North created early chances in the first half. Emma Gaulin was particularly active in the Rocketeeers midfield winning the ball back and pushing North into the attack. A give-and-go with her sister Ashlyn allowed her to run at Emily Vigeant but the Mansfield defender was able to get back in time.

Just a minute later, Lydia Santos lined up a 30-yard free kick that dropped right into the middle of the box but was punched away by Mansfield keeper Lauren Whitman. The rebound fell to Haley Ferrin but her effort went over the bar. Kayla Pasquel played Emma Gaulin in behind on the left side of the box but her shot was saved by a diving Whitman (four saves).

Mansfield also passed the ball well in the opening half and was finding some space behind the North fullbacks. Sydney Mulkern played a ball into Steph Kempon the left edge of the box and her cross bounced off a defender in the box and bounced to Katie Garvin, who hit the volley over the bar.

Kemp had a neat turn in the box to get space for a shot that was blocked on its way to goal by Olivia Bishop. On the ensuing corner, Vigeant nearly curled it directly in, but North goalie Emma Noreck was able to get a fingertip on it. Emma Gaulin nearly opened the scoring a few minutes later but Whitman made the kick save.

Just before halftime, Vigeant again came close from a set piece. This time it was a 50-yard free kick that she put just under the crossbar but Noreck was able to get up and tip it away.

“Emma Noreck had probably her best game,” North coach Bill Wallace said. “At halftime I wanted to pull her because she’s been under the weather all week, but she told me to leave her in.”

The second half was a much cagier 40 minutes, as both teams clamped down in the midfield. Melissa Reef helped out the Hornets back line in limiting the touches for Ashlyn Gaulin and the center back pairing of Mikaela Maughn and Vigeant kept just about everything in front of them. On the other side, Sam Hawkins, the only returning defensive player from last year, and Brieann Westcott were equally tough to beat.

“They just played their hearts out,” Wallace said. “Twice this year we’ve changed what we normally do for teams and the girls reacted great to it. That’s not normally how we play but boy they did it to a ’T’. The longer you keep them off the board, the smaller the goal seems, the more those passes tend to go longer, and that was our intent.”

Mansfield had a good opportunity six minutes after the break when Garvin played Cassidy McMahon into space but Noreck was able to save. Vigeant’s corner found Garvin at the back post but her header was blocked by a host of North defenders.

Alex Moulson had a chance off a North corner but her header went narrowly wide. Kemp reacted first to a loose ball and had a go from 20 yards, just missing the target at the near post.

The best chance to break the deadlock came with 10 minutes to play. Santos slipped Pasquel into space on the right and she crossed to Ashlyn Gaulin in the box but the league’s leading scorer couldn’t get full purchase on her shot and it was saved comfortably by Mansfield’s second keeper, Caty DeMassi.

Wallace remarked, “We’re really happy with the point and now we’re one away from the tournament…Both teams played really strong and that’s a great tournament warm up.”

Mansfield was playing for only the second time in nearly two weeks and there was an element of rust, which North was able to amplify. Smith explained, “Our first touch just wasn’t there. Whether it was the first touch on the pass or on the receive and go, it was just a little too far away from ourselves and their speed and pressure was real intense, so we couldn’t afford that.”

North Attleboro (7-2-3, 6-2-3) will host Stoughton on Friday afternoon. Mansfield (9-0-2, 8-0-2) travels to Attleboro on Friday and then hosts Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) on Saturday.

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