The Warriors wouldn’t go quietly though, putting their best performance forth and winning the third set to grab momentum and put the pressure on the hosts.
But the Panthers responded well, pulling away after a tight start to the fourth set to earn a 3-1 (25-17, 25-12, 22-25, 25-16) win and a regular season sweep over King Philip.
With the win, Franklin moves into a first-place tie atop the division with the Warriors with four league games left apiece
“The girls are much more confident compared to the beginning of the year,” said Franklin head coach Kelsey Weymouth. “They were playing together for the first time then and now they’ve gotten a lot more comfortable in their roles. They know who does what, how girls like their sets, they are learning to do their jobs. I think they were all trying to do too much when the season started.”
The Panthers used a balanced attack offensively and a strong net presence defensively to earn the win.
Junior Allyson Bonnet-Eymard had a team-high 10 kills, senior Sophie Lyons (seven digs) chipped in with five kills, junior Emma Chase recorded four kills on .400 hitting along with three blocks, and senior Bridget Jackson finished with five blocks and four kills.
“Sometimes you’ll have a player or two that’s on, or a player or two that’s having an off night,” Weymouth said. “But tonight everyone was playing well, it was great to see.”
Franklin got off to a strong start, building a 10-7 lead. The Panthers went on an 8-2 run that featured a big kill from Lyons through a block. KP got within four points but Franklin hit back with four straight, punctuated by a kill from Bonnet-Eymard.
The teams traded points before a pair of KP errors set the Panthers’ up for set point. Off a set from sophomore Cailyn Mackintosh (26 assists, 12 digs, three aces), Chase hit around a block in the middle and hit the line for a kill to secure the 1-0 advantage.
It was all Franklin in the second set. The Panthers jumped out to a 5-1 lead and kept that advantage over the first 15 points. The separation came in the form of an 11-3 run that featured an ace from Bonnet-Eymard, a kill from Sarah Jackson, and a kill from Lyons off a KP block.
Holding a 19-8 lead, the Panthers finished the set behind another two kills from Bonnet-Eymard, including one that hit the 10-foot line on a cross court shot. In the set, KP only mustered five earned points.
“We didn’t play our game,” said KP head coach Kristen Geuss. “The better team won tonight. Our energy was definitely better in game three. We tend to start off slow, and unfortunately, we didn’t pick it up quickly enough.
“We couldn’t get more than a few points in a row. We’d win a point but then we ‘d have an unforced error or a serving error. You can’t win playing that kind of volleyball.”
But the Warriors were a completely different team with their backs against the wall in the third set. Senior Catherine Waldeck (15 kills, four blocks) gave the visitors an early spark, scoring four of KP’s first five points. Two came in the form of blocks while two were kills.
It was a lead that KP never surrendered, though the Panthers made a strong push to keep it close. Junior Nicole Coughlan (11 kills) had back-to-back big swings and junior Giovanna Fruci came up with a big block to give KP an 8-4 edge early.
Behind some strong serves from Jackson, the Panthers kept pace with KP, even getting within three on a kill from Mikayla Raffin. But the Warriors never let the lead slip, getting a key ace down Lauren Peterson.
Fruci, Coughlan, and Waldeck each recorded a kill to earn three of the final four points for KP, with the latter getting the set sealing shot to keep the Warriors alive in the match.
Both sides started strong in the fourth set with the teams tied at 6-6 and again at 8-8. But from there, the Panthers were able to slowly pull away to secure the win.
The big difference came in the form of a quick 6-0 burst that put the Panthers up 14-8. Bonnet-Eymard had a kill and an ace, Jackson added a block, and KP had three hitting errors in the sequence.
“I think the girls were a little too comfortable in the third set but they did a great job of coming back in the fourth,” Weymouth said. “We changed a couple of things up but we went back to what they are confident in and were able to pull away.”
KP got within four points with the help of a kill from James and a net violation, but Franklin’s Sarah Jackson landed a kill on the next play and the Panthers never looked back. Bridget Jackson had a solo block and combined with Bonnet-Eymard for another one down the stretch to help finish the match.
Franklin used a double block on KP’s middle attacks throughout the match, with Jackson and Bonnet-Eymard’s last block highlight the success it had.
“We brought [the double block] anytime they went to the middle,” Weymouth said. “They got their share of hits but we were able to get some good blocks. We practiced it yesterday, we wanted to try and get four hands on the hit. Our blocking was on point tonight. The middles did a good job setting the block, and the defense around it did great too.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – To run through a perfect season, especially against the level of competition in the Hockomock League, sometimes you have to be lucky as well as good. King Philip rode its luck on Friday afternoon at Sam Berns Community Field to upend fellow division leader Foxboro.
Senior Makenzie Shandley scored the game’s only goal with 20 minutes remaining in the second half to lift KP to a 1-0 victory, but the perfect start to the season owed a lot to the crossbar, which Foxboro struck twice in the final three minutes, and to the play of keeper Taylor Butler, who made several important interventions when Foxboro got behind the defense.
“Holy smokes, that was insane,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “We knew it was going to be one of these games and it was. This was back and forth all game long. I’m pretty happy with the kids for hanging in there.”
The game’s only goal came with the visitors kicking into a stiff wind. Jenna Hitchen played the ball into the left channel for Chloe Layne to run onto. The senior forward was able to keep the ball in play but seemed to be bottled up on the end line. That was until she pulled off a spin move past her marker, opening space for a cross. Shandley beat her marker to it and then showed a deft touch to redirect it into the net.
“Who would’ve figured?” Pichel replied when asked about it being Shandley that came through with the only goal rather than some of the league’s top offensive threats. “Kenzie is a hard-working kid though and to have that kind of touch in tight like that, where she just kind of redirected it.”
KP had plenty of work left to do to preserve the one-goal advantage for 20 minutes. With 10 minutes left, Jordyn Collins had her progress halted 25 yards from goal but was able to lay the ball off to Kailee McCabe. The sophomore midfielder was clean through on goal, but Butler was out quick and appeared to make a huge save, although it was ruled a goal kick not a corner.
The hosts upped the pressure over the final few minutes of the game, putting the KP defense on its heels. As the clock wound down under three minutes left to play, Lizzy Davis got room to fire a shot from just outside the box that looped over Butler but came back off the bar. Just a minute later, from almost the exact same spot, McCabe was first to a loose ball and had a go but again the bar came to KP’s rescue.
“I just came over here and told them from what I saw, we were the better team,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “I might be a little biased but that’s what I saw out there.”
She added, “We had through balls, we had great crosses, I feel like we had so many chances, it was just they finished and we didn’t. That’s kind of been our problem all season in tough games.”
Foxboro was looking to its speed in transition to break down a KP defense that had only allowed two goals all season and had recorded 10 shutouts in 12 games entering Friday. Collins only needed five minutes to show how dangerous she was on the break, holding off Olivia Berry and forcing Butler to come out and block the shot.
“She is quicker in person that she was on film,” Pichel said of Collins. “The film doesn’t do her justice. Jordyn just goes from touchline to touchline all game and then she settles in the middle and that’s the cue for their midfielders to send it through the middle to her.”
Midfielder Ally Stanton was out injured for the visitors and that forced Pichel to alter his lineup, moving forward Avery Snead back into the center of the pitch, which kept the Providence College commit from having much impact in the final third. Caroline Cass, Emma Dahl, and Yara Fawaz mostly were able to keep Layne, the league’s leading scorer, from having much impact as well.
“My defense was amazing today,” said Stalcup. “I feel like we shut Chloe down pretty well. She did get that cross off but we didn’t let her get any shots off from close in, from inside the 18. I’m really proud of my defense.”
KP’s best chance of the first half was created by Jenny Montville, who broke free into the center of the Foxboro defense, creating space for Ava Tormey on the right side of the box, but her effort was held by Foxboro keeper Morgan Sylvestre.
Collins created several chances on the other end. She was tightly marked by freshman Grace Lawler all day but with 10 minutes left in the first half Collins had the strength to hold her marker at bay and force Butler into a save. Two minutes later, Collins sent the ball forward to Davis, who won a challenge with a KP defender on the edge of the area but dragged a shot wide.
Montville and Snead forced Sylvestre into saves early in the second half, while Collins tried to beat Butler at the near post from a tight angle. In the 59th minute, Layne finally was able to find enough room in the penalty area to fashion a chance and Shandley finished it.
Layne had a goal wiped away for a very tight offside call that could have put the game away, but with only a one-goal lead against a potent attack, KP needed to hang on down the stretch. Between the defense, with senior Makayla Griffin and Berry joined by Snead for the final minutes, and the woodwork, KP did just that and maintained its perfect record.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – With a minute left in the first half, King Philip appeared to be running away with a comfortable win. The Warriors scored the first four goals against Oliver Ames on Monday night at Macktaz Field, but then the Tigers got on the board and stole the momentum.
Twice in the second half OA cut the lead to just two goals, but each time the Warriors were able to find a response, taking back control long enough to hold on for a 5-3 victory that keeps KP within five points of league leading Franklin.
“We fell asleep a little bit,” admitted KP coach Lisa Cropper. “We got a little too comfortable and they weren’t going to quit. They’ve got some really good goal scorers, some really nice crossing balls that we just fell asleep on. We’ve been really tight and good defensively lately and I think we felt a little too comfortable with that 4-0 lead.”
KP got off to the perfect start to the night. Only two minutes into the game, the Warriors broke quickly and a centering pass from the right found Olivia Kulesza in front. She was able to find the touch in a crowd and knocked it in.
Four minutes later, the Warriors did find a second goal and then just seconds later made it 3-0.
Berdos started the move by racing free down the right wing before passing it ahead to Kulesza. The junior, who was moved up from defense to forward earlier this season, managed to keep the ball alive on the end line and then slipped a square pass across the front of goal where Abby Nixon was on hand to tap it in. Just 30 seconds later, Raegan Simeone finished off another nice KP move.
“We were so hyped up for the game,” said OA coach Sharon Lawrence. “I think we played a little frazzled in the beginning, very panicky, couldn’t settle the ball. We play a good possession hockey game and we were off of that game in the beginning. It took us a few minutes to get settled in.”
With about a minute remaining in the first half, King Philip appeared to put the game away. Berdos got space to take a whack from the right side and was able to find the back of the net to make it 4-0.
OA was on the brink of being run off the field, but then the Tigers finally found a successful attack of their own. Hannah Stryke got her first of the night to give some hope to the visitors before the break.
“Huge, we needed some momentum for sure,” Lawrence said of that late goal. “We just said, forget about the scoreboard. We’ve got some momentum, we’re chipping away and let’s just keep putting the pressure on.”
The message seemed to have gotten through as the Tigers dominated the opening portion of the second half, creating a series of corners and dangerous scoring chances. KP goalie Grace May made a big stop to keep the three-goal lead but then OA got its second. Cassie Gennis created space on the righthand side and crossed it to Stryke in front for a one-time finish.
Cropper said, “I called a timeout and I said, look we need to answer back. All of a sudden we stopped playing with each other and using each other and once we started doing that again we had our way down in their circle.”
Nixon helped KP respond and restore a three-goal edge. She weaved her way through the KP defense down the left side, getting all the way to the crease before the ball was knocked away. It fell to the stick of Christina Gifun, whose shot was saved by new OA goalie Peyton Phillips and the rebound came right to Nixon in front of an empty net.
“She’s getting better and better at that and she can do it from the left side, which is rare in a high school player,” Cropper said of Nixon. “Sometimes the left wing gets left out but with Sammy Robison at center back and Grace [Crocker] at center mid and Raegan at left mid, we look for her. Those four have combined really nicely.”
If there was any concern that OA may fold once KP added to its lead, it was quickly wiped away. Again it was Gennis that created the opening with a good run on the right and she sent the ball through the middle to Stryke, who capped her hat trick with another first-time hit.
“We got Hannah Stryke back on the scoreboard tonight, she was firing away,” said Lawrence. “Cassie Gennis was bringing the ball down on the right, she had an amazing game.”
The KP defense managed to stifle the Tigers from that point forward. Haley Izydorczak, Molly Piller, and Robison held down the OA right side, where Gennis was frequently running at goal, and limiting the impact of midfielders Maggie Woods and Georgia Costello in the center.
“Part of our game too is transferring the ball, which we didn’t do enough of tonight,” Lawrence explained, “but usually those two in the middle are good at kind of switching the field so we could move the ball up and around.”
It was the fifth win in six games for the Warriors, who remain in second place in the Kelley-Rex. King Philip (7-3-1, 7-2-1) will have a quick turnaround with a trip to Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) on Tuesday. Oliver Ames (5-7, 4-6) enter the closing stretch of six games needing four to clinch a playoff spot. The Tigers start by hosting Canton on Thursday.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – With four of the last five meetings between King Philip and Mansfield football being decided by three or less points, it’s no surprise the teams were locked in another tight battle on Friday night.
And in games so tightly contested, it’s often a small play here or there that can make the biggest difference.
Mansfield senior Nick Marciano blocked an extra point attempt and later converted a two-point conversion rush to help the Hornets secure a 15-13 win on Macktaz Field over the host Warriors.
“It’s a great win, but its Mansfield-KP, it’s gotta go to the wire,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “Both teams are going to find a way to get points and it’s always great defensively. It’s business as usual between these two.
“They really battled, this is just such a great rivalry, there’s so much pride on both sides.”
The Hornets held a 15-6 advantage and took over on offense after Mahki Baskin hauled in an interception in the end zone with just 5:30 left. But Mansfield was unable to kill much of the clock, and in true fashion this rivalry, King Philip made a game of it.
Just two minutes after turning it over, the Warriors were in the end zone. Senior quarterback Robert Jarest (14/26, 194 yards) orchestrated a four-play, 64-yard drive that took little time off the clock. Jarest hit Alex Behling for a 16-yard touchdown, and suddenly the Warriors were down just 15-13 with 3:18 to go after Dylan Conti‘s extra point.
But KP’s onside kick attempt failed to travel 10 yards, and the Hornets took over in Warrior territory. Senior Vinnie Holmes (13 carries, 106 yards) did the rest, sealing the deal with a 23-yard first down rush that allowed Mansfield to kill the rest of the clock.
“It was circled on our calendar from the beginning of the season,” Holmes said. “We knew this was going to be our biggest game so far that counts. La Salle didn’t really count. This one counts for us and it was great to get this win.
“We always know that they can always inch back. They did it last year versus us, almost got that two-point conversion to win. We knew they could do it. We knew we had to put the pedal to the metal. Stop them. Get that first down at the end that was big and then eventually run out the clock.”
Mansfield got off to a perfect start, needing just four plays to cover 52 yards in 2:22 to take the lead. After three run plays, the Hornets went play action and senior quarterback Jack Moussette (6/10, 72 yards) found Danny Rapoza open down the right sideline. Michael DeBolt split the uprights for the extra point to make it 7-0.
That would be all of the scoring in the opening half. King Philip’s first drive went for 12 plays but only 35 yards, stalling around midfield. The Warriors’ two other possessions were three-and-outs with a total of four yards.
Mansfield had solid field position throughout but couldn’t solve the KP defense. The Hornets had to punt on their second and third drives of the game and failed to convert a fourth down as time expired in the first half.
King Philip lost star running back and linebacker Ryan Halliday (eight carries, 25 yards) to an injury early in the second quarter but the Warriors’ offense was able to overcome, putting together its best series out of the break. The Warriors marched 80 yards on 14 plays, converting four third downs on the drive. Jarest hit Brian Wassersug for 24 yards on one third down to move into Hornet territory, and two plays later, the senior quarterback connected with Drew Danson for 38 yards to get down to the one-yard line.
It took four tries from there, but sophomore Crawford Cantave was able to punch it across to get the Warriors on the board.
But Marciano came up with one of the biggest plays of the game, flying across to get just enough on the ball to block it and keep it low.
Mansfield failed to convert on fourth down on back-to-back possessions but the Hornet defense held the Warriors to a combined -11 yards on its next two series. DeBolt and TJ Guy (sack) had key stops to help Mansfield get the ball back.
This time the Hornets did cash in on the good field position. After converting a first down, Cincere Gill took the handoff to the left before cutting back to the right, getting around the defense and sprinting his way to a 20-yard touchdown.
After an injury timeout, the Warriors were whistled for too many men on the conversion attempt. Mansfield pulled its kicking unit off the field, and after a timeout, went with the wildcat offense. Marciano took the snap himself, ran forward and jumped over the pile and into the end zone to make it 15-6 with 7:18 left.
“We thought about it from the three [yard line] but they are so good defensively,” Redding said. “When they got the penalty, we felt we had to go for it then from the one-yard line. That was obviously big because it became a two-score game, that makes a big difference.
Andrew McKinney (five catches, 55 yards) grabbed a 19-yard catch, and Wassersug made a terrific catch on the ensuing drive, hauling in a 36-yard completion to set the Warriors up in the red zone before Baskin came away with an interception in the end zone.
“We’ve been more impressed with Robert with what he’s been able to do,” said KP coach Brian Lee. “He’s a senior, he’s been around. He brought us down there at the end.”
“I’ll tell ya, Jarest was unbelievable in the second half,” Redding said. “They lose Halliday and they just found a way to make completions, he can run and throw. They did a great job of getting the offense going without one for the best running backs in the state in the lineup. They made a game of it, their defense played tough.
“We blew some opportunities to extend the lead, and this is what [KP] does, they hang around and manufacture a drive. All of a sudden you’re an onside kick away from them having the ball again with the chance to win.”
This was Mansfield’s second win in the rivalry since 2013, earning their second straight regular season contest. The two teams have also played in the playoffs in two straight seasons.
“Our defense really battled in there,” Lee said. “Ryan is as good of a player and means just as much on defense as he does on offense. So everyone was stepping up for us. The overall takeaway…we made a ton of mistakes, a lot of new guys out there but we hung in there and battled as hard as we could. I think going forward if we can play well, and we’re fortunate enough to see them again, we know we’re not out-classed by them.”
Both teams are likely to make the playoffs again this year and could be on a collision course for a third straight postseason meeting.
“It’s great football, great defense, and I’m sure part two is coming in November,” Redding said.
“We have the utmost respect for KP, they are a great football team,” Holmes said. “They produce great players like Halliday, and we’ll probably see them again.”
Mansfield football (2-0 Hockomock, 3-1 overall) is on the road again next week at Pisani Field to visit Franklin for another key division showdown. King Philip (1-1, 3-1) will host Attleboro on Friday.
The King Philip offense has had some success from the new wrinkles it’s added this season, but when it mattered most, the Warriors turned to their signature ground and pound running attack.
Senior Ryan Halliday rushed for 150 yards on 33 carries, including 17 in the fourth quarter, and scored a pair of touchdowns to pace the Warriors to a 26-14 win over rival Franklin, KP’s 16th straight win over the Panthers.
After getting just one touch on each of King Philip’s first two drives of the second half — both quickly ended in punts — and Franklin playing with the momentum after cutting the deficit to six at 20-14, the Warriors turned to Halliday.
The senior back was the focal point in the game-clinching drive that spanned 75 yards over 13 plays, taking over eight minutes off the clock. Halliday ran behind an offensive line featuring senior Nolan Gunning, senior Wyatt Manzi, senior center Sean Piller, junior Pat Zarba, and senior Dan Mullen.
The senior back took 10 consecutive handoffs, picking up four first downs that included a fourth down conversion on 4th and 1 on the Panthers’ 28-yard line after an offside call on the defense.
After sophomore Crawford Cantave burst up the middle for nine years, the Warriors went back to Halliday for back-to-back carries, the latter an 11-yard dart up the middle that put the visitors ahead 26-14 with just 5:23 left. The drive started with 1:34 left in the third quarter.
“We’ve switched up the offense a bit this year and we’ve been passing a lot,” Halliday said. “But in the end, we kind of just played old KP football, played some nice defense and ran the ball.
“I’m gassed but I’m sure my hoggies are gassed too, I give a lot of the credit to them.”
Franklin ran just seven offensive plays after that King Philip drive and was limited to a total of 16 offensive snaps total in the second half.
“It worked for us last year,” said KP head coach Brian Lee of going back to the ground game. “[Franklin] is so explosive on offense, they have so many playmakers that you feel like if keep giving them chances…our defense was hanging in there but we just wanted to slow it down a little bit.”
King Philip’s defense did its part as well, holding the Panthers to 175 yards of total offense, 0-for-5 on third down, forcing three turnovers, and limited Franklin’s high-powered offense to just three plays over 20 yards.
“It’s hard to get pressure on them, the ball is out quick and they have a lot of playmakers,” Lee said. “Overall I’m very pleased with how the defense played.”
The Panthers didn’t help themselves much in the first half, fumbling on the opening possession after a completed pass. A quick three-and-out was followed by another fumble, giving KP great starting position at the Franklin 25-yard line.
It took KP just three plays to take advantage of the good field position as senior quarterback Robbie Jarest (11-for-17, 93 yards passing; 8 carries, 75 yards rushing) hit Brian Wassersug, who broke a tackle and sprinted up the sideline for a 25-yard touchdown. Dylan Conti’s point after attempt was good to put KP up 7-0.
Franklin had a quick response as senior quarterback Thomas Gasbarro (16-for-22,193 yards) scrambled to buy some time before finding a wide-open Cole Lakatos on the sideline, and the senior took it the rest of the way, getting a big block from Jake Davis, for a 51-yard touchdown. Parker Cheuvront connected on his first of two extra points to tie it 7-7.
Jarest got it done with his legs on KP’s ensuing drive, taking a QB option for 48 yards to get the Warriors’ offense going. A pass to Alex Behling got the Warriors into the red zone, and six plays later, Halliday followed Gunning into the end zone for a 1-yard score, converting a 4th and goal situation.
“He’s come a long way, he’s really bought in,” Lee said of Jarest. “For us to be throwing the ball as much, it’s different. But we have a new offensive coordinator [Cory Bailey] and he’s really stretching me to try and do some other things and take more risks. Robert’s making those plays with his arm and his legs, and in the end, I think that makes us more balanced.”
Franklin’s defense came up big two series later, stopping the Warriors on 4th and 1 from the Panthers’ 30-yard line with under a minute to go in the half.
Franklin nearly stopped the series when they grabbed an interception, but the Panthers were flagged for roughing the passer and KP kept possession. On the ensuing play, with just eight seconds left on the clock, Jarest delivered, finding an open Andrew McKinney for an 11-yard touchdown with only two seconds left on the clock, giving KP a 20-7 lead at halftime.
“We had the recipe of how to never play American football never again,” said Franklin head coach Eian Bain of the first half. “I’m at a loss for words for how to describe that first half really. You can’t beat great teams like KP when you have that many self-inflicted errors. Credit to a good opponent, sometimes they make you do that. We felt comfortable with our game plan but you can’t win putting the ball on the turf.”
Momentum swung in favor of the hosts as Franklin forced a three-and-out on King Philip’s opening drive of the second half. The Panthers’ offense capitalized, driving 77 yards on nine plays to make it a one-score game.
Highlighted by a pass and catch from Gasbarro to Jack Nally, and a fourth down completion between the same pair, Franklin marched down the field to the KP 1-yard line. Sophomore Mack Gulla punched it in from there, making it 20-14 with 4:27 left in the third quarter.
Franklin only ran seven more offensive plays the rest of the game.
“They took the fourth quarter,” Bain said. “That’s what they do well, and that’s what we don’t do well. And by that point, they made us one dimensional but we continued to make mistakes. I’m disappointed because I think we can play better and execute better.”
King Philip football (1-0 Hockomock, 3-0 overall) now turns its attention to Mansfield, as the two rivals will do battle on Macktaz Field on Friday night. Franklin (0-1, 2-1) will try to get back into the win column when it travels to Oliver Ames on Saturday.