Instead, the fireworks came early.
After leaving it late in their win over Mansfield to finish last week, the Warriors came out firing in their first matchup with Franklin. KP scored twice in the opening quarter and once each in the second and third quarters to earn a 4-1 decision on the road over the Panthers.
“It’s a credit to how creative our midfield has been and how hard our wings are working,” said second-year King Philip head coach Mike O’Neill. “They’re all working really hard. This team is very unselfish. We had assists from an outside back, we had assists from wings, assists from midfielders so I’m just really pleased with how they are sharing the ball.”
Senior Evan McEvoy bagged a brace in the win, finding the back of the net just before halftime and shortly after the second half began. Ajae Olsen opened the scoring less than five minutes into the contest and Cole Breen doubled the visitors’ advantage before 15 minutes had expired.
The Warriors went without a goal in 80 minutes in their season opener against Mansfield last week, and then finally broke through in the 77th minute in the second meeting. This time out, King Philip wasted little time finding the back of the net.
Franklin opened the game with the early pressure as junior Terry O’Neill tested KP keeper Aidan Lindmark with a left-footed go from just outside the box in the first minute. But the Panthers didn’t sustain the pressure and the Warriors took advantage of failed clearance.
Outside back Anthony Zappala was rewarded for his venture into the attacking third, combining with senior Alex Leon to gain possession on the left side after Franklin was unable to play out of the back. Zappala split a pair of defenders with a service to the far post and Olsen found himself all alone in behind and finished off a bouncing cross for a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute.
King Philip did sustain their offensive pressure and nearly had a second just three minutes later. Leon played McEvoy on a short indirect kick on the left side, and McEvoy used a nice fake to earn some space before rifling a curling shot on frame that forced Franklin keeper Luc Boudreau to make an acrobatic one-handed save over the bar.
Franklin forayed back into the attacking third but King Philip took possession back and broke out on the counter. Leon used his speed to carry out of the back before sliding a low through ball in behind the defense. Junior Sean McCarthy timed his run perfectly, latching onto the pass entering the area. McCarthy alertly centered the ball to find senior Cole Breen for a one-touch finish from six yards out to make it 2-0 in the 12th minute.
“I think one thing that really worked for us that doesn’t get enough credit is how hard the front three and the midfielders work to make those runs,” O’Neill said. “A lot of the time they go unrewarded but you have to make them anyway and trust your teammates to find you. And we were able to find them on a couple of goals.”
The Panthers’ best chance of the opening quarter came in the 15th minute when junior Aidan Griffith played senior Ben Moccia into space in the area but his tight-angle bid at the near post was just wide.
After a spirited pep talk from head coach Fran Bositis, who is in his 50th consecutive year at the helm of the program, the Panthers came out with a little more pep in their step to start the second quarter. And that resulted in quick success.
Junior Nelson Martinez took a touch into space before unleashing a low shot from outside the area. Moccia made a run across the box and redirected the low shot leaving no chance for Lindmark, cutting the deficit to 2-1 in the 22nd minute.
Shortly before the halftime break, King Philip answered back to restore its two-goal advantage. Junior Stephen Griffin played a diagonal ball near the penalty spot and McEvoy buried his bid for a 3-1 lead in the 35th minute.
“I think that was the turning point in the game,” O’Neill said. “You know there’s the old joke about a two-goal lead being the worst lead in soccer but when you get a second two-goal lead, it makes that mountain a lot harder to climb for the other team. And we talked at halftime, it was really important to keep playing the way we were playing and to stay organized. Coach Fran’s team is always going to come out and play hard and give a tremendous effort, they have some excellent players over there so we had to keep organized.”
King Philip tacked on another insurance goal late in the third quarter. Tadhg Keller linked up with Olsen, who connected with McEvoy in the area to extend the advantage to 4-1 in the 55th minute.
Franklin pushed late but couldn’t breakthrough. Martinez found Charlie Amante in some space but the senior didn’t get a clean shot off and Lindmark covered. Minutes later, Lindmark was quick off his line to deny Amante a chance at a shot and on the next play. Keller came up with a big challenge to prevent another bid on goal.
“It’s a great comfort for a coach to have a goalie like Aidan Lindmark back there,” O’Neill said. “Not only is he a terrifically polished shot-stopper but tactically he’s very, very aware and his judgment is terrific. In a year like this now where you can’t head the ball, your goalie better be the boss of the box and he was tonight.”
King Philip boys soccer (2-1) will host Franklin (0-3) in a rematch on Friday.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – In a shortened season, jumping out to an early lead in the division standings could be critical and Wednesday afternoon’s meeting of Franklin and King Philip at Macktaz Field was the chance for one to grab the lead in the Kelley-Rex after both went undefeated in the first week of play.
Behind goals from senior Erin Quaile and freshman Anya Zub and a typically strong defensive performance, Franklin beat KP 2-0 and took a one-game edge in the standings with the second game of a home-and-home coming up on Friday.
Over the past year, Franklin has become synonymous with defense. The Panthers recorded clean sheets in 11 of their final 12 games of the 2019 regular season, then held Oliver Ames scoreless through regulation of the playoff game before the Tigers scored the winner in extra time. This season, Franklin has tossed shutouts in all three games, remaining stout and hard to break down even with the modified rules that discourage physicality.
“We lack experience with a lot of these kids,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “If you don’t have that kind of experience right now then you want to speed up the other team’s play faster than they want to get rid of the ball. So, if we can pressure them and make them make earlier decision than they want to, you’ve got a better chance to win the ball. It kind of worked.”
It was clear from the opening whistle that Franklin was the aggressor on Wednesday. A long ball over the top to Ava Tormey gave the Warriors an early chance but pressure from Izzy Arnold gave goalie Julia Bertone time to slide out and grab the loose ball. It would be the last chance of note for KP in the first half.
Franklin’s best chance of the opening quarter came in the final two minutes with Riley Fitzpatrick playing a nicely weighted pass into the right channel for Zub to run onto. The freshman hit a shot from a tough angle and saw it go right through the box and just wide of the far post.
The visitors carried momentum into the second quarter and had two golden chances in the span of two minutes, only to be denied both times on goal line clearances by Taylor Thompson. The first chance came when Jamie Tanner got behind the defense and managed to bundle the ball by KP keeper Emma Glaser, but Thompson intervened at the last second. Two minutes later Quaile crossed it from the left to Tanner and again the ball was redirected towards the line but Thompson got there in time to clear.
With three minutes remaining in the half, Franklin’s pressure finally turned into a goal and from an unlikely source. Quaile collected the ball in midfield and found space for a 20-yard strike that sailed over Glaser’s hand and just under the bar for what turned out to be the game-winner.
Geysen said, “Erin I thought played really well on both sides of the ball today. She just does a lot of good things.”
“At halftime, I was telling them you had three days out of four off and you come back and you look like you’ve been working out for 10 days straight,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “I told them, the team I put out on Friday will be very different than today because you didn’t work for it and you didn’t earn it.”
Ella Pisani had three goals in the first two games but the Franklin defense was able to keep her largely in check on Wednesday. She did manage to get a shot early in the third quarter but it sailed wide, as the Warriors reacted to Pichel’s halftime team talk with a spark of energy.
It didn’t take Franklin long to reassert control. Arnold’s long ball out of defense picked out Zub on the run, but Glaser was able to slide and make the stop. Almost immediately after, Bridgette Ginley had a chance from the right side and her shot was narrowly wide of the post.
Kiera Lindmark gave Franklin freshman keeper Rachel Welch a scare with a free kick late in the third, but it curled wide from 25 yards out. Lindmark nearly found the right pass to Jenny Montville at the start of the fourth but Montville couldn’t get a solid touch and Welch was able make the comfortable stop.
Eight minutes into the final quarter, Franklin doubled its lead and secured the two points. Zub and Fitzpatrick played a nice one-two on the edge of the box, springing Zub beyond the back line. She managed to hold off the defender on her back and fire a shot past Glaser to make it 2-0.
“Anya is a special player,” said Geysen. “She’s so freaking smart. She puts herself where she knows they’re going to play the ball and a lot of times I don’t have to tell her.”
The Panthers nearly added a third in the final minute with another piece of solid ball movement. Tanner started the play with a pass to Zub on the wing. Her low cross was just behind Tanner in the middle of the box and found Tory Carmignani at the back post, but her shot skimmed the bar on its way out of play.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – It was nearly the perfect start for King Philip in its heavyweight battle against division rival Franklin.
Behind goals in the first and third quarters, Franklin field hockey secured a 2-1 win over the Warriors in the first of two meetings between the teams this week in a rain-filled contest on the slick turf of Macktaz Field.
“We didn’t show enough energy,” said King Philip head coach Lisa Cropper. “We didn’t believe that we could win the game…they didn’t say that but I could see it in their body language. We had chances right off the bat and I think if we popped one in, it would have been a different story. But we didn’t, they did and they relaxed played their game, and we had to struggle the whole way.”
There was a burst of energy at the opening whistle as the Warriors marched down the field into the attacking zone less than a minute into the 7-on-7 style contest, one of the modifications due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Senior Grace Crocker unleashed a low, hard shot from the right side that was denied by Hess with a kick save. After a brief scrum in front, KP once again put a shot on frame that got by Hess but only to be deflected wide by Carney, who was alertly covering the goal line for the Panthers.
The rest of the opening quarter belonged to the visitors, who continued to put pressure on KP goalie Makenzie Manning (14 saves). Just under 10 minutes into the game, the Panthers broke through.
Junior Kailyn Carney carried possession into some space but whacking a low shot on goal. Senior Amanda Lewandowski was positioned perfect right in front of the keeper and deflected the shot perfectly into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“There’s a lot of nerves in a big game like this between these two teams so getting that goal [in the first quarter] kind of broke the ice, kind of helped us to settle in a little bit,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “To KP’s credit, they did more subbing than I did and I think that made a difference towards the end. It was a pretty competitive game, back-and-forth.
“Their goalie is really aggressive and since we’re not used to seeing that, it almost makes them think a little more. For us, just shoot the ball. We had a bunch of shots but we also had trouble putting shots on net.”
It was a scoreless second quarter but both teams came close to putting the ball in the back of the net. First, KP senior Isabelle Crocker forced another big save from Hess just before the midway point of the quarter. And with just under four minutes to go, Sara Carney dropped a pass to the far post that was just out of the reach of the sticks of both Lewandowski and sophomore Shaw Downing.
“My two backs, Kate [O’Rourke] and Kendall [Jones], they are so strong and they see the field so well,” Hess said. “Once they get the stop, we’ve drilled it into them to get it out to the side and clear it up and find the open man. And then Sara Carney playing in the center, she has the endurance to get forward and get back and play defense.
“A lot of teams are packing it in…King Philip had all six defenders in the circle so that’s hard to play against offensively. And with an aggressive goalie like they have, it makes it even more difficult. So we knew it’d be a low scoring game. We’re trying to work on our triangles, see the space, cut into space, and find the ball.”
Manning made a stellar save, diving out to deny a chance from Stephanie Bell just two minutes into the second half, but Bell added a big goal for the Panthers just five minutes later.
The Panthers broke out of the back, taking advantage of open space on the right wing. Lewandowski carried toward goal before rifling a pass to the far post where Bell one-timed it into the back of the net.
“[Franklin] passes really well, they move off the ball extremely well and they find each other,” Cropper said. “And they have a couple of very good shooters. Amanda scored one and created the second one, we had someone on her most of the game so we held her to one and an assist. They had [23 goals] in the first two games.
“We had some chances early on but didn’t score and didn’t follow up We kind of sat back in a shell and they took it to us. You can’t play that way. But with this format, no lead is safe, we knew we could come back. We started to some in the third and then the fourth quarter we really came alive.”
Fresh legs allowed the Warriors to get some momentum in the final quarter. KP forced a turnover in the defensive third which led to a counterattack the other way. Isabelle Crocker used her speed to split a pair of defenders and then slid the ball past the charging keeper, the ball rolling in just inside the post to make it 2-1 with seven minutes.
KP continued to garner more offensive pressure than it had throughout the previous quarters but couldn’t register a serious chance on goal to find the equalizer.
Franklin field hockey (3-0 Kelley-Rex, 3-0 overall) will host King Philip (2-1, 2-1) in a rematch on Thursday at 3:45 at Beaver Street Field.
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.
Click here for a Photo Gallery from King Philip vs. Mansfield field hockey at Macktaz Field, 10-8-20.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – With the modified 7-on-7 rules for field hockey this season, and all the space that leaves on the field, speed is more important than ever. It’s just two games into the season, but King Philip has wasted no time finding top gear.
Behind two goals apiece from Isabelle and Grace Crocker, the Warriors rolled to a 5-1 win against Mansfield on Thursday afternoon at Macktaz Field, sweeping the home-and-home against the Hornets ahead of next week’s matchup with defending league champion Franklin.
“It starts from the defense,” said KP coach Lisa Cropper. “With only six field players, you can’t chase all the way to the corners, so we kind of took the protect the house, protect the circle, and just shadow them. You’re also not running as much that way. Then we work it out just like a fast break. You outlet the ball and go right down the sideline into space.”
She added, “Our kids are so fast, if we just dump it into space no one is going to catch them.”
The teams played a tight, one-goal game on Tuesday and the second encounter started in similar fashion with Mansfield having a several early chances denied by KP goalie Makenzie Manning (seven saves). Once KP settled into its style of play, the Warriors took off and never looked back.
Abby Nixon (three assists) caused problems on the left wing all game and it was her run into the circle that led to the opening goal. The senior hit a cross just in front of goal that Kelly Holmes had first crack at but the ball slid to Isabelle Crocker at the far post for a tap in.
Sydney O’Shea also found room on the left to test Mansfield goalie Lily Danehy, as KP was able to keep the majority of the pressure in its attacking half of the field. Mansfield managed a couple of breakouts down the right with Grace Danehy and Abby Varricchione heavily involved, but Manning kicked aside a shot from Lindsay Devine on the only ball that got through on net.
KP doubled its lead just three minutes into the second when Nixon got free on the left and put a ball into the middle. Grace Crocker reacted first to the loose ball and knocked it through a crowd and in. Nixon was proving to be a handful. She made a long run and had a shot cleared off the line then was able to make a run from half, with Grace Fernandez on her shoulder the whole way, and force a save out of Danehy.
“Abby Nixon is doing phenomenal,” said Cropper. “She’s the one creating a lot of havoc out there with her speed and her stick work and the others are picking up the loose ends.”
With just two minutes to go before halftime, Isabelle Crocker got free on the right side and fired a shot to the far corner to make it 3-0. It was her fourth goal of the young season.
Cropper explained, “She’s so fast and she has a quick release and I’ve been telling the kids as soon as you have daylight in the circle then shoot it. I don’t care if it hits the goalie, she can’t smother it in this game, so then someone’s going to get a rebound.”
Any hope of a second half comeback was dashed just two minutes after the break when Nixon blocked an attempted clearance and found Grace Crocker alone in front. Danehy made the first stop but Crocker was able to get the rebound and finish for a four-goal advantage. KP was peppering the Mansfield goalie but Danehy came up big in the third quarter to keep it 4-0. Eight of her 11 saves came in the second half.
The Hornets got on the board with two minutes left in the third. Caitlin Dumouchel picked out Lola Varricchione right in front of goal and the freshman managed to squeeze it past Manning and just over the line for her first varsity goal.
Grace Danehy set up Abby Varricchione for a chance in the first minute of the fourth quarter but the shot went just wide. Six minutes later, KP put the game away. Nixon was again the playmaker, slipping a pass to Paige Berdos and she blasted it into the back of the net.
“You have to sub at the right time because if someone makes the run, then they can’t quite make the run back and if they’re in too long then they can’t get there,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan about defending with the new rules. “The defense is hard.”
Mansfield kept going even as legs were starting to tire. A nice passing combination from Alexandra Burnham to Lilly O’Brien to Celia Puleo forced Manning into a good save. Then Dumouchel teed up Emma Kelly but her quick shot smacked the post and stayed out.
Nyhan added, “We had chances early. KP had all six kids in the circle, so it’s just foul, back to the 25, foul, back to the 25, and we were not smart with our 25-yard hit options. We’ll be working on that at practice. They certainly took advantage of their opportunities.”