WRENTHAM, Mass. – After playing at King Philip’s pace for the opening eight minutes and heading into the first break down by a point, Franklin coach John Leighton implored his team to slow things down, move the ball around, and look for good shots not just the first shot.
Over the next two quarters, the Panthers did just that, scoring 40 points in the second and third quarters combined and turning that deficit into an 18-point lead. Franklin would lead by as many as 25 points in the fourth and earned a sweep of the Warriors with a 62-48 victory.
“Something you never want is a slow start and that’s exactly what we had,” said Leighton. “We had way too many turnovers, we went too fast, but what I was impressed by is that by the end of the quarter they had bought into the idea of slowing it down, seeing the next step, and when you start getting defensive stops they can’t press as much.”
KP had the Panthers on the run in the first, playing the frenetic style that the Warriors thrive on. After back-to-back threes by Emma Glaser and Courtney Keswick (10 points), the hosts held a 10—6 lead. Olivia Quinn (game-high 22 points, six rebounds, and four steals) answered back with a three of her own and a layup to put Franklin in front, but Caroline Aaron’s drive to the basket put the Warriors up 12-11 after one.
Franklin has plenty of experience on its roster and the players talked in the huddle about the need to settle down and play their game. The defending state champions started to look more like themselves in the second.
Brigid Earley scored six of her 10 points in the second, as Franklin made an effort to get the ball inside. Elizabeth Molla responded with a three that cut the lead back to three, at 25-22, but the Panthers scored the final seven points of the half to lead by double digits.
Elizabeth Wilson crashed the boards for a putback and then Earley (four assists, seven rebounds, and two blocks) picked out Quinn for a short jumper. Quinn was the focal point of the offense, scoring eight points in the second and 13 in the first half, as Franklin led 33-22.
“I said to them that we were down 11 at halftime, but it felt like it could’ve been tied,” said KP coach Dan Nagle, who was on the bench for the first time this season. “We had a couple of live-ball turnovers where we missed wide open layups and they go down and we get a steal and throw it to them right under the basket. You can’t even be mad because your kids are flying around and working hard.”
Things clicked into high gear for the visitors in the third. After Jackie Bonner (eight points) drilled a three to start the second half, Franklin went on a 16-0 run to break the game open.
Quinn came right back with a three off a Stefany Padula drove and kick, Erin Quaile’s steal led to a Katie Peterson basket, and Earley had a pair of assists on Quinn buckets to push the lead to 17. Peterson (10 points) got open again underneath, this time on a Kayleigh Houlihan assist, and Quaile found Teagan Collins for an open three to make it 49-25.
KP scored seven straight to get some momentum, including threes by Cat Spellman and Keswick, but Peterson’s offensive rebound and layup put the Panthers ahead by 18 heading to the fourth.
Leighton said, “This year, we have three or four kids who can score every night. The pressure isn’t on Liv to carry us on her back, we have a lot of kids who can contribute. This is the deepest group we’ve had in a very long time.”
One of the features of Franklin’s play was its passing. Quaile finished with eight assists, while Earley had four and Padula had three. The Panthers were spreading the ball around and making it difficult for KP to trap.
“Unselfish ball is good, especially today,” Leighton explained. “When they’re going to double you, they’re trying to make you go faster, so if you can pass and find the open kid then everyone has more time. It buys time and space.”
That continued at the start of the fourth, as Quinn hit a short jumper after a good drive and kick out by Bridget Leo and then Quinn played provider on a corner three by Emma Sousa, who had missed the first three games of the season. Franklin stretched its lead to 60-35.
Although a comeback was unlikely at that point, the Warriors never stopped running and pressing and kept battling to the final whistle. Bonner had a steal and layup and Julia Marsden assisted on Keswick’s third three of the afternoon. Aaron (11 points) had another drive through the lane and stepped back to knock down a three of her own to help the Warriors cut the deficit to 14.
“Us just realizing that all those little plays matter is a good lesson,” Nagle said. “Franklin is where we want to be eventually and we competed with them at a high level. We had them playing faster than they want to, we turned them over a good amount. Today was progress, not perfection, but it was a good effort.”
Carlow challenged his squad to work harder, play with structure, and play at the level he knew they were capable of doing — something he believes they failed to do in Monday night’s 6-1 setback in Franklin.
The Warriors answered their coach’s challenge and were rewarded in the form of a 5-4 win over the Panthers.
It marks KP’s first win over Franklin in over 20 years according to research by HockomockSports.com and local high school hockey guru Jim Clark. The last win found by either came in 2000 when the Warriors won 4-3.
“We didn’t play with enough structure and we didn’t play with enough determination in that second half…they outplayed us,” Carlow said of Monday’s game. “I just didn’t think we competed in the first game the way that we can compete. I felt if we competed hard tonight and played with some structure and discipline that we could play with them. Obviously, it was a back and forth game, we had to go on the kill a couple of times. I just thought we outworked them tonight.”
King Philip’s improved work ethic was a direct result in two goals, and its willingness to play to the final buzzer led to another. Despite giving up the first goal of the game, KP took the lead in the second period and never trailed the rest of the way.
Franklin opened the scoring late in the first period with just under five minutes to go. Dylan Marchand took a pass from the defensive end and found Conor O’Neil streaking into the attacking zone. O’Neil latched onto the pass and unleashed a wrist shot just under the bar for a 1-0 lead.
A prolonged trip in the offensive zone from KP’s third line resulted in a face-off and eventually the equalizer before the end of the first. Nolan Jackson passed to his defensive partner Rocco Bianculli, who rifled a shot wide off the end boards. The puck bounced behind the goal and to the other side of the net where senior Paul McDonald buried his bid into the open net.
King Philip struck first in the second period just over five minutes into the frame. Max Robison won a foot race in the defensive zone to gain possession and hit Aidan Boulger in the neutral zone. Boulger lifted a pass forward and the bouncing puck eluded a Franklin defenseman and rested on the stick of a streaking Ian Hilll. Hill deked in front of goal before sliding a backhand shot five-hole for a 2-1 answer.
But similar to how KP had an answer in the first, Franklin had a response in the second. Just two minutes later, the Panthers capitalized on a power play chance. SSean Connelly found Justin Abely entering the attacking zone on the right boards, and Abely patiently waited for O’Neil, who came streaking to the far post. Abely delivered a perfect pass and O’Neil redirected it in past KP sophomore goalie Kyle Abbott (29 saves) to make it 2-2 with 7:24 left in the period.
Just when it looked like the teams would head to the final period knotted at 2-2, King Philip’s hard work was rewarded with a goal that just beat the buzzer. Bianculli linked up with Boulger as he skated out of the defensive zone. Boulger fired a shot wide but Jackson tracked down the loose puck and tossed it right back in front. With a scrum in front, senior Conor Cooke was able to get his stick on it and the puck found the back of the net just as time expired for a 3-2 lead.
Despite a zamboni break, King Philip’s momentum carried into the third period. Freshman Brad Guden hopped onto a loose puck in the neutral zone and found junior Sean Crowther at the blue line. Crowther connected with Shaun Fitzpatrick, who deked between two defensemen and tucked his shot past Franklin senior Jack Paterson (24 saves) into the back of the net for a 4-2 lead just under a minute into the third.
“Those are huge goals for us,” Carlow said of scoring on either side of the second intermission. “Coming off a one-goal performance the other night…it just didn’t look like us the other night. I knew we were better than that. I challenged our guys and hats off to them, they responded. We’re led by an awesome senior group, we have eight of them, and eight juniors so it’s a veteran group. I knew they’d answer and I felt like they outworked them tonight.”
Franklin kept things interesting with a goal five minutes later to cut the deficit to just one. Franklin couldn’t take advantage of a 3-on-2 but the Warriors were unable to clear it. After a brief scramble in front, the puck popped free to senior defenseman Pat Dolan who stepped into a blast, beating a pair of KP players and Abbott to make it 4-3 with 9:18 to play.
“We knew they were going to push at the start of the third,” Carlow said “They are well-coached, they have a lot of talented kids over there, they always do. They got us twice on penalties, we have to do a better job there and limit those mistakes. But just trying to keep them to one goal and get the momentum back, try to answer quickly. I think we answered just about every time, we played three lines almost the entire game. The depth of this program has improved over the past couple of years and to be able to play more guys, that helps a lot against a team like Franklin.”
KP’s hard work was rewarded once again, this time proving to be the game-winning goal. Bianculli cleared a puck off the glass and Boulger turned on the jets, flying down the ice to beat out an icing call and take possession. Franklin nearly cleared it but David Lawler quickly pinched and kept the puck in the attacking zone. Lawler carried the puck behind the net, drawing the attention of three Panthers. He circled back around and found Cooke wide open in front for a one-timer and a 5-3 lead.
“Plain and simple, we got outworked,” said Franklin head coach Anthony Sarno. “When you come to the rink and think you don’t have to work so hard because you just beat them 6-1, that’s not going to work. We knew…they are well-coached, disciplined, all it’s going to take is put two guys on the puck and they are going to outwork you. That’s exactly what happened. We lost 50-50 puck battles, we lost foot races to the puck in our own zone…a lot of self-inflicted stuff with turnovers in our own zone. Before you know it, you’re two goals behind and the clock is running out.
“They didn’t lose their composure. They didn’t stop, they didn’t quit and that’s what good teams do. Hopefully, we’re humbled by this and they come back and work harder. We got outworked from start to finish, plain and simple, for all 45 minutes.”
Franklin went back on the power play just moments after KP’s goal and needed just nine seconds to make it a one-goal game again. Declan Lovett won a battle at the blue line, kept possession, and then skated to the middle of the ice before blasting a slap shot through traffic and in to make it 5-4.
Franklin had a pair of faceoffs in the attacking zone in the final minute but KP’s defense prevented the Panthers from getting a good look off on Abbott.
King Philip (3-1-0 Kelley-Rex, 3-1-0 overall) sits in first place with half of its division games played. The Warriors are scheduled to take on Oliver Ames in a pair of non-league crossovers next. Franklin (1-1, 3-1) has a non-league crossover title against North Attleboro on Friday.
Mansfield/Oliver Ames rallied from one goal down in the third period, taking the lead with just 1:41 left, but King Philip answered back only 43 seconds later with the goalie pulled and the two teams skated off with a point apiece following an exciting 2-2 tie. It was the season opener for both teams, who will meet again on the same ice less than 24 hours from when this game finished.
“I didn’t expect anything different,” said King Philip coach Ken Assad about the matchup with MOA. “I knew they were going to be tough beat. Our girls were picking things up day-by-day and I didn’t know how today would go. We still need to pick some things up speed-wise but they did a pretty good job today.”
King Philip had the game’s first good chance when Libby Curran fired a shot through a crowd that had to be knocked aside by MOA goalie Jess Widdop. The visitors came right back with chances of their own. Emma Pereira circled all the way around the zone, behind the net, and back in front where she picked out Julia Muttart for a chance that was saved by Mallory Johnston.
Ella Waryas showed off her stick-handling when she weaved through traffic starting at her own blue line, but her backhand shot was saved. Meg Sherwood set up Kelly Holmes for a chance right in front but Widdop made the stop and then the rebound was flicked just over the bar.
After a scoreless first period, MOA started the second brightly. Reese Pereira had two tries at the near post but Johnston kept her pad on the ice and blocked both efforts.
Just when it looked like MOA was starting to assert control, KP opened the scoring on the other end. Nicole Brady touched the puck past a defender and into the right circle before sending a low pass to the edge of the crease. Kara McWhinnie was in front and got the deflection under the pads of Widdop to make it 1-0.
Almost immediately after going in front, Sydney O’Shea had a chance to double the lead with a wrister from the slot, but Widdop saved. Reese Pereira then had a shot gloved by Johnston and Waryas was denied on the rebound.
KP finished the second with nearly four minutes of power play time and could have gone into the intermission with a bigger lead if not for the MOA goalie. Holmes fired a pass across goal to Avari Maxwell at the post but Widdop got the pad down to make a point-blank save. With less than 30 seconds left in the period, Katarina Precobb slipped a pass to Morgan Cunningham on the back post but Widdop’s blocker was in the way.
“In the first half of that game, she was the game for us,” said MOA coach Roy Bain. “She was the team. She had a blocker save that was huge, a leg save on a rebound. She kept us in it, kept us in striking distance.”
Assad added, “We need to take our opportunities that we created. She’s a great goalie and we’ve just got to be able to pounce on those rebounds. We practiced the power play a lot the last couple days and I’ll give the girls credit they ran it to perfection but we just have to put it in the net.”
It stayed a one-goal game heading to the third and MOA came flying out of the break in search of the tying goal. Emma Pereira had a blast from the point that Johnston parried. KP nearly snuck a second on the break when O’Shea’s pass sprung Jenn Daniels only for Widdop to stand tall again.
With 10:57 on the clock, MOA was level. Megan O’Hara got free at the left point and sent a shot through traffic that somehow found a little seam to get to the net and then ricocheted off the post and in. It was all MOA from that point on. After recording 10 shots on goal through the first period, the Warriors had 12 in the third period alone.
Emma Pereira continued to be the driving force for MOA. The senior defenseman raced down the left side and then turned towards goal, forcing Johnston (20 saves) into a good stop. Then, with 1:41 to play, Pereira cut across the high slot and forced a glove save out of Johnston. The rebound dropped right at the stick of Waryas, who made no mistake and slammed it into the empty net.
“We were able regroup,” Bain said about the strong third period from his team. “It took some time. They didn’t like where they found themselves but they came back like they always do. Kudos to KP, there was no quit in them either.”
MOA thought it had the come from behind victory, but there was still drama left in the game.
KP pulled Johnston for the extra skater. As the clock ticked down under one minute to play, Holmes made her first varsity goal a memorable one. The freshman got loose in the slot and sniped the space above Widdop’s shoulder to salvage a point.
“We’ve got some talented forwards on our team,” Assad said, “and we know we can score when we want to. When we pulled the goalie and put Kelly out there and she got the puck on her stick and she went end-to-end and got a great shot off.”