WRENTHAM, Mass. – First-year Franklin head coach Kelsey Weymouth didn’t talk about her team’s chance to clinch a league title before its big showdown with King Philip, so she wasn’t quite sure if they knew.
But based on how the Panthers played, especially early, it didn’t take long to figure out how prepared they were.
“That was the best volleyball I’ve seen them play,” Weymouth said. “I wanted them to just play volleyball today, so I didn’t say anything. The first time we played KP was a competitive match, so we knew it would be even more competitive this time around. We focused our practice yesterday to gameplan for [King Philip], we tailored it to their strengths we so we’d be prepared today.
“I just told them to play to have fun and play to win, and that’s exactly what they did.”
While Franklin had a dominant showing in the first set, the Panthers had to rally past a resilient King Philip squad in the second set, and fight through a close battle in the third set to secure the 3-0 win (25-11, 25-21, 25-16).
With the win, Franklin clinched the Kelley-Rex division title. It marks the program’s first Hock title since 2015 and first outright title since 2011.
After a back-and-forth opening, Franklin used a 9-2 run to break the game open. Leading 6-5, the Panthers got contributions from all over to take the lead.
Sophomore Allyson Bonnet-Eymard had an ace early in the run, Maggie Doyle (six kills) and Ellie Wisniewski added a kill apiece, Lauren McGrath (24 assists) landed an ace, and Doyle and Hailey Sanders (nine kills, two blocks) up with an emphatic block to put the Panthers ahead 15-7.
After some back-and-forth, the Panthers went on another big run (10-4) to close out the first set. Bonnet-Eymard and Doyle had back-to-back kills, and Sanders and Emma Chase combined for a block to give Franklin the momentum. After consecutive KP errors, Franklin emerged with a 25-11 win.
That momentum carried over into the second set with Franklin jumping out to a 7-1 lead, but King Philip responded with some nice swings and a 10-4 run to tie the game at 11-11 on a kill from Catherine Waldeck.
With the teams tied at 16 apiece, KP rattled off three straight points, including a kill from Nicole Coughlan, to take a 19-16 lead and force a timeout from Franklin.
“We talk a lot about our side out percentage, and not letting one mistake bother us too much,” Weymouth said. “We can’t let one point against us turn into two, and two to turn into three. It’s all about focusing on the next play, and even if you don’t win that one, you move on to the next one. When we were down a couple of points, they didn’t let that get to them, and I think that helped us be able to come back.”
The Panthers came out of the timeout and quickly tied the game with Sanders sandwiching a pair of kills around a nice push from McGrath to knot the score 19-19.
Despite a timeout from KP, Sanders continued to have the hot hand and had a kill and a block kill (along with Chase) right out of the timeout to keep the momentum with the Panthers.
“Hailey played phenomenal for us,” Weymouth said. “She finished with nine kills total, and we’ve been working with her this season to get her to hit like that. We knew coming in she was a strong hitter, and now she’s taking what we’ve taught her and using it. I saw a new player in her today, the confidence was there, she was smiling, and she was swinging away.
KP tied the game with two straight points (21-21), but KP closed with five straight, including a kill from Peyton Arone (five kills) and an ace from Shannon Gray (three aces), to notch a 25-21 win and take a 2-0 lead.
The third set started 4-4, but Franklin went on another big run to create the separation it needed. The Panthers won 11 of the next 14 points to build a 15-7 advantage. Sanders, Arone, and Wisniewski had three straight kills, Gray had back-to-back aces, and McGrath got in on the action as well with a kill.
A big block from Waldeck helped King Philip get within three (down 19-16), but that would be the final points for the Warriors. Franklin finished with a 6-0 run, including three aces from Bonnet-Eymard to ice the game.
“We knew KP had some good hitters coming in, so our net play was going to be important, we needed to dominate there,” Weymouth said. “We practiced on our double blocks, and we had to use those tonight. And on top of that, our defense needed to be strong, and it was.”
Franklin volleyball (12-0 Hock, 13-0 overall) is back in action on Monday when they host Mansfield. King Philip (7-5, 7-6) will try to bounce right back as they return to the court on Friday against Walpole.
But in the second half, the Foxboro retook the lead, it made sure it didn’t let its foot off the gas.
The host Warriors scored three goals inside the first 20 minutes of the second half, blowing open what was a tie game into a 4-1 victory over KP on the turf at Southeastern Regional High School.
“We had a lot of positives in the first half so we needed just to keep going,” said Foxboro head coach Joe Franchino. ” One thing we stressed was that we can’t concede goals right after we score, that was a main focus for us. We just kept going at them in the second half, started knocking the ball around out of the back.
“We knew it was going to come, we just had to stay positive and continue to knock the ball around. I thought we were the better team tonight and fortunately, we were able to put some in the back of the net.”
After a back-and-forth opening 10 minutes, Foxboro jumped ahead in the 11th minute. Nic Beigel won a ball in the area at midfield and played it up to senior Shane VandenBoom. VandenBoom took a touch and then latched onto a volley on the bounce, getting enough pace on it to catch the KP keeper just off his line for a 1-0 advantage.
But Foxboro’s lead didn’t last long as King Philip netted the equalizer in the 13th minute. Sophomore Cam Lawrence delivered a near post service, and senior Gavon Fox did a nice job challenging for it, causing the ball to bounce free. Senior John Cullen got a touch to the loose ball, forcing a low save from Foxboro keeper Nick Penders but the rebound fell right to Fox, and he buried it into the open net to make it 1-1.
“I was really impressed with our ability to respond,” said KP head coach Nick Gale. “Gavon and John did a nice job in the box to create something, and that’s something we’ve expected of ourselves but haven’t done frequently, so I was happy about that. It was just about keeping up that momentum and energy, and we didn’t capitalize on it.
“Foxboro was prepared, they found great ways of combining, getting it over us and getting it through. Set pieces are something we still obviously have to work because they exposed us there too. [Foxboro] played well and took it right too us. They scored early in both halves and the second half kind of took some life out of us.”
Although neither side found the back of the net by the time half rolled around, it wasn’t for lack of chances.
In the 37th minute, Will Morrison‘s big switch to VandemBoom was partially cleared, with Cusack knocking the ball down and unleashing a shot that forced KP keeper Nick Beltramini to lunging stop. Two minutes later, after a clearance on a corner, Cusack fired a laser to the far post, but once again Beltramini was there for the top.
And in the 40th minute, KP nearly cashed in on the counter attack. Cullen took possession over midfield and found Bozza darting up field. The senior went central with his first touch and ripped a low shot from outside the area, but it slid wide of the post.
It didn’t take long for the chances to come in the second half. In the 47th minute, Cusack delivered a corner that Beltramini got his hands to but wasn’t able to clear. The ball bounced back into the middle of the area, and junior Tim Behn was the first one there and knocked his first career goal in from in close.
“Having our right back score, I think that certainly sparked us,” Franchino said. “The guys were all excited for him, and it got everyone going.”
Foxboro didn’t let King Philip come back with an equalizer this time. Just five minutes later, the host Warriors added to their lead. Cusack played VandenBoom down the left side, and he delivered a perfectly weighted cross to the penalty spot and junior Dylan Barreira one-timed his bid into the back of the net.
“Between Boom’s injury and Dylan missing a couple of games after being sent off, they haven’t played a lot together,” Franchino said. “They’re starting to gel together at the right time. Dylan had the two goals tonight, but I thought Boom had a great night, he was getting in behind and creating havoc. This was the best game I’ve seen Boom since he came back from the injury. Hopefully, we continue to roll with it.”
And seven minutes after that, Foxboro’s pressure turned into another goal. Barreira’s high press resulted in a turnover and a breakaway. KP’s defender went in with a slide tackle and got some of the ball but more of Barreira, leading to a penalty kick. Barreira got his second goal of the game by sliding his shot low right.
“Getting that second goal and coming back and scoring right away, it deflated us,” Gale said. “They did a nice job of doing what they had to do, and we need to work on that so we can prevent that from happening again.”
With the win, Foxboro boys soccer moves back to .500 overall (5-5-1, 4-5-1 Hock). The Warriors need seven points from their final seven games to qualify for the state tournament. They next play on Monday night against Milton back at Southeastern.
“Historically we’ve made good pushes at the end of the year so hopefully we can build off that and that trend will continue,” Franchino said. “It’s good to get back to .500, and hopefully, we continue to get better.”
King Philip (3-8-1 overall, 3-7-1 Hock) returns home on Friday afternoon and will entertain Franklin.
Last fall ended in heartbreaking fashion for former King Philip star Joe Kellett and the UMass Lowell men’s soccer team. The River Hawks hosted the University of Albany (N.Y.) in the America East championship game at Cushing Field. The game was scoreless into double overtime before Albany’s Andreas Assiotis scored in the 103rd minute to seal a second straight conference title for the Great Danes.
The next day, adding insult to injury, the River Hawks found out that they would not be an at-large selection to the NCAA tournament.
It was an abrupt conclusion to an otherwise successful season for Kellett, who started all 18 games and led UMass Lowell field players in minutes played. When the season ended, he took time to step back and consider his collegiate career, which included an America East All-Rookie Team selection as a freshman, and he decided to make the move an hour down the road to Chestnut Hill.
Kellett transferred to Boston College, joining the Eagles in the ultra-competitive ACC to play some of the top teams in the country every game.
“I want to play against the best of the best and challenge myself and my abilities,” Kellett said in a phone interview two days before BC played Notre Dame, its third straight game against a team ranked in the top 20 in the country. “I just took a step back and was looking at my future and what I wanted most and thinking about how BC is a great combination of academics and the ACC.”
He added, “[Transferring] was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. I was there for a year and a half and you make unbelievable friends. The training staff, the help of everyone around, it’s hard to leave everybody and leave everything behind.”
After electing to make the switch, Kellett completed the transfer during the spring semester, which has allowed him time to get acclimated to his new school, his new teammates, and a new style of play. Over the summer he played with several of the Eagles on the Boston Bolts in the USL League 2 (formerly the PDL).
The newly-formed chemistry with his strikers continued into the preseason and his solid play took some of the pressure off Kellett ahead of the new season and earned him a spot in the BC starting lineup.
“You have the support from your coaches because they want you to play well and, for me, I was lucky enough that I was able to come in and play well during preseason,” he explained.
He has lined up in central midfield in each of BC’s first eight games and has added versatility in the center of the pitch, providing defensive cover when needed but also adding a box-to-box presence when it is called for. That versatility was added to Kellett’s game during his high school career, playing for head coaches Kip Lewis and Nick Gale who not only had different styles of play but also put Kellett into different positions from forward to center back.
“You have to be willing to play different positions even if you don’t want to and those guys taught me amazing things that have translated to me playing well in college,” said Kellett. “If I was at center back, how I would want a center-mid to open space for me or to get on the ball. It’s good to see what other players in your position do and you’ve got to learn from that.”
Kellett mentions “trusting the process” several times during the conversation. He insists that the experience of playing different positions, different styles, for different coaches, has prepared him for the challenge of facing nationally-ranked teams almost every game.
“We want to play, but we also want to score as many goals as possible,” said Kellett, “and it was good adapting my playing style to that and I get to grow as a player and hopefully after school that will help me because I’m playing forward more and I’m learning more about my abilities.”
Soccer has always been a part of Kellett’s life. He said that his first word was “ball” and that an early age his parents decided that he wouldn’t play football. While he also played baseball and lacrosse growing up, it was soccer that stuck with him. When he was asked to describe what it was about soccer that he liked best, Kellett struggled to come up with an answer. It just became an integral part of his life.
Playing for a strong club team, NEFC, Kellett drew early attention from college coaches. He explained that just about every player on his club team ended up on a college team (at various levels) and recruiting started as he entered high school.
“I’m happy that I’m out of that process because it’s definitely stressful but looking back it was a cool experience to see which teams want you,” he said.
Unlike players in the new full-year academy system, such as the New England Revolution setup or the Boston Bolts academy team, Kellett was able to play for the Warriors and helped KP reach the postseason all four years. Club play was a showcase for his talents and a chance to play against top level competition, but Kellett is grateful he had the chance to represent his school too.
“You almost have more pride playing for high school than club, and that translates to college,” he explained. In public school, you’ve grown up in that district for so long that you want to beat the Franklins, the Foxboros, Oliver Ames, but at club you just want to learn and be the best player you can be.
“In high school you really have to fight, and it’s the same thing in college where you fight for the badge on your chest. It’s a great experience playing in high school.”
Kellett used to drive up to Newton on Friday nights during his high school career and watch BC soccer. Now he gets to line up for the Eagles to take on the best of the ACC. He is more comfortable with the speed of the game, the pressing, the physicality, and now he wants to complete the quest of getting into the NCAAs.
“Last year was tough,” he said. “I mean, double overtime in the conference final. If we win that game, then we would’ve gotten in and then being one of three teams out was just the most heartbreaking thing that could’ve happened. Thinking about that just gives you more motivation for try to get in.”
When asked about the chances for this Eagles team to make the next step, Kellett replied, “We have unbelievable heart on this team. There’s no question that everyone wants that and is willing to give everything they have for that. There’s nothing better as a player than standing next to 11 guys that are willing to do whatever it takes to win a game.”
Boston College pulled its record back to .500 on the season (3-3-3) with a win against No. 17 North Carolina State on Friday night. Kellett went the full 90 minutes for the Eagles, in their fourth straight game against a team ranked in the top 20.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – Coming off a difficult, emotional, last minute loss to Mansfield in last week’s title showdown, there was concern that King Philip may have a letdown against Thanksgiving Day rival Franklin. Both teams came into week five with one league loss and a setback on Friday night at Macktaz Field would effectively end that team’s chances of a league title this season.
The Warriors set aside any worries about the impact of last week’s loss by jumping out to an early lead and then put the Panthers away in the second half with 21 unanswered points.
KP beat Franklin 35-14 behind three touchdown passes from junior quarterback Robbie Jarest to earn its 13th straight victory in this series dating back to Thanksgiving 2009 and to stay just one game back of Mansfield in the division standings.
“I was definitely a little nervous about that,” KP coach Brian Lee said. “Our guys were talking about our maturity level and our compete level and [the Mansfield loss] was disappointing…but you’ve got to keep looking forward. You’ve got to think about playoffs and keep your eyes on a new direction.”
For Panthers coach Eian Bain, this was a missed opportunity for his team to earn that elusive marquee win against one of the league’s perennial powers.
“Our guys work hard,” Bain said. “But, it’s three years of working hard and not quitting and, eventually, we need to take the next step as a program and when that happens it’s going to be up to our team. King Philip isn’t getting off the pyramid and Mansfield’s not stepping off to give it to us, we need to go get it.”
The Warriors wasted no time in setting aside the disappointment of last week, driving 65 yards on eight plays on the opening possession of the game to take the lead.
Helped by a personal foul call against the Panthers and 26 yards on the ground from Ryan Halliday (25 carries, 134 yards), KP got the ball inside the red zone. Jarest (6-13, 94 yards) finished the drive by hitting Timmy Nault, who ran an angled route across the middle of the Panthers’ secondary, for an 18-yard score.
The KP defense was typically aggressive and allowed only one first down on Franklin’s first two possessions. Jack Webster’s sack pushed the Panthers back inside their own 10 and KP took advantage of solid starting field position to double the lead.
Halliday went up the middle for 21 yards on a draw that put the ball at the Franklin 28. Two plays later, on third and 10, Jarest again found the open receiver, connecting with Deric Casado for a 28-yard strike and a 14-0 lead.
“Every week he gets a little better,” said Lee about Jarest. “He gets a little crazy at times, but you saw it tonight, we’re feeling a little more comfortable with him, having more trust in him, and that’s only going to make our offense better. Our receivers are coming along too.”
Franklin got a much-needed response on its next drive. After an 11-yard run by Owen Palmieri, a 15-yard pass interference call moved the ball down to the KP 32-yard-line. A pair of Webster tackles at the line of scrimmage and an incomplete pass left Franklin facing fourth and nine, but Nick Gordon was able to hit Sean Leonard for 28 yards down to the three. Three plays later Gordon punched it in from a yard out.
KP got the ball back with 5:38 left in the half at its own 19. The Warriors proceeded to use up all but seven seconds of the quarter and got as far as the Franklin 21, but were forced to settle for a 42-yard field goal attempt from Cole Baker. The kick was on line but fell just a yard short and the score remained 14-7 at the break.
The Panthers went into halftime with the momentum, but KP turned that around quickly in the third quarter. The Warriors forced a three-and-out, scored a touchdown, forced a fumble and added another score to break the contest wide open in a little more than six minutes of game time.
“I felt like they had all the mojo,” said Lee. “They held us down there and I felt like, okay we’re in a game here. Now you’ve got to withstand that burst and they did that. They had a good response, so I was pleased.”
Jack Norgren returned the Franklin punt to the Panthers’ 47. From there, Halliday carried the ball five times for 22 yards. On first down from the 25, Jarest tossed his third score of the night, finding David Morganelli on a go-route down the left sideline to extend the lead back to two scores.
The Warriors pinned Franklin back at its own 13 on the ensuing kick-off and then two plays later Max Armour and Halliday forced a fumble when Gordon tried a keeper up the middle. Morganelli recovered the loose ball at the 12. On the next play Halliday, with a giant push from his offensive line, carried a pile of players into the end zone to make it 28-7.
Casado’s solid coverage on Leonard forced a turnover on downs inside the KP 30 on Franklin’s next possession and the Warriors turned it into another score. Sam Callanan (five carries, 46 yards) gave Halliday a rest and took the bulk of the plays on the drive. He found a seam on a toss to the left and was able to scamper home with a 12-yard rush that made it 35-7 with eight minutes remaining.
Gordon (5-13, 138 yards) did get the Panthers a consolation score just a minute later on an 84-yard pass to Ryan Driscoll, who showed off his speed in out-running the KP secondary from one sideline to the opposite corner. But, Nault intercepted a Gordon pass on the next possession to cap off an impressive second half display from the Warriors.
“It was Mansfield all over again,” Bain reflected. “There were moments where we could’ve made a play or two and maybe we don’t win but it’s a different game. We’ve got to turn it around because we’ve got two more left and if we want a shot at hosting a playoff game, then we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
WRENTHAM, Mass. – The fireworks are typically saved for the end, but King Philip and Mansfield girls soccer wasted little game in getting things going in a highly anticipated matchup between two teams coming in undefeated.
Both teams scored inside the first five minutes of the game, and by the time 15 minutes elapsed, each side had another bid hit off the post. But in the end, it was a relentless attack from the visiting Hornets that was the story, resulting in a convincing 4-1 decision over the host Warriors.
Mansfield seized a 1-0 advantage in the fourth minute only for KP to tie the game just seconds later. However, the Hornets took the lead back in the 37th minute and cashed in twice in a second half that featured numerous chances to earn the two points.
“Avery [Snead] and Chloe [Layne] are fantastic, you have to give them all the credit, you have to respect them but you can’t over-respect them and just play defense, defense, defense,” said Mansfield head coach Kevin Smith. “That just feeds them more. You have to make [King Philip] play defense. With our speed on the wings, we wanted to make sure we could run onto the through balls. And that opened the space for our midfielders to do their job and they were fantastic at it.”
The pressure paid off early for Mansfield. Steph Kemp charged in on a through ball behind the defense, forcing KP keeper Taylor Butler off her line. Kemp was able to apply enough pressure and deflected the ball in behind. Freshman Maria Sevastos calmly tracked the loose ball down and tucked it into the open net for a 1-0 lead.
But the advantage lasted merely seconds. A punt from Mansfield keeper Lauren Whitman was brought down by Snead with a terrific first touch, and the junior didn’t hesitate before firing a shot from just over 35 yards out, catching the keeper off the line for a 1-1 scoreline.
Back on the other end, Kemp drew in the defense and then switched the ball over to Cassidy McMahon on the left side. The senior hit a one-time shot that looked destined for the back of the net but the bid clanked off the post and stayed out.
Snead found Ally Stanton in the area in the 14th minute, but a nice sliding stop from Whitman forced a corner. On that corner, Layne found Snead at the back post, but her header hit the post and stayed out. KP nearly cashed in on another corner in the 25th minute, but Snead’s header was blocked on the line by Mansfield defender Kerina Geminiani.
In the 28th minute, Layne drilled a 30-yard free kick off the crossbar.
For Mansfield, it was a big boost to not let the Warrior offense gain momentum after an opening strike. KP had scored at least three goals in its last five games.
“It starts with 19 seniors, five captains, five girls who have been varsity players for four years,” Smith said of not letting the early equalizer change the game. “You can’t feed on emotion, you have to just play. You have to do the right things, and the results will take care of themselves.”
Before the stroke of halftime, the Hornets were able to jump in front again. Bryn Anderson took possession and very intelligently switched fields in a quick manner. She found McMahon out on the left flank, and the senior centered for Kemp. Kemp calmly took a touch to control the cross and then deposited it in the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
Holding a 2-1 lead, the second half continued to belong to the visiting Hornets.
King Philip’s best chances came in the 45th minute (Stanton’s chance at an open net blocked again by Geminiani) and in the 69th minute when Snead’s cross found Layne at the near post, but pressure from Mansfield keeper Caty DeMassi forced the one-timer high.
Other than that, it was constant pressure from the Hornets attacking group. Mansfield continued to find space between the defense and used its speed to run onto the through balls.
In the 51st minute, a simple lay off from Katie Garvin put Anderson in behind and she one-timed it past an oncoming Butler for a 3-1 lead.
“We’re getting better every game,” Smith said. “And now we’re finally scoring. It’s been one goal, one goal, one goal and then all of a sudden we get four today.
“They had the goal, the post, and the crossbar and other than that, not many chances. But our defense starts in the front. Our forwards have to pressure, that lets the mids do their job, and makes it easier on the defense.”
Kemp nearly made it 4-1 just two minutes later, chipping the keeper but KP defender Olivia Barry made a terrific hustle play, beating the ball to the line and keeping it out.
With just under five minutes to play, the Hornets put the game on ice. On the right flank, Mansfield senior Erin Daniel found Anderson with a central pass. Anderson took one touch and unleashed a low shot to make it 4-1, putting a cherry on top of what was an impressive showing from Mansfield.
“I thought we’d be able to come from the outside in against their defense, but that didn’t happen,” said KP head coach Gary Pichel. “Their defense shut everything down, and the opposite happened with our defense. They were much quicker than us and their through balls had much better touch than ours. They were able run through and connect with their speed, and they took us down. Our midfield play was not nearly as good as I had hoped for. That formation they had, it really did a good job against us, it broke us down in every aspect.
“But we’ve learned from our mistakes, and hopefully this makes us a better team. I give [Mansfield] all the credit in the world, they were outstanding today. They came to play. We’ve had some easy games so now this will open their eyes, and we’ll have to do something different now.”
On top of a great offensive performance, the Hornet back line of Daniel, Geminiani, and center backs Mikaela Maughn and Emily Vigeant was outstanding. Snead and Layne, two of the top players in the entire state, were virtually shadowed everywhere they went by the center backs. And Daniel and Geminiani provided the help when needed.
“We’re blessed to have those two in the middle,” Smith said. “And then Kerina and Erin pinched in the middle to help take away the gaps. So when either one of them got the ball, Emily or Mikaela was right there, and then we’d have a mid back to double team. We wanted to force them to play backward.”
Mansfield girls soccer (7-0-1 Hockomock, 8-0-1 overall) will attempt to keep its undefeated streak alive when it travels to Stoughton on Monday. King Philip (7-1-0, 7-1-1) will try to bounce back when it travels to North Attleboro on the same day.