FRANKLIN, Mass. – With its second straight Kelley-Rex division title already in-hand, the Franklin field hockey team had their sights set on proving they were the best team in the league through the Hockomock Cup.
But just before the final week of the regular season, the Panthers’ season came to an abrupt halt when the high school went completely remote, forcing a two-week hiatus for athletics.
Not only did that mean Franklin’s final two games were canceled, it looked like the Panthers wouldn’t be able to compete in the league’s postseason tournament.
But the Franklin school committee and administrators from FHS came together, organized COVID testing for varsity athletes, and — after all the tests came back negative — athletics was back on.
The Panthers took advantage of their so-called second chance, capping their postseason run with a 1-0 win over King Philip in the Hockomock Cup final on their home turf field at Beaver Street.
“The fact that we got our season back was huge,” said Franklin coach Michelle Hess. “It would have been super disappointing because this is probably one of the best teams I’ve had in years. It would have crushed me and the rest of the team if we weren’t able to continue so we are very grateful we were able to play tonight.
“I’ve actually coached a lot of this group since they were in the rec program. So to celebrate this and have them play the way they did tonight just makes me super proud as a coach.”
Franklin field hockey King Philip field hockey
The only separation between the top two teams in the Kelley-Rex division came off the stick of Franklin senior Amanda Lewandowski, finishing off a pass from classmate Sara Carney with just seconds left in the third quarter.
And when the Warriors threatened to equalize, Franklin senior goalie Neilee Hess came charging off her line to deny a partial breakaway chance from KP’s Grace Crocker midway through the fourth quarter to help secure the one-goal win.
“We made one mistake on defense,” said King Philip head coach Lisa Cropper. “We were trying to force everything to our right, their left, which is our strong side. The one time we didn’t, they got it in and deflected it in. But we had our chances, we had that breakaway in the fourth and couldn’t quite slip it past her, Neilee came up big on that one. We marked [Lewandowski] and we marked [Kaitlyn Carney] and we were trying to force to our strong side to keep them away from their strong side. Any time anyone was winding up for a shot, we had to have a stick on it and we did. But we just had one mistake, we didn’t quite force them [the way we wanted].
“I was hoping we could get to overtime. I felt like we had the advantage going into overtime or a shootout but we didn’t get that far so congratulations to [Franklin].”
After it a scoreless first half, it looked like the teams would head to the final 15 minutes without a goal but the Panthers finally broke through with 20.9 seconds to go. After a restart from the 25-yard line, Carney tossed a pass into the mix in front of goal and Lewandowski finished for a 1-0 lead.
Franklin field hockey King Philip field hockey
The Panthers had a good chance to double the lead in the 51st minute as sophomore Kaitlyn Carney intercepted a pass with the Warriors pushing numbers forward. Carney sprinted into the attacking half but KP’s last defender Ally Beltramini was able to break up the play, and then came in and cleared the ball before Lewandowski could latch onto it.
That defensive stop led the KP’s best chance to level the match as Isabelle Crocker raced onto a loose ball before firing a pass ahead for her sister Grace, who used her speed to get by the defense. With pressure from Franklin defender Molly Collins, Crocker unleashed a shot as Hess came charging out to close down the angle. Hess made the stop with the pad and Isabelle Crocker’s rebound attempt was just wide of the post.
“I think that just showcased her skills and how hard she’s worked as a goalie,” Michelle Hess said of her daughter Neilee. “She’s very lucky this season to have the players in front of her that she did. So she didn’t face as many shots as some of the other goalies in the league but when it was crunch time, when it was critical, Neilee stepped up and got the job done.”
Both teams opened the contest with a chance to score right away. First it was Kaitlyn Carney, weaving her way through the KP defense but her shot was denied by KP keeper Makenzie Manning (13 saves). On the other end, Abby Nixon knocked down an aerial clearance attempt but her shot from in close was turned aside.
Both defenses stole the spotlight throughout the first half, limiting the opposing offenses to few genuine scoring chances, allowing their keeper to see any shots from distance.
“If you can stop their transition…their forwards are so fast,” Hess said of the defensive gameplan. “But my fullbacks kind of matched them speed-wise so we kind of knew we were pretty safe there with them trying to get through the midfield and pushing forward.
“Their defense was very good. We talked at halftime about how we were trying to do a lot of things individually, we were trying to penetrate the defense individually. That’s not our strength, we’re much better when we play together as a team so we had to go to our passing game. We were getting into the circle and they had three girls on them right away. We tried getting it down low…and one of our strengths is using Sara Carney at the top. So we tried to get it down low to shift the defense and then get it back out to Sara, and sure enough, that’s how we scored the goal.”
Just seconds before the halftime whistle, Manning stood tall on a rocket of a shot from Kaitlyn Carney to keep things scoreless. Five minutes into the second half, Sara Carney had a big shot kicked away as well. Alongside Beltramini, Morgan Cunningham, Lily Brown, and Kelly Holmes anchored the KP defense.
It was just the third time this season that Franklin was limited to two or fewer goals; the first two times also came against KP back in week two of the regular season.
“I’m extremely proud of how they progressed and how well they played in this big game,” Cropper said. “There was a lot of adversity that everyone had to deal with and the kids did a phenomenal job. And I’m so appreciative of the ADs for their efforts to put this all together.”
Franklin field hockey finishes the season at 11-0-2 while King Philip finishes at 8-3-3.
Boys Soccer Hockomock Cup
#KR2 Mansfield, 0 @ #D1 Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – Oliver Ames scored once in each of the first two quarters and tacked on a fourth quarter insurance goal to secure a 3-0 win over Mansfield and advance to the Hockomock Cup final. Matt Nikiciuk blasted a free kick through traffic in the first to put Oliver Ames ahead. Anthony DaCosta doubled the lead for the Tigers, running onto a perfectly weighted through ball from Kevin Louhis and one-timing a shot into the net. Mathias Taylor iced the game, running onto a long ball from Hector Bucio and using his speed to race past the defense and finish to the far post. Bucio, Nikiciuk, Brady deVos, Jimmy Keane, and Ben Cohen played strong defense for the Tigers to limit the Hornets. Oliver Ames will take on Kelley-Rex division champion Milford in the Hockomock Cup final.
#D2 Canton, 0 @ #KR1 Milford, 5 – Final – Reigning Hockomock League MVP Leo Coelho netted a first half hat trick to pace the unbeaten Scarlet Hawks past Canton and into the Hockomock Cup final. Lucas Da Silva (from Arthur Tome) and Coelho (from Da Silva) scored first quarter goals as the Hawks took a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes. Coelho converted a penalty kick, and then completed his hat trick on an another assist from Da Silva as Milford carried a 4-0 lead into halftime. Coelho then set up Eduardo Castro for a third quarter goal. Milford will take on Davenport division champion Oliver Ames in the Hockomock Cup final.
North Attleboro, 1 @ Attleboro, 2 – Final – North Attleboro scored first but the hosts equalized less than a minute later and then found the winner in the fourth quarter to claim the Leach and Garner Cup. Connor Ward’s cross was tapped home by Eddy Mendoza to give North a first quarter lead but the Bombardiers equalized right off the kick off when Jackson Singer played Ben Fasoldt in behind the defense and the senior captain finished into the back of the net. In the fourth quarter, Justin Lurrsen laid off a pass for Emilio Ticas and the junior blasted a shot in the far corner for the game-winner in the 63rd minute.
Girls Soccer Hockomock Cup
#D4 North Attleboro, 0 @ #KR3 King Philip, 1 – Final – Jenny Montville scored six minutes into the third quarter and it proved to be enough for the Warriors to pull out the win. Montville ran onto a ball over the top by Ella Pisani and was able to lift it over the keeper for the game-winner.
Field Hockey Hockomock Cup
#KR3 Attleboro, 1 @ #KR1 Franklin, 6 – Final – Franklin scored four unanswered second half goals to pull away from the upset-minded Bombardiers to secure its spot in the Hockomock Cup final. The Panthers pounced early as Amanda Lewandowski scored twice, unassisted at 3:04 and from Kaitlyn Carney at 8:47, to take a 2-0 lead after one quarter of play but Attleboro’s Madison Ellis cut the deficit in halftime with a second quarter goal. In the third, Stephanie Bell scored back-to-back goals to push the Panthers’ lead to 4-1, and Sara Carney and Jill Fenerty added fourth quarter goals to seal the win. Neilee Hess made six saves in net for the win. Franklin will host King Philip in the Hockomock Cup final on Tuesday at 4:00.
#KR2 King Philip, 1 @ #D1 Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – King Philip scored the lone goal of the game midway through the fourth quarter to emerge victorious in a well-played game against Oliver Ames. A quick restart from Alli Beltramini found Grace Crocker, who was able to get past a defender and then raced from midfield, past an OA defender, and slid a low shot past the sliding keeper to put the Warriors in front. KP head coach Lisa Cropper praised Beltramini and Morgan Cunningham for their stellar defensive effort in front of Makenzie Manning (11 saves). King Philip will travel to Franklin in the Hockomock Cup final on Tuesday at 4:00.
North Attleboro, 1 @ Canton, 2 – Final – Maria Femia and Audrey Koen each scored once as the Bulldogs finished the season with a 2-1 win over North Attleboro.
The hosts, the second-seed from the Kelley-Rex division, went on to score once in each the third and fourth quarters to earn a 3-2 decision over the Davenport division’s third-seed Foxboro.
King Philip field hockey Foxboro field hockey
“We tried to make that a lesson in adversity and wanted to bounce back from it, and they did so very nicely,” said King Philip head coach Lisa Cropper. “We had a goal taken away, that should fire them up and they should want to go out and get another one, and they did. I’m really happy with how they responded.”
King Philip had a handful of chances throughout the first as a result of strong passing sequences. Just over five minutes into the second half, Lauren Barierro started an attack with a pass to Sydney O’Shea — a duo that would link up again later for the game-winner — who quickly passed the ball along to Paige Berdos but Foxboro goalie Hannah Trombly was quick off her line to divert the breakaway bid.
Just minutes later, KP seniors Grace Crocker and Abby Nixon linked up on a perfect give-and-go with the former firing a shot from in close that was denied point-blank by Trombly to keep the game level late in the third.
But the host Warriors were persistent, and Crocker and Nixon combined again just minutes later but this time Crocker stayed with the loose ball in front after Trombly’s first save and buried the rebound to make it 2-1.
“We totally knew this would be a close game, back-and-forth, 100-percent,” said Foxboro head coach Melissa Bordieri. “Their speed definitely made a difference. Our mids played a little high and I think they were a little gassed and they were able to get by. I have a good defender which is great, but you can only give them so many chances. But also had how many opportunities to make something happen in the circle? You have to take advantage of those opportunities.”
King Philip field hockey Foxboro field hockey
Foxboro’s best chance to equalize came in the final minute of the third off the stick of senior Ella Waryas but her bid slid just wide of the post.
King Philip struck again just before the midway point of the fourth, what looked to be a key insurance goal turned into the game-winner for the hosts. This time O’Shea raced up field and rifled a low pass across the face of goal and found Barierro alone for a one-time hit into the back of the net.
“I think we wore them down a bit,” Cropper said. “My top line is really coming together with Grace, Abby, and Izzy. They are getting to be like sonar…they know where each other are going to be. Their goalie played pretty well, she came out nicely and did a good job. I was a little concerned our kids would get worn out playing that style but we’ve been running hard for over a week to get ready for this because I knew it was going to be a track meet.”
Foxboro didn’t go down without a fight, cutting the deficit back down to one less than two minutes after Barierro’s goal. Freshman Mary Collins, who had the opening goal in the first quarter, centered and sophomore Dylan Rappoli deflected the chance into the back of the net to make it 3-2.
“We were playing very good defense,” Cropper said. “We were marking where we were supposed to be, pressing where we were supposed to be. The two times they scored, we kind of mishandled the ball and got into the circle and created a crazy shot, a crazy bounce…it’s one of those things that you see in a tournament game. So you have to make good on your chances so that those types of things don’t kill you.”
Collins gave Foxboro the lead with a goal in the ninth minute. A restart from Molly McElhinney found Waryas, who used her speed to race past a pair of defenders and lifted a shot towards goal where Collins was able to redirect the shot with her stick over the goal line.
King Philip answered just two minutes into the second quarter to level the game. A great effort from Nixon tracking back led to an interception, and she quickly passed it wide to Isabelle Crocker, who raced down the right side before firing a cross into the circle. The ball came back out to Crocker, who had her first shot denied but then tucked the rebound in to make it 1-1.
King Philip advances to the semifinal round of the Hockomock Cup and will take on Davenport division champion Oliver Ames, who took down Mansfield in the opening round. KP and OA will clash later this week on a date and time to be announced.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – It was nearly the perfect start for King Philip in its heavyweight battle against division rival Franklin.
Instead, a pair of great chances were turned aside by Franklin, one by goalie Neilee Hess and another by the stick of midfielder Sara Carney, and the Panthers took control from there.
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.
Franklin field hockey
“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.
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.”
King Philip (2-0) will host undefeated Franklin on Tuesday in a battle of the first place teams in the Kelley-Rex. Mansfield (0-2) will host Taunton on Tuesday.
2019 Record: 9-8-3 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lindsay Antunes
The Bombardiers had one of their best years in recent memory during the 2019 season and with a strong group of returning players, are looking to carry that success over to 2020.
While replacing HockomockSports Player of the Year Anna Beck will certainly be a tough task, the Bombardiers have a lot of talented players back ready to take advantage of the pace and space that comes with 7v7 field hockey — a new rule modification this season. There is a lot of firepower in the Attleboro offense, a group that has played together before and is always looking to set each other up. Senior captains Amanda Burns (five goals, nine assists), Campbell Compton, and Hannah Webster will spearhead the attack alongside junior Madison Ellis (seven goals, six assists).
Attleboro’s defensive unit is coming along, showing plenty of progress in preseason alone. With some open spots up for grabs on defense, potential candidates took advantage of offseason club teams to improve their game. Senior Kiara Murray will be an important part of the backline while junior Ava Haggerty returns in net after a stellar sophomore season.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the accomplishments and success of this team this season,” said Attleboro head coach Lindsay Antunes. “The strong leadership skills, the positive attitudes and the confidence my players have this season is amazing to see given the nature of this season and all of the changes and challenges. We have a lot of returning players with tremendous skill, paired with new additions to our roster who are sure to make an impact this season.”
2019 Record: 12-4-3 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Expectations are high in Canton as the Bulldogs, one of the perennial league powers year in and year out, will be looking to repeat as Davenport division champions. A big reason for that optimism is the amount of returners from last year’s squad that had 12 wins, just one league loss, and a division-best 61 goals scored.
Senior captain Maria Femia played a part in nearly half of those goals, finding the back of the net five times while recording a Hockomock-best 27 assists. She’ll work alongside Meghan LaBelle (nine goals, eight assists) to form one of the most dangerous attacking units in the Hockomock League.
Beyond Foxboro, one of the biggest challenges the Dogs will face this year is the new rule modifications. Just six players plus a goalie will grace the field at one time, meaning a lot more space to cover. Add in the fact the girls have to wear a mask while wearing a mouthguard.
Allie Gefteas and Lizzie Tassinari will be key pieces in the Canton lineup as well. While defending will look a bit different this year with breakaways more of a concern than penalty corners (which aren’t allowed), the Dogs have senior Riley O’Connor back in net. O’Connor has been one of the top goalies in the Hock the past two seasons and is very aggressive off her line.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to be back on the field this season,” said Canton head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “Our team has worked hard to be here and they do not take it for granted. Our seniors who have played together since a young age deserve to have a competitive and fun season. We look forward to getting started with games next week.”
2019 Record: 13-2-5 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Melissa Bordieri
Last year’s Davenport division race came down to just one game, with Canton taking the title with two more points than Foxboro. With just 10 games on tap this season, the Warriors know each point is vital if they want to try and knock off the Bulldogs atop the division.
Replacing Jaime Notarangelo won’t be easy but the Warriors have options and depth as they navigate the new rules of 2020. Foxboro is coming off a 13-win season that ended in the D2 South Quarterfinal round.
Senior Ella Waryas will be a key piece in the middle of the field for the Warriors this season. Her ability to play strong defense and then transition into a key piece of the offense will be vital in the new 7v7 style. Sophomore Mya Waryas (seven goals in 2019) had a breakout season and could be an important part of the Foxboro attack in 2019. The Warriors will also see production from senior Molly McElhinney, juniors Kate Collins and Mikayla Doherty, and sophomore Dylan Rappoli (four goals, four assists in 2019).
All-Hockomock selection Shannon Egan is back to anchor a defensive unit that was the best in the Hockomock League last season with just 11 goals allowed. And on top of that, senior Hannah Trombley is back in the cage to anchor the defensive unit.
2019 Record: 15-3-2 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Michelle Hess
When you look at the talent the Panthers possess on their roster this season, it’s hard not to immediately think what kind of run they could go on in the postseason. Unfortunately, there aren’t any playoffs this season so Franklin’s focus zeroes in on one thing: repeating as Hock champs.
A year removed from going undefeated against league opponents, the Panthers enter the 2020 season as the favorites to take home another Kelley-Rex title. For starters, Franklin has its top three scorers back from last year’s team that scored a Hockomock-best 91 goals. Amanda Lewandowski (20 goals, 10 assists), Stephanie Bell (14 goals, eight assists), and last year’s HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Kaitlyn Carney (14 goals, eight assists) combine to make the Panthers one of the most lethal teams in the region.
Franklin’s offense even more of a boost with the return of senior captain Sara Carney (who missed last season with an injury) and junior forward Jill Fenerty.
Senior captain Neilee Hess anchors the defensive unit as the starting goalie. Hess’ experience will be vital as Franklin has some new faces on its defensive unit, including Molly Collins, Kendall Jones, and Kate O’Rourke. Freshman midfield Sophia Cuneo could make an impact right away.
“I am extremely proud of my team and how they have adapted to the modifications,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “They have taken a situation that could have put a damper on their enthusiasm and shared with me that they are just ready to get to work. They have a Hock Title to defend and these modifications are not going to stop them from accomplishing their goal of a Back to Back Kelley-Rex Title!”
2019 Record: 10-7-3 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lisa Cropper
King Philip had a lot of new faces last year, but there wasn’t a huge drop-off from the team’s success of the back-to-back title-winning seasons, as the Warriors finished in second place in the Kelley-Rex division and picked up a win in the postseason. With returning players all over the field, KP has high expectations to challenge Franklin for a league title this fall.
Speed will be one of the strengths for the Warriors, who will try to take advantage of experience on the wings in the new 7-on-7 format. Seniors Abby Nixon and Paige Berdos are both coming off strong seasons in the attack and senior midfielders Grace and Isabelle Crocker will push forward to add more threats in front of goal.
Experience will be a key to the defensive effort this year, starting in goal with senior Makenzie Manning, who has been on of the league’s top shot stoppers (and showed it in the season-opening win against Mansfield). Junior Molly Piller had a very strong sophomore season and will be the team’s sweeper, while juniors Christina Gifun and Morgan Cunningham and senior Alli Beltramini are all back as part of the defensive unit.
“We have a lot of experience, but I’m not sure how much that will help us with no penalty corners and only six field players,” said KP coach Lisa Cropper. “Hopefully our depth and overall team speed will help to cover all that empty space out there this year.”
2019 Record: 12-7-2 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Theresa Nyhan
Longtime Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan is excited to see what the 2020 version of the Hornets can do on the field this season. The new rule modifications have taken some players off the field, making it 7-v-7, but that opens up a lot of space on the field.
That space benefits the Hornets as Nyhan says her squad has speed in both the attacking and defending ends of the field. But the new rules also bring a pair of intriguing challenges. First will be figuring out a new substitution pattern that keeps players fresh for 60 minutes, and the other is adjusting the offense without penalty corners — not only for gameplan purposes but for the active rest players can get while setting up.
The Hornets have a large number of seniors and juniors on the team this year, hoping that experience will translate to success on the field. Tai-captains Abby Varracchione, Alex Burnham, and Grace Danehy lead the way for the Hornets and will be vital to the success of the squad. Seniors Fiona Katz, Stori Rounds, and Emma Kelly will bolster the forward group, Lindsay Devine, Grace Fernandez, and Ally McDevitt provide depth to the midfield, and Bella Deberghes, Lily O’Brien, and Leah Sheehan are important pieces to the defensive puzzle.
Juniors Caitlin Dumouchel, Celia Puleo, Maddy Brown, and Grace Bertolino should factor in this season while sophomore Lilly Danehy will take over as the starting goalie. Nyhan expects freshman Lola Varracchione to be an impact player at the varsity level right away.
“The Mansfield field hockey community wants to thank all who have worked long and hard to make a season possible,” Nyhan said. “We are grateful seniors have a “senior season” and look forward to competing!’
2019 Record: 4-12-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Tim Dowd
The Scarlet Hawks saw improvement during the 2019 season and are hoping that upward trajectory continues into 2020 under new head coach Tim Dowd.
Milford will be leaning on its three captains to lead the way: Maddy Carneiro, Olivia Macleod, and Olyvia Whyte. All three have been cornerstones of the program and will be leaders both on and off the field.
Maddy Hunt will start in the cage for the Hawks, who will be putting a lot of importance into the defensive side of the ball. With the new rule modifications meaning there will be more breakaways, the Hawks are hoping to have good numbers defensively to give Hunt as much help as possible.
Offensively, the Hawks will turn to speedy juniors Emma Tredeau and Stephanie Wong to try and take advantage of all of the space on the field. With just six field players, conditioning and positioning are going to be of the utmost importance.
“It’s certainly going to be an interesting season as we all try to adjust to the modifications and a new way of approaching the game,” Dowd said. “We’re just focusing on working hard and keeping a positive attitude.”
2019 Record: 6-8-4 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Karen Folan
North Attleboro finished third in the Davenport division last season, just two points out of a playoff spot, but will not only have to contend with the typical top two of Canton and Foxboro but will also have Oliver Ames in the division this year and the modified 7-on-7 rules, which should make this an interesting fall.
The Rocketeers have a strong group of returning players that they can count on and expectations of being competitive in every game, but also are trying to adapt to new positioning and the much quicker transitions that come from having fewer players and more space on the field. Senior forwards Lauren Abusheery and Emma Bailey will look to take advantage of those openings to create scoring chances, while sophomores Ava Spencer and Caroline Folan are newcomers that have shown a scoring touch in the preseason.
In the midfield, senior Nora Dluhy is a consistent performer wherever she lines up and sophomore Julia Puccio has the speed and ball control to weave through defenders. Senior Emily Daby will lead the defensive unit and can also step up into the midfield and carry possession, which will be a big help with the new rules. Senior Hannah Bachand will take over in goal this season.
The team is excited to start games this week,” said North coach Karen Folan. “I’ve told them to enjoy each minute on the field and to make the most of the shortened season and the unique situation.”
2019 Record: 9-10-0 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Rou Coach: Sharon Lawrence
There are a lot of familiar names on Oliver Ames’ roster this season, highlighted by 11 seniors and eight returning starters from last year’s team. The Tigers have experience all over the field and could be a dark horse in the Davenport division title race.
With the game reduced to six field players due to the rule modifications, there is plenty of space on the field. That fits right into OA’s gameplan as the Tigers are looking to utilize their speed and passing game to jump-start their offense. Like many teams in the league, Oliver Ames will be shifting to lines similar to an ice hockey team. With a total of 24 players on the team, there is plenty of depth so head coach Sharon Lawrence will be using her deep bench to keep fresh legs on the field throughout the game.
“We are all just happy to be together and have a season,” Lawrence said. ”They have all worked so hard and deserve it! Getting outside to play together is a mental and physical win for all.”
The heart of the team lies in the midfield as the Tigers have a strong mix of talent and experience. Senior captain Maggie Woods, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last season, gets it done on both ends of the field, a big part of getting Oliver Ames transitioned from defense to offense. She will be joined by senior Sofia Anestam, junior Ava Costello, and sophomore Julia Maclaine in the midfield.
The Tigers return two dangerous attacking players in junior Georgia Costello (nine goals, five assists in 2019) and senior Haley Gilman (five goals, one assist). Without penalty corners, OA will lean on its speed up front to try and beat the defense and score in the run of play. The defense will be anchored by senior captain Emily Han, who has a lot of experience at the varsity level and senior Abbey Boyce.
2019 Record: 2-13-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Paulina Kosmadakis
Former Sharon standout Paulina Kosmadakis is back with the program, this time taking over as new head coach. And after an improved 2019 season, Kosmadakis is hoping the program continues heading in the right direction in 2020.
The Eagles broke into the win column last season and Kosmadakis has liked what she’s seen from her team so far in the preseason. It starts with the team’s four captains: Sam Sherman, Ashley Young, Jill Parker, and Yesha Sharma. Kosmadakis said that the group has brought a new, competitive edge to the program.
Offensively, the Eagles strength is on fast breaks. Improved passing has led to some odd-man rushes and the opportunity to go one-on-one with defenders. It also comes as a result of a lot of space on the field due to the modifications to the rules. On the flip side, the Eagles are adjusting to the new intensity that 7v7 field hockey brings. Kosmadakis plans on using as much of her bench as possible with a lot of subbing throughout the game.
“I believe that the team is really stepping up their competitive edge and going to “Shock the Hock” both defensively and offensively,” Kosmadakis said. “I am excited for this season and the seasons to come!”
2019 Record: 2-15-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dan Mark
After a two-win season in 2019, Stoughton will look to bounce back this fall with an experienced group, with 20 seniors on the roster, which faces the tough test of trying to compete with the top teams in the Davenport division, and it starts right away with two games against defending league champ Canton in the first week.
The Black Knights should be capable of scoring goals this year with a speedy forward line getting extra space to work with the new 7-on-7 rules. Senior forwards Haley Nelson and Morgan Lessa will be the leaders in the attack and have the skills to put defenders on the back foot. Juniors Zofia Bangs and Mia Allie are new forwards that add depth to the attack this season.
Seniors Sarah McGrath and Kat Billo will shore things up in the midfield and try to help cover for the backline. Senior Lena Allie jumps in goal this season after a solid year with the JV team last fall.
“The biggest obstacle with the modifications is only having six field players and a goalie on the field,” said Stoughton coach Dan Mark. “I plan on using line shifts like in ice hockey. We have a large senior-dominated team, so hopefully that experience should help us.”
2019 Record: 5-12-1 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Liz Hathaway
Looking back at last year’s standings, if there’s one team’s record that isn’t indicative of how good a team was, it’s Taunton. The Tigers had a stellar defense, allowing just 30 goals in total, playing close games against some of the top teams in the league including KP, Foxboro, and Canton.
Defense will be a strong suit of the Tigers once again this season. Even with the changes to the game with the new rule modifications, Taunton will hang its hat on the defensive end. Junior Emily Gannon is a major part of that, returning as the starting goalie after a breakout sophomore season. Gannon had over 100 saves last season, five shutouts, and allowed one or fewer goals in 10 of the 18 games played.
Gannon will have a familiar face in front of her as Jocelyn Pagliuca enters her third season as a key piece of the Tigers’ defense. With that much experience in the defensive end, expect Taunton to be among the toughest groups to break down.
The Tigers are hoping to find the back of the net more during the 2020 season. With last year’s leading scorer back in Alana Tavares, there’s a good chance that happens. Tavares, who has been on the team since eighth grade, will be among the top threats in the league. Having more space will allow Tavares to use her speed to get behind the defense and attack the net. Taunton head coach Liz Hathaway is expecting big contributions from junior Ashley Amaro and senior Skylar Rheaume as well.
“This season will be different but we are up for the challenge and we are grateful to have a season,” Hathaway said. “The girls have been working hard to keep the season going. They are also working hard and embracing the 7 vs. 7 format.”
PEMBROKE, Mass. – King Philip junior Grace Crocker has created plenty of chances for teammates throughout the season, but Warriors’ head coach Lisa Cropper has been waiting for Crocker to emerge as a goal scoring threat herself.
Crocker picked the perfect time to do so, scoring a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the second half, to lead the 17th-seeded Warriors to a 3-2 win over #16 Pembroke on the road.
After the visitors fell behind just over five minutes into the contest, Crocker latched onto a loose ball in the area to bring KP level. And she added a second midway through the second half that proved to be the game-winner for the Warriors.
“Grace Crocker was just on, I kept telling her she was on fire today,” Cropper said. “She anticipated really well, that’s what got her the first goal. And she was aggressive in the circle on the third goal. I’ve been trying to get her to do that all year. She’s a great passer, she’s a great teammate. But she has great individual skills herself so I’ve been trying to get her to score more. I think she only had one goal in the season.”
Warriors’ goalie Makenzie Manning (nine saves) was forced into a pair of early saves, including a sprawling one across the goal line to keep the ball out. But the Titans continued to press, and after KP was unable to make a clearance, Pembroke’s Kaleigh Murphy buried a shot from inside the circle to make it 1-0 just 5:14 into the game.
“We’ve had that happen before,” Cropper said. “It was so early so we had time to reset, and that’s exactly what we talked about.”
King Philip did indeed reset, and in turn, dominated the next 15 minutes of play. The ball almost never left KP’s attacking half with Sammy Robison patrolling the middle of the pitch to help keep the Warriors on offense. That pressure led to five penalty corners in a short span.
Sophomore Molly Piller smacked a hard shot off a corner that was deflected just wide by a Pembroke defender. Two minutes later, Robison tried a lift shot that went just over the bar. Seconds later, freshman Lauren Barriero put a shot on net that was kicked aside but Paige Berdos’ bid on the rebound was just wide.
The Warriors’ pressure finally paid off in the 15th minute. Robison took a pass and switched the field, connecting with Abby Nixon out wide. Nixon used her speed to race down the left sideline before firing a cross into the circle. The service was deflected into the middle of the circle and Crocker was the first to the loose ball, ripping a low shot into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Pembroke started the second half in similar fashion to the first, applying a lot of pressure early. Manning came up with a big save on an original shot and Piller cleared a shot off the line from Pembroke’s Megan Dorsey.
But as the half went on, King Philip began to assert itself offensively. The Warriors were able to get the ball to the right wing to Berdos, who raced forward and fired in low hard crosses. After the first pair went unanswered, Cropper turned to her assistant Alli Burke to try and find a new option.
Burke suggested sophomore Margo Riley, and the substitute paid off almost immediately. Berdos’ hard cross was met by sophomore Isabella Crocker’s stick. Her deflection on goal was stopped by Riley was in the perfect position and buried the rebound chance for her first career goal, giving KP a 2-1 lead with 20:17 left in the game.
“Margo Riley, that’s her first varsity goal,” Cropper said. “Raegan [Simeone] is really steady and smart but she doesn’t always have the wheels to constantly get up and back. She couldn’t quite get to the circle for Paige’s cross. I asked my assistant Alli [Burke] and she said Margo. The second she gets in, she scores so it was a great call by Alli.”
The momentum stayed with the visitors as they continued to press in the offensive half. Five minutes after taking its first lead, King Philip extended its advantage with Grace Crocker grabbing her second goal.
Nixon was the catalyst again, this time carry possession to the circle before Pembroke’s defense intervened. A failed clearance ended up on the stick of Crocker and she deposited a close-range shot into the back.
Pembroke made it a one-goal game with just over five minutes in the game but the KP defense didn’t allow any chances in the final moments as the Titans pushed numbers forward.
“Charlotte Colella stepped up big time, Sammy Robison of course always plays great, Molly [Piller]’s hits were on point, Haley Izydorczak is always hustling,” Cropper said. “We made a couple little mistakes on their goals, they were quick and have good forwards. They do a lot of switching and we got a little confused but otherwise, I thought we played a good game.”
King Philip field hockey (10-6-3) advances to play top-seeded Somerset-Berkley (18-0-0) on Saturday at 3:00. It marks the fourth straight year the teams have met in the postseason, with KP taking wins in 2016 and 2017 and S-B in 2018. It’s also a matchup between the past two sectional winners.
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.
In the 12th minute, KP nearly doubled the lead when Paige Berdos stole the ball and raced clean through on goal, only to be denied by OA goalie Kara Ostrander.
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.”
“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. – Monday afternoon’s field hockey contest between host King Philip and visiting Franklin will be a learning experience for both sides.
An experienced Panthers squad, who earned a 3-0 win in the game, will look to fine tune their offense, mainly their shot selection. And the Warriors, with a roster filled with mostly new faces to the varsity level, will be looking to get to the same level as the visitors.
Franklin controlled the play for the majority of the game, peppering the King Philip net from start to finish. However, thanks to a terrific performance from KP junior goalie Makenzie Manning (22 saves), the Panthers only celebrated three goals.
But three goals was all the Panthers needed, as they held the hosts to just one shot on goal with one penalty corner. Meanwhile, Franklin racked up 14 penalty corners and placed 27 shots on goal throughout the contest.
“We are a little green out there, most of them are juniors and sophomores but most of them haven’t played varsity yet,” said first-year KP head coach Lisa Cropper. Cropper previously coached Franklin for nine years (2009-2017). “[Franklin] has a lot of experienced kids. We looked good in some scrimmages when everything is calm, but as soon as it ramped up, we reverted some and played a little scared.
“We weren’t playing our angles correctly, they were exploiting that. And we were ball watching and worried about individual stuff instead of playing as a team. Now we have to transfer what we talk about in practice to the game, that’s the next step.”
The chances came often and early for the visitors, as junior Stephanie Bell sent a deflection just wide off a feed from freshman Kaitlyn Carney just seconds into the game. Manning was forced into a double said just minutes later as Carney set up Amanda Lewandowski for a shot.
Two minutes later, Manning came charging out to deny a bid from Hanna Richardson and defender Sammy Robison blocked the follow-up shot off the line to keep the game scoreless.
The Panthers finally broke through in the 16th minute with a little extra huddle. After a strong clear, Lewandowski hustled to win a foot race and went in alone towards good. Manning came charging off the line and forced Lewandowski to play the ball towards goal. Junior Leila Frankina pounced on the loose ball and buried it from in close.
Franklin continued the pressure early in the second half. Just over five minutes into the second frame, Manning made a nice stop on a shot from Bell and denied a rebound chance from Lewandowski. The Panthers were rewarded a penalty stroke after the second save but Manning came up big again with a blocker stop to keep the deficit at one.
“She’s phenomenal, she played even better than I expected,” Cropper said of Manning. “Our defense did channel things so she had a good look at the shot but we didn’t know what to do after the save. We marked for the initial shot but not after. I told them there’s no losing, just learning…and we did a lot of learning today.”
Robison once again deflected a shot away to keep the Warriors in the game but the pressure paid off for the Panthers, scoring back-to-back goals in a four-minute span.
Carney smacked a hard low shot from 12 yards out that took a slight deflection off a KP stick and into the back of the net to make it 2-0. After a corner, Carney got another look from a similar spot and lofted a bouncing shot through traffic that smacked the back of the cage.
“Their goalie played phenomenal but we have to do a better job picking our corners,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “That’s part of the early season learning curve. It’s hard because the goalie can become a target, so we have to get them shooting away from the goalie, but it’s a fixable issue. We had some issues at the beginning of last year and got things sorted out.
“We’ve got to mix up our shot selection, with some aerials and some hard shots. One of the hardest shot is the slow push that’s bouncing that can be hard for a goalie to time.”
Since the Panthers had the majority of the possession, King Philip’s best offense spells came on the counter-attack. But chances were limited as the Franklin defense thwarted the Warriors’ bid to counter.
“Having Maeve [Ledwith] back there, she’s a brick wall back there, she’s not letting anyone by,” Hess said. “And my other captain Elizabeth Clark has really stepped up, she’s been playing well too. We’re pretty deep defensively which is good.”
Franklin field hockey (2-0 Hockomock, 2-0 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it hosts Canton. King Philip (1-1, 1-1) will entertain Milford on the same day.
2018 Record: 6-11-1 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Lindsay Antunes
The Bombardiers are looking to climb off the foot of the Kelley-Rex division standings this fall and challenge for a return to the state tournament. With a number of players making the move up after successful seasons on JV, Attleboro coach Lindsay Antunes is confident that her team will have the firepower to compete with the league’s top teams this year.
Senior Anna Beck will lead the way for Attleboro again this fall. The midfielder led the team in scoring last year and was one of the top scorers in the Hock, and she will be counted on to open up chances for her teammates. Junior Campbell Compton will add to the midfield group with her playmaking and stick skills. Junior Kiera Murray will be the lynchpin of the defensive unit, providing leadership at the back. The forwards are going to be a combination of returning players and new faces that are expected to provide additional scoring this season.
“Though spots are still being established and player combinations being determined,” Antunes said, “we are confident that this year’s offensive line is going to make a significant impact on the league.”
2018 Record: 15-4-1 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Canton finished just one point shy of back-to-back league titles and for the second season in a row saw its season ended by the eventual South champion, but the Bulldogs remain one of the teams to beat in the Davenport thanks to a roster filled with returning, experienced players ready to make another tournament run.
Midfield will be an area of strength for the Bulldogs this season with senior Kaitlyn Goyetch back to create scoring chances for her teammates. She was second on the team in scoring last year and is capable of opening up space for the attackers. Juniors Maria Femia and Meghan LaBelle will help Goyetch out in the middle of the field, adding to both the attack and the defense, and senior Meg Aldrich provides energy to push the team on both ends of the field. Junior Riley O’Connor returns in goal to shore up the defense. The attack will certainly miss leading score Maggie Malloy, but there are a number of players that are ready to step in and try to make up for that loss of production.
“Canton field hockey is excited for the regular season to begin,” said head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “Our captains Kaitlyn Goyetch, Meg Aldrich and Rose Malloy along with several key returning players will be major contributors to our success this season. We are working towards a strong showing in the always competitive Hockomock League”
The Foxboro Warriors will have almost an entirely new look this season after graduating 10 starters and 14 seniors overall.
While it will be almost an entirely new team, there is definitely plenty of talent and a lot of team speed. Jaime Notarangelo is the lone starter to return and will see time at both center forward because of her goal-scoring abilities plus time at center mid because of her distribution skills. Ella Waryas will see a significant increase in her role in the midfield alongside Molly McElhinney. Anna Marcucella and Mikayla Cloherty will see time both in the midfield and defensively for head coach Melissa Bordieri, who is still moving all the pieces around in search of the right combination. Lauren Foster is a team captain and will be tasked with anchoring the defense while junior Hannah Trombley and sophomore Lily Jones battle for minutes in goal. Kate Collins picked up some valuable minutes last year and will be relied on offensively alongside Olivia Simoneau.
“We still have a lot of talent, it’s just a matter of piecing together who fits where and who works well together,” Bordieri said. “We are a tenacious team so we are optimistic about the season.”
2018 Record: 13-6-2 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Michelle Hess
After finishing second in the Kelley-Rex division and making a run to the Div. 1 South semifinal, where they led perennial power Walpole by two goals with 10 minutes remaining, Franklin wants to build on that momentum and return to the top of the league standings for the first time in three seasons. The experience of last year’s run, which included finishing on an 11-2-2 run, has confidence brimming through the program.
The loss of do-everything midfielder Cassi Ronan will certainly hurt, as well as defender Emily Valentino and goalie Christina Luccini, but the Panthers still have a solid foundation of returning standouts to rely on. Senior Maeve Ledwith will continue to lead the defensive unit and is one of the league’s top distributors out of the back. Junior Amanda Lewandowski saved her best for the end of the season and playoffs and will be one of the team’s top attackers. Freshman Kaitlyn Carney is expected to contribute right away and possibly ease the loss of Ronan from the midfield. Junior Neilee Hess will take over between the pipes.
“The players worked very hard in the offseason, and I am proud of them for their dedication and determination,” said Franklin coach Michelle Hess. “I look forward to watching this team come together and earn a top spot in the Hockomock League along with another deep run in the tournament.”
2018 Record: 18-2-1 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Lisa Cropper
After winning the league and South titles in 2017, the Warriors made a coaching change. After making it back-to-back Kelley-Rex crowns and getting back to the South semifinal last season, the Warriors are making another change on the sideline. Former Franklin coach Lisa Cropper is back in the Hock after two years at Dean College and she will be trying to keep the momentum going for KP this fall.
While the Warriors dominated the league in goals scored last year, thanks in large part to HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Alli Meehan, and that drew a lot of attention, but the Warriors were even more impressive defensively, allowing only 15 goals in 21 games. Senior Sammy Robison is back to hold down things on defense along with classmate Grace May and junior Mackenzie Manning, who may end up sharing duties in goal. Sophomore Christina Gifun and junior Paige Berdos will drive the team in the midfield.
In addition to the graduation of Meehan, KP will be without reigning Underclassman of the Year Meghan MacDonald, who transferred to Tabor Academy. Senior Raegan Simeone and juniors Abby Nixon and Grace Crocker will be counted on to try and make up that production in the attack.
“We have a lot of really solid players with no real superstars, which should give us a very balanced team,” said Cropper.
2018 Record: 9-8-2 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Theresa Nyhan
The Hornets are only four years removed from back-to-back league titles and a trip to the South final and the experience on this year’s roster gives Mansfield hope that another deep tourney run could be on the cards. With seniors in every layer of the field and talented underclassmen to fill in the depth, the Hornets look like a serious contender at the top of the Kelley-Rex division standings.
In attack, Mansfield will count on a speedy trio of seniors to try and boost the goal totals. Paige Peterson, Becca Hottleman and Gabby Devlin are all back on the front line. In midfield, Kelly Doherty and Grace Doyle provide the engine that pushes the Hornets forward, while also providing the necessary cover for the defense. Senior Kayla Hunter is back in goal and will try to organize the back line, which will include seniors Grace Maher, Mallory Burke, and Angela Burnham.
“Overall we have a good balance of juniors and seniors at each level,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan. “We should be able to keep fresh legs on the field at all times. Looking forward to a good season.”
2018 Record: 2-14-2 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Katie Blackburn
The Hawks have a number of players returning who have several years of varsity experience and will try to blend in players that are making the leap from JV in order to improve from last year’s two-win season, which included five games that Milford lost by only one or two goals.
Senior goalie Paige Reisman will be the key on the defensive end, solidifying a back line that will see several new faces that are trying to get up to varsity speed. Her communication and vision will help the newcomers be ready for opposing attacks. Senior Megan Hart is also back on defense to add leadership in front of Reisman. Junior Olyvia White can play in midfield or defense, while senior Kathryn Swineford will try to push the Hawks into the attack from the middle of the field.
“We have a lot of returning players on offense that have experience playing together,” said Milford coach Katie Blackburn. “This experience will help in creating an offensive attack throughout games. The players have worked hard this offseason to improve on skills and come into the season conditioned.”
2018 Record: 6-10-2 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Karen Folan
The Rocketeers are hoping that an experienced lineup will be the key to challenge the top teams in the Davenport division and also to make a return to the state tournament. North Attleboro only missed out on a playoff spot by four points last season and there is the potential to make a bigger push this fall.
Senior Emma Strachan will be in her third year as the starting goalie and will continue to lead the defensive unit. Senior Lindsay Robinson heads into her second year as a force in the North midfield and senior Michelle Pothier will start her third year generating offense as one of the starting forwards. Senior Grace Cole adds speed on the wings to open space for the attack and senior Faith Graveline will move into the midfield from defense, adding another layer of cover for the back line and another weapon in the offensive circle.
“We have a solid group of returning varsity players for the 2019 season,” said North coach Karen Folan. “We hope to utilize our knowledge and experience to come out strong at the start of the season and continue to build on our strengths as the season moves forward.”
2018 Record: 8-9-2 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Sharon Lawrence
While Oliver Ames brings back 11 returning players from last year’s playoff team, the Tigers remain relatively young, with a strong junior class anchoring the team throughout the roster. That level of experience gives OA the potential to make noise in the loaded Kelley-Rex division and be competitive with the perennial title challengers.
The offensive unit is deep and expectations are high for an improvement on last year’s 31 goals scored as a team. Juniors Haley Gilman and Hannah Stryke and seniors Maura Kiernan, Ellie Waters, and Cassie Gennis will all play up top and are all capable of making plays inside the offensive circle. Several younger players will get the chance to impress right away, including sophomores Ava Costello and Lily Gaskill and freshman Julia Maclaine.
Junior Maggie Woods is the leader of the midfield group, constantly finding herself around the ball and propelling the Tigers forward. Sophomore Georgia Costello will join her in the middle of the field. Juniors Emily Han and Emily Dionne will lead the defense, while juniors Abbey Boyce and Courtney Lake are newcomers to the defense that will contribute right away. Senior Kara Ostrander and junior Peyton Phillips are both capable of being the starter in goal.
“The team shows improvement in skill and confidence from last season after a strong off-season commitment to the game,” said OA coach Sharon Lawrence. “We have a deep bench with lots of talent in the forward and midfield lines to keep legs fresh and performance strong, giving us good game endurance.”
2018 Record: 0-18-0 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Ashley Courville
After a winless season, with no goals scored, there is plenty of room for improvement for the Eagles this fall. Sharon ended that goalless stretch in the opening game of the season against Norwell and there is an increased level of confidence that the program is mixing in more experienced players with newcomers that can help make the team more competitive this year.
The defense will be led by an experienced corps of players. Seniors Holly Davis, Blaize Hanna, and Anya Lane are all back to solidify a back line that reduced the goals allowed by 27 from 2017 to 2018. Senior Lauren Glass will be the team’s primary playmaker in midfield and she will get help from junior Jenna Goldstein. There are a lot of new faces in the attack, including sophomore Ashley Young, who got Sharon’s first goal of the season in the opener. Juniors Samantha Sherman and Jillian Parker will also chip in up front.
Sharon coach Ashley Courville said, “Our strengths on defense this season are consistency and strength. We have a handful of returning players back on defense giving us stability. Our offensive strengths are added speed leading to the ability to carry the ball on the field more effectively.”
2018 Record: 7-11-2 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Dan Mark
The Black Knights would love to make a push for a playoff appearance this fall and Stoughton will rely on is experience in midfield and attack to overcome some of its inexperience in defense to try and make that run possible.
In the midfield, seniors Skylar Carroll, Madison Araujo, and Juliana Rush give the Black Knights speed and stick skills to push forward and make the transitions that will break down opposing defenses. In the attack, senior Brittni Paul and juniors Haley Nelson and Sarah McGrath have a nose for being in the right spots around the goal to create scoring chances. While the defense is relatively new, junior Kayla Laboy will be back between the pipes to add leadership and organization at the back.
Stoughton coach Dan Mark said, “We have a good nucleus of returning players, but do have some inexperience defensively. I think the key to our team will be a strong offense.”
2018 Record: 8-7-4 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Liz Hathaway
The Tigers have made great strides as a program, becoming a regular in the state tournament and competing with the top teams in the Hock, but after graduating 10 seniors Taunton will have its work cut out to make sure that another playoff berth is secured this fall.
Junior forward Alana Tavares will carry a lot of the scoring load for the Tigers this season. Tavares led the team in scoring last year and showed that she can also play in the midfield to create opportunities for teammates. Senior Kathryn Robinson will move up from defense into the midfield and her stick skills added to her defensive mindset will give the Tigers cover on both ends of the field. In defense, junior Jocelyn Pagliuca returns to provide leadership and cover in the back line with her ability to step into a challenge.
“We graduated 10 seniors last year and have many players stepping up for this season,” said Taunton coach Liz Hathaway.