By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
WESTWOOD, Mass. – Playing on the road is no easy feat, especially in the playoffs.
The Franklin girls field hockey team started strong, survived a comeback attempt and finished with a comfortable 7-3 victory over #15 Westwood in the preliminary round of the MIAA D1 South State Tournament.
Just 19 seconds into the game, Franklin got their first corner opportunity, and while they were unable to convert, they would get two others before two minutes would tick down on the clock. On their third attempt, Cassi Ronan saw her aerial just got over the top of the net, but seconds later, on Franklin’s fourth corner of the first half, Ronan was able to find the back of the net to put the Panthers up 1-0.
Franklin earned two more corners at the 23:50 and the 23:17 marks, but stout defense and play from Westwood goalie Megan Brown would keep the Franklin lead at 1-0. However, on their sixth corner of the first half, Victoria Quinn would find the back of the net, and the Panthers led 2-0.
“We scrimmaged a lot this past week, without our JV and freshmen teams playing we didn’t have to share the field this week, so we took advantage of that and did a lot more scrimmaging this week, practicing quick restarts. And having good energy on the bus, it was really about having more of an attitude,” said Franklin head coach Lisa Cropper said about her team’s fast start
Westwood finally got its offense going with its first corner at the 21:57 mark of the first half, but Franklin was able to keep the Wolverines off the board.
Four minutes later, Maddy Hinckley’s stick found the ball after a kick save by Brown, and she flicked it past the keeper to put the Panthers up 3-0.
Westwood would get on the board ten minutes later when Theresa Healy was able to get around the Franklin defense and drive her shot into the back of the net to make the score 3-1. Two minutes later, on Franklin’s eighth corner of the half, Ronan once again had an aerial, but it just nicked off the crossbar, and Brown was able to clear it just in front of the net to keep the Westwood deficit at two goals.
In the second half, Franklin’s offense got off to another strong start with Ronan scoring just over five minutes into the half to extend the Panthers’ lead to 4-1.
After Ronan’s goal, Westwood came roaring back as Kayla Conway scored to cut the Franklin lead to 4-2 with 18:42 left in the game, and off another corner, Healy scored her second goal of the game to cut the lead to just one at 4-3.
With 10:15 left to go in the game, Ronan completed the hat trick and put Franklin up 5-3, placing a perfectly lofted ball over Brown off a corner, and from there the Panthers never looked back, as Amanda Lewandowski and Natalie Stott added goals in the final ten minutes to give the Panthers a 7-3 victory.
With the win, Franklin field hockey moves on to face Kelley-Rex champions King Philip Saturday afternoon. The two teams met twice this season, and both those times the Warriors came out on top.
“It’s difficult to beat a team three times, and we’ve been right there with them both times, even the game that we lost last week, we outplayed them in the middle of the field, we just didn’t convert on our chances and they converted on theirs. ” Cropper said about the Panthers’ next matchup.
The Warriors (15-2) received a bye in the MIAA tournament and will host the Panthers on Saturday, November 4th at 3:00 at Macktaz Field.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – Despite forcing 20 saves out of Franklin goalie Christina Luccini (20 saves) and having a 12-to-3 edge in corners, King Philip went into a timeout with a little under five minutes remaining tied with the visiting Panthers at two goals apiece in Monday evening’s Kelley-Rex rivalry game at Macktaz Field.
KP coach Liz Hathaway brought her players to the huddle to draw up a corner that she hoped would finally break the deadlock that Luccini and the Panthers defense had held for more than 20 minutes.
Nicole Connor played the ball out to the edge of the circle and it was fired into a mass of bodies. The ball kicked around for a few seconds before popping out to Dana Truini and the junior midfielder knocked it past the scrambling defense and into the back of the net for the go-ahead goal.
It would turn out to be the winner for the Warriors, who tacked on one more to beat Franklin 4-2 and rebound from last week’s loss to Mansfield, which was KP’s first of the season. It also ensured a two-point lead over Oliver Ames in the division, as the Warriors go after their first league title since 2008.
“We had so many opportunities,” said Hathaway, “but I’m glad I called that timeout where we drew up a play for the corner that we ended up scoring on because if they feel confident and they know the play then we’re going to be poised and execute.”
KP got off to a quick start, forcing Luccini into eight saves in the first half, including one on Claire Lawler just a few minutes into the game. After the Franklin defense cleared a chance off the line and Alli Meehan watched a shot skip just wide, KP finally found the breakthrough and added a second just 30 seconds later.
The first goal came off a rebound as the ball was kicked into the crease but was quickly pounced on by the Warriors. Connor was officially given credit for the goal, although it was Truini who brought the ball back to midfield.
KP forced a turnover right after the restart and came right back at the Panthers back line. Meehan stick-handled through a couple of Franklin defenders, driving at the goal from the right side, and coolly slid the ball past Luccini (Liz Furfari getting credit for an assist).
“Alli Meehan is just so fast,” said Franklin coach Lisa Cropper, crediting Marissa Canesi for her man-marking job on KP’s leading scorer. “We don’t have anyone that can just straight up match her. “I didn’t want to put two people on her to begin with because then it takes too much away from our team to do what we want to do. Late in the game, when it was tied, I told [Marissa] follow her wherever she goes.”
The game felt fully in the grasp of the Warriors until Franklin earned a corner with 11 minutes remaining in the half. The ball was played out to Cassi Ronan and the junior flicked a looping shot over the stick of KP goalie Abby Campbell (eight saves) and in. The ref initially waived the goal off but after a discussion it stood and cut the lead in half.
“It was huge,” said Cropper of the goal. “When we went down two I could see the whole body language drop and I thought, okay fire it up because this could get ugly if we don’t get one here. Cassi’s scored a couple like that now and she’s doing really well with that.”
The momentum carried over into the second half and Franklin completed the comeback. Regan Paterson had her first effort, set up by Annie Walsh denied by Campbell (her only save of the second half) with a point-blank block, but Paterson knocked in the rebound to make it 2-2.
“They’re very loose,” said Hathaway about her team. “They’re a bunch of goofballs, but they know when they need to turn it on and I think it’s a good lesson against a team like Franklin you can never stop or take a break.”
Franklin’s second goal spurred KP on and the Warriors created chance after chance only to continually be denied by Luccini. She stopped three shots in one sequence off a corner (two saves on Meehan) and then made a diving stop to deny Lawler at the back post. She then stuffed two chances by Lawler again, kicking the shot aside.
Cropper said of Luccini, “She played well against them last year here, so I had a feeling she would play well again. She gets up for them and she was just seeing the ball really well.”
With four minutes left, Truini finally got one past the Franklin goalie, setting off a celebration that was a mix of excitement and relief. With 1:40 remaining in the game, KP sealed the win on another corner. Meehan drove at the defense, forcing it to collapse, and dropped a pass to Christina Hathaway, who blasted it through traffic for the insurance goal.
“Yes, personally and it allowed me to breathe,” said Liz Hathaway. When you’re in first place then everyone is out to get you and Franklin is always a great game. It was a really key win for us to keep the momentum and get back in the win column.”
King Philip (8-1-0, 7-1-0) will play back-to-back games to finish the week with Stoughton on Thursday afternoon and Algonquin on Friday night. Franklin (3-4-2, 3-3-2) will try to bounce back on Thursday against Canton before hosting Chelmsford on Sunday morning.
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. – It felt like mid-summer on the turf at Beaver Field on Monday as Franklin hosted Mansfield in a Kelley-Rex showdown, but the weather didn’t slow down either sides’ offense as the two sides battled to a 2-2 tie.
Just two minutes into the game, Franklin had a scoring opportunity but the Panthers couldn’t find the back of the net. Four minutes later, Mansfield had an opportunity of its own but a kick save by Franklin goalie Anna Jardine (nine first half saves) kept the Hornets off the board. Ten minutes in, Franklin had another good scoring chance but a nice save by Mansfield goalie Kayla Hunter (11 saves) prevented the Panthers from taking an early lead.
With 16 minutes left in the half, Mansfield’s shot was kicked away by Jardine and to the top corner of the circle where Ann Maher put the ball on her stick and drove a shot to the corner to put the Hornets up 1-0.
Two minutes later, a would-be Franklin goal was waved off after it ruled the shot hit the foot of a Franklin player. Mansfield would then see their best scoring opportunity for the rest of the half when the Hornets had three shots on goal in a sequence with nine minutes left in the first half, but stout play from Jardine and the Franklin defense managed to keep the Franklin deficit at one.
With the first half winding down, Franklin junior Annie Walsh had her shot tipped and deflected in by sophomore Erin Walsh, and the Panthers tied the game up 1-1.
With the heat, Franklin made a goalie change at halftime, putting in Christina Luccini who would be tested immediately with an early Mansfield corner, However, Luccini was able to kick it away for the first of her six second half saves.
“Both Anna and Christina have been playing very well, Anna did an outstanding job against Walpole on Saturday, but I knew with the heat that’d we’d probably have to use both of them.” Franklin coach Lisa Cropper said about her team’s goalie play. “They’ve both been much more aggressive and covered their angles better.”
With 22 minutes left in the half, Franklin had a scoring chance of their own, but once again a save by Hunter kept the score tied. Eleven minutes later, a rebound after a Mansfield corner made it onto the stick of Kristina O’Connell, and she put it in the back of the net to give Mansfield a 2-1 lead.
Franklin kept attacking, however, and once again they broke through late in the half, as Regan Paterson scored off a rebound to tie the score up at two.
“I kept putting it to the girls that you gotta want it more than they do,” Cropper said. “Yes, it’s hot, but it’s hot for both teams, so we just had to dig deeper and it was about who wanted it more.”
Franklin wasn’t done after Paterson’s goal, however, as the Panthers had another scoring opportunity with just 1:40 to go in the game, as Cassi Ronan’s aerial off a corner went just over the net, and despite a late Mansfield push, the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
Franklin (2-3-2) will head to Attleboro on Wednesday to take on the Bombardiers.
Mansfield (2-2-2) heads to King Philip on Wednesday to take on the unbeaten Warriors.
Foxboro, Mass. – After struggling to get going on offense in the season opener against King Philip, defending Davenport division and Div. 2 South champion Foxboro clicked into gear and found its scoring touch against Franklin on Monday evening at Sam Berns Community Field.
Junior Lily Daly scored a pair of goals and classmate Sophia DiCenso had a goal and two assists, as Foxboro pulled out a 3-1 victory over the defending Kelley-Rex division champions.
“It’s a great win,” said Foxboro coach Melissa Bordieri. “We needed that after our showing against KP. Honestly, it was back-and-forth in the middle of the field, which makes for a really exciting game, but I’m really happy with how they played.”
She added, “We came out on fire, which was key. Everyone worked as a team. The way we placed the ball, we were looking for give-and-go opportunities, we were looking for combinations where the other day we weren’t.”
The game started evenly with both teams racing through the midfield and trading attacks, although there were few clear chances in the opening 20 minutes. Annie Walsh had a one-timer hit the outside of the goal and then a minute later Julia Carangelo had a shot from distance kicked aside by Franklin goalie Christina Luccini.
In the 20th minute, Foxboro found a breakthrough with a quick break. DiCenso sent a pass in front and Daly slipped the ball past a few Franklin defenders and just past the line to make it 1-0.
Just a minute later, the Warriors doubled the lead. Daly created the opportunity with a run down the left wing and she hustled to keep the ball in play before cutting it back to Catherine Luciano. The senior crossed the ball into the middle for DiCenso, who finished with a first-time shot on the turn.
“Scoring totally gives a team confidence and I felt like once you play with confidence then you do more things,” said Bordieri. “There were so many things they started to do well once we played with confidence.”
Walsh had the first chance for Franklin in the second half but her shot was kicked aside by Foxboro goalie Kelli McCarthy, last year’s league MVP, which was only one of two shots on goal by the Panthers. Four minutes later and Foxboro added a third.
This time it was a run down the right wing that opened up the Franklin defense, which was missing senior center back Kate Morse to an injury. Junior Molly Murphy, who last week verbally committed to play lacrosse at Davidson, found space on the right to center to DiCenso. The ball bounced in the crease and Daly popped up at the back post to knock it home for her second of the day.
“They’re fast, they’re experienced, and they can finish,” said Franklin coach Lisa Cropper about the Foxboro attack. “I thought we played fairly well for most of the game, held our own other than in our defensive circle. We made three mistakes and they capitalized on all three.”
With seven minutes to go, Franklin got on the board. Walsh again beat her defender to open space and was able to pull the pass back to Cassi Ronan. The junior midfielder then flicked a pass into the middle and freshman Victoria Quinn batted the shot into the back of the net for her second goal of the season.
Cropper said, “Cassi had a lot of pressure on her because we didn’t have Kate behind her. Regan [Paterson] stepped in and did a decent job at center back, so we were a little undermanned but held our own.”
It was the rare chance that Franklin was able to create against the Foxboro defense, thanks in large part to the play of senior midfielder Jackie Brion, who seemed to be in the way of every Panthers attack.
“As a center-mid, she controls a lot of the play,” said Bordieri of Brion. “Defensively, she breaks up anything in the midfield, making it really hard for teams to crossover. She was awesome today; really, really strong.”
Despite the final result, Cropper was pleased with the effort and believed that her team put in a good performance. She said, “I told the kids that you learn from your mistakes and hopefully we can learn from this and build on it.”
Cropper joked, “To play these guys this early, we knew it was going to be tough. We had them this way last year, then they went on to win the sectional title. So, we’ll just do it our way this time.”
Bordieri is hopeful that this will spark the offense and get the Warriors on track for the season. She explained, “Our offense has totally stepped up. I think they’re all really starting to gel. It’s really starting to come together.”
Foxboro (1-1) will face Sharon on Thursday and Hopkinton a day later. Franklin will try to bounce back against Oliver Ames on Wednesday.
After registering just four wins a season ago, Big Blue is hoping for a big bounce back year in 2017. The toughest task will be finding replacements for the large amount of seniors that have graduated over the past two seasons. A big reason for hope to get back towards state tournament competition is four-year varsity player Grace Mayer. Mayer has been one of the top players in the Hock over the past couple of the seasons and led the Bombardiers with six goals and three assists for nine points. She will be joined on the forward line by junior Alexis Compton and junior transfer Takara Keele. Head coach Lindsay Antunes said her midfield has been strengthened “immensely” by sophomore Anna Beck, who was pulled up mid-season last year.
“There is an immense amount of unity on this team, and an outpouring of teamwork,” Antunes said. “Under the leadership of our current captains, many girls have assumed these roles [left by graduation] and are taking over the field. Some girls have been forced to transition into roles that are similar to ones they played in in the past, but not quite exact.”
2016 Record: 13-5-2 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Canton is returning a strong core of players from a 13-win team a year ago and will be in the hunt for the Davenport title. Key returning players include senior forward Andrea McNeil and junior forward Maggie Malloy, who will be back to pace the Bulldogs’ offense, as well as senior midfielders Emily Campbell and Maggie Wade. With experience back in the mid, the Bulldogs expect to have a strong passing game and strong ball control. Senior Riley Brown will step in as the starting goalie and freshman Maria Femia could make an impact as a rookie.
“Coming into our second season we look to strengthen our passing game and game sense,” said Canton head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “We look forward to another competitive season in the Hockomock League!”
Coming off its best season in program history, Foxboro is now focused on 2017 and trying to write its owm chapter in the history books. While the Warriors graduated over a half a dozen seniors, they return last year’s Hockomock League MVP in goalie Kelli McCarthy as well as 2016 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Lily Daly. With experience on both ends of the field, Foxboro is set up nicely for 2017. Daly has led the Warriors in scoring in each of the past two seasons.
The middle of the field will look most familiar from last season with seniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano, and juniors Meghan Curran and Sophia DiCenso all returning after playing valuable minutes last season. The biggest challenge for the Warriors could be replacing starting defenders Kelly Fisher and Angela VandenBoom, who both graduated.
2016 Record: 12-4-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Lisa Cropper
The defending Kelley-Rex division champions are in a good spot with so many returning players from last year’s squad. Leading the way is HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Annie Walsh, who led the Hockomock League with 25 points a season ago. Cassi Ronan (16 points) and Erin Walsh (10 points) are also back as Franklin returns its top three scorers. Another positive is that Franklin has some experience back on the defensive end as well. Kate Morse is back to anchor the unit after an impressive junior season and will be joined by Meri Gendreau and Emily Valentino in front of goalie Christina Luccini. Head coach Lisa Cropper expects senior Maddie Hinckley and freshman Victoria Quinn to also play big roles for the Panthers.
“Our biggest asset this season is depth,” Cropper said. “We are hoping to wear down our opponents and utilize our speed late in games.”
After coming just a point shy of splitting the league title with Franklin a season ago, King Philip returns a strong core that will look to make another push for the Kelley-Rex crown. One big reason that the Warriors will be in the mix is because senior goalie Abby Campbell is back in the cage this season. And in front of Campbell, KP returns senior Christina Hathaway – two big reasons why the Warriors allowed only 13 goals all season in 2016. The offense will look very familiar with senior Liz Furfari (13 points) and junior Alli Meehan (25 points) back in the fold. Juniors Kate Lindmark and Caroline Klim will help bolster the defense while Nicole Connor and Dana Truini will be important players in the midfield.
“We have speed and can create a quick transition game with our passing game and formation,” said KP head coach Liz Hathaway. “We also have a couple of big hitters which should help us generate getting the ball inside the offensive 25 and to execute on corners.”
2016 Record: 13-5-2 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Theresa Nyhan
Mansfield is relying on seven returning seniors and a mix of young players as they look to get back to the state tournament yet again this season. The Hornets have senior leadership all over the field, which will be important in a very deep and talented league. Up top, Mansfield had Heather D’Amdra and Kristina O’Connell, while seniors Emily Ierardo and Ann Maher will lead the way from the midfield. On the defensive end, seniors Nicole Berluti, Julia Burhman and Brittany Lam will anchor the back line.
“As a unit we are looking to move the ball at pace,” said Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan. “We have speed at all levels and look to transition quickly.”
2016 Record: 3-15-2 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Kim Danish
Although the Hawks graduated 11 seniors from last year’s squad, they return some key pieces that head coach Kim Danish is hoping will help Milford take a step forward. The Hawks will lean on tri-captains Shannon Cormier (the team’s leading scorer last season), Danielle Fokas (who will start on the wing) and Emily Condon (a returning member of the Hawks’ defense) to pave the way this season. Kate Wimette, Colby Bowers and Megan Larouco will see time in the midfield while Julie Rabinowitz would see time all over the field, depending on need. Milford is looking to rely on speed on offense to try and get the offense going.
“We have a strong mix of seven returning seniors who are fantastic leaders and a great core group from last year’s JV team who will step up and make an immediate impact on the field,” Danish said. “Overall, the motivation and work ethic among this group has been top notch! We are looking forward to a great season.”
After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back years, Big Red field hockey is hoping to make a run at the Davenport crown and get back to the MIAA playoffs. One tough task will be replacing 14 seniors, including all-league goalie Liz Morehouse, all-star Mary Kummer and all-league honorable mention Teresa Bagarella. But head coach Karen Folan is confident she has the pieces to compete in a deep Hockomock League this year. Senior captains Emilie Pothier, Olivia Gedgaudus and Camille Pizarro return to make up the majority of the midfield. Senior Katherine Munley is also back on the wing, giving Big Red some speed on the outside. Sophomore Emma Strachan takes over in net this season, with Folan describing her as “quick and aggressive.”
“The returning members of the varsity team have shown they are ready to fill in any gaps our line up may have after graduating 14 seniors,” Folan said. “And our new team members are eager to step onto the varsity playing field.”
2016 Record: 11-6-3 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Abby Tepper
Oliver Ames will be relying on a mix of experience and youth as they try to stay competitive in a deep Kelley-Rex division. It starts with senior captain Sarah Stevens in the midfield, who will be the “quarterback” of the midfield according to head coach Abby Tepper. Senior Cristina Boudreau and junior Kayla Lozzi will bolster that midfield while senior Liz Nuss will provide speed to the attacking group. OA’s defense will be anchored by senior captain Sarah Tetrault while senior Caitlin Grant will be the starting goalie. Freshman Brynna Courneen has impressed defensively early on.
“This year our offense will be quick and have speed,” Tepper said. “We have some young players filling the wing spots and we are working on being hungry inside the circle. We want to be a scrappy team and get the ball in the bucket no matter what it takes. Our defense does a solid job recovering for one another in the circle and stepping to ball without hesitation. As a team we want to build a positive culture and work hard day in and day out.”
2016 Record: 1-17-0 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrea Vandette
Now in her third year at the helm of the Sharon Eagles, head coach Andrea Vandette is confident that her squad is ready to take the next step and find some more success. The Eagles are led by three captains: Elyse Korn, Abbi Solomon and Grace Leavitt. Leavitt started to come on strong at the end of the year last season and will be the anchor for the Eagles’ defensive unit this season. Senior Lindsay Moses will be be in the cage and has a good amount of varsity experience under her belt. In the midfield, Leora Leavitt will be in the center of the field and one of the Eagles’ most reliable players. Vandette is also expecting juniors Veronica Wallace and Stephanie Edwards to continue their growth after picking up the sport a season ago.
“My main goal for the girls this season is to compete,” Vendette said. “Being that this is my third year with the program, I believe they know my expectations and the seniors have a good understanding of how to move the ball on the field and how to be successful. We certainly have enough talent to put a few more wins on the board this season!”
2016 Record: 8-9-3 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Dan Mark
Despite graduating a handful of talented players, including 2015 Hockomock League MVP Angela Connolly, Stoughton head coach Dan Mark is bringing back several key players for the 2017 version of the Black Knights. The Black Knights’ offense will look the most similar to last season’s team that qualified for the state tournament. Julia Russell, Kamryn Oliveira and Jackie Evangelista are returning forwards who played regularly last year. Lisa Ramanauskas is a returning midfielder, and Haley Bushlow is back to anchor the back line. Gianna Barbosa will be the starting goalie again this season.
“We have several returning players who played many minutes last year and are expected to step in as starters this year,” Mark said.
2016 Record: 2-15-1 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Elizabeth Hathaway
With a strong core of experienced players back, and a couple of young talents looking to make an impression, the Tigers are hoping to improve on last year’s season. Senior Kya Enos has been a steady presence for the Tigers for the past four seasons and will be relied upon to lead the attack long with senior Liana Duarte. Juniors Jillian Pagliuca and Lauren Torres will be tasked with controlling the midfield along with freshman Alana Tavares. Sophomore Kathryn Robinson will be a key piece of Taunton’s defensive unit this season
“Our strength will be the ability of the forwards and mids to move the ball up the field,” said Taunton head coach Liz Hathaway. “Speed is also a factor that will help our offensive attacks.”
Players to Watch
Players are listed alphabetically
Abby Campbell, King Philip – Campbell has been one of the top goalies in the league for the past two seasons and helped KP come within a point of sharing the league title with Franklin last season and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. She had 11 shutouts in 2016 and saved 130-of-143 shots that she faced, finishing with a goals against average of 0.619.
Emily Campbell, Canton – Campbell was a versatile weapon for the Bulldogs, helping out both in midfield and defense to help Canton win 13 games and achieve a plus-40 goal differential for the season. With Campbell playing a critical role, Canton allowed only 14 goals on the year, which was second best in the league. She also chipped in with three goals and seven assists.
Lily Daly, Foxboro – Daly has been the leading scorer for the Warriors in each of her two varsity seasons, helping Foxboro win its first league title in 11 years and its first ever Div. 2 South title. Daly is a force near the net and was chosen as the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year after scoring 16 goals and recording 11 assists.
Emily Ierardo, Mansfield – Ierardo emerged last season as one of the top offensive weapons for the Hornets, helping Mansfield make another run at the league title and reach the second round of the state tournament. She played five different positions in the forward and midfield areas and she scored nine goals and recorded six assists last fall.
Maggie Malloy, Canton – Malloy made quite the impact in her first season playing field hockey. She jumped onto the Canton varsity squad early in the season and finished as the league’s top goal scorer with 16 tallies for the year. She was a big reason for Canton’s improvement offensively and this year, with a season of experience, Malloy could have even bigger numbers.
Kelli McCarthy, Foxboro – Voted Hockomock MVP by the league’s coaches, McCarthy was the backstop for a Warriors defense that was one of the best in the league and helped Foxboro claim a Davenport division title and its first ever Div. 2 South title. She finished with 115 saves on the season and recorded 15 shutouts in 23 games, allowing only 13 goals total.
Alli Meehan, King Philip – Meehan was integral to KP making a run at the league title last season, holding a lead into the final week of the regular season, and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. Meehan scored 14 goals and recorded 11 assists to tie for the league-high in points. She also assisted on the goal that forced overtime against Somerset-Berkeley in a state tournament win.
Cassi Ronan, Franklin – Ronan was a versatile cog in Franklin’s league championship season in 2016, playing both midfield and forward for the Panthers. She finished with 10 goals and seven assists, while being named to the HockomockSports.com First Team, but also did a lot of the defensive work that didn’t show up in the box score.
Sarah Stevens, Oliver Ames – Stevens had a strong season for Oliver Ames in 2016 and the senior will be counted on to create scoring opportunities for the Tigers again this fall. She scored six goals and recorded nine assists for OA last season, helping the Tigers get to 11 wins on the season, beat Durfee in the first round of the playoffs, and push perennial power Walpole to overtime.
Annie Walsh, Franklin – Walsh is the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year (she was also Player of the Year in girls’ lacrosse) after leading the Panthers to a Kelley-Rex division title. A year after being named Underclassman of the Year, Walsh took her game to another level with 14 goals and 11 assists for a league-high 25 points.
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. The old adage “practice makes perfect” is one that certainly held true for the Franklin girl’s field hockey team on Friday. The Panthers scored early and never looked back on their way to a 1-0 win over Bridgewater-Raynham in First Round of the MIAA D1 South tournament.
Franklin, who haven’t played a lot on grass fields this season, spent this week practicing on the surface to prepare for the game, and it showed. Just three minutes into the game, senior midfielder Alex Sullivan got the rebound following a save from B-R goalie Hailey Colon and put the ball in the back of the net to put Franklin up 1-0.
“We practiced on grass all week and we practiced going hard to the ball and beating them to the ball and that’s what we did, got the jump on them and popped one in early, so it felt good to have that lead,” said Franklin head coach Lisa Cropper on the quick start.
Two minutes later Bridgewater-Raynham saw an opportunity of their own, but the shot by senior forward Kelly Page went just wide of the post.
The rest of the first half was all Franklin, as they had eight first half scoring chances, including a whopping six corner opportunities. But stout defense from the Trojans, especially senior defender Brooke Baran, limited Franklin to just the one goal.
The second half started off with both teams trying to take control, but it was B-R who had the first scoring chance, but the shot by senior Erin LaMarca went just wide right.
After Franklin failed to convert off of a corner at the 10 minute mark, B-R controlled the game for the rest of the second half, but after missing two shots wide at the 13 and 17 minute marks, they had their best scoring chance at the 18 minute mark.
A pass from Kelly Page to Katherine Swart got past Franklin goalie Christina Luccini, but a save by senior defender Maddie Derby kept the 1-0 Franklin advantage.
B-R wasn’t done yet though, as a shot by Swart went just wide to the left of the post with six minutes to play, and right after that they had another opportunity off of a corner — their first of the second half — but a good defensive stop from Franklin senior Kayla Marshall kept B-R off the scoreboard.
In the last five minutes of the second half, B-R controlled possession, but were unable to get any shots off, as numerous Franklin clears kept the ball around midfield. With one minute left, Page drove through the Franklin defense, but a clear by Derby followed up by another clear by Franklin’s Kate Morse 20 seconds later with B-R threatening again sealed the victory for the Panthers.
Franklin, winners of 12 games in the regular season, will look to avenge their worst loss of the year on Sunday in Walpole, where they fell 7-0 at back on September 24th. The Porkers, who beat Oliver Ames, 2-1, in overtime on Friday, won the Bay State Conference Herget Division title during the regular season, have yet to lose this year.
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Reporter
HockomockSports.com Student Reporter Jaron May contributed to this report.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – On a cold, rainy afternoon at the Beaver Street turf, Franklin and King Phillip battled hard for 60 minutes and finished level with a 1-1 tie.
The two teams, who were both ranked in HockomockSports.com’s latest Hock 5 rankings, with Franklin at #1 and KP at #3, came into the game unbeaten in Hockomock League play.
Early on, Franklin took control with two shots in the first three minutes, but sound defense from KP prevented the Panthers from scoring.
After the first few minutes, KP took control for the majority of the rest of the opening half. After a promising scoring opportunity off of a corner was stopped on a clear from Franklin’s Kayla Marshall, KP cashed in.
At the 13:14 mark, KP’s third corner of the opening half proved fruitful when sophomore Nicole Conner found senior Caitlin Donahue on the post to give KP an early 1-0 advantage. KP’s passing on corners made it tough for the Franklin defense, but they stood strong, as they stopped the Warriors on six of their seven corner chances.
Franklin saw another scoring chance off their only corner of the first half at the 8:34 mark, but a clear by sophomore Caroline Klim maintained a 1-0 lead for KP.
The Panthers started out the second half with two straight corners at 28:53 and 28:38, but big defensive stops by KP prevented the Panthers from scoring on either attempt.
“Our defense was awesome, we’re the number one [defense] in the Hock, we were squashing everything, and denied pretty much everything,” KP coach Liz Hathaway said.
At 24:45, Donahue had another scoring opportunity, but a save by Franklin goalie Christina Luccini kept the Franklin deficit at 1-0. Luccini came up big again for Franklin with 19:05 to go in the half, when KP’s Alli Meehan was all alone on a breakaway, but Luccini’s diving save knocked the ball away and back into Franklin territory.
“Christina’s brand new, a first year varsity kid who’s only a sophomore, and has only been playing goalie for two years, but she’s aggressive and she has great instincts,” said Franklin head coach Lisa Cropper.
Just over the halfway mark of the second half, Franklin’s Cassi Ronan’s shot got past KP goalie Abby Campbell to knot the game up at 1-1. After a save by Campbell off of a Franklin corner, KP had a corner of their own with 5:03 left in the second half, but the ball was knocked back into Franklin territory. Another Franklin opportunity with three minutes left was thwarted by KP, and the game would end in a 1-1 tie.
“We didn’t play perfectly well the way we were hoping to, but they’ve improved a lot. I knew they would be tough, but they’ve improved a lot even more since I saw them at the beginning of the season, and I was really proud with the way the girls fought back and were able to tie it,” Cropper said.
“It’s a quality tie,” added Hathaway
Franklin (4-1-3, 4-0-3) heads to Canton on Friday to take on the Bulldogs. KP (6-0-2, 6-0-2) will head to Stoughton on Friday for a matchup with the Black Knights.
2015 Record: 10-8-2 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lindsay Antunes
After a year off from the postseason, Attleboro made its way back to the postseason in 2015 and is looking to continue that trend in 2015. The Bombardiers are returning a handful of playoff experienced players and also have spots open for players to step into and make a name for themselves. Some of the experienced players will also shift positions to help voids left. Marissa Dias is back to anchor the defense again this year while three year varsity player Grace Mayer’s versatility has shined as she’s played all over the field. Sophomore Alexis Compton will get minutes at forward and could be a breakout player for the Bombardiers this year.
“I have returners who have filled deficits on the field by transitioning into new roles,” Attleboro head coach Lindsay Antunes said. “The players who are sliding into new positions are facing these challenges with eagerness. Their willingness and immense capability are a large part of the reason behind the changes being made. I have a great deal of confidence in this newly built team, and are certain that they are going to work hard to compete with the high level of competitiveness within this league.”
With a good amount of returning varsity players, Canton is hoping it can return to the top of the Hockomock League. It also helps that coach Chrissy O’Connor – who won a D2 State Championship with Canton in 2004 – is back at the helm. O’Connor coached for over a decade, capping her final year with an undefeated season. Senior Julia Ezepik is back to anchor the defense while Taylor Carrington returns in the cage with starting varsity experience. Juniors Maggie Wade and Andrea McNeil are also back and will be key pieces in Canton’s midfield this season. Senior Caroline Hagan will be an important piece of the attack as well.
“With a new coaching staff this season Canton is looking to continue its tradition of being a competitive force in the Hockomock League,” O’Connor said.
2015 Record: 10-6-3 2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Melissa Bordieri
Expectations are high once again in Foxboro this season. The Warriors have made the postseason for 14 straight years and are looking to extend it to 15 straight seasons this year. Foxboro has a large amount of returning starters and players that had varsity experience, which bodes well for another playoff berth. Things start with Foxboro’s offense as they bring back three forwards that can all score consistently. Sophomore Lily Daly, the team’s leading scorer and MVP last year, is back alongside seniors Meredith Cronin and Emma Daly. Foxboro’s midfield will also have some familiar faces, including Ally Curran and Caroline Wheatley. The Warriors will have a new goalie between the pipes this year as Kelly McCarthy takes over for Jill Delaney. After two years as the understudy, head coach Melissa Bordieri is confident in McCarthy to take over.
“I’m confident we can achieve a lot of things,” Bordieri said. “We’ve set our sights on winning the division. We always want to get back to the tournament. This is one of those years I strongly feel a lot of girls can contribute because of our depth.”
2015 Record: 16-3-2 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Lisa Cropper
Franklin has six returning starters back and a total of 10 seniors, setting the Panthers up for another successful season. It’s a mix of all grades for the Panthers, with seniors and captains Caroline Lounsbury, Dana Lewandowski and Kayla Marshall leading the way. Lounsbury and Lewandowski will patrol the midfield along with sophomore Cassie Ronan. Marshall will be a key piece in the defense along with junior Kate Morse. Sophomore Annie Walsh, the 2015 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, will lead a potent attack along with freshmen Maeve Ledwith and Erin Walsh.
“We have a solid group of field players with some young scoring talent and some depth on the bench,” head coach Lisa Cropper said. “Losing two-time Hock All-Star Samantha Jones to graduation leaves a hole in goal to fill, but if our defense plays strong while our inexperienced goalies develop, we should be able to contend for the league title.”
2015 Record: 10-8-2 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Liz Hathaway
King Philip has a bounce back year in 2015 and is hoping to continue that success this season. The Warriors are returning key players all over the field while new players are likely to help fill some voids. Senior captain Caitlin Donahue will be one of the main pieces of the attack while senior captain and junior captain Monica Harvey and Christina Hathaway will anchor the defense. Hathaway will also see time in the midfield while Abby Campbell returns to the cage after a standout sophomore year. Sophomore Alli Meehan is back in the attack after a breakout rookie campaign in 2015.
“We are a young team with some good athletes to build around,” head coach Liz Hathaway said. “Key players have really put in a lot of work in the offseason and summer and are looking fundamentally sound, fast and strong.”
2015 Record: 20-2-0 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Theresa Nyhan
Mansfield took one of the most storied programs to the limit a year ago, forcing double overtime against Walpole in the D1 South Final. The Hornets are looking to continue that success in 2016. Mansfield will need to replace some key pieces if they hope to compete at the same level this year. Julia Todesco Caroline Maher graduated but the Hornets do have league all-stars Amalia Todesco and Caitlin Whitman are back this season. Todesco and fellow senior captain Jen McCabe will be key pieces of Mansfield’s defensive unit while Todesco will also see time in the midfield. Whitman will be a key cog in the Hornets’ midfield as well. Junior Emily Ierardo and senior Olivia Horn are two returners that should help bolster Manfield’s attack this year.
2015 Record: 3-11-3 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Kim Danish
The Scarlet Hawks are hoping senior leadership will help right the ship after just three wins a year ago. Milford has 13 seniors on the team, including some key experienced players in different parts of the field. Senior Emily Smith returns as the starting goalie again this year, which is already a good start for Milford. Senior captain Kaitlyn DeCapua will anchor the defense with her versatility, senior captain Tina Capone will bring speed to the midfield and senior captain Ali Atherton will relied upon to pace Milford’s offense. Shannon Cormier will also be a player to watch for the Scarlet Hawks this season.
“The 2016 Milford Hawks are persistent, determined, and resilient,” head coach Kim Danish said. “We have quickly come together as a team, and we are looking to battle through our Hock schedule.”
After missing out on the postseason a year ago, North Attleboro is looking to find its way back in 2016 and will try to do so by working from the back up. Senior captains Mary Kummer and Teresa Bagarella, who both have a lot of varsity experience, will anchor the back line. Senior Liz Morehouse takes over the starting job in the cage for North this season. Their defense will be the catalyst for the Rocketeers’ offense this season. seniors Kaleigh Cole and Jamie Cromidas, along with juniors Olivia Gedgaudas, Kaley Gorman, Emilie Pothier and Olivia Horricks will look to link up as the Rocketeers transition from defense to offense and go on the attack.
“We are a team that will get better with each game,” head coach Karen Folan said.
Oliver Ames has experienced a lot of success in recent seasons and the goal remains the same this year, despite a coaching change. Former Foxboro and Salve Regina standout Abby Tepper has taken over at the helm and Oliver Ames is now competing in the Kelley-Rex division. Senior captains Kendall Clifford and Katie Davenport will be the leaders for the Tigers this season. Clifford will anchor the midfield unit while Davenport will continue as a top defensive player in the Hockomock. Dimitra Efremidis will be a key part of Oliver Ames’ offense this season, with the ability to set up teammates and find the back of the net herself.
“I am very proud of the girls so far during preseason putting in extra work even outside of practice times,” Tepper said.
2015 Record: 0-16-0 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrea Vandette
The Eagles are hoping some added depth will lead to a turnaround season and a step in the right direction for the future. Sharon has three senior captains, Georgia Salvatore, Shafali Reddy and Michelle Lu, all of which are returning varsity players with experience. All three are defenders so Sharon is relying on a solid defensive foundation to lead the way in 2016. Lindsey Moses will be the starting goalie this season after seeing some minutes a year ago. Erica Dougherty and Stephanie Wasserman will be new options at forward this season alongside returning varsity player, Emily Locke.
“We made a lot of progress last year and I feel like we are picking up right where we left off,” head coach Andrea Vandette said. “This years squad is a lot bigger than last year and that depth on the bench is much appreciated.”
2015 Record: 10-8-3 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Dan Mark
Stoughton has been on the rise over the last three seasons and after an appearance in the D1 South tournament, the Black Knights will look to continue the upward trajectory in 2016. Reigning Hockomock League MVP and Northeastern-commit Angela Connelly is back to control the midfield for the Black Knights. Olivia Schlehuber and Mia Russell are both returning starters at the forward position, which bodes well for Stoughton’s attack. Kayla Oliviera, Kelly Corrigan and Kelly Joyce all saw plenty of playing time last season and will be important pieces in the midfield this season. Senior Meghan McSweeney and sophomore Gianna Barbosa will battle for the starting job in the cage.
“We are looking forward to a good season with a mix of veteran and new players,” head coach Dan Mark said.
2015 Record: 1-15-2 2015 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Elizabeth Hathaway
After finding the win column just one year ago, Taunton is looking to make a big step forward in 2016. The Tigers, playing in the incredibly competitive Kelley-Rex division, will have some experience to rely on in some parts of the field but will be looking to youth in others. Senior’s Katie Van Zandt and Bre Conlon will be key pieces on defense for the Tigers this season. Junior’s Kya Enos and Liana Duarte are returners that will pace Taunton’s offense this season. Both proved to be key pieces of the attack a season ago. Taunton will rely on youth in the middle of the field as sophomores Jillian Pagliuca and Lauren Torres will both play important roles at midfield.
“We are a young team, hoping to use speed and space to our advantage in offensive play,” head coach Liz Hathaway said.
Players to Watch
Players are listed alphabetically
Abby Campbell, King Philip – The class of 2016 included a lot of the top goalies in the league. However, Campbell emerged as one of the top netminders during her sophomore year and could be the top goalie in league in 2016.
Kendall Clifford, Oliver Ames – The Tigers have had a strong run as of late and will need another strong season to compete in the Kelley-Rex. Clifford’s presence in the midfield will be key for the Tigers as she helps the team transition from defense to offense.
Angela Connolly, Stoughton – The reigning Hockomock League MVP is back after helping Stoughton to the playoffs last year. She scored 11 goals and added 15 assists and will be a true double threat for the Black Knights this year.
Lily Daly, Foxboro – It’s rare that a freshman leads a team and scoring but that’s exactly what Daly did a year ago, being named team MVP. With forwards Meredith Cronin and Emma Daly back as well, Foxboro should have a potent attack.
Mary Kummer/Teresa Bagarella, North Attleboro – The Rocketeers should have a strong defense this season with senior captains Mary Kummer and Teresa Bagarella. The duo has a lot of experience and that bodes well for North Attleboro this season.
Dana Lewandowski, Franklin – The senior captain midfielder has a large presence on the field for the Panthers. Lewandowski controls the midfield, has the ability to get forward and score and can set up teammates at the same time.
Grace Mayer, Attleboro – Attleboro made a trip to the postseason in 2015 and Mayer’s 11 goals and three assists were a big reason. The Bombardiers will have a lot of competition in the Kelley-Rex but Mayer will be a top offensive producer again this year.
Jen McCabe, Mansfield – The Hornets had a historic run to the sectional final and the offense got a lot of attention but the back line was rock solid throughout the year. McCabe was one of the center pieces to that defense and is back as a senior captain this year.
Annie Walsh, Franklin – The defending HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year is back after a breakout rookie season. Walsh will be looking to produce numbers (nine goals and seven assists) like she did a season ago.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin and King Philip faced off in the Div. 1 South tournament on Friday afternoon at the Beaver Street field. It was the third meeting between the two Kelley-Rex rivals this season with the Panthers winning each of the first two by a single goal both times.
Friday’s game would not be as close. The Warriors were coming off a thrilling, but draining, stroke-off win against Plymouth South in the opening round and the Panthers took advantage of the extra preparation time to create more offense.
It all worked for the home team and Franklin would come away with a 4-0 win that advances the Panthers to the sectional quarterfinal and a rematch with Dennis-Yarmouth on the Beaver Street turf on Sunday.
“I was not looking forward to having to beat [KP] a third time,” admitted Franklin coach Lisa Cropper after the game.
She added, “They had a long, emotional game on Wednesday, so I figured…they’d be pumped up and running on adrenaline, but maybe running on fumes and I felt if we got up on them early that we would have the upper hand the entire way.”
It was actually the Warriors that had the better chances in the opening minutes of the game. Franklin goalie Sam Jones was forced into two big saves right off the opening whistle and it looked like the confidence of Wednesday’s win may be leading KP to another upset.
But, after the first five minutes, Franklin took control. First the Panthers hit the post on a quick break and then Kelsey McPhee opened the scoring off an assist from freshman Annie Walsh in the 11th minute.
“They scored on some beautiful offensive corners,” said KP coach Liz Hathaway. “There was really no way to stop those and they’re strong; their defense is strong and it’s really hard to penetrate.”
In the 23rd minute, Franklin doubled its lead when another freshman, Cassi Ronan, found the back of the net on a first-time shot from senior Taylor Reutlinger’s assist.
“Having played them twice already,” explained Cropper, “we knew exactly how their defense was going to be and use what they do on defense against them. We kept using that short pass to Cassi and Annie.”
The Warriors tried to get the ball forward, particularly down the wings, looking for attackers Casie Curtin and Mary O’Connor, but each time the pay was cut off by Franklin’s strong midfield, including senior Kenzie Pleshaw who had a number of interceptions. As the game wore on, Franklin’s pressure intensified.
“We started out the first 10 minutes of the game really dominating and ready to go,” said Hathaway. “We got a few corner out of it and if we could have put one of those in then it could’ve been a different game.”
KP had a chance eight minutes after the break but again Jones was equal to the shot at her post and kicked it aside. Four minutes later and Franklin had the dagger. Walsh’s initial shot was saved by sophomore goalie Abby Campbell, who made 12 saves in the game, but Diana Griffin followed up and knocked in the rebound.
Two minutes after that, the Panthers struck again on the break. This time it was Griffin playing provider with a long pass out of midfield right to the stick of Walsh and the freshman coolly knocked it home.
“She was on fire today,” said Cropper of Walsh. “She was flying all over the place.”
“Our strength is definitely our midfield and our defense, our seniors, but she and Cassi and Christina [Quinn] provided a spark on offense.”
Although the final score was not as close as the two regular season games, Hathaway took nothing away from the play of her team and gave all the credit to the hosts.
She said, “I think that was just an amazing win [on Wedmesday]. We were ready for anything…but Franklin just did a good job today.”
A cheer went up from the Franklin bench when it was informed that the next opponent woul be Dennis-Yarmouth. The Panthers have been knocked out each of the last two seasons by D-Y and both times on the road. Now, D-Y has to come to Franklin.
Cropper joked, “Make them take the long ride this time.”
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.