NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Taunton’s defensive game plan for Wednesday night’s game at Muscato Stadium was to keep someone as close to Oliver Ames sophomore forward Hannah Stryke as possible. But, when the hosts got into transition, Stryke got free just one time and it turned out to be decisive.
Stryke scored the opening goal with a little more than five minutes remaining in the first half and then junior Cassie Gennis tacked on a second after the break to give OA a 2-0 victory to keep the Tigers in third place in the division.
OA got off to a great start in the game, recording a pair of shots on goal inside the opening minute. Gennis had one of the chances at the near post but was denied by Taunton goalie Emma Sheehan (four saves).
Taunton started to gain a foothold shortly after and had the bulk of the offensive possession in the opening half of play. Alana Tavares had the first good chance with a shot from distance through a crowd in front that forced a kick save out of OA goalie Kara Ostrander.
Gennis had a good look at goal 10 minutes before the break when she was left all alone about 15 feet from goal but she swung and missed when the pass came to her. Taunton nearly broke the deadlock four minutes later when Tavares fed Cierra Martel in transition, but her backhanded effort was swept wide of the post.
Inside of a minute, the hosts had taken the lead. It was a quick break out of the back and freshman Georgia Costello flicked a pass into the path of Stryke behind the last Taunton defender. Stryke just beat Sheehan to the ball, with the two players colliding, and the ball rolled over the line.
“That goal was beautiful,” said first-year OA coach Sharon Lawrence. “That was so pretty, just pass, pass, pass, and right through her legs. It definitely settled us down a little and gave us momentum and from there we came out in the second half ready to get another one.”
Taunton had another half-chance before the break, but Hannah Blackwell’s shot was wide of the post. It would be the best chance for the visitors until the final five minutes of the game. Despite Taunton breaking consistently through Bartel, Tavares, and Lauren Torres, the OA defense held firm. Led by Ellie Waters and Emily Han, the hosts kept Taunton from creating chances in the crease.
“Our defense played super well together tonight,” Lawrence said. “I could hear them communicating a lot. We’ve been working on stepping up outside the circle and putting pressure on instead of teams putting pressure on us. I think it worked.”
Gennis had a chance saved by Sheehan shortly after the break, but just a minute later she put the game out of reach. Gennis reacted quickest to a loose ball in the circle and her shot appeared to take a deflection that wrong-footed Sheehan and rolled inside the far post.
Lawrence joked, “It was a little dribbler, but we’ll take it. A goal is a goal.”
The visitors were largely comfortable at the back for the remainder of the game. Although Taunton gave up a pair of goals, Hathaway was complimentary of the defense’s overall performance.
“Our defense is pretty rock solid,” she said. “They definitely kept us in this. This is Skylar [Rheaume’s] second game playing defense and she was awesome. Jocelyn Pagliuca is the most consistent player we have and Kathryn [Robinson], I can’t say enough about how they played.”
Taunton’s best chance to cut the lead in half with five minutes to play. Bartel got int space down the right side and sent a pass across the goal to Blackwell, but the ball bounced up at the last second and struck her leg before she had a chance to knock it in.
Hathaway said, “The girls played well. I definitely thought the second half was more back and forth. You can’t win if you don’t score goals, so we just need to get those opportunities to get the ball in the back of the net.”
Oliver Ames field hockey (5-2-0, 4-2-0) will try to keep momentum going on Thursday at Sharon. Taunton (2-3-2, 2-3-1) will try to bounce back with a trip to Milford.
Attleboro is looking to bounce back from a five-win season in 2017 and make a push up the league standings by mixing experienced players with a talented group of underclassmen that could make instant contributions for the Bombardiers.
The midfield will be a strength for the Bombardiers this season with returning starters like senior Kyra Lyons and junior Anna Back. Up front, leading scorer Grace Mayer graduated but senior Alex Compton was second on the team in points and will be counted on to fire in the goals. Attleboro will be hoping for more consistency from the defensive group this season to cut down on the 76 goals it allowed last year and senior goalie Shealyn Harrison will help keep things organized.
Attleboro coach Lindsay Antunes said, “We are looking forward to this season, as we have a lot of strong returning players throughout each line. We are fortunate to be pairing these returners with a very skilled and unsuspecting younger class, who I am certain will be instrumental in making a positive difference on our team.”
Davenport division champion Canton went to overtime against top seed Somerset Berkeley in last year’s Div. 1 South semifinal and was a goal away from setting up an all-Hock final. The Bulldogs bring back a lot of talent from last year’s squad and will be hoping to make a run at back-to-back titles.
Senior forward Maggie Malloy will once again be the focal point up top after leading the Bulldogs with 27 goals and eight assists last fall. Malloy will be joined up top by sophomore Maria Femia. Junior Kaitlyn Goyetch, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, is back in the midfield and she will get helped out by sophomore Meghan Labelle. Senior Katie Trerice will be the leader of the defense and sophomore Rose Malloy will jump in and contribute as well. Sophomore Riley O’Connor will take over in goal this fall.
Canton coach Chrissy O’Connor said, “We are looking forward to seeing the hard work and effort our players put in this pre-season pay off on the field.”
With 14 seniors on the roster this season, Foxboro has set its sights on regaining the Davenport division crown that it lost by just two points to Canton last year. Two years removed from winning the Div. 2 South title, the Warriors seem poised to make another deep tournament run with a team loaded with talent, depth, and experience.
Senior forward Lily Daly, the team’s leading scorer each of the past three seasons, will once again team up with classmate Sophia DiCenso to form one of the league’s most dynamic attacking units. Senior Molly Murphy and junior Jamie Notarangelo will add to an already formidable offense. Senior Meghan Curran will lead the midfield unit along with classmate Carly Stern and the defense will be guided by seniors Caroline McGeary and Kristin Whalen, while senior goalie Julia Carangelo.
After come narrowly short of the league title last season and reaching the sectional semifinal, expectations are typically sky high for one of the league’s perennial powers.
2017 Record: 10-8-2 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Michelle Hess
Michelle Hess returns to the Franklin bench this season after eight years away from the program and she inherits a team that has the talent to compete for a league title and expectations of being able to make a deep run in the state tournament as well.
Senior midfielder Cassi Ronan is the primary playmaker for the Panthers and was the team’s leading scorer last fall with 16 goals and eight assists. One of the league’s top players, Ronan will be the primary focus of the opposition, but senior Regan Paterson can take some of that pressure off and will chip in with goals from the forward position. Senior Emily Valentino and junior Maeve Ledwith will provide organization for the defensive unit and senior Christina Luccini will be back in goal to backstop the defense.
“We are looking to improve on last years record and would love to go further in the tournament,” said Hess.
2017 Record: 19-3-1 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 State Semifinal Coach: Kimberly Meehan and Erin MacDonald
King Philip had a dominating run through the 2017 season, winning the Kelley-Rex title while losing just two games in the Hock all season, and then claiming the Div. 1 South title for the first time. This year, KP has a new coaching staff, with Kimberly Meehan and Erin MacDonald taking over the reigns, and high expectations with an experienced and talented roster.
The Warriors return six seniors, who will be counted on to keep the team focused in its quest for a second straight title. Alli Meehan will be the primary attacking threat again this season. The Northeastern University-commit scored 40 points last regular season, despite missing a couple of games. Senior Claire Lawlor will be on the left wing to support the attack, and senior Nicole Conner will jump into the attack from her midfield position as well. Three-year starter Dana Truini will run the midfield for the Warriors, providing support on both ends of the field. Defensively, senior Emma Izydorczak, a St. Anselm-commit, will be the leader of the back line to keep things organized. Fellow senior Kate Lindmark will also help out for a defense that last year allowed only 13 goals in 23 games.
Expectations remain high for the program this season and the new coaches “anticipate a very successful season led by their powerful seniors.”
Mansfield reached the state tournament again last year and was the only team in the league to beat Kelley-Rex champion King Philip (twice, in fact), but the Hornets have their sights set on returning to the top of the league standings as they did in 2014 and 2015. With a balanced roster that has depth all over the field, the Hornets have a chance to unseat KP in the division.
The Hornets have 10 seniors and experience all over the field. The forward line will include seniors Lauren Clang, Tori Farrington, Alicia Hottleman, Brooke Downy and Hayleigh Crawford. The midfield unit will be led by seniors Maggie Danehy and Kelly Doherty, who showed her versatility last season in several positions. Senior goalie Kayla Hunter is also back to help keep the defense solid. Newcomers like sophomore forward Abby Varricchione and sophomore midfielder Stori Rounds will jump in and contribute as well.
“We have some speed, some strong and some finesse,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhen. “Mansfield field hockey is a team of heart and hustle. As a team, we still have lots of work to do but are looking forward to the fun competition in the Hockomock League.”
New head coach Katie Blackburn will try to improve on Milford’s three wins from last season with a group that has a lot of experience, especially on the back line, and speedy forward line that will try to fire in the goals.
The defense is filled with upperclassmen with seniors Eliza Valente and Emily Haley anchoring the back line along with junior Paige Reisman. Juniors Bella Gonzalez and Kathryn Swineford will be key players in the midfield and sophomore Madison Carneiro is a player to watch in the Milford front line, which Blackburn said would include a number of players that have a variety of skill sets.
Blackburn added, “Each player is unique and it has been exciting to see them all learning how to play together. We have a lot of speed as well as ball handling skills that will help us move the ball up the field and into the attacking circle.”
2017 Record: 9-7-4 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Karen Folan
North Attleboro got back into the state tournament last fall, only to run into perennial power Walpole in the second round, and the Rocketeers have a deep roster to make another run this year and potentially challenge Canton and Foxboro at the top of the Davenport. The new turf at Beaupre Field should also help North utilize the team’s speed.
The Rocketeers have a ton of experience coming back this season, including seniors Abby Calistra, Julia Feid, Shaylee Maxcy, and Lizzie Frost, who will form a solid defensive corps in front of junior goalie Emma Strachan, who head coach Karen Folan said has improved her quickness in the off-season. Speedy midfielders Michelle Pothier and fellow junior Lindsay Robinson will join senior Jess Strachan, while senior Tara Nair and junior Faith Graveline will be up top.
Folan said, “We are looking forward to another year in the competitive Hockomock League. Our offense will start with our defense this season. We hope to use our cohesive ball movement to transition the ball quickly up the field and into the offensive circle to generate lots of shots on net.”
2017 Record: 9-7-3 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round. Coach: Sharon Lawrence
Oliver Ames is coming off a strong regular season performance, tying for third place in the Kelley-Rex division with 18 points, but they had to go on the road to Taunton in the playoffs and lost an overtime heartbreaker. First-year coach Sharon Lawrence takes over this season and has a roster with 11 juniors and seniors to try and make another run at a postseason bid.
Senior Meghan Rockey is one of the players that the Tigers will turn to this year and she will try to control the middle of the field. Fellow senior Kayla Lozzi can step in at forward or midfield and scored 10 points (four goals and six assists) for OA last season, while senior Samantha Clapp adds a defensive presence whether in midfield or defense. Lawrence is also excited for the contributions from the younger players, including sophomore forward Hannah Stryke, who is the Tigers top returning scorer with seven goals and four assists as a freshman.
“As a first-year coach, my focus has been on learning and assessing our talent and athleticism to position our players as a team for optimal success,” Lawrence said. “We have returning starters as well as new young talent on both offense and defense, and look to be competitive this season.”
First-year head coach Ashley Courville is looking to build the program from the ground up, and she is counting on a large roster and a core of returning players to get Sharon moving in the right direction this season. With only one sophomore on the roster, experience shouldn’t be an issue for the Eagles as they turn things around.
The defense will be led seniors Varsha Poreddy and Rebecca Clayman. Junior Blaize Hanna will also be part of that group this fall. The midfield has seniors Georgia Cheney and Lauren Yaffe to help out in the attack and also chip in on the defensive side of things. Sophomore Lauren Prenaveau is another player to watch in the Eagles midfield. Up top, senior forward Elizabeth Romantz will be counted on to add to Sharon’s goal tally.
Courville said, “We have a large team this year with a handful of returning players giving the team consistency and determination. Our defense has added strength and depth, while our offense has added speed.”
2017 Record: 7-12-1 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dan Mark
Stoughton graduated 13 players from last year’s team and then lost leading scorer Julia Russell to a knee injury, but there is hope for the Black Knights to make a run at a state tournament spot as the inexperienced players gain valuable minutes at the varsity level.
Defense will be a strength for Stoughton this fall, with returning seniors Katie Widrow and Jeanna Girolamo adding stability and keeping things organized at the back. Sophomore Kayla Lobby will start in goal for the Black Knights. In the midfield, senior Jordan Lyons is a strong two-way player and she will be looking to get the ball forward to the sticks of seniors Allie Howe and Alanna McCormick, who will both be trying to make up for the production that was expected from Russell.
Stoughton coach Dan Mark is hopeful that his team can meet its potential. He said, “We will be inexperienced in many areas, but do have several players who played regularly last year.”
2017 Record: 11-8-1 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Liz Hathaway
Taunton had one of its best seasons in program history last year, winning 11 games and advancing in the playoffs for the first time by beating Oliver Ames in an overtime thriller. The Tigers will look to build on that success and compete with the top teams in the ultra-competitive Kelley-Rex division.
The Taunton midfield will be a strength this season, as it is filled with experienced players. Seniors Jillian Pagliuca, Lauren Torres, and Mabel Smith are all capable of making plays on both ends of the field and all read the game well to keep the Tigers moving in the right direction. Senior forward Ciera Bartel will be joined up front by last year’s playoff hero Alana Tavares. The sophomore forward scored the game-winner against OA and has the speed to cause defense lots of problems. The Tigers defense will be led by junior Kathryn Robinson and sophomore Jocelyn Pagliuca and if anyone gets through then senior goalie Emma Sheehan will be there to stop them.
Taunton coach Liz Hathaway said, “This team has come together and have a great on field bond that allows them to successfully execute plays and breakaways.”
TAUNTON, Mass. – With just under four minutes to play, top-seeded Somerset-Berkley ramped up its offensive pressure and had four consecutive penalty corners.
Holding a 1-0 lead, King Philip head coach Liz Hathaway thought about using her timeout to try and give her defensive group a breather to settle down. But instead of giving the Raiders a chance to draw something up, she put full trust in her defense and goalie.
The first corner had a shot from Somerset-Berkley defender Alex Millar blocked by a KP defender’s foot, giving the Raiders another chance. That ensuing corner found its way around the area but was blocked away at the near post by Campbell.
With just two minutes to go, the Raiders had another corner but once again KP’s defense stood tall and the Warriors walked away with a 1-0 win to win the D1 South Sectional title.
“I was contemplating taking a timeout with two minutes left to get them to settle but I kind of wanted to get a big out to get some momentum and they ended up doing that,” Liz Hathaway said.
“I totally trust my team defense and my keeper. I knew in that situation, that they are prepared whatever came at us. They got a flurry of corners but I just believed in them and they got the job done. They knew what was at stake.”
Despite Somerset-Berkley having an 11-1 advantage in penalty corners in the second half alone, Campbell and the Warriors notched the shutout.
“We know we have to keep our composure, and we practice defending multiple corners in a row at practices,” Campbell said. “Coach trusts every single one of us, whether you’re on the sideline or on the field, she trusts us. I think it says a lot about this team and our chemistry. We’re always amping each other up to just clear the next one.”
After a start that featured little offense from either side, King Philip started to take control.
Sammy Robison took away a partial breakaway chance from Lucas Crook in the eighth minute, and Crook blasted a shot wide on the Raiders’ lone corner of the half.
“We just wanted to play Somerset-Berkley, the team,” Liz Hathaway said. “We wanted to avoid all the other stuff (Somerset-Berkley has two male players in the starting lineup) and just focus on our game. We didn’t really make any adjustments for them, we knew what to expect how they played, and we did it. We played great team defense.
Beyond that, the ball was mostly in KP’s attacking area. The first shot on goal came 18 minutes into the game when Christina Hathaway rifled a low shot that forced a big kick save from SB keeper Madison Ferrara.
KP had an 8-1 advantage on corners in the first half but only had two shots on target.
The Raiders had the first chance of the second half on a long shot from Camryn Crook but Campbell did well to come out and made a big kick clearance.
King Philip turned that save into a counterattack flying up the field with some numbers. After slowing possession down in the offensive third, junior Alli Meehan ended up with the ball on her just outside the area. She used her speed to weave past a pair of defenders and release a shot on target.
The ball beat the goalie but was stopped by a defender’s stick just on the goal line, but the rebound popped right to Nicole Connor, who wasted little time depositing her shot into the cage.
“We knew we wanted to win in regulation and not going into 7-v-7 because from what I understand, they have two of the six field players who are faster and stronger. We didn’t want to get into that situation.
“That’s the game of field hockey, 1-0 never seems like enough but today it was.”
Connor’s goal came with just over 15 minutes to play. The Raiders earned over half of their 11 penalty corners after KP took the lead.
“It’s exciting to get the lead, but we treat it like its 0-0 because we don’t want to have a let up or a breakdown on defense,” Campbell said. “It’s a bit of a relief to get the lead but we know they’re going to come back that much harder at us so we have to be ready.”
King Philip field hockey (19-2-1) advances to the D1 State Semifinal to take on North sectional champion, Andover (20-0-1) on Tuesday, November 14th at Braintree High School at 5:00 PM.
“We’re just going to keep doing what we do and what works for us,” Liz Hathaway said. “We’ll do a little bit of scouting on the teams from the North. We’ll just keep playing our game, this is a loose team that knows how to turn it on at game time.”
TAUNTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames won both meeting with Taunton during the regular season. but Taunton turned the tables in the postseason to even the the season series. First, Taunton won the coin toss on Tuesday (it was actually names picked out of a hat) so that Thursday night’s Div. 1 South playoff game, the first for Taunton in 27 years, would be at Aleixo Stadium.
Cheered on by a large, partisan crowd, freshman Alana Tavares scored her second goal in as many games (and second of the season) three minutes into the seven-on-seven overtime to break a scoreless deadlock and hand Taunton its first postseason win in program history.
“We came out with energy that I’ve never seen before,” said Taunton head coach Liz Hathaway. “They just wanted it. I think they wanted it more.”
OA coach Abby Tepper echoed Hathaway’s sentiments, giving credit to the desire and urgency of the hosts. “The fact that they were home,” she said, “they had the adrenaline, the crowd, the first time in 27 years, I mean that’s got to get them going and it did.”
The first attack of the overtime period went to OA, but the Taunton defense made the stop and quickly transitioned down the other end of the field. Senior Liana Duartebullied her way past three OA defenders to create the scoring chance and on the third rebound Tavares was on hand to knock in the loose ball.
“That kid is definitely a spark plug,” Hathaway said of Duarte. “She has the biggest heart and talk about wanting it…she definitely wants it.”
Taunton assistant Mike Fox, who took over for Hathaway after the birth of her child during the season, added, “Graduation is coming in June and…three very vital seniors in the program are leaving us to go forward in college and it was a nice opportunity to maybe have a freshman take that torch and start carrying it.”
OA senior goalie Caitlin Grant nearly kept out Taunton in overtime, sliding out and using her whole body to stop not only Duarte’s initial shot but also the first rebound. In fact, OA would not have even gotten to the overtime, if Grant had not come through with a kick save in the final seconds of regulation to deny Diana Brens off a Tavares assist.
Tepper said, “I told her before the game, ‘You’re a top goalie in the league and you need to play like that. Play on your toes, be ready,’ and she was ready. She had two saves before the goal went in, so not her fault at all. We just didn’t clear it off the pads quick enough.”
What made the victory even more impressive for Taunton is that the Tigers were playing without leading scorer Kya Enos. The senior forward was sidelined with a concussion and forced to miss the playoff game, but for Hathaway and Fox this was a sign of the team’s depth.
“That just goes to show how much they all want it and how much of a team sport this is, not just heavily relying on one player,” said Hathaway. Fox noted, “We spoke about how we could use her injury as a scapegoat and play down or as a springboard and play better and we saw how the girls used it for 60-plus minutes.”
It was a game that featured back-and-forth action, but few clear-cut chances for either team. In the first half, neither team was able to put a shot on target and the two goalies only combined for three saves in regulation.
In the 17th minute, Sarah Stevens set up Hannah Stryke, but the freshman’s first-time shot was just wide of the post. Ten minutes later, Taunton nearly created an opening goal with a straightaway shot by Cierra Bartel off a Brens pass that also went wide.
Off a second half corner, Murphy blasted a shot that Grant blocked aside and off the post, but the official’s whistle called off the effort. Six minutes later, Taunton again had a good chance when Lauren Torres crossed for Brens but the senior was unable to get a touch to the pass.
The visitors were next to create chances with Maggie Woods got to a loose ball right in front but the shot missed wide and then Woods was fed by Stevens in front but her shot was kicked aside by Taunton goalie Emma Sheehan.
Jillian Pagliuca fired a long-range shot at the OA goal and Hannah Blackwell was open on the post but was unable to make contact and knock it in during the final, frenetic moments of regulation.
“I think they beat us to 50-50 balls and, as you can tell they wanted it more,” said Tepper, as the Taunton team and its fans celebrated after the game. “I think we were playing on our heels a little bit, we were reluctant, and they were aggressive.”
In the end, it was Tavares, who scored 64 goals for the lacrosse team as an eighth grader, that came through in the clutch with the winning touch. It was just her second career field hockey goal, but it was a memorable one, sending Taunton into the second round for the first time.
“They’ve got to execute and they did,” said Fox, “but it doesn’t hurt to have home-field advantage and I think you can feel the energy especially when we got to overtime. The girls are pumped up, they’re in front of the student body, they’re in front of their families and friends, and it was a pretty special night.”
Taunton (11-7-1, 8-7-1), the No. 16 seed, will advance to face undefeated top seed Somerset-Berkeley on Saturday afternoon at 3:00. Oliver Ames finishes the season at (9-7-3, 8-6-2).
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield came into Monday night’s game at Alumni Field needing two more points to qualify for the state tournament. The Hornets were celebrating senior night, trying to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Franklin last time out and looking to sweep the season series against league champion King Philip.
It was never going to be an easy task, even with the Warriors missing leading scorer Alli Meehan, but the Hornets rose to the task behind impressive goaltending from Kayla Hunter and a goal from Maggie Danehy to beat KP 1-0 and clinch a spot in the playoffs.
“It’s just how everything falls into place,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan. “We’re coming off an embarrassing loss where we did not play well. It was senior parent night, it was a night game, and we had to qualify for tournament, so all of those things kind of channeled into this.”
She added, “Without a doubt the two best games we played this year were the ones against King Philip. King Philip is an excellent team and tonight they brought out the best in us.”
KP had the first clear chance in the game when Liz Furfari fired a cross from the right side that skidded through the crease but neither Claire Lawler or Reagan Simeone could get the necessary touch to put it away.
The next 10 minutes were completely dominated by the Hornets, who kept the Warriors pinned back in their defensive half and racked up a 7-to-1 edge in corners in the opening half. In one stretch, Abby Campbell had to use the blocker to deny a shot off a corner and then seconds later Emma Izydorczak needed to clear a shot off the line to keep it scoreless.
The Warriors did have a couple of chances in the closing 11 minutes of the half when Katie Lindmark’s pass was tipped just wide by Furfari and then Hunter made a close range stop on Lawler. Danehy had a long-range effort turned aside by Campbell.
Hunter was called upon numerous times in the second half as the league champions pressed for the go-ahead goal. Christina Hathaway saw her blast kicked aside and then moments later Furfari had a shot that was cleared off the line by a defender.
“When our goalie made the first save and then followed it up with a second one then I thought we’re in it,” said Nyhan. “We’ve played so many games where we applied pressure and the other team goes down and scores one and we get deflated but this was just…was the best game we’ve played.”
In the 48th minute, Danehy nabbed the opening goal as she raced the length of the field to get the slightest of touches to a long distance rip by Danny Radev. The ball eluded the leg of Campbell and just beat the stretch of Izydorczak to cross the line.
“She never gives up on the ball,” said Nyhan of Danehy, who seemingly covered every inch of the field. “She is relentless. She is without a doubt our most tenacious player.”
KP coach Liz Hathaway admitted that her team was trying to play away from Danehy, who was breaking up a number of attacks. Hathaway said, “She was outstanding, so we were trying to get the ball out to the right side and send in crosses from there and get players in front.”
The strategy was working for the Warriors with Furfari setting up Simeone only to have the tip go just wide and then having her own shot kicked away by Hunter. The Mansfield goalie was also forced into a solid save by Caroline Klim, teed up by Hathaway off a corner.
Nyhan said, “Huge saves. I’m so happy for her. She worked super hard in practice yesterday. We made some defensive adjustments to help her see the ball and it’s just a confidence builder for her.”
“I thought we played well,” said Liz Hathaway. “I thought we had more shots and more corners and had a lot of pressure at the end. Their goalie played great.”
As the clock wound down to zero, the Hornets all stormed the field and surrounded Hunter in goal, a clear sign of how important this game was to Mansfield.
“Not qualifying was becoming a real pressure,” Nyhan explained. “Kids were playing with their shoulders up around their ears, super tight and I think playing KP where you’re the underdog anyway, they were just like, whatever let’s go for it. Hopefully we can maintain this intensity and this level of play.”
It was only the second loss of the season for the Warriors and Hathaway said, “I guess they have our number this year.” When asked if this might be a reminder to the players of the type of intensity that is coming when the playoffs start next week, she replied, “I think it can be. We’ll have a tough practice tomorrow to get ready for Franklin.”
Hathway added, “When I have 80-90 minutes of intense practice, the girls really enjoy that and it gets them going. We’ll work to be ready for Franklin on Wednesday and try to get a win to build confidence heading into the tournament.”
Mansfield (7-5-4, 7-4-4) will travel to Oliver Ames on Wednesday before hosting Foxboro in a non-league game on Friday to close out the regular season. King Philip (14-2-1, 13-2-0) will travel to Franklin on Wednesday to close out its regular season.
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.
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 Jaron May, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
WRENTHAM, Mass. – There are 60 minutes in a field hockey game, and you cannot let off the gas pedal for one of them if you want to win, especially in the postseason.
Canton fell prey to this on Friday afternoon at Macktaz Field as they lost focus for just a second at the end of regulation and allowed King Philip to tie it up and force an overtime, which eventually ended with a KP goal and 2-1 victory for the hosts.
The first 57 minutes was all Canton. The Bulldogs controlled the time of possession, the tempo of the game, shots on goal, and corner opportunities.
Just five minutes into the first half, the Bulldogs saw their first glimpses at the net. A host of players threw three consecutive shots on net, but none found the back of the net. Then just two minutes later, Canton had their first corner of the game, but KP’s Kate Lindmark stole the crossing pass.
Canton kept the pressure on and attacked the ball on offense and defense, but did not see any other real opportunities. Around the 26-minute mark, however, the Bulldogs’ offense kicked it into gear, drawing three consecutive corners.
The first was blown dead before anything could happen. The second ended with KP’s goalie on the ground, and Canton’s offense throwing repeated shots on net. And the third, was the best look as Canton’s Julia Ezepik sent a rocket right to the middle of the net, but a waiting Abby Campbell was able to stop it.
If you wear down a defense enough, it will break eventually, and that is what happened with only 39 seconds left in the half. Canton sent the ball in from a free hit on the sideline; Andrea McNeil controlled the pass on the right side, turned, faced the net, and slapped the ball past the KP defense and goalie.
With the score 1-0 at the half, Canton had all of the momentum and KP went to the huddle with their heads down.
That same trend continued in the second half as well. Canton dominated the time of possession, won all the 50-50 balls, and kept pressure on offense; while KP had to rely heavily on their defense and didn’t get out on offense until the end of the half.
The Bulldogs kept going to their strengths, corners. They drew another six in the second half to add to their four from the first half. Although nothing came from those opportunities, they were able to wear down KP’s defense, totaling 12 shots on goal for the game.
With just three minutes remaining, still down one, KP’s head coach Liz Hathaway saw her opportunity and took a timeout. They Warriors were beginning to push the ball to the offensive side of the field and gain some momentum.
When asked about what she said in that huddle, Hathaway noted that she just wanted to “shift the ball to our
right, we can attack, cross right, and draw a corner.”
And that is just what they did. At the 2:30 mark, the Warriors set up for their corner. The ball was passed in, thrown on net, kicked out by Canton’s goalie, but right to Elizabeth Furfari who tapped it back in and hit the back of the net.
Hathaway was extremely proud of her girls and Furfari’s resilience saying the goal “propelled us into overtime and we dominated in overtime.”
In the 15 minutes of 7-on-7 overtime, KP had the momentum. The Warriors got right out on the attack and put as much pressure on the Bulldog defense as possible.
Some failed attempts from KP, coupled with some big saves by Canton’s Taylor Carrington, kept the game knotted up for the first 13 minutes of overtime. Canton had the best look of the period when they got out on a two-on-none breakaway. A huge kick save by Campbell stopped them in their tracks however and sent KP right back on the offensive.
The Warriors were able to draw seven corners in the overtime period, capitalizing on their final one with 1:20 left. Christina Hathaway received the inbounding pass, dribbled around a few defenders, and then found a streaking Lindmark up the left side. Lindmark wound up and fired a shot that was just too quick for the goalie to react to.
With the loud clack of plastic hitting wood, the scoreboard switched to 2-1, and KP completed the comeback.
Hathaway after the game was ecstatic for her girls and how they were able to fight back. She said, “I’m just really happy for them. We are having such an amazing season and to lose to Franklin and the Kelley-Rex title, this makes up for it. Since we are moving on.”
She even thought that, although her team may not have played their best game, they will be able to take the playoff win and grow from it. “Now they have more experience, have that tournament atmosphere, they get what it is all about,” Hathaway explained. “They have confidence that they can finish a game and come from behind.”
With the heartbreaking loss, Canton closes their season 13-5-2. KP (13-2-4) will be moving on to the next round of playoffs where they will be traveling to take on No. 3 seed Somerset Berkley on Sunday.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames senior Dimitra Efremidis thought for sure that she had tied Wednesday evening’s division matchup with King Philip, but with 14 minutes to go her shot through traffic rang against the inside of the post and sliced across the face of the goal.
That thin of a margin separated the Warriors and Tigers at Muscato Stadium, with KP holding on for a 2-1 victory. The margins are that thin in the race for the Kelley-Rex title as well, as the victory keeps the Warriors ahead of rival Franklin by a solitary point with just three games remaining in the regular season.
“I don’t have to motivate this group. They want it,” said KP coach Liz Hathaway of the team’s quest for its first league title since 2008. “We have that one loss on the season (to Stoughton) and they did not like it, so since then they’ve been on a tear. They know what’s at stake, I don’t even have to say it.”
Despite suffering a fourth loss in the past five games, first-year OA coach Abby Tepper was upbeat about the effort that the Tigers showed on senior night, pushing KP right to the final horn.
“This was one of the best games that I’ve seen them play so far,” said Tepper. “When we played Mansfield, we beat them but we had let downs, but this game I feel like they played the whole game and we had chances at the end.”
The Tigers had plenty of chances throughout an entertaining game that saw both teams create scoring opportunities. It was the home team that cashed in first with Kendall Clifford’s cross from the right tipped in at the near post by Cristina Boudreau, through the five-hole of KP goalie Abby Campbell (six saves), just seven minutes in.
KP nearly answered right back when a looping shot from Christina Hathaway was cleared off the goal line by Sarah Tetrault, who knocked the aerial ball down from shoulder height. A minute later and the Warriors did tie the game when OA goalie Katie Vamosi(six saves) was caught off her line and Alli Meehan found space to slide in a shot.
Vamosi would make amends two minutes later with a sliding save to stop Caitlin Donahue’s shot from distance. After OA had a tying goal wiped away for a whistle, Efremidis would be denied not once but twice by Campbell. The first was on a diving save down low to the junior’s right and the second when Campbell managed to get a stick to a high, dipping shot off a penalty corner.
“They have that beautiful aerial corner that we knew about,” said Hathaway. “Abby knew it was going to go there and she’s great at the aerials. She made a great save.”
The save looked even bigger with two minutes left until halftime. Again from a corner, KP worked the ball through the crease in front of goal and Elizabeth Furfari worked space in front to flick an off-hand shot inside the far post for what turned out to be the game-winner.
In the second half, OA pushed for an equalizing goal and the Warriors pressed to limit the space for Efremidis and the Tigers attackers to work in. Hathaway praised the effort of sweeper Emma Izydorczak and left back Kate Lindmark for closing up the space in front of goal and stopping the cross from the right that OA used to score the opening goal.
“We knew that we had to press them and try to keep Dimitra down,” said Hathaway about the defensive strategy. “We had to press and stop the cutters up the middle and their crosses from left to right are huge and my left back and sweep did an awesome job to get the ball out.”
The Warriors also created chances on the counterattack but were denied by Vamosi, who made four saves in the second half, and by defender Katie Davenport, who was a constant presence in the middle.
The Tigers had already seen a shot get tipped just wide of the post, smacking the boarding on the outside of the goal and sending up a premature cheer from the bleachers, when Efremidis got free in the left channel and fired a low shot that looked destined for the corner. The senior could not mark her final regular season game under the lights at Muscato Stadium with a goal, as the ball clanged off the post and stayed out.
“Hitting the post and tipping outside wide…that’s unlucky,” said Tepper. “I told them before the game to have each other’s back and give 100 percent and I’ll be proud and that’s what they did. From what I saw…they left it all on the field.”
The close call keeps KP in front by the slimmest of margins and the Warriors hold their own destiny. Win the final three games and they will be champions. “
King Philip (11-1-3, 10-1-2) will begin its final stretch at Taunton on Friday, before closing with Mansfield and Franklin. Oliver Ames (8-4-3, 6-4-3) will look to get back on track on Friday at home against Attleboro.