Alexander Helps Panthers Roll Against King Philip

Franklin boys lacrosse
Jake Alexander (2) dominated the face-off ‘X’ again on Monday and helped Franklin pull out a win against KP. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – The FOGO (“face-off, get-off”) position can sometimes be overlooked, as the players may only be on the field for a few minutes and many times are on the bench or heading back to the box when the ball finds the back of the net. But when a FOGO dominates a game, those few minutes of playing time can play a critical role in the final result.

Freshman Jake Alexander has come in this season and provided a spark for Franklin and on Monday night his domination of the face-off ‘X’ (winning all but three face-offs) provided a platform for the Panthers to break away in the second half and get one step closer to a fourth straight league title.

Franklin turned a two-goal lead at halftime into as much as a 10-goal lead in the fourth quarter and rolled to a 13-6 victory over the Warriors at Pisini Field, leaving games against Oliver Ames and MIlford between the Panthers and a perfect league record.

“It’s such a key position and a key role,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi of the FOGO. Of Alexander, Verrochi added, “He’s been awesome…awesome. For a kid his size to be as good as he is…and not only that he’s so quick and he’s got good stick skills.”

KP coach Jacob Kravitz was effusive in his praise for Alexander. He said, “They’re face-off guy deserves a lot of attention…If it’s a 50-50 situation, I think we have as much talent as them…but when they get 90 percent of the possessions then their talented players get the ball.”

Kravitz added, “When you’re that good against everybody, you deserve to be mentioned in the MVP conversation.”

When Alexander wins the Panthers the ball it allows attackers like Eric Civetti and Austin Kent go to work and the pair combined for seven goals, despite another stellar performance from KP goalie Paul Macrina, who made 12 saves and kept the Warriors in the game into the second half.

“Paul had a great game,” said Kravitz. “People look at his size and think, he’s just a big kid in net, but his footwork is phenomenal, he does a real good job getting lateral, and he sees the ball really well.”

After junior Tim Watson put KP ahead in the opening minutes, Franklin responded with Civetti’s first on a trademark move on the edge of the crease capped off by a low angle shot to the top corner from just a few feet from goal. Kent then fed sophomore Luke Downie for a rip from straightaway to make it 2-1 after one.

In the second quarter, Chase Tanner fired in a man-up goal off a Civetti assist but KP responded a minute later with the first of Sam Agricola’s two goals. It stayed 3-2 until the final 30 seconds of the half, but Franklin added a fourth on Kent’s first following a pump fake and a few steps to get a better angle.

Kent’s second early in the third quarter was a laser to the top corner, which no goalie would have been able to save. KP hit the post on a quick break and Macrina made six saves in the quarter but Franklin scored two goals in quick succession to break things open. Ninit Chaudhury started it with a quick burst on a face dodge to blow by his man and pick the corner then Civetti stole a clearance and finished from close range to make it 7-2.

“When you’ve got snipers like Civetti and Kent, Chase Tanner,” Verrochi explained, “we told them that [Macrina] was stopping everything down low, so let’s go high on him and they did. Then we got some nice bounce shots on him, so yeah it was a good effort.”

Kent completed his hat trick 45 seconds into the fourth and Alexander won the ensuing face-off clean and raced straight down the middle for a goal just seven seconds later. Thirty-two seconds after that junior Brian Vieten rifled in a goal as well and it was 10-2.

With eight minutes left, KP received a locked in penalty and Franklin tacked on two more. Kent again found the corner with a powerful shot and then just 16 seconds later he found Tanner in space for another rip just under the bar that made it 12-2.

“They have some good shooters,” said Kravitz. “I think you have to respect the talent, especially of Kent and Civetti, and when you pay too much attention to those guys they have enough other guys that can make you pay.”

The Franklin defense was also coming through with experienced players like Sean Lockhart, Matt Pleshaw and Wyatt Arsenault leading the way alongside freshman Patrick Morrison. Morrison drew praise from his coach after the game.

Verrochi said, “He’s going to be a stud. I think he’s a DI prospect and he’s one of the best poles we’ve had in a few years.”

Agricola scored off a feed from Harry Fallon to get one back and Zach D’Amico found the top corner to beat Connor O’Rourke (11 saves), but Civetti answered with his third. Freshman LSM Wesley Bishop scored just his second goal of the season (taking on four Franklin defenders) with 1:09 left and then D’Amico scored a second with three seconds remaining.

Kravitz said, “I think our guys came in here knowing how important the game was and maybe once the pressure was off they were playing a little loose. We play best that way. Fight to the end and that is a good mentality to have.”

After seeing his underclassmen shine in a big pressure game, Verrochi was excited about the direction that the program is headed.

He said, “Luke Downie, Chase, Eric naturally…it’s a talented group and we have some kids down in JV that can play too. I’m looking forward to it.”

Franklin (11-4, 8-0) will clinch at least a share of the title when it takes on Oliver Ames on Wednesday. KP (9-5, 6-2) will try to end a two-game skid against North Attleboro.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Panthers Run Past Foxboro With Strong Second Half

Franklin boys lacrosse
Franklin sophomore Eric Civetti (28) beats four Foxboro defenders to score one of his three goals. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Foxboro had already clinched its first Davenport title since 2012 and was still unbeaten in the league when it traveled to Beaver St. field on Wednesday afternoon to take on fellow division leader Franklin. The Warriors hung tough for a half, trailing 3-2, but the Panthers showed their strength in depth to run away after the break.

Sophomore attacker Eric Civetti scored three goals and added three assists and senior Austin Kent scored a hat trick as well, as Franklin outscored the Warriors 8-1 in the second half of an 11-3 victory that moves the Panthers one game closer to clinching a fourth straight league title.

“Our goal is to go through the league undefeated, as we did last year,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi, “and that’s our motivation. We’ve got the best talent in the league, but we have to play like it. Sometimes we don’t.”

Foxboro coach Matt Noone was disappointed in the way the second half went, but he insisted that it is not from lack of effort. He remarked that his team is working as hard as ever, just couldn’t pull off the upset, similar to the Warriors’ loss to Cohasset on Friday.

“That’s about what our depth can do,” said Noone, “and then we get exposed for what we are – freshmen, sophomores…we just couldn’t handle their pressure. It’s been the story of our season.”

The young Warriors nearly took the lead inside the first minute when senior long pole Brian Buckner got forward and split a pair of defenders but struck the bar. Foxboro had a few other chances as well, forcing Franklin goalie Connor O’Rourke into four of his six saves in the first quarter.

The game was fairly uneventful for the next 10 minutes with neither team able to create consistent chances, but with 46 seconds left in the first Franklin found the breakthrough. Sophomore midfielder Chase Tanner was picked out by Sam Arsenault on a cut through the middle. Tanner made a great catch on the high pass in and in one motion was able to score.

It did not take Foxboro long to tie it back up. Just 1:07 into the second, Louis Piccolo fired a perfect pass from the ‘X’ to fellow sophomore James Silveria for a close-range finish. Civetti gave Franklin back the lead but then two minutes later sophomore goalie Jake Addeche (12 saves) stuffed Civetti on one end and then raced forward to score a rare goal and tie it at 2-2.

With 5:43 left in the half, Civetti bullied his way past two defenders on the edge of the crease to give the Panthers the lead heading into the break. Verrochi was no happy with the lack of ball movement in the first half and laid into his team at the break.

“A lot of times it’s the Kent and Civetti show and we’re not getting enough movement,” Verrochi explained. “Guys aren’t moving intelligently off the ball and I think after [halftime] we assisted on a lot of goals and that’s what is important, getting everyone involved in the offense.”

Luke Downie scored the first goal of the second half on a long-range bouncing shot but things stayed close for another three minutes until a quick burst over 28 seconds broke the game open for Franklin.

Packie Watson drove at the Foxboro defense and opened space for Austin Kent, who let rip with a laser into the corner just seconds before Patrick Kaveny was able to close him down. Freshman Jake Alexander won the face-off (Franklin won all but three in the game) and Watson again fed Kent for another rip.

On the ensuing face-off, Watson chased down a ground ball on the near sideline and flipped a pass to Civetti, who in turn fired a cross-crease pass to Arsenault for the first of his two goals.

“If I had 12 Packies I’d win a state championship,” Verrochi raved. “I can’t say enough about him. He’s not the most gifted of goal scorers but everything else that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, he’s just aces. He’s everything you want in a midfielder.”

Noone said, “We couldn’t win a face-off again and against Franklin that’s a minute of possession. They handle the ball for a while, we overextend, and then we get beat.”

Junior Colby Nickerson got one back for the Warriors but a minute later Civetti pump faked to get space and scored from the edge of the crease to make it 8-3. He added his second assist with 18 seconds left in the third to find freshman Nitin Chaudhury for a nifty finish in traffic.

Things continued to be a struggle for Foxboro in attack. “How many turnovers did our attack have today? We can’t complete a 10-yard pass because they don’t ‘V-cut’, they don’t get of their way,” Noone said.

Downie assisted on a goal by Arsenault to make it 10-3 in the fourth quarter and then Civetti fed Kent, who got a little time, a little space and rifled a shot just under the bar to wrap up the scoring.

The Panthers pulled out the win, but Verrochi admitted that the team was distracted, especially at the start of the game. After school on Wednesday, inside two hours before the opening face-off. senior midfielder Jared Trainor was injured in a car accident and was taken to UMass Medical Center in Worcester.

The players wanted to visit their teammate in the hospital, but Verrochi said that after conversations with the school administration and with first responders it was explained that it would be better for the players to wait. They held a team meeting to decide whether or not to play.

“They were definitely shaken by the whole situation,” said Verrochi. “I left it to them if they wanted to play or not and they said that they wanted to play for Jared.”

It took a half to get into the flow, but once they did, the Panthers put it together and honored their teammate with a big win.

Franklin (10-4, 7-0) will have a chance to just about clinch the league title on Monday night when it hosts King Philip, which is just one game back. Foxboro (9-4, 7-1) will host Norwood on Saturday.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Franklin Lax Falls By a Goal at Cohasset

Franklin boys lacrosse
Luke Gordon (32) battles with a Cohasset player in Friday’s non-conference matchup. (Phil Garceau/ESPN Boston)

By Phil Garceau, HockomockSports.com Contributor

COHASSET, Mass. – It comes as no surprise that the Franklin boys lacrosse team come loaded with plenty of offensive standouts. Eric Civetti, Austin Kent and Jared Trainor are a few that jump off the page, but we are quickly learning about perhaps the Panthers’ best kept secret in a shutdown defense.

That unit, led by long poles Wyatt Arsenault and Sean Lockhart and aided by goaltender Connor O’Rourke quieted a volatile Cohasset offense on Friday evening, but the Skippers had just enough to spoil a monumental road victory.

While Franklin largely shutdown the Skippers’ Danny Axelson on the evening, the Providence-bound midfielder emerged in the final five minutes of play, splitting a Franklin double team to net the eventual game-winner in Cohasset’s 8-7 victory over the Panthers.

Civetti (three goals) scored a minute later cutting the deficit down to one, but an untimely slashing call with 1:54 remaining, paired up with four turnovers between the two squads in the final 72 seconds was enough to give Cohasset the win.

“We made some mental errors that cost us and they extended on us,” Franklin coach Lou Verrochi said. “They out-toughed us in a lot of ground ball situations and that dictated how the game went.”

Franklin falls to 3-2 on the season, with both losses coming to non-conference juggernauts in BC High and Cohasset, two losses that while they may sting, will certainly make for the better in the long term.

The Panthers fell to the Eagles after holding an early 4-0 lead last week, and inconsistent offense down the stretch again led to their downfall on Friday evening.But that learning lessons will likely go far for a young team that is loaded with speed and talent.

“These kids will regroup, they are really resilient,” Verrochi said. “We have the Creators’ Cup next week and it will be very competitive. Last year we had Billerica and lost 10-9, and I’d be disappointed if we didn’t get there again because we have the horses to play with anyone.”

Between the second and third quarter, the Panthers scored just one goal, a transition tally that came from Kent in the second period that at the time gave Franklin a 5-4 lead.

The offense that erupted fro four first-quarter goals was shutdown by a Cohasset defense that began to solve the Panther’s tendencies. Mixing in the loss of Trainor to a knee injury in the second quarter didn’t help the cause.

“They were just very, very good, (Kent and Civetti) had a tough time driving on their poles, they are very good and sort of neutralized us,” Verrochi said. “They have been our big weapons all year, they got their share of goals, but we lost one of our middies in Trainor.”

While the offense sputtered during that period, the Franklin defense thrived in that span, as O’Rourke (six saves) came up with a handful of saves, none bigger than a point-blank stop on Cohasset’s Ryan Donovan.

Cohasset began to figure out the Franklin defense in the fourth quarter, taking a 4-4 game at the start and scoring two quick goals off the stick of Will Thomas (two goals) and Kyle Mcfetridge sent the Panthers onto the wrong side of a two-goal deficit.

Kent (two goals) again emerged in crunch time, closing the gap to one goal, but Axelson’s individual effort to get to the cage was the dagger than Franklin couldn’t recover from.

The Panthers go into the break with a 3-2 record, with three games slates over vacation week, all which are apart of the Creators’ Cup. That begins with Masconoment (1-5) at Walpole High on Tuesday afternoon.

Franklin Shut Out In Fourth Quarter at BC High

Franklin boys lacrosse
Austin Kent scored a pair of goals against BC High, but the Panthers could not hold onto a fourth quarter lead on the road. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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BOSTON, Mass. – For the second year in a row, Franklin held a lead against BC High, but also for the second year in a row the Panthers failed to hold onto it and allowed the Eagles to walk away with the victory.

BC High shut out the Panthers 5-0 in the fourth quarter, with senior attacker A.J. Kucinski recording a goal and three assists, and turned around a two-goal deficit to pull out a 10-7 victory in the Eagles’ season opener.

“We have to play teams like this,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi. “These guys are always going to be a good challenge, just the second year in a row that we sort of imploded in the fourth quarter.”

The Panthers got off to the perfect start on a blustery afternoon. Senior Jared Trainor opened the scoring inside the first minute and just two minutes later sophomore Eric Civetti scored the first of his three goals to double the lead.

A quick outlet pass by junior Patrick Watson sprung Civetti, who picked out senior Austin Kent for his first goal of the game and the Franklin bench was going crazy on the sidelines. The energy got ramped up even more when Kent forced a turnover in the attacking zone and then fed Civetti for his second and a the Panthers’ fourth.

Kucinski got on the board after a turnover early in the second quarter, but Civetti answered right back for Franklin just a minute later. It would be the last goal of the half for the Panthers, as the BC High defense started to clamp down.

“They shut down Eric and Austin and we just didn’t get enough out of our midfielders,” said Verrochi. “We just weren’t driving forward the way we should have…when those two start to tire we just don’t have the kids to throw in like we did last year.”

After a pair of goals by the Eagles, sophomore goalie Connor O’Rourke stepped up with a huge close-range save on Kucinski to keep the score 5-3. Franklin raced down the field and freshman pole Patrick Morrison had his goal wiped out because there was a man in the crease.

BC High sophomore Will Bowen took advantage of the ruling and beat Franklin in transition, racing straight down the middle of the field and beating O’Rourke in the bottom corner.

“We threw the ball away, we were in the crease a few times, bad substitutions, we were sloppy out of the box…but once we got ourselves set and it was time to make plays they stepped up,” said BC High coach Steve Lydon.

O’Rourke took over between the pipes this season after playing as an attacker during his freshman year. Verrochi said that there was an opening in goal and the sophomore spent the offseason learning the new position.

Verrochi said, “I can’t say enough about what he did this year. He went to all sorts of camps and he’s now playing goalie for Laxachussets in his age level. That says a lot about his athleticism and how he goes after the game.”

Junior Sam Arsenault restored the two-goal lead with a man-up goal three minutes into the third quarter, but Kucinski answered back for the Eagles. With time running down in the third, Kent capped a long possession with an unstoppable rocket into the top corner, which made it 7-5.

The Franklin defense, led by seniors Matt Pleshaw, Sean Lockhart, and Gabe Murphy, had managed to limit the chances for Kucinski and the Eagles attack. But in the fourth quarter, everything turned around.

Pat Greene scored to cut the lead to one, Andrew Helfrich completed his hat trick (on a Kucinski assist) to tie it, and then Kucinski gave BC High its first lead with a shot on the run, across his body, and into the top corner.

“We went to sleep on him,” said Verrochi. “I was disappointed in how our close defense played in that fourth quarter. I talked to the players that we can’t allow that to happen.”

“That type of stuff, with a senior defense, we can’t have that.”

Kucinski assisted on the final two goals of the game. Franklin’s chances were limited, although it did force BC High goalie Michael Haggan into four saves in the fourth and Kent smacked the post with a shot in the final minute.

“We had a couple guys go out and make plays for us,” said Lydon. “A.J. made a couple of really big plays in the fourth and our defense locked down after a slow start.”

Despite the loss, Verrochi insisted that it is a positive for his team to play top non-league competition and challenge his players early in the season.

He said, “Give credit to them; they’re bigger, faster, stronger than we are right now, but my kids worked their butts off. I think the better team won…but we played them really tough for three quarters.”

Franklin (2-1) will get back into league play on Wednesday with a trip to Sharon.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Boys Lacrosse: Kelley-Rex Division Preview 2016

Franklin's Austin Kent will be one of the top players in the league this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
Franklin’s Austin Kent will be one of the top players in the league this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

ATTLEBORO

2015 Record: 4-13
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chris Kiley

Now in its third year at the varsity level, Attleboro is looking to once again take another step in the right direction. With a handful of returning players back this season, the Bombardiers will look to improve on their 4-13 season in 2015.

Junior Sam Corrado shined in the cage on multiple occasions last season and will look to continue that this season. Seniors Brian Letourneau, Mitch Caruso and Owen McKenna were named captains for this year’s team and will all look to contribute.

Caruso found the back of the net throughout the 2015 while junior attack Jay Mota was another key piece to the offense. Junior Andrew Milliken is also back after earning Hockomock League Honorable Mention a season ago.

FRANKLIN

2015 Record: 17-4
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinals
Coach: Lou Verrochi

After a historic campaign in 2015 that saw the Panthers get to the D1 South Semifinals, Franklin is looking to build upon it in 2016.

Hockomock League All Stars Austin Kent, Sean Lockhart and Eric Civetti are all back along with a handful of experienced players. Kent will spearhead the Panthers attack and will be one of the most complete players in the Hockomock League in 2016. Lockhart was a lockdown defenseman during his junior year and will anchor that unit again this year. Civetti had a tremendous freshman year and will look to build on that this year, partnering with Kent up top.

Junior Packie Watson and senior Jared Trainor return to bring some experience to the midfield alongside newcomer Brian Vieten while freshman Jake Alexander will handle a lot of the faceoffs. Senior LSM Matt Pleshaw and senior Gabe Murphy will be key pieces in the defensive unit. Head coach Lou Verrochi said he expects junior Mike Keane and sophomore Connor O’Rourke to battle for the starting spot in goal.

“Hopefully we will be in the hunt for a league championship,” Verrochi said.

KING PHILIP

2015 Record: 14-8
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Jacob Kravitz

King Philip is looking to continue its growth as a program, hoping to take another step in the right direction in 2016. The Warriors return experienced players all over the field.

“We have a lot of two way guys in the midfield,” KP head coach Jacob Kravitz said. “We should be a balanced team that is led by our captains.”

The 2015 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Paul Macrina is back in goal after a stellar year and will be one the three captains for KP. Mike Riggs and Connor Khung are returning starters on defense along with Steven Eaton, a captain, that will see time at pole and LSM.

In the midfield, senior captain Anthony Truini will play a big role especially offensively while Kravitz is looking for a mix of other players to fit into the middle of the field. Offensively, seniors Sam Agricola and Harrison Fallon will look to take over at attack while junior Tim Watson is looking to to build upon his 29 goal season last year.

MANSFIELD

2016 Record: 10-9
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tim Frias

After making a late charge last season to reach the playoffs, the Hornets are returning a large core back this season. Mansfield won seven of their last 10 games to reach the playoffs and with only three very valuable players graduated, head coach Tim Frias is hopeful for another postseason trip.

“Our strengths will be the experience and play at the midfield and defense we will have to wait to see who pulls full time duty at attack for our seniors that we lost last year,” Frias said.

Senior captains Connor Finerty and Billy Grant will be key pieces in the midfield with Finerty also seeing time at attack. Senior Mike Wilcox will also be an important piece in the middle of the field while sophomores Hunter Ferreira and Joe Cox could have breakout seasons.

Defensively, Sean Powers is back in the cage while three year starter Josh Schafer will anchor the line in front of him along with Tommy Donnelly. Frias is relying on some of the younger poles to step up in that role. Offense will be one of the biggest questions after graduating some talent there but senior Ryan Smith is back and will be a big part of setting up the offense.

NORTH ATTLEBORO

2015 Record: 13-6
2015 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals
Coach: Kevin Young

The Rocketeers will have to replace the program’s all time leading scorer Sean Young but to start the season, head coach Kevin Young is confident they have the defensive end covered.

Senior captains Anthony Baiungo and Andrew Casson return and will be relied upon heavily to handle opponent’s offense. Junior Dan MacDonald will take over in the cage to help solidify the defensive end.

In the middle of the field, seniors Brody Barr and Connor Dunn bring a lot of experience to both sides of the field, which is another reason Young is confident in the defensive end. Patrick Nally will be look at to take over on face offs with help from LSM James Schromm.

When it comes to offense, although Big Red has to replace a near 300 point producer, junior Zach McGowan
has proved in the past he has what it takes to find the back of the net and create opportunities for teammates. Classmates Owen Costello and Jack Dakin will also make an impact on the offensive end for the Rocketeers.

TAUNTON

2015 Record: N/A
2015 Finish: N/A
Coach: Kris Metea

Taunton is looking to make a splash in its inaugural season after competing for two years at the JV level and posting 20 wins. Kris Metea, who guided the Tigers hockey team to a record season on the ice this season, is the head coach for the lacrosse team as well.

“The team has some good upperclassmen,” Metea said. “But the talent is on the young end which will take time for them to become successful against upperclassmen from solid Hockomock programs. The key to success will be how fast depth can develop and youth can step up.”

Seniors Santiago Lopez and Jared Williams will be called upon to anchor the defensive unit in front of freshman Ryan Williams, who will take the majority of minutes in goal. In the midfield, senior Ethan Patterson will be joined by sophomore Will Walsh and junior Andrew Wellington.

Offense can sometimes be the hardest challenge for new programs but Taunton will look to younger players Josh Grasso, a sophomore and Griffin Speicher, a freshman to take care of the attack.