The Campus Report: A Review of Spring 2018

Campus Report
The HockomockSports.com Campus Report is an update on former Hockomock League athletes currently competing in collegiate sports. If you would like to submit an update, please e-mail info@HockomockSports.com.

By Brian Hines, HockomockSports.com Contributor

Former Attleboro standout Nate Tellier had a standout season for UMass Dartmouth. The sophomore appeared in all 40 games for the Corsairs, leading the team in almost every offensive statistic category, including runs scored (34), hits (63), triples (three), runs batted in (37), runs (34), stolen bases (19), batting average (.382), on-base percentage (.464), slugging percentage (.570). The offensive outburst was good enough for Tellier to be named to the LEC Second-Team, and the D3 Baseball All-New England Second Team.

Tellier wasn’t the only former Attleboro Bombardier to standout on the diamond. MIT senior Max Lancaster finished his senior season with a career-high .325 batting average. Lancaster tied his career high with 38 hits, and set career-best with 11 doubles, 28 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases. The senior’s best series of the year came in a three-game matchup against Emerson, where he recorded eight hits, six runs scored, two home runs and nine runs batted in. Lancaster landed a spot on the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) All-Conference Second Team for his performance this season.

Former two-time HockomockSports.com Girl’s Lacrosse Player of the Year Marta Versprille had an impressive senior season at Saint Anselm. The former Franklin midfielder started all 18 games for the Hawks, recording 26 goals and seven assists. Her 33 total points were the sixth most on the team, while she ranked third on the team in ground balls (39) and draw controls (59).

Framingham State sophomore, and former North Attleboro Red Rocketeer, Mycala Moody helped the Rams reach the 2018 NCAA Division III Softball Tournament this season. Moody batted .379 with five doubles, two triples, and 18 RBI during her sophomore campaign. After earning the 2017 MASCAC Rookie of the Year, Moody earned second team All-MASCAC honors this season.

Meg Colleran, another North Attleboro alumni and the 2014 HockomockSports.com Softball Player of the Year, wrapped up her senior season at UMass Amherst in impressive fashion. Colleran started 22 games of the 27 she appeared in for the 35-win Minutewomen, going an impressive 14-6 with a 2.99 ERA. Colleran was a perfect 9-0 in Atlantic 10 conference games, boasting an impressive 1.97 ERA in 12 appearances. She finishes her UMass career as one of 10 Minutewomen in program history to eclipse the 20-win mark in 2016, while becoming one of five to reach that mark in multiple seasons in 2017.

A pair of former Hockomock standouts helped Springfield College Lacrosse to a 13-6 record. Franklin’s Jack Vail started 17 games this season at attack, scoring 26 goals and leading the team with 30 assists. Connor Eschmann of King Philip helped man Springfield’s defense, appearing in all 18 games. Eschmann racked up the third most ground balls by any defender with 30, and was tied for the team lead in caused turnovers with 21.

Taunton’s Connor Johnson was one of three Maine Black Bears to land on the America East All-Academic team. On the field, Johnson led Maine with 28 appearances on the mound and carried the third-best earned run average on the team (3.71).

Former King Phillip standout and current Endicott Gull, Jen Lacroix, had a breakout sophomore season in 2018. Lacroix led the 14-win Gulls with 70 goals and 87 points. Her 70 goals were also enough to lead the entire Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) and rank 28th in the nation. Her impressive season allowed the attack to move into the Endicott record books, as she is tied for first in game-winning goals (6), second in goals (70), and fourth in points (87). Lacroix was also named to the 2018 All-CCC First Team along with the 2018 IWLCA Division III All-Pilgrim Region Second Team. She was also a two-time CCC Offensive Player of the Week (03/12/18, 03/26/18).

Luc Valenza’s senior season at UMass Amherst was a successful one. He former Foxboro Warrior appeared in all 17 games on defense for the Minuteman, starting 14. Valenza finished the year with 24 groundballs and caused 15 turnovers. He also recorded his first ever goal and second ever collegiate point earlier this season versus Hofstra. Valenza’s efforts were rewarded with selection to the All-CAA First Team and USILA North-South All-Star Game Selection.

At Central Connecticut, King Phillip’s Tori Constantin wrapped up her senior season with the Blue Devils by playing 47 games and setting career-high in runs, hits, home runs, runs batted in, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Her strong season was rewarded with a spot on the 2018 NEC Women’s Softball Second Team All-Conference.

Maria Woodall started all 21 games in goal for the Westfield State University Owls. In those 21 games, Woodall led Westfield to an 18-3 record, along with winning the MASCAC regular season and tournament titles. After leading the league in goals against average (8.26), save percentage (.565) and total saves (183), Woodall was named the 2018 MASCAC women’s lacrosse player of the year. She also earned honors on the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association’ all-region team and was a second-team choice in the IWLCA’s “Berkshire” Region.

Former Mansfield Hornet Will Kelleher provided a valuable bat for the Stonehill Skyhawks this season. Kelleher recorded the third-most at-bats for the team (144), and was second on the team in doubles (12) and runs batted in (20). The junior’s season also saw new career highs in games played (39), runs scored (20) and slugging percentage (.347).

Over at Lyndon State, Sharon’s former attack Spencer Aubin had the second most points (34) on the Hornets in 16 games. Aubin’s 20 goals were third most on the club and his 14 assists ranked second. Aubin ended the season recording points in six of his final nine games, including back-to-back hat tricks against Green Mountain and Albertus Magnus.

Attleboro’s Kayla Merritt finished with 14 points during her sophomore season with the Curry Women’s Lacrosse Team. Merritt scored 11 goals in 12 games played and added 14 assists and 11 ground balls. Merritt was named a captain for her junior season.

At Penn State, King Philip alumni Christa Wagner earned the starting right field spot for the Nittany Lions. She started 17 games in right during her sophomore season, recording 11 hits, six runs and four runs batted in. Wagner also was able to steal bases and notched 15 putouts in right field.

A pair of former Hockomock athletes provided valuable contributions to the Fitchburg State softball team. King Philip’s Melissa DiPhilippo had a career season, posting a career high in nearly every single offensive category. Her 24 hits ranked fourth best on the team, and her .343 batting average ranked third. Former Attleboro Bombardier Mikayla Harnois started 12 games for the Falcons, posting a team-high 79 innings pitched. Harnois’ best game of the season came against Mount Ida, where the sophomore went seven innings without allowing a run.

Junior Mike Ferrara posted impressive numbers in his most recent season at Worcester State. The former Oliver Ames standout led the Lancers in at-bats (135), home runs (four), runs batted in (31), and slugging percentage (.496). Ferrara also set new personal career highs in batting average (.348) and on-base percentage (.384).

The Western New England Golden Bears women’s lacrosse team saw a pair of Hockomock athletes patrolling the defensive unit, both former Franklin Panthers. Rebecca Allen started 16 of the 18 games she appeared in, setting career high for goals (three), assists (nine) and points (12). Olivia Truenow started all 17 games she appeared in, while also setting a career high in goals (five), assists (two) and points (seven). Both Allen and Truenow led the entire Golden Bears defense in ground balls with 30 and 35 respectively.

Another former Franklin Panther provided the New Haven women’s lacrosse team with a strong season. Julia Jette recorded the fourth most points on the Chargers, with 42 (28 goals, 14 assists) – a new career high. Jette wasn’t the only Hockomock athlete to impact the Chargers, as Mansfield’s Caroline Maher posted 40 goals and 26 assists.

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine’s goalie Connor Trainor had a strong senior season in net for the Monks. Trainor posted a 9.59 goals-against average with a .505 save percentage while being named to the All-Great Northeast Athletic Conference Third Team. The former Franklin Panther led the conference in wins (10), ranked second in games (19) and minutes (1000:32), and fourth in goals-against average this spring. As his career ends, Trainor ranks second in team history in goalkeeper games (60), minutes (2,906), saves (527), wins (23), and shots faced (1679) and third in goals-against average (9.81) and save percentage (.526). He was also one of two Monks to be selected to play in the 2018 New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA) East-West Senior All-Star Game.

Attleboro’s Hannah Smith and King Philip’s Maddie O’Gryzek helped pace the UMass Dartmouth’s pitching staff and lineup respectively. Smith started a career-high 24-games for the Corsairs with 131.1 innings of work. She collected 13 wins while finished inside the top-three for wins and earned run average (1.97) while coming top-five for strikeouts (93) and innings pitched. Smith earned her second straight selection to the Little East Conference Second Team. O’Gryzek appeared in all but two games for the Corsairs, recording the second most at-bats on the team (126). She showcased her speed, leading the Corsairs in triples (four) and stolen bases (11). O’Gryzek also set a new career high .389 slugging percentage.

Senior attack Sam Sullivan led Plymouth State with 60 goals while starting all 18 games. The 60 goals were a career high for the former Canton Bulldog, while she also broke career highs in assists (16) and points scored (76). The new marks carried Sullivan to her second straight selection to the All-LEC First Team. She leaves the program as the second player to record three 50-goals. She also ranks in the top ten in the LEC with her 73 points (sixth) and 16 assists (ninth). The co-captain was a two-time Player of the Week selection and is currently fourth all-time in career goals (163) and eighth in program history with 194 career points.

Another former Bulldog saw success on the baseball diamond. Drew Blake belted a team and career-high with eight home runs during his senior season at Fairfield University. Blake led his team with a .477 slugging percentage while starting 40 games for the Stags. Blake was also selected to the All-MAAC Academic Team.

Over at Clark University, Brandon King was named to the NEWMAC All-Conference first team. The former King Phillip standout led the Cougars with 43 goals, which ranked third in the entire NEWMAC. He also added six assists and a team-high 49 points. King twice posted a season-high six goals in Clark’s victories over Salve Regina and Saint John Fisher.

Aimee Kistner had a strong season on the hill for the Western New England Golden Bears. The sophomore appeared in 22 games, starting 15, while recording 11 wins in 113.2 innings of work. Kistner led her team with 119 strikeouts and posted a career-best 2.46 earned run average. Her best performance of the season came against Curry College, where the Taunton graduate threw seven scoreless innings while striking out 10.

At Colorado Mesa, Brian Buckner was named to the Second Team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). Buckner started 13 games while appearing in 18 as a long stick midfielder, piling up 21 ground balls and causing eight turnovers. Buckner also put up two points on the season while scoring his first career goal.

A pair of Hockomock alums played a role in Framingham State’s 16-3 season. Former Canton Bulldog Casey Bradley started all 19 games on defense for the Rams, which marks the second straight season in which she has done so. Bradley posted a career-high 32 ground balls and 18 caused turnovers, the most out of any Ram defender. Mansfield graduate Kim Foley earned her third first team All-MASCAC honors after scoring 46 goals and 34 assists for 80 points during her senior season. Foley finishes her career with 156 goals, 71 assists and 227 career points which ranks her first all-time in career assists and second all-time in points and goals in program history.

Katie Notarangelo was named the NEWMAC Co-Defensive Athlete of the Year while earning a spot on the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-Region Second Team. Notarangelo scored 60 goals on the season, finishing her career with the sixth most goals in the Institute’s history (145). She also finished with a record for draw controls in a game (15) and in program history ranked third in draw controls (239), tied for fourth in groundballs (127), fifth in caused turnovers (77), and 10th in points (170). In addition, she is currently seventh in the country in free-position percentage (.733).

Former Mansfield Hornet Sabrina Pray qualified seventh in the 100-meter hurdles for the Westfield State University Owls. Pray’s seed time is 14.29 seconds, which was faster than her mark at last year’s NCAA meet. She entered the meet as the 22nd seed and advanced to the finals, where she placed seventh to earn All-America Honors.

A trio of Hockomock athletes helped Bridgewater State University men’s outdoor track and field team capture the meet title at the 11th Annual Eastern Invitational. Cameron Williamson (OA) grabbed top honors in the triple jump with 46’8″/14.22m mark. John Chretien (Taunton) finished third in the javelin, throwing 168’4’’/51.30m. Senior Austin James (Mansfield) placed second in both shot put (46’8″/14.22m) and the discus (137’3″/41.84m). All three posted Division III New England Championships qualifying marks.

On the Bridgewater State women’s track and field team, Milford’s Jenise Madden was one of three team members to earn All-New England honors at the Division III New England Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Madden placed fifth in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 18:10.48 to qualify.

Courtney Daggett earned All-East Region honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Competing as a jumper for Stonehill College, the former Attleboro Bombardier posted her third-career regional honor. She cleared the bar at 5 feet, 4.5 inches at the Silfen Invitational, which marked a season best for the junior as she took home second from the meet.

Ben Chaffee became a regular in the WPI men’s baseball team lineup for the second half of the season, and the Franklin alum answered the bell. Chaffe slashed .386/.474/.482 and drove in 11 runs in his 24 games. The junior ended his season recording hits in 18 of his last 20 games played, including four three-hit games.

Foxboro’s Valenza Helps UMass Claim CAA Title

Luc Valenza
Former Foxboro standout and Hockomock League MVP Luc Valenza and the UMass men’s lacrosse team avenged a loss in last year’s final by beating Towson to win the CAA title. (Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics)

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After last year’s Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship game defeat to Towson, the University of Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team walked into the locker room to start fall practice and noticed a new piece of memorabilia hanging on the wall. The UMass coaches had pinned a photo of the Minutemen taken during the trophy celebration, as they watched Towson collect the title for the second time in three seasons.

“We had that image up so we’d know what that feeling was,” said Foxboro alum and senior long pole Luc Valenza. “We just never want to have that feeling every again. That was motivation every single day from fall ball and finally we can take it down, since we brought it home.”

Last weekend at Garber Field, the Minutemen got a measure of revenge. UMass, the top seed in the CAA Tournament and 16th-ranked team nationally, held Towson to just one goal in the fourth quarter and pulled out a 12-8 victory that clinched the program’s first CAA title and its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2012 (20th overall).

“It’s definitely pretty special, definitely a great feeling,” said Valenza, who admitted that facing Towson again in the final made the victory even better. “This is my first time bringing it home at the CAA, so it was a great feeling. It was one of our many goals this year, so it’s awesome going into the playoffs and NCAAs.”

When asked what it was like at the whistle when the title was secured, he replied, “It was great. It was a great feeling, a lot of excitement, a lot of joy, and it was a surreal moment for sure.”

In the championship game, Valenza, a former standout at Foxboro and 2014 Hockomock League MVP, led the Minutemen with four ground balls and three forced turnovers. He finished the season with 21 ground balls was named to the All-CAA First Team at close defense.

Early in the season, a UMass title felt unlikely. The Minutemen got off to a 1-4 start with losses to Army, Harvard, Yale (the Minutemen’s first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament), and Albany. While UMass did not get the results it was looking for in that rough opening stretch, the Minutemen also faced two teams currently ranked in the top four nationally that have both been the top team in the country at one point this season (current No. 4 Yale and No. 2 Albany).

Since the loss to Albany on March 6, UMass is unbeaten. The Minutemen have won 11 in a row heading into the NCAA Tournament and have allowed eight or fewer goals in each of the last six games.

“Trusting the process,” said Valenza about what turned the season around. “Every week going into it one game at a time. We started off 1-4 and obviously that’s not ideal but we just stuck with it, trusted ourselves, trusted the process and it all worked out in the end.”

He added, “Really, just heart and hustle, making the tough plays, getting the ground balls, defensively just communicating with each other, trusting the game plan, and it’s all kind of come through.”

That winning run will be put to the test against Yale on Saturday afternoon. UMass lost the first meeting 13-10 at Garber Field, although the Minutemen do have a 19-8 edge in the all-time series between the teams. This time, UMass will be taking the bus ride to New Haven, Conn. and, according to Valenza, will enter the game with plenty of confidence.

“Looking forward to a little redemption,” he explained. “We’re a different team than when we lost to them and we’re a more confident group and excited to bring it on Saturday. We feel confident in our abilities and our matchups.

“Hopefully, we can keep this thing going.”

It has been a long road to this point for Valenza, who began playing lacrosse in sixth grade when someone explained to him that the game involved aspects of other sports he played, and would allow him to hit some people.

“Originally, I was a middie,” Valenza said, “but Coach DeVellis came up to me and said, ‘You know what? I think you’ll do well with a long pole in your hand, you just get to hit people from here on out.’ So, I was like this works for me.”

He was one of the top-rated players in the Hockomock League throughout his four-year varsity career at Foxboro, garnering statewide notice and twice being named to the Eastern Mass. All-American second team. “Have to Coach Noone a shout-out over there,” said Valenza. “I learned a lot from him and I’m sure other guys did too. He’s a great coach to play under, you get a lot of experience, and become a better player for it.”

“He led us for four years,” said Noone, who also played at UMass, graduating in 1994. “The kid is just a freak athlete and we used to joke that you want to be a surgeon, not a butcher, and he’s slowly become a surgeon. He’s tough as nails. I’m so proud of him.”

“It is the best,” Noone added about the importance of a former Warrior succeeding at that level. “That’s a product of Foxboro lacrosse. Great family, great kid, and he’s tough man.”

After playing only three games as a freshman at UMass and eight as a sophomore, Valenza has been a constant presence in the UMass defense for the past two seasons, making 15 starts as a junior and 16 so far this spring. He recognized the development in his game during his time in college and noted that it gave him the confidence to perform against top competition.

“Going into the game, confidence was a big thing and understanding whoever we play, me personally and throughout the team, we were ready for the challenge and were excited for the opportunity,” Valenza said.

When asked if he had time to look back at how far his career has come from his first time picking up a lacrosse stick to now, Valenza chuckled. He said, “I’m sure when it’s all said and done and settled down, I’ll be able to look back on it but for the moment, I’m just living in it.”

When the season comes to a close, Valenza’s lacrosse career will continue after he was called up to the Italian national team to compete in this summer’s FIL World Championships being held in Israel in July. He tried out with more than 100 players earlier this year and was one a select few that will get this experience.

“I was fired up,” he said. “I was very excited to get that call and have this opportunity. I’m excited to travel over there and be part of the team. It’s going to be a great moment, great learning experience, and just a great opportunity.”

That is a few months away and, for now, Valenza’s focus is on the game against Yale and the chance to close out his senior season on a high. He said, “Of all years, senior year is a pretty special one, especially since this is kind of our legacy.”

Having already added to the trophy case with the CAA title, Luc Valenza and the Minutemen will try to keep the season alive as long as possible.

“It’s been good so far, but really we just want to keep it going. We don’t want it to end, take it one game at a time and keep grinding through.”

Valenza is one of three former Hockomock players on the UMass roster. He is joined by junior LSM Mike Sullivan (Franklin) and freshman midfielder Josh Rotman (Sharon).

(Editor’s Note – UMass lost to Yale in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon. The Minutemen fought back in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to just three but fell 15-12. Valenza had two forced turnovers and three ground balls in the loss.)