FRANKLIN, Mass. – The Franklin boys lacrosse team knew it was going to get its toughest test from a league opponent when King Philip visited Pisini Field on Monday afternoon.
But it was even tougher than they anticipated.
The Panthers had cruised through its league schedule to this point, racking up seven wins and outscoring Hockomock foes 140-14. On the other side, King Philip raced out to a 10-0 record overall before suffering back-to-back losses to Canton and Grafton — both by one goal — before the clash against the Panthers.
King Philip came out strong, taking the first lead of the game and going in front again in the second quarter. The Warriors limited Franklin to just four goals in the first half, trailing by two at the break.
But Franklin found its footing in the second half, using timely goals in both the third and fourth quarters, and dominated possession en route to an 11-5 victory. The win clinches at least a share of a seventh straight Kelley-Rex division title for the Panthers.
“[King Philip] played well, I didn’t anticipate that they were going to be as good as they are and they surprised me, and they surprised us,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi. “We didn’t anticipate them to give us the game they did. They were very aggressive, they did a nice job. They are a quality team for sure.”
A slashing call — just one of two penalties called in the game — on the Panthers gave King Philip an early man-up opportunity and the Warriors cashed in. Junior Kevin Riggs found himself in some space and ripped a shot into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
But the lead lasted just a minute as the Panthers responded on its next possession. Senior Nitin Chaudhury gained some space and fired a right-handed shot into the back of the net to make it 1-1. KP’s defensive group of Wes Bishop, Luke D’Amico, and Garrett Maxwell did a nice job of preventing the Panthers from getting any other chances in the first half, limiting Franklin to three shots in the first.
Franklin had a couple of looks on goal in the opening minutes but couldn’t solve KP goalie Andrew McKinney (11 saves), who made back-to-back stops on good shots from Owen Palmieri.
Sophomore Sam Mattson took advantage of McKinney’s stops, using a rocket of a shot to put the Warriors up 2-1 with 7:35 left in the second quarter.
Franklin senior Jacob Alexander gave the Panthers a boost, winning the ensuing faceoff and racing down and bouncing in a shot that made it 2-2. Alexander won the next draw as well, leading to a goal from sophomore Owen Kielty on a nice feed from Ben Greco.
King Philip nearly tied it when Chris Longobardi won the face off, sprinted into the offensive zone and got off an open shot but Franklin goalie Will Davis (five saves) got just enough on it to keep the lead.
Palmieri converted a low shot while being pressured to put the Panthers up 4-2 heading into the half.
A faceoff win from Alexander led to a goal from Will Harvey (from Greco) to extend Franklin’s lead a minute into the second half. Mattson answered with a blast to make it a two-goal game but Franklin scored the final two goals of the third quarter.
First, senior Ben Kolb battled his way through traffic and finished in close to make it 6-3. A minute after Andrew Sajdak had his shot clank off the crossbar, Franklin tacked on another when Jake Davis snuck a tough angle shot under the bar to put the Panthers ahead 7-3 heading into the fourth.
“We started to move the ball a little bit more,” Verrochi said of second half adjustments. “We looked at certain matchups and found ones we felt we could go to goal on. I think we started doing that better and our off ball movement was better in the second half.
“If you’re beating your man, and you draw a slide, whoever’s man slid you gotta follow the slide with the stick lock and loaded, and I think we did a good job with that.”
King Philip was limited to just the one shot from Mattson in the quarter. McKinney made seven saves in the frame but the Panthers made it difficult for the Warriors to clear the zone.
“Andrew McKinney in goal was phenomenal, he really saw the ball well,” said KP head coach Hal Bean. “Those guys were shooting fast and he was on the ball, he was tracking well.
“[Franklin] slides very quickly, probably the fastest we’ve seen. So once our guy broke free from his man, there was someone else on us right away. And to try and get that third guy open was difficult.”
KP had the first possession of the fourth but Pat Morrison and Liam Arsenault combined to force a turnover and Franklin cashed in in transition as sophomore Matt Lazzaro found Greco open in front for an easy finish.
The Warriors pulled one back at the midway point of the fourth as Mattson drew multiple defenders before finding senior Colin DeVellis cutting in front for a close-range finish.
Davis answered less than a minute later on a feed from Greco but Longobardi scored nine seconds later, winning the faceoff and going straight to goal to make it 9-5.
Davis tallied twice more in the final four minutes to make it 11-5.
“[McKinney] played well, he made some nice saves,” Verrochi said. “We have some excellent shooters, some kids that can really shoot the ball.
We rode really tough, and we’ve been doing that all year long. The kids have really bought into that and they are making it tough [for opponents].”
While Franklin clinches another league title, King Philip dropped its third straight contest. But with all three coming against top competition and the Warriors playing well in all three, Bean believes these games will pay off down the road.
“We’re very positive right now,” Bean said. “We are enjoying how we’re playing, they are a tight-knit group. We got pizza after the loss at Grafton. They are upbeat right now. They understand they are playing good lacrosse. They are playing as a team, they work hard, so I expect a lot more wins coming up.”
Franklin boys lacrosse (8-0 Hockomock, 12-1) is back in action on Wednesday when it host Foxboro. King Philip (7-2, 10-3) is at Milford on the same day.
2018 Record: 5-13 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Kevin Patton
The Bombardiers will boast a relatively young group in 2019 but are still ready to compete in a difficult Hockomock League.
With a total of 14 underclassmen – eight sophomores and six freshmen – there will certainly be learning curves and some ups and downs throughout the year, but those new faces are hungry to improve throughout the season.
Attleboro’s strong suit will be in net as Hockomock League All-Star Trevor Koppy, a captain for this year’s team, returns to the cage. Koppy is one of the most experienced netminders in the league and the Bombardiers will be relying on him for his play plus his leadership as a captain. Attleboro will also rely on the leadership on and off the field by junior captain Tom Shipman, who will be a key piece in the midfield.
Shipman will be joined by senior Zach Thomas and sophomores Michael Strachan and Aidan Diggin in the midfield. All four have plenty of varsity experience so Attleboro will certainly rely on them to guide the way as the younger players are incorporated into the lineup. Sophomore Matthew Perry returns up front while junior Jack Handy is back defensively.
The Bombardiers are hoping junior Bryson Friess and freshman Fred Wheaton will make an impact defensively while freshmen Keigan Conley and Jack Lamothe will bolster the attack. Freshman Ryan Betts will also be apart of the midfield unit this season.
We are a young team…but they’re all ready to contribute quality minutes,” said Attleboro coach Kevin Patton, who switched from the girl’s team to the boys this Spring. “With Trevor Koppy and Tommy Shipman, our captains, they are prepared to lead the team to the next level. I’m looking forward to the future of the program!”
2018 Record: 10-8 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinals Coach: Bill Bendell
After missing out on the playoffs in 2017, Canton put together a memorable 2018 campaign that ended in the D2 South Sectional Semifinals. The Bulldogs are looking to replicate that success and make another deep tournament run again this year.
And with a good amount of players back from last year’s squad, there is a lot of optimism that tournament run can happen. Senior Griffin Roach, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection, will pace the offense again this year. Roach had 30 goals and 17 assists last year and his competitiveness is contagious to those around him. Roach will be joined by classmate Dan Cohen, a Hockomock League honorable mention selection. Cohen is a dangerous player, scoring 24 goals in the regular season last year.
David Allen, Chris Lavoie, Brendan Clifford, and Matt Martin are great athletes and capable scorers as well, while Tommy Vaughan will look to make an impact with his playmaking ability. On defense, the Bulldogs will turn to Brendan Albert and Nick Mackay, who head coach Bill Bendell called two of the most underrated players in the Hockomock League. Both possess a boatload of experience at the varsity level and will anchor the Bulldog defensive group. George Kent and James Murphy will also be apart of Canton’s defense while Shane Marshall, Sam Walsh, Jack Albert, and Carson Campbell will all see time and make key contributions this seasons, Bendell said.
Sophomore Dylan Coyne will take over in net for the Bulldogs and has had a strong preseason so far. Bendell believes Coyne is poised for a breakout year. Jeff Fitzgerald, Tommy Ghostlaw, and Mackay will all be in the running to handle faceoff duties.
“We are very excited about our offensive and defensive potential,” Bendell said. “Our varsity depth is not what we would like it to be at this point, but a few players have shown flashes of potential that make us think we will be much deeper come Memorial Day.”
Foxboro will have a young squad with just five seniors this year but that doesn’t mean there will be a lack of experience from the defending Davenport division champions.
Senior Brendan Tully sets the example with his work ethic but is also one of the most dangerous players in the Hockomock League. A Providence College commit, Tully has tormented defenses for the past two seasons. He had 44 goals and 22 assists last year and will be one of Foxboro’s main weapons. Tully will be joined by Bobby Yerardi, who had over 40 points as a sophomore and has improved his game in the offseason. His ability to finish right or left makes life difficult for opponents.
The Warriors bring back junior Shayne Kerrigan for faceoffs. Kerrigan is one of the best in the area on the draw and puts Foxboro in good positions time after time; he will be a key piece in the midfield for the Warriors. Junior Pete Conley, Aiden Stapleton, and Charlie Baughan will make the up the attacking group for Foxboro this year.
Pat Stapleton is one of the most experienced players in the league as well as one of the top defensive players. He will anchor a defensive unit that has been one of the best in the region over the past couple of seasons. He will be joined by juniors Ronnie MacLellan and Will Morrison. All three players have the ability to move up to LSM when needed.
One question mark for the Warriors could be goalie, as Foxboro graduated Hockomock League MVP Jake Addeche. Head coach Matt Noone is confident in his options this season, with four players competing for the time in the cage. Freshman Matt Tully is beginning the season as the starter.
“I am really looking forward to this season as we are young but dangerous,” Noone said. “The best thing about this team is our depth, there is competition for every spot and they love to compete! What more can you ask for?”
Franklin has had a lot of success in recent years, and that trend looks like it will continue in 2019.
“The outlook for this season is very good,” said Franklin head coach Lou Verrochi. “It could be one of the best teams we’ve had at FHS.”
The reason for the high expectations is the amount of talent returning from last year’s Kelley-Rex team that reached the D1 South Quarterfinals. Although the Panthers graduated two-time All-American and two-time HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Eric Civetti and starting goalie Connor O’Rourke, Franklin has experience and talent back at each position.
It all will start with senior Jacob Alexander, who has been arguably the best faceoff man in the entire state over the past couple of seasons. Alexander’s ability to consistently win draws gives Franklin a huge advantage and sets the offense in motion. Patrick Morrison, a second-team All-American selection last season, will anchor the defensive unit for the Panthers this year along with Will Harvey, who was one of the most underrated players last year. Will Davis, who saw time in net some last year, is set to take over in the cage and could be one of the top netminders in the league.
The Franklin midfield will consist of Nitin Chaudhury – one of the hardest working athletes in any sport – along with Owen Palmieri and Ben Kolb, who has really impressed in scrimmages during the preseason. Franklin’s attack could be among the most dangerous in the league this year with three legitimate options. Jake Davis (32 goals, 23 assists), Matt Lazzaro (30 points), and Ben Greco are all unselfish but can also finish.
2018 Record: 9-10 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals Coach: Hal Bean
King Philip is hoping that a good amount of returning experience from last year’s team will result in a successful season and possibly a run through the D1 South bracket.
The Warriors have one of the most experienced attackmen in the league in Colin DeVellis, who has been one of the best finishers in each of the last two years. He finished fourth overall in points his sophomore year (22 goals, 36 assists) and again his junior year (45 goals, 29 assists) and is the top returning scorer back from last year. His ability to finish in close makes life tough for opponents but he’s also able to find teammates when the defense focuses on him. Andrew Sajdak and Sam Mattson will also be key pieces on the attack and the three showed good chemistry in their first game this year.
Wes Bishop, who is committed to play at UMass Boston, is a great leader that will anchor the defensive unit. He has a lot of varsity experience and is the type of player that leads by example. Luke D’Amico is another experienced defender that will stand out for KP this year. Tyler Bartlett, Aiden Bender, Chris Longobardi, and Garrett Maxwell give coach Hal Bean a large group of experienced players.
Junior Andrew McKinney is back in goal after splitting time in the cage last season.
2018 Record: 9-9 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tim Frias
Mansfield has made the state tournament in each of the last four seasons and will be looking to make it five straight in 2019.
It all starts in the midfield with senior Aidan Sacco. Sacco, who played quarterback this past fall for the Hornet football team, is like the quarterback for the Hornet boys lacrosse team. A lot of the offense will run through Sacco because of his vision and ability to share the ball. He is also a key part of the Hornet defense. His ability to get back and track opponents while also causing turnovers and transitioning defense into offense will be key for Mansfield.
On offense, the Hornets have an experienced stick in the hands of Mike Reed, who will be relied on to lead the Hornets into the playoffs down the stretch. Connor Quirk will also be a key cog for Mansfield this year while Joe Plath, Sean Weber, and Will Nelson are going to be important pieces in the defensive unit.
The Hornets have a strong piece in Nico Holmes at the face-off X. Holmes picked up varsity experience at the position last year and he will look to give Mansfield extra possessions this year in their push for the state tournament.
Coleman O’Brien and Brian Rockwell are battling for the starting spot in the cage.
2018 Record: 6-11 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jacob Scordato
After increasing their win total from 2017 to 2018, the Scarlet Hawks will be looking to continue that trend in 2019.
With returning starters back in a lot of positions, second-year head coach Jacob Scordato is hopeful that Milford can make a run at a state tournament berth.
“Our Goal as a team is to make the playoffs, this program hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2012,” Scordato said. “But this group of extraordinary young men are highly motivated on achieving that goal.”
The Scarlet Hawks bring back their leading scorer in Brendan White, who had 45 points last season (31 goals, 14 assists). White is a strong, physical forward with a strong shot. His ability to finish through contact makes him one of the top attackmen in the league. In the midfield, junior captain Danny Farrell is back after a standout sophomore year. Farrell, an LSM, led the team last season with 64 ground balls.
Senior Ryan Pearl will anchor a defensive unit that is looking to improve on last season. Sophomore Evan Hazard had a standout freshman campaign between the pipes last year. He will be relied upon this season to help keep Milford in games as they make a push for the postseason.
2018 Record: 15-5 2018 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals Coach: Kevin Young
After coming close to the Davenport title a year ago, the Rocketeers are ready to make another run at the division title and as well as a deep playoff run.
While the Rocketeers graduated some top talent in the league such as midfielders Jason McNeany and Max Fontes, defenseman Tommy Lockavitch, and attack Tommy Lindstrom, North Attleboro has talent and experience in every position. Juniors Nate D’Amico and Jake McNeany are back after splitting time last season and will be competing for minutes again this season.
Defensively, the Rocketeers bring back three starters from a unit that allowed a league-low 95 goals last year. Junior Brett Labonte had a terrific season and will be joined by classmate Will Yeomans and sophomore Tyler Sarro. Head coach Kevin Young said the trio is tough, vocal, active, and play very well together. In the midfield, senior captains Nick Ward and Ryan Boyle will be key pieces. Ward will also see time at attack while Boyle will be a defensive minded midfielder.
“Nick is a very smart, sneaky threat with great IQ and stick skills,” said North Attleboro coach Kevin Young. “Ryan is just a grinder that all coaches appreciate.”
Junior Dan Conroy takes over as the main faceoff guy and will be joined by Ryan Rajotte, Damien Curtis, Nick Morse, Jack Puccio, Cam Cornetta, and Joe Milosh in the midfield.
The attack will be spearheaded by junior Andy DeMattio, last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. DeMattio had a tremendous season, scoring 52 goals and adding 22 assists for a team-high 74 points. “He should be fun to watch as he’s picked up some size and speed,” Young said. DeMattio will be joined by junior Jack Connolly and freshman Matt Antonetti.
2018 Record: 14-7 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinals Coach: Ben Devlin
Coming off the best season in program history, Oliver Ames is aiming to have another successful year and hoping to replicate last year’s playoff push.
The Tigers reached the D2 South Sectional Semifinals last season and bring back five of the top seven scorers from a year ago. While the top two scorers — Eric LeBlanc and Owen Gallagher — and their 146 points graduated, there is a lot of optimism in the program because they have reloaded for this year.
Oliver Ames will be young on the attack with junior Sandro Masciarelli and sophomore Remi Creighton, but there is still experience in the position. Masciarelli had 25 goals last year while Creighton will see more minutes this year. The strength of the program will be in the midfield with the likes of senior captain Colin Bourne (30 goals), junior Shane Kilkelly (32 goals), junior Sam Stevens (23 goals), and junior Frankie Ireland (29 goals). That group was a big reason for OA’s memorable season last year and now have a year of experience playing together under their belts.
Defensively the Tigers are looking for senior captains Shane Murphy and Matt Saba to lead the way. Both players were apart of the defensive unit last year and have been a big reason for the program’s improvement over the past couple of seasons. Senior LSM Cullen Gallagher will be a key defensive midfielder while junior Tyler Campbell will likely factor into the Tiger defense this year. Junior Nick Gillis returns as the starting goalie while senior Steve Heino is an experienced backup.
“Our goal is to keep improving each day and keep building on last year’s success,” said OA head coach Ben Devlin. “The kids have bought into the program and are excited and enthusiastic about the season. We don’t expect anyone or two players to replace the production we graduated, but if all our returners can progress like they did last year, we should be in the mix for a tourney berth.”
2018 Record: 12-7 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Jon Shocket
Sharon has a strong mix of returners and new faces and is hoping that combination will result in a return trip to the state tournament.
The Eagles will have an experienced defensive group with all three starting defensemen back this year, and all three are seniors. Sam Spencer, Coleman Loftus, and Ronin McCabe are back to give the Eagles a formidable defensive group. Having an experienced defensive in front of new goalie, sophomore Adam Rabb, will help as the season gets underway.
Sophomore Drew Litner is back after a terrific freshman year. Litner can score but he is one of the most unselfish players in the league and does a terrific job finding teammates on the move. He was among the league leaders in assists last year, dishing out 28 helpers. Litner will be joined by senior Brandon Buckman and freshman Zack Waxman in the attacking group.
The midfield will also have a good amount of experience with seniors Daniel Lillenfeld and Mitchell Director leading the way. Nick Stamm and Rowan Barnes have impressed this preseason and should be apart of the group as well. Junior Max Posner could be poised for a breakout year while sophomore Cobe Jacobson and freshmen Brady Daylor and Jace Nestler will be in the mix too.
Returning LSM Tyler Freedman is back after a terrific rookie campaign and could be a top player for the Eagles while there are high hopes for freshman faceoff specialist Ben Shocket, who could be an X-factor for the Eagles.
2018 Record: 1-15 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Pat Healey
The Black Knights enter their third season as a varsity program and are looking to continue to grow as a program in a difficult league.
After being inexperienced last year, the Black Knights are hoping the lessons learned from last year will pay off this year. It starts with the four captains: Sean Doherty, Luke Bainton, Alex Wilson, and Nate Wilson. Doherty and Bainton will do a little bit of everything for the Black Knights and will be two of the top options offensively. Alex Wilson and Nate Wilson will anchor the defensive unit, bringing plenty of lacrosse experience to that group.
Stoughton is also looking for a big season out of junior Foster McLeod. McLeod has shown in the past the ability to beat defenders and create opportunities for others. Sophomores Max Huminik and Mike McLaughlin will also see increased roles after impressing during their rookie seasons in 2018.
Sophomore Thomas Ratcliffe, a Hockomock League honorable mention last year, returns in the cage and gives the Black Knights a steady presence between the pipes. Sophomore Marty Barrett returns as a long pole and will be a key piece of the Knights’ defense.
Foxboro, 4 @ Mansfield, 8 – Final – Mansfield broke the game open with a four-run sixth inning, which included a Mady Bendanillo homer and a triple from Sarah Cahill, to open the season with a win. Cahill, Bendanillo, and freshman Casey Mousette each went 2-for-3 in the game for the Hornets. Foxboro scored in the top of the first but the Hornets answered right back in the bottom half. Kara Bendanillo started it with a single, Ella Verheggen reached on an error, Mady Bendanillo walked and Mousette opened her varsity account with a two-out, RBI-single. Mousette got her second hit of the game to start a rally in the fourth. Sydney Woods followed with a walk and Cahill’s single brought in one while Woods came around when the throw got away. The Hornets added one in the fifth and then four in the sixth. They had 10 hits as a team and Cahill struck out five to pick up her first win of the season.
Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 10 – Final (5 inn.) – King Philip’s Faith Turinese, Heather Nix, and Allie Norton combined for the shutout in the circle for the Warriors, who belted out 11 hits as a team. Turinese had three doubles and three RBI, Meg Gorman added a double, and Liliana Rolfe had a triple for KP. Sneha Kini had the lone hit of the game for the Eagles. Emily Botvin threw the opening three innings, while Trinity Payne made her varsity debut in the circle for the final two innings, walking one and allowing two runs. Sharon coach Heather Poliferno credited KP’s hitters for great at-bats and also credited her team, saying, “It truly did not feel like a 10-0 game, as we didn’t really have ‘that inning’ where a team seems to compound errors. KP just had great hits that were just that, hits.”
Stoughton, 12 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – Stoughton’s offense exploded for seven runs in the seventh inning to pull away from the Tigers. Nicole Baker allowed only four hits and struck out eight to open the season with a complete game victory. Baker also paced the Black Knights at the plate, going 5-for-5 with three singles, a double, a grand slam, and six RBI. Lexi Baptista went 3-for-4 with a triple and two singles and Karly Estremera, Sarah McGrath, Jordan Lyons, and Brianna Ferrandiz all had two hits for Stoughton, while head coach Deb Parker saidSydney Menz and Estremera both made big plays in the field. OA senior Kayla Georgeu struck out seven in six innings of work while freshman Bella Berg fanned two in one inning. Junior Katie Abreu went 3-for-4 with a run scored for the Tigers.
Canton, 11 @ Ashland, 12 – Final
Foxboro, 5 vs. Medway, 6 – Final (OT)
King Philip, 16 vs. Shepherd Hill, 3 – Final – King Philip senior Colin DeVellis scored six goals and had one assist as the Warriors opened the season in style, running away with a win over Shepherd Hill. Andrew Sajdak and Sam Mattson each finished with three goals and two assists, Luke D’Amico scored once, and senior Paul Williamson and sophomore Charlie Agricola each netted their first varsity goals.
Oliver Ames, 14 vs. Bellingham, 8 – Final – Oliver Ames opened its season by defending home turf, picking up a victory over visiting Bellingham. Shane Kilkelly had two assists and scored three goals, joining the 100 goal club. Sam Stevens paced the offense with five goals and two assists while Colin Bourne had a strong day, finishing with four goals and one helper.
Stoughton, 10 @ Norton, 6 – Final
Canton, 1 @ Attleboro, 4 – Final – Attleboro swept doubles play and earned two more wins in singles action to secure a 4-1 win over visiting Canton. Jared Cooper earned a 7-5, 7-5 win at second singles while Ryan Gordon grinded out a 7-6 (9-7), 1-6, 6-3 victory at third singles. Attleboro’s team of Eli Araujo and Luis Sandoval lost just one game in a 6-1, 6-0 win while Jack O’Donnell and Chris Beard secured a 6-1, 6-1 win at second doubles for the Bombardiers. Canton’s Suraj Ramanathan won 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 at first singles.
Foxboro, 3 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – Foxboro picked up wins at second and third singles as well as first doubles to edge Mansfield. Sophomore Jason Kandula won 6-3, 6-0 at second singles while freshman Bo Canfield earned a 6-4, 6-4 victory at third singles. The team of senior Brian Gardner and junior Sean McAvoy secured the win with a tight 7-5, 7-6 (5) win at first doubles. Mansfield senior Luke Nickerson won 6-0, 6-0 at first singles and the team of Dheeraj Valluru and Yash Sakhalkar earned a 6-4, 6-1 decision at second doubles for the Hornets.
Milford, 0 @ Franklin, 5 – Final – Franklin had an impressive win to open the 2019 season, winning four out of the five matches in straight sets. Liam Marr didn’t lose a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at first singles, Rohan Herur won 6-0, 6-2 at second singles, and Saket Gandham picked a 4-7, 6-4, 8-6 victory at third singles. The team of Saketh Saripalli and Vayshnav Malhotra won 6-3, 6-0 at first doubles while Shoyaib Shaik and Shournik Sompally won 6-0, 6-1 at second doubles for Franklin.
North Attleboro, 5 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – North Attleboro went on the road and swept Taunton, losing a total of just two games in doubles play. Sophomore Jonah Manso didn’t drop a game in a straight set 6-0, 6-0 win at first singles, sophomore Sam Gallagher picked up a 6-2, 6-2 win at second singles, and junior Justin Strom emerged with a 6-4, 6-3 decision at third singles. The team of Vikram Senthilakumaran and Alex Pfeffer won 6-0, 6-1 at first doubles and seniors Tomas Bentley and Saketh Uppuluri won 6-0, 6-1 at second doubles.
Stoughton, 5 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – Stoughton notched a win on the road over neighboring Oliver Ames to begin the 2019 season. Sophomore Waseem Sablon won 6-0, 6-0 at first singles, senior Erik Anderson picked up a 6-1, 6-0 win at second singles, and Anish Sinha secured a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win at third singles. The team of seniors Hassan Khan and LJ Ferrandiz won 6-0, 6-1 at first doubles for the Black Knights.
Sharon, 3 @ King Philip, 2 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game – After two and a half hours, Sharon senior DanDanujan Thirumavalavan emerged with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 win at first singles to give Sharon the deciding point in its 3-2 victory over King Philip. Freshman Bueman Bhattacharya won his first match, 6-1, 6-0 at third singles while the team of junior Jake Ross and freshman Max Chen won 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 in a close match at second doubles. King Philip’s Nick Putney won 6-1, 6-2 at second singles and the team of juniors Jack Cannon and Nate Ihley earned a 6-0, 6-0 decision at first doubles.
Attleboro, 0 @ Canton, 5 – Final – Canton defended home court with a 5-0 win over visiting Attleboro. Rachel Kupferman had a strong opening match, winning 6-0, 6-0 at first singles, Natalie Keppler picked up a 6-2, 6-0 victory at second singles, and Sarah Hernandez won 3-0 (injury) at third singles. Canton’s Stelina Michaelidis and Jamie Cree had a 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 comeback win at first doubles and Sophie Le and Rose Hazam won a tight 7-5, 6-4 match at second doubles.
Mansfield, 0 @ Foxboro, 5 – Final – Foxboro won all five matches in straight sets to get a win to begin the 2019 season. Pam Nelson won 6-0, 6-1 at first singles, Sarah Prag notched a 6-2, 6-0 victory at second singles, and Julia Muise didn’t drop a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at third singles. Foxboro’s first doubles team of Kendall Milender and Paige Krockta earned a 6-2, 6-2 win while Maggie McAuliffe and Lindsey Young secured a 6-4, 6-3 decision at second doubles.
Franklin, 3 @ Milford, 2 – Final – Franklin swept doubles play, winning both by tiebreaker, and got another win in singles to get a 3-2 decision over Milford. The team of Ashvika Boopathy and Vagmi Kantheti won 6-4, 7-6 (7-1), 10-6 at first doubles while Tessa Cacioppo and Krissy Stoyanova picked up a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) win at second doubles. Frankin’s Sarah Schiavo won 6-3, 6-4 at first singles for the third point. Milford’s Juliana France won 6-3, 6-1 at second singles while Olivia Marshall notched a 6-4, 6-3 victory at third singles for the Scarlet Hawks.
Taunton, 4 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – Taunton moved to 2-0 on the young season, earning its first league win of the season on the road at North Attleboro. Jillian Pagliuca earned a 6-0, 6-1 win at first singles, McKenzie Lucie won 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 at second singles, and Jocelyn Pagliuca picked up a 6-0, 6-1 win at third singles. The team of Sam Martin and Briana Fevrier won 6-4, 6-4 at first doubles for the Tigers. North Attleboro’s Hayley Strom and Brototi Nandi won 6-1, 6-4 at second doubles.
Oliver Ames, 5 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames went on the road and picked up a win over Stoughton to open its 2019 campaign. Senior Sarah Leger (6-1, 6-2, first singles) and junior Maura Kiernan (6-1, 6-0, second singles) each won in straight sets while sophomore Kate McCormick secured a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 win at third singles. The team of senior Eva Belanger and junior Erika Mekler picked up a 6-2, 6-0 decision at first doubles while junior Sarah Barron and senior Kathryn McCarthy won 6-3, 6-2 at second doubles for the Tigers.
King Philip @ Sharon, 3:45
King Philip, 1 vs. Medfield, 3 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game – King Philip started its first ever varsity game by winning the first set but Medfield won three straight close games to take the match, 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-22). Junior Eric Altobello had a team-high 13 kills, senior Jimmy Peterson added eight kills, and junior libero Kyle Desrochers had five aces and seven digs for KP.
Taunton, 3 vs. Barnstable, 0 – Final – Taunton broke into the win column with a sweep over visiting Barnstable (25-18, 25-23, 25-18). Sophomore Tyler Stewart led the offense with eight kills and three blocks, Gage Kingman added five kills and two aces, and Alex Tavares and Liam Bunker each finished with three kills and three blocks.
FOXBORO, Mass. – It’s not an ideal scenario to surrender an early goal, but sometimes it can serve as a wake-up call.
Such was the case on Wednesday evening, as King Philip scored just over two minutes into the game but the Mansfield boys hockey team responded in impressive fashion, eventually skating away with a 6-3 decision on the back of four power play goals.
King Philip capitalized on a soft turnover early on to take the lead but the goal only seemed to spark Mansfield as the Hornets tacked on three goals over the final eight minutes of the period to seize a 3-1 lead, an advantage it never surrendered.
“I thought the first goal woke us up, absolutely,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini said. “We’ve been in that situation before against Taunton and responded well. It’s been taking us a little bit to get going in the first but I’m proud of the way we battled back.
“We started off a little flat footed but I thought we battled back and had a tremendous finish to the first period. The second period was not conducive of how we want to play. We won the third period but the penalties kind of took away from the win, not enough discipline.”
KP sophomore Paul McDonald ended up with the puck on his stick after the turnover, carried towards goal and slid a pass across where sophomore Conor Cooke just beat the defenseman’s stick to one-time it into the goal for a 1-0 Warrior lead 2:08 into the game.
From there, the period belonged to the Hornets. On the second power play chance of the frame, the Hornets cashed in. Sophomore Matty Copponi did the majority of the work down low before his shot hit the bottom of the crossbar and stayed out. However, senior Coleman O’Brien was right there to bang the loose puck in to tie it 1-1.
The momentum stayed with Mansfield and the home team cashed in just a minute later. This time, senior Jack Garland won possession behind the net and tossed the puck in front to a wide open Jake Lund, and the senior bored it for a 2-1 advantage.
The teams traded genuine scoring chances over the next two minutes with Mansfield senior Chris Copponi being turned away from KP goalie James Lewis (28 saves) and KP junior Ethan McGuire taking a pass from Luke D’Amico, but the shot was just over the net.
Mansfield added to its advantage with 3:40 left in the period as Brad Grant drew a defenseman to the sideboards, took a hit while finding Garland in the slot for a one-timer and a 3-1 lead.
After killing an early Hornet power play in the second, King Philip went on a 5-on-4 for five minutes. While having a couple of chances with the man-advantage, mainly Shandley’s low shot hitting off the post, the Warriors really took control when the Hornets were whistled for another penalty.
On the 5-on-3, Bianculli delivered a perfectly weighted pass as he stepped in from the point across the ice to an open Ryan Fitzpatrick for a one-timer, bringing KP within a goal at 3-2.
But the Warriors were done in by another penalty, this time an interference call while in possession in the attacking end. Mansfield needed just 20 seconds to cash in for its second power play goal, as Matty Copponi worked his way from the corner to in front of goal and got just enough on his backhand for the puck to cross and Mansfield took a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
“It’s one of the things we’ve struggled with but we’ve been working on [the power play] lately in practice,” Balzarini said. “The guys are keeping it simple which is good. The results are there. If we just stick to what the game plan is, we’ll get what we want. We were four for six on the power play so that was good, and our penalty kill was pretty good too.”
A penalty-filled third period saw three goals, the first two adding onto Mansfield’s lead. After KP couldn’t convert on a man-advantage opportunity early on, the Warriors were whistled for a cross check with 5:53 to go. A minute into the power play. KP was hit with another penalty, and the Hornets went on a 5-on-3 power play.
Mansfield quick cashed in with Grant firing a hard wrist shot from a tight angle into the back of the net. Just before his shot, KP was hit with another penalty so Mansfield’s two-man advantage continued after the goal. Just before one penalty expired, Garland took a feed from Kevin Belanger to make it 6-2.
“We can’t stay out of the penalty box, no discipline,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “The same thing happened against North too. Playing at full strength, I thought we were every bit as good as [Mansfield]. At the end of the day, playing down a man, playing 5-on-3, you can’t win hockey games like that. Until we get it figured out, and play five-on-five….the league is too tough. If you take too many penalties, you won’t win.
“I thought the first half of the first period was good hockey for both teams. Then it just turned into a mess, no one wants to play that type of hockey.”
Mansfield was hit with three penalties in the final five minutes, and the Warriors cashed in on a 5-on-3 chance with under a minute to go. Fitzpatrick connected with junior Joe Boselli with a nice pass, and Boselli hammered it in with a one-timer.
Mansfield boys hockey (5-1-1 Hockomock, 11-2-1 overall) move into first place in the Kelley-Rex with the win, holding a one-point lead over Franklin with two games to go. The Hornets travel to Asiaf Arena on Saturday for a big clash with Oliver Ames, who is just two points out of first place. King Philip (3-3-0, 7-6-0) is home with a 7:20 tilt against the Panthers.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro came into Saturday afternoon’s game with King Philip a game below .500 and already thinking about how many points it will need to ensure a playoff spot. When games are tough and points are at a premium, then it take goals of all kinds to build momentum.
With one minute left to play, Jake Ebert fought his way to the crease and was the first to react when a shot slipped past KP goalie James Lewis. Ebert tapped the rebound into the open net and secured the Rocketeers a much-needed, come from behind 3-2 victory that pulls North back to .500 on the season.
“That’s what we’ve been focusing on,” said North coach Ben McManama. “I asked him after the game, how did you score that and he said, ‘dirty goals,’ and that’s what we’re trying to do. Hopefully they understand now that it doesn’t have to be pretty.”
Through two periods it didn’t look like the Rocketeers would need late heroics to pull out the win.
North grabbed an early lead on a two-man advantage inside the opening five minutes of the game. Will Yeomans had the initial shot from the slot that Lewis (28 saves) was able to get a piece of but not fully collect. The puck fell behind the goalie and Justin Moccia was in the right place at the right time to tap it in.
It took the Warriors more than nine minutes before they recorded their first shot on goal. Jack Coulter picked off a cross-ice pass and forced Ryan Warren (20 saves) into his first stop of the night.
The Rocketeers kept pushing for a second goal. A scrum in front forced a last-ditch, goal line clearance by KP defenseman Kyle Gray. With a minute left in the first, Lewis was forced into two reaction stops to deny both Jack Connolly and Ebert from point-blank range.
In the second period, the Warriors struggled to stay out of the box. KP picked up four penalties in that period alone, including a five-minute major that carried over to the third.
“We’ve got to stay out of the box,” KP coach Paul Carlow said. “You have to play even strength hockey to win. I would’ve like to have played them even strength more. We were shorthanded most of the night.”
Joe Boselli had a good look dragging the puck into the slot but he shot over the net and then Luke D’Amico forced Warren into a good glove save from a tight angle. Jake McNeany tested Lewis with a shot from the point that was kicked aside and Todd Robinson set up Connolly for a tip on the edge of the crease but it was sent just past the post.
North led 19-10 in shots heading into the third period and with 4:51 remaining on a major penalty, the Rocketeers looked like they were in control. But, KP stormed out of the locker room looking like a completely different team and, despite being down a skater, started to take the game to the hosts.
“You have to give credit to KP on that,” said McManama about North only scoring once while up a skater. “Our power play has been working at 33 percent coming into today and that’s the hardest our power play has had to work. They did a great job. They have a very good system and they work their butts off.”
Ryan Fitpatrick missed the net on a backhand seconds into the third and Warren was forced to make a sprawling save to deny Brendan Shandley when the rebound caromed to him at the far post. North nearly doubled its lead seconds later when Robinson’s shot forced a save out of Lewis and Connolly flicked the rebound wide of an open net.
That miss looked costly as KP skated down the other end and tied the game. Coulter had the initial shot from the right circle and Boselli was right there to follow up the rebound to make it 1-1.
“I think it was good that we had locker room time to talk about the kill and get the guys ready to go out for the kill,” said Carlow. “When you’re getting penalties all night, not only does it take away your chance to score but it kills your guys’ legs, so now when you come back from the kill then you don’t have any legs.”
Both teams continued to get chances in an end-to-end period. Robinson had a shot tipped inches wide by Ebert in front and Anthony Zammiello set up McNeany but his shot was blocked in front. Rocco Bianculli tested Warren with a blast from the edge of the right circle but the goalie got his blocker to it and Shandley forced another save that left the North defense scrambling.
With 5:47 to play, KP stunned the home crowd by grabbing the lead. Coulter played the puck into Conor Cooke, who was parked in the slot with a defenseman on his back. The forward collected the pass, spun, and ripped a shot over the shoulder of Warren and into the roof of the net to make it 2-1.
“Once we killed that penalty,” Carlow said, “it gave everyone a boost of confidence and then we were able to play some 5-on-5. When we played 5-on-5, we scored.”
Rather than get down, North turned the game around again. After KP cleared off yet another penalty (its eighth of the game), North got space in transition with Connolly finding a lot of room on the left circle. He opened his body up and went top shelf, far corner to beat Lewis and tie the game seemingly out of nowhere.
McManama explained, “Not much needed to be said. Everyone just started to step up and really it was one shift that got the other guys going. Winning a battle here or there and that built momentum for the last couple minutes.”
Zammiello hit the post from a very tight angle a minute later and then Ebert popped up 30 seconds after that with the dramatic finish that North needed to pull out a crucial two points at the midway point of its season.
“I thought they were playing very hard in the third period and they were winning all the battles,” McManama said. “It was very difficult to play them, even when we were on the power play…we didn’t match it in the third and that’s why the wheels started to come off a little bit, but I’m proud of the boys for battling back. It’s not an easy thing especially at this point in the season.”
North Attleboro (5-5, 3-1), which is just a game back of Canton in the Davenport title race, will travel to Oliver Ames on Wednesday, while King Philip (6-5, 2-2) will get a week off and be right back at the NESV to face Attleboro.
North Attleboro, 58 vs. Bishop Feehan, 37 – Final – North Attleboro limited Bishop Feehan to just 15 points in the opening half, building a 32-15 lead by the break and never looked back. The Rocketeers pounded the paint, using their size to their advantage, connecting on 26 two-point field goals. Jake Petersen had a team-high 14 points for North while Josh Montague added 10 points, sophomore George Ladd finished with nine points, and Nate Gonsalves chipped in seven points.
Taunton 72 vs. New Bedford, 66 – Final – New Bedford raced out to a 24-14 lead after the first quarter, and had the lead up to as much as 15 before Taunton closed the gap with a big second quarter. Senior Lou Vendrell scored nine of his 11 points in the second quarter on three triples to help the Tigers cut the deficit to just two, 31-29, at halftime. Senior Mike Quinn scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half, Wesner Charles added 14 points, and John Martins scored all 10 of his points in the second half to help the Tigers earn the win.
Canton, 57 @ Weymouth, 48 – Final – Canton got strong games from three of its freshmen to win on the road at Weymouth (where the Bulldogs clinched a playoff spot last season). Kiara Cerruti led the way for the Bulldogs with 19 points, including 6-of-8 at the line. Sydney Gallery scored 12 and her sister Fay chipped in with 11 points. Canton coach Jim Choquette credited the team’s defensive pressure and its transition game for the win, which moved the Bulldogs back to .500 on the season.
Foxboro, 54 vs. Walpole, 40 – Final – The Warriors won a second non-league game in a row to stay unbeaten on the season. Katelyn Mollica was the top scorer for Foxboro with 14 points and the Warriors also got strong games from Yara Fawaz and Chelsea Gibbons, who each scored 13 points.
Milford, 19 @ Norwood, 61 – Final
North Attleboro, 61 @ Weston, 42 – Final – North went on the road and earned its first win of the season. Julia Feid scored 20 points to pace the Rocketeers and Eliza Dion added 12 points in the victory.
Sharon, 43 vs. Holliston, 49 – Final – The Eagles stormed back into the game in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to catch Holliston. Kaitlyn Wallace had 12 points, Evanjuline Elisma had 11, and Telishya Herbert had eight in the loss.
Attleboro, 0 @ Canton, 9 – Final – Canton senior Ryan Nolte scored a hat trick and six other players found the back of the net as the Bulldogs opened league play with an impressive win over Attleboro.
King Philip, 2 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – King Philip dominated in shots but had to kill five penalties and needed a late third period goal to earn a win over Foxboro. The Warriors, who had a 36-9 advantage in shots, went ahead in the first period on a goal from Jack Coulter, assisted by Luke D’Amico. Foxboro tied the game on a tally from Brendan Tully (unassisted) with 2:23 to go in the second period. KP sophomore Rocco Bianculli scored the game-winner on a feed from senior Brendan Shandley and junior Chris Daniels. with 2:36 to play. Foxboro had a power play over the final 1:39 but the Warriors’ best chance hit the post in the final moments and stayed out.
Franklin, 3 @ Canton, 2 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game. – Franklin senior Regan Paterson scored a pair of goals and assisted on another to pace the Panthers to a key road win. Paterson opened the scoring just 53 seconds into the game, using a self pass off the boards to beat the defense and then finished with a nice shot. Franklin made it 2-0 with a power play goal with 3:10 left in the first. Tina Pisano played the puck behind the net, Paterson collected it, and found Jordan Dwyer open in front for a goal. Canton got on the board with 1:10 left in the second period as Leah McClellan found Katie Trerice, and her shot from just inside the blue line found its way through traffic and into the net. Franklin responded with a power play goal early in the third. Pisano found Cassi Ronan streaking into the area and she connected with Paterson right in front. Lauren Fitzpatrick scored with 1:18 on the power play to bring the Bulldogs within one. Gabby Colace made 33 saves in the win for Franklin.
King Philip, 1 vs. Dennis-Yarmouth, 3 – Final
Stoughton, 2 @ Cambridge, 11 – Final
Sharon, 37 @ Canton, 26 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this dual meet. – Sharon’s Vinay Chinnam (126) and Tyler Cashton (152) earned pinfall victories and the Eagles got 18 points from forfeits to earn a win over Canton. Huguens Pierre (138) and Max Pozner (145) also had wins for the Eagles. Canton’s Zach Peters (106, dec.), Jack Turano (113, pin), Mark Carstairs (120, dec.), Harry Carter (152, pin), Jordan Neundorf (160, dec.), and Cole Murphy (170, dec.) had wins for the Bulldogs.
Taunton, 24 @ King Philip, 53 – Final – Six Warriors won by pinfall and two more won by decision as King Philip picked up a win over Taunton. Conor Harrington (106), Michael Gorman (113), Sam DeBaggis (126), Jackson Kelley (138), Sean O’Brien (170), and Shawn Conniff (195) all won by pin for KP while Mohammad Lofti (145, 16-0) and Luke Fitch (182, 4-0) each won by decision without giving up a point. Taunton’s Tyler Lima (120, pin), Christian Balmain (152, dec.), Candido Santos (160, dec.), and Woudanly Danger (285, pin) picked up wins.
Mansfield, 33 @ Melrose, 39 – Final
Oliver Ames, 74 @ Franklin, 93 – Final – Junior Chris Carey took first in the 100 free and junior Pat Juszczyszyn won the 500 free to pace the Panthers to a win.
Oliver Ames, 93 @ Franklin, 74 – Final – Franklin senior Katie Cashin was a double winner, taking first in both the 100 free and 20 free.
Oliver Ames, 130.4 @ Canton, 102.75 – Final – Oliver Ames picked up its third straight win to begin the season, with junior Lauren Picanzi capturing his third straight first place finish in the All Around. Picanzi scored a 33.7 while OA sophomore Ashlyn Latham was second with a 32.8. Latham had a meet-best 9.0 on the vault.
Franklin, 55 vs. Bridgewater-Raynham, 47 – Final – Franklin started and finished strong in the championship game of the Larry Fisher Holiday Tournament to beat the hosts. Franklin junior Steve Karayan connected on six three-pointers, including two in the first and two in the fourth quarters, for a career-high 18 points. The Panthers led 36-34 heading into the final quarter but outscored the Trojans 19-13 in the frame to pull away with the win. Senior Jalen Samuels added 14 points and was named tournament MVP while senior Jake Macchi added a career-high 12 points.
Oliver Ames, 51 vs. Cardinal Spellman, 45 – Final – Oliver Ames limited the Cardinals to four points in the second quarter to build a 25-14 advantage at the break, and took a 40-26 lead into the final frame but had to hold off a furious charge from Spellman to earn the win. Spellman cut the lead to 48-45 with 31 seconds to go but OA secured the win in the championship game of the Muscato Holiday Tournament. Senior Ethan Eckstrom scored 13 points and was named tournament MVP while junior Jay Spillane also scored 13 points for the Tigers.
Foxboro, 63 @ Hopkinton, 23 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Lizzy Davis led the Warriors with 16 points, while Katelyn Mollica had 15 and Yara Fawaz added 10. Shakirah Ketant came off the bench to add seven points, nine rebounds, and four blocks for Foxboro, which didn’t allow a made field goal during the second and third quarters.
Mansfield, 40 vs. Ridgefield (Conn.), 32 – Final – Mansfield led by just two points entering the fourth, but pulled away by holding Ridgefield to only five points in the final quarter. Defense was the key for the Hornets, who led 20-10 at halftime despite shooting 0-for-16 from the field in the second. Sydney Mulkern had 14 points and Maggie Danehy recorded a second double-double in as many days with 10 points and 14 boards.
North Attleboro, 49 vs. Dighton-Rehoboth, 55 – Final – Amanda Kaiser led the Rocketeers with 22 points in the consolation game of their holiday tournament.
Attleboro, 26 vs. Norwood, 39 – Final – The Bombardiers played even with unbeaten Norwood in the second half but couldn’t overcome a tough start on the offensive end after falling behind 21-8 at halftime. Liv McCall scored a team-high seven points and was named to the all-tournament team. Nyah Thomas added six points for Attleboro.
Attleboro, 2 vs. Dartmouth, 2 – Final – Attleboro rallied for a pair of third period goals to earn a tie with Dartmouth. Cam Littig scored twice in the final period to bring the Bombardiers level, with Ryan Morry assisting on both goals. Sam Larkin and Aidan Diggin also had an assist for Attleboro.
Canton, 4 vs. Westwood, 0 – Final – Canton’s Ryan Nolte and Johnny Hagan scored in the second period and Timmy Kelleher and Chris Lavoie tacked on goals in the third period as the Bulldogs claimed the Joe Donnelly Cup with a win over Westwood.
Foxboro, 8 vs. St. John Paul II/Sacred Heart, 2 – Final – Kirk Leach picked up five points and Ronnie MacLellan registered four points as the Warriors skated to a win in the championship game of the JP2 Hockey Classic. Leach scored twice and picked up three assists while MacLellan was responsible for one goal and three helpers.
King Philip 7, vs. Brockton, 4 – Final – King Philip scored four goals in the second period, turning a deficit into a lead, and tacked on two more in the final period to get the win over the Boxers. Senior Luke D’Amico put the Warriors on the board in the first but KP trailed 2-1 after one. Goals from Brendan Shandley, Rocco Bianculli, Aidan Boulger, and Garrett Maxwell helped the Warriors take a 5-4 lead into the final period. Jack Coulter and D’Amico scored insurance goals in the third period while James Lewis finished with 14 saves in net.
North Attleboro, 2 vs. Moses Brown (R.I.), 3 – Final
Canton, 1 vs. Westwood, 5 – Final – Lauren Fitzpatrick scored Canton’s only goal.
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 4 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip scored early in the third period to go up 3-1 but Mansfield/Oliver Ames rallied for three straight goals, including the game-winner with just over a minute left to pick up a win over the Warriors. Sydney O’Shea and Morgan Cunningham scored first period goals to put KP up 2-0. Izzy Shanteler got MOA on the board in the second but Meghan Gorman made it 3-1 with an early third period goal. But Emma Pereira scored with 10:47 left, Shanteler got her second with 5:10 to go, and Pereira tallied her second with 1:04 to play for the game-winner. Skyler Sharfman had two assists for MOA while Jess Widdop made 18 saves in goal.
Stoughton, 2 @ St. Joseph Prep/Mt. Alvernia, 8 – Final
Wrestling Agawam Tournament – Franklin had eight wrestlers finish fifth or better and took fourth overall as a team with 145 points. Drew DiFilippo was the 106 champion, winning 13-8 in the finals over Moses Oquendo of Holyoke. Alex Facassa (126) and Liam Cogavin (182) each took second, Matt Leofanti (220) earned a third place finish, Luke Cashin (152), Nolan Sheridan (195), and Quinn Fila-Montgomery (113) each placed fourth, and Michael Hasenfus (132) took fifth overall.
“It was a very good first period,” Carlow said. “The kids came out flying and worked hard. For the first time since I started coaching, we have three lines and that certainly helped. We got some outstanding goaltending and the defense played well in the back end.”
Each team had a good scoring chance inside the first six minutes of the game. After that, King Philip controlled the majority of the play and cashed in twice just over two minutes apart to build a lead.
King Philip senior goalie James Lewis (23 saves) turned away a pair of early OA shots while Tigers junior netminder Owen Connor (25 saves) denied the Warriors on a one-time bid off the stick of Joe Boselli (set up by Jack Coulter) to keep the game scoreless through six minutes.
The Warriors continued its offensive pressure and capitalized on a rush at the midway point of the period. Senior Garrett Maxwell connected with senior Brendan Shandley in neutral ice, and the latter took control into the attacking zone.
Skating down the right side, Shandley flipped the puck on net with a tough angle and the puck caromed off of the OA netminder and into the back of the net for a 1-0 advantage.
A couple of shifts later, the Warriors’ first line was at it again. A strong forecheck resulted in possession behind the net on the stick senior Ryan Fitzpatrick. Before the Tigers could get a defenseman to pressure him, Fitzpatrick alertly dumped the puck back in front, hitting the back of Connor’s skate and into the net. Shandley and Luke D’Amico were credited with assists.
“The boys work hard, we do a lot of skating and a lot of conditioning,” Carlow said. “Having that extra line helps [with the energy]. They came into the season prepared and it showed.
“I’m pleased with the way they played, that’s a good start. Oliver Ames is always a good team and well coached, so any time you can come down here and get two points is a good thing.”
Oliver Ames came out strong in the second period and had two very good chances to cut into the deficit but Lewis came up with two huge stops to preserve the two-goal lead.
First, junior Jake Gottwald drew a defenseman to the right side before turning and firing a pass to senior Max Ward right in front for a one-timer. Lewis got just enough of his glove to the puck to keep it out but OA kept possession.
Ward eventually got back on the puck behind the net and tossed it right in front to Colin Bourne for a one-timer but Lewis got the pad to the close range bid to keep it out.
The Tigers’ momentum was squandered by a cross checking penalty with 12:28 to play in the period. KP only had one solid chance on the man-advantage when Coulter nearly put a shot in the net but the puck didn’t get past the line and OA cleared it away.
Although Connor and the OA defense turned the Warriors away on the power play, the momentum stayed with King Philip for the rest of the period. The Warriors had strong spells of possession using al three things. The best chance coming at the midway point when Chris Daniels found Boselli but his shot slid just wide.
“The guys have bought in [on puck possession] and they did a good job tonight,” Carlow said. “I felt like we outplayed them for two and a half periods and then those penalties in the third, we almost let them back in.”
Connor made a terrific toe save early in the third period to keep a shot from Aidan Boulger out of the back of the net and OA nearly staged a comeback over the following minutes.
Lewis squeezed the pads to deny a one-time chance from Ward after a nice centering pass from Brad Powers. And then Lewis denied a shorthanded breakaway from Cullen Gallagher at the midway point of the final period to keep the Warriors up 2-0.
Oliver Ames had a variety of man-up opportunities throughout the final period, skating 5-on-3 briefly before taking a penalty of their own. During a 4-on-3 stretch, both James Beatty and Ward had chances turned aside by Lewis.
The Tigers kept possession in the attacking zone but Lewis continued his strong play, knocking aside another Beatty shot with his blocker and snatching a bid from Gottwald with the glove seconds later.
“He played outstanding,” Carlow said of Lewis. “He’s waited his turn, he’s been a backup for us and now he’s a senior…and tonight he put a performance on. He made a nice save early and I knew he was in the zone, and he was all night.”
Coulter iced the game with an empty net goal with 29 seconds to play.
“They just outplayed us all three periods, they wanted it more,” said Oliver Ames head coach Sean Bertoni. “It’s tough to come back against good teams. You never want to go down two goals, and down two goals to a good team. I thought the third period was better, especially better than the first. We had some special teams chances but we just couldn’t finish. The limited chances we did have, we didn’t finish.”
King Philip hockey (1-0 overall) is back on the ice next Wednesday when it hosts Coyle & Cassidy at 5:40 at Foxboro Sports Center. Oliver Ames (1-1) hits the road to take on North Attleboro on Saturday in a non-league clash.
2017-2018 Record: 9-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Homer
After a two year drought of postseason hockey, the Bombardiers made it to the playoffs last year and are aiming to make it two years in a row. The Bombardiers only had three seniors on the roster last season, so the majority of the squad is back, plus a familiar face is back in the fold this season.
One of the three seniors that graduated was Jake Parker, who led the Bombardiers in scoring last season with 26 goals and eight assists. But Attleboro is slated to return its next three scorers in senior Cam Littig (12 goals, 14 assists for 26 points), junior Ryan Morry (11 goals, 15 assists for 26 points) and senior Kyle McCabe (three goals, 10 assists for 13 points).
Another positive is that the Bombardiers have some experience in goal. Both senior Evan Andrews (13.66 games played) and junior Derrik Rivet (6.33 games) are set to return. Having an experienced goalie is a huge positive but having a strong backup helps even more. Andrews had 270 saves last season with a 0.882 save percentage while Rivet turned away 144 shots and had a 0.842 save percentage. In front of goal, McCabe, Sam Flynn, and Matt Viveiros will be joined by Liam McDonough, Kyle Miniati, and Zach Pierce as members of the defensive unit.
While Littig and Morry will try to replicate their success from a season ago, one name that could help bolster the offense is senior Sam Larkin. Larkin played his freshman year and had seven goals and seven assists before switching over to juniors. His experience should give Attleboro a boost during the season.
“We have had some additions to our team this year that has created a little more depth that had been absent in previous years,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “We are working on maintaining a better consistency in our play. We are still in our tryout mode and hoping to find the right mix to make us more competitive this season, especially in our league games.”
2017-2018 Record: 17-3-4 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Brian Shuman
Canton comes into every year with high expectations and the Bulldogs will be favorites to bring home a ninth straight Davenport division title and 11th Hockomock League title in the past 12 seasons. While the league campaign is a priority, the Bulldogs will also be comparing themselves to the top teams in Div. 2 and hoping this will be the year to break through in the South sectional and get back to the TD Garden for the first time since 2010.
After a dominant winter, the top scoring line is back in full for Canton. Senior Ryan Nolte, the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, and junior Johnny Hagan, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, will draw most of the plaudits but junior Timmy Kelleher gives the Bulldogs strong play on the other wing as well. That line combined for 69 points last season (27 apiece for Hagan and Nolte) and will be one of the league’s best going into this year. Canton also has juniors Tommy Ghostlaw and Chris Lavoie back to add scoring punch to the second line.
At the blue line, juniors Owen Lehane and Jack Connolly will both be expected to eat up a lot of minutes after strong sophomore seasons, and the Bulldogs will be looking for other players to step up and fill in defensively. After consistently strong goaltending from Quinn Gibbs over the past few seasons, Canton will turn to senior Mike Staffiere, who has been a backup the past two years and is drawing great reviews for his play during the preseason.
“Overall, we have a lot of experience returning up front at the forward position, but that’s true for a lot of teams in our league and in our division,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “The real question will be how much these players improved from last year, which we won’t know for sure until the games get going.”
2017-2018 Record: 10-9-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South preliminary round. Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro is coming off the best season in program history, as the Warriors won 10 games and qualified for the state tournament without relying on the Sullivan Rule. Now, the Warriors come back this season hoping to build on that season and make another run at the state tournament behind an offense that, according to coach Mark Cedorchuk, is as deep as it has ever been.
Junior Ronnie MacLellan and sophomore Kirk Leach are two of the forwards to keep an eye on this season for the Warriors after the duo combined for 15 goals and 32 points last season. Also up front will be senior Tanner Kennedy and juniors Sebastian Ricketts and Josh Bertumen, who combined for 10 goals last year and are looking to continue their development to add depth to the attack.
Senior Brendan Tully will lead the defensive effort but is also the team’s leading scorer. The blue line standout scored 18 goals and had 19 assists and is going to be a major factor in all three zones as well as a leader on the penalty kill and power play. He will be joined on the blue line by junior Kyle McGinnis, while junior Espen Reager will be between the pipes this year.
“Even though we had a successful season last year, best in team history,” Cedorchuk said, “our players are not satisfied, they are hungry to improve on that.”
2017-2018 Record: 12-6-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Chris Spillane
Franklin started well last winter, reaching the final of the prestigious Mount St. Charles tournament and taking a point off Malden Catholic for the first time, but the Panthers couldn’t carry the momentum throughout the season and were knocked out in the first round of the tournament. As usual, Franklin graduated a lot of players, but also return a strong corps of experienced players to take on arguably the program’s toughest regular season schedule, which is loaded with some of the state’s top teams.
The Panthers return 11 seniors for this season, including eight forwards, but also have a group of eight sophomores that are jumping up from the JV to contribute on varsity this season. The forward line has plenty of experience and should be able to fire in the goals this year. Seniors Joey Lizotte, Zac Falvey, Scott Elliott, Dan Magazu, and C.J. Spillane will all be able to jump into the top scoring lines after playing major roles last year.
Defensively, the top five defensemen will be juniors Tom Tasker (who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last year) and Colin Hedvig and seniors Cam Casella, Matt D’Errico, and Evan Forbes. Three sophomores will also see time on the blue line for the Panthers this season. After graduating three senior goaltenders, the job is open to senior Ryan Cameron and junior Ray Ivers, who are both making the jump from JV.
“Our hope is that team speed will drive the offense and that our returning defense will have the experience to make sound decisions in our end,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “The boys are looking forward to the upcoming season. I see the Hockomock as an extremely competitive league this year. We will also challenge our boys with a high-end non-league schedule.”
2017-2018 Record: 8-12-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Paul Carlow
King Philip brings 11 players back from last year’s squad and is hoping a tough schedule will result in a battle-tested team ready for the D1 South Tournament at the end of February. It starts with the seniors for the Warriors with four of them back, plus a transfer.
There will be a lot of experience in the top line for KP, as well as its first defensive pair and between the pipes. Captain Ryan Fitzpatrick (10 points) had a strong season last year and will be trying to replicate that this year. Fitzpatrick is joined by assistant captain Luke D’Amico (13 points) as wingers while senior transfer Brendan Shandley steps in at center to give the Warriors a formidable line to work with. Juniors Chris Daniels (13 points), Joe Boselli (11 points), and Jack Coulter (10 points) are all back after successful sophomore seasons and should provide KP with good depth.
On the blueline, veteran Garrett Maxwell is the lone senior back from last year so he will be relied on for leadership. He is one of the strongest players in the league and plays in all situations for KP, including the power play plus the penalty kill. There will be some other familiar faces on defense for KP with junior Kyle Gray (seven points) and sophomore Rocco Bianculli (eight points) both back with varsity experience.
Senior James Lewis takes over in the crease as the starting netminder for the Warriors. Lewis saw action in three games last season, including a pair of wins and shutouts. While new to the starting position, Lewis has plenty of experience and that bodes well for the Warriors. Jesper Makudera and Nate Ihley will be pushing for minutes in net as well.
“I expect the team to have some good chemistry and get off to a good start,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “Practice has been good, and we have good leadership this year with a strong core. The Hockomock League is always competitive, the Kelley-Rex is a strong division, and we have a tough non-league schedule too, so we want to challenge ourselves.”
2017-2018 Record: 9-7-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round. Coach: Mike Balzarini
The Hornets have a strong core of players back this season, along with the addition of a couple of new faces, and head coach Mike Balzarini is hoping that combination will result in success this season.
Experience will be a strong suit for Mansfield as five of its top six forwards played significant minutes last year. Chris Copponi (12 points) and Matt Copponi (16 points) will be on the wings around center Coleman O’Brien for one line while Jake Lund (eight points) and Kevin Bellanger are returners on another line. The sixth forward will be center Jack Garland, who played juniors last year but is back in the fold for the Hornets this year. Ben Ierardo, Cam Page, and Braedon Copparini will be in the mix for minutes as well.
Defensively, while there are certainly some holes to fill, Balzarini has some talent to rely on the blue line. Two-time HockomockSports.com selections Mike Arnold and Tyler Oakley graduated so there is a little bit of a void, but Austin Ricker has stepped on early on to anchor the Hornet defensive unit. Ricker is joined by Brad Grant, who played for the Hornets previously before switching to juniors. Nick Levine and Joe Troiano gained valuable experience last year, and Jack Gormley and Brian Grant should be in the mix as well.
Mansfield also has experience in the goalie position with junior Sean McCafferty back between the pipes after having a breakout sophomore campaign. McCafferty was one of the top goalies in the league last year, earning HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman honors. He had 377 saves and a 92 save percentage, which bodes well for the Hornets this year.
“We obviously want to pick up where we left off after making the playoffs the last two years,” Balzarini said. “With the returning players plus new additions, I think we’re a little bit deeper and we know what we need to do to be competitive and make sure we’re playing well at the end of the season.”
2017-2018 Record: 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Ben McManama
Defense will be key for the Rocketeers during the 2018-2019 season. With a handful of returners back on the blue line as well as veteran goalie Ryan Warren, North Attleboro boasts a talented defensive unit.
Senior captain Brendan McHugh will anchor the defensive group alongside juniors Jeff Baker and Will Yeomans. All three are very experienced players that put defense first. They can all get involved in the offense as well. Warren has shined between the pipes each of the last three seasons, earning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a freshman and was a HockomockSports Third Team selection last season. Warren is pushed in practice each day as Chris Ulrich and Nick Digiacomo push for time.
Offensively, North Attleboro only lost two forwards from last year’s group, but those two players (Drew Wissler, Jason McNeany) combined for nearly half of the Rocketeers’ 76 goals a season ago. So this year, Big Red will need forwards to step up and contribute. Captain Anthony Zammiello scored 13 goals last year and will look to continue his success this season. Todd Robinson, Justin Moccia, Dennis Morehouse, Jake Ebert, and Jack Connolly are all candidates to have big years for the Rocketeers.
“We are a very big and physical team that works hard,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama. “We will need to stay out of the box to have success this year. Defense and depth will be the strength of our team. We will also need three lines that can score. I am very optimistic on the season because it is obvious that all our players put a ton of work in during the offseason.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Sean Bertoni
Speed has been the strength of the Tigers since Sean Bertoni took over the team and Oliver Ames will be relying on that speed and aggressiveness to try and challenge Franklin at the top of the Kelley-Rex division and to make a run in the state tournament. With a few players coming back from juniors to join with an experienced group, OA has high hopes of pushing the Panthers for the league title.
Senior forward Brett Williams will be the key player in the attack, coming off a season in which he scored 21 goals and recorded 15 assists and was named to the HockomockSports.com First Team. Williams will have plenty of help up front from senior Colin Bourne, who is one of the fastest skaters in the league and had 13 points last season. Senior forward Cullen Gallagher will also give the offense a boost, as he comes back to the program after a year in juniors.
Senior Matt McCormack was one of the league’s top defensemen last year and his steadying presence on the blue line will be critical to OA improving on that end of the ice, after giving up 54 goals as a team last year. Senior James Beatty is back after a year in juniors and should be a big boost to the blue line. Junior Owen Connor is back in net and looking to build off last season’s efforts.
“We are a team that will rely heavily on our team speed,” Bertoni said. “Our aggressive style of defense will lead to a successful offense. We will have to establish our forecheck to be effective. Our transition game will be a strength for us this year, creating turnovers and getting on the attack.”
2017-2018 Record: 1-20-1 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Dan Mark
Overall, the Stoughton Black Knights will be on the young side but they have a veteran first line that will lead the way.
The Knights will be looking to improve on last year’s record, while possibly trying to surprise some teams along the way. Leading the way offensively will be senior Sean Doherty. Doherty was Stoughton’s second-leading scorer last year behind Brendan Campbell (graduated). Doherty was second on the Black Knights with 12 goals and added 11 assists and will be relied upon to be a key piece of the offense this season. Joining Doherty on the first line will be senior Luke Bainton, who brings a lot of varsity experience to the table. Bainton will look to improve on last year after recording seven points (four goals, three assists).
Senior Josh Hough will anchor the blue line for the Black Knights. In his fourth year on varsity, Hough has logged a lot of minutes on the ice over the past couple of seasons and will be one of the most experienced defensemen in the league. Hough is able to create on the offensive end as well, scoring a pair of goals last year along with seven assists. Senior Thomas McCoy is set to return in goal after getting experience between the pipes a season ago.
2017-2018 Record: 12-10-2 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal. Coach: Kris Metea
Taunton has been a program on the rise for the past few seasons and last year the Tigers took another big step forward by making a push to the Div. 2 South semifinal. That unexpected tournament run as the No. 13 seed, which included wins over No. 4 Old Rochester and No. 5 Nauset, has boosted the team’s confidence heading into a new year in which all but four players are back.
Scoring has not been a problem for the Tigers in recent seasons. Last year, Taunton scored a league-best 98 goals, five more than Davenport champ Canton, and senior forward Cam Sneyd (30 points) and junior Mike Albert (32 points) both eclipsed the 30-point mark. Senior Jack Patneaude added 15 points last year and he is poised for a big year along with classmates Jaden Weyant, Owen Ross, and Nick Vandermeel.
The defense is almost completely returned from last year, led by senior Andrew Carter, who was solid in the defensive zone but also chipped in with 20 points. Senior Brady Nichols and sophomore Dylan Nichols are also back for the Tigers. Junior Sean Bunker returns in net after a solid performance in the tournament run and he will be backed up by classmate Andrew Gomes, who has shown that he is a capable replacement when needed.
“The players have embraced the enjoyment of the journey, the process, and working hard to get better every day,” said Taunton coach Kris Metea. “They have the potential to continue their accomplishment of new heights. They will be fun to coach, and watch grow throughout the season.”
Injuries hampered Attleboro right from the start of the 2017 season, but the 2018 Bombardiers are healthy and hoping for a big turnaround this fall to compete with the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division and make a return to the postseason.
The graduation of quarterback Cam Furtado is a significant loss on offense, but the Bombardiers will hand the ball to junior Jason Weir, who has a big arm and a lot of potential at the QB position. Size and strength won’t be a problem for Weir, who played defensive end as a sophomore. Seniors Justin Cote and Alex Rodriguez will be the primary backs for Attleboro this year and give the Bombardiers dynamic weapons out of the backfield. The offensive line is bolstered by 6-foot-6, 290-pound junior Qualeem Charles and 6-foot-3, 265-pound senior Nick Evans. At 6-foot-3, junior Nolan Jaeger will be a weapon at receiver along with senior Josh Therrien and sophomore tight end Michael Strachan.
Evans battled injuries at the start of last season, but he is one of the top defensive linemen in the league and is drawing Div. I college offers. Attleboro will be a tough team to run against this season with Evans on the end and Charles (who is also getting DI looks) and 6-foot-3, 365-pound senior Eddie Porreca on the inside. Strachan and junior Isaac Gudiel will be starting at inside linebacker, while senior Desmond Woodson will be starting on the outside. Therrien is capable of making plays downfield at his free safety position and will be the leader of the secondary.
“I am looking forward to the 2018 season,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have a strong senior class and we have strong leadership on our football team. Our team worked out hard in the off-season and I am looking forward to that hard work paying off this season.”
Third-year head coach Eian Bain is optimistic about the 2018 season, and the long list of players returning with plenty of experience is a big reason why. The Panthers have over a dozen players back that started or saw significant time on offense and the same goes for the defense, include a very seasoned secondary.
Franklin must replace three-year starter Jake Noviello at quarterback but Bain is confident that a healthy competition between senior Nick Gordon and junior Thomas Gasbarro will result in a strong option starting under center for the opening week. While Franklin has to replace its quarterback, they return a ton of skill players on offense including senior tight end Sean Leonard, who hauled in a league-best eight touchdown passes last season. Ryan Driscoll (five touchdowns), Jack Nally, Will Davis, and Jake Davis will fill out the receiving corps while Sean Hofferty and Owen Palmieri man the backfield. Seniors Riley Downing and Liam Arsenault are experienced and will anchor the offensive line.
Junior Evan Wertz will be a key piece in the middle of the Panthers’ defense after having a breakout campaign last year with nearly 100 tackles from his linebacker spot. Senior Spencer Briggs and sophomore Alex Honor will also see time at linebacker while Downing is joined by Jack Jarosz, Dom Natale, and Keenan Bassma on the defensive line. The Panthers boast a seasoned secondary with Nolan McLaney and Driscoll both back, along with Palmieri, Jake Davis, and both Gasbarro and Gordon.
“We have experience on both sides of the ball,” Bain said. “It is a cohesive group that has been working hard together for our first two years and they are eager to the turn the corner with our program.”
The target on King Philip’s back is bigger than ever as the Warriors pulled off a second straight undefeated season and another state championship.
So how will head coach Brian Lee get this year’s team to focus on 2018 and not the past two seasons?
“The work and preparation have been the same but now it’s up to this season class to leave their legacy,” Lee said. “The previous two classes had their moments, now it’s up to these seniors to make their own moment. This team will go as far as these seniors lead them.”
The seniors will have plenty of opportunities to make their mark because King Philip doesn’t have a returning starter on offense. The Warriors need to replace quarterback Brendan Lydon, who didn’t lose a game as a starter. Junior Robbie Jarest looks poised to take over under center this season. While it isn’t a lot of experience, Jarest took over in the second half of the state final after Lydon got hurt and helped the Warriors finish off Lincoln-Sudbury. The toughest shoes to fill will be those of Shane Frommer, who will go down as one of the best players in KP history.
Junior Ryan Halliday will be the feature back while Aidan Bender and Sam Callanan will be in the mix as well. Jack Webster and Jack Collentro will be keys to the offense from the fullback position. Senior Terrell Jacobs Bastons has some experience on both sides of the ball and will likely start at guard while classmate Josh Fice will fill in the other guard spot. Junior Nolan Gunning is likely to get a starting spot as well, either at center or tackle.
Defense has been a staple for the Warriors throughout their successful run over the last couple of years, and that’s what KP will count on again this season. The strength will come from the linebackers with Webster back in an outside spot and Max Armour returning in the middle. Jacobs Bastons will be a big presence in the middle of the defensive line while the secondary will have familiar faces back in Aidan Bender, Timmy Nault, and safety Luke D’Amico.
And as we saw in the state final, having a reliable kicker is priceless. Cole Baker, who booted the winning field goal in the final, is back for his third year. Not only will he be a big help on offense, his kickoffs will be a weapon for the defense.
Mansfield has finished second in the Kelley-Rex in each of the past three seasons and the Hornets will be counting on experience under center and depth at the skill positions to end King Philip’s two-year reign atop the division and return to the top of the league standings for the first time since 2013.
Senior Damani Scott will be the starter at quarterback for the second straight season and he will be backed up by the capable Jack Mousette, giving the Hornets plenty of experience and reliability from their signal caller. Scott will also have a ton of weapons to call on this year with a skill position group that head coach Mike Redding calls one of the best that Mansfield has had in a while. Khristian Conner and Aidan Sacco will be weapons in the passing game while junior Vinnie Holmes is back in the backfield. Juniors Makhi Baskin, Michael DeBolt (who was also an outstanding kicker last year), and Nick Marciano will provide depth in the slot/running back positions. Senior Daenin Walker and junior Jason Comeau will add experience to the offensive line.
Defensively, Holmes will return to the linebacking corps after setting a program record for tackles in a season as a sophomore. Seniors Chris Copponi and Philip Dinov also return and can play as linebackers or as defensive ends depending on matchups. The secondary will be strong for the Hornets this year with Conner and Sacco at the corners and Marciano and Baskin at the safety positions. The only new additions on the defense are Anthony Capece at noseguard and junior Joe Plath at linebacker.
Redding said, “We have an experienced, athletic, aggressive defense that should be tough to score on and we’re young on offense, but have a ton of depth and talent at skill positions. Just need to gain some experience up front with our new guys on OL and DL.”
The 2018 version of the Oliver Ames Tigers have already had to make an audible after star running back Anthony Berksza suffered a season-ending injury over summer. Berksza had a breakout year last season, rushing for over 1,100 yards and finished with 16 total touchdowns, 15 of those rushing.
With Berksza out, Oliver Ames will rely heavily on the rest of its returning starters to carry the load. Junior Cam Perron returns under center after taking over the starting job during the regular season last year. While Perron looks to find some of his options, he has an offensive line protecting him that has some experience but will be looking to form cohesiveness throughout the year. Dean Pacini, Shane Murphy, Billy Tat, Luke Thibeault, and Garrett Wood all return with experience playing on the line. One challenge will be finding someone to step up and be a leader of that group after the graduation of two-time all star Jack Mills.
Nathan Cabral takes over as the feature tailback and OA head coach Mike Holland is confident the junior can get the job done. Holland says Cabral runs hard and is a tough player. Perron will also have the likes of Shane Kilkelly, Jake Erlich, and Evan Craig to work with as targets.
The heart of the defense will be at the linebacker position. Both Pacini, Murphy, and Darnele Ryan return after starting there last year and Holland will count on both senior captains to lead the way for the Tigers. Sam Stevens is back in the secondary at the safety position but OA will need some new faces to emerge alongside him.
“We’re looking forward to the start of the season,” Holland said. “We have a great group across the board. We have some experienced players back and some talented players competing for jobs.”
Taunton started last season with a 3-0 record, one of the program’s best starts in years, but then lost five straight games, including a playoff game against BC High, the top seed in Div. 1 South. The Tigers turned it on again from that point, winning the final three games of the season, including an impressive win against Brockton, to finish with a winning record under second-year head coach Brad Sidwell.
Experience will be a key for the Tigers this season, as Taunton tries to build on that playoff appearance and the momentum from a strong closing stretch. Senior Noah Leonard will be the starting quarterback for the third straight year and is now fluent in Sidwell’s offensive system. Leonard will have familiar targets in senior wideouts Brayden Merrill, Tryton Zavala, and Wesner Charles, while junior Cam Carroca looks to step in as a feature running back and junior Javon Franklin is a new target in the passing game. On the line, Taunton returns plenty of size in 6-foot-3, 337-pound tackle Christian Tourinho and his fellow senior Cam Correiro. Senior Ryan Williams will be the center, while junior Mason Frank, listed at 6-foot-2 and 274 pounds, will be back to battle at the line of scrimmage.
Size and athleticism will be strengths for Taunton on the defensive side of the ball as well. Tourinho, Correiro, and Frank can bottle up opposing running games and will be joined on the line by seniors Corey Pintabone and John Rockwood. Williams will lead the linebacking corps along with classmates Max Moitoso and Kyle Cuoto. Senior Prince Brown will be back at corner and senior Sebastien Celestin looks to step into the safety position.
“Taunton football is progressing forward,” said Sidwell. “Like all teams, we’d like to gain some confidence early in the season and carry it on. The Kelley-Rex division is challenging with great programs, coaching staffs, and communities. We are happy to be a part of it and want to represent Taunton High well by competing at the high standard set by the other league members.”