FRANKLIN, Mass. – When the showdown between rivals Mansfield and Franklin was moved from Tuesday to Thursday because of rain, it meant to two things: the winner of the game would now clinch at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title and Franklin’s starting pitcher would be different.
Franklin ace Jake Noviello toed the rubber on Wednesday against Attleboro, meaning that the Panthers would go with their number two starter.
But luckily for the Panthers, their number two is also an ace.
Junior Jason Ulrickson (6-0) scattered five hits in 5.2 innings of work to earn the win and also delivered at the plate, going 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored, leading the Panthers to a 6-3 win over the Hornets under the lights on the campus of Franklin High School.
“I was pumped,” Ulrickson said when he realized he would be starting the game after the postponement. “I’m always looking for the opportunity to pitch in the big games. At the beginning, it was a little rocky but once I settled in I was feeling good.”
The win clinches at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title for Franklin, the program’s first league title since 2012.
“We have all the respect in the world for Mansfield, coach Breen and that team,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown, who earned his first title in his fourth year at the helm. “We knew it would be a dog fight. They made it really tough on us.
“The thing we talk about all the time is that you have to earn it, you have to get 21 outs. They don’t come easy so I’m proud of our guys that when they had opportunities, they were able to make them.”
Franklin didn’t waste too much time to get its offense in gear, plating a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. Jake Lyons reached on an error to lead off, Ryan Hodgkins singled to move Lyons to third and Ulrickson lined singled up the right side to bring the first run in.
After a fielder’s choice, Tyler Gomes grounded a single through the hole to bring Ulrickson home.
“Getting on top early is huge, that gives the team a lot of energy,” Ulrickson said. “Once we get going, we can really start to hit.”
Mansfield was quick to respond, cutting the deficit in half in the next half inning. Cullin Anastasia singled and moved to second on a fielder’s choice. Kevin Dow took ball four, which turned into a passed ball, allowing Anastasia to take third. Anthony DeGirolamo hit a grounder that looked to be the third out, but the ball was dropped at first and Anastasia scored.
The Hornets then took the lead in the fourth inning, tacking on two more unearned runs against Ulrickson. Kyle Moran got things started with a two-out single and Dow followed up with another single to put runners on the corners — Connor Driscoll taking third as a pinch runner. DeGirolamo drove a shot to right field that required a tough play from the fielder and the ball fell out of the glove, allowing two runs to cross on the error.
“We just didn’t make the pitch when we needed to, we didn’t make the play when we needed to,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. The Hornets had three errors. “It was somewhat of an uncharacteristic game for us. Unfortunately when you play a team like Franklin, you don’t get to make that many mistakes and come out on top.
“Our guys fight, we battle…we’ve been down in other games and came back with different results. Our guys won’t stop fighting I know that. But when you play a team as good as Franklin, a team coached as well as they are, you can’t make the mistakes we made.”
Franklin came back to regain the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Senior Josh Macchi led off with a single and Gomes launched a double to put runners on second and third. Sophomore Alex Haba delivered the big hit of the game, doubling to left center to bring in two runs to give Franklin a 4-3 lead.
“Alex has been really steady for us offensively all year,” Brown said. “Even though he’s a sophomore, he certainly has a veteran’s soul. That at-bat there really spoke to his presence in the batter’s box, his poise in the game.”
The Panthers’ offense kept rolling an inning later, plating two more insurance runs in the sixth. Lyons notched his second hit of the game to start the inning and took third on a perfectly hit and run play with Hodgkins knocking a single into right. Ulrickson padded the lead with a two-run double into right center to put Franklin up 6-3.
“I don’t think Jason had his best stuff today on the mound but he’s always a great competitor,” Brown said. “Whether it was on the hill or in the batters box when we needed him, he was big for us so I was proud of him.”
Franklin junior Bryan Woelfel recorded the save, pitching 1.1 scoreless innings.
Franklin baseball improves to 12-3 overall in league play. The Panthers can win the title outright with either a win over King Philip on Monday or an Oliver Ames win over Mansfield on Tuesday.
“We have a ton of respect of all the teams in our league,” Brown said. “I really think that the Hockomock, top to bottom, every year is really tough and you have to grind it out. It’s really a testament to our guys and how consistent they’ve been this season.”
“It feels great, but we’re not done yet,” Ulrickson beamed.
Franklin baseball (13-4) is back in action on Friday with a trip to Framingham. Mansfield (13-5 overall, 11-4 Hockomock) hosts Oliver Ames on Tuesday.
But it was fresh in the minds of many Mansfield players as they returned to North Easton in the Hornets first matchup with the Tigers this season. And this time, they made sure to finish the game off.
Mansfield took the lead with a four run fifth inning, Oliver Ames cut the deficit to one in the sixth but the Hornets tacked on two more in the seventh to pick up a key 6-3 division win over OA.
“OA plays hard and you knew they weren’t going away,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “We brought it late in the game and talked about how OA would keep fighting to the end so we need to get at least one more to get some breathing room. The guys responded and had a nice inning there to cap it off.
“[OA] is certainly a very strong team, there’s really not a whole lot of weaknesses on that team. We knew we’d have our hands full with OA, especially with the way they’ve played this season. Coach Abarr has done a great job with those guys, they obviously play very hard for him. But our guys played hard today too. I think we had last year’s late inning loss in the back of our minds, a lot of our returners remembered and had a little extra incentive to get a win today.”
Both teams put a runner in scoring position in the first inning, with Mansfield’s Matt Farragher (fielder’s choice, stolen base) getting to second and Oliver Ames’ Matt Muir (double, stolen base) reaching third but neither crossed the plate.
Mansfield threatened in the third when Dow walked, stole second, advanced to third on a single from Anthony DeGirolamo but Parker escaped, getting a fly ball to right and a line drive to short.
OA finally broke through in the third inning, with sophomore Reid Latham reaching on an error and moving to second on a base hit from Muir. Muir was forced out on a fielder’s choice but Latham moved to third but OA loaded the bases with a steal from Michael Friel and a walk to Mitch Goulet.
Senior Kyle Gagliardi delivered, driving a 1-0 pitch to the outfield for a two-run single.
Parker cruised through the top of the fourth with the help of a double play while Dow put the Tigers down in order to keep the deficit at two.
Mansfield’s offense finally came to life in the top of the fifth to take the lead. Cullin Anastasia set things up with a lead off single and Dow helped his own cause with a deep double. The throw home was high, allowing Anastasia to cross and Dow to take third, cutting OA’s lead to 2-1. DeGirolamo drew a walk and stole second with one out. With a 3-1 count, OA elected to intentionally walk Farragher to load the bases.
Mansfield senior Aidan Cahill came through, taking a 1-0 pitch for a ride with a line drive for a two RBI single that pushed Farragher to third. The Hornets weren’t done in the inning as sophomore Kyle Moran singled off OA reliever Jay Fruci to bring Farragher home for a 4-2 lead.
“He’s come up big for us all year,” Breen said of Cahill. “He started off in the two-hole because he’s a very good situational hitter and can go gap to gap. We moved him back to the three hole because he couldn’t stop hitting. He had a huge two-run homer to win a game against Feehan, he’s been on fire this season. He’s a super hard working kid and I love seeing guys work as hard as he does reap the benefits of it.”
Oliver Ames’ offense had its response in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sophomore Chris Pearsons was hit by a pitch by Mansfield reliever Kyle Moran to start the bottom half and advanced to second on a dropped third strike. Pearsons took third on a fielder’s choice and then scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-3.
Farragher was hit by a pitch to lead off the top of the seventh to get Mansfield’s offense in gear. He went to second on a passed ball and Cahill came through one again with an RBI double. Pearsons got two outs in relief for OA but Cahill took third on a wild pitch. Colin Gibbons looped a hit into shallow center field to bring Gibbons home.
“We’ve been preaching to our guys to be aggressive as much as possible and get up there and swing the bat and try to drive the ball as much as possible,” Breen said. “I think early on we were probably too aggressive swinging at balls outside the zone but we made a little bit of an adjustment and started to swing at better pitches. Our guys, one though nine, anyone can do the job right now and that’s kind of where things turned around for us offensively.”
Moran closed the game with a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save. Dow earned the win in 4.1 innings of work, allowing four hits with one strikeout. The Hornets lost their #2 pitcher Tyler Dalton for the season, so Breen was looking for someone to step up.
“We knew we needed guys to step up,” Breen said. “Both Kevin and Kyle have pitched well in relief for us. We knew going into today it would be a combo effort and I think they split the game pretty well and got their jobs done. Kevin set the table for us and Kyle got some big pressure outs in the late innings.”
Oliver Ames (6-4, 5-3) will host Foxboro on Monday.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017 Hockomock Softball Preview
2016 Record: 2-18
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled through a difficult 2016, the first season under new head coach Mark Homer, winning only two games while giving up a league high 177 runs and scoring a league-low 46. Heading into this spring, the Bombardiers will be counting on a group of young players to try and turn things around and it seems to be working so far, as Attleboro has played two games and already matched last year’s win total.
One of the true bright spots from last season was freshman pitcher MacKenzie Bergdoll, who showed flashes of the potential to be an ace for Attleboro, and this season she will be counted on to keep the Bombardiers in games and to provide big hits from the three-spot. Julia Woyton will be behind the plate this year while senior Ilea Caverley and junior Casey Whelan (outfield) and Jordyn Lako (second base) are the few returning players on the roster.
The Bombardiers are going to turn to youth this spring with freshman MacKenzie Killough taking over at shortstop. Freshmen twins Emma and Jenna Gittle will add depth to the Attleboro pitching staff and classmate Ashley Macia will take over in centerfield. Homer also said that there were underclassmen who would provide speed off the bench.
“The expectations are to play hard, be committed and get excited with every game and practice that they take part in,” said Homer. “With the added depth in each position this year, the girls hope to gain advantages from the previous year and reach their set goals for the season.”
2016 Record: 3-17
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Jennifer Robillard
Former King Philip and Sacred Heart University shortstop Jennifer Robillard takes over the Canton program this spring with the hope of bringing some of the success that she enjoyed playing for two state champions and a Division I college to the Bulldogs, who are coming off a three-win season.
The Bulldogs will be looking to their experienced players to help turn things around in 2017, including seniors Molly Loughran, Taylor Carrington, and Julia Ezepik and junior Hannah Jerrier, who are all captains this spring. Jerrier and Ezepik will start the season injured, but Robillard is hoping that other players can step up until they return. Canton will have depth in the circle, as both junior Caitlyn Cahill and freshman Caroline Hughes will see action at pitcher.
Lillian Carrington and Samantha Keefe are two other players that will be counted on to contribute and both provided home runs in a loss to Mansfield in the second game of the season. Robillard is excited about the opportunity to get back into the Hockomock League and she sees a team that “wants to learn.”
“This team has a lot of potential. If we can tap into this potential, I truly believe that we are going to take teams by surprise,” Robillard said. “I am here to share my passion for and knowledge of the game I love with these girls. It is important to me that these girls learn how to be strong, independent and respectful young women.”
2016 Record: 9-13
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round
Coach: Mark Maguire
In 2016, Foxboro finished 6-10 in the Hockomock League but got its chance to play in the postseason and took advantage with a preliminary round win over Westwood and a near-upset of Abington in a nine-inning classic. The Warriors will hope to build on that experience this spring with a number of key players returning.
League all-star Hannah Davis is back behind the plate for the Warriors and will be one of the top hitters in the Hockomock. Davis will likely be in the three-spot in the lineup and right behind her will be senior Kelly Fisher, who head coach Mark Maguire called one of the best first basemen in the league. Kelly McCarthy will try to set the table for the power hitters in the lead-off spot.
Sophomore pitcher Emma Rohan is back in the circle and Maguire expects that she will compete every game and build on her rookie campaign. Behind Rohan, Cam Willis will moved from second base to short and Chelsea Gibbons will provide good ‘D’ and a solid bat at third. Lefty Lexi Buckner could grab the second base spot and senior Jamie Gorham could provide an unexpected boost as a first-year player in the outfield. Mandy Ryan and Kayla Wheatley are two of the players coming up from JV that Maguire is hoping will step in to provide depth.
“They’re all working hard and they’re ready to build together as a team,” said Maguire. “The expectations are really to compete every game.”
2016 Record: 12-11
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Kate Fallon
Once the rains go away for a few days, Franklin will be able to open its new field and make official its move back to the high school after a couple seasons playing at Dean College. The Panthers are excited about the new facility and about the team’s potential for success this spring with seven returning starters from last year.
Leading the way is third baseman, and four-year starter, Olivia DiGiacomo, who has been a mainstay at the hot corner and provides leadership for the infield. To her left is shortstop Alyssa DaSilva, a three-year starter with two years of experience at short. Sophomore Allie Shea is back at first base and senior Clara DeCarvalho is back behind the plate and poised for a “breakout season,” according to head coach Kate Fallon. The outfield is also filled with veterans, including seniors Rachel Cousineau in left and Olivia Haba in center.
The seventh starter is senior Alex Niss, who started as a pinch hitter last season before taking over the DP role and turning into one of the top power hitters in the Hockomock League. The Panthers should be solid defensively and at the plate and Fallon is hoping that sophomore pitchers Jackie Cherry (who carried a shutout into the seventh in the season opening loss to North Attleboro) and Emily Valentino can make an instant impact in the circle.
“Win 11 games and make the tournament again,” said Fallon when asked about the expectations for the team this season. “I expect the seniors to provide leadership and be role models for the underclassmen. It’s always a dogfight in this league…but I think we are a good team.”
2016 Record: 24-4
2016 Finish: Won Div. 1 State Championship
Coach: Norm Beauchemin
King Philip comes into 2017 on the back of its third state title in the past six years and, while expectations remain high for one of the region’s top programs, there are key pieces from last year’s team that need to be replaced in order for the Warriors to get back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and in the state.
The biggest absence this season is, of course, pitcher Kali Magane, who is now in the circle for Boston University and who was dominant during KP’s playoff run a year ago. Senior Jenn Hutnyan will step in to be the team’s starting pitcher after several starts and relief appearances in the past two seasons. Hutnyan will also be an important bat in the lineup. Junior Brie Lacy will be back behind the plate to help Hutnyan and head coach Norm Beauchemin noted that junior Jessica Bonner will be a solid defensive third baseman.
KP rarely rebuilds and almost always reloads for another title push. This year should be no different with a lineup that features several familiar names from last season’s title run, including sophomore Meghan Gorman and juniors Brooke Taute, Elise Pereira, and Hailey McCasland. Each of those players had important roles last season and will be ready to step up for the Warriors this spring as KP tries to regain the league title after Taunton ended its nine year run in 2016.
“Though it’s hard to replace last year’s seniors,” said Beauchemin, “we have a solid core of returning players ready to represent King Philip and its proud softball legacy.”
2016 Record: 13-9
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield is coming off a 13-win season that included a tournament win against Notre Dame Academy, but after four years of being able to count on Maddie Letendre in the circle the Hornets will be handing the ball over to a new pitcher this spring, although as it turns out only the first name will be changing.
Megan Letendre, who played shortstop as a freshman, will take over in the circle for the Hornets and her development as the No. 1 pitcher will go a long way to determining if Mansfield can repeat last year’s success. Pitcher is not the only position that needs to be replaces, as the Hornets will have a new catcher and three new infielders. Still, with nine returning players, there is plenty of experience on the roster.
Kara Bendanillo will move from third base to second, according to head coach Lori Letendre, and Megan Letendre will sometimes see time at second when not pitching. Liz Mackin will take over at first base, while Marissa Staffier and Amanda Giambanco will take the corner outfield positions. Mady Bendanillo will be back in center after an impressive first season for the Hornets.
“This is one of the hardest working teams I have had at Mansfield and they have been putting in a lot of effort to get ready for the season,” said Coach Letendre.
2016 Record: 17-5
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Steve DiVitto
Milford has been the class of the Davenport division for the past four seasons and the Hawks come into 2017 with the expectations of being heavy favorites for another league title, but, with three seniors and nine juniors on the roster and eight starters returning, head coach Steve DiVitto is hopeful that the talent will translate to a deep run in the state tournament.
The Hawks are one of the few contenders to return not just one but two starting pitchers from last season. Senior Ali Atherton is back to be the primary option in the circle and the Southern New Hampshire-commit has been dominant at times in her career. If Atherton gets into trouble or needs a rest, junior Kelley Reichert has demonstrated that she is more than just a fill-in but can also shut down opponents. They will be pitching to sophomore Emily Hartman, who will step into the starting lineup this season.
There are very few question marks in this year’s lineup with junior Emily Piergustavo moving from second to short to replace Jill Powers, which is Piergustavo’s natural position and one she has played several times in the past year. Junior Jess Tomaso is back at first base and in the heart of the lineup where she will be joined by senior outfielder Maggie Farrell and senior third baseman Kaitlyn DeCapua. Junior Kate Irwin will try to be the table-setter at the top of the order and juniors Maddy Bonvino (second base) and Shannon Cormier (outfield) will also be contributors.
“This has been a focused and driven group ever since the end of last season,” said DiVitto. “They have worked hard in the off-season and that was very apparent in the early stages of the season. We are excited to compete in the best league in the state, which will hopefully prepare us for a long run into June.”
2016 Record: 11-10
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro returned to the postseason in 2016 and for the Rocketeers to get back to the tournament this spring it will be the younger players that will lead the way. Head coach Bill Wallace knows that his team will be “green” (with only four seniors on the roster), but he is excited about North’s athleticism and versatility.
Pitching may be North’s biggest strength this season with five players in the rotation, led by freshman Bella Erti, who won her first career start, and last year’s starter Amelia Murphy. Juniors Olivia DesRoches, Jaclyn Buckley and Abby Warren could also step into the circle to help out. Senior Sam Courtemanche will be behind the plate to help the pitchers.
Senior Liz Morehouse returns at first base and Andrea Miceli will be at second. Meghan Barlow moves in from the outfield to take over at short (and provided the walk-off hit in North’s season opening win), while Murphy will see time at third when she’s not pitching. Olivia Capobianco will play center with Katherine Munley and Kristina Murphy in left and right with freshmen Ashley Cangiano and Abby Gallagher getting playing time.
“With only four seniors on the roster, I am hoping the learning curve will be brief!” said Wallace. “This may be the year we see a lot of pinch hitting and pinch running! For a young team, they are very focused between the lines!”
2016 Record: 10-11
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Lindsey Allison
Oliver Ames finished in second in the league in 2016 and qualified for the postseason, but that will be an even tougher task now that the Tigers have made the move to the Kelley-Rex division. Even with facing the likes of defending state champion King Philip twice this spring, head coach Lindsey Allison is optimistic that the 10 returning players have the experience to get back into the playoffs.
Senior Victoria Ziner will be the spark on offense for the Tigers this season, but OA also has a number of juniors that Allison said can “do some damage at the plate.” Among those players is Caroline Mahoney, whose bat “is still as dangerous as ever,” according to Allison. Freshman Katie Abreu will be a newcomer to watch for the Tigers as her versatility will make her a valuable member of the lineup.
The Tigers will bring back sophomore Kayla Georgeu in the circle and will be hoping that she continues to develop and keep OA competitive against the league’s top teams. Junior Alexis Campbell will be a second pitcher and also help out at second base.
“We have a solid 10 players returning from last year’s roster,” said Allison, “and we are looking to fill holes behind the plate, in the outfield and at first base this year. Definitely hoping to use some of the speed we have on our team to our advantage this year.”
2016 Record: 4-16
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Deb Parker
Sharon is coming off a four-win season in 2016 but head coach Deb Parker believes that the Eagles have the potential to be a contender in the Davenport division this spring as long as the players continue to develop over the course of the season.
Although the Eagles are a relatively young team, Parker is counting on senior captains Clara Cook and Sam Marglous to provide the leadership needed to keep the team on the right track. Cook will be back in the circle for Sharon, while Marglous will be back behind the plate. Parker said, “Both have been solid contributors for their entire high school careers.”
Sophomore centerfielder Rebecca Clayman and shortstop Ally Small, who Parker referred to as “standouts,” will be the anchors of the defense. Freshman Shoshanna Lowe will step in to play third base and should have a positive impact in the lineup as well.
“I believe we have the right combination of experience, talent and drive to be a contender in the Hock,” said Parker. “This is a team that works hard every day to be better than they were the day before. They have great chemistry and our captains have done an excellent job leading them into the season.”
2016 Record: 10-11
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Tim Norton
The Black Knights made a return to the state tournament in head coach Tim Norton’s first season in charge, and nearly pulled out a win against Braintree, and Stoughton will be counting on last year’s freshmen to continue developing and keep the program heading in the right direction.
One of the sophomores that the team will be leaning on is third baseman Jordan Lyons, who brings a strong bat to the hot corner and her leadership skills had her named a captain for this spring. Brianna Ferrandiz will take over behind the plate for Sam Tullis and Karly Estremera will move into the infield and continue to be the table-setter as the leadoff hitter.
Norton is excited to have depth in the circle with Shannon Flaherty and Gina Carafa both capable of racking up innings and “setting great examples on and off the field.” Stoughton will also have depth in the outfield with first-year starters Krista Michienzi, Val Whalen and Alessandra Loffredo.
“We were extremely fortunate in Stoughton last year to have such a strong freshman class with great senior leadership,” Norton explained. “This year that sophomore class is going to have to come into their own. While this team is young they got a taste of the post season last year and are hungry for more.”
2016 Record: 22-2
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Dave Lewry
Last season, Taunton won its first outright league title, ending King Philip’s nine-year reign atop the Hockomock. It was a fitting coda to the impressive careers of Taunton’s senior class, but this spring the Tigers will now have to move forward with six new faces in the starting lineup, including at pitcher and the middle infield positions. Taunton typically reloads quickly and head coach Dave Lewry believes this year’s team has a plenty of potential.
Senior Courtney Fisher will step into the circle hoping to make a seamless transition from 2016 Player of the Year Aimee Kistner. Fisher tossed three shutout innings and had three hits in the season opener and got several opportunities to pitch in the past two seasons. She will be pitching to junior captain Kya Enos, who is making the move back to catcher after two seasons in the outfield. Other starters coming back include first baseman Katie VanZandt, junior outfielder Liana Duarte, and sophomore Jaime Brown, who is in her third year at third base.
The Tigers have always found young players who can step right in an make an impact at the varsity level and this year could be a breakout season for eighth grader Hannah Aldrich, who will take over from Jordan Wade at short. Sophomore Alexa White looks ready to step in at second, while senior Rebekah Lajoie and junior Hailey Medeiros are in line to start in the corner outfield places. Taunton could also get contributions at pitcher from eighth grader Kelsey White and freshman Jaylin Couto.
“While we lost six starters from last season, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Lewry. “I expect there will be some growing pains with six new starters in the lineup, but with some seasoned veterans and good young talent we are optimistic that we’ll be competitive this season.”
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview
2016 Record: 6-12
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Kevin Patton
Attleboro is still a relatively young program but has taken strides to be competitive with the rest of the teams in the Hockomock and first-year head coach Kevin Patton is hopeful that the large number of players at tryouts is a sign that the Bombardiers are heading in the right direction.
One of the reasons for Attleboro’s confidence coming into the spring is the experienced players that will take the field, including senior Mish Logie, who is a four-year varsity midfielder. Joining Logie as a captain for this year’s team is goalie Hadley Porreca, who is in her second year in net.
In addition. juniors Emily Patton and Ali Wall return in attack, while classmates Kim White and Graycen Cassidy will keep things tight on the defensive side of the ball. Midfield depth will be provided by sophomores Kyra Lyons and Alex Compton, who are both coming off strong rookie seasons on varsity. Freshman Sydney DiLiddo will also have the chance to step in and contribute in midfield this season and junior Ashlyn Salisbury and sophomore Shea Harrison will see time on defense.
“We had our largest player turnout in the program’s history,” said Patton, “and we have girls that want to work hard and succeed. With only two seniors on this year’s team, I will be looking to certain underclassmen to take on added leadership roles. This will help us not only this year but going forward.”
2016 Record: 8-9
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Christine O’Connor
Canton won five of its final seven games last season to get back to .500 and qualify for the state tournament and the Bulldogs will be hoping to carry that momentum over to this spring with a roster that features nine seniors and eight juniors.
Some of the key returning players for Canton this season include senior attacker Mary Kent, senior defender Tessa Cudmore, and senior goalie Kathryn Doody, who form a solid spine for the Bulldogs to build on. Caroline Hagan, Rebecca Eckler, and Maria Mackie are among the other seniors that will be contributing for Canton.
One of the younger players to watch is sophomore attacker Leah McClellan, who is one of several players that helped the girls’ hockey team reach the state title game at the TD Garden. Another sophomore, Maggie Malloy, has already had strong seasons for the field hockey and ice hockey teams and will provide depth this spring.
“We look to gain strength as the season progresses,” said O’Connor. “We will look to the seniors for leadership and intensity in order to be competitive.”
2016 Record: 16-5
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East Semifinal
Coach: Brittany Sherry
Foxboro won its fifth straight Davenport division title last spring and returned to the Div. 2 South semifinal for the second straight season and expectations will be even higher this season for head coach Brittany Sherry, as the Warriors return 15 players to try and make it six league titles in a row.
Among the many experienced players coming back is an exciting core of sophomores that have made instant impacts, including the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Sophia DiCenso, who scored 65 goals and had 31 assists last year. Joining DiCenso up front will be classmates Caroline McGeary and Meghan Curran and juniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano.
Defensively, senior Hallie Canfield will be back to anchor things and provide leadership. Junior Christina Rogers and sophomores Jenna Stamatov and Molly Murphy will also be back to limit opposing offenses. Freshman Sara Addeche will take over in goal and is another in a line of talented underclassmen that Sherry is excited to see develop over the course of the season.
“Our goals stay about the same every year, most importantly getting another round further!” Sherry said. “The last two years our season has ended in the semi finals but I’m hoping with the scheduling and tourney experience last year we will have the edge we need to get to the finals.”
2016 Record: 19-5
2016 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 State Semifinal
Coach: Kristin Igoe Guarino
Another spring and another league title for Franklin, which completed another perfect season in the Hockomock and then carried that success into the playoffs to win a second Div. 1 East title with a dramatic, one-goal victory over Acton-Boxboro. Even though they only return five players, the Panthers enter the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and with sights set on challenging for a state title.
There is experience coming back for the Panthers with seniors Grace McDermott and Dana Lewandowski coming back to control things on the defensive end, while former Underclassman of the Year Kendall Reardon and fellow senior Caroline Lounsbury will provide leadership in the attack.
Franklin always seems to have players ready to step in and, despite there being a youth movement on the varsity team, the Panthers have already started 2-0 with wins against Needham and Lincoln-Sudbury. Sophomore midfielder Annie Walsh and her freshman sister Erin have both gotten off to strong starts with sophomore Halle Atkinson helping out with a hat trick in the win over L-S as well.
“I am very excited for the 2017 season!” said Igoe Guarino. “Our freshmen and sophomores bring a lot of energy and competitiveness to practice and games, while our juniors and seniors bring the discipline and experience. The two combined could bring us very far again this year!”
2016 Record: 12-10
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East Quarterfinal
Coach: Julie Boudreau
King Philip surprised some last spring when the Warriors went on the road to beat Westford Academy in the first round of the Div. 1 East tournament and that experience could pay dividends as KP returns a number of key players with the intent making a run at earning a first league title since 2012.
Senior Angela Vellante is back and head coach Julie Boudreau called her the “quarterback” for the attacking unit. Vellante will be looking to feed junior Katie Crowther, who was the team’s and the league’s leading scorer as a sophomore with 111 points. Senior Meghan Wagner was a starter as a freshman and scored in every game but missed the last two years with an injury and is now back to make an impact on offense.
KP can also count on a strong sophomore class led by a core of midfielders: Caroline Klim, Alli Meehan, Victoria and Olivia Tormey, and Dana Truini. Also back is sophomore goalie Caroline Watson behind a defense of juniors Molly Mullins, Christina Hathaway and Izzy Agricola. Also making a return is assistant coach Mary Pasquantonio, Boudreau’s sister, who brings experience as a former KP player and will help the current crop of Warriors on draw controls.
“We have a deep bench with many sophomores and will be looking to run lines and sub regularly to keep everyone fresh,” said Boudreau. “Our theme for the season is ‘grit=hard work + passion’.”
2016 Record: 5-11
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Alexis Kobey
Mansfield won its opening two games of the 2016 season, but the Hornets struggled during a difficult middle part of the spring and missed out on the state tournament. The Hornets showed flashes of potential during the year, including a close loss to perennial tournament team Hingham, and hopes are high that they can get back into the postseason this year.
Expectations are boosted by the return of a strong core of experience players. Senior Maire Foley will be a focal point of the Hornets attack this year, while classmate Maggie Dunn and junior Ann Maher will return in the midfield. Senior Jen McCabe will provide leadership in defense and sophomore Kaity Garvin will build off her rookie season in attack.
Among the new faces this spring are sophomore midfielders Maggie Danehy, who had a solid winter with the girls’ basketball team, and Lauren Whitman
“Our team really has been working together as a unit day one,” said head coach Alexis Kobey. “They came into the season ready to go and work on what they needed to work on to get better, from draw controls, ball movement, attack/defense they have been showing up everyday. They also really love playing with each other, working with each other, making each other better.”
2016 Record: 3-15
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Tim Dowd
It has been a tough run for Milford since moving to the Hockomock League, but the Hawks bring back an experienced roster for first-year head coach Tim Dowd and he is hopeful that the program will continue to improve over the course of the season.
Dowd’s excitement for the new season is in part built on the leadership of his senior class, including captains Taylor Dube, Jill Burley, and Jordyn Lombardo, who Dowd said would all have “incredible seasons.” He praised all three for their competitive spirits and for pushing their teammates to improve.
Another senior, Brainna Croteau, will be in charge of the defensive unit and Dowd is counting on the development of a talented group of sophomores and juniors. Milford also has two freshmen, Hannah Bangert and Anne Flanagan, who will be on the varsity roster this season and who Dowd thinks will make an impact.
“I think one of our strengths is going to be teamwork and work ethic,” said Dowd. “We want to be a team that goes the extra mile for each other and constantly works to win battles on the field. We’re going to try to outwork other teams. We’re going to try to focus on the little things to hopefully make big improvements.”
2016 Record: 13-7
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Vitelli
Under first-year head coach Mike Vitelli (who had previously led King Philip to a Hockomock League title and a South final), North Attleboro made a jump into second place in the Kelley-Rex division and won 13 games, while reaching the playoffs for the first time. After a loss to eventual state champ Walpole, Vitelli has built up North’s schedule with perennial powers Notre Dame Academy, Natick, and Walpole to get the Rocketeers prepared for a tournament run.
North will clearly miss last year’s Player of the Year Hana Caster (who is now at UMass Lowell), the Rocketeers return a number of important players, including six of the team’s seven defenders. Seniors Samantha Taggart, Emily Schromm, Emma Cromidas, and Alaina Mello will provide an experienced defensive unit in front of junior goalie Kayla Moulin, who Vitelli believes will have a great season.
Up front, North will turn to junior Kenzie Rosenberg and senior Erin Holley, who had breakout seasons for the Rocketeers in 2016. Chloe Olsen, Julia Dakin, and Julia Tolfa will also be counted on to provide offense for North Attleboro, while Camille Pizzaro and freshman Katie Lindstrom will be newcomers to watch this spring.
“I really like the depth of our bench as well,” said Vitelli. “Lots of hybrid players who can play in many roles…Biggest question I’ve gotten this offseason has been ‘how can you replace Hana Caster?’ My response is we can’t. But that being said, I don’t think any player is replaceable…It just becomes an opportunity for other players to step in and make their mark.”
2016 Record: 8-11
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round
Coach: Abby Tepper
Oliver Ames reached the postseason last year by finishing second in the Davenport division and will look to build on that in 2017 in the Tigers first season in the Kelley-Rex and first season under new head coach Abby Tepper, who is only one year removed from the end of a very successful college playing career at Salve Regina and a solid first season as coach of the OA field hockey program this fall.
Tepper inherits a roster with several key returning players that provide a foundation for the Tigers, who won the opening two games of the spring. Junior captain Sofia Masciarelli will be the main attacking cog for OA this season with senior Katie Davenport back in the heart of the defense and junior goalie Ari Waldorf will be back between the pipes.
Also back for OA and expected to make a step up into the starting lineup are senior captain Kendall Clifford in the midfield, junior Chloe Kilkelly in the attack, and sophomore midfielder Olivia Piazza.
“The girls have been working hard each day at practice to prepare for the tough schedule they will face,” said Tepper. They continually improve their skills and lacrosse IQ each day. I have been impressed with how the girls have pushed one another to get better and have committed themselves to the program.”
2016 Record: 10-9
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round
Coach: Colleen Carchedi
In her second season in charge, Sharon head coach Colleen Carchedi (née Manning) led the Eagles to their first ever playoff appearance. On their home grass, the Eagles put in a great performance to battle perennial playoff competitor Bishop Feehan and the experience has generated a lot of excitement in the program as the new season begins.
Sharon has five key players returning from last season, including leading scorer Alex Rabb and twin sister Sam, who is one of the team’s top defensive players. Senior Anna Crosby will be the motor in the midfield and junior midfielder Sabrina Robbins has verbally committed to the University of Colorado. Carchedi said of Robbins, “She is someone who always gets the job done and deserves more credit than she gets. She is reliable and hard working, never afraid to take a risk.”
Sophomore Emma Eberhardt is another player coming back that Carchedi believes will be able to take on a much larger role this spring. Eberhardt will add size in the midfield and, particularly, on draw controls. Carchedi said, “She is an all around stud athlete and is for sure a player to watch.” Sophomore Rose Wald is a newcomer that takes over in goal.
“I know we are going to be a really well balanced team,” Carchedi added, noting that the Eagles had six different goal scorers in the season opener against Milford. “I am so excited for the season and ready to hit the ground running after a big game against my old high school, KP.”
2016 Record: 2-16
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Kerry Northup
With a win against Norton on Monday, Taunton avenged a pair of losses to the Lancers from 2016 and is halfway to last year’s win total. The Tigers are still a young program at the varsity level and, as such, head coach Kerry Northup knows there will be a learning curve against Hockomock opponents, but she is also excited about the team’s potential.
The Tigers will turn to seniors Delaney Powell, Annie Tate, and Abbey Kingman to provide consistent offense this spring and all three had big games in the opener against Norton, combining for 12 of the team’s 17 goals. Powell led the way with six goals in the win and junior Lorna Li had 12 saves in another strong performance for the Tigers’ “confident” goalie.
Taunton also has plenty of youth that will be gaining valuable experience this spring, including three sophomores, a pair of freshmen, and three eighth graders. One of the eighth graders, Alana Tavares, made the most of her varsity debut on Monday, potting five goals against Norton and will be one of the newcomers to watch in the Hock this season.
“We have a solid group of girls this season,” said Northup. “Our strength players have a nice balance throughout the field from offense, mid, to defense. We are not a powerhouse team, but a team with passion, drive, and grit. These girls play to the end and don’t give up until that last whistle sounds.”
TAUNTON, Mass. – Not only did Needham make 11 threes in Saturday night’s Div. 1 South final at Taunton High but the Rockets also timed them perfectly. Five of them in the first quarter, including one from just inside half-court by Thomas Shaughnessy at the buzzer, a big three to end a Mansfield run in the second, and three in the fourth quarter that each time matched a Mansfield basket.
The long range shooting of Thomas Shaughnessy (game-high 26 points, including four threes) and Matthew Shaker (20 points, including six triples) and strong play defensively to limit the Hornets on the offensive end propelled Needham to its first ever sectional title with a 65-56 victory.
“Any time a kid can hit from that range, it changes the way you play and good basketball players at this stage make big plays,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “I thought we didn’t make enough of them down the stretch to weather that and give us a fighting chance to go on a run.”
Needham brought four busloads of fans to the game and the energy of the crowd translated to the play on the court, as each of the five threes in the first quarter was followed by a salute of some sort to the crowd. Shaker buried three from beyond the arc in the first and Shaughnessy had 10 points, including a pair of threes.
Mansfield, which is normally a team that makes a fair amount from long-range as well, knocked down only one three, from junior John McCoy (11 points) but were having some success taking the ball to the basket. Senior Max Boen had four of his 10 points in the first but also added three of his six assists and three of his four steals.
In the second quarter, the Hornets started to put things together on the offensive end and limited Shaughnessy to just a single point. An 10-0 run to start the second, capped by a Tyler Boulter (10 points) three put Mansfield in front, but Brandon Monheimer hit a pull-up jumper and then Connor Reidy hit a three-pointer (his only bucket of the game) to give Needham a slight edge.
“We never got that separation that we needed,” said Vaughan, “and we didn’t get any easy baskets. Probably after watching the film what I’m going to be most frustrated with is we didn’t get the easy baskets that we typically try to get in games.”
Phil Vigeant stole the ball at mid-court and scored plus a foul to give the Hornets a 33-32 lead at the half. In the third quarter, it felt as though Mansfield may just start to pull away against the Rockets, who were making the program’s first ever trip to the South final, but again clutch shooting put the Rockets back in front.
Boen skipped a pass across to Christian Weber for a three from the corner and then scored on a pair of drives, including one acrobatic finish in the lane with his back to the basket. Each time, Needham had a response and Shaughnessy gave the Rockets the lead for good with a three that made it 47-44 and assisted on a basket by Mike Klemm at the buzzer for a five-point lead heading to the fourth.
“They want the game kept in the 50s for pace and we want the game in the 60s and trying to hold them in the low 50s and we just never got anything in transition, we never got any easy baskets,” Vaughan explained. “Even when we ran and jumped them and tried to speed them up, they did a good job of making possessions long and slowing the game down.”
In the fourth, Mansfield could not find a way to make a run. Every time the Hornets scored, Needham responded with a basket of its own to only increase the excitement of the crowd, which the Rockets clearly fed off.
Boulter buried a three to start the quarter but Shaker answered right back with his fifth of the night. Vigeant knocked one down at the other end to bring Mansfield back within two only for Shaker to hit one from five or six feet behind the line.
Vaughan said, “He hit two that were 25-26 feet away and, the way that we defend, those are indefensible. You have to live with those.”
Boulter scored off an assist by Sam Goldberg but Shaughnessy got free for a corner three that was the dagger for the Rockets. Needham shot 7-for-8 from the line in the final minutes to seal the win and bring the fans storming out onto the court to celebrate.
“We were holding the ball longer than normal on possessions,” said Vaughan. “We were having a hard time reversing the ball. In the first half, I thought we played 24-25 feet away when we want to work 19 feet and in.”
Mansfield finished at 23-3, including 15-1 in the Hockomock League.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Mansfield came into Friday night’s Div. 1 South final at Taunton High allowing only 37 points per game, including just 31 points in each of its two playoff victories. Of course, the Hornets had not faced a team like Braintree this season.
The Wamps, perennially one of the top programs in the state, nearly put up double what the Hornets were allowing per game this season. Braintree knocked down nine three-pointers (seven in the first half) and, even with star guard Keelah Dixon sidelined with an injury for the third and fourth quarters, rolled to a 72-43 victory and the team’s fifth South title in the past six years.
“They’re great off the dribble, they had some great drives and when we did double they kicked out,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “We’re a really good defensive team and they were simply at another level tonight executing, shooting…they’ve got a lot of kids who can score in different ways.”
He added, “Offensively, I thought we were okay but the more shots they made our morale dropped a little bit and they just pulled away.”
The Hornets were hanging around early in the game, trailing 10-6 midway through the first quarter, but the Wamps went on a 15-4 run to break the game wide open. Adriana Timberlake (team-high 17 points) and Jenna Roche (14 points) knocked down three from beyond the arc and Isabella Tonetti added eight points in the first.
It only got worse for Mansfield in the second, as the Hornets were held to just two points on a basket by senior Jen Peel (seven points), while Braintree continued to pile on with 15 to hold a 40-12 lead at the break. Dixon (13 points) added seven in the second before hobbling off at halftime.
“They’ve got nine, 10 kids who can play and, you know, they can all handle the ball, they can all shoot the three if you leave them open, and they’re a handful to handle defensively,” said Redding. “On the other end, they’re as good as anyone defensively. That’s a tough combination. We’re a good team and we certainly met our match and were humbled tonight.”
Mansfield rarely gives up 20 points in a half, but on Friday the Hornets twice allowed Braintree to score 20 points in a single quarter. That included the third, as Timberlake scored eight points, including a pair of threes, and Roche added eight of her own.
The third was also Mansfield’s top offensive quarter with 17 points. Junior center Meg Hill scored six of her game-high 19 points (to go along with 10 rebounds), Ann Maher scored off a Mady Bendanillo assist and Peel (eight assists) and Erin Daniel each nailed threes.
Hill added another seven points in the fourth and Maggie Danehy showed flashes with a finish despite contact, but the Wamps continued to execute perfectly against the Hornets defense and cruised to another sectional title and trip to the TD Garden.
Redding noted, “I like how we battled. We scored 30 in the second half. Obviously, it’s too little, too late, but the kids have a lot of heart and played more like our team in the second half.”
Mansfield will bring back all but two players for next season, as it tries to three-peat as Kelley-Rex division champions.
“Our kids had a great year,” Redding said. “To get to the final is a great achievement and it’s tough to lose like this but I’m just so proud of what we had to do to get here. Thirteen of the 15 are back and maybe this experience will get is a little deeper next year.”
One of those seniors who will not be back next year is Peel, who has been a starter for the Hornets for three seasons and turned into one of the top guards in the league. Peel found it tough to score consistently in the playoffs, but Redding knows that the Hornets will miss her next year.
“She’s seeing everyone’s best defender,” explained Redding. “Every time she gets the ball, they’re going to double and help and she’s just not getting much space to breathe let alone shoot. She finds a way; she’s such a competitor.”
Mansfield finished the season at 20-4 and 15-1 in the Hockomock League.