ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Heading into the final six games of the regular season, Oliver Ames needed at least five wins and a tie in order to qualify for the postseason, but for the second time in 11 days the Tigers found themselves trailing Attleboro as the second period was winding down.
Last time out, in the league meeting between the two teams, the Tigers scored three times in the third period to pull out the win. On Wednesday evening at the New England Sports Village, OA didn’t wait quite as long to rally. Cam Perron tied the game with two minutes left in the second and then broke the tie four minutes into the third to power the Tigers to a 2-1 victory and a season sweep of the Bombardiers.
“We’ve had to grind out wins all season long, so being down a goal or two goals, these kids don’t give up,” said OA coach Mike Zucarelli. “It’s something I’m really proud of them.”
OA dominated the first period, outshooting the Bombardiers 11-4 and pinning the hosts back in the defensive zone for long stretches. Ross Carroll had one of the early looks with a wrister that Attleboro goalie Nick Piazza saved but dropped in front of the crease causing a scrum. Perron nearly broke the deadlock when he slipped in between two defenders but Piazza smothered the partial break.
Attleboro created a couple of scoring opportunities late in the period. Aidan Dryjowicz skated in from the left side but shot wide at the near post and then Ryan Morry struck the post with a wrist shot from the right circle. After Brad Powers had his close-range shot stuffed by Piazza, Jaydin Rossi snuck out and got behind the OA defense for a last-second breakaway that Owen Connor was able to stretch and save.
The late flurry at the end of the first period was foreshadowing for a much better start to the second for the Bombardiers. Attleboro needed only 28 seconds after the intermission to grab the lead. Nate Parker saucered a perfect pass to Owen Dryjowicz on a two-on-one break and the junior finished at the far post to make it 1-0.
“It was horrible,” Attleboro coach Mark Homer said of the first period. “We talked about it in the locker room and they realized that we can compete with OA. This was a game that we could’ve won, so it’s a matter of settling down, control your emotions, and go out there and do the simple things.”
The game got more physical as the period wore on and a procession to the penalty box ensued. Both teams found themselves guilty of giving away power play opportunities and scoring chances. Aidan Dryjowicz skated through a pair of defenders and forced Connor into a stop and then Ryan Gottwald sprung Costello with a perfect two-line pass, but Piazza made the blocker save.
With 2:03 left in the second, Perron caught the Attleboro blue line pinching in on the power play and Costello hit him with a perfect pass to spring a breakaway. This time, Perron gave Piazza no chance by going bar-down to make it 1-1.
OA started the third period with 2:43 of power play time, including a full two minutes with a two-man advantage. The Tigers thought that they made it count when Perron fired a shot from the point that smashed the bar on its way into the back of the net, only to be ruled out because there was a man in the crease.
Piazza also denied the Tigers on a pair of golden scoring chances. Gottwald got the first look from the left side of the net only to have Piazza kick out the right pad to stop what looked like a sure goal. Costello followed up on the rebound but again the sophomore netminder was able to respond quickly to block it and help the Bombardiers get back to even strength.
Homer said, “I thought he had a rough start, he wasn’t seeing the puck well, wasn’t controlling his rebounds, but this is the thing about Nick, he doesn’t let that bother him. You saw in the second and third periods, he’s a stalwart. He regains his focus and he plays for the next shot.”
The Attleboro goalie stood no chance on the go-ahead score. While falling down in the high slot, Perron was able to squeeze a shot through traffic in front of goal, past the unsighted goalie, off the bar (again) and into the back of the net.
Zucarelli joked, “He went bar-down in the second and a kid on the bench said, ‘You won’t do that again,’ and he went and did it two more times just too bad the second one didn’t count.”
Morry forced a blocker save out of Connor with a chance from the left side, Duncan Pereira was denied by Piazza on a shorthanded breakaway chance, and Power saw a chance go off the post, as both teams continued to fashion scoring opportunities in the closing minutes.
“It was a 2-1 game, you’ve got to put the puck on net,” said Homer. “We should’ve been in a better rhythm. We didn’t get into a rhythm until the late stages of the game.”
Zucarelli credited the Tigers for not getting down when they fell behind or when they failed to make the long power play count at the beginning of the third and finding a way to pull out a win.
“Our record shows that we got off to a real slow start,” he said, “and they had the option to put their heads down and sulk and see if it continues or to grind it out and work hard and get better and that’s what they’ve done. That third period showed the work that the team has put in all season.”
Oliver Ames (5-9-2) will try to keep things heading in the right direction on Saturday in a trip to King Philip. Attleboro (4-10-1) still has its own playoff hopes through the Sullivan rule and will travel to Stoughton this weekend.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Mansfield and Attleboro met for a New Year’s Day matinee at the New England Sports Village to not only kick off a new year but also the start of league play. In a game filled with chances at both ends of the ice, one goal proved decisive and made for a happy start to 2020 for the Hornets.
Cam Page scored with 10:52 remaining in the game and Jake Lund added an empty net goal in the final minute to secure Mansfield a 2-0 victory. Senior goalie Sean McCafferty made 23 saves to record his second straight shutout and he was matched save-for-save by Attleboro sophomore Nick Piazza, who made 30 stops to keep the Bombardiers in the game to the end.
“It took us a while,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “Their goalie played phenomenal. His rebound control was great. He was poised, he didn’t get flustered. We had good looks, we had shots, but we didn’t get enough people to the front of the net.”
Despite coming out with a loss, Attleboro coach Mark Homer was proud of the effort that his team put in, particularly in the defensive zone.
“In order to get to the next level, you have to be able to compete with the bigger teams in the league and I thought we did that today,” he explained. “They would have control in the zone and then there’d be a push back. The kids coming out of a game like this gained a lot of confidence, especially our defense. They know that they’re that close.”
Kevin Belanger had the game’s first chance when he got behind the Attleboro defense just 40 seconds into the game, but Piazza stayed with the puck and made a big pad save. Sam Flynn forced McCafferty into a save with a shot from the high slot and McCafferty stopped the rebound as well.
The best chance of the first period came with four minutes left. Joseph Troiano raced down the left wing and centered the puck to Page, but again Piazza stood tall to stop the close-range effort.
“That has been our struggle the past few games, coming out of the gates,” said Balzarini about the lack of clear chances in the opening period. “I thought everyone’s first few shifts were good and then we just kind of stopped for whatever reason. We stopped moving our feet and we started trying to make the more difficult plays rather than the easy play.”
Things picked up in the second, as both teams had flurries of attacking zone play and created numerous scoring chances.
Mansfield started the period on the front foot. On the power play, Troiano had a chance from the slot that was blockered aside and seconds later Ben Ierardo set up Mark DeGirolamo, but Piazza flashed a pad to deny the opening goal.
Freshman Aidan Dryjowicz nearly broke the deadlock when he stole a puck in the neutral zone and skated in alone but his shot was wide of the net. Ryan Morry kept a puck alive on the boards to set up Liam McDonough at the point, but Morry was unable to get a clean tip at the post. Dryjowicz and Morry had breakaway opportunities just seconds apart, but McCafferty stopped both.
With two minutes left in the second, Braedon Copparini and DeGirolamo both had shots from the edge of the crease but in both cases Piazza made sure the puck didn’t get through.
“He’s the type of kid that we don’t have to say too much to him,” said Homer about Piazza. “He’s fundamentally sound. He’s making better and better decisions. Having him back there, we know that most shots we’re going to have a good chance of stopping the puck.”
Three penalties in the final 23 seconds of the second gave Mansfield more than 90 seconds of 4-on-3 to start the third period and the Hornets used it to build momentum. Belanger had a good early chance when he drove off the left wing boards and forced Piazza into a good kick save. Page teed up Chris Jenkins for a backdoor one-timer but he hit the side of the net.
“There were a few chances where we just forced pucks into the middle rather than using our point and regrouping,” said Balzarini about finding ways of turning zone time into more goals. “We’ll start with getting the ‘D’ more active.”
Attleboro almost stunned the Hornets with a shorthanded break. Dryjowicz gained the zone and passed it to Sean Marshall, but his backhand try slid just wide of the post. Owen Dryjowicz nearly put the Bombardiers in front a minute later with a clean breakaway, but McCafferty was able to sprawl and get a toe to the shot and keep it out.
The breakthrough finally came on the power play. Belanger and Page had a nice passing sequence and Page found space right in front of goal for a one-timer into the corner that gave Piazza no chance.
Owen Dryjowicz was an inch from tying the game two minutes later. On the power play, he lined up a shot from the point that McCafferty never saw but that struck the bar and caromed to the corner. Jake Ward sprung Morry up the boards for a rush with three minutes to go, but again the shot was saved and the rebound covered up after a scramble.
After Attleboro pulled the goalie for an attacking zone face-off, Mansfield put the game away. Lund flicked the puck into the empty net from just outside the blue line to seal the 2-0 win.
“They’re creating the opportunities and I think once they pocket one and they figure it out then I think more of those are going to go in,” said Homer. “I like the fact that we’re getting those opportunities. We were penetrating and I saw forwards going to the net. These guys aren’t afraid to go to the dirty parts of the ice.”
Mansfield (3-1-1) will try to make it four wins in a row when the Hornets travel to Shrewsbury on Saturday. Attleboro (2-2-1) will try to carry its performance into Saturday night’s visit from Canton.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Nothing better for a team heading into an 11-day break around Christmas than to have its best performance of the early season. Attleboro did just that on Saturday evening at the New England Sports Village, dominating a former league rival.
The Bombardiers picked up a 3-0 victory against Stoughton/Brockton, but the final score doesn’t do justice to just how much Attleboro controlled the game. The hosts held a 38-4 advantage in shots, not allowing a shot on goal over the final two periods, and seemed to spend ages in the offensive zone.
“This was the best game that we’ve played this year,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “It’s taken a little time. We’ve got some new guys, some new combinations that are going on, but they’ve been getting a little bit better, a little bit better, a little bit better.”
Attleboro didn’t start the game in control, picking up three penalties in the opening three minutes of the game, including a penalty for too many men on the ice as the first penalty kill was ending, with a bench misconduct added on top. Despite being shorthanded, Attleboro had the first chance when Ryan Morry hit the side of the net on a break and spent the majority of the time in the offensive zone.
Stoughton came close on the power play when Colin Alessi struck the bar from the slot, but it took six minutes before either team recorded an actual shot on target. Within seconds of each other, Aidan Dryjowicz set up Morry for a one-timer that was saved and on the other end Kyle Cruickshank forced a save out of Nick Piazza.
With 6:39 left in the first, Attleboro’s pressure paid off with the opening goal. Nate Parker went down the left wing and skated behind the goal. He flipped a pass out in front to Dryjowicz, who was alone in the slot and he hit a one-timer that gave Stoughton goalie Ryan Spano (30 saves) no chance.
Dryjowicz was a constant threat to the Stoughton goal. He got behind the defense with three minutes left in the first, but he slipped at the last step and the puck trickled inches wide of the far post. Owen Dryjowicz nearly added to his brother’s goal with 1:20 left in the period, but his shorthanded effort was kicked aside by Spano.
The Bombardiers had a 12-4 edge in shots after the first and that domination continued into the second, although they couldn’t add to the lead on the scoreboard.
“I’m in the locker room between the first and second periods and I said guys we’re getting chances but we’re not burying the puck,” Homer explained. “As much as we’re playing offensively, we still have defensive responsibilities out there. One bad bounce, one missed shot, and it’s 1-1 and then momentum changes.”
Sean Marshall nearly caught Stoughton in a change with a pinpoint outlet pass to Aidan Dryjowicz who passed it on to Jake Ward, but the chance was stopped. A few minutes later, another great outlet pass from Marshall sprung Owen Dryjowicz, but somehow Spano managed to get the hilt of his stick on the shot to keep it out.
Spano made another impressive stop on a Dryjowicz slap shot, as the shots kept coming for the hosts. Sam Flynn fired a diagonal pass from the right point to Morry at the post but the shot was stopped and then Aidan Diggan watched his follow up effort go over the bar.
Finally, Attleboro got its second goal. With 3:10 left in the period, Austin Blais had his shot stopped and Liam McDonough was in the right place to stuff in the rebound from close range. After doubling the lead, it took only nine seconds for a third to be added. Off the ensuing face-off, Morry raced into the zone and scored an unassisted goal to make it 3-0.
Stoughton failed to put a shot on target in the second and Attleboro extended its edge in shots on goal to 25-4. With the game all but won entering the third, things slowed down and more than eight minutes went by before either team added to its shot total.
Homer said, “I really thought we had more offensive zone time and that meant we didn’t really have a lot of situations where we had to defend. Being in the offensive zone took a lot of pressure off.”
Flynn had a shot from the point turned aside and Kyle Miniati sent the rebound over the bar. Ward and Morry also had chances that Spano saved, before he was replaced by Nathan Petti. A change in goalie didn’t help the Bombardiers, who had a series of chances stopped, notably two in quick succession from Morry.
“I think tonight was all about having the energy and beating them to the puck, hitting the open guy with the pass, all the fundamental things we’ve worked on,” Homer said about his team’s dominating performance.
Attleboro (2-1-1) will be off until New Year’s Day when it opens league play at home against Mansfield.
2018-2019 Record: 10-10-2 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Homer
The Bombardiers will be looking to stretch their postseason streak to three years this season. It showed how deep the Kelley-Rex division was last year that the Bombardiers, who did not fare well in league games, made it to the state tournament.
One reason that Attleboro is hopeful for a spot in the state tournament is the addition of a couple of transfers to the program. Jake Ward joined the program and will apart of the Bombardiers top line alongside senior captain Ryan Morry and junior Aidan Diggin. Both Morry and Diggin have a plethora of experience at the varsity level so expect Attleboro’s top line to be a dangerous one in the offensive zone. Attleboro picked up some needed depth with the addition of junior Owen Dryjowicz and freshman Aidan Dryjowicz, who will join sophomore Nate Parker on the second line.
The third line could see some rotation but will mostly feature junior Austin Blais at the center spot, and senior Liam McDonough, junior Owen Graney, and senior Kyle Miniati on the wings. The Bombardiers will have some experience on the blue line with senior Sam Flynn and junior Zach Pierce holding down two of the top spots, with sophomore Sean Marshall also in the mix. The fourth spot between the top two defensive pairs is still up for grabs in the early going. Sophomores Nick Piazza and Michael Dutremble are battling for minutes in net.
“We hope to improve our record from last year through commitment and hard work collectively, and gain entry to the state tournament,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer.
2018-2019 Record: 25-0-1 2018-2019 Finish: D2 State Champions Coach: Brian Shuman
Having won nine straight Davenport division titles, Canton is used to having a target on its back as the rest of the Hockomock League tries to knock the Bulldogs from the top. But this year, that target is even bigger than before.
Fresh off one of the best seasons in both program and league history that ended with a D2 State Championship, the Bulldogs will be getting everyone’s best game in and game out. And while Canton certainly graduated some key pieces, like two-time HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Ryan Nolte, the Bulldogs enter this season as not only the favorite for a 10th straight division crown but will certainly be in the mix when it comes to the 2020 D2 State title.
While replacing Nolte will be tough, the Bulldogs have several key forwards back from last year’s championship team. It will all start with senior Johnny Hagan, who was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a sophomore and racked up 51 points with 21 goals and 31 assists on the season. Hagan will have a lot of experience to work with in senior Timmy Kelleher (seven goals, seven assists last regular season), senior Tommy Ghostlaw (five goals, six assists), and senior Chris Lavoie (13 goals, 12 assists). Lavoie could be poised for a breakout year, scoring twice in the season-opening win over Franklin.
Canton also brings back top players along the blue line with Jack Connolly and HockomockSports.com Second Team selection Owen Lehane. Both seniors, Connolly and Lehane not only are among the best defensive players in the league but play a big part of the Canton offense with their shooting. Seniors Ronan O’Mahony and Declan Pfeffer are also experienced defensemen that will see increased roles this year. Canton turns to senior Joe Cammarata to start in between the pipes with junior Liam Polles impressing early on and could push for starting minutes.
“We have a lot of experience returning, but that’s true for a lot of teams across the state,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. If our preseason was any indication, there are a lot of outstanding, talented teams this year that improved greatly in the offseason. We will have our work cut out for us in the Hock and with a tough non-league schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-7-3 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South First Round Coach: Mark Cedorchuk
Foxboro built upon its 10-season win two years ago with its best season in program history last year, picking up 12 wins including one in the postseason. After posting back-to-back successful seasons, the Warriors are hoping that trend continues.
With a good amount of returners back this year, the Warriors will be in good position to compete in the Hockomock League and will be aiming to make a deeper run into the state tournament behind a beefed-up schedule. One strength for Foxboro this year will be its offense with its two top regular season point producers back in junior Kirk Leach (15 goals, 20 assists) and senior Ronnie MacLellan (14 goals, 20 assists). That duo provided the Warriors with a lot of its offense last season and will be one of the top returning duos this season. Senior Sebastian Ricketts brings a vast amount of experience to the offense while sophomore Jack Watts (10 goals, four assists) will be looking to build on an impressive freshman year. Brady Daly, Eoin Reager, Josh Bertuman, Ryan Jacobs and Ben Ricketts will provide needed depth offensively.
Defensively it all starts with senior goalie Espen Reager, the defending Hockomock League MVP back after a strong junior season between the pipes for the Warriors. Reager has the ability to keep his team in teams, and he showed last year that he can help steal a game like he did against Mansfield. In front of Reager, senior Kyle McGinnis is one of the more experienced defensemen in the league and will be the anchor of the blue line group for Foxboro. Freshman Alex Coviello has impressed early on and will be a key piece of the defense.
“Our strength on offense this season will be our depth and overall team speed,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “We have more depth on offense than we’ve ever had. We’re looking forward to this season, with a lot of depth up front, excellent team speed and a great goalie we feel we can compete with any team on our schedule.”
2018-2019 Record: 12-10-4 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final Coach: Anthony Sarno
A new chapter begins in Franklin boys hockey with Anthony Sarno taking over on the bench after longtime Panther coach Chris Spillane stepped down following last season. While the Panthers might have a bit of a new look, expectations are still high inside Pirelli for the defending Kelley-Rex champs.
Sarno is hoping that momentum will carry over from the Panthers’ impressive playoff run from a year ago when Franklin upset Mansfield in overtime and knocked off Catholic Memorial in the semifinals. But there won’t be any nights off for Franklin with a loaded schedule that features Malden Catholic, Pope Francis, and a loaded Mt. Hope tournament — and that’s just December.
“It will be a work in progress and we will look to develop a solid team chemistry with a relentless work ethic, staying true to consistency, and discipline in an environment where effort and attitude is paramount, and not up for discussion,” Sarno said.
Up front, the Panthers will be leaning on seniors Shane McCaffrey, Kevin O’Rielly, and Shea Hurley to lead the way. McCaffrey is the team’s top scorer returning from a year ago so it will be vital for new players to step up and contribute. Juniors Conor O’Neil and Declan Lovett are also going to be important pieces to the Panthers’ offense. Senior Ray Ivers returns between the pipes are stepping in last season and playing well. In front of Ivers, Franklin will have two of the best defensemen in the league with senior Tom Tasker, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last year, and junior Joe LeBlanc, who had a breakout sophomore campaign.
2018-2019 Record: 10-11-0 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Paul Carlow
After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back seasons, the Warriors have a chance to end that drought in 2020 behind an experienced group of players after losing just five players to graduation.
Head coach Paul Carlow says this is the most experienced group he’s had at his disposal since taking over behind the Warriors’ bench in 2015. There are nine seniors back this year and eight juniors so King Philip certainly boasts a lot of depth, and players that have played plenty of minutes at the varsity level. It starts with senior captain Chris Daniels, senior assistant captain Joe Boselli, and senior assistant captain Jack Coulter. All three have skated plenty of minutes for Carlow over the past couple of years and will be relied upon for their leadership.
Daniels is a crafty forward that scored five goals and had six assists while Coulter is the top returning scorer back this year after scoring six goals and recording nine assists a year ago. Seniors Bryan Lucente and Noah Ray will also be in the mix offensively alongside Daniels, Coulter, and Boselli. The Warriors will also rely on a handful of juniors to chip in offensively including forward Conor Cooke. Cooke had a terrific season with 10 goals and four assists and could be poised for a breakout year.
Defensively, there is a lot of veterans along the blue line for King Philip. Seniors Kyle Gray and Ethan McGuire are joined by junior Rocco Bianculli, a Hockomock League All Star and a HocomockSports.com All Underclassman selection a year ago. Gray is a three-year player that provides physicality while Bianculli is one of the top scoring defensemen in the entire league, scoring seven goals and adding seven assists during his sophomore season. Seniors Nate Ihley and Jesper Makudera will battle for minutes in net.
“I’m really looking forward to this season,” Carlow said. “On top of the seniors and juniors, we also have a strong sophomore class competing for spots. We have speed up front, we’re strong on the back end, and we have two good goalies. I’m looking forward to working with this group and fully expect them to make the tournament.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-6-3 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Mike Balzarini
Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini was a little concerned about his team’s depth coming into the season after graduating nine players and losing two top players to prep school. But after tryouts and a strong preseason, Balzarini believes this year’s squad will be just as deep as last year’ 14-win squad.
Losing a talented senior class hurts, and with Matt Copponi (eight goals, 28 assists, 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year) and Brian Grant (HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team) off to prep schools, the Hornets will need new faces to step up and contribute on both ends of the ice. But Balzarini and the Hornets have something that none of the other Hockomock teams have and that’s senior goalie Sean McCafferty. Now in his fourth year starting, McCafferty is a game-changer. Even if the Hornets aren’t having their best games, they’ll still likely have a chance to win because of McCafferty.
In front of McCafferty, the Hornets will turn to senior Joseph Troiano to anchor the defensive unit. He will be joined by Jack Gormley and Conor Benoit, both of whom picked up valuable minutes last season and should help Mansfield be one of the stingiest defensive groups. Offensively, the Hornets do get a boost with the return of senior forward Chris Jenkins. Jenkins was named to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassmen Team in 2017 after he had 11 goals and 10 assists as a freshman. He will join veterans Jake Lund and Kevin Belanger to form a talented first line for the Hornets. Cam Paige, Liam Anastasia, and Ben Ierardo will team up on Mansfield’s second line.
“We have a little bit of a sour taste after how last year ended,” Balzarini said. “We want to get over that hurdle of the first round of the playoffs. This group really plays well together, they play as a team. They’ve gelled nicely since the first day of tryouts.”
2018-2019 Record: 11-9-2 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinals Coach: Ben McManama
North Attleboro will be leaning on its defense in order to get back to the tournament again this season. With the defending state champs in Canton as well as an improved Foxboro squad, the Rocketeers have their hands full with a difficult three-team Davenport division.
Seniors Jake McNeany, Will Yeomans, Jeff Baker, and junior Charlie Connolly are all back this season to give North Attleboro a veteran defensive group. With a handful of experienced players leading the way defensively, it should make the transition from four-year starting goalie Ryan Warren a bit smoother. Another reason that transition should go smoothly is senior goalie Nick Digiacomo, who has been impressive in the preseason so far this year.
Senior Dennis Morehouse is back after a breakout junior campaign and will be in the mix as one of the top players in the Hockomock League this season. Morehouse was second on the team in points last year with 15 goals and four assists and is the top returning scorer back for the Rocketeers. Senior Jack Connolly is another experienced forward that will be a key piece of the offense while junior Tyler Sarro will look to build upon a solid sophomore season.
“For us to be successful, we need to be discipline and get scoring from our second and third lines,” said North Attleboro coach Ben McManama. “We are not as big as we were in years past so we need to play tough and physical.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-9-1 2018-2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Mike Zucarelli
There is a new face at the helm of the Tigers this season, but its a familiar one. Mike Zucarelli takes over after serving as an assistant coach and is optimistic about the upcoming season.
Replacing one of the league’s top forwards in Brett Williams won’t be easy, but the Tigers boast experienced returners at every position on the ice. Senior Owen Connor is back for his third year in between the pipes. He took a big jump from his sophomore to junior year and that Zucarelli expects that trend to continue for the 2019-2020 season. In front of Connor, OA returns senior defensemen Ryan Gottwald and Matt Nosalek. Gottwald, one of the team’s two captains, had an impressive junior year and will be the leader of the defensive group this season.
Offensively, there will be some familiar faces including senior captain Hunter Costello. Costello, who scored nine goals and had 15 assists in the regular season a year ago, is joined by fellow returners Jake Gottwald, Duncan Pereira, and Brad Powers. All four of those seniors will be vital in the attack while juniors Ross Carroll and Matt Nigro should see expanded roles this year.
“We are going to be a gritty, hardworking team this year,” Zucarelli said, citing a preseason scrimmage with Milton. “We held our own during the first as Milton took it to us. We came out flying in the second, tied up the game and took the momentum into the third period with a huge penalty kill. The overall play of the team after one week was great to see.”
The Tigers enter the season with a relatively young squad but the goal is to integrate all of the youth with the returners and make a push for the state tournament by the end of the season.
Junior Mike Albert will be the main guy on the offensive end. Albert, who scored 10 goals and added 19 assists last season, was the leading scorer for the Tigers as a sophomore and is looking to take the next step this year. Junior Steve Roderick and sophomores Jack DeMoura and Michael Lucier are all new to the program and should be in the mix right away to help bolster the Taunton attack.
Head coach Kris Metea is also counting on some of the younger players to have breakout seasons, including sophomores Nathan Fernandes, Loren Corcoran, and Evan Perreira. On the defensive side, junior Brady Nichols will anchor the blue line unit. Although just a junior, Nichols has a wealth of varsity experience and the Tigers will lean on him to guide a young defensive core. Senior Andrew Gomes and junior Sean Bunker will battle for minutes in net.
“We have a group of young players that we will look to continue to develop over the course of the season,” Metea said. “The key to our success will be the meshing of the new players with the development of young players. The sky’s the limit for this group with continued commitment.”
In a see-saw battle that saw Mansfield take its second lead of the game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, Attleboro responded with two runs in the top of the seventh to take the lead for the third time and junior Emily Gittle (7IP, 11H, 2BB, 5ER, 13K) struck out the side in the bottom half to give the Bombardiers a 7-6 win.
“It doesn’t matter what the records are, it’s just one of those games,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “It’s a really good rivalry, it was a great game today. You have to be able to come back from things like errors and that’s what good teams do because you can’t play a perfect game. And our big players came through when we needed them.
“The kids persevered. We had the same type of game against Franklin, so we’ve been there before. We’re never out of it, especially when it’s one run. [Mansfield] is a good team, they battle, they find ways to get runs too. Those Bendanillo’s are two really tough outs. Emily Gittle was strong in the circle, a quiet 13 strikeouts tonight. We had some errors but I thought we got some big outs today at the right time.”
The Bombardiers had the first lead in the game after scoring in the first inning, the Hornets seized the advantage with three runs in the fourth, Attleboro jumped back in front with four runs in the fifth before setting up a frantic finish.
“This is how it’s been every time we play them,” said Mansfield head coach Lori Letendre. “I think if you play two more innings, it could have gone the other way. It’s that type of game every time we play Attleboro, unfortunately, they got us all three times this season.
“We hit the ball well today just not when we needed it most. That’s been the story of our season, leaving runners on base and having runners in scoring position and not getting the hit we needed. We had the bases loaded twice, runners on second and third at least once, we had our chances…just couldn’t get it done.”
Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth, the Hornets struck for three runs to go back in front for the second time. Senior Sydney Woods clubbed a leadoff double and moved to third on a single from sophomore Ella Verheggen. Verheggen stole second but Gittle got a strikeout and a groundout to get the first two outs.
Kara Bendanillo battled to a walk to load the bases and all runners moved up a base with Woods coming in to score to bring the Hornets within one. Senior Megan Letendre drew another walk to load the bases again, bringing the Hornets’ top offensive player in Mady Bendanillo.
The senior delivered, lacing a single through the left side to bring in two runs to put Mansfield up 6-5 and the pressure on the Bombardiers with just three outs left.
Attleboro came up with a big response as freshman Hailey Perry drew a leadoff walk and classmate Meghan Gordon advanced the run into scoring position after Mansfield starter Sarah Cahill (7IP, 7H, 3BB, 6ER, 4K) induced a ground ball out. Freshman Lindsey Perry singled to put runners on the corners with the Bombardiers’ top offensive threat McKenzie Bergdoll coming to the dish.
Bergdoll delivered the clutch hit the visitors needed, blasting a double deep to left to bring in both runs and putting her team back ahead, a lead they’d hold onto for the win.
“It was the best [Bendanillo] against the best [Bergdoll] and we happened to be the last one standing,” Homer said. “That’s the way you want it to be. You come from behind like that, that’s great for the team, it’s good to persevere because we play a very good team on Saturday.”
Bergdoll put the visitors on the board in the top of the first inning. Gordon smacked a double to start the game and then stole third when Lindsey Perry took ball four and was walked. Bergdoll hit a fly ball deep enough to left for a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.
Mansfield’s offense came alive in the bottom of the fourth and used a combination of hits and Bombardier errors to jump in front. Kara Bendanillo led off with hard-hit single to left and took third when the ball was misplayed. An infield error allowed Letendre to reach and Bendanillo to score to tie the game. Senior Caty DeMassi followed with an RBI triple and scored herself when the throw home sailed high, putting the Hornets up 3-1.
The Bombardiers mounted a comeback just a half inning later with four runs on their own. Kayla Battisti led off with a single and Gittle reached on a throwing error, putting runners on the corner. Hailey Perry drove in a run with a single and Gordon followed with a triple to bring two more runs in. A single from Lindsey Perry brought in the fourth run of the inning to put Attleboro head 5-3.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Both teams had already qualified for the postseason and Sunday morning’s matchup felt like preparation for the upcoming state tournament. It was a game in which both teams battled back multiple times and both learned what they will need to work on to make a playoff run.
In the end, Franklin made enough plays to pull out a 7-6 victory over Attleboro. Senior Emily Valentino came off the bench to pitch 2-1/3 innings of scoreless relief and drove in the game-tying run with a fifth inning single.
“Emily Valentino came in and kind of slammed the doors, so to speak,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon. “She did a nice job out there.”
She also praised the Bombardiers for being aggressive and putting pressure on the Panthers. Fallon said, “They put a lot of pressure on us today. They came here swinging and trying to take some names. They put up a nice performance against us today and redeemed themselves from the first game (a 14-0 Franklin win).”
Attleboro was playing its third game in the span of 24 hours. The Bombardiers completed a rain delayed game with Taunton on Saturday morning and then drove 90 minutes to play Marblehead. Attleboro beat the Magicians to qualify for the tournament and carried that momentum to Franklin.
“They could’ve laid down coming into this one but they didn’t,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer about his team’s attitude on Sunday morning. “We’ve had some pretty bad injuries, so we had three freshmen out there today. They’ve been doing a good job up and down the lineup.”
Meghan Gordon led off with a single to right, followed by a swinging bunt from Lindsey Perry that turned into an infield hit. After a groundout moved both runners into scoring position, Lora Woynton brought in a run with a deep sac fly to center and Natalie Mansur singled to left and drove in a second.
The Panthers cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first. A one-out triple by Gabby Colace was followed by a sac fly to left by Ally Shea. Gordon made a nice running grab for the out, sliding past the foul line, but it allowed Colace to come home without a throw.
There were no clean innings on Sunday. Even scoreless frames included at least one base runner. Franklin starter Jackie Cherry pitched out of trouble in the second and third innings to keep the Panthers within one. Colace turned a double play when she snagged a line drive at second and tagged the runner to end the third.
Franklin grabbed its first lead in the bottom of the third. Anna Balkus bunted her way on to lead off and stole second. A passed ball moved her to third and Colace reached when her bunt was unable to be fielded cleanly. An error brought in the first run of the third to tie it and Maddy White lined a single to put Franklin in front. Sarah Jackson added a third run with an RBI-groundout.
Attleboro starter Jenna Gittle managed to limit the damage with a strikeout and a pop up to first, but the Panthers were up 4-2.
The lead was short-lived. The Bombardiers rallied for three runs in the fourth. Autumn O’Connell got it started with a single and, after Cherry retired the next two batters, Perry drew a two-out walk to keep the inning alive for power hitter McKenzie Bergdoll. She crushed a three-run homer over the fence in left-center to put the visitors back on top.
“That’s what McKenzie Bergdoll’s got to do,” said Homer. “That’s her job. She’s one of the better hitters in the league, she’s a power hitter, but it’s also the set up before that getting people on base. We weren’t doing that earlier in the season.”
In the bottom half of the inning, Franklin bounced back again to tie it. Maggie Hobby walked and advanced to third after a pair of passed balls. Balkus hit a sharp grounder to short but the throw to the plate was not in time and the game was evened up at 5-5.
The back-and-forth game continued to ebb and flow with the Bombardiers grabbing the edge in the fifth. Colace threw ahead of the lead runner to get a big second out for the Panthers and it looked like they may escape the jam but Hailey Perry singled to right to bring in Kayla Battisti. Valentino came in with runners at second and third and got a strikeout to get out of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Valentino helped her own cause. With one out, he dropped a single into right that scored White to tie the game again. Battisti kept the game tied when she was able to field a Hobby bunt and flip to Woynton at the plate to cut down the potential go-ahead run. Gittle got a big break when Balkus’ two-out single to left, which scored two runs, was nullified by the home plate ump saying she stepped out of the box as she hit it.
Valentino managed to get out of a jam in the sixth and Franklin scored the eventual game-winner in the bottom half. Battisti made another play at third to get a runner at the plate, but with two outs a grounder was mishandled and the go-ahead run scampered home.
After an error put the lead runner on in the seventh and a sacrifice bunt moved the runner into scoring position, Valentino got a pop up to Hobby behind the plate and then a fly ball to herself in the circle to close out the win.
“We came out on top,” said Fallon. “We pulled it together and we also learned a few things that we need to clean up, to work on heading into the tournament.”
Despite the loss, Homer was also positive about his team’s performance. He explained, “This was a great game for us, in this part of the season, because they battled all week. It would’ve been great to win, it always is, but I like where we’re at right now. For us to go to the distance and battle them right to the end, I’m okay with that because we’ll probably meet one of those six other [Hockomock League] teams in the tournament.”
Franklin (13-5, 12-3) has two more games this week to prepare for the tournament, starting with Canton on Tuesday. Attleboro (9-10, 8-7) will close out the regular season on Tuesday against North Attleboro.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – With the calendar turned to May and the state tournament right around the corner, the King Philip softball team is ready to put the rest of the South sectional on notice.
After stumbling out of the gates with a 4-5 start, the Warriors have won five straight by outscoring opponents 68-3 and looked to be primed for another playoff push after a 13-3 win on the road over Attleboro.
“The thing is, we figured it out about two weeks ago,” said King Philip coach Norm Beauchemin, who in his seventh year at the helm of the Warriors. “As far as the defense, the lineup…we’ve brought some kids up that can help the team. Everybody wants in right now, it’s a commitment.
“Most of our losses are in the first half of the season. In the second half of the season, over the past five years, we probably only have a handful of losses.”
Recent history certainly supports Beauchemin’s claim. The Warriors won 11 of their final 12 regular season games in 2016 and went on to win the D1 State Title. The following year, KP had nine wins in its final 13 games and just a year ago, the Warriors won 12 of its final 13 games and made it to the sectional semifinals.
So far this year, the Warriors are 5-1 in May and have five games to go.
Maybe the most noticeable difference for KP is its offense. The Warriors have scored in double figures in four of the last five and needed to use a rally in its first meeting with Attleboro to claim a 6-3 victory.
This time around, the Warriors belted out 17 hits, scoring four runs in each the fourth and fifth innings to turn what was a one-run game into a comfortable win.
“King Philip] played well today, they swung the bats, had a good amount of hits, they made the plays in the field, the pitcher was consistent and made us swing the bats,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “And we didn’t do that, especially in that one inning.
“Going down the road, we have a tough schedule, but once the pitching, hitting, and defense comes together, I know we can win some games. Because I know what they are capable of.
King Philip had an ideal start, tacking on two runs in the top of the first inning. Paige Berdos led off with a single and Meghan Gorman drew a one-out walk. A sac bunt from Liliana Rolfe moved the runners into scoring position and Faith Turinese helped her own cause with a two-run, two-out single to put the visitors ahead.
“It’s all about getting people in the right positions, getting them comfortable in those spots,” Beauchemin said. “And then getting the lineup so we’re getting runs. It doesn’t matter how many hits you get, it matters when you get them”
After walking in her first at-bat, Gorman was quick to put the bat on the ball in her next chance in the third inning. After hitting two hard foul balls, Gorman got a hold of the third pitch she saw and sent it flying over the center field fence for a 3-0 lead through 2.5 innings.
Attleboro answered in the bottom half to make it a one-run game. Meghan Gordon doubled into the right-center gap and McKenzie Bergdoll ripped a two-out home run into center field to make it 3-2 after three innings.
But King Philip didn’t let Attleboro’s momentum last very long, pushing across four in the fourth. Ryann Stagg had a bunt single, Berdos followed with a single (and advanced on the throw) to put runners on second and third.
Raegan Simeone dropped down a squeeze bunt to bring the first run in, Gorman legged out an RBI double, Rolfe plated a run with an infield ground out, and Turinese added another RBI with a two-out single to push the lead to 7-2.
Lora Woyton led off with a single in the bottom half for Attleboro but Turinese (7IP, 7H, 2BB, 3K, 3ER) got a line drive to shortstop and Gorman alertly fired back to fire for a double play.
Abby Carey got things going to KP in the top of the fifth with a single and pinch runner Kara McWhinnie took third on a two-base error when Destiny Goyco put the ball in play. After Stagg walked, McWhinnie sprinted home on a wild pitch to make it 8-2.
Berdos followed with an RBI single and Simeone dropped in a single to push two more across for an 11-2 advantage.
In the sixth, Goyco doubled, Stagg walked, and Madison Kelley drove in pinch runner Heather Nix. Gorman added a hard hit single up the third base line for an RBI for a 13-2 advantage.
“We’ve got a team where we can create,” Beauchemin said. “Everybody is in right now. If someone hits a home run, they don’t mind bunting next time up if they have to. It’s a very selfless team.
“Our offense is a lot better, and we’re hitting at the right spots. That’s a nice team [Attleboro]. Our pitching has improved a lot too. Our pitching coming together has helped our offense too because we can relax a little bit.”
Woyton smacked a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth for Attleboro’s third run.
King Philip softball (9-4 Hockomock, 9-5 overall) is back in action on Friday when it hosts Mansfield. The Hornets earned a 10-3 win in the first meeting at the end of April. Attleboro (7-4, 7-6) will look to get back on track on Thursday when it visits Oliver Ames at 3:30.
2018 Record: 9-12 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Homer
After back-to-back playoff appearances, the expectations are high around the Attleboro program this spring. The Bombardiers return eight of nine starters from last year’s team and the lineup should be loaded with good hitters, as well as multiple players who can step into the circle and produce a good start. With the depth on the roster this season, Attleboro will be eyeing another postseason berth.
Senior McKenzie Bergdoll is one of the top power hitters in the league and will be back for another spring in the heart of the Attleboro lineup. She will be joined by classmates Jordyn Lako and Kayla Battisti as starters. Junior Makenzie Killough will be back at shortstop and also batting cleanup and providing protection for Bergdoll in the order. Sophomore Lora Woyton returns behind the plate, sophomore Autumn O’Connell will be in center and batting second and junior Ashley Macia will be out in left. Sophomore Brenna Morse will be taking over in rightfield. In the circle, Attleboro has plenty of depth with juniors Emily and Jenna Gittle and Bergdoll all able to step in. The Bombardiers will try to take advantage of their overall team speed and head coach Mark Homer said there are a few freshmen who may see playing time right away.
“The bar was set high from last season,” said Homer. “So the girls are onboard to perform well again this season with high hopes of competing in every game they play. They have set some goals to achieve one a\t a time. I am cautiously optimistic with our chances of winning more games this season than we have in the past. Knowing that there are no easy games on our schedule so we have to come to play every night.”
2018 Record: 8-13 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Dave Bohane
Canton had quite the turnaround in 2018 under second-year head coach Jennifer Robillard, winning eight games, seven more than in 2017, and making a return to the state tournament. Robillard, last season’s HockomockSports.com Coach of the Year, has moved on to a position at Bentley and football coach Dave Bohane has taken over a team that has seen an influx of young talent and has momentum on its side heading into the spring.
Junior pitcher Caroline Hughes is one of the reasons for optimism in the program, as she is looking to build off a strong sophomore season in which she pitched almost every inning. Hughes was also one of the team’s top hitters and she will be at the heart of the lineup along with sophomore outfielder Liz Bickett, who batted .409 last season. Bickett is just one of several sophomores who the Bulldogs will be counting on, including infielders Olivia Lanci and Sarah Kelly, catchers Steph Trendell and Amanda Vrabel. Junior catcher Jackie Howard and seniors Haley Donovan and Ally Chin will provide leadership for this young group to try and get the Bulldogs right back into the state tournament mix.
“I am very excited to be coaching this team,” said Bohane, who has previously served the program as an assistant coach. “They are extremely hard working and devoted to the program. I think they will set the standard for our future players who come through the program. It’s a very tough league, but we will take it one game at a time and try to improve each game”.
2018 Record: 11-12 2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Mark Maguire
Foxboro made a run in the Div. 2 tournament last season, winning a pair of games before being knocked out in the quarterfinals, and the Warriors will hope to build on that exciting finish to 2018 by making a run at the Davenport crown this spring. Even with the loss of catcher Hannah Davis, who was instrumental in the team’s playoff run, Foxboro has a strong returning core and some talented young players stepping in to give head coach Mark Maguire confidence ahead of the new season.
Senior Emma Rohan will be back in the circle for her fourth year as the Foxboro starter and she has the experience of pitching in a number of big games and against the top teams in the league. Senior Cam Willis will play first this season, but can also step in and pitch if needed along with junior Amelia Stowell. The pitchers will have a rookie to throw to, as freshman Allie Willis will be stepping in behind the plate. Sophomore Morgan Sylvestre returns at shortstop after a strong first season on varsity and will be one of the leaders of the infield. Senior Chelsea Gibbons is at third base and freshman Peyton Feldman takes over at second. Sophomore Nicole Theriault will be in centerfield but can play a number of positions, senior Riley Martignetti gives the team pop from the right side of the plate, and senior Jill Finn can play all three outfield positions.
“Preseason is going great as the girls are working very hard to be ready for the season,” said Maguire. “We have a group of girls who work hard. I think team defense should be good with our senior leadership, and the younger players who aggressively look to make plays in the field. I have high expectations for this team, as we look to compete for a Davenport title and gain a state tournament berth.”
2018 Record: 9-11 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Kate Fallon
Franklin has consistently been right behind perennial league leaders Taunton and King Philip in the Kelley-Rex division standings but has narrowly missed out on the playoffs by a single win in each of the past two seasons. This year, the Panthers have eight seniors coming back with the goal of getting the team back into the postseason and use a typically tough schedule to prep for a tournament run.
Pitching will be a strength for the Panthers this year with seniors Jackie Cherry and Emily Valentino giving the team depth and different options in the circle. Throwing strikes will be the key for both and limiting opposition base runners. Behind the plate, Franklin has plenty of experience as well with seniors Ally Shea and Maggie Hobby both capable of stepping in and handling the pitchers as well as providing power at the plate. Senior Tara Hartnett will be back at shortstop and provides strong defense up the middle. Junior Anna Balkus will be in centerfield and will set the table for the offense as the lead-off hitter. Junior Maddy White will be at third base and joins Shea and senior Kylie-Jade Bouzan as the team’s primary run producers.
“We are excited to see the Panther players on the field again,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. “Overall our tough league and non-league schedule will keep us focused for tournament and we will rely on our solid pitching and defense.”
2018 Record: 21-4 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Norm Beauchemin
Every season King Philip loses important players and every season the Warriors seem to be right back in the mix for the league title. This spring should be no different. KP will have several important players to replace in the lineup, but it expects to challenge for a 12th title in the past 13 seasons and also make another tournament run, following last year’s South final loss to Kelley-Rex rival Taunton.
Meghan Gorman is the player to watch for the Warriors this season, as the senior shortstop is one of the top defensive players in the state and also the spark plug at the top of the lineup. Senior Faith Turinese will move from the outfield into the circle and will split time with classmate Heather Nix as the top pitchers for the Warriors. Turinese also batted over .400 last year and will be an important bat in the middle of the order. Junior Destiny Goyco will step in behind the plate, after overcoming an injury from basketball season, and fellow junior Liliana Rolfe will take over at third. Grace Kelley will be at second base and Anna Bradley will be at first. The outfield will be filled with speed, including Kara McWhinnie in left, sophomore Paige Berdos in center, and either Ryan Stagg or junior Reaegan Simeone in right.
“One to nine, everyone hits the ball,” said KP coach Norm Beauchemin. “I’m looking forward to another solid season. The league overall is going to be very competitive, so it should be fun.”
2018 Record: 7-13 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield is looking to bounce back from a tough 2018 season in which the Hornets struggled in the Hockomock (going 4-12 in league play) and missed the playoffs. This year, Mansfield hopes for a quick turnaround and return to the state tournament with an experienced roster that brings back 11 players, seven starters, and seven seniors from last season.
The battery of senior pitcher Sarah Cahill and senior catcher Caty DeMassi is back and should give the Hornets a good foundation on which to build on this season. Seniors Megan Letendre and Kara Bendanillo will hold down the left side of the infield and provide pop in the middle of the lineup, while Mady Bendanillo returns in centerfield to give Mansfield a dynamic defensive player and another strong bat. There is an influx of youth as well with two sophomores and a freshman jumping into varsity and having the chance to contribute right away.
“Our goal is to make it back to the tournament this year and with strong leadership from our captains and our seniors, I think we will have a good shot at it!” said Mansfield coach Lori Letendre.
2018 Record: 18-3 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Steve DiVitto
The biggest question for Milford is how do the Hawks move on from a group of 10 seniors that won a combined 79 games, four league titles, and the 2017 state championship? Milford has been the team to beat in the Davenport division for six years and a relatively inexperienced group will have to face a season in which the target for every team in the league is squarely on their backs.
Junior Megan Hart is one of the primary options to replace Kelley Reichert in the circle to start the season, with freshman Olivia Morelli showing potential to step in and contribute innings right away. Senior Lucy Creedon can step in at first or in the outfield. Junior April Swain will jump into the outfield along with classmate Taylor Waldrup, while junior Amanda Wenckus can play either position on the left side of the infield and sophomore Carly Ferreira can play either corner infield spot. Sophomore Elise Fauerbach can play behind the plate or in the outfield, while her classmate Natalie Casilli will take an outfield spot. There are a lot of spots to fill this year, but head coach Steve DiVitto is talking about that as an opportunity for a new group of players to step into.
“We understand that lack of experience is something that we will need to combat with, however the bar will continue to be set high!” DiVitto said. “Each year a new page is turned over, and as always the focus is: what’s your legacy going to be? Keeping our awesome team chemistry will be an important part of this season. We’re excited for the challenges of playing in the best league in the state!”
2018 Record: 16-5 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Bill Wallace
Two seasons ago, North Attleboro was a young team that made a surprise trip to the South semifinal, but this year the Rocketeers will have much higher expectations. North is now the experienced team in the Davenport division and has aspirations of unseating Milford and winning a first league title since 1990 and adding to the league’s recent history of strong tournament performances with another deep run.
Junior pitcher Bella Erti will be one of the league’s top pitchers again this season, after a 15-5 sophomore season in which she struck out 137 batters. She also hit .357. Junior Ashley Cangiano is also back for her third year as a starter and is one of the top catchers in the league. Abby Gallagher returns to the North outfield after hitting .500 last season as a sophomore and senior Olivia Capobianco will be back in centerfield and the middle of the North lineup. Freshman Mandi Hanewich and sophomores Emma Bailey and Belle Clarkin will compete for the third outfield spot after impressive preseasons. Senior Katie Daby is at first, while sophomore Emily Nardelli moves from shortstop to second base. Junior Alex Moulson takes over at short and her classmate Annabelle Hebard will be at third. Emily Bedard and Makenzie Nardelli add to North’s infield depth and Alivia Byrne will give Erti a rest in the circle and is another big bat in the lineup.
“We will need to be more multi-dimensional, as late in the year we couldn’t sustain our offensive start to the season,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “This group really wants to make their mark on the league and they know how much work that is going to take.”
Last season was a struggle for the Tigers, with only three wins and head coach Lindsey Allison is hoping that a group of younger players can add to the returning core and make a push to get Oliver Ames back into the state tournament. Allison is confident that the offense will get into the swing of things for the Tigers after scoring only 66 runs last season, second-lowest in the league.
Senior Kayla Georgeu will be back in the circle for OA and in the heart of the lineup. The Tigers will count on sophomore Emma Varella to provide some innings at pitcher, as well as playing in the infield. Senior first baseman Katie Mills is a big bat for the Tigers and junior Katie Abreu can step in at either shortstop or centerfield depending on the game to provide vocal leadership. Sophomore Grace Simone will be behind the plate this season.
“Every spot is open for the taking and there are many young players who are hungry to be on the field,” said Allison. “This group of players seem like a team – not just a group of individuals. They compete with one another for positions, but also support each other. They hold each other accountable and communicate. I am excited to see what hard work can accomplish this season.”
It was definitely a rough debut season for Sharon coach Heather Poliferno, but it was also a chance for a number of young players to get experience at the varsity level. This spring, there is renewed enthusiasm with a crop of underclassmen joining the experienced players to give Poliferno and the Eagles confidence for a much better spring.
Freshman Trinity Payne is the player to watch for the Eagles this season as she takes over as the starting pitcher and has already drawn the attention of coaches in the Davenport division. She will be used at a couple of different positions and gives the Eagles versatility in the lineup. Senior Alli Small will be back at shortstop this season, while classmate Jody Goldenberg is back at first, and senior Rebecca Clayman will be the leader of the outfield group. As the program is growing, Sharon is hoping for much different results this season.
“We are very excited for this season!” said Poliferno. “We have many returning players leading our varsity team, as well as the addition of a very talented freshman class. Though we have only had a handful of practices, one of our clear strengths is our desire to be the best on the field.”
2018 Record: 7-13 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Deb Parker
Stoughton struggled to find a groove in 2018 and ended up missing the playoffs under first-year head coach Deb Parker, who had made the switch from Sharon before last season. This year, the Black Knights bring back starters in key positions and once again have the potential to make a run at a state tournament berth and even challenge for the Davenport title.
Seniors Nikki Coppola (second base) and Jordan Lyons (shortstop) give Stoughton a strong combination up the middle and senior Karly Estremera brings plenty of experience at third base. Sophomore pitcher Nicole Baker will take over full-time in the circle this season and Parker is impressed by the work that she put in during the off-season to get ready. Baker will be throwing to an experienced catcher, as senior Brianna Ferrandiz is back behind the plate for the Black Knights. Junior Lexi Baptista will lead the outfield crew in center and could also be one of Stoughton’s top hitters this season. Freshmen Melody Casna and Sydney Menz will give the Black Knights versatility by playing multiple positions.
“This team has come together so quickly, it is a real tribute to the leadership of our captains,” said Parker. “This team knows what they are playing for this year and we have high expectations going into the season. Softball in the Hockomock League is incredibly competitive but if we continue to work hard, we should have a great season.”
2018 Record: 26-2 2018 Finish: Won D1 State Championship Coach: Dave Lewry
How do you follow up a state championship? For Taunton, it just may be to make a run at a repeat. The Tigers lost the second, third, and fourth hitters in the lineup (including league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Kya Enos), who combined for 88 RBI, but there is a ton of talent coming back from last season, all of whom contributed at one point or another during Taunton’s run to the title.
It starts in the circle where sophomore Kelsey White will be the starter again this season after going 16-2 as a freshman and pitching every inning during the playoff run (not to mention batting .418). Her sister Alexa will also see time at pitcher, along with freshman Olyvia Mendonca, but will also play most of the season in centerfield. The infield will be a strength for the Tigers, with all four players back. Senior Jaime Brown (batted .469) is back for her fifth year at third base and is one of the top hitters in the league, sophomore Hanna Aldrich (.385 average with four homers and 30 RBI) is in her third year at shortstop and was this site’s Underclassman of the Year in 2018, sophomore McKenzie McAloon returns at second base for her third season, and junior Paige Silvia is back at first. Silvia and junior Riley Murphy are also in the running to replace Enos behind the plate, while junior Abbie McDonough takes over in left and eighth-grader Ava Venturelli could start the season in right.
“While we lost three outstanding players to graduation, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “We have a good nucleus of returning players looking to defend our D1 state championship.”
TAUNTON, Mass. – When a power play opportunity arises in a close game, it is imperative to take advantage. So, when Taunton went got the extra skater early in the second period of Wednesday night’s divisional clash with Attleboro at Aleixo Arena, the Tigers were focused on making it count.
The puck cycled around the boards and then was sent diagonally across the heart of the Attleboro defense to senior defenseman Andrew Carter, who had floated down the boards to just below the left face-off dot. He wasted no time in smashing a one-timer past Bombardiers goalie Evan Andrews to open the scoring.
Carter’s goal turned out to be the only one of the game, as Sean Bunker made 21 saves in the Taunton goal and the Tigers defense held on for a 1-0 shutout.
“You have to take advantage of every opportunity you get,” Taunton coach Kris Metea said. “If you don’t at least build momentum, then it’s a wasted opportunity. We thought we’d get a few more but we needed to take advantage when it came.”
Scoring chances were at a premium in the first period, as both teams took a few minutes to get their footing. Brady Nichols had a couple shots from the point for the Tigers and Austin Blais had a go just after entering the zone for Attleboro but it took 10 minutes for the game’s first clear-cut chance.
Jack Patneaude, who assisted on Carter’s goal in the second period, had an opportunity on a quick breakout. He got space in the right circle and aimed for the bottom corner but Andrews (19 saves) stuck out his right pad to make the stop.
Attleboro had a two-on-one with a minute left in the period but Ryan Morry’s saucer pass to Cam Littig at the back post couldn’t be turned on goal. In the final second of the first, Sean Marshall got behind the Taunton goal and threw the puck into the slot for Kyle McCabe, who forced a pad stop from Bunker as the horn sounded.
“I thought our zone time was pretty good,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer about the offense. “We had to move some things around because we’ve had a couple injuries. We didn’t do the small things, like protect the puck. You have one guy in the corner and the support wasn’t there. We just needed to create more offensive opportunities and we just didn’t do that.”
That flurry at the end of the first seemed to translate into momentum for the Bombardiers after the intermission. Attleboro came out flying and McCabe flung a puck on net from the point that was kicked over to Littig racing in from the left side. The senior forward connected well with his shot, but Bunker went post to post and smothered it to keep the game scoreless.
Metea said, “Sean’s always great for us when he needs to be. That one in the second period was a huge one, open net and he comes across, sprawls and makes the stop. That kept it scoreless and we scored shortly after. It goes to show that timely goaltending is important.”
Three minutes later, the Tigers got the game’s first power play. Just seconds after Andrews made a big stop when Cam Sneyd, who got the second assist on Carter’s goal, set up Michael Albert in front, Carter pounced to steal the energy from the Bombardiers.
“We can’t be getting stupid penalties,” said Homer, who added that a similar thing happened in the last game against North Attleboro. “I’ve been preaching to these guys that when you have a penalty then you have your top four guys out there and you’re wearing them down. We have a short bench to begin with.”
Jaden Weyant had a good look to double Taunton’s lead, but Andrews stayed big to block his shot from the edge of the crease. With two minutes remaining in the second, Attleboro cleared off a penalty and Morry looked up quickly to catch McCabe coming out of the box behind the Taunton defense. McCabe’s breakaway chance was saved by Bunker with the blocker.
Taunton nearly doubled its lead to start the third period, but Sneyd was denied on the power play by Andrews. With six minute left, Littig got space on his forehand side but Bunker was able to get a glove to the shot and two minutes later Bunker came through again to stop Jaydin Rossi after the freshman stole the puck right in front of goal.
“We were a little slow getting our shots off and they were good at getting sticks in the lanes and clogging the middle in front of the net,” Homer said. “We’ve got to find a way to get through it and we didn’t do it tonight.”
The game was nearly over with three minutes to go, but Nick Vandermeel’s shot caromed off the inside of the far post, behind Andrews, and out. That gave Attleboro a chance in the final minute and the Bombardiers had one good look as Morry fired a pass to Littig who in turn found McCabe in the slot but Bunker was there again with a blocker save.
“That’s hockey,” Metea said. “We had three great chances in the period and their goalie makes two good saves and then gets lucky with one off the post, but you can’t stop fighting when things don’t go your way.”
Metea noted that the Tigers have had a tough schedule to start the season and admitted that this win could be a spark for Taunton as it looks to make a playoff push.
“All of our losses are to playoff teams,” he explained, “so we needed that win just to get the confidence. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it at that point and hopefully they’ll take that momentum to go into Mansfield.”
Taunton (3-4) will host Mansfield on Saturday afternoon, while Attleboro (4-3-1) will host Franklin.
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.”