Panthers Run Ends At Xaverian in Quarterfinals

Franklin boys lacrosse
Austin Kent scored five goals and had three assists in the quarterfinal loss to Xaverian. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WESTWOOD, Mass. – Last season, the Franklin boys’ lacrosse team reached its first ever sectional semifinal after upsetting perennial power Xaverian at Pisini Field. On Sunday, a much younger Franklin team faced the same opponent at the same stage of the tournament, but in a different venue and with a much different final result.

The Panthers started well, but once the Hawks clicked on offense Franklin had little answer for a team that has found its footing (and its health) in recent weeks and is once again among the contenders for a Div. 1 title.

Xaverian pulled away in the second half and knocked out the Panthers 18-11, despite five goals and three assists from senior attacker Austin Kent, who was recently selected as the Hockomock League MVP.

“They were flat out better than us,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi. “[Sophomore goalie] Connor [O’Rourke] saw a lot of rubber today and…they’re just really good. They’re unselfish, they find the one more, they did all the things we’ve been preaching all year long.”

Verrochi continued, “We caught them at a time in the season when they’re on a roll. Early on, I don’t think they had found their identity, but now they have and I think they’re going to be a really tough team to beat.”

Xaverian jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Peter Thorbahn (four goals) and Nick Shaw, but Kent brought the Panthers back level.

On his first goal, Kent threw a shot fake that sent his marker tumbling to the ground before he unleashed a laser into the bottom corner past Michael Toomey. Two minutes later, Kent spun back to his left side and found the corner with an overhand finish to the far post.

The Panthers took the lead with Kent picking out sophomore Eric Civetti for the first of his three goals, but Xaverian answered right back to tie it again. In the closing seconds of the quarter, Kent fired a pass from the ‘X’ to a cutting Kyle McEniry, who put Franklin ahead 4-3 after one.

The score stayed the same for the next seven minutes before Thorbahn was given all day to line up a rip into the top corner to tie it. That started a 5-1 run for the Hawks that put them ahead to stay. Civetti scored with an overhand finish that make it 6-5 but Xaverian scored twice in the final minute, both on assists by Drew Lee to freshman Sam Jean.

“They spent a lot of time trying to shut off Nick Shaw and Pete Thorbahn and it really opened up room in between once we figured out how to get the ball to the back side to open areas,” said Xaverian coach Tim Gardner.

“When you spend a lot of time on one guy, the back side attack opens up and that’s why Sam Jean had a heck of a half.”

McEniry scored his second of the game, again on an assist by Kent, to open the second half, but another 5-1 run by the Hawks broke it wide open. After a Sean Sperzel goal, O’Rourke (nine saves) came up with the play of the game when he went post to post to somehow deny Lee when he was wide open at the back post. Packie Watson scored on an assist by Chase Tanner, but Xaverian answered with four straight before Civetti ended the run with a goal while being knocked down.

Franklin forced a turnover but a poor clearance was picked off by the Hawks for a dagger goal right before the end of the third quarter that extended the lead to 14-8.

Early in the game, the Franklin defensive unit of Sean Lockhart, Patrick Morrison, Gabe Murphy and Matt Pleshaw was shutting down the Hawks, but as the game wore on the Hawks just had too many weapons and were too good at forcing the Panthers to slide out of position.

“I think we did a good job of taking advantage of the opportunities and pressing our advantage,” said Gardner. “Obviously, they had a great game going on with their attack, but we got a lot of opportunities from the midfield coming downhill.”

Meanwhile, on the offensive side Franklin was stagnating as the Hawks sat on Kent and Civetti and tried to force other players to beat them. Verrochi saw plenty of promise from his younger players to give him confidence that in the coming years that strategy will not be as effective.

“One of the things we need to do is look to get more players involved,” he explained. “Our midfielders are kind of young, three sophomores, a freshman, and two juniors, so next year if these guys improve then we’re going to be able to be more dangerous.”

The Panthers could never mount much of a comeback in the fourth quarter, although Kent did score a hat trick in his final period with the Panthers.

“We’re going to definitely miss him,” said Verrochi. “He’s the real deal. He rose to the occasion today. This was a big challenge; they’re a big strong, physical defense and he sort of shut them up and put them in their place.”

Franklin finished the season with a record of 14-6.

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

Alexander Helps Panthers Roll Against King Philip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 04/13/16

Today’s games are listed below.

Baseball
Franklin, 13 @ Attleboro, 2 – Final – Franklin’s offense reached double figures for the second straight game to pick up another road win. Tyler Gomes had a pair of doubles and five RBI to lead Franklin while Jake Lyons had two hits, an RBI and a run scored, Josh Macchi had two hits, two runs and an RBI, Ryan Hodgkins had a triple and three runs scored, Steven Luttazi had a pair of hits, a pair of runs scored and an RBI and Joe Corsi scored a pair of runs. Mike Skaza got the win on the mound, tossing five innings and striking out four. Ryan Morse pitched two scoreless innings in relief for Franklin. Attleboro’s Pat Collins went 2-4 with an RBI double for the Bombardiers.

Foxboro, 0 @ Canton, 12 – Final – Canton’s Kevin Powers threw a complete game shutout with four strikeouts, issuing just one walk for the win. At the plate, Powers was 3-4 with two runs scored, Joe Peccia was 1-3 with three runs scored, Mike McMahon was 3-4 with a run scored and a stolen base and sophomore Matt Casamento was 1-2 with two runs scored.

King Philip, 2 @ Mansfield, 0 – Final (9 inn.) – Senior Jon Rolfe picked up the win with a complete game shutout, allowing just five hits. Rolfe had 82 total pitches – 62 for strikes – in an efficient outing that saw him strike out three batters. In the top of the ninth, Stephan MacMean’s leadoff double to turned into a run when junior Will Weir singled him home. Three straight singles from Rolfe, senior Jack DiCenso and senior Jake Cavanagh plated pinch runner Rich Lucente for the Warriors’ second run.

Milford, 7 @ Sharon, 1 – Final – Sophomore Aidan Wilde struck out six in five innings of no hit baseball to get the win on the mound for the Scarlet Hawks. Chris Speroni was 2-3 with three stolen bases and two runs scored while Blake Hill had a triple and two RBI.

North Attleboro, 8 @ Taunton, 2 – Final – North Attleboro’s John O’Donnell scattered five hits and one walk over seven innings of work, striking out five to pick up the win for the Rocketeers. North Attleboro erased a deficit with a four run fourth inning to get the lead including a pair of runs coming off suicide squeezes. Zach Rofino was 2-5 with two RBI, Kyle McCarthy was 2-4 with a pair of RBI, Ethan Hebard added a pair of hits, Bryan Harris had a hat and two sacrifices and Ridge Olsen finished with two hits. North Attleboro amassed 12 hits as a team. Taunton’s Max Bowden had two hits and an RBI for the Tigers.

Stoughton, 9 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – Stoughton scored eight runs with two outs in the top of the fifth inning.

Softball
Franklin, 8 @ Attleboro, 1 – Final

Canton, 5 @ Foxboro, 10 – Final – Foxboro scored six runs in the sixth inning to earn its first win of the season. Emma Rohan struck out seven and walked just three to earn the win in the circle for Foxboro. At the plate, Marylou Long went 3-3 and Chelsea Gibbons had a pair of hits in the big sixth inning for the Warriors.

Mansfield, 0 @ King Philip, 9 – Final – Kali Magane struck out 15 batters and threw her first no hitter of the season for the Warriors. Offensively, King Philip had 14 hits as a team led by Jenn Hutnyan’s three hits and a fourth inning grand slam. Christa Wagner had three hits, including a double and a triple, and Ashley Hession had two hits.

Sharon, 0 @ Milford, 15 – Final (5 inn.) – Milford’s Kaitlyn DeCapua was 3-3 with a pair of runs knocked in and a home run in the first inning that was the highlight of a 10-run inning for the Scarlet Hawks. Sophomore Emily Piergustavo was 3-3 at the plate, driving in four runs and scoring a pair herself and Maggie Farrell added a pair of hits and knocked in four runs. Kelley Reichert struck out four, allowing just one hit, in five innings of work to earn the win.

Taunton, 9 @ North Attleboro, 0 – Final – Taunton’s Aimee Kistner threw her second consecutive no hitter, this time striking out 10 while scattering three walks. Sophomore Kya Enos went 4-4 with a double and an RBI, Jordan Wade had three hits with two RBI and a double, Meg Navarro had two hits and an RBI and Jaime Brown went 2-3 with a double and two RBI. Bailey Clapp and Sarah Bagge each added two hits and Rebekah Lajoie had a pinch hit two run home run for the Tigers.

Stoughton, 3 @ Oliver Ames, 4 – Final – OA’s Lexie Campbell’s complete game effort, with just two earned runs allowed, helped the Tigers pick up a win. Jamie Gottwald went 3-3 at the play, knocking in a pair of runs and Rachel Han was 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Lizzie Miller also had an RBI and a run scored while Victoria Ziner and Caroline Mahoney each added hits for Oliver Ames. Stoughton’s Nicole Bodette, Jordan Lyons and Karly Estramerea all had two hits for the Black Knights.

Boys Lacrosse
Mansfield, 14 @ Attleboro, 2 – Final – Ryan Smith led a balanced attack with a game-high four goals while Sam O’Connell and Connor Finerty each added three goals and Joe Cox and Billy Grant chipped in with two goals apiece.

King Philip, 10 @ Canton, 4 – Final – King Philip started strong, building a 5-1 lead after the first quarter but didn’t put the game away until adding four goals in the fourth quarter. Sam Agricola led the offense with four goals and one assist and senior Steven Eaton led the defense with 10 groundballs. John DeLuca and Harrison Fallon each scored a pair of goals and Tim Watson added two more with an assist.

Oliver Ames, 3 @ Foxboro, 12 – Final – Louis Piccolo scored four goals and Colin Spinney netted a hat trick to lead the offense for the Warriors. Connor McNamara added a goal and three assists and Brendan Tully found the back of the net twice and had one assist. Pat Kaveny had five groundballs for Foxboro.

Franklin, 18 @ Sharon, 4 – Final – The teams finished level (3-3) at the end of the first quarter but Franklin won the second quarter 6-0 and the second half 9-1 to get the win. Freshman Jacob Alexander dominated the faceoff X, winning 24/26 draws while sophomore Eric Civetti tied a team record with eight goals in the game. Senior Austin Kent added four goals and three assists and sophomore goalie Connor O’Rourke made seven saves in net. Head coach Lou Verrochi credited the defense of Sean Lockhart, Matt Pleshaw, Wyatt Arsenault and Patrick Morrison for limited the Eagles after the first quarter.

Milford, 4 @ North Attleboro, 16 – Final – Sophomore Colin Young scored four goals to lead the Rocketeers.

Girls Lacrosse
Attleboro, 11 @ Mansfield, 10 – Final (OT)

Foxboro, 18 @ Oliver Ames, 5 – Final

Sharon, 3 @ Franklin, 17 – Final – Julia Jette scored a team-high four goals, including her 100th career goal, and added two assists to lead the Panthers. Grace MacCallum had a pair of goals and four draw controls and Olivia Truenow had two groundballs and played well on defense according to head coach Kristin Igoe.

North Attleboro, 19 @ Milford, 3 – Final

Boys Tennis
Franklin, 5 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – Franklin’s Rahul Herur and Eli Brooks picked up 6-1, 6-1 wins at first and second singles respectively to lead the Panthers. Tom Mancini won 6-2, 6-1 at third singles for Franklin, James Johnston and Cam Piana won 6-1, 6-0 at first doubles and Jeremy Gan and Dan Barrow won 6-1, 6-2 at second doubles for the Panthers.

Foxboro, 1 @ Canton, 4 – Final

King Philip, 5 @ Mansfield, 0 – Final – King Philip sophomore Cole Ginter rallied for a 3-6 7-5, 1-0 (11-9) at first singles to lead the Warriors. Garrett Schneider won 6-2, 6-3 at second singles and Blake Ginter won 6-1, 6-1 at third singles. Ryan Gemelli and Sam Colella won 6-3, 6-2 at first doubles and Justin Rohan and Jake Webster won 6-3, 6-0 at second doubles for KP.

Milford, 0 @ Sharon, 5 – Final

North Attleboro, 5 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Rallies at both first and second singles anchored the Rocketeers to a win. Mitchell Dyer rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-5) win at first singles and Barsomo Nuay won 6-7, 6-3, 1-0 (10-5). North junior Zack Pfeffer won 6-0, 6-0 at third singles, Jeff Yao and Nick Lockavitch won 6-3, 6-4 at first doubles and Jake Fontes and Daniel Zhang won 6-1, 6-0 at second doubles.

Oliver Ames, 5 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames won each singles match in straight sets to pick up its first win of the season. Thomas O’Leary won 6-1, 6-0 at first singles, Greg Weinstein won 6-1, 6-4 at second singles and Jarrod Hedlund won 6-0, 6-1 at third singles.

Girls Tennis
Attleboro, 0 @ Franklin, 5 – Final – Franklin didn’t lose a game at first or second singles as well as first doubles to get the win. Hannah Sweeney and Anna Humphreys won 6-0, 6-0 at first and second singles respectively while junior Anja Deric and senior Katelyn Davenport won with the same score at first doubles. Franklin junior Madison Derby won 6-3, 2-6, 13-11 at third singles and seniors Halle Love and Selina Wu won 6-3, 6-2 at second doubles.

Canton, 1 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Diana Prinos, Sophia Prinos and Lexi Nelson all won in straight sets without losing a game in singles play to lead the Warriors. Michaela McCarthy and Diana Hickox won 6-2, 6-2 at second doubles for Foxboro. Canton’s Tiffany Ha and Sarah MacQuarrie won 6-2, 6-4 at first doubles.

Mansfield, 2 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – The Warriors swept doubles play and got a win at third singles to edge out the Hornets. Kelly Masse’s and Megan Davenport’s marathon 7-6, 1-6, 6-4 win at first doubles was key while Molly Citarell and Corinne Palumbo won 6-1, 6-4 at second doubles. Sophomore Megan Sepich notched a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 comeback win at third singles for the Warriors. Mansfield’s Paulina Martin won 6-0, 6-1 at first singles and Kathleen Giffels won 6-2, 6-3 at second singles.

Sharon, 5 @ Milford, 0 – Final – Sharon didn’t lose a game in singles play and lost only three games in the two doubles matches combined in the win. Lulu Yuan, Nupur Shulka and Emily Wen all won 6-0, 6-0 at first, second and third singles respectively. Pooja Puttigampala and Michal Kondratiev teamed up for a 6-0, 6-3 win at first doubles and Katie Merpot and Sydney Gordon won 6-0, 6-0 at second doubles.

Taunton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 5 – Final

Stoughton, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 4 – Final – Oliver Ames swept singles play and got a win at first doubles to pick up the victory. Riley Spillane won 6-2, 6-2 at first singles, Jackie Sulkala won 6-2, 6-3 at second singles and Sarah Leger won 6-0, 6-3 at third singles. Lark Warner and Olivia Groebe rallied to win 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 at first doubles for OA. Stoughton’s Becca Lawson and Ellie Kashian won 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 at second doubles for the Black Knights.

Boys Outdoor Track
North Attleboro @ Attleboro 3:45

Girls Outdoor Track
North Attleboro, 121 @ Attleboro 15 – Final

Boys Volleyball
Taunton, 1 vs. Barnstable 3 – Final – Taunton fell behind 2-0 in close, won the third game but Barnstable won the fourth game to win the match. Set scores were 23-25, 23-25, 25-13, 14-25. Ricardo DaFonseca had 43 assists and 11 digs along with a block and an ace for the Tigers. Sophomore Lance Law had 22 kills, eight digs and an ace, Collin Hunter played well with 11 kills and a block and Nate Grant was strong in the back row with 16 digs.

Franklin Shut Out In Fourth Quarter at BC High

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boys Lacrosse: Kelley-Rex Division Preview 2016

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

By HockomockSports.com Staff

ATTLEBORO

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

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

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

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

FRANKLIN

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

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

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

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

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

KING PHILIP

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

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

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

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

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

MANSFIELD

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

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

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

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

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

NORTH ATTLEBORO

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

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

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

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

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

TAUNTON

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

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

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

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

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

Franklin Wins First D1 State Championship in 2OT

Franklin hockey
Franklin hockey celebrates its first ever D1 State Championship. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BOSTON, Mass. – A Cinderella run from the Franklin Panthers ended with a true storybook ending.

Sophomore Luke Downie, who celebrated his 16th birthday on Sunday, scored on a wrist shot six minutes into the second overtime to give Franklin a 4-3 win over St. Mary’s Lynn and the program its first MIAA Division 1 State Championship.

Senior Tyler Oakes connected on a pass from his own zone to senior and Jake Downie (Luke’s cousin) along the boards in the neutral, who then dropped the puck back to Luke after crossing the blue line. Luke fired a wrist shot that deflected off the the leg of a St. Mary’s defenseman and found its way over the goalie’s pad short side for the game winner.

“This is awesome,” Luke Downie said postgame. “This is the best birthday present you could ask for.”

Franklin – who had been shutout three straight years in the D2 State Final from 2011-2013 —got off to an ideal start with a pair of first period goals and took that same lead into the final period. But two goals in the first five minutes of the final period from St. Mary’s knotted the game 3-3.

The final 10 minutes remained scoreless, sending the game into a sudden death overtime period. Neither team could find the back of the net in that period either, sending the teams to the locker room for the ice to be cleaned for a second overtime period.

With exactly nine minutes to go in the second overtime period, Downie scored the game winner.

“I think that the problem was we were playing in the wrong division the other times,” Franklin head coach Chris Spillane joked. Franklin moved up to Division 1 at the start of the 2013 season. “This has just been one of those Cinderella years. To follow up last year with a new crop of kids and have them commit to something from day one, and to see them enjoy this success, that’s what high school sports are all about.”

Senior captain and defenseman Joe Corsi scored just his third goal of the season to give Franklin the lead midway through the first period. Sophomore Brendan O’Rielly relayed a perfect outlet pass to senior Sean Hedvig in alone on goal but St. Mary’s goalie Andrew LoRusso got a pad to it.

The puck bounced around and as a St. Mary’s defenseman tried to chip it out, Corsi had pinched in and jumped off the ice to grab the puck, put it on the ice and fired it into the back of the net with 8:26 left in the first period.

“They tried to chip it out and I caught it and just put it down,” Corsi said. “Coach always tells me to roll my wrist and I had to roll it on that one. It was just surreal. I haven’t scored a goal like that before.

“This a dream come true. No one believed we could do this at the beginning of the year, except us, all the guys in the locker room. Each in every day we grinding it out, it’s just a dream.”

Just three minutes later, Franklin doubled its lead. Senior Matt Pleshaw fired a wrist shot from inside the blue line that was blocked down. Before LoRusso could smother the puck, junior Joey Blasie poked it in to make it 2-0 with 5:14 left in the period.


Video courtesy of Gavin Mealey

The Spartans cut the deficit in half just 11 seconds into the second period when Eric Pedro knocked in rebound of shot by Dante Maribito.

But Franklin had an answer just minutes later as Alec Gilliatt found sophomore Jeremy Miller behind the net. Miller skated around and found a perfect passing lane between the post and a defenseman to feed freshman Kevin Mackay. Mackay took a step in and sniped one top shelf to make it 3-1 with just over 12 minutes to play in the second period.

Franklin took a 3-1 lead into the final period but once again St. Mary’s found early period success. Less than a minute in, Conor Foley batted in rebound for powerplay goal to make it 3-2. Just three minutes later, Maribito found the back of the net for his third point of the net to tie the game 3-3.

“Huge momentum swings,” Spillane said. “They started to carry the play and their offensive kids started to open up the ice. Nick did a great job making the saves he needed to make. We talked about team defense, keeping them high on the forecheck and the defensive guys winning the battles and chipping the puck out.

“That was a great hockey team we played tonight, it was back and forth and both teams had chances to win. I’m proud of my kids, they responded.”

The Panthers nearly had the winner at the end of the third period but LoRusso went post to post to deny Jake Downie with 1:11 to go.

Neither side produced a clear scoring chance in the 12 minute overtime period but Franklin goalie Nick Jasinski came up with a huge kick save off a redirection in the opening minutes of the second overtime. Just two minutes later, the Panthers had the game winner.

Like it has been all season, the Panthers got contributions from all three lines — and four different goal scorers.

“Four different goal scorers and that’s kind of been the key to our success,” Spillane said. “You can’t really one focus on that one player. I said in the locker room after overtime, someone in this room is going to be a hero. Who wants to be that hero tonight? Luke’s been playing great hockey for us, midseason he just turned it on. As a sophomore it’s great to see him be that hero. Also, Kevin Mackay scored his first high school goal tonight. That’s quite a team to score your first goal of the year. That’s the type of team we are. There are no one or two superstars, it’s 22 kids out there having the same belief, working hard and just grinding it out.”

“To win championships, you have to have depth and that’s what we have,” Corsi added. “Everyone believed and look at where we are now.”
The Panthers were somewhat of an unknown coming into season after graduating 21 seniors from a squad that made a historic run to the Super 8 last season. Now this year’s team has created its own place in history.

“I think it gives us a little validity as a program that we can do that, anytime you graduate that many seniors it’s a challenge,” Spillane said. “It just tells us what our junior varsity and youth programs are like. We have a lot of kids that want to wear that jersey and they’re going to wait around until they get that opportunity. We have 13 seniors this year and very few of them skated last year, if any. They waited four years to put that jersey on and they made the most of it.

“It feels good but it’s not about the coaching staff. Yeah we’re excited but it’s about seeing the faces on these kids in that locker room, how excited they are and how committed they were to win the hockey game. I know a lot of people said it’s a rebuilding year but I guess they thought different.”

Franklin hockey finished the season with an 18-4-5 record.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Canton and Franklin Finish Scoreless in Rematch

Nick Jasinski
Franklin goalie Nick Jasinski (31) denies Canton forward Matt Lazaro (9) in the second period on Saturday. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

FRANKLIN, Mass. – The top two teams in the Hockomock have been struggling to score goals consistently this season and on Saturday afternoon at Pirelli Veterans Memorial Rink Canton and Franklin continued to find offense hard to come by in a scoreless tie that provided plenty of excitement despite the puck never finding the back of the net.

“I joked with Coach Spillane in the line, if that doesn’t sum up both of our seasons right there then I don’t know what does,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “We’re both struggling to put the puck in the net.”

“Ironically that was one of the most wide open Franklin-Canton games. We both had plenty of chances.”

Franklin coach Chris Spillane agreed with those sentiments. All season he has talked about the need for players to step up on the offensive side and that continued against the Bulldogs.

“Canton has the same disease as Franklin, can’t put the puck in the net,” he laughed. “Both teams had really good opportunities and maybe credit the goaltenders, they stepped up and made stops when they had to but yeah it was a game with very few quality, wow that should’ve been a goal.”

Franklin had the first chance of the game just two minutes in. Alex Bissanti and Luke Downie combined to create an opening to slide a pass across the crease to Adam Assad charging in at the back post but the junior was not able to put the puck on net under pressure from the defenseman.

With 7:44 left in the first, Jeremy Miller had a chance after intercepting a poor clearance but his shot from the slot was wristed wide.

Canton held a 5-4 edge in shots after the first but the Panthers dominated territorially in the second, controlling the puck in the Bulldogs’ zone for the opening four minutes of the period and managing five shots on goal. Despite Franklin’s domination of possession, it was Canton that had the best chances.

Midway through the period, Jim Jenkins redirected a shot from the point but was denied by a quick kick save by Nick Jasinski (15 saves). Nearly two minutes later, Canton had two great chances, both created by Matt Lazaro. He set up Bobby Mullaney for a shot from the slot with a behind the back pass but it went wide and then 30 seconds later he had another chance on an odd-man rush and was stoned at the near post by Jasinski.

“Any time that their first line was on the ice they seemed to have a little edge,” said Spillane. “Lazaro creates opportunities and other than that it was equal. He’s always finding those second and third trailers and giving them good opportunities.”

With 4:23 left in the second Miller had another shot on a rebound in the slot but Justin Slocum (25 saves) stood tall and denied the close-range chance.

“You can’t discount what the goaltenders did,” said Shuman. “They made some big saves on both ends.”

The third period was a replica of the second. Franklin outshot Canton 21-10 in the final two periods and had almost constant pressure on the Bulldogs back line, but defensemen Jackson Maffeo, C.J. Martin, D.J. Trerice, and Ryan Lodge helped Slocum keep the Panthers off the board.

Shuman explained, “They were all over us for very long stretches of time. I thought they outplayed us for long part of that game, but we still had chances to win it. It was an exciting game.”

Canton also had the two  best scoring chances of the third, despite only recording four shots in the period. Brad Murphy created the first with a charge up the far boards and a pass right across the crease that Bubba McNeice directed towards goal but Jaskinski snatched it. With 1:01 remaining, Lazaro had a clear look from the slot but again the Franklin goalie stood tall to save.

“That’s what you get with us,” said Spillane about the rivalry. “There was very little flow, it was back and forth, hard forechecking, hard hits…it’s good hockey, good to watch.”

He also credited his defensemen for keeping shots from getting all the way to the goaltender. Joe Corsi made a diving intervention to block a 2-on-1 in the first period and he and fellow seniors Matt Pleshaw and Tyler Oakes and freshman Kevin McKay were regularly in the way.

“Sometimes, I think it was more out of panic, sliding around, but today I think that we did line up with them well and play good, positional defensive hockey,” said Spillane.

It was a game that had the potential to break open, but both teams came in struggling to create offense and that continued, although both will go home with an important point and still unbeaten in the league this season.

“We just couldn’t put it away and sometimes that happens,” said Shuman. “Two good teams, good defenses and a couple guys holding the stick a little tight and throwing it at the pads.”

Franklin (7-3-3, 5-0-2) will travel to Asiaf Arena to face Stoughton on Wednesday, while Canton (10-2-1, 7-0-1) will travel to Aleixo Arena to face Attleboro on Monday.

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

Kirby Inspires Canton Comeback Win Against Franklin

Shaun Kirby
Shaun Kirby (18) scored a pair of goals (and had two disallowed) to help the Bulldogs bounce back twice and edge league rival Franklin at Schneider Arena. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The top rivalry in Hockomock hockey was showcased on a new stage Friday night,, as Canton and Franklin met in their annual non-league matchup at Schneider Arena on the campus of defending national champion Providence College.

Bulldogs junior Shaun Kirby transferred into the rivalry from Catholic Memorial last season, but suffered a pair of one-goal losses to the Panthers. The third time was the charm for the forward, who scored two goals, hit the post, and had two other goals taken off the board by whistles to inspire Canton to a 4-2, come from behind win.

“I think Shaun Kirby played the best all-around game I’ve seen him play in his two years here,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “He was the best player on the ice and he was a difference maker.”

Kirby scored twice in the opening period, both times bringing Canton back from one-goal deficits. His first tally came on the power play just a minute after he had a goal ruled out when the official lost sight of a loose puck and blew the play dead. Rather than hang his head, he came right back down the ice and received a perfect pass from Matt Lazaro for a one-timer in the slot.

After another Franklin goal, Kirby and the Bulldogs responded quickly. Just 30 seconds after falling behind, an odd-man rush by the second line led to another Kirby one-timer with Franklin goalie Nick Jasinski (22 saves) stranded at his near post.

“They were all over us to start the game,” said Shuman, “and until we got a couple of power plays they were outshooting us 8-1, but we battled back.”

Kirby nearly gave Canton the lead in the second period but he had two point-blank chances blocked by Franklin’s senior netminder. With 4:03 left in the second, Kirby appeared to have his hat trick on a breakaway. The puck disappeared, the red light came on and the Canton fans started celebrating, only to have the officials rule that it landed in Jasinski’s jersey and stayed out.

The Bulldogs got off to a quick start to the third period and Lazaro pounced on a deflected shot by sophomore defenseman Brad Murphy that landed right on the senior’s stick at the far post. He buried his shot to give Canton its first lead at 3-2 with 13:51 left to play.

Shuman said of Lazaro, “Everyone on the other team knows who our best player is and it’s going to be a matter of him keeping his head on straight and being mentally tough when things aren’t going his way.”

Not even two minutes later the Bulldogs’ lead was doubled. The puck stayed loose in the crease in front of Jasinski and senior forward Jim Jenkins took a couple swings at it and the puck dribbled slowly inside the far post for a 4-2 lead.

The Panthers come into the season on the back of a historic run to the Super 8 (becoming the first Hockomock team to ever qualify for the prestigious tournament) but also trying to replace 21 seniors who graduated off that team.

In the opening minutes of the first period, Franklin looked like the experienced team and jumped into the lead when junior Adam Assad took an outlet pass from defenseman Thomas Sicchio and finished to make it 1-0. After Kirby tied it, Franklin took the lead with 1:28 left in the first when Matt Pleshaw’s shot from the point was redirected by sophomore Jeremy Miller.

Franklin coach Chris Spillane said, “We came out with a little fire in our belly and then in third period we just didn’t do it. Every time we scored, we let them right back in the game.”

In the third period, trailing by two goals, Franklin had an opportunity to get back into the game when Canton had Jenkins and Murphy sent to the box. The Panthers struggled to get any clear-cut chances, despite the two-man advantage, and at times in the third looked like a team that was still figuring things out.

“There was a lot of unsure plays, not sure what to do with the puck, making bad turnovers,” said Spillane. He added, “We didn’t really have too many quality shots and we had ample opportunities on power plays…and you need to have that killer instinct to put it away and we didn’t do that.”

There is plenty of season remaining for the Panthers and Shuman was confident that at the end of the year Franklin would be right back in its usual perch atop the league. Spillane noted, “It’s a tough way to start the season, but we’ve got some young kids who are happy to be playing hockey and we’ll make it right.”

Canton players rushed onto the ice at the final whistle celebrating with senior goalie Justin Slocum (24 saves). The Bulldogs have not beaten Franklin in a couple seasons and, as one assistant remarked, it was going to be a much happier ride back up I-95 after this win.

Shuman said simply, “It’s been a couple years, so it was a good W.”

Both teams will be right back on the ice on Saturday. Canton travels to Gallo Arena in Bourne to face Sandwich, while Franklin gets a test from fellow Div. 1 tournament contender Bridgewater-Raynham.

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

Hockey: Kelley-Rex Division Preview 2015-2016

Kelley-Rex hockey
Mansfield and North Attleboro will be two of the teams gunning to unseat Franklin and win a league title. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

Attleboro
2014-15 Record: 11-13-1 (2-8-0)
2014-15 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South semifinal
Head Coach: Mike Cripps

The Bombardiers made an improbable run to the Div. 3 South semifinal before being eliminated by Hanover. Even with a short bench and a goaltender that had never played before, Attleboro won three tournament games for the first time in program history and this year will try to build on that experience and get back to the postseason.

With 20 players on the roster, depth may not be Attleboro’s strength but there are some players that Cripps will be counting on to produce this season led by senior forward Keagin Larkin. He will be helped out on the forward line by junior P.J. Elliott and sophomore Sam Parker. Freshman Sam Larkin will also step in right away and Cripps said that he has been “impressive” during the opening two weeks of practice.

Senior goalie Tim Gile returns between the pipes after a season that saw him put on goalie pads for the first time. He will be joined at the goalie position by junior Tyler Koppy. In front of goal, seniors Will McKenzie and Jack Flynn and sophomore Sam McKenzie will be part of Attleboro’s defensive corps.

There may only be 20 players on the roster, but the Bombardiers are a tight-knit group and Cripps is hopeful that they can get back to .500 and another trip to the playoffs. He said, “Our team is a group of hard-working players with good chemistry. With our lack of depth, we have to avoid injuries and illness. I am very happy with the progress I have seen after the first week.”

Franklin
2014-15 Record: 17-4-3 (10-0-0)
2014-15 Finish: Lost in first round of the Super 8
Head Coach: Chris Spillane

How does Franklin follow up its first ever appearance in the prestigious Super 8 tournament? How does the program recover from losing 21 seniors off a roster that finished unbeaten in the Hockomock League and had one of the league’s most exciting hockey moments when it beat Xaverian in overtime in the Super 8 play-in game?

Those are tough questions that head coach Chris Spillane will be trying to answer in the coming weeks as he incorporates almost an entirely new roster. The top returning scorer from last season is senior Alex Bissanti, who chipped in with five goals as a junior. He will be joined up front by junior Adam Assad, who Spillane said has “lots of offensive potential.” In addition, the coach noted that he is looking towards a “strong” sophomore class to provide a spark offensively.

Ryan Shea was a rock in goal last season after getting his first playing time as a senior and the Panthers will be counting on seniors Nick Jasinki (five games in 2014-15) and Cam Benham to step in this year and have a similar impact. In front of the goalies, Franklin has a strong defensive corps led by senior captains Matt Pleshaw and Jack Chaffee. The defense has been bolstered by the return of senior Tyler Oaks, who had been playing for the South Shore Kings. Spillane called him a “strong offensive defenseman.”

It is only the third season for Franklin in Div. 1 and already the Panthers have accomplished more than most public school programs. This could be a transition year for Franklin but expectations remain high for a perennial power. Spillane said, “With the departure of 21 seniors, the success of this team will rely on finding a identity early in the season.”

King Philip
2014-15 Record: 7-10-3 (4-5-1)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Paul Carlow

For the second time in three season, King Philip has changed coaches with Paul Carlow taking charge of the Warriors this winter after two seasons as the JV and assistant coach. Thanks to his experience with the program and with the players, Carlow, who was once a standout player for KP, called the transition “smooth.” He added, “I know the players and they know me, which has made it pretty easy. Everyone know what is expected.”

The Warriors numbers were not huge this winter and depth may not be a strength, but Carlow is excited about the talent that KP will send out on the ice with six forwards and six defensemen returning from last year’s squad. The Warriors will be led on the forward line by senior captain Matt Smith, while fellow captain Clay Guess will lead an experienced blue line group that also includes football star Corey Lombardo.

Sophomore Collin Cooke is a player to watch this season and is poised for a breakout winter after scoring 11 goals and 10 assists as a freshman. Fellow sophomore Dan McLoughlin could be a player that steps in and provides a spark along with junior Richie Lucente, who saw plenty of ice time last season. Carlow also said that junior Jeremy Smith should step right in at defense. He noted that Smith had the talent to get on the ice as a sophomore but was only limited by the experienced players ahead of him.

Carlow has added preseason scrimmages and has changed the schedule around to add teams like Nauset, Walpole, and Coyle to prepare the team for the rigors of the Div. 1 tournament. After narrowly missing out the past two seasons, Carlow is confident the Warriors can make a run to the postseason. “We need to be ready for the type of teams we’re going to face,” said Carlow. “We may not be the deepest team, we didn’t have 90 kids tryout like Franklin, but we’ve got speed and we can play.”

Mansfield
2014-15 Record: 10-11-0 (8-2-0)
2014-15 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round
Head Coach: Rick Anastos

Mansfield enters another season as one of the main threats to Franklin in the Kelley-Rex division. The Hornets, who are the only other team to have won the division (in 2011), are one of the few programs to consistently have the talent base to challenge the Panthers and this season is no different.

Junior forward Matt Farragher is primed for a breakout season after scoring 13 points as a sophomore and he will be paired up front with several classmates, including Pat Sunderland and Chad Piotti. Seniors Pat Graham, Shane Doherty, and Max Hoffman will return to give Mansfield strength in depth along its first two lines and the firepower to make the Hornets a dangerous team in the Hock.

Mansfield also has the potential to be strong defensively, as demonstrated by a scoreless tie with Winthrop on Saturday. Anthony Visconti, who gave up just more three goals per game last season, returns in goal and he will be helped out by senior defenseman Mike Arnold, who leads the blue liners, along with classmate Tim O’Brien.

The Hornets have experienced returning players, but there is plenty of youth coming through program as well with two freshman and five sophomores on the varsity roster. Franklin may remain the team to beat, but Mansfield is confident that it will be right there pushing the Panthers to the end.

North Attleboro
2014-15 Record: 12-8-1 (6-4-0)
2014-15 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round
Head Coach: Stephen Snizek

The Rocketeers made it back to the tournament last season but were knocked out in overtime by Milford in the first round. With Sean Young graduated, North Attleboro will be looking for someone that can step into his role as the primary scorer and make a run at a first league title in its final season in the Kelley-Rex.

There is a lot of depth returning for North this season led on the forward line by senior captains Andrew Casson and Brian Poillucci and juniors Zach McGowan and Erik Clements, each of whom have years of experience for the Rocketeers. Sophomores Jason McNeany and Andrew Wissler and a strong freshman class will add to the forwards over the course of the season.

Defensively, North Attleboro will count on juniors Paul Baker and Vincent Zammiello and senior Matthew Marceau on the back line. The defense will be key and Snizek is expecting his forwards to help back as well as the Rocketeers will be using freshmen Chris Ulrich and Ryan Warren in goal this year.

The Rocketeers have a lot of weapons and Snizek is excited for the talent coming through the program. He said, “We have a lot of weapons on offense and we need to get pucks to the net and drive in the dirty goals. Our forwards will need to play in all zones on the ice.  Not just the offensive zone.”

Taunton
2014-15 Record: 9-12-1 (2-8-0)
2014-15 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Head Coach: Kris Metea

The Tigers have been building the program for the past few years, developing young skaters, and waiting for a time that it can come together for a potential run at the state tournament. Head coach Kris Metea is hopeful that this could be the year, as Taunton boasts a talented forward line that could provide the goals needed to get to the playoffs. Metea said, “The eighth graders and freshmen that took beatings three years ago have all grown up and can physically compete with players in the Hockomock now.”

Among the players that Metea highlighted this season are junior Nick Terry, who is coming off an all-star season, and senior Tyler Pietrzyk, who will both be starters. Junior Zack Albert and sophomore Will Walsh will add depth to the forwards as well. Defensively, senior David Perry and junior Mike Volkmann will be two of the key players and add a physical component to the Tigers.

Taunton has three goalies on the varsity roster and Metea has confidence in all of them to win games. Senior Cam Pitts is the most experienced of the trio but junior Justin Chappell and freshman Griffin Speicher both will see time as well.

If Taunton can improve the power play and utilize its overall team speed, this could be an interesting year for the Tigers. “It has been a pleasure working with these players and see them grow up as hockey players and young men,” said Metea. “They have matured physically and mentally and are ready to take the next step to compete with the top end of the ever-competitive Hockomock.”