FRANKLIN, Mass. – With its second straight Kelley-Rex division title already in-hand, the Franklin field hockey team had their sights set on proving they were the best team in the league through the Hockomock Cup.
But just before the final week of the regular season, the Panthers’ season came to an abrupt halt when the high school went completely remote, forcing a two-week hiatus for athletics.
Not only did that mean Franklin’s final two games were canceled, it looked like the Panthers wouldn’t be able to compete in the league’s postseason tournament.
But the Franklin school committee and administrators from FHS came together, organized COVID testing for varsity athletes, and — after all the tests came back negative — athletics was back on.
The Panthers took advantage of their so-called second chance, capping their postseason run with a 1-0 win over King Philip in the Hockomock Cup final on their home turf field at Beaver Street.
“The fact that we got our season back was huge,” said Franklin coach Michelle Hess. “It would have been super disappointing because this is probably one of the best teams I’ve had in years. It would have crushed me and the rest of the team if we weren’t able to continue so we are very grateful we were able to play tonight.
“I’ve actually coached a lot of this group since they were in the rec program. So to celebrate this and have them play the way they did tonight just makes me super proud as a coach.”
Franklin field hockey King Philip field hockey
The only separation between the top two teams in the Kelley-Rex division came off the stick of Franklin senior Amanda Lewandowski, finishing off a pass from classmate Sara Carney with just seconds left in the third quarter.
And when the Warriors threatened to equalize, Franklin senior goalie Neilee Hess came charging off her line to deny a partial breakaway chance from KP’s Grace Crocker midway through the fourth quarter to help secure the one-goal win.
“We made one mistake on defense,” said King Philip head coach Lisa Cropper. “We were trying to force everything to our right, their left, which is our strong side. The one time we didn’t, they got it in and deflected it in. But we had our chances, we had that breakaway in the fourth and couldn’t quite slip it past her, Neilee came up big on that one. We marked [Lewandowski] and we marked [Kaitlyn Carney] and we were trying to force to our strong side to keep them away from their strong side. Any time anyone was winding up for a shot, we had to have a stick on it and we did. But we just had one mistake, we didn’t quite force them [the way we wanted].
“I was hoping we could get to overtime. I felt like we had the advantage going into overtime or a shootout but we didn’t get that far so congratulations to [Franklin].”
After it a scoreless first half, it looked like the teams would head to the final 15 minutes without a goal but the Panthers finally broke through with 20.9 seconds to go. After a restart from the 25-yard line, Carney tossed a pass into the mix in front of goal and Lewandowski finished for a 1-0 lead.
Franklin field hockey King Philip field hockey
The Panthers had a good chance to double the lead in the 51st minute as sophomore Kaitlyn Carney intercepted a pass with the Warriors pushing numbers forward. Carney sprinted into the attacking half but KP’s last defender Ally Beltramini was able to break up the play, and then came in and cleared the ball before Lewandowski could latch onto it.
That defensive stop led the KP’s best chance to level the match as Isabelle Crocker raced onto a loose ball before firing a pass ahead for her sister Grace, who used her speed to get by the defense. With pressure from Franklin defender Molly Collins, Crocker unleashed a shot as Hess came charging out to close down the angle. Hess made the stop with the pad and Isabelle Crocker’s rebound attempt was just wide of the post.
“I think that just showcased her skills and how hard she’s worked as a goalie,” Michelle Hess said of her daughter Neilee. “She’s very lucky this season to have the players in front of her that she did. So she didn’t face as many shots as some of the other goalies in the league but when it was crunch time, when it was critical, Neilee stepped up and got the job done.”
Both teams opened the contest with a chance to score right away. First it was Kaitlyn Carney, weaving her way through the KP defense but her shot was denied by KP keeper Makenzie Manning (13 saves). On the other end, Abby Nixon knocked down an aerial clearance attempt but her shot from in close was turned aside.
Both defenses stole the spotlight throughout the first half, limiting the opposing offenses to few genuine scoring chances, allowing their keeper to see any shots from distance.
“If you can stop their transition…their forwards are so fast,” Hess said of the defensive gameplan. “But my fullbacks kind of matched them speed-wise so we kind of knew we were pretty safe there with them trying to get through the midfield and pushing forward.
“Their defense was very good. We talked at halftime about how we were trying to do a lot of things individually, we were trying to penetrate the defense individually. That’s not our strength, we’re much better when we play together as a team so we had to go to our passing game. We were getting into the circle and they had three girls on them right away. We tried getting it down low…and one of our strengths is using Sara Carney at the top. So we tried to get it down low to shift the defense and then get it back out to Sara, and sure enough, that’s how we scored the goal.”
Just seconds before the halftime whistle, Manning stood tall on a rocket of a shot from Kaitlyn Carney to keep things scoreless. Five minutes into the second half, Sara Carney had a big shot kicked away as well. Alongside Beltramini, Morgan Cunningham, Lily Brown, and Kelly Holmes anchored the KP defense.
It was just the third time this season that Franklin was limited to two or fewer goals; the first two times also came against KP back in week two of the regular season.
“I’m extremely proud of how they progressed and how well they played in this big game,” Cropper said. “There was a lot of adversity that everyone had to deal with and the kids did a phenomenal job. And I’m so appreciative of the ADs for their efforts to put this all together.”
Franklin field hockey finishes the season at 11-0-2 while King Philip finishes at 8-3-3.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – It was nearly the perfect start for King Philip in its heavyweight battle against division rival Franklin.
Instead, a pair of great chances were turned aside by Franklin, one by goalie Neilee Hess and another by the stick of midfielder Sara Carney, and the Panthers took control from there.
Behind goals in the first and third quarters, Franklin field hockey secured a 2-1 win over the Warriors in the first of two meetings between the teams this week in a rain-filled contest on the slick turf of Macktaz Field.
“We didn’t show enough energy,” said King Philip head coach Lisa Cropper. “We didn’t believe that we could win the game…they didn’t say that but I could see it in their body language. We had chances right off the bat and I think if we popped one in, it would have been a different story. But we didn’t, they did and they relaxed played their game, and we had to struggle the whole way.”
There was a burst of energy at the opening whistle as the Warriors marched down the field into the attacking zone less than a minute into the 7-on-7 style contest, one of the modifications due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Senior Grace Crocker unleashed a low, hard shot from the right side that was denied by Hess with a kick save. After a brief scrum in front, KP once again put a shot on frame that got by Hess but only to be deflected wide by Carney, who was alertly covering the goal line for the Panthers.
The rest of the opening quarter belonged to the visitors, who continued to put pressure on KP goalie Makenzie Manning (14 saves). Just under 10 minutes into the game, the Panthers broke through.
Junior Kailyn Carney carried possession into some space but whacking a low shot on goal. Senior Amanda Lewandowski was positioned perfect right in front of the keeper and deflected the shot perfectly into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Franklin field hockey
“There’s a lot of nerves in a big game like this between these two teams so getting that goal [in the first quarter] kind of broke the ice, kind of helped us to settle in a little bit,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “To KP’s credit, they did more subbing than I did and I think that made a difference towards the end. It was a pretty competitive game, back-and-forth.
“Their goalie is really aggressive and since we’re not used to seeing that, it almost makes them think a little more. For us, just shoot the ball. We had a bunch of shots but we also had trouble putting shots on net.”
It was a scoreless second quarter but both teams came close to putting the ball in the back of the net. First, KP senior Isabelle Crocker forced another big save from Hess just before the midway point of the quarter. And with just under four minutes to go, Sara Carney dropped a pass to the far post that was just out of the reach of the sticks of both Lewandowski and sophomore Shaw Downing.
“My two backs, Kate [O’Rourke] and Kendall [Jones], they are so strong and they see the field so well,” Hess said. “Once they get the stop, we’ve drilled it into them to get it out to the side and clear it up and find the open man. And then Sara Carney playing in the center, she has the endurance to get forward and get back and play defense.
“A lot of teams are packing it in…King Philip had all six defenders in the circle so that’s hard to play against offensively. And with an aggressive goalie like they have, it makes it even more difficult. So we knew it’d be a low scoring game. We’re trying to work on our triangles, see the space, cut into space, and find the ball.”
Manning made a stellar save, diving out to deny a chance from Stephanie Bell just two minutes into the second half, but Bell added a big goal for the Panthers just five minutes later.
The Panthers broke out of the back, taking advantage of open space on the right wing. Lewandowski carried toward goal before rifling a pass to the far post where Bell one-timed it into the back of the net.
“[Franklin] passes really well, they move off the ball extremely well and they find each other,” Cropper said. “And they have a couple of very good shooters. Amanda scored one and created the second one, we had someone on her most of the game so we held her to one and an assist. They had [23 goals] in the first two games.
“We had some chances early on but didn’t score and didn’t follow up We kind of sat back in a shell and they took it to us. You can’t play that way. But with this format, no lead is safe, we knew we could come back. We started to some in the third and then the fourth quarter we really came alive.”
Fresh legs allowed the Warriors to get some momentum in the final quarter. KP forced a turnover in the defensive third which led to a counterattack the other way. Isabelle Crocker used her speed to split a pair of defenders and then slid the ball past the charging keeper, the ball rolling in just inside the post to make it 2-1 with seven minutes.
KP continued to garner more offensive pressure than it had throughout the previous quarters but couldn’t register a serious chance on goal to find the equalizer.
Franklin field hockey (3-0 Kelley-Rex, 3-0 overall) will host King Philip (2-1, 2-1) in a rematch on Thursday at 3:45 at Beaver Street Field.
2019 Record: 9-8-3 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lindsay Antunes
The Bombardiers had one of their best years in recent memory during the 2019 season and with a strong group of returning players, are looking to carry that success over to 2020.
While replacing HockomockSports Player of the Year Anna Beck will certainly be a tough task, the Bombardiers have a lot of talented players back ready to take advantage of the pace and space that comes with 7v7 field hockey — a new rule modification this season. There is a lot of firepower in the Attleboro offense, a group that has played together before and is always looking to set each other up. Senior captains Amanda Burns (five goals, nine assists), Campbell Compton, and Hannah Webster will spearhead the attack alongside junior Madison Ellis (seven goals, six assists).
Attleboro’s defensive unit is coming along, showing plenty of progress in preseason alone. With some open spots up for grabs on defense, potential candidates took advantage of offseason club teams to improve their game. Senior Kiara Murray will be an important part of the backline while junior Ava Haggerty returns in net after a stellar sophomore season.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the accomplishments and success of this team this season,” said Attleboro head coach Lindsay Antunes. “The strong leadership skills, the positive attitudes and the confidence my players have this season is amazing to see given the nature of this season and all of the changes and challenges. We have a lot of returning players with tremendous skill, paired with new additions to our roster who are sure to make an impact this season.”
2019 Record: 12-4-3 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Expectations are high in Canton as the Bulldogs, one of the perennial league powers year in and year out, will be looking to repeat as Davenport division champions. A big reason for that optimism is the amount of returners from last year’s squad that had 12 wins, just one league loss, and a division-best 61 goals scored.
Senior captain Maria Femia played a part in nearly half of those goals, finding the back of the net five times while recording a Hockomock-best 27 assists. She’ll work alongside Meghan LaBelle (nine goals, eight assists) to form one of the most dangerous attacking units in the Hockomock League.
Beyond Foxboro, one of the biggest challenges the Dogs will face this year is the new rule modifications. Just six players plus a goalie will grace the field at one time, meaning a lot more space to cover. Add in the fact the girls have to wear a mask while wearing a mouthguard.
Allie Gefteas and Lizzie Tassinari will be key pieces in the Canton lineup as well. While defending will look a bit different this year with breakaways more of a concern than penalty corners (which aren’t allowed), the Dogs have senior Riley O’Connor back in net. O’Connor has been one of the top goalies in the Hock the past two seasons and is very aggressive off her line.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to be back on the field this season,” said Canton head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “Our team has worked hard to be here and they do not take it for granted. Our seniors who have played together since a young age deserve to have a competitive and fun season. We look forward to getting started with games next week.”
2019 Record: 13-2-5 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Melissa Bordieri
Last year’s Davenport division race came down to just one game, with Canton taking the title with two more points than Foxboro. With just 10 games on tap this season, the Warriors know each point is vital if they want to try and knock off the Bulldogs atop the division.
Replacing Jaime Notarangelo won’t be easy but the Warriors have options and depth as they navigate the new rules of 2020. Foxboro is coming off a 13-win season that ended in the D2 South Quarterfinal round.
Senior Ella Waryas will be a key piece in the middle of the field for the Warriors this season. Her ability to play strong defense and then transition into a key piece of the offense will be vital in the new 7v7 style. Sophomore Mya Waryas (seven goals in 2019) had a breakout season and could be an important part of the Foxboro attack in 2019. The Warriors will also see production from senior Molly McElhinney, juniors Kate Collins and Mikayla Doherty, and sophomore Dylan Rappoli (four goals, four assists in 2019).
All-Hockomock selection Shannon Egan is back to anchor a defensive unit that was the best in the Hockomock League last season with just 11 goals allowed. And on top of that, senior Hannah Trombley is back in the cage to anchor the defensive unit.
2019 Record: 15-3-2 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Michelle Hess
When you look at the talent the Panthers possess on their roster this season, it’s hard not to immediately think what kind of run they could go on in the postseason. Unfortunately, there aren’t any playoffs this season so Franklin’s focus zeroes in on one thing: repeating as Hock champs.
A year removed from going undefeated against league opponents, the Panthers enter the 2020 season as the favorites to take home another Kelley-Rex title. For starters, Franklin has its top three scorers back from last year’s team that scored a Hockomock-best 91 goals. Amanda Lewandowski (20 goals, 10 assists), Stephanie Bell (14 goals, eight assists), and last year’s HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Kaitlyn Carney (14 goals, eight assists) combine to make the Panthers one of the most lethal teams in the region.
Franklin’s offense even more of a boost with the return of senior captain Sara Carney (who missed last season with an injury) and junior forward Jill Fenerty.
Senior captain Neilee Hess anchors the defensive unit as the starting goalie. Hess’ experience will be vital as Franklin has some new faces on its defensive unit, including Molly Collins, Kendall Jones, and Kate O’Rourke. Freshman midfield Sophia Cuneo could make an impact right away.
“I am extremely proud of my team and how they have adapted to the modifications,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “They have taken a situation that could have put a damper on their enthusiasm and shared with me that they are just ready to get to work. They have a Hock Title to defend and these modifications are not going to stop them from accomplishing their goal of a Back to Back Kelley-Rex Title!”
2019 Record: 10-7-3 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lisa Cropper
King Philip had a lot of new faces last year, but there wasn’t a huge drop-off from the team’s success of the back-to-back title-winning seasons, as the Warriors finished in second place in the Kelley-Rex division and picked up a win in the postseason. With returning players all over the field, KP has high expectations to challenge Franklin for a league title this fall.
Speed will be one of the strengths for the Warriors, who will try to take advantage of experience on the wings in the new 7-on-7 format. Seniors Abby Nixon and Paige Berdos are both coming off strong seasons in the attack and senior midfielders Grace and Isabelle Crocker will push forward to add more threats in front of goal.
Experience will be a key to the defensive effort this year, starting in goal with senior Makenzie Manning, who has been on of the league’s top shot stoppers (and showed it in the season-opening win against Mansfield). Junior Molly Piller had a very strong sophomore season and will be the team’s sweeper, while juniors Christina Gifun and Morgan Cunningham and senior Alli Beltramini are all back as part of the defensive unit.
“We have a lot of experience, but I’m not sure how much that will help us with no penalty corners and only six field players,” said KP coach Lisa Cropper. “Hopefully our depth and overall team speed will help to cover all that empty space out there this year.”
2019 Record: 12-7-2 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Theresa Nyhan
Longtime Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan is excited to see what the 2020 version of the Hornets can do on the field this season. The new rule modifications have taken some players off the field, making it 7-v-7, but that opens up a lot of space on the field.
That space benefits the Hornets as Nyhan says her squad has speed in both the attacking and defending ends of the field. But the new rules also bring a pair of intriguing challenges. First will be figuring out a new substitution pattern that keeps players fresh for 60 minutes, and the other is adjusting the offense without penalty corners — not only for gameplan purposes but for the active rest players can get while setting up.
The Hornets have a large number of seniors and juniors on the team this year, hoping that experience will translate to success on the field. Tai-captains Abby Varracchione, Alex Burnham, and Grace Danehy lead the way for the Hornets and will be vital to the success of the squad. Seniors Fiona Katz, Stori Rounds, and Emma Kelly will bolster the forward group, Lindsay Devine, Grace Fernandez, and Ally McDevitt provide depth to the midfield, and Bella Deberghes, Lily O’Brien, and Leah Sheehan are important pieces to the defensive puzzle.
Juniors Caitlin Dumouchel, Celia Puleo, Maddy Brown, and Grace Bertolino should factor in this season while sophomore Lilly Danehy will take over as the starting goalie. Nyhan expects freshman Lola Varracchione to be an impact player at the varsity level right away.
“The Mansfield field hockey community wants to thank all who have worked long and hard to make a season possible,” Nyhan said. “We are grateful seniors have a “senior season” and look forward to competing!’
2019 Record: 4-12-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Tim Dowd
The Scarlet Hawks saw improvement during the 2019 season and are hoping that upward trajectory continues into 2020 under new head coach Tim Dowd.
Milford will be leaning on its three captains to lead the way: Maddy Carneiro, Olivia Macleod, and Olyvia Whyte. All three have been cornerstones of the program and will be leaders both on and off the field.
Maddy Hunt will start in the cage for the Hawks, who will be putting a lot of importance into the defensive side of the ball. With the new rule modifications meaning there will be more breakaways, the Hawks are hoping to have good numbers defensively to give Hunt as much help as possible.
Offensively, the Hawks will turn to speedy juniors Emma Tredeau and Stephanie Wong to try and take advantage of all of the space on the field. With just six field players, conditioning and positioning are going to be of the utmost importance.
“It’s certainly going to be an interesting season as we all try to adjust to the modifications and a new way of approaching the game,” Dowd said. “We’re just focusing on working hard and keeping a positive attitude.”
2019 Record: 6-8-4 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Karen Folan
North Attleboro finished third in the Davenport division last season, just two points out of a playoff spot, but will not only have to contend with the typical top two of Canton and Foxboro but will also have Oliver Ames in the division this year and the modified 7-on-7 rules, which should make this an interesting fall.
The Rocketeers have a strong group of returning players that they can count on and expectations of being competitive in every game, but also are trying to adapt to new positioning and the much quicker transitions that come from having fewer players and more space on the field. Senior forwards Lauren Abusheery and Emma Bailey will look to take advantage of those openings to create scoring chances, while sophomores Ava Spencer and Caroline Folan are newcomers that have shown a scoring touch in the preseason.
In the midfield, senior Nora Dluhy is a consistent performer wherever she lines up and sophomore Julia Puccio has the speed and ball control to weave through defenders. Senior Emily Daby will lead the defensive unit and can also step up into the midfield and carry possession, which will be a big help with the new rules. Senior Hannah Bachand will take over in goal this season.
The team is excited to start games this week,” said North coach Karen Folan. “I’ve told them to enjoy each minute on the field and to make the most of the shortened season and the unique situation.”
2019 Record: 9-10-0 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Rou Coach: Sharon Lawrence
There are a lot of familiar names on Oliver Ames’ roster this season, highlighted by 11 seniors and eight returning starters from last year’s team. The Tigers have experience all over the field and could be a dark horse in the Davenport division title race.
With the game reduced to six field players due to the rule modifications, there is plenty of space on the field. That fits right into OA’s gameplan as the Tigers are looking to utilize their speed and passing game to jump-start their offense. Like many teams in the league, Oliver Ames will be shifting to lines similar to an ice hockey team. With a total of 24 players on the team, there is plenty of depth so head coach Sharon Lawrence will be using her deep bench to keep fresh legs on the field throughout the game.
“We are all just happy to be together and have a season,” Lawrence said. ”They have all worked so hard and deserve it! Getting outside to play together is a mental and physical win for all.”
The heart of the team lies in the midfield as the Tigers have a strong mix of talent and experience. Senior captain Maggie Woods, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last season, gets it done on both ends of the field, a big part of getting Oliver Ames transitioned from defense to offense. She will be joined by senior Sofia Anestam, junior Ava Costello, and sophomore Julia Maclaine in the midfield.
The Tigers return two dangerous attacking players in junior Georgia Costello (nine goals, five assists in 2019) and senior Haley Gilman (five goals, one assist). Without penalty corners, OA will lean on its speed up front to try and beat the defense and score in the run of play. The defense will be anchored by senior captain Emily Han, who has a lot of experience at the varsity level and senior Abbey Boyce.
2019 Record: 2-13-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Paulina Kosmadakis
Former Sharon standout Paulina Kosmadakis is back with the program, this time taking over as new head coach. And after an improved 2019 season, Kosmadakis is hoping the program continues heading in the right direction in 2020.
The Eagles broke into the win column last season and Kosmadakis has liked what she’s seen from her team so far in the preseason. It starts with the team’s four captains: Sam Sherman, Ashley Young, Jill Parker, and Yesha Sharma. Kosmadakis said that the group has brought a new, competitive edge to the program.
Offensively, the Eagles strength is on fast breaks. Improved passing has led to some odd-man rushes and the opportunity to go one-on-one with defenders. It also comes as a result of a lot of space on the field due to the modifications to the rules. On the flip side, the Eagles are adjusting to the new intensity that 7v7 field hockey brings. Kosmadakis plans on using as much of her bench as possible with a lot of subbing throughout the game.
“I believe that the team is really stepping up their competitive edge and going to “Shock the Hock” both defensively and offensively,” Kosmadakis said. “I am excited for this season and the seasons to come!”
2019 Record: 2-15-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dan Mark
After a two-win season in 2019, Stoughton will look to bounce back this fall with an experienced group, with 20 seniors on the roster, which faces the tough test of trying to compete with the top teams in the Davenport division, and it starts right away with two games against defending league champ Canton in the first week.
The Black Knights should be capable of scoring goals this year with a speedy forward line getting extra space to work with the new 7-on-7 rules. Senior forwards Haley Nelson and Morgan Lessa will be the leaders in the attack and have the skills to put defenders on the back foot. Juniors Zofia Bangs and Mia Allie are new forwards that add depth to the attack this season.
Seniors Sarah McGrath and Kat Billo will shore things up in the midfield and try to help cover for the backline. Senior Lena Allie jumps in goal this season after a solid year with the JV team last fall.
“The biggest obstacle with the modifications is only having six field players and a goalie on the field,” said Stoughton coach Dan Mark. “I plan on using line shifts like in ice hockey. We have a large senior-dominated team, so hopefully that experience should help us.”
2019 Record: 5-12-1 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Liz Hathaway
Looking back at last year’s standings, if there’s one team’s record that isn’t indicative of how good a team was, it’s Taunton. The Tigers had a stellar defense, allowing just 30 goals in total, playing close games against some of the top teams in the league including KP, Foxboro, and Canton.
Defense will be a strong suit of the Tigers once again this season. Even with the changes to the game with the new rule modifications, Taunton will hang its hat on the defensive end. Junior Emily Gannon is a major part of that, returning as the starting goalie after a breakout sophomore season. Gannon had over 100 saves last season, five shutouts, and allowed one or fewer goals in 10 of the 18 games played.
Gannon will have a familiar face in front of her as Jocelyn Pagliuca enters her third season as a key piece of the Tigers’ defense. With that much experience in the defensive end, expect Taunton to be among the toughest groups to break down.
The Tigers are hoping to find the back of the net more during the 2020 season. With last year’s leading scorer back in Alana Tavares, there’s a good chance that happens. Tavares, who has been on the team since eighth grade, will be among the top threats in the league. Having more space will allow Tavares to use her speed to get behind the defense and attack the net. Taunton head coach Liz Hathaway is expecting big contributions from junior Ashley Amaro and senior Skylar Rheaume as well.
“This season will be different but we are up for the challenge and we are grateful to have a season,” Hathaway said. “The girls have been working hard to keep the season going. They are also working hard and embracing the 7 vs. 7 format.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. – It certainly felt like the playoffs at Beaver St. Field on Saturday afternoon, and not just because of the cold. There was a fiery atmosphere at Franklin’s postseason opener against Braintree and the intensity, physicality, and aggression of the action on the field surpassed anything that the Panthers had faced in the regular season.
It took until the second half, but Franklin came to grips with that physicality and, thanks to a pair of goals within a minute of each other and a last minute goal line clearance, the Panthers were able to rally from a goal down to secure a thrilling 3-2 victory.
“That’s the most physical game we’ve had all year,” said a relieved Franklin coach Michelle Hess after the final whistle.
The Wamps came storming out of the gates and took control from the opening whistle, putting the Panthers back on their heels with a fast-paced transition game and a direct style. Franklin goalie Neilee Hess was forced into a save inside the first two minutes and the Panthers found themselves pinned back in the defensive half.
Braintree nearly scored in the third minute after a massive scramble in the crease, but the officials waved off a goal due to an infringement. Another cross came in seconds later but skipped right through the crease. In the fifth minute, the pressure paid off as the Wamps scored from a corner, Delia Lee getting the final touch to a cross.
Despite being the home team and the higher seed, Franklin looked nervous in the opening minutes and took a while to settle down. That was helped in the 13th minute by winning a corner, which was played out to Amanda Lewandowski, who set up a shot for Molly Collins. Olivia Rondeau was stationed at the post and was able to turn the shot in to make it 1-1.
The physicality was non-stop and freshman Kaitlyn Carney got tangled up with Lee in the midfield and was given a card for a trip. The Wamps took advantage of the extra player and regained the lead before the break with Lee getting the finishing touch from in close, flicking the shot past Hess (seven saves).
It could have been worse for the Panthers shortly after halftime when Allyson DeCoste and then Lee were denied at point-blank range by Hess in the Franklin goal.
Instead of being two behind, Franklin stayed within striking distance and started to find seams in the visitors’ back line. Lewandowski made a long run from inside her own half, but had a shot from outside the circle skid just wide of the post. Two minutes later, Rondeau found space on the right but back-to-back crosses were cut out by the Braintree defense.
“We noticed that they were trapping us on the left, pressuring us to go to the lefthand side of the field,” Hess explained. “We talked at halftime that since they’re doing that to us let’s switch the field more and start playing on the right and let’s using the middle a little bit. We also said they only have one girl back so let’s use some long balls since we have speed and at least get it into their half of the field.”
Finally, in the 49th minute, Franklin found itself level again, and again it was a well-executed corner that led to the goal. The ball was passed from up top to the end line and then sent across the crease, which led to a scrum on the goal line. Senior defender Maeve Ledwith was in the right place to get the telling touch.
“It picked up our momentum,” said Hess. “It recharged them. We work really hard on our corners, so it was great to see them execute and hit it at the right time.”
Before the teams had a chance to process that the game was tied, the Panthers were in front. A quick transition caught out the Braintree defenders and Stephanie Bell was able to redirect a shot up over the goalie’s blocker to make it 3-2.
Emotions were being frayed on both sides as the game’s intensity ratcheted up another notch for the final 10 minutes. The Wamps had a goal ruled out when a shot from beyond the circle went through a crowd of bodies untouched. Rondeau then set up Bell for a big chance but the shot went just wide.
With three minutes left in the game, Braintree had one final chance. DeCoste, who was mostly well-marshaled by Kate O’Rourke, got free and sent a shot towards the back post. Hess had been forced to cover the near post. so the goal was gaping but Collins hustled back to cover and swept the shot off the line.
At the final whistle, the Franklin players swarmed their goalie and celebrated a win that will get them ready for the challenges yet to come in the playoffs.
Hess noted, “Usually in the tournament you’re going to face a Walpole, who’s also another physical, aggressive team, or Somerset-Berkley, who has the boys, so yeah I definitely think this momentum and this excitement is going to let us continue to ride the wave and keep going.”
Franklin (15-2-2) will travel to No. 4 seed Westwood on Monday afternoon for the D1 South quarterfinal.
“We wanted to challenge them, we have a good offense but we knew we had to go out there and play hard,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “They pack it in [defensively], they are strong with their double teaming, and they do a good job of forcing you to play on the left side of the field. I give them credit for that, it slowed us down.
“Melissa [Bordieri] is a great coach, they always play us hard. I was hopeful we could penetrate the defense, even without one of our top scorers [Hanna Richardson].”
After trading goals in the first half, Foxboro came out on the front foot in the second half and grabbed its first lead. The Warriors scored 34 seconds into the frame as freshman Mya Waryas one-timed a cross from sophomore Kate Collins, putting the hosts ahead 2-1.
While Foxboro had its first lead, the goal seemed to spark the Panthers.
Franklin controlled a good stretch of the second half after going down a goal. The pressure paid off as junior Amanda Lewandowski used her speed to beat a pair of defenders along the left side before firing a cross into the middle where senior Olivia Rondeau tapped in her second goal, tying the game 2-2 with 20:16 to play.
Just under five minutes later, the offense came up with another strike for the Panthers. Lewandowski was the catalyst once again, gaining possession inside the circle before firing a shot, forcing Foxboro goalie Hannah Trombly (six saves) into a stop. The rebound fell right to Rondeau and she buried the loose ball, completing her hat trick and putting Franklin ahead, 3-2, with 15:21 left.
“I think their goal was an eye-opener,” Hess said. “A goal like that can go either way, you can fold or you can try to right that wrong and I think it sparked us.f
“We came out flat [in the second half], I think we took them too lightly because they are good. We needed a spark, I told them that the second half, it was their game and to go out and take it. We knew what we needed to fix, so let’s go. We started our passing game and I think that led to us playing better.”
Foxboro got its offense backing gear late in the game and made a couple of pushes up the field, including in the final minute, but Franklin senior Elizabeth Clark came up with a clearance to help seal the win.
“I think Franklin started to insert themselves and we had some breakdowns that they capitalized on,” said Foxboro head coach Melissa Bordieri. “I thought that we were still in it right until the end, and we were a little unlucky with some of the situations, but on the whole, I thought Franklin really put the pressure on.
“There was one span in the second half that it felt like we didn’t have a minute to gather ourselves and create some offense because they did a really good job pressuring us. Once we did get some offense going, it was late in the game.”
Franklin took the lead in the seventh minute of the game on its first shot of the game. Freshman Kaitlyn Carney helped the Panthers transition into offense, finding Lewandowski, who dribbled past a couple of Foxboro defenders. Drawing the last line of defense, Lewandowski dropped a pass off to Stephanie Bell, who ripped a cross to the far post for Rondeau to tap in.
Foxboro tied the game just over seven minutes later. A corner forced Franklin goalie Neilee Hess into a save but the ball wasn’t cleared out and Mya Waryas smacked the ball into the net to make it 1-1.
The Warriors had a chance to take a lead at the end of the first half with three consecutive corners, but Foxboro was unable to register a shot on goal. Franklin’s Maeve Ledwith sniffed out a play, intercepting a pass before making a clear to keep the teams level.
“We just have to capitalize on our chances,” Bordieri said. “We had a lot of corners that we just left goals out there, you have to score on one of those. It felt like it could have gone either way, the girls worked hard to create chances but I think finishing was the issue today.”
Franklin field hockey (9-0-0 Hockomock, 9-1-0 overall) welcomes Attleboro to Beaver Street on Monday while Foxboro (5-1-3, 6-1-3) will try and bounce back from its first setback on the same day, hosting North Attleboro.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – Monday afternoon’s field hockey contest between host King Philip and visiting Franklin will be a learning experience for both sides.
An experienced Panthers squad, who earned a 3-0 win in the game, will look to fine tune their offense, mainly their shot selection. And the Warriors, with a roster filled with mostly new faces to the varsity level, will be looking to get to the same level as the visitors.
Franklin controlled the play for the majority of the game, peppering the King Philip net from start to finish. However, thanks to a terrific performance from KP junior goalie Makenzie Manning (22 saves), the Panthers only celebrated three goals.
But three goals was all the Panthers needed, as they held the hosts to just one shot on goal with one penalty corner. Meanwhile, Franklin racked up 14 penalty corners and placed 27 shots on goal throughout the contest.
“We are a little green out there, most of them are juniors and sophomores but most of them haven’t played varsity yet,” said first-year KP head coach Lisa Cropper. Cropper previously coached Franklin for nine years (2009-2017). “[Franklin] has a lot of experienced kids. We looked good in some scrimmages when everything is calm, but as soon as it ramped up, we reverted some and played a little scared.
“We weren’t playing our angles correctly, they were exploiting that. And we were ball watching and worried about individual stuff instead of playing as a team. Now we have to transfer what we talk about in practice to the game, that’s the next step.”
The chances came often and early for the visitors, as junior Stephanie Bell sent a deflection just wide off a feed from freshman Kaitlyn Carney just seconds into the game. Manning was forced into a double said just minutes later as Carney set up Amanda Lewandowski for a shot.
Two minutes later, Manning came charging out to deny a bid from Hanna Richardson and defender Sammy Robison blocked the follow-up shot off the line to keep the game scoreless.
The Panthers finally broke through in the 16th minute with a little extra huddle. After a strong clear, Lewandowski hustled to win a foot race and went in alone towards good. Manning came charging off the line and forced Lewandowski to play the ball towards goal. Junior Leila Frankina pounced on the loose ball and buried it from in close.
Franklin continued the pressure early in the second half. Just over five minutes into the second frame, Manning made a nice stop on a shot from Bell and denied a rebound chance from Lewandowski. The Panthers were rewarded a penalty stroke after the second save but Manning came up big again with a blocker stop to keep the deficit at one.
“She’s phenomenal, she played even better than I expected,” Cropper said of Manning. “Our defense did channel things so she had a good look at the shot but we didn’t know what to do after the save. We marked for the initial shot but not after. I told them there’s no losing, just learning…and we did a lot of learning today.”
Robison once again deflected a shot away to keep the Warriors in the game but the pressure paid off for the Panthers, scoring back-to-back goals in a four-minute span.
Carney smacked a hard low shot from 12 yards out that took a slight deflection off a KP stick and into the back of the net to make it 2-0. After a corner, Carney got another look from a similar spot and lofted a bouncing shot through traffic that smacked the back of the cage.
“Their goalie played phenomenal but we have to do a better job picking our corners,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “That’s part of the early season learning curve. It’s hard because the goalie can become a target, so we have to get them shooting away from the goalie, but it’s a fixable issue. We had some issues at the beginning of last year and got things sorted out.
“We’ve got to mix up our shot selection, with some aerials and some hard shots. One of the hardest shot is the slow push that’s bouncing that can be hard for a goalie to time.”
Since the Panthers had the majority of the possession, King Philip’s best offense spells came on the counter-attack. But chances were limited as the Franklin defense thwarted the Warriors’ bid to counter.
“Having Maeve [Ledwith] back there, she’s a brick wall back there, she’s not letting anyone by,” Hess said. “And my other captain Elizabeth Clark has really stepped up, she’s been playing well too. We’re pretty deep defensively which is good.”
Franklin field hockey (2-0 Hockomock, 2-0 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it hosts Canton. King Philip (1-1, 1-1) will entertain Milford on the same day.
2018 Record: 6-11-1 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Lindsay Antunes
The Bombardiers are looking to climb off the foot of the Kelley-Rex division standings this fall and challenge for a return to the state tournament. With a number of players making the move up after successful seasons on JV, Attleboro coach Lindsay Antunes is confident that her team will have the firepower to compete with the league’s top teams this year.
Senior Anna Beck will lead the way for Attleboro again this fall. The midfielder led the team in scoring last year and was one of the top scorers in the Hock, and she will be counted on to open up chances for her teammates. Junior Campbell Compton will add to the midfield group with her playmaking and stick skills. Junior Kiera Murray will be the lynchpin of the defensive unit, providing leadership at the back. The forwards are going to be a combination of returning players and new faces that are expected to provide additional scoring this season.
“Though spots are still being established and player combinations being determined,” Antunes said, “we are confident that this year’s offensive line is going to make a significant impact on the league.”
2018 Record: 15-4-1 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Canton finished just one point shy of back-to-back league titles and for the second season in a row saw its season ended by the eventual South champion, but the Bulldogs remain one of the teams to beat in the Davenport thanks to a roster filled with returning, experienced players ready to make another tournament run.
Midfield will be an area of strength for the Bulldogs this season with senior Kaitlyn Goyetch back to create scoring chances for her teammates. She was second on the team in scoring last year and is capable of opening up space for the attackers. Juniors Maria Femia and Meghan LaBelle will help Goyetch out in the middle of the field, adding to both the attack and the defense, and senior Meg Aldrich provides energy to push the team on both ends of the field. Junior Riley O’Connor returns in goal to shore up the defense. The attack will certainly miss leading score Maggie Malloy, but there are a number of players that are ready to step in and try to make up for that loss of production.
“Canton field hockey is excited for the regular season to begin,” said head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “Our captains Kaitlyn Goyetch, Meg Aldrich and Rose Malloy along with several key returning players will be major contributors to our success this season. We are working towards a strong showing in the always competitive Hockomock League”
The Foxboro Warriors will have almost an entirely new look this season after graduating 10 starters and 14 seniors overall.
While it will be almost an entirely new team, there is definitely plenty of talent and a lot of team speed. Jaime Notarangelo is the lone starter to return and will see time at both center forward because of her goal-scoring abilities plus time at center mid because of her distribution skills. Ella Waryas will see a significant increase in her role in the midfield alongside Molly McElhinney. Anna Marcucella and Mikayla Cloherty will see time both in the midfield and defensively for head coach Melissa Bordieri, who is still moving all the pieces around in search of the right combination. Lauren Foster is a team captain and will be tasked with anchoring the defense while junior Hannah Trombley and sophomore Lily Jones battle for minutes in goal. Kate Collins picked up some valuable minutes last year and will be relied on offensively alongside Olivia Simoneau.
“We still have a lot of talent, it’s just a matter of piecing together who fits where and who works well together,” Bordieri said. “We are a tenacious team so we are optimistic about the season.”
2018 Record: 13-6-2 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Michelle Hess
After finishing second in the Kelley-Rex division and making a run to the Div. 1 South semifinal, where they led perennial power Walpole by two goals with 10 minutes remaining, Franklin wants to build on that momentum and return to the top of the league standings for the first time in three seasons. The experience of last year’s run, which included finishing on an 11-2-2 run, has confidence brimming through the program.
The loss of do-everything midfielder Cassi Ronan will certainly hurt, as well as defender Emily Valentino and goalie Christina Luccini, but the Panthers still have a solid foundation of returning standouts to rely on. Senior Maeve Ledwith will continue to lead the defensive unit and is one of the league’s top distributors out of the back. Junior Amanda Lewandowski saved her best for the end of the season and playoffs and will be one of the team’s top attackers. Freshman Kaitlyn Carney is expected to contribute right away and possibly ease the loss of Ronan from the midfield. Junior Neilee Hess will take over between the pipes.
“The players worked very hard in the offseason, and I am proud of them for their dedication and determination,” said Franklin coach Michelle Hess. “I look forward to watching this team come together and earn a top spot in the Hockomock League along with another deep run in the tournament.”
2018 Record: 18-2-1 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Lisa Cropper
After winning the league and South titles in 2017, the Warriors made a coaching change. After making it back-to-back Kelley-Rex crowns and getting back to the South semifinal last season, the Warriors are making another change on the sideline. Former Franklin coach Lisa Cropper is back in the Hock after two years at Dean College and she will be trying to keep the momentum going for KP this fall.
While the Warriors dominated the league in goals scored last year, thanks in large part to HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Alli Meehan, and that drew a lot of attention, but the Warriors were even more impressive defensively, allowing only 15 goals in 21 games. Senior Sammy Robison is back to hold down things on defense along with classmate Grace May and junior Mackenzie Manning, who may end up sharing duties in goal. Sophomore Christina Gifun and junior Paige Berdos will drive the team in the midfield.
In addition to the graduation of Meehan, KP will be without reigning Underclassman of the Year Meghan MacDonald, who transferred to Tabor Academy. Senior Raegan Simeone and juniors Abby Nixon and Grace Crocker will be counted on to try and make up that production in the attack.
“We have a lot of really solid players with no real superstars, which should give us a very balanced team,” said Cropper.
2018 Record: 9-8-2 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Theresa Nyhan
The Hornets are only four years removed from back-to-back league titles and a trip to the South final and the experience on this year’s roster gives Mansfield hope that another deep tourney run could be on the cards. With seniors in every layer of the field and talented underclassmen to fill in the depth, the Hornets look like a serious contender at the top of the Kelley-Rex division standings.
In attack, Mansfield will count on a speedy trio of seniors to try and boost the goal totals. Paige Peterson, Becca Hottleman and Gabby Devlin are all back on the front line. In midfield, Kelly Doherty and Grace Doyle provide the engine that pushes the Hornets forward, while also providing the necessary cover for the defense. Senior Kayla Hunter is back in goal and will try to organize the back line, which will include seniors Grace Maher, Mallory Burke, and Angela Burnham.
“Overall we have a good balance of juniors and seniors at each level,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan. “We should be able to keep fresh legs on the field at all times. Looking forward to a good season.”
2018 Record: 2-14-2 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Katie Blackburn
The Hawks have a number of players returning who have several years of varsity experience and will try to blend in players that are making the leap from JV in order to improve from last year’s two-win season, which included five games that Milford lost by only one or two goals.
Senior goalie Paige Reisman will be the key on the defensive end, solidifying a back line that will see several new faces that are trying to get up to varsity speed. Her communication and vision will help the newcomers be ready for opposing attacks. Senior Megan Hart is also back on defense to add leadership in front of Reisman. Junior Olyvia White can play in midfield or defense, while senior Kathryn Swineford will try to push the Hawks into the attack from the middle of the field.
“We have a lot of returning players on offense that have experience playing together,” said Milford coach Katie Blackburn. “This experience will help in creating an offensive attack throughout games. The players have worked hard this offseason to improve on skills and come into the season conditioned.”
2018 Record: 6-10-2 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Karen Folan
The Rocketeers are hoping that an experienced lineup will be the key to challenge the top teams in the Davenport division and also to make a return to the state tournament. North Attleboro only missed out on a playoff spot by four points last season and there is the potential to make a bigger push this fall.
Senior Emma Strachan will be in her third year as the starting goalie and will continue to lead the defensive unit. Senior Lindsay Robinson heads into her second year as a force in the North midfield and senior Michelle Pothier will start her third year generating offense as one of the starting forwards. Senior Grace Cole adds speed on the wings to open space for the attack and senior Faith Graveline will move into the midfield from defense, adding another layer of cover for the back line and another weapon in the offensive circle.
“We have a solid group of returning varsity players for the 2019 season,” said North coach Karen Folan. “We hope to utilize our knowledge and experience to come out strong at the start of the season and continue to build on our strengths as the season moves forward.”
2018 Record: 8-9-2 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Sharon Lawrence
While Oliver Ames brings back 11 returning players from last year’s playoff team, the Tigers remain relatively young, with a strong junior class anchoring the team throughout the roster. That level of experience gives OA the potential to make noise in the loaded Kelley-Rex division and be competitive with the perennial title challengers.
The offensive unit is deep and expectations are high for an improvement on last year’s 31 goals scored as a team. Juniors Haley Gilman and Hannah Stryke and seniors Maura Kiernan, Ellie Waters, and Cassie Gennis will all play up top and are all capable of making plays inside the offensive circle. Several younger players will get the chance to impress right away, including sophomores Ava Costello and Lily Gaskill and freshman Julia Maclaine.
Junior Maggie Woods is the leader of the midfield group, constantly finding herself around the ball and propelling the Tigers forward. Sophomore Georgia Costello will join her in the middle of the field. Juniors Emily Han and Emily Dionne will lead the defense, while juniors Abbey Boyce and Courtney Lake are newcomers to the defense that will contribute right away. Senior Kara Ostrander and junior Peyton Phillips are both capable of being the starter in goal.
“The team shows improvement in skill and confidence from last season after a strong off-season commitment to the game,” said OA coach Sharon Lawrence. “We have a deep bench with lots of talent in the forward and midfield lines to keep legs fresh and performance strong, giving us good game endurance.”
2018 Record: 0-18-0 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Ashley Courville
After a winless season, with no goals scored, there is plenty of room for improvement for the Eagles this fall. Sharon ended that goalless stretch in the opening game of the season against Norwell and there is an increased level of confidence that the program is mixing in more experienced players with newcomers that can help make the team more competitive this year.
The defense will be led by an experienced corps of players. Seniors Holly Davis, Blaize Hanna, and Anya Lane are all back to solidify a back line that reduced the goals allowed by 27 from 2017 to 2018. Senior Lauren Glass will be the team’s primary playmaker in midfield and she will get help from junior Jenna Goldstein. There are a lot of new faces in the attack, including sophomore Ashley Young, who got Sharon’s first goal of the season in the opener. Juniors Samantha Sherman and Jillian Parker will also chip in up front.
Sharon coach Ashley Courville said, “Our strengths on defense this season are consistency and strength. We have a handful of returning players back on defense giving us stability. Our offensive strengths are added speed leading to the ability to carry the ball on the field more effectively.”
2018 Record: 7-11-2 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Dan Mark
The Black Knights would love to make a push for a playoff appearance this fall and Stoughton will rely on is experience in midfield and attack to overcome some of its inexperience in defense to try and make that run possible.
In the midfield, seniors Skylar Carroll, Madison Araujo, and Juliana Rush give the Black Knights speed and stick skills to push forward and make the transitions that will break down opposing defenses. In the attack, senior Brittni Paul and juniors Haley Nelson and Sarah McGrath have a nose for being in the right spots around the goal to create scoring chances. While the defense is relatively new, junior Kayla Laboy will be back between the pipes to add leadership and organization at the back.
Stoughton coach Dan Mark said, “We have a good nucleus of returning players, but do have some inexperience defensively. I think the key to our team will be a strong offense.”
2018 Record: 8-7-4 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Liz Hathaway
The Tigers have made great strides as a program, becoming a regular in the state tournament and competing with the top teams in the Hock, but after graduating 10 seniors Taunton will have its work cut out to make sure that another playoff berth is secured this fall.
Junior forward Alana Tavares will carry a lot of the scoring load for the Tigers this season. Tavares led the team in scoring last year and showed that she can also play in the midfield to create opportunities for teammates. Senior Kathryn Robinson will move up from defense into the midfield and her stick skills added to her defensive mindset will give the Tigers cover on both ends of the field. In defense, junior Jocelyn Pagliuca returns to provide leadership and cover in the back line with her ability to step into a challenge.
“We graduated 10 seniors last year and have many players stepping up for this season,” said Taunton coach Liz Hathaway.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Cassi Ronan picked up the ball inside the 30-yard-line and pushed the ball forward. She weaved her way past a pair of defenders and then touched it past a third to get clear on goal. The Walpole defender eventually caught up to Ronan, but not before she carried the ball nearly 70 yards.
The defender managed to slow her down but a foul was called, giving the Franklin senior a penalty stroke. She buried the shot, giving the goalie no chance and giving the Panthers a 3-1 lead over the No. 1 seed with just nine minutes remaining in Thursday night’s Div. 1 South semifinal at Taunton’s Tiger Aleixo Stadium.
It seemed like the Panthers, seeded 13th in the tournament, were finally going to end Walpole’s dominance in the rivalry and do it on the biggest stage. But, instead, the goal seemed to wake the Porkers up and they came storming back into the game.
Walpole scored twice in the closing minutes, including a goal with just two minutes left, to force overtime and then added a game-winner eight minutes later to stun Franklin 4-3 and advance to the South final.
“I thought we had it in the bag,” said Franklin coach Michelle Hess. “I thought we completely dominated the first half, dominated 75 percent of the game and in control. They definitely needed to comeback and got a spark, which probably speaks to their experience in tournament play and getting this far.”
Franklin has struggled in recent years against the Porkers, who are a perennial state title contender, but the Panthers weren’t intimidated and played at least an even game through the opening 50 minutes.
The Porkers jumped in front after just three minutes. Christina Luccini (18 saves) stopped the first shot by Molly Weiand, but Emery Murphy was on hand to tap in the rebound. Rather than let their heads drop, the Panthers answered back just five minutes later when Victoria Quinn redirected a shot by Ashley Reutlinger after a quick restart.
Franklin nearly took the lead right away when Regan Paterson got loose behind the Walpole defense, but her shot was saved. A minute later, Paterson pressured the Walpole goal and had a clearance rebound off her and just wide of the post.
In the 18th minute, Quinn and Amanda Lewandowski battled to keep the ball in the attacking zone and it opened up a chance for Quinn but she was unable to put it on frame. A minute later, she had her second of the night by being the first to react on a loose ball in the middle of the crease.
Walpole nearly tied it right after halftime with a quick move from a corner but Luccini came up with a sliding save to keep it out. Maeve Ledwith showed off her game awareness shortly after when she got behind Luccini and cleared a goal-bound shot off the line.
The Panthers nearly doubled the lead with 10 minutes to go. Quinn started the move down the left side with a pass to Paterson, who drove the ball all the way to the end line. She sent a ball towards goal that was tipped at the near post by Reutlinger, but only into the side of the goal. One minute later, Ronan got a head of steam and went on her amazing run to make it 3-1.
“She’s a phenomenal player,” Hess said of Ronan. “She’s strong, smart, and she definitely leads by example. She shows that when you put your nose to the grindstone you can make it happen.”
The third goal seemed to wake Walpole up. The Porkers flipped a switch in the final 10 minutes to put Franklin back on its heels and open up chance after chance.
Murphy got the comeback started with her second goal of the night, tipping in a corner to make it 3-2. Luccini was doing everything she could to keep the Panthers in front. She made a pair of saves to deny the Porkers and the rebound was knocked into the outside of the net by Jessica Tosone.
“She absolutely killed it,” Hess said of Luccini. “She was steady for us during the season but she rose to the occasion and stood on her head in every playoff game. Today was the epitome. She was just lights out.”
With just two minutes remaining, Luccini came out to challenge on a pass through the middle, but Weiand got to the ball first and managed to pull it past the goalie and just inside the post for a tie game.
In overtime, Luccini continued to be the hero for the Panthers, stopping both Audra Tosone and Brooke Skulski from close-range.
“I called a timeout and tried to settle them down a little bit and it worked for a little bit but then I think the emotions just started to rise and we made a few little mistakes. I’m very, very proud of my team.
Unfortunately for Franklin, Walpole looked like it had another gear while the Panthers were tiring. Off a corner, Caileen Quinn ripped a shot from straightaway, through a crowd, and into the back of the net for the win.
“They’re a quick team,” said Hess. “We tried to have our first step to the ball but they definitely have speed. They definitely seemed like they had a little more pep in their step. We were playing a little defensive.”
It is the second straight year that Franklin (13-6-2) has been knocked out in overtime in the tournament. Last year, King Philip went on to win the South title, a feat that Walpole will look to replicate on Saturday afternoon.
CANTON, Mass. – While the majority of Hockomock League teams have hit the field, court, or links over the past two weeks to get their seasons underway, the Canton field hockey team has been left watching.
Between hot weather and thunderstorms, the Bulldogs have had their first game pushed back on a couple of occasions.
Canton finally began its 2018 season on Friday afternoon and used a late surge in the second half to pick up a 2-1 win over visiting Franklin.
“It was our first game, had a very long preseason I think it took them a little while to get out of drill mode and get into game mode,” said Canton head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “We made some changes on the field and once it kind of clicked, then they started to get more comfortable.
“The past few days have been tough, the longer you wait, it can get stale. Practices get a little boring and they just want to get out there and play. The first half they were figuring things out a bit and then the second half of the second half they really started to click and work well together.”
Trailing 1-0 in the second half, the Bulldogs came to life at the midway point. After fending off pressure from Franklin over the first 15 minutes of the second half, Canton turned on the pressure.
Canton kept its pressure up and found the back of the net again just over a minute later. Malloy had her first shot denied by Franklin goalie Christina Luccini but the Panthers defense was unable to get a clearance.
The ball popped back onto the stick of Malloy, who pushed it forward some and then unleashed a hard shot at the near post that put the Bulldogs up 2-1.
“She’s a gifted goal scorer but she’s always a great motivator,” O’Connor said of Malloy. “She’s a hard worker and she kind of brings everyone along with her. I think that energy will translate to the younger players and they’ll start picking it up a little bit just based on her play.”
Franklin’s best chance at an equalizer came with just over six minutes to go. Senior Cassi Ronan split a pair of defenders and sent a pass into the area to Ashley Reutlinger but Canton defender Allie Gefteas made the clear.
“We let down a little bit,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “That’s something we’ve been working on because we get a little too comfortable. We let down and [Canton] completely capitalized. We’re still learning to bounce back, we let down once and then again right away. Hopefully, we can work on some transition stuff and have them get right back in the game.
We have two starters out so we had a little bit of a different look today and for it being the first time, they did pretty well. But once we get healthy I think we’ll be more solid in the middle and in transition.
It was a back-and-forth contest early on but little chances for either side. The Bulldogs had the best two chances early but couldn’t get a chance on net.
A shot from Maggie Malloy was deflected in the 9th minute but freshman Erin Lane couldn’t get to the loose ball before it skipped over the end line. Ten minutes later, Kaitlyn Goyetch found Femia in front but Franklin freshman Kate O’Rourke did well to break the play up before a shot.
The first shot on goal came from Reutlinger in the 22nd minute, forcing a save from Canton sophomore goalie Riley O’Connor. On the ensuing corner, Reutlinger linked up with Ronan and the senior lofted a shot perfectly over the goalie and just under the bar for a 1-0 lead.
Canton nearly tied it just three minutes later when Goyetch found Malloy in the middle but Franklin goalie Anna Jardine closed the pads at the perfect time to deny the chance. Malloy had another chance two minutes later but Franklin’s Elizabeth Clark thwarted the bid.
Before Canton took momentum in the second half, Franklin was just inches away from doubling its lead. Ronan’s shot was deflected by Olivia Rondeau and found the stick of Stephanie Bell. But Canton’s Rose Malloy was positioned perfectly on the goal line to knock the shot away.
“We have a very young starting team, we lost some good talent last year.,” O’Connor said. “It’s about getting comfortable with each other and filling in some spots. Even coaching-wise, we’re figuring out where everyone fits. I think we spent part of that game doing that but we’re glad they were able to come through with the win.”
Canton field hockey (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) is back in action on Monday when it hosts Stoughton at 7:00. Franklin (1-2, 1-2) hits the road to visit Mansfield on Monday afternoon.