“It was a good win, we’re young as far as experience goes and I thought we would be a be a little thin in certain areas but some kids stepped up a bit today that I wasn’t really anticipating,” Geysen said.
“Defense was one of my concerns coming in. We graduated two all-league starters we had to replace. We changed our formation a little bit, and I was a little concerned about it during the preseason. But you have to let it ride and get used to it. The back line bent but they didn’t break.”
It didn’t take long for Franklin to try and use its speed to get in behind North Attleboro’s back line. Just five minutes in, after a long ball was spilled by North’s keeper, Miranda Smith jumped on the loose ball in the area but had her bid slide wide at the far post.
North registered its first chance in the 16th minute when a ball put into the area fell to Big Red senior Aine Mendonca, but her low shot was saved comfortably by Robbins at the near post.
The Panthers broke open the scoring less than five minutes later. Senior Molly Duncan gained possession in the midfield, turned forward and played a perfect diagonal through ball to Smith. Smith faked with her right, cutting past a defender, carried to goal alone and tucked her shot in at the near post to make it 1-0.
North Attleboro nearly had an immediate response, forcing Robbins into one of her two big saves in the 21st minute. The Rocketeers quickly moved the ball up field before junior Ashlyn Gaulin unleashed a wicked shot from 25 yards out, but Robbins made a leaping save and tipped the ball over the bar.
“That’s what you expect from Cat,” Geysen said. “She might not be the greatest athlete in the world but nobody is tougher than her, nobody works harder than her and she anticipates really well.
North had one more serious chance just before the halftime break when Mendonca laid a pass off for senior Felicity Monfils but her strike from just outside the area went just over the bar.
The Rocketeers carried that momentum into the second half and looked like they found the equalizer less than a minute in. Mendonca served a ball to the far post and Haley Guertin calmly finished her shot from close range, but the ref disallowed the goal, whistling for a foul off the ball.
“I’ll be the last person to use an excuse, but to have that goal called back changed things,” said North Attleboro head coach Bill Wallace. “I felt like we came out and were playing really well to start the second half. And then they scored five minutes later so it hurt.
“We’re working through some kinks right now. I thought we’d be further along offensively than we are. But Franklin always throws one of those defenses at you where you have to work your butt off to get anything. It’s that one extra pass or one shot instead of a pass. The good news is that we have a great group of seniors and they’ll pick each other up. It proves how tough this league is.”
But seven minutes after North’s goal was waved off, Franklin doubled its lead. The Panthers took advantage of a quick throw with Smith springing Duncan in behind the defense. North’s goalie came charging out but Duncan calmly carried around her and finished into the back of the net to make it 2-0.
“We have some speed,” Geysen said. “We have to work on our touch, and that’s one of the reasons we don’t have the possession yet because our first touch isn’t where it needs to be. But with the speed and the two kids in the middle, [Molly] Duncan and Carly Alston, they can really thread the ball. Carly looked good the last couple of days.”
The Panthers put the finishing touches on the win in the 69th minute. Junior Hailey Toolin laid a perfectly weighted pass in the area to sophomore Anna Balkus and she placed her shot just inside the post to make it 3-0.
North Attleboro had one final chance with just over three minutes remaining when Gaulin turned and ripped a left footed strike from inside the area but Robbins made the diving stop at the near post to preserve the shutout.
ranklin (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) hosts Algonquin on Saturday in a non-league showdown while North Attleboro (0-1, 0-1) will welcome Taunton (1-0, 2-0) to town on Monday afternoon.
2016 Record: 2-15-1 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Santos
Goal scoring has been the biggest issue for the Bombardiers in the past few seasons, including a league-low eight in 2016, but head coach Steve Santos is confident that this year’s squad has the speed and experience to take advantage of counter attacks and he expects Attleboro to create a lot more scoring chances this fall.
While goal scoring is a focus of the preseason work, it is at the back that Attleboro boasts the most experience with the entire back line returning. Senior Jordyn Forte is the leader at the back, using her “good soccer IQ,” according to Santos, to keep things calm and making the right plays. She is joined in the defense by fellow seniors Morgan Laplume and Graycen Cassidy. In goal, Madison Brown returns to give Attleboro a solid presence to control the penalty box.
Turning that defense into attack will be the responsibility of senior midfielder Julia Hayes, who will be a key player in the center of the pitch. Junior Ashley Lauzier and senior Kara Thornton will be hoping to take advantage of the opportunities that are created. Santos is also excited about the youth coming into the program with three freshman on the varsity roster to start, including Riley Harnois, who will help out in the attack.
“We have a little more speed this year,” said Santos, “and we’ve been generating a little more in the transition. This year I can rest [the starters], bring people off the bench and the pace doesn’t drop off. They’re great kids, they work hard, and they fight for the team every day.”
2015 Record: 10-3-5 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tom Geysen
After six straight league titles, Franklin had an atypical season in 2016. The Panthers only lost three times all season, but drew five times, struggling to find consistent goal scoring that would turn a tie into a win. Franklin only allowed nine goals, but only scored 36, which was 20 goals fewer than league champ Mansfield. This year, head coach Tom Geysen is working on a new formation to get the best out of his attacking options with the goal of returning to the top of the league standings.
The Panthers return leading scorer Miranda Smith and the senior takes advantage of her size to create scoring opportunities in the box. Junior Halle Atkinson is back for her third year on the varsity and gives Franklin speed on the wings and is an accurate crosser of the ball to give Smith plenty of chances. Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira are also back and will give the Panthers a consistent presence in the center of midfield, while Emily Mastaj is another option on the wing.
The key to Franklin’s defense this season will be senior goalie Cat Robbins. Stepping in between the posts last year, Robbins turned in an impressive year and quickly became one of the top goalies in the league. This year, there will be several new faces and younger players that will be counted on to step up on the defensive side of the ball, including senior Molly O’Reilly and juniors Grace Gallo and Madison Stewart.
Geysen noted that there are several underclassmen that could step in during the season to add to the Panthers’ depth. He added, “We need to find the right mix. If we can patch things together and they can gain experience over the course of the season I’m confident that we will get better.”
2016 Record: 12-8-2 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Gary Pichel
It was a great turnaround for King Philip from 2015 to 2016. The Warriors were snakebitten by injuries the year before, losing almost an entire starting 11 many of them to long-term injuries, but last year a large and talented freshman class stepped in to supplement the players who were back healthy helping the program jump from just two wins to 12 last fall.
Expectations are even higher for the Warriors this year, as that freshman group gained a year of experience playing in the Hock. The sophomores are led by Avery Snead, last year’s Underclassman of the Year, who excelled up front or in the midfield and sealed the team’s playoff victory over Mansfield with an overtime headed winner. Chloe Layne showed off silky skills and finishing ability in the box and Olivia Berry stepped right into the heart of the defense and showed that she belonged.
It is not all about the underclassmen. Senior Emma Corcoran is back for another year at the heart of the defense and as the primary dead ball specialist, being named an Eastern Mass. All-Star in 2016. Senior Emma Durant has grown into the role of starting keeper and was a solid and steady presence between the posts last season. Senior Julian Massarone is a three-year varsity player and will be one of the primary playmakers in the center of the pitch.
“Overall, we made great strides in improving our game last year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “We want to continue to become more advanced in all three phases of our game. Last year, we turned a corner. This year, we want to move full speed ahead and compete hard against all of our opponents in the Hock!”
2016 Record: 14-1-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Kevin Smith
Mansfield is coming off the program’s best ever season. The Hornets set records for wins, points, goals scored and claimed their first ever league title, finishing the regular season unbeaten. An overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs to league rival KP was a tough finish to 2016 and trying to replace the production of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Hannah Reiter will be a challenge, but the Hornets return a ton of talent to make a run at another title.
Juniors Melissa Reef (an Eastern Mass. All-Star last season) and Bryn Anderson will be back in the midfield this fall, breaking up opponents’ attacks and pushing Mansfield into the attack. Their ability to cover a lot of ground in the center of the pitch and pick out the right pass to start the transition will be key. Classmate Stephanie Kemp will be back at the top of the attack, after scoring nine goals as a sophomore. Junior Emily Vigeant will lead an experienced defensive unit and also gives the Hornets a dangerous weapon from set pieces.
Mansfield coach Kevin Smith likes has a lot of players that he can call on this season. In the attack, Kemp will be joined by Sydney Mulkern, Allee Bezeau, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy MacMahon, and Emma Oldow. Defensively, the Hornets will turn to Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, Erin Daniel and goalkeeper Lauren Whitman.
Smith said, “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers and relying on the experience of 13 juniors and three seniors who were on varsity last year to fill the roles of the five starters who graduated.”
Last fall, Oliver Ames made the switch from the Davenport to the Kelley-Rex division, but it had little effect on the success of the program. The Tigers shared the league title with Mansfield, the fourth title in a row for OA and seventh since 2007. That run of success may be tough to keep going this year, as the Tigers graduated 10 seniors and are battling injuries to start 2017.
Losing players like Francesca Calabraro (who was injured midway through last season) and Kiana Lozzi is tough enough, but the Tigers lost almost an entire starting 11. To make matters worse, the strong central defensive pairing of Emily Freeman (knee) and Zoe Chazan (academy) are both missing to start the season. Senior goalie Regan Benton is back and will give the Tigers one of the best goalies in the league and in Eastern Mass. to backstop the rebuilt defense.
Offensively, the Tigers have been known for pace and strength, particularly on set pieces, and this year will count on three senior to try and provide consistent scoring opportunities. The pacy group of Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, Annabella Walsh will be the primary focus of the attack. There will be a lot of new faces on the pitch this season, trying to keep the legacy of OA success going for another fall.
“We have quite a few players who had limited minutes last year,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer, “but they practiced against some good players every day. If we can stay healthy I feel confident.”
It has been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers over the past few seasons under head coach Edith Dixon. In 2015, Taunton reached the postseason for the first time in program history and made it count by beating Wellesley on the road in the opening round and gave top seed Bishop Feehan a tough game in the second round. But, after losing a number of players to graduation, Taunton won only three games last season and are looking to bounce back behind a young roster in 2017.
The key for the Tigers is senior Samantha Tichelaar, who is coming off a league all-star and HockomockSports.com Best XI season, and gives Taunton speed, control, and leadership either as a forward or dropping deep into the midfield. Her versatility opens opportunities for her teammates. Classmate Kayla Felix will be the leader at the back for the Tigers, adding aggressiveness to the defense from her sweeper position.
Numbers are good for the program overall and Dixon expects that the younger players, including a strong crop of freshman and even eighth graders could make an impact on the varsity as the season goes along. She said that many of the younger players are “ahead of their age performance-wise.”
Dixon added, “Some of our younger players are going to step up and change how we play, but our upperclassman and seniors will remain the core of our team. I believe that their leadership and team-first mentality will push us to do well this year and set the program up for long-term success as the underclassmen mature.”
King Philip, 6 @ Taunton, 8 – Final – Taunton saw its 4-0 lead disappear when King Philip plated five runs in the fourth inning and went up 6-4 with a single run in the fifth. But the Tigers struck back with a run in the bottom of the fifth and then junior Christian Simoes had a three-run double in the bottom of the sixth to put Taunton back ahead. Tyler Medeiros also had an RBI for the Tigers, Matt Machado had two hits, Jacob Crawford reached base three times – two hits and a walk, and William DaRosa delivered a pinch hit RBI double. Sophomore Griffin Tomaszycki pitched a scoreless sixth inning to earn the win and Danny Keogh pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the save.
Milford, 3 vs. Catholic Memorial, 5 – Final
Foxboro, 3 vs. Dedham, 2 – Final
Franklin, 4 @ King Philip, 16 – Final (6 inn.) – King Philip junior Jess Bonner connected for a pair of home runs and knocked in a total of five runs as KP put up its second largest offensive output of the season. Meg Gorman added four hits, including three doubles and Hailey McCasland, Nicole Carter, Brooke Taute and Sydney Phillips each had two hits. Jenn Hutnyan earned the win, striking out 10. Franklin sophomore Ally Shea hit her first home run and finished with three RBI while freshman Anna Balkus had two hits.
Taunton, 8 @ Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – Taunton’s Jaime Brown (two RBI) and MacKenzie Handrahan each had two hits, while Kya Enos drove in a pair of runs with a base hit and suicide squeeze. Eighth graders Hannah Aldrich and McKenzie McAloon both had a base hit and RBI, while freshman Jaylin Couto had an RBI suicide squeeze. Courtney Fisher earned the win, allowing an unearned run in six innings of work on four hits. Couto pitched a scoreless seventh inning.
Attleboro, 3 @ Foxboro, 15 – Final
Canton, 3 @ Oliver Ames, 2 – Final – In a back and forth contest, Canton came out on top by scoring the game-winner with less than a minute to play. Goals from OA’s Eric LeBlanc and Canton’s Nick Allen sent the game into halftime tied 1-1. Griffin Roach put Canton ahead 2-1 with 9:14 left in the fourth but LeBlanc netted his second, tying the game with just 1:40 to play. Matt Martin was the hero for the Bulldogs, netting the winner with 26 seconds to play. Canton freshman Jack Connolly made 11 saves in the win.
Taunton, 0 @ Franklin, 19 – Final
Mansfield, 9 @ Sharon, 5 – Final
Oliver Ames, 7 @ Canton, 11 – Final
Franklin, 19 @ Taunton, 4 – Final – Mairead Gogeun paced the Panthers’ offense with four goals and one assist and Shannon D’Arcangelo and Grace Platner each found the back of net once as Franklin clinched the outright Kelley-Rex title for the fifth straight season. FHS head coach Kristin Igoe Guarino said Kate Morse and Molly O’Reilly both played well defensively in the win. Abbey Kingman scored a pair of goals for the Tigers and Lorna Li came up with 17 saves in the loss.
Milford vs. Ashland, 3:30
North Attleboro, 17 @ King Philip 3 – Final
Franklin, 4 @ Foxboro, 1 – Final – Franklin earned two wins in singles play and two more in doubles to defeat Foxboro on the road. Eli Brooks won 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 at second singles and Rohan Herur secured a 6-1, 6-1 win at third singles. The team of James Johnston and Derek Wu won 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 at first doubles and Tyler DiPalma and Rahul Hosdurg won 6-4, 6-4 at second doubles.
King Philip, 2 @ Bishop Feehan, 3 – Final – King Philip earned a pair of singles wins but ultimately fell to Feehan. Cole Ginter won 2-6, 6-4, 10-8 at singles and Martin Matous recorded a 6-3, 6-2 win at third singles.
Attleboro @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to Wednesday, 5/24 at 3:45.
Foxboro, 4 @ Franklin, 1 – Final – Foxboro swept doubles play and took two wins in singles action to defeat Franklin. Lexi Nelson (second singles) and Julia Muise (third singles) each won 6-0, 6-0. The team of Kayla Prag and Olivia Dantona won 6-1, 6-0 at first doubles and Morgan Krockta and Kendall Milender prevailed with a 6-4, 6-3 win at second doubles. Franklin’s Hannah Sweeney won 2-6, 6-0, 6-4 at first singles.
King Philip vs. Bishop Feehan, 3:45
Taunton, 3 vs. New Bedford, 1 – Final – Taunton jumped out to a 2-0 lead over New Bedford and held on for a 3-1 victory, 25-19, 25-22, 15-25, 25-22. THS coach Toby Chaperon said Mike Fernandez, David Fusiecki, Nick Sorm and Nate Grant each played great all around games, combining for 37 digs, 20 assists, 15 kills, four blocks and three aces.
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin girls soccer kicked off their home opener today at 3:30 against Milford. By 3:31, the Panthers were already up 1-0.
Junior forward Miranda Smith stole the ball from a Milford defender and then netted a goal just seven seconds into the game. Franklin went on to score three more goals in a 4-0 win over the Scarlet Hawks.
After the goal, the teams battled back and forth., Franklin threatened again in the 11th minute, but Milford goalkeeper Olivia Marshall made a save on Smith to keep the score at 1-0. Franklin maintained a slight possession advantage for the rest of the half but Milford continued to battle to keep the game close.
Despite jumping ahead to an early lead, Franklin coach Tom Geysen didn’t believe his team responded the way it should have after the early strike.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and a lot of times when you score that early, you kind of get a little complacent,” Geysen said.
In the second half, Franklin was anything but complacent, scoring two goals within the first 10 minutes. The first goal was registered when junior Ellie Teixeira found senior Nadia Havens, who deposited in a header in the 45th minute to double Franklin’s lead.
Franklin kept the pressure on from that point and just five minutes later senior defender Abigail Gipson found Halle Atkinson streaking towards the net, where the sophomore then put the ball past the Milford goalie. The final tally of the half and the game came in the 74th minute when junior forward Emily Mastaj connected with Smith, who put in her second goal of the game and sealed the victory for the Panthers.
The Panthers received strong defensive showings from junior goalie Cat Robbins who pitched a shutout as well as stout play from senior Kathryn Noon and junior Molly O’Reilly.
“We were certainly a lot better than we were last Friday against North Attleboro, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Geysen added about his defense. “Some of the kids in the back have experience; we have a lot with limited experience and some with none so it may take a while to get it to gel.”
Franklin girls soccer (1-1, 1-1) will look to make it two straight on Thursday when they travel to Foxboro to take on the Warriors (0-3, 0-3). For Milford (1-2, 0-2), they’ll look to rebound on Thursday when they host Taunton (0-2-1, 0-1).