Hornets Drop Heartbreaker In Double Overtime

Mansfield girls soccer
Mansfield’s Sydney Mulkern fights for a loose ball against Newton South in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
PLYMOUTH, Mass. – Time after time, the Mansfield defense thwarted long throws and corners kicks from top-seeded Newton South.

In the first overtime period alone, the Hornets fended off five long throws from the Lions’ throw-in specialist Larissa Williams.

While the Hornets limited Newton South’s restarts in the offensive third in the second overtime, the Lions finally got a throw-in in the final minute and cashed in. Williams’ long throw-in was cleared back to her on the sideline, and she delivered a service into the area that Audrey Lavey headed into the net, giving Newton South a 3-2 win over Mansfield.

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“We kept bending, bending, never breaking but the last one they finally find the free header,” said Mansfield head coach Kevin Smith. “Hats off to [Newton South], they are a fantastic team. The corners, the long throws….they were very dangerous and put us under pressure. We just couldn’t find that release pass. We had opportunities, we had a couple open nets we just couldn’t put it away.”

Mansfield had a pair of leads in the game, but the Lions had an answer each time, the second strike coming just seconds after the Hornets had regained the lead.

In the first overtime, the Lions applied the majority of the pressure with five long throw-ins, but the back line of Emily Vigeant, Mikaela Maughn, Erin Daniel, and Kerina Geminiani did an admirable job of handling it in front of keeper Caty DeMassi.

Newton South also had a pair of corner kicks in the first 10-minute span of golden goal, which is how the Lions tied the game in the second half, but Mansfield’s defense did its job.

While playing compact in the back, Mansfield’s best chances came on the counter attack. In the 86th minute, Sydney Mulkern nearly played Steph Kemp in behind but a nice play by the Newton South keeper cleared it away.

In the second overtime, Kemp made a nice run to the outside, got a touch around her defender and delivered a tempting ball into the area but there weren’t any Hornets in the vicinity.

“That’s the only thing you can do,” Smith said of the counter attack. “We couldn’t find a way to release the pressure in the midfield. When we got the ball up front, we were trying to make the pass too quickly and we weren’t there because it’s a 60 yard run with tired legs.”

The Lions nearly had the game-winner in the 94th minute when Cassie Lee snuck in behind the defense but DeMassi was quick off her line to thwart the opportunity.

Mansfield had a bright start to the match, having the majority of possession and keeping the ball in its attacking half. In the 12th minute, Daniel nearly opened the scoring with a well-taken one-timer from 30 yards out but the ball smacked off the cross bar, and Katie Garvin’s header on the rebound was saved.

The pressure paid off in the 28th minute as the Hornets Tok the lead. Cassidy McMahon delivered a corner kick to the far post and Melissa Reef rose up and headed the ball back across the goal inside the post for a 1-0 lead.

But the lead only lasted four minutes, as the Lions took advantage of a Mansfield miscue. In the defensive third, a miscommunication allowed Lee to get in between the defender and the keeper, blocking the clearance. The loose ball popped back to Lee’s foot and she buried her chance, sending the teams into half tied 1-1.

Mansfield regained the lead just over 10 minutes into the second half. Bryn Anderson settled a throw from Geminiani and gained just enough space to launch a high cross to the far post. McMahon skied into air and headed the service under the bar and into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.

Similar to the first lead, it didn’t last long. Newton South quickly marched up field and earned a corner kick, and Lucy Jenks nodded in a cross from Maia Madison to make it 2-2 in the 52nd minute.

In the 67th minute, DeMassi made a terrific play off her line to deny the Lions of a partial breakaway.

In the 70th minute, Mansfield nearly went ahead again. Kemp played McMahon wide, and she centered her pass but Anderson couldn’t get her foot on the cross in front and Mulkern saw her chance for over the bar at the far post.

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And in the 75th minute, the Hornets had a free kick from straight away from 20 yards out but couldn’t get the shot on frame.

“After their first goal, you could tell we were deflated and they had some momentum going for them,” Smith said. “We just couldn’t find our energy. We got it back at halftime and scored the goal to go up. I didn’t think we dropped after their second goal, I thought we still had opportunities, we just couldn’t find it. Their keeper made some nice plays, their defense was smothering. Our defense played great too. But they found that last one.”

Mansfield girls soccer (15-3-4) graduates 19 seniors from this year’s team, a group that made its mark on the program. The Hornets won three straight Kelley-Rex division titles, the first three in program history. In their four years, the varsity team went 54-12-12.

“It’s a special group, I’ve known most since they were 5 or 6 years old, since they were little kids,” Smith said. “They are like my daughters.”

Warriors Win D1 South Sectional Title In Double OT

King Philip girls soccer
King Philip’s Makayla Griffin battles for possession in the first half of the game. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
HANSON, Mass. – Two years ago, Corcoran, then a sophomore, and the King Philip girls soccer team suffered an injury-plagued season, winning just two games while nine of its 11 starters missed major time with injury.

Fast forward to Saturday night and Corcoran, now a senior, scored her first goal of the season and anchored a defensive unit that withstood a strong Newton South attack in a 3-2 win in double overtime in the D1 South Final.

Sophomore Makayla Griffin scored the golden goal in the 95th minute to deliver the Warriors the win, as well as the D1 South Sectional title.

“I think having the rough year helped humble us,” Corcoran said. “We know what it’s like to be on the other side of things, we know what its like to lose. So we don’t take any games for granted. We just go in as hard as we can and have a great time together on the field. It was the best feeling ever to see that goal go in.”

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Newton South held a 1-0 lead in the first half, King Philip responded with a pair of goals in a two-minute span to take the lead late in the first half, and then the Lions found the equalizer midway through the second half.

After a scoreless 10 minute overtime period, Griffin made a run down the left wing. With sophomore Avery Snead battling for possession, she beat off two defenders and connected with, junior Abby Baker, who continued to switch the direction of attack, laying a pass off for Griffin. The sophomore took a touch and then placed her low shot into the far post to send the Warriors into a frenzy.

“We always talk about making that outside run, our teammates help to get the ball across,” Griffin said. “I just took a touch and I didn’t even see it go in. The whole team just works together as one and we make things happen.”

The winner came just a minute after two of Griffin’s teammates created near chances. First, Snead launched a shot from 25 yards out that was saved by Newton South freshman goalie Olivia Dubin. In the same minute, Chloe Layne looped a ball over the defense that Snead ran onto, but under pressure of two defenders, her bid went just wide.

“That was packed from start to finish with back and forth action,” King Philip head coach Gary Pichel said. “That was one of the best soccer games I’ve seen in a long time. Natick was really good but this one even eclipsed that game. It was just horses going back and forth, back and forth. I’m so proud of my team for just not stopping. That’s been there M.O. the entire season, they just keep coming. To give Newton South credit, they kept coming today too. I thought they might tire out but they never did, they just made it so difficult for us.”

Chances were aplenty early on. Jordan Briney sent Newton South’s first chance just wide of the far post from outside the area in the second minute. Julian Massarone found Griffin on the left side, and her near post cross was touched onto goal by Snead but Dubin covered nicely.

Layne had a chance in the seventh minute after a long throw was flicked, but her shot rolled just wide. The Lions had a golden chance in the ninth minute on a defensive error, leaving Lucy Jenks open in front of goal all alone, but she put her shot wide.

Newton South broke through in the 19th minute, A free kick from Bella Ertel went to the near post and Larissa Williams rose up and nodded the ball in to make it 1-0.

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The lead lasted just over 10 minutes. Corcoran stood over a free kick from 35 yards out in the center of the pitch. She placed the ball perfectly into the top right corner, just out of the reach of Dubin, to tie the game 1-1.

“We just don’t really give up, we never feel like we’re out of the game,” Corcoran said. “I just tried my best to put the shot on frame.”

And the game didn’t stay level for long. King Philip earned a corner kick just two minutes later in the 32nd minute. Corcoran once against set the play in motion, with her service headed down by Snead. The ball went right to Layne who, with her back to goal, use a simple flick over her shoulder to find the back of the net to make it 2-1.

“It was unbelievable,” Pichel said of the two quick strikes. “I was hoping the goal that South got would wake us up a little bit, and it did. It was just boom, boom…they just keep coming. They make it so difficult for defenses. They never ever think they’re out of it. They’re still smiling at the end, encouraging each other.”

Newton South didn’t have much of the play over the first 20 minutes of the second half but capitalized on its first chance. Audrey Lavey took possession just outside the top of the area on the left side, took a touch and placed a shot at the far post. Emma Durant (six saves) got a piece of the shot but it snuck in at the far post to make it 2-2.

King Philip nearly had the game-winner on two occasions in the final five minutes. Snead played Layne in, who took a nice extra touch to get free from her defender. But her shot to the far post, which beat the keeper, was cleared off the line by a defender.

In the final seconds, Layne nearly linked up with Griffin inside the area, but it was just off.

“It was a battle of the defenses at the end because we were both employing the same strategy,” Pichel said. “We were both putting it over the top to our best strikers and see if someone flinches. We finally got them to flinch just a little bit. It wasn’t much, it was just a crack, but we were able to get it. Our defensive line stood tough the whole time. [Newton South] has some real good players.”

King Philip girls soccer (20-1-2) advances to the D1 State Semifinal to take on D1 North winner, Westford Academy (16-1-2) on Tuesday, November 14th at Brockton High. The game is currently scheduled for 5:15.

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Warriors Overcome Tough Start to Beat Newton South

King Philip volleyball
Sydney Phillips led the way for the Warriors as KP beat Newton South for the second year in a row to return to the Div. 1 Central-East semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – It had been nearly two weeks since King Philip had taken the court for a meaningful game and there was noticeable rust, as Newton South jumped all over the Warriors in the opening set and held off a late rally to take a 1-0 lead in Tuesday night’s Div. 1 Central-East quarterfinal.

KP shook off the rust from its 12-day layoff and turned the momentum around, winning three straight sets for a 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-23) victory and advancing to the semifinal.

“Absolutely, I think that hurts,” said KP coach Kristen Guess when asked about the long break between matches. “We’d rather play, play, play. We do well when we play three games a week. It is brutal not playing.”

The Warriors also put themselves in early holes in three of the four sets, showing resiliency to bounce back including a rally from 8-2 down in the third set that saw KP win 23 of the next 30 points to put themselves within a set of a victory.

Guess said, “It’s been the history of KP to start out slow, but these kids never give up. They fight for every point.”

The first set was dominated by the height of the Lions at the net (three players over six feet tall) and the hitting of junior Ella Kim, who tallied nine kills in the opening set alone. KP hung around in large part thanks to the play of junior hitter Sydney Phillips, who was recently voted the Hockomock League MVP by the coaches. Phillips had five kills and several service points in the set.

In the second, KP again fell behind by a couple of points and the crowd was starting to get a little antsy, but a series of mishits by the Lions allowed KP to pull ahead. Back-to-back kills by Liv Balduf and Emma Lopez put the Warriors up 10-5. The Lions pulled back in front at 20-19 but another Lopez hit tied it and then she set up set point with another kill before Phillips tied the match with a blast.

Lopez, a senior captain, has missed nearly four weeks with a back injury and Guess was happy to see her return to take some of the pressure off Phillips on the outside. Guess said, “I’ve been telling her all week that she’s peaking at the right time. From being out for four weeks, she’s definitely peaking.”

Newton South jumped all over the Warriors to start the third set with Kim again getting hot on the outside including a rip that made it 8-2 and had KP on the ropes. But the Warriors rallied again and started to put together a strong defensive effort highlighted by senior setter Carly Adams scrambling to one-hand a return while falling out of bounds and watching as it landed for a point on the other side.

Adams was helped by Elise Pereira and libero Amanda Loewen (nine digs) in starting to stem the tide from Kim’s big hitting. Angela Vallente served six straight points to break the set open and give KP an 18-12 lead. Phillips added a pair of kills and then Kat Kmetz dug out back-to-back rockets from Kim to save a point at 22-13.

Suddenly, the Warriors looked like the No. 2 seed and went into the fourth with confidence. For the first time in the match, KP also took an early lead in what turned out to be the final set. A Phillips ace made it 7-3. Two aces in a row from Balduf pushed the lead to 12-6 and great hustle by Pereira and Loewen to chase down a ball on the back line saved a point and stopped a Lions rally at 14-10. Kmetz followed that with two aces in a row.

When asked if the coaches had made any adjustments to try and stop the hitting of Newton South after the opening set, Guess responded, “We didn’t change anything. We don’t give up on them. We have confidence in them. If they get their serves over and in we try to get the other teams out of system so they can’t set up those great hitters.”

The Lions showed grit in battling back to keep the fourth set close, pulling to within 22-19 on a kill by middle hitter May Boucher. Facing match point, Newton South won four straight points to pull back within one but Phillips slammed the door on the comeback with a kill off the Lions block to seal the victory.

“That is Sydney,” said Guess of Phillips’ contributions on Tuesday. “Other team have a hard time picking up her balls or blocking her. She’s our go-to outside hitter.”

This is the second season in a row that King Philip (19-2) has knocked out Newton South at this stage and now the Warriors get another rematch with the visit of No. 3 seed Quincy, which beat KP in five sets in last year’s semifinal.

Warriors Overcome Slow Start to Tame the Lions

Josie Rowean
Josie Rowean (4) led the way for the Warriors with 21 kills as KP bounced back from a first set loss to beat Newton South 3-1. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

WRENTHAM, Mass. – Following the end of the first set, King Philip volleyball fans and parents could be forgiven for thinking that it was going to be a long night and a very quick match.

Newton South opened the Div. 1 Central-East matchup with a dominating 14-3 start and, despite a short resurgence by the Warriors in the middle of the set, rolled to a 25-16 win in the first and an early lead.

Nothing was going right for the Warriors. KP was struggling to receive every serve, the passing was erratic and the hitters struggled to even find the court. Meanwhile, the Lions looked dangerous on every play with Grace Leuchtenberger in the middle and Emma Lee and Ella Kim finding the right angles on each of their hits.

The crowd was understandably antsy, but the KP bench was calm. The coaches had seen this type of start before and head coach Kristen Geuss felt the team was just nervous at the start of its first playoff game.

“We have a tendency to start off slow and we’re trying to work on that but I think it was a case of the nerves,” she explained. “They had jitters and once we get warmed up then it’s much better.”

The coach had reason to be calm, as the Warriors completely turned the game around and won the next three sets to close out a 3-1 (16-25, 25-18, 25-9, 25-23) victory and advanced to the sectional semifinal.

KP fell behind early in the second set as well, but then setter Carly Adams (32 assists) got into a rhythm and started feeding outside hitter Josie Rowean, who had 11 of her 21 kills in the second set alone, and Gwen Uyrus, who added three of her nine kills.

A Rowean kill made it 7-6 in the second, a lead that KP would not relinquish. The crowd was getting louder and louder with every kill. Rowean fired through blockers and managed to take what the Newton South defense gave her whether it was the far corner or down the line.

Sophomore Amelia Murphy chipped in at the net with a couple of key blocks and two kills and defensively Micaela Murray had four of her 11 digs in the set, while Amanda Loewen added four of her own.

“They are our go-to people,” said Geuss of her top two hitters. “Josie and Gwen, give them any kind of set and they can do something with it.”

“But, it all starts with our serve-receive. Once everything gets into sync they can set up Josie all the time, can set up Gwen all the time and we get the momentum.”

The momentum carried over to the third set and suddenly it was as though the first had never happened. KP dominated and led by as many as 13 at several points in the set, including at 20-7 after another service error. The Lions looked like the team that was nervous and out of sync.

Rowean started the fourth set with three straight kills, as the Warriors built an early advantage. When the Warriors were going well, Adams fed the senior hitter over and over again.

“That’s what we do,” said Geuss with a smile.

Rowean had plenty of help with the KP servers causing problems for the Lions and not allowing Newton South to hit. Instead the Lions would be deep on their side of the court and forced just to send a free ball over.

Loewen in particular dropped in dangerous serves that had the visitors on their heels and Adams, Uyrus, and Emma Lopez each had service winners in the fourth set.

“We always hope that out strong serves will take them out of good positions to set up their hitters,” said Geuss. “So, we always serve strong and definitely our servers settled down in the second game.”

The fourth set was close throughout with Rowean providing seven kills, Uyrus adding a pair and sophomore Sydney Philips making several crucial plays at the net, including a big kill that made it 22-20.

When the final shot by Newton South sailed wide, the Warriors bench stormed onto the court to celebrate a playoff win. The first set felt like a distant memory and Geuss remarked that she knew her team could bounce back after a tough start.

She said, “It’s a team that never gives up. They’re battlers. They’ve been deep behind two games and they have a tendency to come back.”

KP advances to the Div. 1 Central-East semifinal and will travel to No. 1 seed Quincy on Thursday night.

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