NORTH EASTON, Mass. – North Attleboro kept probing, trying to find a hole in an Oliver Ames defense, but the Tigers held resolute for 66 minutes of Wednesday night’s meeting of defending league champions at Muscato Stadium. Despite North controlling the lion’s share of the possession, it looked like the Tigers would come away with a point.
In the 67th minute, with the help of a massive deflection (and according to the OA bench, a handball on the edge of the box), North found the breakthrough. The first one opened the floodgates and the potent Rocketeers attack put the result beyond doubt, scoring four goals in the final 13 minutes of the game to pick up an impressive 4-0 road win.
“We played a pretty good first half and I don’t think we played better in the second half, but we finished,” said North coach Bill Wallace.
After a strong opening half in which it forced OA keeper Regan Benton into five saves (although none that were particularly demanding), North had two golden scoring chances in the first five minutes after the break.
Ashlyn Gaulin got on the end of Haley Guertin’s flicked header, but flashed her shot just past the outstretched hand of Benton and past the post. Two minutes later, Guertin cut in from the right and teed up Kayla Pasquel who made an unmarked run down the left wing, but the junior’s first-time shot was pulled wide.
When asked if he was starting to think that it may not be North’s night after those two chances went begging, Wallace laughed and said, “Yes, but no two games, no two days are the same. It’s a crazy game and what makes it great is that you can lose control and come out with a positive result and, conversely, you can control a game and come out with a negative result.”
North was dominating possession and controlling the midfield led by senior Aine Mendonca. The young Tigers were struggling to keep the ball against the North press, but when North went forward the OA defensive unit of Maeve Hogan, Athena Sarafoglou, Brianna Gibson, and Gabrielle McLaughlin had an answer.
“They’ve got so much offense up front and we really struggled in the midfield today,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “We can play much better and we need to have a little more composure. We played physical today; the last two games we weren’t aggressive enough.”
Wallace told his team to just keep pushing. He explained, “My halftime speech was pretty simple – patience. You could see we were getting frustrated. I just said, be patient and trust your gut.”
In the 67th minute, North had a long free kick and senior Rachel Labonte played it to Guertin on the edge of the box. Her first effort was blocked but the ball rebounded back to the forward, who took another touch and had a second go. This shot took a huge deflection that wrong-footed Benton and found the back of the net.
Just two minutes later, North doubled its lead. Pasquel took the ball down the outside on the left and got to the byline before crossing to the back post where Mackenzie Rosenberg had found a foot of space. The sub pulled it down, took a touch and hit a half-volley to make it 2-0.
“Kenzi’s goal was a backbreaker,” said Wallace. “Good for her; she makes the most of her minutes when she gets out there and I’m so happy for her.”
Down by two goals, OA still could not find a way to create a chance for Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, or Anabella Walsh. Sellmayer credited the North defense, including center backs Emily Chiasson and Labonte, and especially right back Sam Hawkins.
He said, “The three players at the back were so solid. I mean, No. 9 (Hawkins) played a great game and we couldn’t match up with her.”
In the 72nd minute, North sealed the points with a third goal. Haley Ferrin flicked the ball into the box and it ricocheted past Benton, who had slid out to stop the first shot. Leah Jette was on hand to tap in. Ally Blaisdell wrapped it up directly off a corner (which came after the best of Benton’s 11 saves) when her cross bounced at the near post and skipped into the back of the net.
“After starting out with Franklin,” Wallace said, “we’re still curious what kind of team we’re going to be. We certainly have the talent, it’s just that we have to out it together in all phases of the game.”
He added, “The girls are thrilled, it’s going to be a fun bus ride home, and then back to work against Canton.”
WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip came into Friday night’s season opener against fellow league champion North Attleboro at Macktaz Field in a very different position than last season’s matchup. The defending Div. 1A Super Bowl champion Warriors graduated the vast majority of the starters on both sides of the ball, including all but two on offensive, and had a roster filled with new faces.
Many of the names may have been new, but the play on the field was the same.
KP sacked North’s star quarterback Chad Peterson (13-24, 165 yards) five times, forced four turnovers (two interceptions and two fumbles), and the Warriors made enough plays to pull out a 24-14 victory, the program’s 14th straight win stretching back 2015.
“I’m very pleased,” said KP coach Brian Lee after the game. “I had no idea what to expect. We’re only returning five guys, so there were a lot of rookies out there, a lot of guys going two ways. I love playing North because they make you play your best.”
From North Attleboro’s perspective, it was mistakes that doomed the Rocketeers on Friday. In addition to the struggles protecting Peterson and the turnovers, North also committed five penalties and just looked out of sync.
“Too many self-inflicted wounds,” said North coach Don Johnson. “We had kind of seen it in preseason, but way too many [mistakes] to beat anybody really. They made plays they had to make but we had mistakes in basic coverages. That second touchdown we had someone line up wrong and left a guy wide open.”
The struggles started on the opening drive when KP defensive lineman Evan Rice sniffed out a third down screen, tipped, and intercepted Peterson’s pass to give the Warriors the ball at the North 33. A 13-yard run by senior quarterback Brendan Lydon (7-12, 143 yards) got the ball inside the 10, but KP was stopped on three straight plays and settled for a 22-yard Cole Baker field goal.
North’s defense made the next big play when Brendan McHugh got to Lydon on a blitz and stripped the ball loose. Brad White recovered the fumble for the Rocketeers and three plays later Peterson hit Nolan Buckley for a 21-yard touchdown into the back corner of the end zone to take North’s only lead of the game.
Facing third and 15 on its next possession, KP hit a big play to answer right back. A broken coverage left junior Aidan Bender running free down the seam and Lydon hit him in stride for a 71-yard score. Just two plays into the Rocketeers’ next possession and senior corner Andrew Dittrich forced a McHugh (11 carries, 45 yards) fumble and Dylan Leonard dove on it to get the ball right back.
Thomas Madden saved the possession for the Warriors by diving on a fumble on the first play and on third and eight from the North 13, Lydon threw a perfect strike into the corner that was pulled in by David Morganelli for a 17-7 halftime lead.
“I thought the wideouts caught some really good balls for us and I thought our pass [protection] was good,” said Lee about the success of the passing attack. “Sometimes you’ve got to change up what you’re doing and I thought the guys really responded.”
Johnson added, “I was pleased with the way that we stopped the run game, but they had good balance. I think the quarterback has come a long way for them. He was a difference maker.”
A punt and then back-to-back fumbles gave North the ball at its own 21 about halfway through the third quarter. The Rocketeers put together a 17-play drive that took more than 10 minutes off the clock and needed two fourth down conversions to get themselves back in the contest.
Peterson was sacked three times on the drive, twice by Bender, but also went 5-for-7 passing, including a dart on fourth and eight that hit Omar Jasseh and kept the drive alive. One play after the combo just missed on the right side of the end zone, Peterson threw another fourth down strike, this one to senior Marion Bresko down the left sideline for a 27-yard score that cut the lead to just three points (17-14) with 7:54 remaining.
Lee joked, “They pulled a KP on us. We didn’t do anything in the second half, except for hang on and play some ‘D’. We tell the kids, you’re going to fight. They’re going to come over here and fight to the end. We hung on and sometimes that’s what you have to do.”
A punt gave North the ball right back and a roughing the passer call pushed the Rocketeers to the KP 31. Two plays later, Peterson tried to go for the end zone, but the ball was intercepted by Luke D’Amico at the three-yard-line.
On third and nine, facing another punt to give the ball back to the Rocketeers, Lydon fired down the middle to senior tight end JJack Piller, who pulled the pass down despite two Rocketeers in coverage and held on through contact for a crucial first down. With 48 seconds left, senior running back Shane Frommer, who was held to just 41 yard on his first 13 carries, bounced a run off tackle to the left side and was gone for a 57-yard touchdown to seal the win.
The personnel may be very different from last season’s experienced squad, but the attitude is the same. The Warriors find a way to grind out victories and make opponents uncomfortable.
“That’s kind of our mentality in general – we like to attack,” said Lee. “Sometimes it looks nice to drop eight into coverage but good quarterbacks make plays when they have enough time. We’re just pretty good at it.”
He added, “We love to play good defense here. We made plays when we had to.”
King Philip (1-0) will try to make it 15 wins in a row when it takes on Foxboro next Friday in the first game at the newly renamed Jack Martinelli Field. Next week, North Attleboro (0-1) will host Bishop Feehan at Community Field.
But in its first test of the season, and a tough one at that, the Panthers passed with flying colors, earning a 3-0 shutout over visiting North Attleboro.
Junior Grace Gallo anchored the center of the defense with senior Molly O’Reilly and junior Madison Stewart on the outside. While North was able to register 10 shots, only two were true tests for keeper Cat Robbins.
“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.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017 Hockomock Field Hockey Preview
2016 Record: 4-13-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Lindsay Antunes
After registering just four wins a season ago, Big Blue is hoping for a big bounce back year in 2017. The toughest task will be finding replacements for the large amount of seniors that have graduated over the past two seasons. A big reason for hope to get back towards state tournament competition is four-year varsity player Grace Mayer. Mayer has been one of the top players in the Hock over the past couple of the seasons and led the Bombardiers with six goals and three assists for nine points. She will be joined on the forward line by junior Alexis Compton and junior transfer Takara Keele. Head coach Lindsay Antunes said her midfield has been strengthened “immensely” by sophomore Anna Beck, who was pulled up mid-season last year.
“There is an immense amount of unity on this team, and an outpouring of teamwork,” Antunes said. “Under the leadership of our current captains, many girls have assumed these roles [left by graduation] and are taking over the field. Some girls have been forced to transition into roles that are similar to ones they played in in the past, but not quite exact.”
2016 Record: 13-5-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Canton is returning a strong core of players from a 13-win team a year ago and will be in the hunt for the Davenport title. Key returning players include senior forward Andrea McNeil and junior forward Maggie Malloy, who will be back to pace the Bulldogs’ offense, as well as senior midfielders Emily Campbell and Maggie Wade. With experience back in the mid, the Bulldogs expect to have a strong passing game and strong ball control. Senior Riley Brown will step in as the starting goalie and freshman Maria Femia could make an impact as a rookie.
“Coming into our second season we look to strengthen our passing game and game sense,” said Canton head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “We look forward to another competitive season in the Hockomock League!”
2016 Record: 19-3-1 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D2 State Semifinal
Coach: Melissa Bordieri
Coming off its best season in program history, Foxboro is now focused on 2017 and trying to write its owm chapter in the history books. While the Warriors graduated over a half a dozen seniors, they return last year’s Hockomock League MVP in goalie Kelli McCarthy as well as 2016 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Lily Daly. With experience on both ends of the field, Foxboro is set up nicely for 2017. Daly has led the Warriors in scoring in each of the past two seasons.
The middle of the field will look most familiar from last season with seniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano, and juniors Meghan Curran and Sophia DiCenso all returning after playing valuable minutes last season. The biggest challenge for the Warriors could be replacing starting defenders Kelly Fisher and Angela VandenBoom, who both graduated.
2016 Record: 12-4-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Lisa Cropper
The defending Kelley-Rex division champions are in a good spot with so many returning players from last year’s squad. Leading the way is HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Annie Walsh, who led the Hockomock League with 25 points a season ago. Cassi Ronan (16 points) and Erin Walsh (10 points) are also back as Franklin returns its top three scorers. Another positive is that Franklin has some experience back on the defensive end as well. Kate Morse is back to anchor the unit after an impressive junior season and will be joined by Meri Gendreau and Emily Valentino in front of goalie Christina Luccini. Head coach Lisa Cropper expects senior Maddie Hinckley and freshman Victoria Quinn to also play big roles for the Panthers.
“Our biggest asset this season is depth,” Cropper said. “We are hoping to wear down our opponents and utilize our speed late in games.”
2016 Record: 14-3-4
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Liz Hathaway
After coming just a point shy of splitting the league title with Franklin a season ago, King Philip returns a strong core that will look to make another push for the Kelley-Rex crown. One big reason that the Warriors will be in the mix is because senior goalie Abby Campbell is back in the cage this season. And in front of Campbell, KP returns senior Christina Hathaway – two big reasons why the Warriors allowed only 13 goals all season in 2016. The offense will look very familiar with senior Liz Furfari (13 points) and junior Alli Meehan (25 points) back in the fold. Juniors Kate Lindmark and Caroline Klim will help bolster the defense while Nicole Connor and Dana Truini will be important players in the midfield.
“We have speed and can create a quick transition game with our passing game and formation,” said KP head coach Liz Hathaway. “We also have a couple of big hitters which should help us generate getting the ball inside the offensive 25 and to execute on corners.”
2016 Record: 13-5-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Theresa Nyhan
Mansfield is relying on seven returning seniors and a mix of young players as they look to get back to the state tournament yet again this season. The Hornets have senior leadership all over the field, which will be important in a very deep and talented league. Up top, Mansfield had Heather D’Amdra and Kristina O’Connell, while seniors Emily Ierardo and Ann Maher will lead the way from the midfield. On the defensive end, seniors Nicole Berluti, Julia Burhman and Brittany Lam will anchor the back line.
“As a unit we are looking to move the ball at pace,” said Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan. “We have speed at all levels and look to transition quickly.”
2016 Record: 3-15-2
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kim Danish
Although the Hawks graduated 11 seniors from last year’s squad, they return some key pieces that head coach Kim Danish is hoping will help Milford take a step forward. The Hawks will lean on tri-captains Shannon Cormier (the team’s leading scorer last season), Danielle Fokas (who will start on the wing) and Emily Condon (a returning member of the Hawks’ defense) to pave the way this season. Kate Wimette, Colby Bowers and Megan Larouco will see time in the midfield while Julie Rabinowitz would see time all over the field, depending on need. Milford is looking to rely on speed on offense to try and get the offense going.
“We have a strong mix of seven returning seniors who are fantastic leaders and a great core group from last year’s JV team who will step up and make an immediate impact on the field,” Danish said. “Overall, the motivation and work ethic among this group has been top notch! We are looking forward to a great season.”
2016 Record: 6-8-4
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Karen Folan
After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back years, Big Red field hockey is hoping to make a run at the Davenport crown and get back to the MIAA playoffs. One tough task will be replacing 14 seniors, including all-league goalie Liz Morehouse, all-star Mary Kummer and all-league honorable mention Teresa Bagarella. But head coach Karen Folan is confident she has the pieces to compete in a deep Hockomock League this year. Senior captains Emilie Pothier, Olivia Gedgaudus and Camille Pizarro return to make up the majority of the midfield. Senior Katherine Munley is also back on the wing, giving Big Red some speed on the outside. Sophomore Emma Strachan takes over in net this season, with Folan describing her as “quick and aggressive.”
“The returning members of the varsity team have shown they are ready to fill in any gaps our line up may have after graduating 14 seniors,” Folan said. “And our new team members are eager to step onto the varsity playing field.”
2016 Record: 11-6-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Abby Tepper
Oliver Ames will be relying on a mix of experience and youth as they try to stay competitive in a deep Kelley-Rex division. It starts with senior captain Sarah Stevens in the midfield, who will be the “quarterback” of the midfield according to head coach Abby Tepper. Senior Cristina Boudreau and junior Kayla Lozzi will bolster that midfield while senior Liz Nuss will provide speed to the attacking group. OA’s defense will be anchored by senior captain Sarah Tetrault while senior Caitlin Grant will be the starting goalie. Freshman Brynna Courneen has impressed defensively early on.
“This year our offense will be quick and have speed,” Tepper said. “We have some young players filling the wing spots and we are working on being hungry inside the circle. We want to be a scrappy team and get the ball in the bucket no matter what it takes. Our defense does a solid job recovering for one another in the circle and stepping to ball without hesitation. As a team we want to build a positive culture and work hard day in and day out.”
2016 Record: 1-17-0
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrea Vandette
Now in her third year at the helm of the Sharon Eagles, head coach Andrea Vandette is confident that her squad is ready to take the next step and find some more success. The Eagles are led by three captains: Elyse Korn, Abbi Solomon and Grace Leavitt. Leavitt started to come on strong at the end of the year last season and will be the anchor for the Eagles’ defensive unit this season. Senior Lindsay Moses will be be in the cage and has a good amount of varsity experience under her belt. In the midfield, Leora Leavitt will be in the center of the field and one of the Eagles’ most reliable players. Vandette is also expecting juniors Veronica Wallace and Stephanie Edwards to continue their growth after picking up the sport a season ago.
“My main goal for the girls this season is to compete,” Vendette said. “Being that this is my third year with the program, I believe they know my expectations and the seniors have a good understanding of how to move the ball on the field and how to be successful. We certainly have enough talent to put a few more wins on the board this season!”
2016 Record: 8-9-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Dan Mark
Despite graduating a handful of talented players, including 2015 Hockomock League MVP Angela Connolly, Stoughton head coach Dan Mark is bringing back several key players for the 2017 version of the Black Knights. The Black Knights’ offense will look the most similar to last season’s team that qualified for the state tournament. Julia Russell, Kamryn Oliveira and Jackie Evangelista are returning forwards who played regularly last year. Lisa Ramanauskas is a returning midfielder, and Haley Bushlow is back to anchor the back line. Gianna Barbosa will be the starting goalie again this season.
“We have several returning players who played many minutes last year and are expected to step in as starters this year,” Mark said.
2016 Record: 2-15-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Elizabeth Hathaway
With a strong core of experienced players back, and a couple of young talents looking to make an impression, the Tigers are hoping to improve on last year’s season. Senior Kya Enos has been a steady presence for the Tigers for the past four seasons and will be relied upon to lead the attack long with senior Liana Duarte. Juniors Jillian Pagliuca and Lauren Torres will be tasked with controlling the midfield along with freshman Alana Tavares. Sophomore Kathryn Robinson will be a key piece of Taunton’s defensive unit this season
“Our strength will be the ability of the forwards and mids to move the ball up the field,” said Taunton head coach Liz Hathaway. “Speed is also a factor that will help our offensive attacks.”
Players to Watch
Players are listed alphabetically
Abby Campbell, King Philip – Campbell has been one of the top goalies in the league for the past two seasons and helped KP come within a point of sharing the league title with Franklin last season and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. She had 11 shutouts in 2016 and saved 130-of-143 shots that she faced, finishing with a goals against average of 0.619.
Emily Campbell, Canton – Campbell was a versatile weapon for the Bulldogs, helping out both in midfield and defense to help Canton win 13 games and achieve a plus-40 goal differential for the season. With Campbell playing a critical role, Canton allowed only 14 goals on the year, which was second best in the league. She also chipped in with three goals and seven assists.
Lily Daly, Foxboro – Daly has been the leading scorer for the Warriors in each of her two varsity seasons, helping Foxboro win its first league title in 11 years and its first ever Div. 2 South title. Daly is a force near the net and was chosen as the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year after scoring 16 goals and recording 11 assists.
Emily Ierardo, Mansfield – Ierardo emerged last season as one of the top offensive weapons for the Hornets, helping Mansfield make another run at the league title and reach the second round of the state tournament. She played five different positions in the forward and midfield areas and she scored nine goals and recorded six assists last fall.
Maggie Malloy, Canton – Malloy made quite the impact in her first season playing field hockey. She jumped onto the Canton varsity squad early in the season and finished as the league’s top goal scorer with 16 tallies for the year. She was a big reason for Canton’s improvement offensively and this year, with a season of experience, Malloy could have even bigger numbers.
Kelli McCarthy, Foxboro – Voted Hockomock MVP by the league’s coaches, McCarthy was the backstop for a Warriors defense that was one of the best in the league and helped Foxboro claim a Davenport division title and its first ever Div. 2 South title. She finished with 115 saves on the season and recorded 15 shutouts in 23 games, allowing only 13 goals total.
Alli Meehan, King Philip – Meehan was integral to KP making a run at the league title last season, holding a lead into the final week of the regular season, and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. Meehan scored 14 goals and recorded 11 assists to tie for the league-high in points. She also assisted on the goal that forced overtime against Somerset-Berkeley in a state tournament win.
Cassi Ronan, Franklin – Ronan was a versatile cog in Franklin’s league championship season in 2016, playing both midfield and forward for the Panthers. She finished with 10 goals and seven assists, while being named to the HockomockSports.com First Team, but also did a lot of the defensive work that didn’t show up in the box score.
Sarah Stevens, Oliver Ames – Stevens had a strong season for Oliver Ames in 2016 and the senior will be counted on to create scoring opportunities for the Tigers again this fall. She scored six goals and recorded nine assists for OA last season, helping the Tigers get to 11 wins on the season, beat Durfee in the first round of the playoffs, and push perennial power Walpole to overtime.
Annie Walsh, Franklin – Walsh is the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year (she was also Player of the Year in girls’ lacrosse) after leading the Panthers to a Kelley-Rex division title. A year after being named Underclassman of the Year, Walsh took her game to another level with 14 goals and 11 assists for a league-high 25 points.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview
2016 Record: 10-8-2
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal
Coach: Kate Howarth
For each of the past two seasons, Canton has finished second in the Davenport division and, with only three seniors graduating from the 2016 roster, the Bulldogs are poised to make another run at a league title this fall. Enthusiasm is also high after a strong closing stretch to last year, which included a draw with Kelley-Rex champ Mansfield and playoff victories over Greater New Bedford and Milton.
Senior Riley Duserick is the focal point of the Canton midfield and her ability to open space, pick out the right pass, and shoot from distance gives the Bulldogs a consistent threat in the attack. Junior Julia Hamilton emerged last season as a solid counterpoint to Duserick in the heart of the midfield with her tenacity and speed adding even more cover to the back line. Sophomores Lauren and Morgan McCabe will be added to the midfield options after strong rookie seasons. Lauren Fitzpatrick could see more time up front to replace the graduated Hannah Link and Tessa Cudmore and head coach Kate Howarth expects several freshmen to contribute as well.
The defense had inconsistent moments early in 2016, but the Bulldogs seemed to figure things out midway through the season and with the back four all returning defense should be a strength for Canton. Seniors Sarah Connolly and Carly Hutchinson will lead the defensive unit and junior Sarah Collins brings energy and speed from her right back spot.
“We are working really hard every day to get better at the little things that will push us beyond being a good team this season,” Howarth said. “I think our biggest weakness last year was consistency, so if we can get ahead of that right away we will be in a much better place than we were last year.”
2016 Record: 11-9-0
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Katie Stalcup
Foxboro had an inconsistent 2016, but demonstrated the talent in the program by beating perennial power Notre Dame Academy in the first round of the playoffs and nearly going on the road to beat Medfield in the second round, only to fall in a penalty shootout. The Warriors have seven returning players, so this will be a young team in 2017, but new head coach Katie Stalcup will be familiar with those players after her stint as the JV coach last year.
The Warriors will be able to count on senior Lily Sykes. The four-year starter is one of the most dynamic players in the league and is capable of dominating the midfield by beating a defender off the dribble or picking out a defense-splitting pass. Senior Shaina Abbott will be one of the forwards that Sykes will be looking to set up, while senior Olivia Dantona adds speed on the wings. Senior Mackenzie Cusack is also back to lead the defensive unit along with junior Alex Stamatos.
Stalcup is counting on a number of young players to step in and contribute right away. Sophomore Lizzy Davis played for Stalcup on JV last year and brings speed and physicality to the forward position. Among the freshmen that will be on the roster are midfielder Katelyn Mollica, forward Jordyn Collins, and defender Emma Dahl.
“I am very excited about being the new varsity coach this year,” said Stalcup. “We have seven returning varsity players, four seniors who are all captains and five very impressive freshmen on the team for this season as well as some great players coming up from JV. We are a young team, but I am excited to see how well we can play together.”
2016 Record: 5-9-4
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jay Mastaj
Milford is looking to bounce back from a five-win season to challenge for a spot in the state tournament this fall. The Hawks have a roster filled with youth and bring the majority of the starting lineup back and head coach Jay Mastaj is confident that the talent is there to make a push up the table and compete with the top teams in the league.
The Hawks are deep and experienced on the back line and the defense could be a real strength for Milford this season. Seniors Rachel LeBlanc and Brianna Braza will be the leaders in the heart of the defense and will try to keep everyone organized. Senior Leeanne Kibbee will lead the attack and will be counted on to finish off chances created by senior Maggie Boyle and sophomore Ashleigh Starks, who will look to create from the center of midfield.
Mastaj said of the attackers, “The combination brings strong skills, familiarity and solid varsity experience.” He is also excited about the younger players and what they can bring to the table this year, including sophomores Madelyn Boyle, Julianna France, and Annie Flanagan.
“This season we expect to be very competitive across the entire league,” Mastaj added, “and with a little bit of luck we believe we can challenge for the top of the Davenport.”
2016 Record: 14-4-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Bill Wallace
Despite changing coaches midway through the 2016 season, North Attleboro rolled to its first league title in its first season in the Davenport division. The Rocketeers racked up 14 wins and a goal differential of plus-40. Expectations are even higher coming into this fall with North returning a roster filled with experienced upperclassmen.
URI-commit Haley Guertin is the player to watch for the Rocketeers, as the senior forward is both a goal threat and also a playmaker who consistently opens up opportunities for her teammates. Her 37 career assists is tied for the most in program history. Head coach Bill Wallace said that there is a change in systems coming up front, but with Leah Jette and Ashlyn Gaulin joining Guertin, North will have a formidable attack.
In the midfield, Aine Mendonca returns to hold things down in the center of the pitch. Her poise in posession and ability to break up opposing attacks is critical for the Rocketeers. Of course, if anyone gets through, HockomockSports.com Best XI defender Rachel LaBonte and fellow senior Emily Chiasson are on hand to clean it up. North also returns both Nina Beauvais and Emma Noreck in goal.
“We should be up tempo and have a lot of depth,” said Wallace. “These kids have played together for years and generally care about each other. As always, the Hock is a ‘bear’ of a league and for us to continue last years success we are going to have to work hard and continue to improve!”
2016 Record: 7-9-2
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Furnival
Sharon narrowly missed out on reaching the playoffs last season under first-year head coach Brad Furnival. This year, making the playoffs could be even more difficult after the team lost nine seniors and seven starters from last year’s team. The Eagles will be building with youth this fall and gaining experience for a number of new faces.
One returning player that the Eagles will be counting on is senior Ally Filipkowski, who is coming off an exciting summer that saw her named to the U-20 Puerto Rican national team. The George Washington-commit is one of the most talented players with the ball in the league and she will be tasked with creating most of the chances for the Eagles. Senior Sabrina Robbins will step into a leadership role at the heart of the Sharon defense this fall and will be counted on to organize a young group.
Among the new faces to watch is junior Maxine Gordon, who will be starting in the attack this fall and is hoping to build off her experience from last season to be a consistent goal scorer. Sophomore Bella Berger is another player that Furnival believes could be in for a strong season. Berger will be influencing the game from the center of midfield.
“This season will be more of a transition season for Sharon girls,” Furnival said. “We have a very young team so the vision for this team is a couple of seasons down the line. We are hoping to continue playing an attacking brand of soccer and are looking forward to coming up against some top opposition that the Hock will pit us up against.”
2016 Record: 0-17-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Tara Daniels
Stoughton has been in a rebuilding mode for the past couple of seasons, but entering 2017 head coach Tara Daniels is making changes to the formation and counting on an experienced back line to get the Black Knights moving up the table in the Davenport division.
The leader for Stoughton is senior Sarah Widrow, who was the team’s lone league all-star last fall and impressed during the HockomockSports.com Charity All-Star Game. As an attacking fullback, Widrow pushes the Black Knights forward and adds vocal leadership to the back line. She will be joined at the back by the speedy Gabriela Diaz, who was converted from striker to defender. Senior Mia Greene will be the focal point in the midfield to try and keep possession for Stoughton.
Sophomore Chinazo Odunze returns from a injury-shortened season to lead the line for the Black Knights attack. She had a strong start to her freshman campaign before her injury and Daniels calls her combination of speed and physicality a “game-changer” for the attack.
Daniels said, “This season we are trying a new formation to give us more offensive opportunities…Staying healthy and in good shape is key to a successful season. We are looking to step up our possession game and having more of an offensive push this year.”