By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip escaped a jam in the top half of the fourth and scored three runs in the bottom half to pick up a 4-1 non-league win over North Attleboro on Tuesday afternoon.
Pitching dominated the game early on as both North’s Nick Sinacola and KP’s Stephen Murray pitched 1-2-3 first innings. Through three innings, the only hit of the game was a second inning single single by North Attleboro catcher Zach DeMattio, who paced North’s offense with a 2-4 day, including an RBI triple.
After DeMattio’s single, Nick Crowley got hit by a pitch which set North up with first and second and nobody out, but Murray got a pop out to third and then a fly out to Patrick Limerick in left field, then doubled off DeMattio at second after he left early. Nick Sinacola set down the first nine KP batters he faced, striking out three.
In the fourth, both teams got their offense working, as North loaded the bases after back to back singles from Nick Crawley and Matt Iaconis and a two out walk by John Brennan, but Murray got out of the bases loaded jam by getting a hit back to the mound for a 1-3 put out.
“That’s what Steve does. He’s been with me for three years now, and when he gets in a jam I don’t get nervous, I get worked up, but not nervous because Steve’s gotten out of situations like that so many times now,” said KP coach Pat Weir about Murray’s ability to get out of jams.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Warriors took advantage of that momentum. Kyle Guenther became KP’s first base runner with a single into center, and Will Weir connected on a one-out single, which set up first and second with only one out. Sinacola got his fourth strikeout of the game for the second out but walked Ben Furfari to load the bases.
Collin Cooke then drew a walk to score Guenther, and Sinacola just barely hit Jack Webster with a pitch which allowed Weir to cross the plate. Chris Wing drew KP’s second bases loaded walk of the inning, which brought home Furfari and gave KP a 3-0 advantage. After Wing’s walk, Peter Cohen came in to relieve Sinacola, and he induced a grounder to Brennan, who stepped on second for the force out to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth, North answered back with a two out rally of their own. Nate Pearce hit a two-out double into the gap and DeMattio crushed a ball deep into right for a triple to bring home Pearce and get North on the board and cut the KP lead to 3-1.
In the bottom half of the 5th, Guenthner drew a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Limerick. Will Weir singled home Guenther, and advanced to second on an error on the throw home. Murray was then hit by a pitch, and with Furfari at the plate, Murray and Weir executed a perfect double to steal to set up second and third with only one out.
However Furfari’s ensuing flyout was not deep enough to score Weir, and a ground out to short to end the inning.
After walking Iaconis to start the top of the sixth, Murray was pulled from the game, but he still had a very impressive outing, striking out three in five inning of work while only allowing one run. Jackson Shiebler replaced Murray, and induced a pair of fielder’s choice outs and then got a force out to end the inning.
Cohen set down the Warriors in order in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh, Shiebler got a fly out to center and a ground out, but after walking Nate Pearce, North had one last chance. After a tough at-bat with DeMattio fouling off a couple of pitches, Shiebler ended the game with a strikeout.
KP (5-1) will get back at it on Thursday at noon when they take on Taunton (4-0) at home.
North Attleboro (3-3 for tournament purposes) will return home to Community Field on Thursday where they’ll do battle with Stoughton (4-2).
2016 Record: 2-18 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled through a difficult 2016, the first season under new head coach Mark Homer, winning only two games while giving up a league high 177 runs and scoring a league-low 46. Heading into this spring, the Bombardiers will be counting on a group of young players to try and turn things around and it seems to be working so far, as Attleboro has played two games and already matched last year’s win total.
One of the true bright spots from last season was freshman pitcher MacKenzie Bergdoll, who showed flashes of the potential to be an ace for Attleboro, and this season she will be counted on to keep the Bombardiers in games and to provide big hits from the three-spot. Julia Woyton will be behind the plate this year while senior Ilea Caverley and junior Casey Whelan (outfield) and Jordyn Lako (second base) are the few returning players on the roster.
The Bombardiers are going to turn to youth this spring with freshman MacKenzie Killough taking over at shortstop. Freshmen twins Emma and Jenna Gittle will add depth to the Attleboro pitching staff and classmate Ashley Macia will take over in centerfield. Homer also said that there were underclassmen who would provide speed off the bench.
“The expectations are to play hard, be committed and get excited with every game and practice that they take part in,” said Homer. “With the added depth in each position this year, the girls hope to gain advantages from the previous year and reach their set goals for the season.”
2016 Record: 3-17 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Jennifer Robillard
Former King Philip and Sacred Heart University shortstop Jennifer Robillard takes over the Canton program this spring with the hope of bringing some of the success that she enjoyed playing for two state champions and a Division I college to the Bulldogs, who are coming off a three-win season.
The Bulldogs will be looking to their experienced players to help turn things around in 2017, including seniors Molly Loughran, Taylor Carrington, and Julia Ezepik and junior Hannah Jerrier, who are all captains this spring. Jerrier and Ezepik will start the season injured, but Robillard is hoping that other players can step up until they return. Canton will have depth in the circle, as both junior Caitlyn Cahill and freshman Caroline Hughes will see action at pitcher.
Lillian Carrington and Samantha Keefe are two other players that will be counted on to contribute and both provided home runs in a loss to Mansfield in the second game of the season. Robillard is excited about the opportunity to get back into the Hockomock League and she sees a team that “wants to learn.”
“This team has a lot of potential. If we can tap into this potential, I truly believe that we are going to take teams by surprise,” Robillard said. “I am here to share my passion for and knowledge of the game I love with these girls. It is important to me that these girls learn how to be strong, independent and respectful young women.”
2016 Record: 9-13 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Mark Maguire
In 2016, Foxboro finished 6-10 in the Hockomock League but got its chance to play in the postseason and took advantage with a preliminary round win over Westwood and a near-upset of Abington in a nine-inning classic. The Warriors will hope to build on that experience this spring with a number of key players returning.
League all-star Hannah Davis is back behind the plate for the Warriors and will be one of the top hitters in the Hockomock. Davis will likely be in the three-spot in the lineup and right behind her will be senior Kelly Fisher, who head coach Mark Maguire called one of the best first basemen in the league. Kelly McCarthy will try to set the table for the power hitters in the lead-off spot.
Sophomore pitcher Emma Rohan is back in the circle and Maguire expects that she will compete every game and build on her rookie campaign. Behind Rohan, Cam Willis will moved from second base to short and Chelsea Gibbons will provide good ‘D’ and a solid bat at third. Lefty Lexi Buckner could grab the second base spot and senior Jamie Gorham could provide an unexpected boost as a first-year player in the outfield. Mandy Ryan and Kayla Wheatley are two of the players coming up from JV that Maguire is hoping will step in to provide depth.
“They’re all working hard and they’re ready to build together as a team,” said Maguire. “The expectations are really to compete every game.”
2016 Record: 12-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Kate Fallon
Once the rains go away for a few days, Franklin will be able to open its new field and make official its move back to the high school after a couple seasons playing at Dean College. The Panthers are excited about the new facility and about the team’s potential for success this spring with seven returning starters from last year.
Leading the way is third baseman, and four-year starter, Olivia DiGiacomo, who has been a mainstay at the hot corner and provides leadership for the infield. To her left is shortstop Alyssa DaSilva, a three-year starter with two years of experience at short. Sophomore Allie Shea is back at first base and senior Clara DeCarvalho is back behind the plate and poised for a “breakout season,” according to head coach Kate Fallon. The outfield is also filled with veterans, including seniors Rachel Cousineau in left and Olivia Haba in center.
The seventh starter is senior Alex Niss, who started as a pinch hitter last season before taking over the DP role and turning into one of the top power hitters in the Hockomock League. The Panthers should be solid defensively and at the plate and Fallon is hoping that sophomore pitchers Jackie Cherry (who carried a shutout into the seventh in the season opening loss to North Attleboro) and Emily Valentino can make an instant impact in the circle.
“Win 11 games and make the tournament again,” said Fallon when asked about the expectations for the team this season. “I expect the seniors to provide leadership and be role models for the underclassmen. It’s always a dogfight in this league…but I think we are a good team.”
2016 Record: 24-4 2016 Finish: Won Div. 1 State Championship Coach: Norm Beauchemin
King Philip comes into 2017 on the back of its third state title in the past six years and, while expectations remain high for one of the region’s top programs, there are key pieces from last year’s team that need to be replaced in order for the Warriors to get back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and in the state.
The biggest absence this season is, of course, pitcher Kali Magane, who is now in the circle for Boston University and who was dominant during KP’s playoff run a year ago. Senior Jenn Hutnyan will step in to be the team’s starting pitcher after several starts and relief appearances in the past two seasons. Hutnyan will also be an important bat in the lineup. Junior Brie Lacy will be back behind the plate to help Hutnyan and head coach Norm Beauchemin noted that junior Jessica Bonner will be a solid defensive third baseman.
KP rarely rebuilds and almost always reloads for another title push. This year should be no different with a lineup that features several familiar names from last season’s title run, including sophomore Meghan Gorman and juniors Brooke Taute, Elise Pereira, and Hailey McCasland. Each of those players had important roles last season and will be ready to step up for the Warriors this spring as KP tries to regain the league title after Taunton ended its nine year run in 2016.
“Though it’s hard to replace last year’s seniors,” said Beauchemin, “we have a solid core of returning players ready to represent King Philip and its proud softball legacy.”
2016 Record: 13-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield is coming off a 13-win season that included a tournament win against Notre Dame Academy, but after four years of being able to count on Maddie Letendre in the circle the Hornets will be handing the ball over to a new pitcher this spring, although as it turns out only the first name will be changing.
Megan Letendre, who played shortstop as a freshman, will take over in the circle for the Hornets and her development as the No. 1 pitcher will go a long way to determining if Mansfield can repeat last year’s success. Pitcher is not the only position that needs to be replaces, as the Hornets will have a new catcher and three new infielders. Still, with nine returning players, there is plenty of experience on the roster.
Kara Bendanillo will move from third base to second, according to head coach Lori Letendre, and Megan Letendre will sometimes see time at second when not pitching. Liz Mackin will take over at first base, while Marissa Staffier and Amanda Giambanco will take the corner outfield positions. Mady Bendanillo will be back in center after an impressive first season for the Hornets.
“This is one of the hardest working teams I have had at Mansfield and they have been putting in a lot of effort to get ready for the season,” said Coach Letendre.
2016 Record: 17-5 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Steve DiVitto
Milford has been the class of the Davenport division for the past four seasons and the Hawks come into 2017 with the expectations of being heavy favorites for another league title, but, with three seniors and nine juniors on the roster and eight starters returning, head coach Steve DiVitto is hopeful that the talent will translate to a deep run in the state tournament.
The Hawks are one of the few contenders to return not just one but two starting pitchers from last season. Senior Ali Atherton is back to be the primary option in the circle and the Southern New Hampshire-commit has been dominant at times in her career. If Atherton gets into trouble or needs a rest, junior Kelley Reichert has demonstrated that she is more than just a fill-in but can also shut down opponents. They will be pitching to sophomore Emily Hartman, who will step into the starting lineup this season.
There are very few question marks in this year’s lineup with junior Emily Piergustavo moving from second to short to replace Jill Powers, which is Piergustavo’s natural position and one she has played several times in the past year. Junior Jess Tomaso is back at first base and in the heart of the lineup where she will be joined by senior outfielder Maggie Farrell and senior third baseman Kaitlyn DeCapua. Junior Kate Irwin will try to be the table-setter at the top of the order and juniors Maddy Bonvino (second base) and Shannon Cormier (outfield) will also be contributors.
“This has been a focused and driven group ever since the end of last season,” said DiVitto. “They have worked hard in the off-season and that was very apparent in the early stages of the season. We are excited to compete in the best league in the state, which will hopefully prepare us for a long run into June.”
2016 Record: 11-10 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro returned to the postseason in 2016 and for the Rocketeers to get back to the tournament this spring it will be the younger players that will lead the way. Head coach Bill Wallace knows that his team will be “green” (with only four seniors on the roster), but he is excited about North’s athleticism and versatility.
Pitching may be North’s biggest strength this season with five players in the rotation, led by freshman Bella Erti, who won her first career start, and last year’s starter Amelia Murphy. Juniors Olivia DesRoches, Jaclyn Buckley and Abby Warren could also step into the circle to help out. Senior Sam Courtemanche will be behind the plate to help the pitchers.
Senior Liz Morehouse returns at first base and Andrea Miceli will be at second. Meghan Barlow moves in from the outfield to take over at short (and provided the walk-off hit in North’s season opening win), while Murphy will see time at third when she’s not pitching. Olivia Capobianco will play center with Katherine Munley and Kristina Murphy in left and right with freshmen Ashley Cangiano and Abby Gallagher getting playing time.
“With only four seniors on the roster, I am hoping the learning curve will be brief!” said Wallace. “This may be the year we see a lot of pinch hitting and pinch running! For a young team, they are very focused between the lines!”
Oliver Ames finished in second in the league in 2016 and qualified for the postseason, but that will be an even tougher task now that the Tigers have made the move to the Kelley-Rex division. Even with facing the likes of defending state champion King Philip twice this spring, head coach Lindsey Allison is optimistic that the 10 returning players have the experience to get back into the playoffs.
Senior Victoria Ziner will be the spark on offense for the Tigers this season, but OA also has a number of juniors that Allison said can “do some damage at the plate.” Among those players is Caroline Mahoney, whose bat “is still as dangerous as ever,” according to Allison. Freshman Katie Abreu will be a newcomer to watch for the Tigers as her versatility will make her a valuable member of the lineup.
The Tigers will bring back sophomore Kayla Georgeu in the circle and will be hoping that she continues to develop and keep OA competitive against the league’s top teams. Junior Alexis Campbell will be a second pitcher and also help out at second base.
“We have a solid 10 players returning from last year’s roster,” said Allison, “and we are looking to fill holes behind the plate, in the outfield and at first base this year. Definitely hoping to use some of the speed we have on our team to our advantage this year.”
2016 Record: 4-16 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Deb Parker
Sharon is coming off a four-win season in 2016 but head coach Deb Parker believes that the Eagles have the potential to be a contender in the Davenport division this spring as long as the players continue to develop over the course of the season.
Although the Eagles are a relatively young team, Parker is counting on senior captains Clara Cook and Sam Marglous to provide the leadership needed to keep the team on the right track. Cook will be back in the circle for Sharon, while Marglous will be back behind the plate. Parker said, “Both have been solid contributors for their entire high school careers.”
Sophomore centerfielder Rebecca Clayman and shortstop Ally Small, who Parker referred to as “standouts,” will be the anchors of the defense. Freshman Shoshanna Lowe will step in to play third base and should have a positive impact in the lineup as well.
“I believe we have the right combination of experience, talent and drive to be a contender in the Hock,” said Parker. “This is a team that works hard every day to be better than they were the day before. They have great chemistry and our captains have done an excellent job leading them into the season.”
2016 Record: 10-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Tim Norton
The Black Knights made a return to the state tournament in head coach Tim Norton’s first season in charge, and nearly pulled out a win against Braintree, and Stoughton will be counting on last year’s freshmen to continue developing and keep the program heading in the right direction.
One of the sophomores that the team will be leaning on is third baseman Jordan Lyons, who brings a strong bat to the hot corner and her leadership skills had her named a captain for this spring. Brianna Ferrandiz will take over behind the plate for Sam Tullis and Karly Estremera will move into the infield and continue to be the table-setter as the leadoff hitter.
Norton is excited to have depth in the circle with Shannon Flaherty and Gina Carafa both capable of racking up innings and “setting great examples on and off the field.” Stoughton will also have depth in the outfield with first-year starters Krista Michienzi, Val Whalen and Alessandra Loffredo.
“We were extremely fortunate in Stoughton last year to have such a strong freshman class with great senior leadership,” Norton explained. “This year that sophomore class is going to have to come into their own. While this team is young they got a taste of the post season last year and are hungry for more.”
2016 Record: 22-2 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Dave Lewry
Last season, Taunton won its first outright league title, ending King Philip’s nine-year reign atop the Hockomock. It was a fitting coda to the impressive careers of Taunton’s senior class, but this spring the Tigers will now have to move forward with six new faces in the starting lineup, including at pitcher and the middle infield positions. Taunton typically reloads quickly and head coach Dave Lewry believes this year’s team has a plenty of potential.
Senior Courtney Fisher will step into the circle hoping to make a seamless transition from 2016 Player of the Year Aimee Kistner. Fisher tossed three shutout innings and had three hits in the season opener and got several opportunities to pitch in the past two seasons. She will be pitching to junior captain Kya Enos, who is making the move back to catcher after two seasons in the outfield. Other starters coming back include first baseman Katie VanZandt, junior outfielder Liana Duarte, and sophomore Jaime Brown, who is in her third year at third base.
The Tigers have always found young players who can step right in an make an impact at the varsity level and this year could be a breakout season for eighth grader Hannah Aldrich, who will take over from Jordan Wade at short. Sophomore Alexa White looks ready to step in at second, while senior Rebekah Lajoie and junior Hailey Medeiros are in line to start in the corner outfield places. Taunton could also get contributions at pitcher from eighth grader Kelsey White and freshman Jaylin Couto.
“While we lost six starters from last season, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Lewry. “I expect there will be some growing pains with six new starters in the lineup, but with some seasoned veterans and good young talent we are optimistic that we’ll be competitive this season.”
2016 Record: 6-12 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Kevin Patton
Attleboro is still a relatively young program but has taken strides to be competitive with the rest of the teams in the Hockomock and first-year head coach Kevin Patton is hopeful that the large number of players at tryouts is a sign that the Bombardiers are heading in the right direction.
One of the reasons for Attleboro’s confidence coming into the spring is the experienced players that will take the field, including senior Mish Logie, who is a four-year varsity midfielder. Joining Logie as a captain for this year’s team is goalie Hadley Porreca, who is in her second year in net.
In addition. juniors Emily Patton and Ali Wall return in attack, while classmates Kim White and Graycen Cassidy will keep things tight on the defensive side of the ball. Midfield depth will be provided by sophomores Kyra Lyons and Alex Compton, who are both coming off strong rookie seasons on varsity. Freshman Sydney DiLiddo will also have the chance to step in and contribute in midfield this season and junior Ashlyn Salisbury and sophomore Shea Harrison will see time on defense.
“We had our largest player turnout in the program’s history,” said Patton, “and we have girls that want to work hard and succeed. With only two seniors on this year’s team, I will be looking to certain underclassmen to take on added leadership roles. This will help us not only this year but going forward.”
2016 Record: 8-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Christine O’Connor
Canton won five of its final seven games last season to get back to .500 and qualify for the state tournament and the Bulldogs will be hoping to carry that momentum over to this spring with a roster that features nine seniors and eight juniors.
Some of the key returning players for Canton this season include senior attacker Mary Kent, senior defender Tessa Cudmore, and senior goalie Kathryn Doody, who form a solid spine for the Bulldogs to build on. Caroline Hagan, Rebecca Eckler, and Maria Mackie are among the other seniors that will be contributing for Canton.
One of the younger players to watch is sophomore attacker Leah McClellan, who is one of several players that helped the girls’ hockey team reach the state title game at the TD Garden. Another sophomore, Maggie Malloy, has already had strong seasons for the field hockey and ice hockey teams and will provide depth this spring.
“We look to gain strength as the season progresses,” said O’Connor. “We will look to the seniors for leadership and intensity in order to be competitive.”
Foxboro won its fifth straight Davenport division title last spring and returned to the Div. 2 South semifinal for the second straight season and expectations will be even higher this season for head coach Brittany Sherry, as the Warriors return 15 players to try and make it six league titles in a row.
Among the many experienced players coming back is an exciting core of sophomores that have made instant impacts, including the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Sophia DiCenso, who scored 65 goals and had 31 assists last year. Joining DiCenso up front will be classmates Caroline McGeary and Meghan Curran and juniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano.
Defensively, senior Hallie Canfield will be back to anchor things and provide leadership. Junior Christina Rogers and sophomores Jenna Stamatov and Molly Murphy will also be back to limit opposing offenses. Freshman Sara Addeche will take over in goal and is another in a line of talented underclassmen that Sherry is excited to see develop over the course of the season.
“Our goals stay about the same every year, most importantly getting another round further!” Sherry said. “The last two years our season has ended in the semi finals but I’m hoping with the scheduling and tourney experience last year we will have the edge we need to get to the finals.”
2016 Record: 19-5 2016 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 State Semifinal Coach: Kristin Igoe Guarino
Another spring and another league title for Franklin, which completed another perfect season in the Hockomock and then carried that success into the playoffs to win a second Div. 1 East title with a dramatic, one-goal victory over Acton-Boxboro. Even though they only return five players, the Panthers enter the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and with sights set on challenging for a state title.
There is experience coming back for the Panthers with seniors Grace McDermott and Dana Lewandowski coming back to control things on the defensive end, while former Underclassman of the Year Kendall Reardon and fellow senior Caroline Lounsbury will provide leadership in the attack.
Franklin always seems to have players ready to step in and, despite there being a youth movement on the varsity team, the Panthers have already started 2-0 with wins against Needham and Lincoln-Sudbury. Sophomore midfielder Annie Walsh and her freshman sister Erin have both gotten off to strong starts with sophomore Halle Atkinson helping out with a hat trick in the win over L-S as well.
“I am very excited for the 2017 season!” said Igoe Guarino. “Our freshmen and sophomores bring a lot of energy and competitiveness to practice and games, while our juniors and seniors bring the discipline and experience. The two combined could bring us very far again this year!”
King Philip surprised some last spring when the Warriors went on the road to beat Westford Academy in the first round of the Div. 1 East tournament and that experience could pay dividends as KP returns a number of key players with the intent making a run at earning a first league title since 2012.
Senior Angela Vellante is back and head coach Julie Boudreau called her the “quarterback” for the attacking unit. Vellante will be looking to feed junior Katie Crowther, who was the team’s and the league’s leading scorer as a sophomore with 111 points. Senior Meghan Wagner was a starter as a freshman and scored in every game but missed the last two years with an injury and is now back to make an impact on offense.
KP can also count on a strong sophomore class led by a core of midfielders: Caroline Klim, Alli Meehan, Victoria and Olivia Tormey, and Dana Truini. Also back is sophomore goalie Caroline Watson behind a defense of juniors Molly Mullins, Christina Hathaway and Izzy Agricola. Also making a return is assistant coach Mary Pasquantonio, Boudreau’s sister, who brings experience as a former KP player and will help the current crop of Warriors on draw controls.
“We have a deep bench with many sophomores and will be looking to run lines and sub regularly to keep everyone fresh,” said Boudreau. “Our theme for the season is ‘grit=hard work + passion’.”
Mansfield won its opening two games of the 2016 season, but the Hornets struggled during a difficult middle part of the spring and missed out on the state tournament. The Hornets showed flashes of potential during the year, including a close loss to perennial tournament team Hingham, and hopes are high that they can get back into the postseason this year.
Expectations are boosted by the return of a strong core of experience players. Senior Maire Foley will be a focal point of the Hornets attack this year, while classmate Maggie Dunn and junior Ann Maher will return in the midfield. Senior Jen McCabe will provide leadership in defense and sophomore Kaity Garvin will build off her rookie season in attack.
Among the new faces this spring are sophomore midfielders Maggie Danehy, who had a solid winter with the girls’ basketball team, and Lauren Whitman
“Our team really has been working together as a unit day one,” said head coach Alexis Kobey. “They came into the season ready to go and work on what they needed to work on to get better, from draw controls, ball movement, attack/defense they have been showing up everyday. They also really love playing with each other, working with each other, making each other better.”
2016 Record: 3-15 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Tim Dowd
It has been a tough run for Milford since moving to the Hockomock League, but the Hawks bring back an experienced roster for first-year head coach Tim Dowd and he is hopeful that the program will continue to improve over the course of the season.
Dowd’s excitement for the new season is in part built on the leadership of his senior class, including captains Taylor Dube, Jill Burley, and Jordyn Lombardo, who Dowd said would all have “incredible seasons.” He praised all three for their competitive spirits and for pushing their teammates to improve.
Another senior, Brainna Croteau, will be in charge of the defensive unit and Dowd is counting on the development of a talented group of sophomores and juniors. Milford also has two freshmen, Hannah Bangert and Anne Flanagan, who will be on the varsity roster this season and who Dowd thinks will make an impact.
“I think one of our strengths is going to be teamwork and work ethic,” said Dowd. “We want to be a team that goes the extra mile for each other and constantly works to win battles on the field. We’re going to try to outwork other teams. We’re going to try to focus on the little things to hopefully make big improvements.”
2016 Record: 13-7 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East Quarterfinal Coach: Mike Vitelli
Under first-year head coach Mike Vitelli (who had previously led King Philip to a Hockomock League title and a South final), North Attleboro made a jump into second place in the Kelley-Rex division and won 13 games, while reaching the playoffs for the first time. After a loss to eventual state champ Walpole, Vitelli has built up North’s schedule with perennial powers Notre Dame Academy, Natick, and Walpole to get the Rocketeers prepared for a tournament run.
North will clearly miss last year’s Player of the Year Hana Caster (who is now at UMass Lowell), the Rocketeers return a number of important players, including six of the team’s seven defenders. Seniors Samantha Taggart, Emily Schromm, Emma Cromidas, and Alaina Mello will provide an experienced defensive unit in front of junior goalie Kayla Moulin, who Vitelli believes will have a great season.
Up front, North will turn to junior Kenzie Rosenberg and senior Erin Holley, who had breakout seasons for the Rocketeers in 2016. Chloe Olsen, Julia Dakin, and Julia Tolfa will also be counted on to provide offense for North Attleboro, while Camille Pizzaro and freshman Katie Lindstrom will be newcomers to watch this spring.
“I really like the depth of our bench as well,” said Vitelli. “Lots of hybrid players who can play in many roles…Biggest question I’ve gotten this offseason has been ‘how can you replace Hana Caster?’ My response is we can’t. But that being said, I don’t think any player is replaceable…It just becomes an opportunity for other players to step in and make their mark.”
2016 Record: 8-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round Coach: Abby Tepper
Oliver Ames reached the postseason last year by finishing second in the Davenport division and will look to build on that in 2017 in the Tigers first season in the Kelley-Rex and first season under new head coach Abby Tepper, who is only one year removed from the end of a very successful college playing career at Salve Regina and a solid first season as coach of the OA field hockey program this fall.
Tepper inherits a roster with several key returning players that provide a foundation for the Tigers, who won the opening two games of the spring. Junior captain Sofia Masciarelli will be the main attacking cog for OA this season with senior Katie Davenport back in the heart of the defense and junior goalie Ari Waldorf will be back between the pipes.
Also back for OA and expected to make a step up into the starting lineup are senior captain Kendall Clifford in the midfield, junior Chloe Kilkelly in the attack, and sophomore midfielder Olivia Piazza.
“The girls have been working hard each day at practice to prepare for the tough schedule they will face,” said Tepper. They continually improve their skills and lacrosse IQ each day. I have been impressed with how the girls have pushed one another to get better and have committed themselves to the program.”
2016 Record: 10-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round Coach: Colleen Carchedi
In her second season in charge, Sharon head coach Colleen Carchedi (née Manning) led the Eagles to their first ever playoff appearance. On their home grass, the Eagles put in a great performance to battle perennial playoff competitor Bishop Feehan and the experience has generated a lot of excitement in the program as the new season begins.
Sharon has five key players returning from last season, including leading scorer Alex Rabb and twin sister Sam, who is one of the team’s top defensive players. Senior Anna Crosby will be the motor in the midfield and junior midfielder Sabrina Robbins has verbally committed to the University of Colorado. Carchedi said of Robbins, “She is someone who always gets the job done and deserves more credit than she gets. She is reliable and hard working, never afraid to take a risk.”
Sophomore Emma Eberhardt is another player coming back that Carchedi believes will be able to take on a much larger role this spring. Eberhardt will add size in the midfield and, particularly, on draw controls. Carchedi said, “She is an all around stud athlete and is for sure a player to watch.” Sophomore Rose Wald is a newcomer that takes over in goal.
“I know we are going to be a really well balanced team,” Carchedi added, noting that the Eagles had six different goal scorers in the season opener against Milford. “I am so excited for the season and ready to hit the ground running after a big game against my old high school, KP.”
With a win against Norton on Monday, Taunton avenged a pair of losses to the Lancers from 2016 and is halfway to last year’s win total. The Tigers are still a young program at the varsity level and, as such, head coach Kerry Northup knows there will be a learning curve against Hockomock opponents, but she is also excited about the team’s potential.
The Tigers will turn to seniors Delaney Powell, Annie Tate, and Abbey Kingman to provide consistent offense this spring and all three had big games in the opener against Norton, combining for 12 of the team’s 17 goals. Powell led the way with six goals in the win and junior Lorna Li had 12 saves in another strong performance for the Tigers’ “confident” goalie.
Taunton also has plenty of youth that will be gaining valuable experience this spring, including three sophomores, a pair of freshmen, and three eighth graders. One of the eighth graders, Alana Tavares, made the most of her varsity debut on Monday, potting five goals against Norton and will be one of the newcomers to watch in the Hock this season.
“We have a solid group of girls this season,” said Northup. “Our strength players have a nice balance throughout the field from offense, mid, to defense. We are not a powerhouse team, but a team with passion, drive, and grit. These girls play to the end and don’t give up until that last whistle sounds.”
BROCKTON, Mass. – North Attleboro won the first meeting with Foxboro this season, thanks in part to a huge fourth quarter by senior Ashley Ahern. With Ahern out injured for the second meeting, Foxboro ran over the Rocketeers and clinched the Davenport title with a 26-point victory.
On Monday night at Massasoit Community College, the teams met for the third time to not only decide the season series but also to see which team would represent the Hockomock in Saturday’s Div. 2 South final.
With Ahern in uniform for the introductions, but not able to play, North came in with the plan of slowing the game down, turning it into a half-court battle, playing physical defense, and trying to take advantage of its edge in size in the post. The game plan worked perfectly, but Foxboro showed that it had some grit to go along with its ability to put points on the board.
Behind a game-high 20 points from league MVP Ashley Sampson and 17 from fellow junior Lily Sykes, Foxboro defended, crashed the boards, and found just enough offense to pull out a 49-39 victory that earns the Warriors a second trip to the South final in three seasons.
“We did exactly what we needed to do to beat that team,” admitted North Attleboro coach Derek Herber from the first row of the bleachers following the game. “You can’t let them run, you can’t let them shoot all those shots…Through three quarters we did what we needed to do; we just needed a little more offense to get to that spot.”
Foxboro coach Lisa Downs recognized the difficulty of playing an opponent for the third time and credited her team for finding a way to win.
“At this point, jitters are normal and we’re in a different gym, some of these girls have been here and some have not, so we’ll take a ‘W’ any day,” she said. “It wasn’t the prettiest of wins but they played with heart.”
The first quarter was not pretty, but the Warriors had a lead and it felt like they were ready to pull away as they did on their home court three weeks ago. Sampson and Sykes split the scoring in the first, each with six points, but Foxboro lacked the typical frenetic pace that it usually plays at.
North was slowing things down and shots were not falling, which made it difficult to get into the full-court press the Warriors prefer. Sykes opened the second with a drive that extended the lead to eight, but it was the only made field goal by the Warriors in the quarter.
The Rocketeers climbed back into the game with Julia Feid (six points) scoring on a drive and Samantha Taggart drilling a three (her only basket of the game) to cut the lead to four. Emily Haskell gave North a big lift right before the break with a steal and a layup and then a runner on the baseline. The junior’s only four points of the game made it 20-17 at the break.
“I think we were beating ourselves to be honest with you,” said Downs. “We were overthinking our shots because we had some wide open looks and we were just thinking too much instead of releasing the ball. We were only up because of our defense.”
When asked about the sloppiness of the first half, Herber insisted, “Part of the sloppiness is that everything we do, they know, and everything they do, I know, so the sloppiness is playing a third game against a team you’ve seen in a high stakes game.”
In the third quarter, senior forward Caroline Collard started to get going for North, scoring six of her team-high 10 points. Liz Morehouse added three of her five points, including a turn around jumper from the left block. After Feid pulled up for a jumper and Collard scored off an Emily Schromm inbound pass, North was within one at 29-28.
Foxboro was still struggling to find the range and in desperate need of a spark. Sykes stepped up and drilled a three off a Sampson assist to extend the lead to four and then Sampson was able to beat Feid in the post for a layup to give Foxboro a six-point edge heading to the fourth.
“When the shots weren’t falling, we were getting into our own heads, so we just had to settle down,” said Sampson of the Warriors struggles on the offensive end of the floor. “In the third quarter, Lily hit some huge shots and I think once she did that it made everyone more confident.”
Things started to get going for Foxboro in the fourth quarter. Grace Tamulionis opened the quarter with a jumper that Feid answered with a drive, but then Sampson drove and kicked it out to Riley Collins for a straightaway three (her only point of the night) and Foxboro finally had some separation.
“At this point in the season, 22 games in, we’re still telling them to shoot with confidence,” said Downs. “Grace finally warmed up a little bit in the second half, which was huge, and Ashley, so we stepped up when we had to step up and played with grit.”
Tamulionis had six of her seven points in the fourth and Sampson added six as well. North did not give up with Schromm knocking down a jumper and driving the length of the floor for a layup plus the foul. She missed the free throw but grabbed her own rebound with North down 44-38.
The Rocketeers had only more chance to get closer but a long three by Feid was halfway down and popped out and Tamulionis clinched it with an offensive rebound and score on a missed free throw on the other end.
“I’m so proud of the way the girls played,” said Herber. “We held them down as best we could to get to that point. We tried to muck it up as best we could and slow it down and take advantage of our post players.”
When asked about his senior class and what they have brought to the program, Herber could not hide his emotions. He said, “Every year we try to focus on our seniors, but these kids have been with our program as long as I’ve been here, for three years, and they’re just great kids. I just wish better for them today.”
For Sampson and the Warriors the win means a return to Brockton High where the Warriors played eventual state champion Duxbury in 2015. Sampson said, “It’s really exciting. We have an opportunity to win the South final, so it’s just really cool.
“It’s definitely tough. They beat us the first time and we beat them last time by 20-something, so they were out for blood. They wanted it and so did we. It was tough but we had to be mentally prepared for it.”
Foxboro (21-2) will face No. 7 Westwood in the Div. 2 South final on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Brockton High.
BROCKTON, Mass. – North Attleboro held the advantage in nearly every offensive category except for the most important one: the score.
The Rocketeers dominated in terms of attacking zone time, shots on goal and scoring opportunities but Westwood was opportunistic, capitalizing on its chances to snatch a 4-1 win over Big Red.
“I can honestly say I think we were the better team today,” said North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek. “The score didn’t reflect that, they got the bounces and we didn’t. I thought we carried the play from start to finish. I’m very proud of my guys, I can’t ask for anything more from what they gave me today.”
Though no one knew it yet, the first sequence of the game was an example of how the game would play out. North had a good chance just a minute into the game when Brendan McHugh ripped a shot and Anthony Zammiello had a chance on the rebound but it slid just wide.
And on the other end, in Westwood’s first trip into the attacking zone, a defensive miscue gave the Wolverines a golden chance that Trevor Fahey buried to make it 1-0 just 75 seconds into the game.
North responded well though, finding the equalizer less than two minutes later. Junior Hunter Sarro forced a turnover in the offensive zone and ripped a wrist shot from the right circle to tie the game.
The level score was short lived as the Wolverines pounced on another North defensive miscue just three minutes later. A defenseman slipped with a Westwood skater at his feet, forcing the puck free in the defensive zone. Westwood’s Sam Murphy jumped onto it just before it cleared the blue line and fired one top shelf to make it 2-1.
The momentum completely shifted to Big Red in the middle frame. The Rocketeers peppered Westwood goalie Justin Anderson with 14 shots in the period but couldn’t get one by him.
Drew Wissler had the first chance less than a minute in after blocking a clearance attempt but his wrist shot was gloved down.
North Attleboro went on the power play and Zach McGowan had a chance but his shot was blocked by a defenseman.
With eight minutes to play, Zammiello knocked down a clearance from Westwood and unleashed a shot but his tough angle bid was saved.
The Rocketeers’ first line had a good chance with under four minutes to play as Wissler connected with McGowan, who shoveled along a pass to Erik Clements as they entered the zone. Clements got off a shot but it sailed wide of the target.
“We had a gameplay, we wanted to get on them early and attack, attack attack,” Snizek said “We didn’t want to be afraid to lose. The kids held up their end of the bargain, it was just unfortunate with the outcome. I thought it was by far our best season in my eight years here.”
Before North Attleboro could keep the momentum going in the third period, the Wolverines doubled their lead just three minutes into the final stanza. Defenseman Mark Horsfall tossed a shot from the blue line that Timmy Dalton got a piece of. The puck easily found its away in the net as North goalie Ryan Warren was knocked to the ground.
No penalty was called.
“North Attleboro came out and they flew, they’ve got kids that can really fly,” said Westwood coach Mike Welby. “[McGowan], [Clements], even [Wissler], they put a lot of pressure on us. We were surprised by how things went in the second period. But we were very fortunate to come out there in the third and grab the momentum back. We got a pretty opportunistic third goal and then the fourth goal sealed it.”
The Rocketeers had a couple of chances as time ticked away in the third but couldn’t beat Anderson.
Westwood iced the game when Tom Keith raced up the far boards, made a nice move past a defenseman and was able to tuck his chance in to make it 4-1 with 7:58 to play.
Sarro had a nice chance with five minutes to play but Anderson made the save without giving up a rebound and then with a minute to play, McGowan made a nice move to get in close but had his bid turned aside.
“Their goalie played phenomenal, he gobbled everything up,” Snizek said. “It happens, its unfortunate but it happens. We were snakebitten today. No dirty goal chances, which we try to get. They capitalized on the mistakes and thats what good teams do.”
North Attleboro hockey finished with a 29-22 advantage in shots. The Rocketeers finished the season 14-4-4.
“I’m so proud of my seniors,” Snizek said. “Captains and the rest of the senior class…the leadership this year was unbelievable. It was the best I’ve seen in my tenure. They picked everybody up when anyone was down.”
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Trailing by 11 points with eight minutes remaining is a difficult hole to dig out of, particularly when you have only managed 22 points in the first 24 minutes of the game, including just five points in the third.
Even facing tough odds, the experienced Rocketeers started the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s Div. 2 South quarterfinal against Duxbury in the Ken Pickering Gym believing they could win.
“We came in really confident and we all knew in the back of our minds that we were going to get this game,” said senior guard Samantha Taggart, who scored a team-high 16 points. “We played them two years ago, and got destroyed, and it was really important to avenge a loss like that and to get back to the semifinals.”
Not only did North have its best offensive output of the night in the fourth quarter with 14 points, the Rocketeers also held Duxbury scoreless, tossing a shutout in the fourth to pull off an epic comeback and earn a 36-33 victory.
“I didn’t know it was a shutout until the end of the game,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “That just talks about our senior leadership. They’ve been a great group of kids who knew from the beginning who they were. They were going to have to outwork teams and today they did that.”
The quarter started with North trailing 33-22. Caroline Collard (10 points, 11 rebounds) knocked down a jumper off a Taggart assist to get things started. North put the ball in the hands of sophomore guard Julia Feid to create and she drew a foul and made one of two at the line to cut the lead to eight points.
The second free throw bounced away and was chased down by Liz Morehouse, who could not get her shot to fall. Collard snagged another offensive board and swung the ball back to Feid for a straightaway three that got the crowd starting to believe a comeback was possible with 6:07 left to play.
Emily Haskell brought North within three points with a long jumper on the far side and suddenly the whole atmosphere in the building was changed. North fans were fired up and it only got louder when Taggart took the ball the length of the court for a layup that made it 33-32 inside the final two minutes. Collard grabbed her own miss, got fouled and knocked down a pair of free throws for North’s first lead since it was 10-8 in the first quarter.
On the other end, Collard blocked a pair of shots, her third and fourth of the night, and grabbed the defensive board to get North back the ball. Taggart was fouled and hit both her shots from the line to make it 36-33.
On Duxbury’s final possession, the Dragons continued to struggle finding a shot. Lill Foote was forced to throw up a fall away that was rebounded by Morehouse and set off raucous celebrations on the North bench.
“They played some great defense, we just had to play better offense for one quarter and that’s what we did,” said Herber.
Taggart added, “Our morale was really down in the third quarter because they went on a run. We talked about how we had to step it up on defense and we did exactly that. Everything just clicked together.
“I don’t think we’ve held anyone scoreless, but we’ve come close. I think this was the best defensive stand of the season and in such a big game too.”
North got off to a decent start offensively against the tall, physical Duxbury defense. Taggart scored eight of North’s 10 points in the first and the Rocketeers trailed by just two. Collard scored four points in the second and North continued to hang around, trailing by just four heading into halftime, 21-17.
“That whole first half, Sam kept us in it and gave us opportunities to be in this game,” said Herber. “We’re not a bunch of superstars. We’re going to fight through as best we can.”
Things changed in the third, as Duxbury started to get into a rhythm by getting the ball inside to senior forward Nicole Callander, who scored eight of her team-high 11 points in the quarter. Meanwhile, North got a three from Feid (seven points) and a drive by Taggart.
The Rocketeers were down but not out. North showed the tenacity that has allowed it to go 8-4 since an injury ended the season for senior Ashley Ahern, who was the team’s leading scorer.
“With Ashley, we’re a smaller team but a much faster team,” said Taggart. “Now that Ashley is out and Liz Morehouse is starting, we’re a taller team so it changes that whole aspect of the game, but we still work together. It’s a new style but we’re coming together and making it work.”
Taggart reflected on her final game at the Pickering Gym. She said, “It would have been heartbreaking if we had lost, but to come back from being down makes it that much better.”
Herber could not contain his excitement after the game. He said, “These kids are always fighting. We’re the smallest team then we’re the team that can’t shoot then we lose Ashley and we’re down 11 to Duxbury…I’m so happy that I’m just babbling on.
“Now we get another shot at the semifinal; not many kids can say they’ve been to the semifinal twice in a career.”
North Attleboro (18-6) will face top seed Foxboro in the Div. 2 South semifinal on Monday at 5:30 at Massasoit Community College. The teams split two meetings during the regular season.
BOURNE, Mass. – It’s not often you get a second chance in a playoff game, let alone one that reaches 3-on-3 double overtime.
But North Attleboro sophomore Brendan McHugh battled his way to a second opportunity and didn’t let this one past.
Just seconds after the defenseman had his breakaway turned aside, he tracked the puck down in the corner, got around an opponent and muscled his way to the game-winning goal on the doorstep to hand the fifth-seeded Rocketeers a 2-1 win over 12th-seeded Plymouth North.
“I have pretty awful hands and I came in on a breakaway and I had no idea what to do,” admitted McHugh. “I tried to put it five hole but it didn’t work. I picked it up in the corner and they were kind of off me.
“We play a lot of 3-on-3 at practice so after I beat the first guy, I stuffed it in and then just kept pushing as hard as I could and I saw it go in.”
With the win, North Attleboro advances to the MIAA Division 2 South Sectional Quarterfinals to take on the winner of Westwood and Plymouth South.
“It takes a lot of character, a lot of poise, a lot of teamwork really,” said North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek. “It’s about knowing your limitations and my guys, they did. They weren’t going to try to overextend themselves when they didn’t have a lot left in the tank. It takes a tremendous amount of self-awareness.
“It’s about smart, unselfish hockey. [Plymouth North] played a great game, they have a hell of a team over there. We were lucky to get the bounces when we needed it.”
The teams were knotted 1-1 after 45 minutes of play, sending the teams into a first overtime period played 4-on-4. While the Rocketeers had a couple of offensive zone trips early, the six-minute span really belonged to the Panthers.
But for every shot, North Attleboro goalie sophomore Ryan Warren had an answer. He registered seven of his 26 saves in that frame to keep Big Red level. The Panthers also had a chance on a rebound but when the puck was chipped across the goal line, North defenseman Will Yeomans knocked it away over the top of the goal.
“I thought our goalie kept in it as usual,” Snizek said. “He was definitely player of the game in mind. They came out strong in that first overtime period and he handled it. He played his angles very well and gobbled everything up, which is what he usually does.”
North Attleboro went on the power play just over a minute into the second overtime period, playing with a 4-on-3 advantage. The Rocketeers nearly cashed in right away but Yeomans had his close range big go over the bar.
After a scoreless first period – a frame that saw the Rocketeers dominate offensive zone time but register just two shots on goal – Big Red was able to break through late in the second period.
Junior Jason McNeany dished the puck back to senior Vincent Zammiello at the blue line. The defenseman took a stride towards goal and unleashed a wrist shot. With plenty of traffic in front, the puck found its way through and looked to take a slight deflection off a Plymouth North player before finding the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Plymouth North found the equalizer right around the same point in the final period. After a faceoff, the puck was played in front before taking a weird bounce with the Panthers’ Brian Kingsbury putting it in the back of the net late in the third.
The two teams played nearly 10 minutes of extra hockey at either 4-on-4 or 3-on-3.
“It shows how important it is for other guys to step up,” McHugh said. “It’s a full team effort every game, you can’t rely on just one line. Everyone has to pick up the slack and work together.”
“At the end when we got the goal, I just wanted to get the freshest legs we had out there,” Snizek said. “We had so many guys that are gassed so we were trying to play everybody. We’ve have some depth so it paid off.”
North Attleboro (14-3-4) will play either #4 Westwood or #13 Plymouth South on Saturday at 2:00 at Asiaf Arena in Brockton.
Six girls’ basketball teams will begin their quests for a state championship when the state tournament begins this week. League champions Mansfield (Div. 1 South) and Foxboro (Div. 2 South) both earned the top seed in their respective brackets, but neither will have an easy road with league rivals like Attleboro, Oliver Ames, and North Attleboro posing major threats to bringing home a trophy. Milford will also represent the league as the lone Hock team in Div. 2 Central.
As usual, Div. 1 South is a loaded bracket with some of the top programs in the state, including defending state champion Bishop Feehan and perennial powers Braintree and Newton North. Mansfield (18-2) earned the top seed in a coin flip with the Shamrocks, who beat the Hornets in an exclusion game during the regular season. More important than the seed, Mansfield will now avoid the Shamrocks, the Wamps, and the Tigers until the South final.
Led by senior guard Jen Peel and junior center Meg Hill, the Hornets like to slow the pace down and focus on strong defense, which held teams to a league-best 38.0 points per game. Mansfield is young this season, but deep and versatile and head coach Mike Redding’s squad should match up well against the teams on its side of the bracket, including potential semifinal opponents Wellesley or Marshfield (which Mansfield beat 52-47 in December).
In order for the Hornets to get to the semifinals, they may have to go through Kelley-Rex rival Attleboro (15-7), which claimed the No. 8 seed and will host Brockton (Attleboro beat the Boxers 63-55 in December). The Bombardiers have scuffled down the stretch, losing seven of its final 14 games of the regular season, but closed it out by putting 94 points up on Durfee in the season finale.
With seniors Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan, Attleboro has a potent inside-out combo and has been one of the top offensive teams in the league this year, averaging a league-best 61.4 points per game. The issue for the Bombardiers will be trying to slow down Jen Peel and Mansfield in the quarterfinal, if they can get past a dangerous Brockton team in Tuesday’s playoff opener. Attleboro struggled in two losses to Mansfield in the regular season, but will be hoping third time is the charm to set up a potential rematch with Wellesley, which knocked the Bombardiers out of last year’s tournament.
Foxboro (18-2) has been on fire to close out the season, winning 12 in a row entering the playoffs, including a 20-point win over North Attleboro to claim the league title and an impressive overtime win over Lincoln-Sudbury in the end-of-season tournament. The Warriors will be led by league MVP Ashley Sampson, who scored 31 in that win over L-S and nailed a three-pointer that forced OT, but a strong supporting cast includes Lily Sykes and Grace Tamulionis. The scary part is that all three are juniors and will be back next winter as well.
The Warriors will not have an easy path in Div. 2 South, which is another loaded bracket, and will have to face one of the two finalists from 2016, either Hingham or Oliver Ames, in the quarterfinal and could potentially face the Rocketeers for a third time in the semifinal. Westwood, Nauset, and Falmouth, which knocked Foxboro out of the tournament last year, could wait in the sectional final.
Oliver Ames (13-7), the defending Div. 2 South champ, has had an up and down first season in the Kelley-Rex but managed to claim second in the division and is a sleeper to retain its South title. The Tigers will have a very difficult road to try and repeat with a trip to last year’s South finalist Hingham waiting in the first round and a potential meeting with Foxboro looming in the quarterfinal (the Warriors won the league meeting between the teams 51-35).
Kayla Raymond will be the focus of all of OA’s opponents, but trying to slow down the junior forward is easier said than done. If the Tigers can get support for Raymond from senior Niyera Mitchell and find consistent outside shooting, then OA will be a tough matchup. Losing sophomore guard Sadie Homer during the season and senior Francesca Calabraro prior to it has made things tougher but no one will take head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook’s team lightly.
North Attleboro (16-6) is another sleeper in Div. 2 South. Last year, the Rocketeers were knocked out in the first round by OA on a last second Raymond basket and could have made a similar run to the Tigers if they had made it through. This year, North comes in with six losses, but only one to a team in Div. 2 and that was the league final against Foxboro. Despite missing senior guard Ashley Ahern to injury, North earned an impressive come from behind win against Attleboro in the final week and has the potential to make a deep run this year.
The Rocketeers are loaded with experienced seniors, including forward Caroline Collard and guards Samantha Taggart and Emily Schromm, who have shown the ability to win close games against good teams this season. North beat Foxboro in the first meeting, beat Oliver Ames by one, and has also beaten potential tourney opponents Hingham and Westwood this year. North faces Madison Park to start and likely will face Duxbury in the quarterfinal to try and get a rubber match with Foxboro in the semifinal.
Milford (10-10) qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2012 and has shown immense progress in head coach T.J. Dolliver’s second season in charge. But, the Hawks have also struggled down the stretch, albeit against a tough stretch of league opponents including North Attleboro and Foxboro twice, OA, and Attleboro. The Hawks will be in Div. 2 Central and will likely face Marlboro in the playoff opener, which is a team similar to the Hawks that shoots a lot of threes and does not have a true post presence.
The Hawks will be counting on a big game from junior guard Kate Irwin, who has been among the league’s top scorers this season, but Milford has a lot of versatile players that can cause teams problems on the perimeter and in the paint, including senior Nicole Dahlgren. If the Hawks do get through the first round, then they will travel to No. 3 seed Groton-Dunstable and could face a couple of Eastern Mass. transplants in Hopkinton and Medfield.