By Lance Reynolds, HockomockSports.com Contributor
NORTH EASTON, Mass. — Oliver Ames was doing almost everything it needed to offensively.
For close to the entirety of Wednesday’s field hockey match against North Attleboro, the Tigers dominated possession time, closing in on the Rocketeer goal again and again.
Yet, when the final horn sounded, Oliver Ames had no goals to show for.
The Tigers never solved how they could get the ball around the North Attleboro backfield. Defender Emily Daby, middie Riley O’Brien, and goalie Emma Strachan continuously pestered Oliver Ames, poking the ball away and never allowing it into the Rocketeer goal, as North Attleboro grabbed a 1-0 shutout in a key, early-season Hockomock crossover game.
“Oliver Ames’ cross-passes were very strong,” said Rocketeers head coach Karen Folan. “So it was great that we could cut them off and get a stick on the ball.”
With Oliver Ames finding themselves in scrum after scrum near the North Attleboro goal in the first half, Folan knew she had to move some of her forwards and middies closer to the defensive end of the field.
The move paid dividends, not only did it allow the Rocketeers to hold the Tigers off the board, but it also allowed North Attleboro to have an aggressive offensive attack, whenever the Rocketeers had an opportunity.
In the 27th minute, North Attleboro forward Julia Puccio found herself breaking away from the Oliver Ames defense after the Rocketeers’ defense broke up a Tiger scrum in front of their goal. Puccio bolted down the field, passed the ball over to Olivia Luistro, and forward Lauren Abusheery successfully finished the sequence, rifling the ball into the Oliver Ames goal, as North Attleboro took a 1-0 lead late in the first half.
“Offensively, I was telling them to push up because OA had a lot of possession and were dominating on offense,” Folan said. “But once we got it past them, there wasn’t a whole lot of defense back there. We definitely took advantage, passed the ball around a little bit, and got the nice angle on the shot for Lauren Abusheery.”
Oliver Ames relentlessly tried to find a way to figure out the Rocketeers defense, and it took all of the final 30 minutes of the match for North Attleboro to make sure they were going to hold onto their 1-0 lead.
In the 39th minute, Tiger forward Cassie Gennis mercifully ripped a shot after an Oliver Ames corner, but Daby was in the right place at the right time, stopping the ball from going past Strachan and into the Rocketeer net.
A few minutes later, the Tigers had several scoring chances when they battled in a scrum, once again, in front of the North Attleboro goal after a corner, but O’Brien got a piece of her stick on the ball to break it up, as Oliver Ames once again failed to generate a score.
In the final minute of play, Oliver Ames forward Lily Gaskill had the last opportunity for the Tigers to strike even with the Rocketeers, but her shot went wide of Strachan, who finished with 19 saves, and past the North Attleboro goal.
“We’ve been working on stopping the ball and carrying it out,” Folan said. “We did a really great job of doing that today instead of stopping it and not finishing it. We’ve been really working on it and it definitely showed today.”
It’s just one win and it’s still early in the season, but after the Rocketeers fell just four points short of advancing to the tournament last year, Folan admitted that the early season games are, perhaps, the most meaningful for North Attleboro’s postseason chances.
“We have the mindset thinking that this is the point we need to make tournament,” Folan said. “Because we’ve been getting to the end of the season where we need just that one point and we’re not getting it, so even though it’s September, we’re thinking that this is the point that we need to make it to the tournament. This is really going to make a difference.”
North Attleboro (2-1) looks to keep the winning spirits alive when they host Sharon next Monday while Oliver Ames (1-2) looks to get back into the win column Saturday when they travel to West Bridgewater.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – Everything started perfectly for North Attleboro on Friday night at Macktaz Field. A play-action deep strike on the first play of the game and an opening drive that marched 80 yards, used up more than half of the first quarter, and ended with a touchdown for sophomore quarterback Tyler DeMattio, who was making his first varsity start under center.
It was a statement of intent from the defending Davenport division co-champions. Of course, a team doesn’t get to three straight Super Bowls by being derailed from one touchdown. King Philip allowed four first downs on that opening drive. It allowed only two more first downs for the remainder of the game, and both of those were on penalties.
The Warriors turned the game on its head with two touchdowns either side of halftime and then put it away with two scores within 30 seconds of each other in the fourth quarter, pulling out a 25-7 victory.
“It looked like, ‘oh boy,’ on that first drive, but we’ve got some great coaches,” said KP coach Brian Lee. “We were able to settle down and he (defensive coordinator Matt Wassell) was able to recover and make some adjustment and stop them.”
DeMattio (2-of-9, 36 yards; 18 carries, 60 yards) made quite the impression on his first varsity snap as QB, faking a hand-off and dropping a dime into the arms of Ethan Friberg for a 33-yard gain. He then showed off his ability to make plays with his legs, running a zone read offense and moving North up the field. He finished off the 10-play, 80-yard drive with a nine-yard keeper to grab a 7-0 lead.
Since Lee took over the KP program, it has become known for its straightforward approach to offense. A lot of power I-formation and running backs that expect to get the ball 30-plus times a game. But on Friday, the Warriors showed far more variation with the ball, allowing senior quarterback Robert Jarest to move around in the pocket (8-of-15, 151 yards) and to call his own number on the ground (seven carries, 64 yards).
“Give them credit, they’ve got some new wrinkles in their offense over there,” said North coach Don Johnson. “There wasn’t the I-formation, smash-mouth football.”
Lee explained, “They’re bigger and more physical than us. I’d love to be the biggest, baddest kid on the block all the time, but just running it in there was not going to work for us.”
While senior Ryan Halliday (24 carries, 122 yards) still got his fair share of touches, the Warriors were able to get the ball away from the strong North Attleboro defensive line and attack North’s less experienced secondary on the edges.
It was a strategy that worked well in the opening half, as KP consistently took advantage of good starting field position and moved the ball deep into North territory. The Warriors just couldn’t finish a drive, three times having a possession stall in the red zone.
The first ended on a Jarest fumble inside the North 10. The next possession also ended at the 10, after Colby Feid denied a touchdown with a solid pass breakup and then Montrel Jackson pressured Jarest into throwing the ball away on fourth down. The third drive ended when Halliday came up inches short on a fourth and two carry.
With the clock winding down to just a minute left in the half, KP finally struck. John Kummer sacked Jarest back at the KP 46, but on the next play there was a breakdown in coverage on the far sideline allowing Alex Behling to run free and Jarest was on the mark for a 54-yard score. The extra point was no good, so North kept a lead, but the Warriors went into the break with the momentum.
“It was huge,” Jarest said. “He was wide open and when we went in the crowd was just pumped. That’s our base is the fans and then Coach Lee got us into it. Everyone was way more calm and everyone was like, okay we can go win this thing.”
The Warriors got the ball coming out of halftime and looked a different team, dominating the line of scrimmage. Jarest had a 33-yard keeper to get KP into North territory, but after Russell Dunlap tackled Halliday for a loss the Warriors faced fourth and long. Another breakdown in the secondary allowed KP to avoid another stalled drive, as Behling again was left wide open for a 20-yard score and a 12-7 lead.
“We’re trying new things,” Jarest said about the offense. “I don’t know if that’s how it’s going to be all season, but it looked good tonight and hopefully we can stay consistent.”
KP’s defense was manhandling North and not allowing DeMattio to find any seams to run into and the Rocketeers were unable to get anything going. Being pinned back in their own half was also causing issues because it limited how adventurous North could be with the ball.
“I thought they took over the line of scrimmage in the second half and throughout the game we had some unforced errors on defense,” said Johnson. “We gave them a couple of easy ones and I think that was the result of some young guys being out there for the first time. It’s just going to take us a little time.”
After a good Brian Wassersug punt return put KP in business at the North 39, KP broke the game wide open. Jarest hit Wassersug, who was too quick for the middle linebacker, down the middle for a 36-yard gain. Three carries later and Halliday punched in his first score of the night.
On North’s next play from scrimmage, DeMattio was hit as he threw and the pass was picked off by Sam Callanan. A delay of game penalty backed KP up five yards, but then Halliday found a crease on the left side and burst through for a 27-yard TD to put the game out of reach.
“It kind of smacked of that Mansfield game from a couple years ago,” Lee reflected. “We couldn’t get anything going, but we got a freebie (before halftime), bought us life, came back out and settled down.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2019 Hockomock Field Hockey Preview
2018 Record: 6-11-1
2018 Result: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Lindsay Antunes
The Bombardiers are looking to climb off the foot of the Kelley-Rex division standings this fall and challenge for a return to the state tournament. With a number of players making the move up after successful seasons on JV, Attleboro coach Lindsay Antunes is confident that her team will have the firepower to compete with the league’s top teams this year.
Senior Anna Beck will lead the way for Attleboro again this fall. The midfielder led the team in scoring last year and was one of the top scorers in the Hock, and she will be counted on to open up chances for her teammates. Junior Campbell Compton will add to the midfield group with her playmaking and stick skills. Junior Kiera Murray will be the lynchpin of the defensive unit, providing leadership at the back. The forwards are going to be a combination of returning players and new faces that are expected to provide additional scoring this season.
“Though spots are still being established and player combinations being determined,” Antunes said, “we are confident that this year’s offensive line is going to make a significant impact on the league.”
2018 Record: 15-4-1
2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Canton finished just one point shy of back-to-back league titles and for the second season in a row saw its season ended by the eventual South champion, but the Bulldogs remain one of the teams to beat in the Davenport thanks to a roster filled with returning, experienced players ready to make another tournament run.
Midfield will be an area of strength for the Bulldogs this season with senior Kaitlyn Goyetch back to create scoring chances for her teammates. She was second on the team in scoring last year and is capable of opening up space for the attackers. Juniors Maria Femia and Meghan LaBelle will help Goyetch out in the middle of the field, adding to both the attack and the defense, and senior Meg Aldrich provides energy to push the team on both ends of the field. Junior Riley O’Connor returns in goal to shore up the defense. The attack will certainly miss leading score Maggie Malloy, but there are a number of players that are ready to step in and try to make up for that loss of production.
“Canton field hockey is excited for the regular season to begin,” said head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “Our captains Kaitlyn Goyetch, Meg Aldrich and Rose Malloy along with several key returning players will be major contributors to our success this season. We are working towards a strong showing in the always competitive Hockomock League”
2018 Record: 17-2-1
2018 Result: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Melissa Bordieri
The Foxboro Warriors will have almost an entirely new look this season after graduating 10 starters and 14 seniors overall.
While it will be almost an entirely new team, there is definitely plenty of talent and a lot of team speed. Jaime Notarangelo is the lone starter to return and will see time at both center forward because of her goal-scoring abilities plus time at center mid because of her distribution skills. Ella Waryas will see a significant increase in her role in the midfield alongside Molly McElhinney. Anna Marcucella and Mikayla Cloherty will see time both in the midfield and defensively for head coach Melissa Bordieri, who is still moving all the pieces around in search of the right combination. Lauren Foster is a team captain and will be tasked with anchoring the defense while junior Hannah Trombley and sophomore Lily Jones battle for minutes in goal. Kate Collins picked up some valuable minutes last year and will be relied on offensively alongside Olivia Simoneau.
“We still have a lot of talent, it’s just a matter of piecing together who fits where and who works well together,” Bordieri said. “We are a tenacious team so we are optimistic about the season.”
2018 Record: 13-6-2
2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal
Coach: Michelle Hess
After finishing second in the Kelley-Rex division and making a run to the Div. 1 South semifinal, where they led perennial power Walpole by two goals with 10 minutes remaining, Franklin wants to build on that momentum and return to the top of the league standings for the first time in three seasons. The experience of last year’s run, which included finishing on an 11-2-2 run, has confidence brimming through the program.
The loss of do-everything midfielder Cassi Ronan will certainly hurt, as well as defender Emily Valentino and goalie Christina Luccini, but the Panthers still have a solid foundation of returning standouts to rely on. Senior Maeve Ledwith will continue to lead the defensive unit and is one of the league’s top distributors out of the back. Junior Amanda Lewandowski saved her best for the end of the season and playoffs and will be one of the team’s top attackers. Freshman Kaitlyn Carney is expected to contribute right away and possibly ease the loss of Ronan from the midfield. Junior Neilee Hess will take over between the pipes.
“The players worked very hard in the offseason, and I am proud of them for their dedication and determination,” said Franklin coach Michelle Hess. “I look forward to watching this team come together and earn a top spot in the Hockomock League along with another deep run in the tournament.”
2018 Record: 18-2-1
2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal
Coach: Lisa Cropper
After winning the league and South titles in 2017, the Warriors made a coaching change. After making it back-to-back Kelley-Rex crowns and getting back to the South semifinal last season, the Warriors are making another change on the sideline. Former Franklin coach Lisa Cropper is back in the Hock after two years at Dean College and she will be trying to keep the momentum going for KP this fall.
While the Warriors dominated the league in goals scored last year, thanks in large part to HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Alli Meehan, and that drew a lot of attention, but the Warriors were even more impressive defensively, allowing only 15 goals in 21 games. Senior Sammy Robison is back to hold down things on defense along with classmate Grace May and junior Mackenzie Manning, who may end up sharing duties in goal. Sophomore Christina Gifun and junior Paige Berdos will drive the team in the midfield.
In addition to the graduation of Meehan, KP will be without reigning Underclassman of the Year Meghan MacDonald, who transferred to Tabor Academy. Senior Raegan Simeone and juniors Abby Nixon and Grace Crocker will be counted on to try and make up that production in the attack.
“We have a lot of really solid players with no real superstars, which should give us a very balanced team,” said Cropper.
2018 Record: 9-8-2
2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Theresa Nyhan
The Hornets are only four years removed from back-to-back league titles and a trip to the South final and the experience on this year’s roster gives Mansfield hope that another deep tourney run could be on the cards. With seniors in every layer of the field and talented underclassmen to fill in the depth, the Hornets look like a serious contender at the top of the Kelley-Rex division standings.
In attack, Mansfield will count on a speedy trio of seniors to try and boost the goal totals. Paige Peterson, Becca Hottleman and Gabby Devlin are all back on the front line. In midfield, Kelly Doherty and Grace Doyle provide the engine that pushes the Hornets forward, while also providing the necessary cover for the defense. Senior Kayla Hunter is back in goal and will try to organize the back line, which will include seniors Grace Maher, Mallory Burke, and Angela Burnham.
“Overall we have a good balance of juniors and seniors at each level,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan. “We should be able to keep fresh legs on the field at all times. Looking forward to a good season.”
2018 Record: 2-14-2
2018 Result: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Katie Blackburn
The Hawks have a number of players returning who have several years of varsity experience and will try to blend in players that are making the leap from JV in order to improve from last year’s two-win season, which included five games that Milford lost by only one or two goals.
Senior goalie Paige Reisman will be the key on the defensive end, solidifying a back line that will see several new faces that are trying to get up to varsity speed. Her communication and vision will help the newcomers be ready for opposing attacks. Senior Megan Hart is also back on defense to add leadership in front of Reisman. Junior Olyvia White can play in midfield or defense, while senior Kathryn Swineford will try to push the Hawks into the attack from the middle of the field.
“We have a lot of returning players on offense that have experience playing together,” said Milford coach Katie Blackburn. “This experience will help in creating an offensive attack throughout games. The players have worked hard this offseason to improve on skills and come into the season conditioned.”
2018 Record: 6-10-2
2018 Result: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Karen Folan
The Rocketeers are hoping that an experienced lineup will be the key to challenge the top teams in the Davenport division and also to make a return to the state tournament. North Attleboro only missed out on a playoff spot by four points last season and there is the potential to make a bigger push this fall.
Senior Emma Strachan will be in her third year as the starting goalie and will continue to lead the defensive unit. Senior Lindsay Robinson heads into her second year as a force in the North midfield and senior Michelle Pothier will start her third year generating offense as one of the starting forwards. Senior Grace Cole adds speed on the wings to open space for the attack and senior Faith Graveline will move into the midfield from defense, adding another layer of cover for the back line and another weapon in the offensive circle.
“We have a solid group of returning varsity players for the 2019 season,” said North coach Karen Folan. “We hope to utilize our knowledge and experience to come out strong at the start of the season and continue to build on our strengths as the season moves forward.”
2018 Record: 8-9-2
2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Sharon Lawrence
While Oliver Ames brings back 11 returning players from last year’s playoff team, the Tigers remain relatively young, with a strong junior class anchoring the team throughout the roster. That level of experience gives OA the potential to make noise in the loaded Kelley-Rex division and be competitive with the perennial title challengers.
The offensive unit is deep and expectations are high for an improvement on last year’s 31 goals scored as a team. Juniors Haley Gilman and Hannah Stryke and seniors Maura Kiernan, Ellie Waters, and Cassie Gennis will all play up top and are all capable of making plays inside the offensive circle. Several younger players will get the chance to impress right away, including sophomores Ava Costello and Lily Gaskill and freshman Julia Maclaine.
Junior Maggie Woods is the leader of the midfield group, constantly finding herself around the ball and propelling the Tigers forward. Sophomore Georgia Costello will join her in the middle of the field. Juniors Emily Han and Emily Dionne will lead the defense, while juniors Abbey Boyce and Courtney Lake are newcomers to the defense that will contribute right away. Senior Kara Ostrander and junior Peyton Phillips are both capable of being the starter in goal.
“The team shows improvement in skill and confidence from last season after a strong off-season commitment to the game,” said OA coach Sharon Lawrence. “We have a deep bench with lots of talent in the forward and midfield lines to keep legs fresh and performance strong, giving us good game endurance.”
2018 Record: 0-18-0
2018 Result: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Ashley Courville
After a winless season, with no goals scored, there is plenty of room for improvement for the Eagles this fall. Sharon ended that goalless stretch in the opening game of the season against Norwell and there is an increased level of confidence that the program is mixing in more experienced players with newcomers that can help make the team more competitive this year.
The defense will be led by an experienced corps of players. Seniors Holly Davis, Blaize Hanna, and Anya Lane are all back to solidify a back line that reduced the goals allowed by 27 from 2017 to 2018. Senior Lauren Glass will be the team’s primary playmaker in midfield and she will get help from junior Jenna Goldstein. There are a lot of new faces in the attack, including sophomore Ashley Young, who got Sharon’s first goal of the season in the opener. Juniors Samantha Sherman and Jillian Parker will also chip in up front.
Sharon coach Ashley Courville said, “Our strengths on defense this season are consistency and strength. We have a handful of returning players back on defense giving us stability. Our offensive strengths are added speed leading to the ability to carry the ball on the field more effectively.”
2018 Record: 7-11-2
2018 Result: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Dan Mark
The Black Knights would love to make a push for a playoff appearance this fall and Stoughton will rely on is experience in midfield and attack to overcome some of its inexperience in defense to try and make that run possible.
In the midfield, seniors Skylar Carroll, Madison Araujo, and Juliana Rush give the Black Knights speed and stick skills to push forward and make the transitions that will break down opposing defenses. In the attack, senior Brittni Paul and juniors Haley Nelson and Sarah McGrath have a nose for being in the right spots around the goal to create scoring chances. While the defense is relatively new, junior Kayla Laboy will be back between the pipes to add leadership and organization at the back.
Stoughton coach Dan Mark said, “We have a good nucleus of returning players, but do have some inexperience defensively. I think the key to our team will be a strong offense.”
2018 Record: 8-7-4
2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Liz Hathaway
The Tigers have made great strides as a program, becoming a regular in the state tournament and competing with the top teams in the Hock, but after graduating 10 seniors Taunton will have its work cut out to make sure that another playoff berth is secured this fall.
Junior forward Alana Tavares will carry a lot of the scoring load for the Tigers this season. Tavares led the team in scoring last year and showed that she can also play in the midfield to create opportunities for teammates. Senior Kathryn Robinson will move up from defense into the midfield and her stick skills added to her defensive mindset will give the Tigers cover on both ends of the field. In defense, junior Jocelyn Pagliuca returns to provide leadership and cover in the back line with her ability to step into a challenge.
“We graduated 10 seniors last year and have many players stepping up for this season,” said Taunton coach Liz Hathaway.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2019 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview
2018 Record: 8-9-2
2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Kate Howarth
The Bulldogs finished third in the Davenport division last season and made it back to the state tournament, despite carrying a relatively young roster. Now, a year later, Canton brings back a strong corps, especially in the attack, and will look to take steps forward to try and challenge for the league title.
The best form of defense may be the attack for the Bulldogs, who will pair juniors Olivia Rodman and Elisa Diletizia again in the forward line. The classmates are a dynamic pairing and critical to Canton scoring 52 goals last season, which was the fifth-best total in the league. Senior Morgan McCabe and sophomore Gabriella Herivaux add depth to the forward line.
In the midfield, sophomore Allie McCabe is coming off an impressive rookie season as a playmaker and will be the engine in the heart of the pitch. Sarah Collins will be tough to replace in the defense, but seniors Alexa Maffeo, Caroline Tourgee, and Kerstin Hansen are back. Sophomore Elyse Broderick is back to take over between the posts and will be the anchor of the defensive unit.
“I think the key for us this year will be consistency,” said Canton coach Kate Howarth. “Our girls are bought in and want to find ways to win! I think we will find ways to win some tough games and get better every single day! That’s always our goal. Every time we step out onto that field, improve and get better. If we do that, we will put together a great year.”
2018 Record: 15-2-3
2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Katie Stalcup
Last season, a young Warriors roster brought home the program’s first league title since 1993 and it could start a run of success for Foxboro, which graduated only four players from last year’s team that led the league in scoring and allowed less than a goal per game. Adding a year of experience could make this year’s team even more of a threat not only for a division crown but for a deep tourney run.
Youth was on display all over the pitch last season, particularly up front. Junior Jordyn Collins had a breakout season putting her speed together with clinical finishing to become one of the league’s most dangerous forwards. There is plenty of help for the forwards from the midfield, senior Lizzy Davis and junior Kailtyn Mollica are both dangerous on the wings, creating chances and the odd goals as well.
The lynchpin last year was a freshman. Sophomore Kailee McCabe, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, had a remarkable rookie season. She controlled the midfield and drove forward to add scoring punch. Senior midfielder Kendra Wentling also adds a layer of protection for the defense, which will miss the graduated Alex Stamatos but has experience in senior Yara Fawaz and junior goalie Morgan Sylvestre.
“I am so excited about this team and what we are capable of this season,” said Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “I know if we stay focused and work together we will do great things.”
2018 Record: 5-12-0
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Lou Colabello
This is the second season in charge for Milford coach Lou Colabello and he is hopeful that his team will build a comfort level with his expectations and systems to try and get the Hawks into the state tournament picture and push up the Davenport division standings. With a strong core of returning players, many with two or three years of experience on varsity, Milford has the opportunity to make a leap this fall.
The midfield will be a strength for the Hawks with seniors Juliana France and Ashleigh Starks are capable of breaking up opposition attacks and turning those quickly into attacks. Freshman Daniella Atheron will jump right into the attack and is expected to contribute goals this season. Defensively, the Hawks have experience in the form of seniors Maddie Boyle and Annie Flanagan and can count on solid play from both goalies, senior Olivia Marshall, and junior Carly Ferreira.
“We are really excited about our opportunities this year,” Colabello said. “With a heavy nucleus returning on defense and in the midfield, we hope to improve offensively. With a good mixture of experience and youth, I feel that we will make a vast improvement from last year.”
2018 Record: 12-3-4
2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro is entering a transition season after graduating 14 seniors, including nine starters, from last year’s Davenport division runners-up. The Rocketeers will especially have to cope with the loss of leading scorer, and 2018 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Ashlyn Gaulin, but there is hope that the new faces will be able to step in and rise to the challenge this fall.
The attack looks very different this season with junior Tess Collins, who is battling a preseason injury, taking on the responsibility of leading the line along with Steph McKenna. There have been promising signs from that duo during the preseason. Midfield is more experienced for North this year, with seniors Alex Moulson, Abi Slaney, and Lily Cameron back from last year, while Olivia Wills and Abby Noreck are making the jump from JV. The defense is mostly new, but senior Lydia Hershey is back and will offer much-needed leadership, while senior Regan Fein has the starting job in net.
“Right now we have six players who have been unable to practice preseason with injuries,” said North Attleboro coach Bill Wallace. “Once we get everyone healthy we should iron out some assignments and figure out our rotations.”
2018 Record: 2-15-1
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Catherine Sullivan
Second-year head coach Catherine Sullivan will have a lot of new faces to work with this season after graduating 11 seniors from last year’s roster and she is hoping that the Eagles can use an experienced midfield to create more scoring opportunities and continue to improve over the course of the season.
The midfield combines technically-sound players with energy and speed. Seniors Marika Fillion sets the tone with her work rate and senior Bella Berger is one of the team’s top playmakers. Junior Amelia Scappaticci adds skill to the team’s passing game, while freshman Olivia Soby is expected to provide an attacking spark in the middle of the pitch. Up front, junior Emily Griffin will try to use her speed to create chances. In the back, junior goalie Cass Barbera got a lot of experience between the pipes last season and she will count on classmate Molly McAlevey to hold things down in front of her.
Sullivan said, “I’m excited about the mix of strong returning players and new talent stepping in this season. It’s a great group of kids who are dedicated to improving our style and speed of play, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”
2018 Record: 0-17-1
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Tara Daniels
It has been a decent preseason for the Black Knights and head coach Tara Daniels hopes that they carry that over once things kick off for real. Stoughton has been building cohesion for the last several seasons and Daniels believes that there is the right mix of upperclassmen and newcomers to make the Black Knights a competitive team this fall.
Senior Nicole Weir has found a spot in the back line and will provide the vocal leadership that the defense needs. Senior Brianna Buckley has won the starting job in goal this year after earning time between the posts last season. Junior Mackenzie Manning is the key to the Stoughton midfield, having led the team in points in each of her first two seasons on varsity and continuing to be the team’s primary playmaker. Freshman Shayla Ford will step into the attack this season and there is hope that she can make an instant impact with her speed and finishing ability. One of the most important developments of the preseason is the growing understanding between Manning and Ford going forward.
“This year we have a strong core of returning upperclassmen that have worked the past few years to help shape and strengthen this overall program, with the level of play I am seeing from this group of upperclassmen and the freshman class, it is going to be an extremely competitive season for the Knights,” said Daniels.
North Attleboro recently announced that former assistant coach Nikki Correia has taken over as the new girls basketball head coach, replacing Derek Herber, who stepped down this spring after five seasons in charge. Correia has been with the program for the past five years, starting as a freshman coach and working up to be the JV coach and varsity assistant.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity,” Correia said on Monday. “The last five years I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this coaching staff and learning a lot and I truly adore the entire program. They’ve been nothing but supportive the last five years, so I’m really excited to get going in the head role.”
This is Correia’s first head coaching position at the varsity level, but she has been an assistant at North and at the AAU level. Correia also had a very successful playing career at Attleboro High, scoring 1,030 points for the Bombardiers, before going on to play at Wheaton College.
Correia said, “I’ve played for different coaches, with a lot of different personalities, and I think I was able to take a little things that I responded to well and what I didn’t respond to well and say, okay I didn’t really like that when I was coached that way, so I’m going to coach it this way.”
North won back-to-back Kelley-Rex division titles in 2014 and 2015 and reached the playoffs for the first three seasons after Herber took over. The Rocketeers have struggled in the last two years, winning 11 games combined with a young, guard-heavy lineup. Correia hopes to exploit the team’s speed next season.
“I want to get out in transition, we want to run, we want to be fast,” she said. “I know what they have to offer and I have to put them in the best positions to succeed. We’re small and quick and we’re going to get out in front and go.”
Being promoted to head coach from within the program, Correia knows the Rocketeers inside and out. She knows the players and they know her, which she believes will make the transition more comfortable for everyone.
“There’s definitely going to be changes,” she explained, “but I do think knowing the players and being a part of it the last five years, just being able to develop that relationship with all the kids, they know what to expect from me and I know what to expect from them.”
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Having played each other twice in the regular season, including an 11-inning epic a little more than a week ago, there were no secrets between North Attleboro and Dartmouth in Saturday afternoon’s Div. 1 South first round game at Kelly Field. It all came down to execution.
The Rocketeers scored seven times with two outs, including six runs after having two outs and no one on base, while the Indians stranded 10 runners and North ran away with an 8-0 victory that not only sealed a win of the season series but sent Big Red into the D1 South quarterfinal to face top seed Bridgewater-Raynham.
“I thought our defense played really well today,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “When you see a team twice…Bella [Erti] throws hard, but that wow factor is gone. For us, they throw the lefty and come back with the righty, but we know that. When you only have three strikeouts and they put the ball in play 18 times then you’ve got to make the plays.”
Two-out hitting has been a theme of late, as North used a series of two-out hits to beat Taunton in the regular season finale and had a similar burst in the first inning on Saturday. With two outs, Ashley Cangiano (3-for-3, three RBI) singled to left, Annabelle Hebard drew a walk, and Katie Daby brought both runners in with a ringing double that bounced off the fence in right center.
North wasn’t done. Emily Nardelli and Alex Moulson drew walks and Belle Clarkin lined a single to left center that brought in another couple of runs for an early 4-0 lead and a cushion for starting pitcher Bella Erti to work with.
“It just got us hyped and started and just play our defense after that,” said Cangiano about the quick start.
In the second inning, Olivia Capobianco reached on an error to lead things off. Abby Gallagher dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt and Capobianco showed off her wheels to go from first to third. She scored when Cangiano ripped a line drive to the centerfielder. It was the only run that North scored with less than two outs.
Wallace said, “It’s so much easier playing ahead than playing behind. When we bunted with Olivia on first, she goes first-to-third, you might not try that down a run.”
Mandi Hanewich drew a lead-off walk in the fourth and stole second on a pitch in the dirt. Capobianco bunted her to third and with two outs Cangiano came through with another line drive hit to right center to make it 6-0.
The runs kept coming, as North tacked on insurance runs off Dartmouth’s reliever Hannah Arruda (who hit a pair of home runs and drove in five the last time the two teams played), always wary of a dangerous Dartmouth lineup. With two down (again), Gallagher doubled to right center, the ball skipping past the centerfielder. Cangiano followed with a carbon copy, this time heading to third with an RBI-triple. Hebard doubled to left and North led 8-0.
This was far from an easy win for the Rocketeers. Dartmouth consistently put pressure on Erti and the defense, but North made the plays it needed, including a couple of spectacular grabs in the outfield. Gallagher got things started on the first out of the game, laying out in right to take a hit away from Arruda. Capobianco took extra bases away from the Indians in the fifth when she chased down Samara Turgeon’s drive to the fence, flipping over the fence after pulling in the catch.
Erti finished with only three strikeouts and Dartmouth left two runners on in the first, fourth, sixth, and seventh, but Cangiano praised her pitcher’s approach to grind her way out of jams.
“She just gets so focused and she knows what she’s doing,” Cangiano said about Erti bearing down with two outs. “She’s been pitching for so long that she’s so used to that kind of stuff.”
“Her biggest improvement this year has been limiting the walks and I know she walked two today but part of that was trying not to just pound the strike zone,” said Wallace. “I think a lot of those runners on base were with two outs and, honestly, if you want to point a finger at the game that was the difference: we had two-out hits and also made two-out plays. That’s huge.”
North Attleboro (16-5) will move on to the Div. 1 South quarterfinal to face top seed Bridgewater-Raynham on Monday.