Rocketeers Use Late Flurry to Pull Away From OA

North Attleboro girls soccer
North Attleboro forward Ashlyn Gaulin (3) battles through a host of Oliver Ames defenders in Wednesday night’s win at Muscato Stadium. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – North Attleboro kept probing, trying to find a hole in an Oliver Ames defense, but the Tigers held resolute for 66 minutes of Wednesday night’s meeting of defending league champions at Muscato Stadium. Despite North controlling the lion’s share of the possession, it looked like the Tigers would come away with a point.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

In the 67th minute, with the help of a massive deflection (and according to the OA bench, a handball on the edge of the box), North found the breakthrough. The first one opened the floodgates and the potent Rocketeers attack put the result beyond doubt, scoring four goals in the final 13 minutes of the game to pick up an impressive 4-0 road win.

“We played a pretty good first half and I don’t think we played better in the second half, but we finished,” said North coach Bill Wallace.

After a strong opening half in which it forced OA keeper Regan Benton into five saves (although none that were particularly demanding), North had two golden scoring chances in the first five minutes after the break.

Ashlyn Gaulin got on the end of Haley Guertin’s flicked header, but flashed her shot just past the outstretched hand of Benton and past the post. Two minutes later, Guertin cut in from the right and teed up Kayla Pasquel who made an unmarked run down the left wing, but the junior’s first-time shot was pulled wide.

When asked if he was starting to think that it may not be North’s night after those two chances went begging, Wallace laughed and said, “Yes, but no two games, no two days are the same. It’s a crazy game and what makes it great is that you can lose control and come out with a positive result and, conversely, you can control a game and come out with a negative result.”

North was dominating possession and controlling the midfield led by senior Aine Mendonca. The young Tigers were struggling to keep the ball against the North press, but when North went forward the OA defensive unit of Maeve Hogan, Athena Sarafoglou, Brianna Gibson, and Gabrielle McLaughlin had an answer.

“They’ve got so much offense up front and we really struggled in the midfield today,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “We can play much better and we need to have a little more composure. We played physical today; the last two games we weren’t aggressive enough.”

Wallace told his team to just keep pushing. He explained, “My halftime speech was pretty simple – patience. You could see we were getting frustrated. I just said, be patient and trust your gut.”

In the 67th minute, North had a long free kick and senior Rachel Labonte played it to Guertin on the edge of the box. Her first effort was blocked but the ball rebounded back to the forward, who took another touch and had a second go. This shot took a huge deflection that wrong-footed Benton and found the back of the net.

Just two minutes later, North doubled its lead. Pasquel took the ball down the outside on the left and got to the byline before crossing to the back post where Mackenzie Rosenberg had found a foot of space. The sub pulled it down, took a touch and hit a half-volley to make it 2-0.

“Kenzi’s goal was a backbreaker,” said Wallace. “Good for her; she makes the most of her minutes when she gets out there and I’m so happy for her.”

Down by two goals, OA still could not find a way to create a chance for Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, or Anabella Walsh. Sellmayer credited the North defense, including center backs Emily Chiasson and Labonte, and especially right back Sam Hawkins.

He said, “The three players at the back were so solid. I mean, No. 9 (Hawkins) played a great game and we couldn’t match up with her.”

In the 72nd minute, North sealed the points with a third goal. Haley Ferrin flicked the ball into the box and it ricocheted past Benton, who had slid out to stop the first shot. Leah Jette was on hand to tap in. Ally Blaisdell wrapped it up directly off a corner (which came after the best of Benton’s 11 saves) when her cross bounced at the near post and skipped into the back of the net.

“After starting out with Franklin,” Wallace said, “we’re still curious what kind of team we’re going to be. We certainly have the talent, it’s just that we have to out it together in all phases of the game.”

He added, “The girls are thrilled, it’s going to be a fun bus ride home, and then back to work against Canton.”

North Attleboro (2-1) will put its two-game win streak on the line on Friday when it travels to Davenport division rival Canton. Oliver Ames (3-1) faces a tough trip to unbeaten Franklin.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Field Hockey: 2017 Hockomock League Preview

2017 Hockomock Field Hockey Preview
Foxboro will look to defend its 2016 Davenport division and Div. 2 South titles this fall. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Hockomock Field Hockey Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 4-13-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Lindsay Antunes

After registering just four wins a season ago, Big Blue is hoping for a big bounce back year in 2017. The toughest task will be finding replacements for the large amount of seniors that have graduated over the past two seasons. A big reason for hope to get back towards state tournament competition is four-year varsity player Grace Mayer. Mayer has been one of the top players in the Hock over the past couple of the seasons and led the Bombardiers with six goals and three assists for nine points. She will be joined on the forward line by junior Alexis Compton and junior transfer Takara Keele. Head coach Lindsay Antunes said her midfield has been strengthened “immensely” by sophomore Anna Beck, who was pulled up mid-season last year.

“There is an immense amount of unity on this team, and an outpouring of teamwork,” Antunes said. “Under the leadership of our current captains, many girls have assumed these roles [left by graduation] and are taking over the field. Some girls have been forced to transition into roles that are similar to ones they played in in the past, but not quite exact.”

Canton

2016 Record: 13-5-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Chrissy O’Connor

Canton is returning a strong core of players from a 13-win team a year ago and will be in the hunt for the Davenport title. Key returning players include senior forward Andrea McNeil and junior forward Maggie Malloy, who will be back to pace the Bulldogs’ offense, as well as senior midfielders Emily Campbell and Maggie Wade. With experience back in the mid, the Bulldogs expect to have a strong passing game and strong ball control. Senior Riley Brown will step in as the starting goalie and freshman Maria Femia could make an impact as a rookie.

“Coming into our second season we look to strengthen our passing game and game sense,” said Canton head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “We look forward to another competitive season in the Hockomock League!”

Foxboro

2016 Record: 19-3-1 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D2 State Semifinal
Coach: Melissa Bordieri

Coming off its best season in program history, Foxboro is now focused on 2017 and trying to write its owm chapter in the history books. While the Warriors graduated over a half a dozen seniors, they return last year’s Hockomock League MVP in goalie Kelli McCarthy as well as 2016 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Lily Daly. With experience on both ends of the field, Foxboro is set up nicely for 2017. Daly has led the Warriors in scoring in each of the past two seasons.

The middle of the field will look most familiar from last season with seniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano, and juniors Meghan Curran and Sophia DiCenso all returning after playing valuable minutes last season. The biggest challenge for the Warriors could be replacing starting defenders Kelly Fisher and Angela VandenBoom, who both graduated.

Franklin

2016 Record: 12-4-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Lisa Cropper

The defending Kelley-Rex division champions are in a good spot with so many returning players from last year’s squad. Leading the way is HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Annie Walsh, who led the Hockomock League with 25 points a season ago. Cassi Ronan (16 points) and Erin Walsh (10 points) are also back as Franklin returns its top three scorers. Another positive is that Franklin has some experience back on the defensive end as well. Kate Morse is back to anchor the unit after an impressive junior season and will be joined by Meri Gendreau and Emily Valentino in front of goalie Christina Luccini. Head coach Lisa Cropper expects senior Maddie Hinckley and freshman Victoria Quinn to also play big roles for the Panthers.

“Our biggest asset this season is depth,” Cropper said. “We are hoping to wear down our opponents and utilize our speed late in games.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 14-3-4
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Liz Hathaway

After coming just a point shy of splitting the league title with Franklin a season ago, King Philip returns a strong core that will look to make another push for the Kelley-Rex crown. One big reason that the Warriors will be in the mix is because senior goalie Abby Campbell is back in the cage this season. And in front of Campbell, KP returns senior Christina Hathaway – two big reasons why the Warriors allowed only 13 goals all season in 2016. The offense will look very familiar with senior Liz Furfari (13 points) and junior Alli Meehan (25 points) back in the fold. Juniors Kate Lindmark and Caroline Klim will help bolster the defense while Nicole Connor and Dana Truini will be important players in the midfield.

“We have speed and can create a quick transition game with our passing game and formation,” said KP head coach Liz Hathaway. “We also have a couple of big hitters which should help us generate getting the ball inside the offensive 25 and to execute on corners.”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 13-5-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Theresa Nyhan

Mansfield is relying on seven returning seniors and a mix of young players as they look to get back to the state tournament yet again this season. The Hornets have senior leadership all over the field, which will be important in a very deep and talented league. Up top, Mansfield had Heather D’Amdra and Kristina O’Connell, while seniors Emily Ierardo and Ann Maher will lead the way from the midfield. On the defensive end, seniors Nicole Berluti, Julia Burhman and Brittany Lam will anchor the back line.

“As a unit we are looking to move the ball at pace,” said Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan. “We have speed at all levels and look to transition quickly.”

Milford

2016 Record: 3-15-2
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kim Danish

Although the Hawks graduated 11 seniors from last year’s squad, they return some key pieces that head coach Kim Danish is hoping will help Milford take a step forward. The Hawks will lean on tri-captains Shannon Cormier (the team’s leading scorer last season), Danielle Fokas (who will start on the wing) and Emily Condon (a returning member of the Hawks’ defense) to pave the way this season. Kate Wimette, Colby Bowers and Megan Larouco will see time in the midfield while Julie Rabinowitz would see time all over the field, depending on need. Milford is looking to rely on speed on offense to try and get the offense going.

“We have a strong mix of seven returning seniors who are fantastic leaders and a great core group from last year’s JV team who will step up and make an immediate impact on the field,” Danish said. “Overall, the motivation and work ethic among this group has been top notch! We are looking forward to a great season.”

North Attleboro

2016 Record: 6-8-4
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Karen Folan

After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back years, Big Red field hockey is hoping to make a run at the Davenport crown and get back to the MIAA playoffs. One tough task will be replacing 14 seniors, including all-league goalie Liz Morehouse, all-star Mary Kummer and all-league honorable mention Teresa Bagarella. But head coach Karen Folan is confident she has the pieces to compete in a deep Hockomock League this year. Senior captains Emilie Pothier, Olivia Gedgaudus and Camille Pizarro return to make up the majority of the midfield. Senior Katherine Munley is also back on the wing, giving Big Red some speed on the outside. Sophomore Emma Strachan takes over in net this season, with Folan describing her as “quick and aggressive.”

“The returning members of the varsity team have shown they are ready to fill in any gaps our line up may have after graduating 14 seniors,” Folan said. “And our new team members are eager to step onto the varsity playing field.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 11-6-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Abby Tepper

Oliver Ames will be relying on a mix of experience and youth as they try to stay competitive in a deep Kelley-Rex division. It starts with senior captain Sarah Stevens in the midfield, who will be the “quarterback” of the midfield according to head coach Abby Tepper. Senior Cristina Boudreau and junior Kayla Lozzi will bolster that midfield while senior Liz Nuss will provide speed to the attacking group. OA’s defense will be anchored by senior captain Sarah Tetrault while senior Caitlin Grant will be the starting goalie. Freshman Brynna Courneen has impressed defensively early on.

“This year our offense will be quick and have speed,” Tepper said. “We have some young players filling the wing spots and we are working on being hungry inside the circle. We want to be a scrappy team and get the ball in the bucket no matter what it takes. Our defense does a solid job recovering for one another in the circle and stepping to ball without hesitation. As a team we want to build a positive culture and work hard day in and day out.”

Sharon

2016 Record: 1-17-0
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrea Vandette

Now in her third year at the helm of the Sharon Eagles, head coach Andrea Vandette is confident that her squad is ready to take the next step and find some more success. The Eagles are led by three captains: Elyse Korn, Abbi Solomon and Grace Leavitt. Leavitt started to come on strong at the end of the year last season and will be the anchor for the Eagles’ defensive unit this season. Senior Lindsay Moses will be be in the cage and has a good amount of varsity experience under her belt. In the midfield, Leora Leavitt will be in the center of the field and one of the Eagles’ most reliable players. Vandette is also expecting juniors Veronica Wallace and Stephanie Edwards to continue their growth after picking up the sport a season ago.

“My main goal for the girls this season is to compete,” Vendette said. “Being that this is my third year with the program, I believe they know my expectations and the seniors have a good understanding of how to move the ball on the field and how to be successful. We certainly have enough talent to put a few more wins on the board this season!”

Stoughton

2016 Record: 8-9-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Dan Mark

Despite graduating a handful of talented players, including 2015 Hockomock League MVP Angela Connolly, Stoughton head coach Dan Mark is bringing back several key players for the 2017 version of the Black Knights. The Black Knights’ offense will look the most similar to last season’s team that qualified for the state tournament. Julia Russell, Kamryn Oliveira and Jackie Evangelista are returning forwards who played regularly last year. Lisa Ramanauskas is a returning midfielder, and Haley Bushlow is back to anchor the back line. Gianna Barbosa will be the starting goalie again this season.

“We have several returning players who played many minutes last year and are expected to step in as starters this year,” Mark said.

Taunton

2016 Record: 2-15-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Elizabeth Hathaway

With a strong core of experienced players back, and a couple of young talents looking to make an impression, the Tigers are hoping to improve on last year’s season. Senior Kya Enos has been a steady presence for the Tigers for the past four seasons and will be relied upon to lead the attack long with senior Liana Duarte. Juniors Jillian Pagliuca and Lauren Torres will be tasked with controlling the midfield along with freshman Alana Tavares. Sophomore Kathryn Robinson will be a key piece of Taunton’s defensive unit this season

“Our strength will be the ability of the forwards and mids to move the ball up the field,” said Taunton head coach Liz Hathaway. “Speed is also a factor that will help our offensive attacks.”

Players to Watch

Players are listed alphabetically

Abby Campbell, King Philip – Campbell has been one of the top goalies in the league for the past two seasons and helped KP come within a point of sharing the league title with Franklin last season and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. She had 11 shutouts in 2016 and saved 130-of-143 shots that she faced, finishing with a goals against average of 0.619.

Emily Campbell, Canton – Campbell was a versatile weapon for the Bulldogs, helping out both in midfield and defense to help Canton win 13 games and achieve a plus-40 goal differential for the season. With Campbell playing a critical role, Canton allowed only 14 goals on the year, which was second best in the league. She also chipped in with three goals and seven assists.

Lily Daly, Foxboro – Daly has been the leading scorer for the Warriors in each of her two varsity seasons, helping Foxboro win its first league title in 11 years and its first ever Div. 2 South title. Daly is a force near the net and was chosen as the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year after scoring 16 goals and recording 11 assists.

Emily Ierardo, Mansfield – Ierardo emerged last season as one of the top offensive weapons for the Hornets, helping Mansfield make another run at the league title and reach the second round of the state tournament. She played five different positions in the forward and midfield areas and she scored nine goals and recorded six assists last fall.

Maggie Malloy, Canton – Malloy made quite the impact in her first season playing field hockey. She jumped onto the Canton varsity squad early in the season and finished as the league’s top goal scorer with 16 tallies for the year. She was a big reason for Canton’s improvement offensively and this year, with a season of experience, Malloy could have even bigger numbers.

Kelli McCarthy, Foxboro – Voted Hockomock MVP by the league’s coaches, McCarthy was the backstop for a Warriors defense that was one of the best in the league and helped Foxboro claim a Davenport division title and its first ever Div. 2 South title. She finished with 115 saves on the season and recorded 15 shutouts in 23 games, allowing only 13 goals total.

Alli Meehan, King Philip – Meehan was integral to KP making a run at the league title last season, holding a lead into the final week of the regular season, and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. Meehan scored 14 goals and recorded 11 assists to tie for the league-high in points. She also assisted on the goal that forced overtime against Somerset-Berkeley in a state tournament win.

Cassi Ronan, Franklin – Ronan was a versatile cog in Franklin’s league championship season in 2016, playing both midfield and forward for the Panthers. She finished with 10 goals and seven assists, while being named to the HockomockSports.com First Team, but also did a lot of the defensive work that didn’t show up in the box score.

Sarah Stevens, Oliver Ames – Stevens had a strong season for Oliver Ames in 2016 and the senior will be counted on to create scoring opportunities for the Tigers again this fall. She scored six goals and recorded nine assists for OA last season, helping the Tigers get to 11 wins on the season, beat Durfee in the first round of the playoffs, and push perennial power Walpole to overtime.

Annie Walsh, Franklin – Walsh is the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year (she was also Player of the Year in girls’ lacrosse) after leading the Panthers to a Kelley-Rex division title. A year after being named Underclassman of the Year, Walsh took her game to another level with 14 goals and 11 assists for a league-high 25 points.

Girls Soccer: 2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Mansfield and Oliver Ames shared the Kelley-Rex division title last season and both expect to be in the mix again this fall. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 2-15-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

Goal scoring has been the biggest issue for the Bombardiers in the past few seasons, including a league-low eight in 2016, but head coach Steve Santos is confident that this year’s squad has the speed and experience to take advantage of counter attacks and he expects Attleboro to create a lot more scoring chances this fall.

While goal scoring is a focus of the preseason work, it is at the back that Attleboro boasts the most experience with the entire back line returning. Senior Jordyn Forte is the leader at the back, using her “good soccer IQ,” according to Santos, to keep things calm and making the right plays. She is joined in the defense by fellow seniors Morgan Laplume and Graycen Cassidy. In goal, Madison Brown returns to give Attleboro a solid presence to control the penalty box.

Turning that defense into attack will be the responsibility of senior midfielder Julia Hayes, who will be a key player in the center of the pitch. Junior Ashley Lauzier and senior Kara Thornton will be hoping to take advantage of the opportunities that are created. Santos is also excited about the youth coming into the program with three freshman on the varsity roster to start, including Riley Harnois, who will help out in the attack.

“We have a little more speed this year,” said Santos, “and we’ve been generating a little more in the transition. This year I can rest [the starters], bring people off the bench and the pace doesn’t drop off. They’re great kids, they work hard, and they fight for the team every day.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 10-3-5
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tom Geysen

After six straight league titles, Franklin had an atypical season in 2016. The Panthers only lost three times all season, but drew five times, struggling to find consistent goal scoring that would turn a tie into a win. Franklin only allowed nine goals, but only scored 36, which was 20 goals fewer than league champ Mansfield. This year, head coach Tom Geysen is working on a new formation to get the best out of his attacking options with the goal of returning to the top of the league standings.

The Panthers return leading scorer Miranda Smith and the senior takes advantage of her size to create scoring opportunities in the box. Junior Halle Atkinson is back for her third year on the varsity and gives Franklin speed on the wings and is an accurate crosser of the ball to give Smith plenty of chances. Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira are also back and will give the Panthers a consistent presence in the center of midfield, while Emily Mastaj is another option on the wing.

The key to Franklin’s defense this season will be senior goalie Cat Robbins. Stepping in between the posts last year, Robbins turned in an impressive year and quickly became one of the top goalies in the league. This year, there will be several new faces and younger players that will be counted on to step up on the defensive side of the ball, including senior Molly O’Reilly and juniors Grace Gallo and Madison Stewart.

Geysen noted that there are several underclassmen that could step in during the season to add to the Panthers’ depth. He added, “We need to find the right mix. If we can patch things together and they can gain experience over the course of the season I’m confident that we will get better.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 12-8-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Gary Pichel

It was a great turnaround for King Philip from 2015 to 2016. The Warriors were snakebitten by injuries the year before, losing almost an entire starting 11 many of them to long-term injuries, but last year a large and talented freshman class stepped in to supplement the players who were back healthy helping the program jump from just two wins to 12 last fall.

Expectations are even higher for the Warriors this year, as that freshman group gained a year of experience playing in the Hock. The sophomores are led by Avery Snead, last year’s Underclassman of the Year, who excelled up front or in the midfield and sealed the team’s playoff victory over Mansfield with an overtime headed winner. Chloe Layne showed off silky skills and finishing ability in the box and Olivia Berry stepped right into the heart of the defense and showed that she belonged.

It is not all about the underclassmen. Senior Emma Corcoran is back for another year at the heart of the defense and as the primary dead ball specialist, being named an Eastern Mass. All-Star in 2016. Senior Emma Durant has grown into the role of starting keeper and was a solid and steady presence between the posts last season. Senior Julian Massarone is a three-year varsity player and will be one of the primary playmakers in the center of the pitch.

“Overall, we made great strides in improving our game last year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “We want to continue to become more advanced in all three phases of our game. Last year, we turned a corner. This year, we want to move full speed ahead and compete hard against all of our opponents in the Hock!”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 14-1-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Kevin Smith

Mansfield is coming off the program’s best ever season. The Hornets set records for wins, points, goals scored and claimed their first ever league title, finishing the regular season unbeaten. An overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs to league rival KP was a tough finish to 2016 and trying to replace the production of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Hannah Reiter will be a challenge, but the Hornets return a ton of talent to make a run at another title.

Juniors Melissa Reef (an Eastern Mass. All-Star last season) and Bryn Anderson will be back in the midfield this fall, breaking up opponents’ attacks and pushing Mansfield into the attack. Their ability to cover a lot of ground in the center of the pitch and pick out the right pass to start the transition will be key. Classmate Stephanie Kemp will be back at the top of the attack, after scoring nine goals as a sophomore. Junior Emily Vigeant will lead an experienced defensive unit and also gives the Hornets a dangerous weapon from set pieces.

Mansfield coach Kevin Smith likes has a lot of players that he can call on this season. In the attack, Kemp will be joined by Sydney Mulkern, Allee Bezeau, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy MacMahon, and Emma Oldow. Defensively, the Hornets will turn to Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, Erin Daniel and goalkeeper Lauren Whitman.

Smith said, “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers and relying on the experience of 13 juniors and three seniors who were on varsity last year to fill the roles of the five starters who graduated.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 14-3-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

Last fall, Oliver Ames made the switch from the Davenport to the Kelley-Rex division, but it had little effect on the success of the program. The Tigers shared the league title with Mansfield, the fourth title in a row for OA and seventh since 2007. That run of success may be tough to keep going this year, as the Tigers graduated 10 seniors and are battling injuries to start 2017.

Losing players like Francesca Calabraro (who was injured midway through last season) and Kiana Lozzi is tough enough, but the Tigers lost almost an entire starting 11. To make matters worse, the strong central defensive pairing of Emily Freeman (knee) and Zoe Chazan (academy) are both missing to start the season. Senior goalie Regan Benton is back and will give the Tigers one of the best goalies in the league and in Eastern Mass. to backstop the rebuilt defense.

Offensively, the Tigers have been known for pace and strength, particularly on set pieces, and this year will count on three senior to try and provide consistent scoring opportunities. The pacy group of Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, Annabella Walsh will be the primary focus of the attack. There will be a lot of new faces on the pitch this season, trying to keep the legacy of OA success going for another fall.

“We have quite a few players who had limited minutes last year,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer, “but they practiced against some good players every day. If we can stay healthy I feel confident.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 3-14-2
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Edith Dixon

It has been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers over the past few seasons under head coach Edith Dixon. In 2015, Taunton reached the postseason for the first time in program history and made it count by beating Wellesley on the road in the opening round and gave top seed Bishop Feehan a tough game in the second round. But, after losing a number of players to graduation, Taunton won only three games last season and are looking to bounce back behind a young roster in 2017.

The key for the Tigers is senior Samantha Tichelaar, who is coming off a league all-star and HockomockSports.com Best XI season, and gives Taunton speed, control, and leadership either as a forward or dropping deep into the midfield. Her versatility opens opportunities for her teammates. Classmate Kayla Felix will be the leader at the back for the Tigers, adding aggressiveness to the defense from her sweeper position.

Numbers are good for the program overall and Dixon expects that the younger players, including a strong crop of freshman and even eighth graders could make an impact on the varsity as the season goes along. She said that many of the younger players are “ahead of their age performance-wise.”

Dixon added, “Some of our younger players are going to step up and change how we play, but our upperclassman and seniors will remain the core of our team. I believe that their leadership and team-first mentality will push us to do well this year and set the program up for long-term success as the underclassmen mature.”

Football: 2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2017 Kelley-Rex Football Preview
Attleboro senior Cam Furtado (14) will be one of the key contributors for the Bombardiers this fall as they look to challenge for the Kelley-Rex title. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Kelley-Rex Football Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 4-7
2016 Finish: Reached D1A South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Strachan

Key/Returning Players: Cam Furtado, Sr., QB/CB; Elvin Sam, Sr., WR/CB; Justin Cote, Jr., RB/OLB; Matthew Corrado, Sr., OL/DL; Matthew Jimenez, Sr., OL/DL; Dan Perry, Sr., OL/DE; James Weir, Sr., LB/TE; Nate Barboza, Sr., LB/FB; Nick Evans, Jr., TE/DE; Kyle Walsh, Jr., OL/DL; Jacob Weatherford, Jr., LB/FB; Josh Therrien, Jr., FS/WR

Outlook:
The Bombardiers started the season 3-2, but closed with only one win in the final six games, including a pair of losses to league rival and eventual Super Bowl champion King Philip. Injuries piled up for Attleboro in 2016, but it gave a number of players the chance to gain valuable varsity experience and the Bombardiers have high hopes for improvement this fall.

Experience at the skill positions is one of the reasons for optimism at Attleboro. Senior Cam Furtado is slated to start the season at quarterback and has proven to be a dynamic playmaker. Classmate Elvin Sam emerged as a big play weapon last fall, whether in the backfield or split out wide, and tight end James Weir gives Attleboro an option in the middle of the field. Wideout Josh Therrien and running back Justin Cote could also play bigger roles with running back Marcus Blaise adding depth.

Attleboro also has a strong returning core on defense with Furtado, Sam, and Therrien in the secondary and Weir joining senior Nate Barboza and junior Jacob Weatherford at linebacker. Matt Corrado, Matt Jimenez, and Kyle Walsh will give the Bombardiers strength on both sides of the line and junior Nick Evans could be poised for a breakout year after moving from linebacker to defensive end. Sophomore Qualeem Charles is also a player to watch on the line.

“I am extremely excited about our senior group of players,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have some dynamic players in Cam Furtado and Elvin Sam and hopefully they can maximize their athletic talents. We have many returning starters from last season so we hope to build on that experience.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 2-9
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Eian Bain

Key/Returning Players: Jake Noviello, Sr., QB; Sean Leonard, Jr., WR/TE; Brian Kosicki, Sr., OT; Nolan McLaney, Jr., S; Jackson Gilbert, Sr., DE; Ryan Driscoll, Jr., CB; Riley Downing, Jr., OL/DL

Outlook:
The first season for the Panthers under new head coach Eian Bain was a struggle at times for a young roster that was adapting to new systems on both sides of the ball, but there is hope that the experience gained last fall will pay dividends in 2017. Franklin will have a number of returning players to count on this season.

Offensively, Franklin will have to find ways to make up for the production of graduated running back Jacob Wolowacki, who was a go-to weapon in the ground and passing games. Senior quarterback Jake Noviello will be counted on to lead the offensive unit after more than 1,700 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall. Junior wideout Sean Leonard started all 11 games last year and will be a tough matchup for defenses along with fellow receivers Jack Nally, Will Davis, and Evan Wendell and running back Sean Hofferty. Three-year starter Brian Kosicki will be the leader of the offensive line and tight end Patrick Morrison will be a weapon in the passing game.

On defense, the Panthers have depth in the secondary, including junior safety Nolan McLaney, who was second on the team in tackles last year. Junior Ryan Driscoll has speed on the corner and Bain called him the “focal point” of the defense. Nick Gordon will hold down the other corner spot. Senior defensive end Jackson Gilbert is coming back from injury that cut short his junior season and will add strength on the edge. Junior Riley Downing gives Franklin size and speed in the middle of the line.

“We are in year two of our process,” said Bain. “We are in a different place than we were a year ago…Fans should expect to see a better team in 2017. We have a roster full of experience and had great participation through the Franklin speed and conditioning program. In a league this good we have to bring our best every week.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 12-0
2016 Finish: MIAA D1A State Champions
Coach: Brian Lee

Key/Returning Players: Brendan Lydon, Sr., QB; Evan Rice, Sr., RB/LB; Shane Frommer, Sr., RB/DB; Dylan Leonard, Sr., RB/LB; Cole Baker, Soph., K; Andrew Dittrich, Sr., WR/DB; David Morganelli, Jr. WR/DB; Anthony Vahue, Sr., OL/DL; Jack Webster, Jr., LB.

Outlook:
What will the Warriors do for an encore? King Philip won its third league title in the past five years, second outright Kelley-Rex title in the past three seasons, and completed an unbeaten season with a win over Reading in the Div. 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

Despite losing a large and influential senior class, the Warriors are being picked by some to repeat at champs this fall. One reason for continued belief is the return of senior quarterback Brendan Lydon, who showed poise in the pocket and the ability to make accurate passes downfield in his first year under center in 2016. Yale-commit Shane Frommer is also back for his senior season and will be the feature back for the Warriors in a system that prides itself on pushing teams around on the ground. Beyond that, it will be up to a group of rookies to make an impact. KP will boast an entire new offensive line, anchored by senior Anthony Vahue, and all new receivers. Junior David Morganelli will be one of the options for Lydon.

The Warriors boast a bit more experience on the defensive side of the ball. Even though a good chunk of starters are gone, KP’s rotation last year allowed for players like Evan Rice (defensive end), Jack Webster (linebacker) and Dylan Leonard (safety) to see action. Frommer will be back opposite Webster while Vahue will also play on the defensive line. Andrew Dittrich returns as a starting corner back to anchor the secondary.

Although there are a lot of new faces on this year’s roster and a lot of leadership missing from last season’s championship squad, head coach Brian Lee has instilled a toughness that permeates the program and expectations are that KP will have a decent chance at lifting a trophy again this fall.

“We don’t get any points for last year, we don’t get spotted a touchdown because we went undefeated last year,” Lee said. “When it comes to high school football, it’s about taking those rookies and getting them ready for varsity speed, they have to be able to handle the bright lights on Friday nights. If we can get them up to speed, we should be okay.”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 8-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1A South Quarterfinal
Coach: Michael Redding

Key/Returning Players: Will Shield, Sr., OL/DL; Colbey Eason, Jr., OL/DL; Jareme DiLorenzo, Sr., DE/TE; Hunter Ferreira, Sr., WR/OLB; Danny DeGirolamo, Sr., RB/DB; Joe Cox, Sr., RB/OLB; Khristian Conner, Jr., RB/DB; Chris Copponi, Jr., FB/LB; Aidan Sacco, Jr., RB/DB; Mike Shannon, Sr., TE/DE

Outlook:
The Hornets finished second in the Kelley-Rex division last year, with the only Hock loss coming by three points to league champ King Philip. Mansfield was stunned in a playoff thriller against Marshfield, but then bounced back to beat Div. 1 playoff teams Needham and Newton North and will enter 2017 with typically high expectations, as the Hornets look to win their first league title since 2013.

A strength for Mansfield this fall will be the experience it returns at the skill positions led by senior wideout Hunter Ferreira, who has emerged as one of the area’s top receivers. The backfield will once again be loaded for the Hornets, who will count on seniors Danny DeGirolamo and Joe Cox and juniors Khristian Conner and Aidan Sacco. New quarterback Damani Scott will try to make use of that talent and the 6-foot-3 junior has a big arm to make plays downfield.

Cox and Ferreira will add strength and speed to the linebacking corps, while seniors Mike Shannon and Jareme DiLorenzo will provide a pass rush at the defensive end positions. Conner, Sacco, and DeGirolamo will all return in the secondary. If there are questions for the Hornets, it will be at the line of scrimmage; senior Will Shield and junior Colbey Eason have returned and will be the players to build around on the offensive and defensive lines.

“After one week, we are happy with work ethic and development of linemen,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding, who is in his 30th season with the Hornets. “If we can get pieces of the puzzle sorted out up front on OL and DL, we’ll be a tough out. We have a very good collection of playmakers that can run and catch and we should score some points this year.”

Oliver Ames

2015 Record: 2-9
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mike Holland

Key/Returning Players: Jack Mills, Sr., OL/DL; Curtis Cann, Sr., QB; Jay Fruci, Sr., FB/LB; Michael Mulrean, Sr., DB/WR; John-Michael Cole, Sr., OL/DL; Noah Fitzgerald, Sr., WR/DB

Outlook:
The Tigers got off to a promising start to 2016, winning two of the opening three games including a dramatic one-point win over Franklin, but Oliver Ames struggled down the stretch against a difficult schedule. Now entering his third year, head coach Mike Holland is confident the program is heading in the right direction this fall.

According to Holland, the Tigers’ strength on the offensive side of the ball is the experience of playing in the system for several seasons and a greater understanding of the concepts. Senior Curtis Cann will lead the attack after taking over as the starting quarterback last season and he has several talented weapons on the outside in seniors Michael Mulrean and Noah Fitzgerald. Jay Fruci will be one of the returning players in the backfield, lining up behind a big offensive line.

Jack Mills will be a mainstay in the middle on both sides of the ball and is one of the top lineman in the league. He will be paired with fellow senior John-Michael Cole on the line, giving the Tigers depth in the trenches. Fitzgerald and Mulrean will also be important contributors in the secondary, while Fruci will bring athleticism to the linebacking corps. Holland wants his defensive scheme to take advantage of the team’s speed.

“Looking forward to the start of a new season. Our guys’ preparation and approach leading up to the season has been excellent,” Holland said. “We have guys with experience that need to play big, as well as some new guys that are in the mix to compete for spots.”

Taunton

2016 Record: 5-6
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Sidwell

Key/Returning Players: Noah Leonard, Jr., QB; Brayden Merrill, Jr., WR/DB; Collin Hunter, Sr., WR/DB; Paul Corrao, Sr., T/DT; Cam Correiro, Jr., G/DT; Antonio Mendes, Sr., RB; Zakim Harrow, Sr., DT/NG; Nuno Camara, Sr., LB/FB

Outlook:
The Tigers narrowly missed out on a winning record in their first season under head coach Brad Sidwell and showed signs of improvement, including a narrow, three-point loss to Mansfield. In year two, Sidwell is hoping for even more and Taunton has potential on the roster to be a tough out in the league.

Losing wide receiver Adam McLaughlin to graduation will certainly impact the offensive attack, but junior quarterback Noah Leonard returns for his second season under center and will look to build on the experience he gained last fall. With a number of athletes at the skill positions, including senior Collin Hunter and junior Brayden Merrill at wideout and T.J. Mendes in the backfield, Taunton will use a number of formations and styles to cause matchup problems. Sidwell expects the passing game to be a major strength for the Tigers.

Defensively, Taunton will have a number of new faces, but has size and experience at the line of scrimmage. Seniors Paul Corrao and Zakim Harrow and junior Cam Correiro will all make a significant impact on the battle in the trenches. Senior Nuno Camara provides experience to the linebacking corps, while Merrill and Hunter will be important in the secondary.

“Moving into the second year, the players, coaches and fans are excited for the season but there is lots of work to be done,” Sidwell said. “Hopefully we can get off to a good start and provide some confidence to gain momentum into the difficult Hockomock League season.”

Oliver Ames Scores Upset Up Defending State Champs

Oliver Ames baseball
Oliver Ames junior Michael Mulrean celebrates after closing the game. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
DIGHTON, Mass. – When the state tournament rolls around, it’s not records or seeds that matter anymore — it’s execution.

Despite being forced inside for practice the past two days, and a five-day break in-between games, 10th-seeded Oliver Ames showed no rust in a 5-2 win over second-seeded Dighton-Rehoboth, the defending Division 2 State Champions.

The Tigers connected for 10 hits — all singles —and had runners on base in all innings but two. Dighton-Rehoboth registered seven hits — also all singles — and put a runner on base in all but the final inning.

After pitching just 14 innings during the regular season, sophomore Matt McCormack earned the win for Oliver Ames. He allowed two runs in 5.1 innings of work, scattering seven hits with one strikeout.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Despite starting the season on JV, McCormack impressed in his appearances for the varsity squad and earned the trust of head coach Joe Abarr to get the start on the road against the defending state champs.

“I had a lot of faith in him after how he’s handled himself in big games against some good teams,” Abarr said. “He threw a great game against New Bedford late in the season so that gave us a lot of confidence in him.

“He’s only a sophomore and he started starting for us about halfway through the season. He shows a lot of good baseball IQ. He doesn’t have a lot of ego attached were he wants to blow it by everyone. He will strike guys out but he wants to get ground balls, he wants to get out of the inning. And our catcher [Alden Newman] is a very mature, smart guy that knows how to work counts and pick up tendencies so they worked well together.”

Cam Johnson and Sam Burr connected for back-to-back one out singles in the top of the first inning, with Johnson reaching third but Falcons’ starter Thomas Roache got the third out before any damage.

D-R’s offense got going early two with consecutive singles to start the game but McCormack got a key strikeout, a line drive out to center and an infield ground out to escape unscathed.

OA’s offense continued its aggressive ways in the second inning and it paid off. Matt Muir’s speed forced an errant throw, allowing the junior to take second with one out. A single from Chris Pearsons put runners on the corner, and Pearsons stole second to put two on. Newman laced one to center, forcing a diving catch, which allocated Muir enough time to tag up for a sac fly.

Kyle Gagliardi (2-for-4, RBI) ripped one into the right field to bring Pearsons home from second and give OA a 2-0 lead.

The Tigers had a lead off single in there third inning, but couldn’t do anything with it. The Falcons put a runner on third with one out in the bottom of the third but a shallow pop up to center and a grounder to short with Muir flipping to Mitch Goulet at second for a close force out got OA out of the jam.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Newman led off the top of the fourth with a walk and Gagliardi record his second hit of the day to put runners on first and second. Johnson laid down a perfect bunt to sacrifice the runners over but instead, the throw from the catcher eluded the first baseman. The ball stayed in play in foul territory, allowing both pinch runner Will Hogan and Gagliardi to score and Johnson to advance all the way to third.

Two batters later, Goulet delivered a one-out single to bring Johnson in and put Oliver Ames up 5-0.

“When we got that sac bunt down…when you do the fundamental things right, if you force their hand, mistakes can happen, it’s high school baseball,” Abarr said. “I thought our guys did a nice job of handling it.

“They were able to keep themselves composed. They looked very mature in a big situation. Since I’ve been apart of the program, the second round of the playoffs has kind of been our stumbling point. So it felt good to get it out of the way, especially after practicing inside the gym the last two days.”

The Falcons had an immediate response in the bottom half of the fourth inning. A lead off single from Dallas Noons, a one-out single from John Chrystie and a walk to Joseph Reed loaded the bases for D-R. OA tried to get the force out at home on a chopper up the first base line but the throw was off the mark and the run was safe.

Steven Silvia lifted one to center for a sacrifice fly but McCormack got a line out to center for the final out to limit the damage to two runs.

“Those guys [D-R] can play a heck of a game of baseball,” Abarr said. “I came and saw them Saturday and I knew they were a good team. If we showed up today and played the way I know we could, I knew we’d have a chance. And things went our way some today.”

Muir reached second in the fifth inning with one out but OA couldn’t cause any further damage. D-R earned a two-out walk in the bottom half but that was all.

D-R retired OA in order for the only time in the sixth inning and the Falcons nearly capitalized on that momentum in the bottom half of the inning,

Chrystie led off with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. A single put runners on the corners and forced Abarr to his bullpen, bringing in junior Michael Mulrean in relief.

Pearsons fielded a grounder to third cleanly and he fired home and Newman got the tag for the force out. Mulrean then induced a fly ball to left to get out of the inning.

Mulrean retired the Falcons in order in the bottom of the seventh inning to finish off the save.

“I was really proud of the way the guys handled themselves,” Abarr said. “Everyone had good at-bats, we didn’t try to do too much, I don’t think we had an extra base hit all day.”

Oliver Ames baseball (14-8) advances to the D2 South Semifinals and will take on 11th-seeded Westwood (13-8) on Thursday at 7:00 at Rockland High School.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.