Hornets Finish Off KP to Advance Past First Round

Mansfield girls soccer
Mansfield senior Bryn Anderson (5) drives forward with KP junior Faye Veilleux (21) in close pursuit during Saturday’s D1 South first round matchup. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield won its third straight league title this fall, and its first outright championship in program history, so the Hornets are no stranger to regular season success. But, in the state tournament, Mansfield has been knocked out in the first round each of the past two seasons.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

This group of seniors (of which there are 19 on this year’s roster) had not seen the second round since they were freshman year and they were hungry to add a playoff run to their league accomplishments. That hunger was intensified by Saturday evening’s opponent in the Div. 1 South opener at Alumni Field, as King Philip upset the Hornets in overtime two seasons ago.

The Hornets scored twice against the wind in the first half (and arguably against the run of play) and held on with a typically stout defensive performance to shutout the Warriors 2-0 and advance to the South quarterfinal.

“We definitely wanted to win,” said Mansfield senior Steph Kemp. “We weren’t willing to leave this field without a win. All of us seniors, the whole team, everyone worked together. We didn’t want this to be our last game and it showed.”

King Philip (12-5-2) opened the game with the wind at its back and the Warriors used it to put the hosts on their heels early on.

Inside the opening 10 minutes, Abby Baker had the first chance of the game for KP. A throw in from the left side went off the shoulder of Mansfield defender Mikaela Maughn and Baker forced keeper Lauren Whitman into the first of her six saves. Just two minutes later, Avery Snead threaded a pass to Ally Stanton, who laid it into the path of Chloe Layne but the shot lacked power and Whitman saved.

“We had some great chances, but didn’t finish,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “That’s the tale of this game. I thought we dominated in the first half and didn’t get anything from it and they had two shots and put them in. That’s the difference in the game.”

Despite the pressure from the Warriors over the opening half hour, it was Mansfield that got the game’s first goal with its first shot on target. Kemp battled KP defender Olivia Berry on the right side of the box and managed to squeeze it loose into the middle where Cassidy McMahon ran onto it and was able to side-foot it past keeper Taylor Butler.

The Warriors came right back with a series of chances. Snead rose highest to head a long free kick from Makayla Griffin but Whitman was there for the save, then right back Lauren Anderson fired a long pass up top to Layne, who flicked it into the path of Jenna Hitchen on the left side but again it was saved. In the 37th minute, KP’s forwards combined again – Stanton to Snead to Layne, but the junior’s finish was just wide.

Two minutes later and the lead was doubled. A throw in from the left side was flicked by Sydney Mulkern to Melissa Reef at the corner of the box. The senior midfielder spun past her marker and onto her right foot before curling an unstoppable shot into the top corner for a 2-0 advantage.

“That’s a goal that she’s been staying after practice for a whole week just to work on,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith explained. “She says that she gets so many of them and to see her hard work pay off is really cool.”

Mansfield got the wind in the second half and it almost paid immediate dividends when Bryn Anderson got to the end line and cut it back for Kemp, who blazed over the bar.

Even into the wind, the Warriors looked dangerous in attack. Baker touched one on to Layne, who fired over and then she had a second chance with a half-volley from a Faye Veilleux throw in but couldn’t get enough power on it to beat Mansfield’s second half keeper, Caty DeMassi. Hitchen set up Snead in the middle but she also sent her shot over the bar.

In the 62nd minute, Anderson drove forward from midfield but her shot from the edge of the box was inches over the crossbar.

In the final 20 minutes, Mansfield locked down on the defensive side. Maughn and fellow center back Emily Vigeant were keeping a constant eye on Snead in the middle of the field, while freshman Katie Miller was tasked with following Layne as closely as possible. Reef added to the defensive shape from midfield and outside backs Mulkern and Kerina Geminiani were always on the cover.

“Wow,” Smith said about the complete defensive performance of his team. “We had to be very organized.” Pichel added, “The wind was against us [in the second half] and they did a great job defending. It was a hard hole to climb out of.”

Both coaches raved about the play of their opponents and both admitted that Saturday did not feel like a first round game. “Two giants went at it and one is left standing,” said Pichel. Smith said, “It felt like a sectional final.”

The Hornets allowed a league-low eight goals this season and that defensive strength was evident as they closed out the game and protected a two-goal cushion. At the final whistle, the whole team raced to the far end of the field to celebrate the win.

“It’s definitely relieving and it’s exciting,” Kemp said. “We haven’t been in this position since freshman year and even then not a lot of girls were on the field, so it’s our first time being through this all 19 of us senior together. We’re excited to just go on and see what it feels like to be in the rest of the tournament.”

She added, “I was tired from coming off the field but I managed to make that sprint all the way to Cat.”

Mansfield (14-2-4) will travel to face No. 4 seed Bridgewater-Raynham on Monday in the sectional quarterfinal.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 10/25/18

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Soccer
Attleboro, 0 @ Franklin, 2 – FinalFranklin scored a goal in each half to pick up a win over visiting Attleboro. Tim Duval scored an unassisted tally in the first half as the Panthers took a 1-0 advantage into the break. Junior Sam Stowell converted a penalty kick in the second half for the Panthers.

Canton, 2 @ Milford, 3 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery from this game.

North Attleboro, 0 @ Foxboro, 0 – Final

Oliver Ames, 2 @ King Philip, 1 – FinalOliver Ames scored two goals in the second half to earn two points on the road in a comeback win. King Philip’s John Cullen gave the hosts the lead at the midway point of the first half, an advantage that the Warriors took into halftime. But OA found the back of the net twice in the second half to take the points. Kevin Louhis scored the tying goal in the 53rd minute and Jimmy Keane netted the game winner with under five minutes to go.

Taunton, 0 @ Mansfield, 2 – FinalMansfield senior Luke Devine scored the game-winning goal and assisted on an insurance strike as the Hornets blanked Taunton. Devine opened the scoring in the 25th minute, converting a pass from Tommy Lanzillo to make it 1-0. Devine then took his turn as the facilitator, linking up with Luke Savoie in the 36th minute to a 2-0 advantage. Tony Salisbury and Cam Bovey combined for the shutout in net.

Sharon, 2 @ Stoughton, 2 – FinalStoughton twice erased one-goal deficits to earn a draw against Sharon. After the Eagles took an early lead, Mason Eschleman took a feed from Fabi Ponce de Leon and found the back of the net to tie the game. Sharon once again took the lead, scoring early in the second half but the Knights battled back again. Ikenna Dike’s throw-in was flicked on by Ted Lucas to John Neves, and he scored his third goal of the year to make it 2-2. Stoughton senior captain Carter Gerome (17 saves) made a crucial save in the final moments to preserve the draw.

Girls Soccer
Franklin, 2 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – – Click here for a photo gallery from this game. – Erin Quaile opened the scoring just before halftime, tapping in the rebound from Sabrina Addi’s free kick that came back off the bar. Calen Frongillo added the second from the penalty spot in the second half.

Canton, 3 @ Milford, 0 – FinalClick here for a photo gallery from this game. – Canton clinched a spot in the postseason with the road win.

Foxboro, 0 @ North Attleboro, 3 – FinalKayla Pasquel had a goal and two assists and Ashlyn Gaulin had one of each to lift the Rocketeers to a win against the Davenport division champs. Gaulin opened the scoring in the first half and then Pasquel doubled the lead 15 minutes after the break. Haley Ferrin headed in a Pasquel corner to seal the two points with 10 minutes left. Emma Noreck earned the clean sheet in goal for the Rocketeers.

Mansfield, 5 @ Taunton, 0 – FinalSteph Kemp had two goals to lead the way for the Hornets, as Mansfield clinched its third straight league title and its first outright championship. Sydney Mulkern, Katie Miller, and Kerina Geminiani also scored for Mansfield, while Cassidy McMahon, Erin Daniel, Katy Garvin, Melissa Reef and Emily Vigeant had assists.

King Philip, 3 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – FinalFaye Veilleux and Avery Snead each scored a goal and recorded an assist for the Warriors, as they closed out league play with a win. Snead opened the scoring in the first half off a Veilleux assist and the lead was doubled before the break when Ally Stanton scored on a Chloe Layne assist. Veilleux added the third from a Snead pass to seal the victory. Taylor Butler made five saves and Makayla Griffin, Lauren Anderson, Olivia Berry and Paige Varvarigos all played well on defense to preserve the clean sheet. Leah Johnson, Brianna Gibson and Emma O’Donnell played well for OA.

Field Hockey
Canton, 3 @ Attleboro, 2 – Final

Warriors Regain Confidence With Win at Mansfield

King Philip girls soccer
King Philip junior Avery Snead (9) scored a pair of goals on Monday night to lead the Warriors to a 2-1 win at Mansfield. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Last season, King Philip and Mansfield shared the Kelley-Rex division trophy. Earlier this year it looked like both teams were in line to repeat before the two teams met for the first time. The Hornets won that game 4-1 and are now on the verge of a third straight title, while KP went into a tailspin, losing four straight.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

On Monday night at Alumni Field, the two teams met again. Behind a pair of goals from Avery Snead, the Warriors beat Mansfield 2-1 to force the Hornets to wait a few days before clinching the title and to regain some of their confidence with the state tournament looming.

“It’s nice to be back on track again,” admitted King Philip coach Gary Pichel. “We lost our way for four games, had some bad luck, but you’ve got to keep marching forward to get ready for the playoffs. Our record isn’t stellar but we may surprise a couple people along the way.”

KP has been trying out a number of different lineups and formations in the last couple of weeks to try and find a set up that would work best. On Monday, Pichel pushed Snead up top as the lone forward and moved Chloe Layne into a central midfield role to give her more touches and allow her to create.

“The four games we lost, I was experimenting where is Chloe best served and she showed it against Taunton in the center spot,” Pichel explained. “She just became old Chloe again. Now she’s back and thank God. When you separate them like that then it creates chances for Chloe coming from [midfield] and Avery if she gets chances then she’ll make the most of it.”

The formation shift nearly worked right from the opening whistle, as Layne squeezed between a couple of Mansfield defenders and created space on the left side of the box. Her cross flashed across the goal and was knocked out. On the ensuing corner, Faye Veilleux’s header from a few yards out went narrowly wide.

While it was a good start for the Warriors, Mansfield started to bypass the middle of the field and use its speed on the wings. The Hornets hit long diagonal passes in behind the KP fullbacks and were able to create a number of chances.

Katie Garvin slid a pass through to Sydney Mulkern down the right channel in the eighth minute and the winger was able to pick out Steph Kemp alone in front. KP goalie Taylor Butler (six saves) needed to be out quickly to smother the shot. It was a sign of things to come in the first half.

A cross from the right side by Erin Daniel found Melissa Reef in space on the far side of the box, but she was unable to keep her header down. In the 21st minute, Kemp dropped in to pick up the ball and she slipped Cassidy McMahon in behind the defense only for the junior winger’s shot to come back off the far post.

McMahon was causing havoc on the right side. She cut back onto her left foot and forced a diving save from Butler and she also set up freshman Katie Miller for a chance from 20 yards that went over.

“We had lots of opportunities,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith said. “Their game plan was great, to condense the space in the middle, so we had to do that. We couldn’t play through the middle. We found space on the outside, but we couldn’t find that final pass, that final score.”

The Hornets profligacy in front of goal, gave KP the chance to grab the lead against the run of play. A long ball forward bounced around and Abby Baker was able to head the ball between a pair of Hornets defenders. Snead chased after it and was able to use her long reach to just get a touch on the ball in front of Kerina Geminiani and with Mansfield goalie Lauren Whitman stranded.

The lead was very short-lived. Only a minute later and the Hornets were right back in it. Again it was McMahon that created the chance, cutting in from the right. She picked out Kemp in the middle, a good turn to free her right foot and the senior found an angle to slide her shot past Butler to make it 1-1.

“Just under a minute,” Smith said of the quick turnaround by his team. “Always keep it in mind that we can score when we’re down. And we had opportunities in the second half too.”

In the second half, the Warriors were more cognizant of the diagonal pass attacking the fullbacks to try and slow down the Hornets attack. Mansfield still had chances to take the lead, including a cross from McMahon on the left that nearly got to Mulkern on the back post if not for an intervention by Paige Varvarigos.

A throw-in from Daniel then found Kemp in space and she hit a low cross to McMahon, who had made a long run unmarked down the left, but her shot went over the bar.

KP started to come into the game after that chance and create scoring opportunities of its own. Snead picked the right pass to find Ally Stanton in space, but her shot was saved by Mansfield keeper Caty DeMassi.

In the 63rd minute, the Warriors were back out in front. Layne got free on the left side of the box, in a rare foray forward, and she hit a cross/shot that went through the six-yard-box and nearly snuck inside the far post. The ball caromed off the post and straight to the foot of Snead, who made no mistake with the empty net.

“You cross your fingers and hold your breath trying to beat Mansfield because it’s hard and we were just hoping that Avery could tuck a couple in and she did,” Pichel said. “Avery came through.”

McMahon had another chance racing in at the far post, but her shot went over the bar, and Emily Vigeant’s corner with three minutes to play found the head of Reef but Butler was able to save comfortably.

Smith said, “We got the pressure on them, we had corner kicks, we had shots, but we just couldn’t find that last little touch.”

With Snead moved back to the center of defense alongside Makayla Griffin and Olivia Berry, the Warriors packed it in and largely held Mansfield at bay for the closing stretch of the game. KP nearly put the game away on the break when Jaida Caruso freed Jenna Hitchen for a run at goal, but the shot went over.

It was the big win that KP had been waiting for and Pichel thinks it can be the result that will propel the defending Div. 1 South champs on another tournament run. “Huge amount of confidence, believe me,” he said. “This is just the medicine that the doctor ordered for us. It really is.”

King Philip (10-4-2, 10-4-1) will try to keep the momentum going on Thursday at Oliver Ames. Mansfield (11-2-3, 10-2-2) can move closer to clinching the league title when it visits Stoughton on Wednesday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Girls Soccer: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2018 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
King Philip and Mansfield shared the league title last season and look like being favorites to make another run at the crown this fall. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 4-13-1
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs.
Coach: Steve Santos

Attleboro improved last season, scoring 18 goals and showing signs of an improved passing game, which head coach Steve Santos has been trying to build over the past few years. An exciting group of younger players added speed to the Bombardiers and the team’s increased depth allowed them to be competitive against even the league’s best teams.

That group has continued to develop and sophomore forwards Isabella Salviati and Briley Harnois will be counted on to provide a consistent threat to the opposition defense. The midfield should be a strength for the Bombardiers this season with a group of versatile players that will set the foundation for the Attleboro passing game. Senior Sam Fasoldt will be joined by juniors Julia Reyes and Ashley Dame, who returns after missing 2017 with a knee injury, and sophomore Jessica Gates. Junior Sophia Salviati will help out in midfield and defense, where Attleboro returns just one starter from last year. Seniors Felicia Laguerre and Ashley Lauzier will be at the heart of the defense in front of goalies Taylor Drake (senior) or Ashley Macia (junior).

“The team looks good and is playing some good passing soccer,” said Santos about the Bombardiers in the preseason. “As a team, our speed is where we need it to be to keep teams on their heels and not let them dictate play.”

Franklin

2017 Record: 10-8-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round.
Coach: Tom Geysen

Franklin battled injuries throughout the 2017 season and those injuries tested the Panthers depth, but heading into a new season head coach Tom Geysen is confident that this year’s squad can withstand the rigors of Hockomock play. The Panthers will be tested early, with King Philip, Mansfield, and Canton in the opening four games.

Versatility will be a key for the Panthers this season with players capable of slotting into different positions. One of those players is junior Anna Balkus, who can play up top or drop back into the midfield depending on the formation. Sophomore Sydney St. Marie will also play up top and Geysen said that she has shown real progress from last year. Junior Carly Alston will be in the heart of the midfield, while senior Halle Atkinson will give Franklin an outlet on one wing and sophomore Erin Qualie, fresh off an impressive rookie campaign, will be on the other. Defensively, Franklin will count on third-year center back Grace Gallo, fellow senior Maddie Stewart, and junior Sabrina Addi, who moved from the midfield to defense last fall. Athletic junior Breanna Atwood will jump into goal and continue Franklin’s run of strong goalkeepers.

“We have a good nucleus of kids coming back and kids moving around to new positions,” said Geysen. “There are a lot of freshmen with potential to develop into strong players. Everyone had a good attitude and has been working hard.”

King Philip

2017 Record: 20-2-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 state semifinal.
Coach: Gary Pichel

King Philip put together a dominant season in 2017, winning a league title for the first time since 2002 and then winning the Div. 1 South title as well. The Warriors scored 18 more goals than any other team in the Hockomock last year and also allowed fewer goals than all but two teams. With a loaded roster back this fall, KP has its sights set on even more in 2018.

Expectations are sky high for the Warriors this season because of the return of junior forwards Chloe Layne and Avery Snead, the reigning league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year. Layne and Snead were the top two scorers in the Hock last season and they continue to develop and improve. KP wasn’t a two-player team and they will also count on senior Abby Baker in the midfield along with wingers Makayla Griffin and Ally Stanton to provide outlets when defenses crowd the forwards and close down the middle of the park. Junior Olivia Berry will be in the heart of the defense and look to provide the leadership and physical play of graduated defender Emma Corcoran. Junior Faye Veilleux also stepped in at the end of last season and showed her growth as a defensive presence in midfield.

KP coach Gary Pichel said, “The team’s strength’s lie in the ability of our offense to create a great deal of scoring opportunities. There is a relentless desire to push hard up top and keep it there through pressure on ball at all times. We are fortunate to have players that have the ability to do so on a consistent basis.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 13-2-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round.
Coach: Kevin Smith

While King Philip earned a lot of attention for their run to the state semifinal, Mansfield was equally as strong in the league last year. The Hornets matched the Warriors step for step and earned a share of their second straight Kelley-Rex division title. With a number of players back again this year, Mansfield looks ready to battle for a three-peat and make a deep tournament run.

The Hornets feature 13 seniors on this year’s roster, so experience won’t be an issue. Melissa Reef and Bryn Anderson headline the midfield group, with Reef providing cover for the back line and Anderson acting as the fulcrum that gets the offense in motion. The defense will be spearheaded by Emily Vigeant, who has been on the top defenders in the league for the past couple of seasons. She is joined by versatile and physical defenders like Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, and Erin Daniel. Goalkeeper Lauren Whitman will be back between the sticks this season.

There will be plenty of depth in the Mansfield attack this fall with Stephanie Kemp, Sydney Mulkern, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy McMahon, and freshman Maria Sevastos all expected to contribute. “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith.

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 11-8-0
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round.
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

Oliver Ames had a number of new faces last year, but the Tigers were still able to earn a postseason appearance and were the only team in the league to beat King Philip during the regular season. With another year of experience, OA should be ready for another postseason run.

Defense should be a strength for the Tigers this season with plenty of varsity experience on the back line, including seniors Gabriele McLaughlin, Maeve Hogan, and Brianna Gibson. The defensive unit will help sophomores Emma O’Donnell and Emily Meyers get comfortable in goal, as they try to replace EMass all-star Regan Benton. Junior Abby Hodges will be a key component in the OA midfield this season. Junior Erin Holmberg and senior Maggie Ault will be up front for the Tigers, who will hope to improve on the 31 goals they scored last year.

OA coach Britt Sellmayer said, “We have a good mix of experienced players and younger players that have potential to develop into a good team. The key will be replacing one of the best keepers in EMass in Regan Benton. We are counting on the seniors in the back line staying healthy and providing leadership.”

Taunton

2017 Record: 5-13-1
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs.
Coach: Edith Dixon

It has been a few seasons since Taunton made history with a trip to the postseason and a road playoff win at Wellesley, but the program is continuing to build and head coach Edith Dixon expects the Tigers to be an “interesting” team in 2018 with a mix of youth and experience.

Taunton will clearly miss leading scorer Sam Tichelaar and defensive stalwart Kayla Felix, who both graduated after last season, but there is a lot of talent for the Tigers to build around. Grace Pimenta will be back between the pipes and her aggressiveness off her line will help the Taunton defense. Maggie Sullivan will be counted on to be the field general in midfield and Dixon praised her “never-ending motor.” Up front, speed will be a strength for the Tigers, who are hoping to use it to create numerous chances in transition and being aggressive attacking the opposition goal.

Dixon said, “ The best part about this team is their amazing attitude as a group. Everyone has bought into the team concepts and wants to contribute everything they have towards the team goals. This is the first season I’ve had at Taunton where there are no superstars, just 11 players all working together with great synergy.”

Warriors and Hornets Stay Tied After Thrilling Draw

King Philip girls soccer
Mansfield’s Emily Vigeant (3) and Mikaela Maughn (32) keep an eye on King Philip striker Chloe Layne during a thrilling top of the table clash at Macktaz Field. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports,com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – Not all scoreless draws are the same. The lack of a goal does not automatically mean that a game was stale or defensive or boring. It goes without saying that not many scoreless draws have enough incidents to fill a page in a notebook either.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Tuesday night’s rematch between Kelley-Rex division co-leaders King Philip and Mansfield at Macktaz Field was the latter. It was a game packed to the brim with excitement. The teams combined to hit the post three times, the goalies combined for 11 saves, two chances were blocked on the line, and the chances did not end until the final seconds of regulation.

It was a game that had just about everything, except for a goal and a winner.

King Philip and Mansfield lived up to the billing regardless of the 0-0 final score and it leaves the teams in a first place tie heading into the final game of the regular season, which means win the finale and win a championship.

“You’ve got the two best teams in the league and they go toe-to-toe and tie,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith. “They’re the best scoring offense, but in the league they have one more goal than we do. We have one less [goal allowed] than they do. So, you’re talking about the two best defenses, the two best offenses and unfortunately the offenses got nullified but, as a defensive person, I love that.”

KP coach Gary Pichel, whose program is just two years removed from an injury-riddled, two-win season, added, “It had great goaltending, great defense on both sides, very stingy tonight…King Philip has had a hard run for 15 years, so this is big for us. We’re enjoying every minute of it. I’m very proud of the kids; they played their heart out.”

The blustery conditions provided an additional element of drama to the game, as the wind swept across the pitch towards the school and played havoc with clearances, goalkeeper punts, and free kicks. Even shorter passes were affected by the wind whipping from end zone to end zone.


KP took the wind at its back to start the game and it helped the Warriors put the Hornets on their heels for the majority of the first half. It started just four minutes in when Jenna Midura chased down a long ball over the top and blocked the clearance by Mansfield keeper Lauren Whitman only to have the carom go just wide.

Sophomore attackers Chloe Layne and Avery Snead got into the game shortly after, with Layne able to drag a Snead pass past a defender to get off a shot on the edge of the box and then controlled another Snead through ball to get a low shot that drew a save from Whitman. KP goalie Emma Durant was tested soon after when Cassidy McMahon flicked a pass to Amanda Mangano, whose shot was partially blocked and saved at the near post.

In the 27th minute, Layne took a throw-in just inside the left side of the box and she found a sliver of space to squeeze the ball to Snead, who took a left-footed shot that looked destined for the far corner until Whitman flew across to make a two-handed save. Just seconds later and Bryn Anderson had a go from 20 yards for the Hornets but Durant was able to get a fingertip to the ball and knock it over the bar.

In the 30th minute, Layne showed off the skills that have made her one of the league’s top scorers when she used three touches to separate herself from three Mansfield defenders on the edge of the 18 and lined up a right-footed shot only to have it ricochet off the post.

Smith said, “Chloe and Avery are fantastic and we had to double them, we had to triple them, we had to cover, have backside marks on their other players because if you double them you leave people, so that’s why we didn’t have as much offense because we have to shove our forwards back to cover their extra players.”

Six minutes before the break, KP hit the post again. A corner landed in the middle of the box and the ball popped off the foot of Abby Baker but again stayed out thanks to the woodwork.

“We went with the wind at our back in the first half to try and put a few in,” said Pichel. “We hit two posts and an inch to the right on both of them and we would’ve been up 2-0 but give them credit they kept fighting back and I thought we did pretty good pressure-wise even against the wind.”

KP had its chances in the second half as well, although the Warriors were limited by playing into the gusting wind. Layne had an early chance after a slip by the Mansfield defense but put it wide and Makayla Griffin saw her opportunity from a Snead flicked header fly wide just a minute later.

Despite all the chances that both teams were managing to create, the defensive efforts were superb from both teams. The Mansfield back four of Kerina Geminiani, Emily Vigeant, Taylor Smith, and Mikaela Maughn were stretched by the dynamic KP attack, but held firm with help from midfielders Melissa Reef and Anderson.

“Kevin’s team is always prepared,” said Pichel. “Their back four is magnificent. They took care of business. The second half we knew was going to be tough with the wind.”

“It was the best defensive battle we’ve had all season,” said Smith. “It was fantastic.”

The Warriors back line, marshaled by Emma Corcoran and Olivia Berry in the middle with Hanna Balunos and Lauren Anderson on the outside, also put in a strong shift against a varied Mansfield attack. Pichel credited a change in formation for putting the pressure on the Hornets higher up the pitch, particularly Faye Veilleux creating havoc in the center of the field.

He added, “We had better success controlling the ball today. Our middle was exposed [last time]. Our midfield was so aggressive that it was hard for them to get back…so I had to put a stopper in there and [Faye] did a great job.”

Both teams had chances to win the game in the final 20 minutes. Snead had a header off a corner blocked on its way to goal and then Smith belted a perfect 45-yard free kick that smashed off the crossbar and was cleared. Stephanie Kemp had the ball fall to her off a corner only for Lauren Anderson to get a piece of the goal-bound shot and keep it out.

In the closing seconds, Kemp would have one more chance as she tried to get on the end of the long through ball but Durant got the angle and timing perfect to smother the ball at Kemp’s feet. Seconds later, the whistle put an end to a breathless top of the table clash.

King Philip (15-1-2, 12-1-2) will have the chance to win its first title since 2002 when it hosts Franklin on Friday afternoon. Mansfield (12-1-2, 12-1-2) can seal the program’s first back-to-back titles with a win at home against Oliver Ames on Thursday night.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.”

Warriors Earn Draw Against Highly-Ranked Shamrocks

King Philip Girls Soccer
Emma Durant made a save with just seconds remaining to preserve a point for KP against Feehan. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


WRENTHAM, Mass. – Makayla Griffin tried to play a ball forward in the attacking third with only seconds to play in Saturday afternoon’s match-up with Bishop Feehan at Macktaz Field. The ball took an unfortunate bounce off the heel of Rachel Hogan as she made a run into space and caromed to a Feehan player.

The King Philip defense tried to race back into position, but the Shamrocks countered with pace and created a chance for leading scorer Enisa Amedio. The forward sped into the box and fired a low shot only to be denied by KP goalie Emma Durant, who slid out to block the shot with her legs.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

That save preserved a 2-2 draw for the Warriors in game that they controlled for large portions against a Feehan team that is considered among the top 10 in the state. KP avenged a 1-0 loss to Feehan in the first meeting and moved one point closer to qualifying for the state tournament.

“I thought we carried the play for most of the game,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “When you play a quality team like that and you give it your best and they give it their best and you come out with a tie…I’m happy with that.”

The Shamrocks got off to the perfect start, scoring inside the first two minutes of the game. Bailey Conti kneed in a corner from Olivia Bishop to give Feehan the very early lead.

KP answered right back with a set piece of its own. Junior defender Emma Corcoran played an angled free kick from 35 yards on the left side that eluded everyone in the box except for freshman Avery Snead, who prodded the ball into the net at the back post to tie the game.

In the 18th minute, Corcoran passed on a chance to put a free kick into the box and squared the ball to Sarah Fleck on her right. Fleck took a dipping shot from almost 40 yards that the Feehan keeper stood no chance of reaching but that smacked off the crossbar. Just seconds later, the visitors earned a corner and Katie McCarthy nodded Feehan in front.

Other than the two corners, KP was pressing the play and putting the Shamrocks on their heels. The combination of Fleck and Griffin was opening up the Feehan midfield and Snead and classmate Chloe Layne had the Shamrocks defense twisting and turning.

Layne nearly tied the game just three minutes after Feehan took the lead with a series of feints and step-overs that split the right back and central defender. The chance was smothered by the Feehan goalie but was just a preview of the issues that Layne would cause running the left channel.

Feehan almost doubled the lead in the 33rd minute but Durant was quickly off her line and threw out a quick left hand to deny Shealyn Quinn. Seven minutes later, with halftime looming, Layne pulled KP level. Griffin sent in a cross from the left that Layne settled with one touch and created space just inside the box before depositing a shot under the bar to make it 2-2.

“Those two freshmen are my leading scorers,” said Pichel of Snead and Layne. “Chloe does some stuff with her feet that…she’ll juggle right in front of you and then she’ll bring it up to her head and push it right over the top and go around you.”

Just four minutes into the second half, Feehan had a rare opportunity from open play when a through ball split the defenders and gave Amedio a chance to run at the keeper, but Durant came flying out and got a hand to the ball to stop the chance.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

In the 50th minute, Corcoran lined up a 25-yard free kick and for the second time in the game, a KP player fired a shot off the bar. Durant (five saves) came up huge off another Feehan corner 15 minutes later to not only stop the initial header but also to stuff the follow up from point-blank range.

That aggressiveness paid off in the final minute of the game, as Durant came out quickly and blocked an Amedio shot with her legs that kept it at 2-2.

“That was a nail-biter right there,” said Pichel of the heart-in-mouth moment that the Warriors had at the end. “I thought, ‘oh no, after all this work.’ [Emma] came up huge.

“I had a little one-on-one with her and said that we need to stop being conservative in net. We need to be super aggressive in games like this, going forward all the way.”

Durant had plenty of help in front of her, including Corcoran and freshman Olivia Berry. The central defensive pairing was effective in compressing the space for the forwards and covering for each other when one decided to step forward, either to prevent an attack or to start one.

“Olivia walked on and immediately showed that she can play with the best of them,” said Pichel. “She looked like Emma [Corcoran] did as a freshman.”

He added, “When we got beat by the Franklins and Mansfields, the middle was wide open, so I decided to mix up my five backs in a jagged shape to stop the through balls.”

At the final whistle, KP felt a mixture of relief and disappointment because snagging a point from Feehan is a positive but the overall play had the Warriors believing that they were the team on top. That gives the Warriors confidence as they get back into league play this week.

“We’ve been improving steadily since those losses to the top teams in the Hock,” Pichel explained. “I like our chances. I really do. We may not win the division, but we’ll be close.”

King Philip (8-3, 9-5-1) will try to get the one point left to ensure a return to the state tournament against Attleboro on Monday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.