CANTON, Mass. – Entering Monday’s contest with Canton, the North Attleboro baseball team had just two wins in its first eight games.
The defending D2 State Champions had just finished warmups when head coach Mike Hart gathered his team in, delivering a passionate pregame plea for his Rocketeers to play to the best of their abilities.
The speech seemed to light a fire under the Rocketeers, scoring three runs in the first inning to set the tone for a 7-4 win on the road over Canton.
“We have to play the game the right way and we have a certain expectation to play a certain way,” Hart said of the pregame talk.
“I thought we’ve been playing really good baseball, just haven’t been making those winning plays. We’re starting to see that more and more as we’re going through. We played well today and got the win. Now we just have to continue to have those high expectations and put in the same effort each game.”
While North Attleboro’s big first inning was canceled by a three-run second from the Bulldogs, the tone had been set. The Rocketeers cashed in on bases-loaded situations in both the third and fifth innings and tacked on two more key insurance runs in the sixth inning for the win.
For the Bulldogs, it was a matter of missed chances to limit the Rocketeers. A trio of errors gave North second chances, while walks and wild pitches also hurt Canton’s chances.
North sophomore Jared Penta singled on the first pitch of the game, stole second, and came around to score when senior Jake Palmer singled, giving the Rocketeers a lead just five pitches into the contest. Senior Brendan McHugh reached when Canton couldn’t handle a potential double play ball up the middle, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch.
Sophomore Dennis Colleran brought a run home with a sacrifice fly and senior Todd Robinson smacked a single up the middle to bring McHugh in for a 3-0 lead. Canton starter junior Chris Rota escaped further damage, getting a fielder’s choice and a strikeout, stranding runners at second and third.
“I think, if anything, it just gives us confidence,” Hart said of the early runs. “It gives our pitcher confidence and everyone in the lineup. They see the guys in front of them are hitting so that carries over to them.”
In the bottom of the second, senior Max Macort earned a one-out walk and sophomore Sawyer Julier-Albert singled to put runners on first and second. North Attleboro senior starter Matt Wanless got a pop up to get to two outs but the Bulldogs were able to score three runs.
Senior Mike Konzal hit a line drive to bring Macort home and senior Matt Pigeon doubled to right field to bring in two more runs. North Attleboro limited the damage when senior Shawn Watters hit a relay throw to third, preventing a triple for Pigeon.
The Rocketeers quickly jumped back ahead, putting a run up in the top of the third. Colleran and senior Nick Raneri draw back-to-back walks and Robinson that could have potentially been a double play. Rota got back-to-back ground balls to third, and sophomore Steve Burbank got the lead runner both times with a throw home. With two outs, Robison came home on a wild pitch with senior Ryan Warren up at bat.
Rota issued another walk to load the bases again but got a fly ball to right for the third out.
“It comes down to mental mistakes,” said Canton head coach Ben Shuffain. “You can’t blame the kids for physical errors because they happen in baseball, especially high school baseball. But you have to be able to come back from it, let it go, and move on. Have to have a short memory.”
Canton had the winning run 90 feet away in the bottom half after senior Paul Corcoran doubled and moved to third, but Wanless induced a ground ball with Raneri making a nice scoop at first for the third out.
Robinson opened the fifth with a single and junior Russell Dunlap reached on a bunt. Senior pinch hitter Jake Carroll singled, giving the Rocketeers the bases loaded with no outs for the second time in the game. After getting an out with a shallow fly ball to left, Penta hit one deep enough for a sacrifice fly to score Robinson. Canton reliever senior Kevin McGonigle got a swinging strikeout for the third out.
“We left some runners on base but I’ll give Canton’s pitchers credit, they kept us off balance in certain at-bats and certain counts,” Hart said. “They made plays when they needed it.
“We’ve been grinding through some situations but we’re starting to finally come through with the plays we need. We’re trying to get guys more used to the varsity competition and meeting the expectations we have.”
North tacked on key insurance runs in the sixth inning. Back-to-back singles (from Colleran and Raneri) and then a fielder’s choice put pinch runner Joe Barrows and Robinson on the corners. After Robinson stole second, Dunlap slapped a deep rouble to right to bring both runners and a 7-3 lead.
Canton got one back in the bottom half when Julier-Albert and pinch hitter junior Lucas Bryant both singled, the former coming in to score on an infield error from the Rocketeers to make it 7-4.
Rocketeer junior reliever Kyle Briere allowed just one base runner (walk) in 1.2 innings of relief, striking out one to get the save.
North Attleboro baseball (2-4 Hockomock, 3-6 overall) is scheduled to play at home on Wednesday against King Philip. Canton (3-5, 5-5) will try to snap a two-game skid when it hosts Taunton on the same day.
King Philip, 2 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final (12 Inn.) – In a game continued from Tuesday, Attleboro earned a walk off win on a sacrifice fly in 12 innings to beat King Philip. In the bottom of the 12th, Robbie Furtado walked, stole second, moved to third on a single from Sam Larkin and scored the winning run on Troy Van Vliet’s sacrifice fly. Eoin Kelleher pitched three scoreless innings in relief on Wednesday, which started in the top of the 10th inning after the game was called through nine innings due to darkness on Tuesday. Ryan Morry had a strong outing, going 6.2 innings while Max Amaral tossed 2.2 scoreless innings in relief.
Sharon, 6 @ Canton, 21 – Final – Canton senior Matt Pigeon went 5-for-5 with an RBI and five runs scored to pace the Bulldogs to a big win over visiting Sharon. Matt Connolly added three hits, three RBI and two runs scored for Canton, which totaled 19 hits as a team. Paul Corcoran knocked in a team-high four runs on two hits and three runs scored.
Stoughton, 8 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Stoughton pounded out 12 hits and scored at least once in each of the first five innings, including three runs in the fifth to jump out to an 8-1 lead over Foxboro. Junior George Currier led the way with three hits, an RBI, and a run scored while Robbie Seaman (RBI, two runs) and Michael Nazzaro (two doubles, RBI, run scored) each had two hits for the Black Knights, who had seven stolen bases on the day. Anthony Mollica and Joe Cavaleri each had two hits for Foxboro. Stoughton’s Evan Jackman earned the win on the mound, allowing two runs (one earned) in five innings of work with five hits, five walks, and three strikeouts.
Mansfield, 7 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – Mansfield uses a five-run fourth inning to create the necessary separation in a win on the road at Frothingham. The Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third and added another single run in the fifth inning. Chris Jenkins had a team-high three hits out of the nine hole, adding an RBI and two runs scored for the Hornets. Dan Saraceno (RBI), John Carney, and Nick Dumouchel (two runs, RB) each had two hits for the Hornets. Carney got the win, allowing just four hits and two walks in six shutout innings, striking out eight. Nick Boudreau had a strong relief performance for the Tigers, allowing one unearned run on six hits, three strikeouts and no walks in 3.1 innings of work.
North Attleboro, 5 @ Milford, 3 – Final – North Attleboro broke a tie game with a run in the top of the fifth and added an insurance run in the seventh to get a win on the road at Fino Field. The Hawks scored in the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead but North Attleboro plated three runs in the top of the third to jump ahead. Jared Penta reached on an infield error, stole second, got to third on a ground out and scored on a Todd Robinson fielder’s choice. Brendan McHugh drew a two-out walk, stole second, scored on a Nick Raneri single to right. Raneri advanced to third on a Dennis Colleran double and scored on an infield single from Jake Palmer to make it 3-2. Milford tied the game in the bottom of the fourth but the Rocketeers jumped back ahead a half inning later. After North loaded the bases with no outs, Milford sophomore Mario Lee came in and limited the Rocketeers to just one run on an infield error. Milford nearly had the tying run in the bottom of the sixth but a terrific relay throw from Shawn Watters was in time for the out at home. Matt Seavey came on in relief for North Attleboro, getting two outs with the tying run at third.
Attleboro, 3 @ King Philip, 6 – Final – King Philip erased a 3-0 deficit, plating three runs in each the fifth and sixth innings to secure a win over the Bombardiers. Paige Berdos and Ryan Stagg had singles to start the fifth and both scored on a single from Meg Gorman. Gorman stole home to tie the game 3-3. Gorman came up big in the sixth, knocking in Grace Kelley and Stagg, who had both singled. Faith Turinese pitched a solid game, striking out 6 with six hits allowed and one walk.
Taunton, 1 @ Franklin, 2 – Final – Franklin junior Sarah Jackson hit her second home run in as many games, this one a solo shot that broke a 1-1 tie to give the Panthers an upset win over Taunton, snapped the Tigers’ 28-game win streak dating back to last April. The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth when Hanna Aldrich drove in Jaime Brown (two hits, two walks). Ally Shea led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and moved to second on an infield error. Courtesy runner Molly Collins scored on a two-out single from Maddy White to make it 1-1. Jackson broke the tie with a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth. Jackie Cherry earned the win, allowing five hits while strikeout out four. Kelsey White was solid in the circle for Taunton, striking out six.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Mansfield, 12 – Final (5 inn.) – Sarah Cahill tossed a five-inning shutout and Ella Verheggen paced the Mansfield offense with three hits and five RBI to help the Hornets extend their win streak to four games. Cahill allowed only three hits and struck out six. Kara Bendanillo also had a pair of hits for Mansfield. Katie Abreu hit a double and Emma Varella added a single for the Tigers.
Milford, 0 @ North Attleboro, 16 – Final (5 inn.) – North Attleboro junior Bella Erti struck out 14, recording her 300th career strikeout, to lead the Rocketeers to a win over visiting Milford. Erti, Mandi Hanewich, Katie Daby, and Annebelle Hebard each had two hits to pace the North Attleboro offense. Abby Gallagher scored three runs and Alivia Byrne scored twice for North.
Stoughton, 2 @ Canton, 13 – Final – Canton scored less than a minute in, raced out to a 6-0 lead after a quarter, and never looked back in a win over Stoughton. Tommy Vaughan led the way with six goals and one assist for the Bulldogs. Griffin Roach, Andrew Canto, and Brendan Clifford each scored two goals and Dan Cohen added one as well.
Attleboro, 5 @ Mansfield, 14 – Final – Mansfield built a 7-2 lead at halftime and carried that momentum in the second half to earn a win over Attleboro. Brady Kessler paced the offense with a team-high seven goals while Connor Quirk had four goals and Jake Quirk finished with eight assists. Aidan Sacco and Brian Grant each scored once and had one helper and Jake DiSangro scored once for the Hornets. Joe Plath made seven saves in three quarters of play.
Sharon, 2 @ Franklin, 25 – Final
King Philip, 11 @ Oliver Ames, 7 – Final – Oliver Ames opened with a pair of leads (1-0, 2-1) but King Philip answered to take a 3-2 lead at the end of one quarter and never surrendered the advantage after that. The Tigers got within one, down 5-4, in the second but KP rattled off three straight goals, including a final tally from Robbie Tartaglia (two goals) with under a minute to go that was set up by a tremendous defensive play by Sean Cullugh. Colin DeVellis led the way with three goals, Andrew Sajdak added two goals and an assist, and Brian McCarthy scored one and had one helper. Tyler Bartlett, Matt Minkwitz, and Kevin Riggs each scored once for KP. Shane Kilkelly led Oliver Ames with three goals while Nick Gillis had a strong game in net for the Tigers.
North Attleboro, 9 @ Milford, 1 – Final
Mansfield, 21 @ Attleboro, 9 – Final – Katy Garvin scored seven times and also recorded seven assists to power Mansfield to a road win and its second straight game with 20-plus goals. Lauren Whitman added six goals and Olivia Murray had a hat trick for the Hornets. Kerry McCabe, Grace Fernandez, Annemarie McCoy, Maggie Danehy, and Paige Peterson all scored once for Mansfield.
Taunton, 7 @ Foxboro, 18 – Final
Franklin, 19 @ Sharon, 6 – Final – Annie Walsh had nine points, five goals and four assists, to lead Franklin to the win. It was the third straight game that the Panthers had held an opponent to six goals or fewer. Kelsey MacCallum added four goals and Jackie O’Neil had a goal and three assists in the win. Franklin goalie Gianna Cameron made six saves. Sharon was led by Emma Eberhardt, who scored four of the team’s six goals. Jenna Goldstein and Bridget McManus each scored for the Eagles and McManus also had a pair of assists. Rose Wald came up with 12 saves against the Franklin attack.
Oliver Ames, 6 @ King Philip, 19 – Final – KP continued its strong start to league play with a convincing win on home turf. Olivia Tormey was the top scorer for the Warriors with five goals and a pair of assists. Mackenzie Mazur and Caroline Klim each had hat tricks and Jess Sullivan added a two goals and an assist for KP. Victoria Tormey (two goals) and Shayla Weitzman (goal and an assist) each scored two points and Haley Izydorczak, Dana Truini, and Lily Brown each had a goal. Weitzman also scooped five ground balls and Ava Tormey had a strong defensive game for the Warriors, according to KP coach Kourtnie Wilder. Caroline Watson had four saves in the win. Oliver Ames’ Olivia Piazza had two goals and three assists while Maddie Kullen made 15 saves in net for the Tigers.
Milford @ North Attleboro, 3:45
Canton, 0 @ King Philip, 5 – Final – King Philip won all five matches in straight sets, earning a win over visiting Canton. Nick Putney won 6-1, 6-2 at first singles, Jack Cannon earned a 6-0, 6-0 win at second singles, and Zak Ryan prevailed 7-5, 6-2 at third singles. The team of Nate Ihley and Tyler Dowd picked up a 6-1, 6-2 win at first doubles while Jake Mager and Max Goreham secured a 6-1, 6-1 win at second doubles.
Foxboro, 5 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final
Stoughton, 0 @ Franklin, 5 – Final – Franklin’s Liam Marr prevailed in a battle with Stoughton’s Waseem Sablon in a battle of two of the top sophomores in the league, securing a 6-4, -5 win to complete the Panthers’ sweep. Rohan Herur won 6-3, 6-2 at second singles, and Vayshnav Malhotra didn’t drop a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at third singles. Saketh Saripalli and Lucas Gulick won 6-1, 6-0 at first doubles while Saket Gandham and Shoumik Sompally didn’t lose a game at second doubles.
Sharon, 5 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Sharon won all five matches in straight sets to sweep the Tigers on the road. Danujan Thirumavalavan won 6-2, 6-4 at first singles. Alberto Olivei earned a 6-1, 6-0 win at second singles, and Rueman Bhattacharyya won 6-0, 6-1 at third singles. The team of Max Brody and Max Chen secured a 6-2, 6-1 win at first doubles while Alex Aspel and Jake Ross teamed up for a 6-4, 6-3 win at second doubles.
North Attleboro, 5 @ Milford, 0 – Final – North Attleboro earned a win over Milford, winning all five matches in straight sets. Jonah Manso prevailed 7-5, 6-1 at first singles, Alex Pfeffer earned a 6-1, 6-0 win at second singles, and Sam Gallagher won 6-1, 6-1 at third singles. Vikram Senthilakumaran teamed up with Tomas Bentley for a 6-1, 6-1 win at first doubles while Will Redding and Isa Siddiq secured a 6-1, 6-3 win at second doubles.
King Philip, 1 @ Canton, 4 – Final – Canton won a pair of matches in both singles and doubles action to secure a win over visiting King Philip. Rachel Kupferman picked up a 6-2, 6-2 win at first singles while Natalie Keppler won 6-4, 6-4 at second singles. The team of Stelina Michaelidis and Rose Hazam notched a 6-4, 6-4 win at first doubles while Kiara Cerruti teamed up with Lily Hazam to win 6-3, 6-2 at second doubles. King Philip’s Mia Valencia won 6-2, 3-0 (injury) at third singles.
Oliver Ames, 1 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Foxboro swept doubles action and won two more matches in singles action to take down visiting Oliver Ames. Pam Nelson didn’t drop a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at first singles while Julia Muise secured a 6-1, 6-1 win at third singles. The team of Kendall Milender and Paige Krockta prevailed 6-4, 7-5 at first doubles while Maggie McAuliffe and Neha Jammula won 6-0, 6-2 at second doubles. Oliver Ames’ Maura Kiernan recorded a 6-0, 6-4 win at second singles.
Franklin, 2 @ Stoughton, 3 – Final
Taunton, 1 @ Sharon, 4 – Final – Sharon swept singles action and earned one more win in doubles play to get a win over visiting Taunton. Nupur Shukla was impressive in her match, winning 6-0, 6-0 at first singles. Charlie Martinez added a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5) win at second singles and Sophia Fein picked up a 6-2, 6-4 win at third singles. The team of Lauren Glass and Maikala Cheung secured a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win at first doubles. Taunton’s Ogechi Ariguzo and Kayla Parrett earned a hard fought 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) win at second doubles.
Milford, 2 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final – The Rocketeers took two wins in singles action and one more in doubles play to defend home court against Milford. Tara Nair won 6-3, 6-2 at first singles and Olivia Wills earned a 6-3, 6-2 win at at third singles for North, while the team of Sam Martino and Hayley Strom picked up a 7-6 (7-1), 6-0 win at first doubles. Juliana France (second singles, 6-1, 6-4) and the team of Cristielly Prado and Ketny Sousa (second doubles, 3-6, 7-6 [7-5], 10-6) won for Milford.
King Philip, 3 vs. Keefe Tech, 0 – Final – King Philip defended home court on Wednesday evening, earning a 3-0 sweep (25-17, 25-19, 25-15) over visiting Keefe Tech. Kyle Desrochers had a strong day serving with 13 service points and anchored the defense with a team-high eight digs. Max Armour added seven digs and Cam Corey (24 assists) added six digs. Eric Altobello (nine kills) and Jimmy Peterson (eight kills, five blocks) anchored net play for KP.
Taunton, 3 vs. Dighton-Rehoboth, 0 – Final – Taunton’s Alex Tavares (eight kills), Damir Santiago (seven kills), Tyler Stewart (six kills), and Gage Kingman (five kills) combined for 26 kills in a well-balanced attack, leading the Tigers to a 3-0 sweep (25-15, 25-21, 25-19) of Dighton-Rehoboth. Tavares also had a block and three aces, Santiago chipped in with a block, Stewart was strong with four blocks, and Kingman finished with 10 digs and two aces for the Tigers.
Canton, 7 vs. Attleboro, 6 – Final (8 inn.) – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Attleboro scored twice in the top half of the seventh inning to take the lead but Canton tied it in the bottom half to force extra innings then walked off with the win in the bottom of the eighth. Mike Konzal (2-for-4, run) drew a two-out walk, advanced to second on a single from Steve Burbank (2-for-4, run, RBI), and then scored the game-winning run on a hit from Matt Pigeon (3-for-4, two runs, two RBI) for the winning run.
Pigeon was the catalyst for the tying run in the bottom as the seventh as well. Trailing 6-5, Pigeon led off with a double, advanced to third on a fly out from Matt Connolly (double, RBI), and scored the tying run on a two-out double from Rob Sullivan (2-for-3, two RBI).
Each team scored in the first inning but Attleboro seized a 4-1 advantage with a run in the second and two more in the third. Troy Gamache drove in Tim Callahan (3-for-4, two runs) to put Attleboro up 1-0 but Canton responded in the bottom half as Pigeon brought Nate Quan (2-for-4, two runs) home with a sacrifice fly. Attleboro’s Bailey Camacho put the Bombardiers back in front, 2-1, with a sacrifice fly that plated Sam Larkin (double, two runs) in the second inning.
Attleboro extended the advantage to 4-1 when Alvaro Espinal tripled and scored on a wild pitch, and Larkin doubled and came home on an error by the Bulldogs. Canton scored once in the fourth (Rob Sullivan RBI double) to make it a two-run game before putting three on the scoreboard in the fifth to take the lead. Quan, Konzal, and Burbank each singled, the last hit bringing Quan to the plate for a run but Larkin gunned down a potential second run on the play. Canton’s offense continued to battle though, with Pigeon singling to put runners on the corners. A double from Connolly tied the game at 4-4, and an RBI single from Paul Corcoran put Canton up 5-4.
In the top of the seventh, Mason Houle (2-for-4, run, RBI) drove in Callahan with a base hit and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
Senior Kevin McGonigle earned the win in relief, tossing two scoreless innings without allowing a hit and striking out one.
Franklin, 5 vs. Milford, 4 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Franklin trailed 4-1 heading into the fifth inning but scored two runs in the fifth and two more in the top of the seventh to pull out a come from behind victory over neighboring Milford at the Taunton High turf. Alex Haba drove in a pair of runs, including the game-tying run, and scored the eventual game-winner in the seventh, coming home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of JB Floris.
Milford jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Nick Marcolini started the inning by getting hit by a pitch, moved into scoring position on a Matt Shaver single. Colby Pires, who also started for the Hawks and struck out four in 4-1/3 innings, plated the opening run with a single to left. Franklin tied the game in the top of the fourth. Haba walked, stole second, and scored on a single to right by Cooper Ross. The Hawks responded in the bottom half with three runs off the Panthers starter Liam Dailey. Danny Corsini started the rally with an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch before scoring on a Nick Wimette single. Carter Scudo doubled to left to put two in scoring position. Luke Rosa looped a basehit to right to score one and then, after a pitching change, a balk brought in the fourth run.
In the fifth, the Panthers struck for two. Joe Lizotte walked and Jack Nally got hit by a pitch. Scott Elliott loaded the bases with an infield single. A Haba sac fly made it 4-2 and Jake Macchi singled in another to make it 4-3. In the seventh, Elliott walked and stole second before coming around on a Haba single to center to tie the game. With Haba at third, Floris hit a fly ball to left that was deep enough to get in the winning run. Jake Fitzgibbons closed out the game, earning the win with four innings of scoreless relief.
Oliver Ames, 5 vs. Stoughton, 11 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Stoughton scored in each of the first four innings, jumping out to an 11-3 lead and never looking back to get a win over Oliver Ames. Cian Swierzewski, James Genest, and Mike Nazzaro each scored in the first inning to help the Black Knights jump ahead.
After Oliver Ames got on the board in the top of the second (Jake Erlich leadoff double, scored on infield single from Jared Spillane), the Black Knights cashed in on a pair of OA errors and walks to make it 4-1. Chris Pearsons (4-for-4, two RBI, two runs) had an RBI triple and scored on an error in the top of the third to make it a one run game at 4-3, but Stoughton tacked on three runs in the bottom half to regain a multi-run lead.
Three walks loaded the bases for the Knights in the bottom of the third. Stoughton scored on a passed ball, a wild pitch, and an RBI single from Cam Dirosa to make it 7-3. Stoughton pushed across four more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jacob Kaplan walked, stole second, and came home to score on an infield error that was put in play by Clayton Rahaman. An RBI double from sophomore Brady Conlin made it 9-3. Swerziewski then connected on the first home run of the season for any Hock player, and first high school player to hit a home run at the new Taunton field, with a two-run blast to make it 11-3. Oliver Ames scored single runs in the fifth (Jacob Levine RBI double) and the seventh inning (Pearsons RBI double).
2018 Record: 9-11 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Dunlea
After missing out on the playoffs by just one game last season, the Bombardiers are hoping to their experience will help them reach the state tournament this year.
Attleboro has experience in its pitching staff, behind the plate, and both in the infield as well the outfield. The Bombardiers pitching was a strength last season and should be again this year. Eoin Kelleher, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, returns for his senior season and will be the anchor on the staff. Junior Ryan Morry impressed during his outings last season and lefty Camden Fitzpatrick will be in the mix as well.
The Bombardiers will be very strong on the left side of the infield. Senior captain Mason Houle will man third base while junior Tim Callahan, a starter last season, takes over at shortstop. Junior Lorenzo Wilson is slated to take the job at first base while Morry and junior Nick McMahon will split time at second base. While it’s a strong group defensively, all four will be relied upon to step up offensively. Attleboro had just 80 runs total last year, least in the Kelley-Rex division.
Another big part of the offense will be center fielder Alvaro Espinal. Espinal is arguably the best fielding outfielder in the league and will also bring a spark to the Bombardiers lineup at the plate. Senior captain Robbie Furtado will fill in at left field while Sam Larkin and Troy Gamache will both see time in right as well as designated hitter. Behind the plate, Troy Van Vliet gives the Bombardiers some experience while sophomore Bailey Camacho gives first-year head coach Steve Dunlea some flexibility at the position.
“The strength of this team is its senior class leadership and team chemistry,” Dunlea said. “We really have a well-balanced team that is strong in all phases of the game. It’s going to be a fun group to watch this year.”
2018 Record: 5-15 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Ben Shuffain
A strong core of returning players along with some young talent should make for a fun season for the Bulldogs in 2019.
After losing a few key pieces from 2018, there is a good mix of experienced players and talented youth for first-year head coach Ben Shuffain to work with. The Bulldogs will look to three senior captains to the lead the way: Matt Pigeon, Paul Corcoran and Robert Sullivan. Pigeon is a three-year starter behind the plate who batted .368 last season. Corcoran and Sullivan will anchor a deep pitching staff that has looked solid in the preseason.
The pitching staff will also include seniors Kevin McGonigle, Nick Murray, and Joe Bates. Along with them Shuffain will also lean on junior Chris Rota and sophomores Nate Hewitt and Matt Connolly on the mound.
The infield has a double play duo that has shown to work well together featuring senior Mike Konzal and returning second baseman Nathan Quan. Offensively Canton will look to senior Max Macort along with juniors Owen Lahane and Lucas Bryant, and sophomore Steven Burbank.
“We have been very fortunate to have a lot of work outside so far this spring and I think it is going to help us start off on a positive,” Shuffain said. “The team is coming together and we have a great group of kids who really want to turn this program around.”
2018 Record: 5-16 2018 Finish: Reached D3 South First Round Coach: Derek Suess
Foxboro graduated 10 seniors from last year’s squad but there are 12 Warriors returning with varsity experience looking to make another trip to the state tournament.
The Warriors will be relying on their pitching staff this year to lead the way. There is a lot of optimism surrounding the rotation with senior Anthony Mollica and sophomore Sean Yoest each possessing plenty of varsity experience. Those two will be the top guys in the rotation while sophomore Cam Prescott has impressed during the preseason and could fit into the third starting spot. Seniors Guy Quartarone, Brian Duncan, and Philip Thomas as well as juniors Michael Devlin and Joe Cavaleri will be in the mix as well.
When he isn’t on the mound, Mollica will be the anchor of the defense from the shortstop position. He will be joined by sophomore Michael O’Toole at first base, Cavaleri will man third, and Thomas will take over at second base. Senior Adam Lanctot will also see time at second base this season for the Warriors.
In the outfield, Duncan — a senior captain that missed all of last season — will be the anchor, with Devlin handling center field duties and junior James Kaeser rounding out the Warrior outfield. Junior Zach Jenkins will also be in the mix for time in the outfield while junior Kyle McGinnis takes over behind the plate and will be relied upon as a key piece of Foxboro’s offense.
“Mentally, we have to have the same focus, energy, and intensity every single game,” said Foxboro coach Derek Suess. “There are no easy games in the Hockomock League. We must be consistent in our everyday approach in order to have a chance to compete for a league title.”
2018 Record: 21-5 2018 Finish: Division 1A (Super 8) State Champions Coach: Zach Brown
Coming off the program’s first-ever Super 8 state championship, Franklin is going to have a big target on its back — and the Panthers know it.
Franklin lost its top three pitchers in Jake Noviello, Bryan Woelfel, and Jason Ulrickson. Those were the only three pitchers to play during the Panthers’ Super 8 run. This season, the Panthers will turn to the experience of Ben Guzman, Brennan Rivera, and Will Pacheco. All three made appearances a year ago with Guzman and Pacheco registering wins. Guzman is currently recovering from an injury suffered in the preseason but the Panthers are excited for his contributions when he returns. Juniors Liam Dailey and Cody Trotin will also be in the mix after starting for JV last season.
While the pitching staff gets settled in, the Panthers will rely on its defense and offense. After an up-and-down regular season last year offensively, Franklin will be trying to carry over the success it had in the state tournament. Senior Alex Haba is back at shortstop and is one of the best two-way players in the Hockomock. Jake Macchi had a terrific postseason and will be looking to carry that over into his final year starting at catcher for Franklin. Scott Elliott will be the veteran in the outfield for the Panthers as well as a top offensive weapon. All three players — Haba, Macchi, and Elliott — are committed to playing baseball at Merrimack.
Cooper Ross is coming off a strong postseason and will start at third base while junior Jack Nally had a standout sophomore campaign in center field and will move up to the top of the order to set the table for the Panther offense. JB Floris will move from the designated hitter spot to first base and brings an experienced bat with him. Senior Joe Lizotte should see time in the outfield while senior Shane O’Neil’s versatility gives Franklin a lot of options defensively.
“We know this isn’t last year, this is a totally different team with different dynamics,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “We like the makeup of our team, with guys working hard and the seniors being good leaders. I think we could be pretty good defensively, and we’ve shown at times in the preseason to be pretty versatile on offense.”
King Philip is returning a lot of experienced players from last year’s squad and is hoping that will turn into an improved season and berth in the state tournament.
One big reason for optimism is a seasoned pitching staff, which features seniors David Morganelli and Terry Murray. Morganelli posted a 1.99 ERA last season along with 43 strikeouts in 38.2 innings pitched. Murray will be the second starter for the Warriors while juniors Chris Sawyer and Robbie Jarest are expected to factor into the rotation as the season progresses.
“David’s size, strength, and velocity make him a formidable pitcher,” said KP’s second-year head coach Greg Kessler. “His slider and ability to locate his fastball are one of the best in the league. David has an opportunity to be one of the best pitchers in the Hock. He is competitive and has improved a lot in terms of accuracy.”
Sawyer and Jarest will handle the left side of the infield again this year, with Jarest returning as the starting shortstop and Sawyer back manning third base. Both players will be key pieces at the top of KP’s batting order. Senior Ian Zimmerman returns at second base while senior Jake Anderson and sophomore Conor Cooke will both see time behind the plate.
Timmy Nault (.311 last year) will lead the way in the outfield while Zachary Zarba will figure in as well. There is a lot of competition for some open spots in the KP lineup as well.
“We have a lot of work to do this season, we need to improve on our hitting and driving the ball,” Kessler said. “We have a great group of seniors who are dedicated and excited to compete for a Hock Title. This senior group is a collection of great student-athletes and really represent KP well. They are leaders on and off the field”
2018 Record: 19-5 2018 Finish: Super 8 First Round Coach: Joe Breen
Mansfield had a very successful 2018 season that saw the Hornets win the Kelley-Rex division and earned a berth into the Super 8 tournament. But the Hornets enter the 2019 campaign hungrier than ever.
After seeing an early exit from the Super 8, Mansfield is aiming to get back and make some noise in the tournament this year. There will certainly be holes to fill after graduating two top pitchers in Tyler Dalton and Kevin Dow, as well as the steady bat of Justin Pena and the terrific defense of catcher Cullin Anastasia. However, there are 11 players due back from last year’s team and a handful of new faces ready to make an impact of their own.
Junior John Carney and senior Kevin Moran will anchor the rotation; the Hornets unfortunately lost ace Connor Sheehan for the season to an injury. Both Carney and Moran have experience though, and Mansfield is looking to seniors Jake Gerraughty, Matt Scibilia, Aidan Angland, Connor Smith, and sophomore Greg Coyle to fill the relief and spot start roles.
Mansfield brings back two of its three outfielders from last year with centerfielder Sam Nugent and right field Dan Saraceno both returning. Speedy shortstop Mike Hargadon is also back so the Hornets have three key pieces from the top half of the lineup back to pace the offense this year. Look for Eric Longley, Jenkins, Smith, Gerraughty, and Scibilia to also factor into to the Hornet lineup this year.
“It’s been a wild offseason here between losing some of our top guys and coming down with the injury bug but we have a great group of self-motivated returning players that we will look to keep our program going in the right direction,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “There are a lot of positional battles and innings on the mound to be sorted out, but the staff is excited to see the boys compete over the first couple weeks of the pre-season to get ourselves ready for [the first game]. While we had some great success last season, the boys know that we are 0-0 and they are ready to carve their own path.”
2018 Record: 5-15 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Alex Dion
After having a relatively young, inexperienced group in 2018, the Scarlet Hawks have flipped the script, bringing back six starters and eight total players and will be looking to ride that experience to an improved 2019 campaign.
Half of the returning starters are the three starting pitchers from last year, including senior Danny Corsini and juniors Colby Pires and Luke Rosa. Despite a 1-3 record last year, Rosa had a solid 2.97 ERA in 30.2 innings of work with 19 strikeouts. Corsini logged over 35 innings while Pires had over 24, so there is plenty of experience in the Hawk’s rotation.
Senior captain Matt Shaver returns to his shortstop position and will anchor the infield. Corsini and Pires will both see time at third base when they aren’t pitching, Justin Applebee is back for another season at second base, and Tyler Almeida continues his duties as the starting catcher for the Hawks. Senior captain Nick Marcolini gives the Hawks a left-handed option on the mound. Sophomores Carter Scudo (outfield) and Mario Lee (first, pitcher) will also factor in this year.
“I’m looking forward to the 2019 baseball season and am excited about the players that are on our team,” said Milford head coach Alex Dion. “This is a tough league with a lot of good teams and good coaches. I think we have an opportunity to be very competitive this year. I will lead on our returning seniors and captains to push this team in the right direction and I am excited about the young players we have in our program.”
2018 Record: 22-2 2018 Finish: Division 2 State Champions Coach: Mike Hart
North Attleboro is looking to replicate its success from last season, the best year in program history that resulted in the D2 State Championship. And with a solid group of returning players, there is optimism but the Rocketeers know it certainly won’t come easy.
“We are a team with a decent amount of returning players, but we will need everybody contributing to be successful,” said North Attleboro coach Mike Hart. “We are looking for guys to be more consistent, especially on the offensive side of the game.”
The Rocketeers have three returning starters in the infield, so that will certainly be relied upon as the season gets underway. Senior Nick Raneri started at third last season but will move over to first this year while seniors Shawn Watters and Ryan Warren will take care of business up the middle. Hart says there is a lot of competition for the final spot in the infield with a handful of players possibly seeing time. Brendan McHugh returns as the starting left fielder while Kyle Bolger, Russell Dunlap, and Kyle Briere are all in the mix.
Behind the plate, senior Todd Robinson and junior Owen Harding are battling for the starting spot.
While the Rocketeers look to get the offense going, they will rely on their pitching staff early on. Matt Wanless had a very strong junior year and will be counted on heavily this season while seniors Matt Seavey, Jake Palmer, Jake Carroll, as well as Dunlap and Briere, should be in the mix for innings. Sophomore Dennis Colleran will see an increased role this season and could emerge as a top option for the Big Red.
“We will rely heavily on our pitching staff to lead us, and with smart, mistake-free defense, we will be able to win some games,” Hart said. “I really like the competitiveness our team brings every day. If we can learn from our failures and grind through the tough parts of the season that are sure to come, I believe we can win some ball games.”
2018 Record: 16-8 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Final Coach: Joe Abarr
Oliver Ames is coming off one of its most successful seasons, reaching the D2 South Final last year. The Tigers graduated some key pieces but there is a lot of players back that gives OA hopes at replicating last year’s success.
Senior Chris Pearsons will be a leader on and off the field for the Tigers, moving over from third base to take over the starting shortstop spot. Pearsons is one of the top players in the league, earning HockomockSports.com First Team honors last year after belting out 30 hits for an impressive .448 average. Not only is he a dangerous offensive player, he’s one of the top defensive players in the league as well.
Another key returner for the Tigers is catcher Jake Erlich, who will begin his third year starting behind the plate. Erlich is one of the top defensive catchers in the region and OA is looking for him to have a breakout season at the plate. Junior Jacob Levine showed flashes last season with some timely hits as a pinch hitter. This year, Levine takes over at first and the Tigers will be looking for him to bring a consistent bat to the lineup.
Reid Latham, who went 2-1 last season with a 2.85 ERA, focused heavily on pitching this offseason and will take over as the top starter in the Tigers’ rotation.
“We have an established lineup of varsity hitters with a handful of underclassmen that will be filling in gaps for us,” said Oliver Ames coach Joe Abarr. “Our pitching rotation should be solid as long as everyone stays healthy. Last year, the Hock proved to be one of the best leagues in the state. We need to show up and compete every day if we want to be successful.”
After a couple of seasons of being on the outside looking in, the 2019 Sharon Eagles are looking to make strides towards a state tournament berth.
Although it will be a relatively young group, there is strong senior leadership. Head coach Kee Arguimbau is hoping that a nice mix of veterans and new faces will result in a successful season.
Tarlin was also the ace of the staff for the past couple of seasons but senior Noah Kamens should be ready to step into the top spot after some real strong outings last year. A lefty, Kamens does a nice job mixing up his pitches and will be a key part of Sharon’s defense. Kamens will be complemented by 6’6 righty Max LeBlanc, who burst onto the scene a year and had some impressive outings. Jared Reef returns behind the dish and the Eagles are looking for him to have a breakout year offensively.
Junior Alec Filipkowski is moving in from the outfield to second base while sophomore Justin Brown returns to shortstop after picking up valuable experience last season as a freshman. Noah Martinez, who recently returned to Sharon after living in Florida, could be a key piece of the offense while playing the hot corner defensively.
Seniors Dairell Martinez and Matty Jacobsen will be doing their part for the Eagles in the outfield while = senior Ben Reinbold looks to have an impact for Sharon on the mound.
“This year’s team is young. Luckily, what we lack in experience, we make up for in solid leadership,” Arguimbau said. “The seniors have done a phenomenal job in establishing the culture for the team this season. The young guys in the program have followed their lead and have been working hard in the offseason and are ready to continue to put the work in every day.
2018 Record: 10-9 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Mike Armour
Stoughton had a solid season a year ago, but an early exit from the state tournament has left the Black Knights hungry for more in 2019.
It starts with the two co-captains for the Black Knights: senior Zak Paquette and senior Robert Seaman. Paquette emerged as Stoughton’s top option on the mound last season and will be counted on to take on a lot of innings again this season. Paquette isn’t the most flashy pitcher but he helps put Stoughton in position to win games. Seaman will start at shortstop and the Black Knights are looking to him for a big bat in the middle of the lineup.
Last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year George Currier is looking to pick up where he left off last season, giving the Black Knights flexibility with his ability to play anywhere on the field defensively. Seniors Cian Swierzewski, Kevin Dixon, and Kyle Gagnon are all experienced outfielders, James Genest III gives Stoughton a nice presence at the plate offensively, and Mike Nazzaro will handle catching duties.
Newcomers Clayton Rahaman and Jacob Kaplan should log some innings in the outfield, along with Cam Dirosa in the infield and Brady Conlin in the infield and on the mound. Senior pitcher Evan Jackman has impressed so far this preseason and will be a key piece of Stoughton’s starting rotation.
“The goal this season will be to compete every time we set foot on the field, playing sound fundamental baseball and doing the little things to put us in a position to win some ballgames,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. “The boys have been working hard and I expect us to have some fun this year and play the game the right way.”
2018 Record: 1 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Blair Bourque
There is a lot of excitement in Taunton with its new turf field, but the Tigers are hoping it’s their performance on that field that will have people talking by the end of the year.
It all starts with pitching for Taunton this year. With two DI commits in Jack Moynihan (Siena) and Josh Lajoie (St. John’s), the Tigers will certainly be boasting one of the top pitching groups for another season. Moynihan posted a 1.44 ERA with 43 strikeouts while Lajoie fanned 36 batters and had a 1.52 ERA.
Both Moynihan and Lajoie provide a lot of offense as well, but the Tigers will need others to step up to fill some voids from graduation. Tyler Medeiros (.375) and Trevor Pietrzyk (.373) both graduated some Taunton’s offense so head coach Blair Bourque will be looking for some new faces to step up.
The Tigers will be looking to senior Evan Melo to give the offense a spark. Melo will patrol center field and set the table to the offensively from the leadoff spot. Junior Logan Lawrence impressed last year batting .336; Taunton will need his bat to provide pop in the middle of the lineup in 2019.
“We’re certainly excited about having the opportunity to showcase our new turf field,” said Taunton head coach Blair Bourque. “It’s really a dream come true. There’s something special about this year’s team, the senior leadership and camaraderie are substantial.”
Attleboro, 39 @ Stoughton, 44 – Final – Stoughton hauled in eight of their 20 offensive rebounds in the final quarter and turned those boards into 12 points in a win over Attleboro. The Bombardiers led 34-26 after three quarters of play but the Black Knights won the fourth quarter 18-5 to earn the victory. Junior Obinna Ugwuakazi scored a career-high 16 points and hauled in 16 rebounds to lead the way for Stoughton while Eddie Aldama chipped in with 11 points. Senior Mason Houle had a game-high 17 points for Attleboro.
Franklin, 50 @ Canton, 52 – Final – With Franklin holding a 50-49 lead, Canton senior Ryan Lentol stole an inbounds pass, kept it in bounds while finding classmate Paul Corcoran (10 points) for a baseline layup to give the Bulldogs a 51-50 lead with 5.2 left in the game. Canton forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds and Devin Foster (20 points) hit a free throw in the final seconds to help the Bulldogs secure the win. Kyle Fitzgerald added 11 points in the win for Canton. Junior Chris Edgehill had a team-high 16 points for Franklin, Jalen Samuels added 13 points, and Will Harvey finished with 12 points.
King Philip, 46 @ Milford, 79 – Final – Milford scored 42 points in the first half and had four players finish in double digits in scoring in a victory over visiting King Philip. Brendon Sailer (18 points), Danny Corsini (15 points) and Colby Pires (13 points) all set new career highs in scoring while Brendan White had 17 points for the Hawks, which led 63-24 after three quarters. Timmy Nault and Sam Sesay (career-high) each had 10 points for King Philip while Andrew McKinney and Alex Fritz each finished with eight points.
Mansfield, 75 @ Sharon, 57 – Final – Mansfield built a 219-point lead by halftime, taking a 44-25 lead into the break, and never looked back in a win over Sharon. Damani Scott scored 19 of his career-high 29 points in the first half while Tommy Dooling (six threes) scored 16 of his career-high 22 points in the opening 16 minutes to help the Hornets build the big lead. Khristian Conner chipped in with 11 points for Mansfield. Aaron Strong led Sharon with 13 points while Andrew Burton chipped in with 12 points.
Oliver Ames, 45 @ North Attleboro, 46 – Final (OT) – North Attleboro closed the fourth quarter on a 7-2 run to help force overtime and then outscored the Tigers 6-5 in the extra period to get the win. A pull up jumper from Evan Rosenberg with just over 30 seconds left put North ahead 40-38 but Jake Erlich hit two free throws in the final seconds to send it to overtime. North Attleboro’s Jake Petersen scored five of his 11 points in the overtime period to lift the Rocketeers. Nate Gonsalves finished with a career-high 16 points for Big Red. Amari Brown paced Olier Ames with 13 points while Harry DeChellis finished with 10 points.
Stoughton, 51 @ Attleboro, 41 – Final – Aliyah Wright was the top scorer for the Black Knights with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Sydnee Hyacinthe had 16 points and six assists, as Stoughton won its second game in a row and moved above .500 for the first time this season.
Foxboro, 78 @ Taunton, 38 – Final – Four players scored in double figures as the Warriors made it three wins out of three to start the season. Katelyn Mollica led Foxboro with 18, but the Warriors also got 16 points from Yara Fawaz and 11 each from Abby Hassman and Chelsea Gibbons.
Sharon,, 29 @ Mansfield, 47 – Final – Sharon was down only six entering the final quarter but Mansfield finally broke the game open with a 14-2 fourth to pull out the win. Maggie Danehy scored 12 points and pulled down 14 boards in the win. Mansfield also got 10 points from Emily Vigeant and seven from Ashley Santos. Evanjuline Elisma paced the Eagles with nine points and Emma Eberhardt added eight.
North Attleboro, 45 @ Oliver Ames, 79 – Final – Ally Scolnick led the Tigers in scoring for the third straight game to start the season, tallying 17 points in the win. Caroline Flynn added 13 points and five assists, Tate Hadges had 12 points, and Alex Sheldon had 11 for OA. Tigers coach Laney Clement-Holbrook called it a great effort on both ends of the floor.
Taunton, 129 @ Oliver Ames, 131.65 – Final – Oliver Ames junior Lauren Picanzi took first in the All Around with a 35.2, including a 9.0 on both the beam and the floor. OA sophomore Ashlyn Latham placed fourth in the All Around, and tied for second with an 8.8 on floor.
Taunton, 48 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 38 – Final – Freshman Tim Luc and eighth grader Gerald Grealish each won a pair of individual events and Taunton swept the three relays to get a win over Coyle. Luc won the 100 fly (sectional qualifying 57.96) and 100 free (53.39) while Grealish touched first in the 100 backstroke (1:05.91) and the 200 IM (2:18.44). Freshman Brady Callahan won the 200 free (2:09.00) and was second in the 100 backstroke (1:06.54). Taunton dominated all three relay events, capturing the 200 Medley and 400 Free (Callahan, Grealish, Luc, Peter Ye), as well as the 200 Free (Johnathan Trinh, Khan Orgil Enkhbileg, Garrett Rainey, Martin Dafov).
Taunton, 55 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 33 – Final – Taunton took first and second in all but one individual event and swept all three relays in a win over Coyle. Senior Erin Schrama, senior Ashley Mitchell, and eighth grader Tiffany Ye were all double winners for Taunton. Schrama won the 200 IM (sectional qualifying 2:26.70) as well as the 100 breast (1:15.99) while Mitchell was a double winner in the distance events, tackling the 200 and 500 free events.
2017-2018 Record: 13-10 2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Mark Houle
Expectations are high for the Attleboro Bombardiers, who return all but one player from last year’s squad that won 13 games and qualified for the D1 South tournament. While the majority of the roster is made up of juniors (eight), the Bombardiers have a wealth of experience with almost all players having played at least one year, with a handful with two.
With experience comes options for veteran head coach Mark Houle. The Bombardiers expect to be able to play fast in transition but also slow down and execute in the half court. Attleboro boasts some of the top big men in the league and will look to use that to its advantage. Junior Qualeem Charles (6’5) was selected as a Hock All Star last year and will be a key piece on both sides of the ball with fellow big men Jason Weir, Lorenzo Wilson and Nolan Jaeger looking to factor in.
Junior Bryant Ciccio, also a Hockomock All Star last season, will be the quarterback of the offense from the point guard position. With two years of varsity experience already, Ciccio could be poised for a big season. Seniors Mason Houle and Kevin Velazquez both made big splashes last year and will be key pieces in the frontcourt this year. Velazquez provides high energy and can be a big threat from deep while Houle is a strong two-way player that will make plays on both ends of the court.
“We have several returning players with one or two years of varsity experience and will rely on them to be consistently working hard on both ends of the court,” said Mark Houle. “Our strength will be a strong inside game on offense…[and] our guard play will have multiple players able to handle pressure, score and contribute.”
2017-2018 Record: 16-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Ryan Gordy
The Bulldogs are coming off one of their best seasons in recent memory. This season, the Bulldogs will be looking to improve each day and adjust to a new style of play that fits the personnel best.
While three starters are gone, one starter that is back is Devin Foster, a Hockomock League All Star and HockomockSports.com First Team selection a year ago. Foster is a dynamic player that can be a nightmare for opposing defenses trying to stop him. He can shoot the three and really improved on his ability to finish around the rim last year.
Senior Paul Corcoran and junior Kyle Fitzgerald both had starts last season and head coach Ryan Gordy is looking for both players, along with versatile guard Ryan Lentol, to take a big step on the court this season. Corcoran is a strong defender, Fitzgerald will handle the point, and Lentol will do a little bit of everything for the Dogs. All three have a good amount of varsity experience and will be relied upon to be leaders on the court.
“Our culture in our foundation, and our veteran leadership sets the tone for the program,” Gordy said. “If we stay growth oriented this could be a fun season, players are committed to continuous improvement and that’s a pleasure to coach.”
2017-2018 Record: 19-5 2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals Coach: Jon Gibbs
Foxboro had a memorable 2018 season, earning 19 wins and sharing the Davenport division title with Canton. But with four of the five starters from that team gone, the 2019 Warriors will try to create their own identity while trying to replicate the success.
The one starter back is junior Brandon Borde (11.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.7 apg) and his two years of experience on varsity will be vital as role players switch to starters and new role players emerge. Borde is a talented guard that can hurt teams in a variety of ways but his strength allows him to finish around the rim in tough situations.
Senior Anthony Mollica had a bit of a coming out party during the end of last season, emerging as an offensive threat for the Warriors. Head coach Jon Gibbs expects more of that throughout this season and will be looking for the likes of Will Morrison, Liam Devlin, Ryan Hughes, and Kevin Gallagher — all players with varsity experience, to step up this year. While Foxboro will likely rely on its defense again this year, three-point shooting should be a strength on the offensive side.
“Right now the focus is on getting better each day,” Gibbs said. “Practices have been competitive. Guys are fighting hard to carve out a role for themselves by earning the trust of their teammates and coaches. If we can continue to defend and rebound at a high level, we have a chance to be very successful.”
2017-2018 Record: 23-4 2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 State Final Coach: CJ Neely
The Panthers have reached the D1 State Final each of the past two seasons and it looks like they have the tools to try and make a third straight appearance. Franklin brings back two of the top players in the Hockomock League in senior Jalen Samuels and junior Chris Edgehill.
Both Samuels (13.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Edgehill (17.1 ppg, 3.5 apg) have a wealth of varsity experience that the Panthers will rely on as others battle for minutes in the rotation. Edgehill is one of the most dangerous guards offensively and can score in a variety of ways while Samuels can present a matchup problem for most teams. Will Harvey also has varsity experience and will likely see an increased role in the 2018-2019 season.
The rest of the rotation is up for grabs but there is a lot of choices for head coach CJ Neely, who noted there is a strong amount of depth and balance on this year’s squad. Unsurprisingly, Franklin will be focused on causing problems on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers have been known as a gritty defensive squad and they are looking to continue that tradition this year. Offensively, Neely is hoping unselfishness and outside shooting will help replicate the success of previous seasons.
“It will be a season long battle for minutes and guys will have to earn our trust through defensive intensity and unselfish play on offense,” Neely said. “Our goal is to focus on the process of competing hard and improving each day and the results will reflect our daily effort and attitude.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-16 2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dave DeStefano
First-year head coach Dave DeStefano is hoping hard work in the offseason will translate into success on the court this year for the King Philip Warriors. DeStefano is the Warriors fifth head coach in the last eight seasons but his familiarity with the Hockomock League (former JV coach at Foxboro) should give him a boost right away.
While the Warriors had only four wins last year, half of their 16 losses came by six points or less, including to D2 State Champions Tech Boston (74-71) and division foes Attleboro and Taunton. King Philip is hoping it can be on the right side of those contests this season. Bruce Santillus and Timmy Nault are the two returning starters from last year, and both showed they are capable of taking over games on the offensive end. Santillus is a versatile player that can score in many ways and is tough in one-on-one matchups. Nault provides a lot of energy on both ends and can give the team a spark when needed.
DeStefano is looking for seniors Tyler Nault, Ian Khung, and Michael O’Brien to build on their minutes from last year and have increased roles for 2018-2019. Junior Andrew McKinney showed a lot of promise last year and could be a big contributor for the Warriors this year. Senior Terry Jacobs-Baston gives KP a nice post presence along with junior Tommy Donahue (6’5) and senior Sam Sesay (6’2). Juniors Alex Fritz, Chris Roy, and Adam Nicastro will all be in the mix for minutes as well.
“The boys have really worked hard this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The practices have been really competitive and physical. For us to be successful we will need to make a big commit on the defensive end of the floor. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops.”
2017-2018 Record: 27-2 2017-2018 Finish: D1 State Champions Coach: Mike Vaughan
While the D1 State Championship is in the rearview mirror, expectations are still sky high for Mansfield, who has won six straight Hock Kelley-Rex titles, tying a streak from OA in the 1980s for the longest title run. With a handful of players back and a strong mix of new faces Mansfield will be aiming for its seventh straight.
The Hornets will rely on their most experienced players early on with Damani Scott, Tommy Dooling, and Khristian Conner back. All three have starting experience, and beyond that, a wealth of varsity minutes in the regular season and postseason. Scott had a terrific playoff run last year and could be one of the top players in the Hock this year. Dooling is a talented guard that can hurt teams from deep while Conner can score from all over the floor.
Beyond that trio, there are a handful of new faces trying to establish time in the lineup and rotation. Junior Sam Stevens and sophomores Matt Boen and TJ Guy are top candidates to find time in the rotation. Stevens and Guy both have good size and will give the Hornets a presence in the post while Boen is a crafty guard that will likely contribute offensively right away. Expect Makhi Baskin, Jack Mousette, and Drew Rooney to be in the mix as well.
“We’re looking forward to getting the season started with new faces,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “We’ll have our early challenges getting the new faces up to speed with the varsity level of play, but it’s a talented group, they are working hard, and they are getting better each day. It should be an exciting year as the league looks to be super competitive as always.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-10 2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 Central Semifinal Coach: Paul Seaver
While the Hawks have some experience back this year, it will be key for the new faces to get up to speed as Milford looks to compete for a Davenport division title. Seniors Brendan White, Brendon Sailer, and Steve Sutherland are all back after either starting or playing a lot of minutes last season and will be relied upon, especially early, to guide the Hawks through a difficult schedule.
White was Milford’s leading scorer last season with 14 points per game in the regular season so he will be a key piece for the Hawks again this year. Sailer is a good ball handler and will handle point guard duties. He’s a strong defender and can distribute the ball well, but he is also able to get to the rim or shoot from deep. Sutherland provides the Hawks with an experienced presence in the post but can step out and hit shots as well.
Junior Colby Pires is coming off a successful season on the gridiron and will see a lot of minutes on the court and senior Danny Corsini can provide a spark on the offensive end with his shooting. Sophomore Dom Schofield stands at 6’5 so he can be a matchup problem for some teams in the league while classmate Jordan Darling can do a little bit of everything and could have a breakout year for the Scarlet Hawks.
“Our goal is to simply get better with each passing day,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “We have a lot of newcomers this season and are facing one of our toughest schedules in years. Our goal is to build chemistry and work towards qualifying for the state tournament for a fourth consecutive season.”
2017-2018 Record: 9-11 2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
After just missing out on the postseason a year ago, North Attleboro is hoping a strong senior class can help the Rocketeers return to the postseason and compete for a Davenport division title. Big Red boasts nine seniors, including three starters and a handful of guys that played plenty of minutes a year ago.
Leading scoring Josh Montague (13.7 points per game) is back and will be one of the top guards in the Hock. He plays well on both ends of the court but really came into his own as a scorer as the season progressed last year. Senior Jacob Petersen, standing at 6’6, will be one of the toughest matchups in the league and his ability to play as a true post player gives North an advantage over other teams. He is also a force on defense that can prevent easy buckets in the paint. Senior Nate Gonsalves improved throughout last year and could be poised for a breakout season for Big Red.
Senior Evan Rosenberg will likely be tasked with guarding some of the top players in the league because of his strong defensive play. Seniors Adam Falcone, Jonathan James, Joe Milosh and Matt Seavey all played last year and that experience will be key as they factor into the rotation again this year. Junior Ethan Friberg got valuable minutes last year and can score in a variety of ways while also giving Big Red size at 6’4. Sophomore George Ladd will be making his varsity debut but is expected to provide North with a spark on offense.
“We are extremely excited about the 2018-2019 season,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “Led by our nine seniors, we hope we can build off of last year’s momentum. We have an extremely intelligent group of players that is coachable, hardworking, and determined. We believe our cohesiveness and depth will allow us to be successful.”
2017-2018 Record: 8-13 2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Don Byron
The Tigers found themselves in an unfamiliar place at the end of last year – on the outside looking in for the postseason. This year, Oliver Ames is hoping to blend a mix of returners, role players, and new faces — both from JV and transfers — into a competitive group that will look to begin a new postseason streak.
A major challenge will be replacing Hockomock League All Star and HockomockSports.com First Team selection Jack Spillane, who led the Hock in scoring during the regular season with 22.3 points per game. The Tigers will aim to have a much more balanced approach this season players that can contribute at each position. It will begin with returning starters Ethan Eckstrom and Jake Erlich, both seniors. Both Eckstrom and Erlich will spend the majority of their time in or around the paint and will be key defensive pieces as well. Sean O’Brien, who mostly came off the bench but was one of the team leaders in minutes, is a high-energy player that contributes on both ends of the court.
Senior Harry DeChellis was slated to be a big contributor for the Tigers last year before suffering a season ending injury so OA is hoping he will step right in and be a leader. Jay Spillane and Ryan Burkett both had successful seasons on JV a year ago and will factor in the rotation while transfers Amari Brown, a sophomore guard, and Evan Craig, a junior forward, both will be impact players right away.
“We should be a lot more balanced on offense, it should spread around,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “It’s one of those teams where we have the ability to score at all positions, as well as the guys off the bench. It might change each night but we have a lot of guys that are capable of contributing.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-16 2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrew Ferguson
The Eagles are aiming to improve on both ends of the court this year and are looking to compete for the Davenport title and a trip to the state tournament. After missing out on the playoffs each of the last two seasons, the Eagles are looking to ride a mix of experienced players to try and get back to the postseason.
Sharon will rely heavily on its three senior captains: Aaron Strong, Ben Kaplan, and Alex Kaufmann. Strong is a versatile guard that can be a pest on the defensive end of the court; Kaplan makes a lot of things happen on both ends and was having a strong season as a junior before seeing it cut short to injury; and Kaufmann is in his third year on varsity and is capable of having big scoring games any given night.
Athleticism will be something the Eagles rely on this year on both sides of the ball. Beyond the three senior captains, juniors Andrew Burton, Aidan Kane, and Alec Filipkowski all saw varsity minutes and should be factors as their roles increase this season. Juniors Cameron Baker and Caleb Gayle will also factor into the rotation in the frontcourt.
“This is a very tight knit, energized group and they are continually pushing each other to get better every day,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We have a good mix of experience and youth to provide depth at multiple positions. We are replacing a lot of offense from last year and have a lot of players vying for those opportunities.”
2017-2018 Record: 6-14 2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: John Gallivan
The Black Knights are hoping a balanced attack on offense and a commitment to defense will result in 10 wins and a trip to the state tournament. Stoughton has five players back with varsity experience so the Knights will lean on those players early as head coach John Gallivan tries to fit a handful of new faces from JV and outside the program into the rotation.
Senior captains Zak Paquette, Josh Cocchi, and Kevin Dixon will be key not only for their contributions on the court but for their leadership as well. They are all experienced players that Gallivan will lean on as he figures out what the best rotations will be.
Senior Ajahn Rue is another returnee and brings a lot of talent to the point guard position while junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell got his feet wet on varsity a year ago and could see an increased role in the 2018-2019 season. After those five, Gallivan is looking for some new faces to step up and establish themselves as go-to options for the Black Knights.
“We are hoping to have more of a balanced attack on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor than we have had in the past,” Gallivan said.
2017-2018 Record: 12-11 2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Charlie Dacey
This year’s version of the Taunton Tigers will be relying on tempo to try and run past the competition in the Hockomock League. Taunton boasts speed throughout the lineup and is hoping that it can use that — offensively and defensively — to its advantage this year. But if necessary, the Tigers can also slow it down and execute in the half court.
Senior guard John Martins and junior forward Dante Law are returning seniors from a season ago and both are quick players that bring experience to a team that is looking to use its speed to emphasize its open court skills. Martins is a steady player that can do a lot of things on both ends of the court and Law is looking to take the next step forward after some strong outings as a sophomore.
Senior Lou Vendrell is back and had a lot of offensive skill that the Tigers will need, especially his outside shot. Similar to Law, junior Naz Kenion had some breakout moments a year ago and Taunton will be looking for more production out of him this season. Prince Brown brings a year of varsity experience back and can provide an offensive spark with his shooting. Senior Mike Quinn rounds out the backcourt while Wesner Charles and Tyler Stewart provide the Tigers with size down low.
“Tempo will be the key this year,” said longtime Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “The roster has some depth and there is speed at every position.”
Below are the official 2018 Hockomock League Boys Soccer All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Walisson de Oliveira, Milford
Hockomock League All Stars
Will Halben, Attleboro
Andre Menard, Attleboro
Griffin Roach, Canton
Paul Corcoran, Canton
Paolo Ruggeri, Canton
Nic Beigel, Foxboro
Dylan Barreira, Foxboro
Joe Cusack, Foxboro
Nitin Chaudhury, Franklin
Tim Duval, Franklin
Zac White, King Philip
Tony Bozza, King Philip
Luke Savoie, Mansfield
Ethan Brill-Cass, Mansfield
Sam Nugent, Mansfield
Walisson de Olivera, Milford
Joey Madden, Milford
Joao Boaventura, Milford
Joe Hilf, North Attleboro
Kyle Briere, North Attleboro
Colin Milliken, Oliver Ames
Haendel Louhis, Oliver Ames
Matthew Wang, Sharon
Ethan Kantor, Sharon
Carter Gerome, Stoughton
Brett Beaulieu, Taunton
Colin Levis, Attleboro
Simon Cruz, Canton
Shane VandenBoom, Foxboro
Sam Stowell, Franklin
Andrew Thompson, King Philip
Derek Meuth, Mansfield
James Sales, North Attleboro
Niko Byron, Oliver Ames
Michael Baur, Sharon
Fabio Ponce De Leon, Stoughton
Alec Nunes, Taunton
MILFORD, Mass. – Heading into Thursday evening’s matchup with Canton, the Milford boys soccer team needed just one point to clinch at least a share of its first Davenport division title.
But that’s not what head coach Brian Edwards told his team.
Edwards told his team it was a must-win in order to become Davenport champions.
“We didn’t want to share,” Edwards said.
His team responded, using a goal in the final five minutes to earn a dramatic 3-2 win over the visiting Bulldogs. It marks Milford’s first ever Hockomock Davenport division title, and the program’s first league title since 1999 when it won the Mid-Wach A crown.
“I told them before the game they had to play for the win, and they are all about that,” Edwards said. “I thought this was one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen in a long time. I thought both teams just played incredibly hard, played good soccer…you saw contrasting styles but either team could have won this game.”
It was only fitting that the game had a dramatic ending after it was filled with goal scoring chances, terrific saves, solid defense, and timely goals.
The build-up started just before midfield at the beginning of the 77th minute with junior Jordan Borges electing to keep possession instead of forcing anything up field. He found sophomore Leo Coelho on the right flank, and Coelho quickly switched fields to senior Tiago Carvalho.
Carvalho slid a pass back up the middle to Borges, who used a deft touch with the outside of his right foot to get free from a defender. The junior took a touch towards goal and ripped a hard, dipping shot that found the side netting on the far post for a 3-2 lead in the final moments of the game.
“It was a great ball, my teammates put me in a great spot and I just happened to finish it,” Borges said. “Everybody has their chances on this team, we play together as a team, this was my chance. When I hit it, I knew right away when it came off my foot, it was pretty sweet.
“Our goal was to win the league title after we got into the playoffs. Coming in today, we knew Canton was a tough team so we felt like it was a must win. It was the best feeling to get the goal late and win the game.”
It was Borges’ third goal of the season, giving him seven points on the season.
“What a baller,” Edwards said of Borges. “That’s the kind of goal we expect froma Jordan. He’s the kind of player who does all of that hard work, like Tiago Carvalho and Joao Boaventura, those three guys do so much work and don’t get a ton of headlines. They don’t always show up in the scoresheet…but Jordan deserves that goal. He’s a three-year varsity player, he works tirelessly. He watches film more than I do, he’s always trying to improve. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
The final goal was the fifth of the second half alone. The teams played a scoreless 40 minutes to begin the game before the fireworks began in the second half.
It took Canton less than five minutes into the second half to get on the scoreboard. Senior Paolo Ruggeri drew a foul on the left flank and senior Paul Corcoran stood over ready to deliver a cross.
Corcoran whipped in a service but the ball eluded a pair of Canton runners. However, it was enough to freeze Milford keeper Josh Orellana (eight saves) and the ball hit off the far post and in for a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.
Canton saw its advantage evaporate just minutes later as the Hawks pulled even with an immediate response. In the 46th minute, senior Joey Madden used a long throw-in into the area and the Canton clearance was knocked down by Joao Vitor Neiva. The block went right to the feet of sophomore Lucas Da Silva all alone at the far post and he blasted his shot in for make it 1-1.
“It was important just to kind of take a little gas out of their engine,” Edwards said of replying right away. “They’re already a great team, and when they get up on you, they can be incredible because they are so confident and the style they play can be difficult to come back against so coming back so quickly was vital.”
The chances continued for both sides as Ruggeri saw his shot go just over the bar in the 48th, and Borges had a header saved in the 50th minute.
Back on the other end, Griffin Roach latched onto a long throw from Corcoran behind a defender, made a nice move by another Scarlet Hawk, and ripped a low shot that was turned aside by Orellana. The rebound fell right back to Roach and he put hit his shot into the what appeared to be an open goal but Da Silva positioned himself perfectly on the goal line and cleared it away to keep the game level.
Milford capitalized on the goal line stop three minutes later to take its first lead of the game. After a nice combination from Walisson de Oliveira and Neiva, the latter was dispossessed by a nice tackle from Avery Minkin atop the area. Before Canton could clear, de Oliveira jumped onto the ball, raced to the end line and played a low cross back into the area and Neiva slid in-between a trio of Canton defenders to tap it in at the near post.
Similar to how Milford erased Canton’s lead in moments, the Bulldogs returned the favor by tying the game just two minutes later. Again it was a long throw from Corcoran that got things started. His throw was knocked down in the area right to the foot of senior Simon Cruz and he quickly one-timed a shot just inside the post to make it 2-2.
The next scoring chance was Borges’ game-winner in the 77th minute.
“We settled down a bit at the end,” Edwards said of the final 15 minutes of the game. “We really didn’t play our style for most of that game, we kind of got caught up in the moment and I think our inexperience in this type of game showed. We have experience but not in a game like this. Beside the last game of last year against Nipmuc, this is the closest thing we’ve had to a playoff game. I thought we were a bit too direct at times but we settled it down at the end and as you saw, good things happened.”
While the first half didn’t have any scoring, it wasn’t for a lack of chances. The first half had just as many scoring opportunities as the second half, and even saw Canton find the back of the net only for a whistle to take it off the board.
In the 19th minute, Cruz latched onto a loose ball and looked to play Roach in. Cruz was taken down on the play and as Roach turned and hit a shot that found the back of the net, the ref whistled for a foul on the play against Cruz.
Canton nearly scored on the ensuing free kick as well. Roach ripped his shot over the wall but Orellana came up with a key one-handed stop to keep it out.
“First off, hats to Milford for winning the Davenport, they deserve it,” said longtime Canton head coach Danny Erickson. “They are a great team and they are a real dangerous team, I’m real impressed with them. Having said that, I thought we played really well in the first half. I thought we dominated the entire half and I was really disappointed that we scored a goal that really would have made a difference and the referee had blown the whistle early. It happens, ref’s are fallible, it happens. That goal would have a big difference for us. But Milford put us under a lot of pressure the last 15 minutes of the game and they deserve to win that game. I’m real proud of my kids. We didn’t lose the Davenport today, we lost it over the last couple of weeks when we didn’t get some of the results we needed.
“When we wake up tomorrow and can worry about the future, today will have helped us. But it stings right now.”
Milford raced down the other end and nearly opened the scoring. After beating a couple of defenders, de Oliveira’s shot was blocked by a slide from Corcoran. The ball popped into the air and de Oliveira was first there, getting a head that went over the keeper but Canton senior Mike Mazzola covered perfectly, heading the chance off the line and out.
In the 33rd minute, the Bulldogs had a pair of great chances, again starting with a free kick from road. Roach drilled a dipping shot from 30 yards out that forced a low save from Orellana. The rebound fell to the feet of Alejandro Correal and he put a good shot on goal but Orellana got up and made a spectacular sprawling effort to get in the way to keep the shot out.
“We could have been down 3-0 in that first half if not for the play of Josh Orellana,” Edwards said. “He made some outstanding saves to keep us in that game. Thankfully he did because that could have been a very different game.”
Milford’s two best chances of the first half came in the final five minutes. Coeleho linked up with de Oliveira in the area but the junior’s header glanced just wide in the 36th minute. And in the final minute of the half, de Oliveira worked his way past a pair of Canton defenders before playing Neiva in alone. Neiva was forced a touch wide by keeper Dylan Coyne and sophomore Matt Giglio recovered to block the shot.
Milford boys soccer (10-1-5 overall, 9-1-5 Hockomock) returns to action on Friday against non-league rival Hopedale, and finishes the season on Monday at Stoughton. Canton (9-4-4, 8-4-3) closes the regular season out on Saturday against Foxboro.
Sharon, 3 @ Canton, 2 – Final – Sharon saw a lead disappear in the first half, but didn’t let it happen in the second. After going up 1-0 on a goal from Michael Baur (assisted by Brian Higgins) but Canton leveled before the break behind a goal from Paul Corcoran. Sharon took the lead again when Antonio El-Khoury finished off a cross from Baur. The Eagles added a key insurance goal on an unassisted goal from Higgins. Canton’s Avery Minkin scored to make it 3-2.
Sharon, 1 @ Canton, 6 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Morgan McCabe and Elisa Diletizia each scored twice for the Bulldogs, who scored the first three and the last three goals of the game to get the win. Sarah Collins had a goal and assist and Anne Hoban scored once in the win. Marika Fillion scored off a Bridget McManus free kick early in the second half for the Eagles.
Attleboro, 0 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final
Foxboro, 2 vs. Martha’s Vineyard, 0 – Final – Jamie Notarangelo and Molly Murphy (assisted by Lily Daly) scored in the second half to give Foxboro the non-league win at Forekicks and extend the Warriors unbeaten streak to nine games.
Canton, 3 @ Notre Dame Academy, 2 – Final – Despite falling behind 2-1, Canton picked up two straight wins to earn a 3-2 (19-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25-11, 15-8) decision on the road at Notre Dame Academy. “The entire team stayed strong throughout,” said Canton head coach Pat Cawley. Taylor Harris has a great night with 22 kills, 18 digs, a block and two aces, and Erin Devine added seven kills and eight blocks. Theresa O’Brien chipped in on both sides of the ball with nine kills and 18 digs while Nicole Brown finished with 36 assists, six kills, and 27 digs. Cawley said Megan McDonough and Julia Minichiello were awesome on defense, combining for 37 digs and seven aces.