On Monday morning, the Ithaca College women’s lacrosse team got the call to be one of three at-large bids to the Div. III NCAA Tournament. After being unsure if they would have a season at all, the Bombers will now have the opportunity to play for a national title. Former Sharon (soccer and lacrosse) standouts Samantha and Alex Rabb have played every game for Ithaca this season, leaning on each other during a tumultuous year, and enjoying the fact that they can share this experience of a senior season together.
“It’s a blessing every day that we get to go out there,” Alex explained. “We never know what’s going to happen, literally, tomorrow, so I know I make sure to have fun at every practice we have, leave it all on the field.”
Sam added, “It definitely makes you know how lucky you are to be on a lacrosse field, especially with everything going on in the world. Being able to step onto the field every day and put out your best effort, we’re always going 100 percent because you never know when it can be taken away.”
In the three previous seasons, the twins’ playing time had been inconsistent. Alex played 10 times as a freshman and seven as a sophomore. In her junior year, she scored three goals in the first four games before a knee injury cut short the season one game before the pandemic would shut the whole team down. Sam had played in seven games total over the first three seasons (all as a sophomore).
But at the final practice before the season opener against rival SUNY Cortland, Ithaca coach Karrie Moore read out the starting lineup. Both sisters were included.
“When I found out that I was starting, it was definitely very exciting because I have not gotten much playing time in the other seasons,” Sam said. “So, to know that my coach has a lot of trust in me to be on the field with all the other defenders, who are great, it feels really great.”
The excitement of getting a starting spot was amplified by being able to share the field with each other. Alex said, “[Coach] said Sam’s name last and I almost wanted to cry. I just felt so happy for her because I knew she’d been working so hard and she wanted it so badly. It’s pretty cool hearing both of our names get called before every game.”
Alex has started all 13 games for the Bombers, who entered the final week of the regular season as the seventh-ranked team in the country. Sam has started all but one game and appeared in all 13. Ithaca went undefeated in the regular season and advanced to the Liberty League final thanks to a five-goal outburst from Alex, including three goals in less than a minute.
There is the obvious connection that exists between sisters, even more so as twins, but also a connection forged by being on the field together for almost a decade, going back to their success in multiple sports at Sharon. Sam was a standout defender and Alex set the program scoring record (and was named HockomockSports.com Player of the Year), while leading the lacrosse program to its first two state tournament appearances in 2016 and 2017.
“We were kind of always playing together,” Sam explained. “Now, it’s higher stakes, it’s way more competitive, so when one of us does something really good, it just fires us up way more. On defense, I know that it makes everything so much better watching her play too, just being there. ”
Alex continued, “Being seniors this year, both starting, it’s just crazy because you know we actually earned our spot on the field. We both got here, we’re both good enough to play on a team that is highly-ranked. I am very confident in Sam, when she has the ball and I know she’s confident when I have the ball, so it’s just really fun to play with everyone on the field who’s just as good as you are.”
Sharing the college experience extends beyond the playing field and that support system has been critical in a year unlike any other.
“My major is athletic training and I have a lot of clinical hours that I have to make up from not being able to do them in the fall,” Alex said. “It was very questionable if I was even going to be allowed to play lacrosse this season. I’ve been pretty busy this semester, so yeah it’s been really helpful having Sam here to just bounce things off of if I need support.”
Sam added, “Especially with Covid, you know you can’t take anything for granted any more and being able to go to college with my sister and both being able to play on the lacrosse team and live with her here, we don’t take anything for granted.”
Whether it was injury or the pandemic, having a season taken away inevitably adds perspective to being able to get on the field every day. A senior-laden team, Ithaca has been strong from the outset, going 11-0 in the regular season and advancing to the conference tournament final for the third year running.
Despite a loss to William Smith, who the Bombers beat twice in the regular season, Ithaca is now 3-1 against teams that qualified for the tournament and has four wins against ranked teams. They open the tournament against Notre Dame of Maryland University on Sunday.
“We are expecting to go into the tournament and make it pretty far,” said Alex a few days before the Liberty League semifinal. “Everyone who’s starting right now is basically all seniors and that’s all we want. We just want to prove to everyone that we’ve been working hard.”
Sam added, “First we’re trying to win the Liberty League and then we’re trying to win a national championship. It’s scheduled for graduation weekend and all of us seniors are like, we don’t want to go to graduation. We want to win a championship.”
2016 Record: 6-12 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Kevin Patton
Attleboro is still a relatively young program but has taken strides to be competitive with the rest of the teams in the Hockomock and first-year head coach Kevin Patton is hopeful that the large number of players at tryouts is a sign that the Bombardiers are heading in the right direction.
One of the reasons for Attleboro’s confidence coming into the spring is the experienced players that will take the field, including senior Mish Logie, who is a four-year varsity midfielder. Joining Logie as a captain for this year’s team is goalie Hadley Porreca, who is in her second year in net.
In addition. juniors Emily Patton and Ali Wall return in attack, while classmates Kim White and Graycen Cassidy will keep things tight on the defensive side of the ball. Midfield depth will be provided by sophomores Kyra Lyons and Alex Compton, who are both coming off strong rookie seasons on varsity. Freshman Sydney DiLiddo will also have the chance to step in and contribute in midfield this season and junior Ashlyn Salisbury and sophomore Shea Harrison will see time on defense.
“We had our largest player turnout in the program’s history,” said Patton, “and we have girls that want to work hard and succeed. With only two seniors on this year’s team, I will be looking to certain underclassmen to take on added leadership roles. This will help us not only this year but going forward.”
2016 Record: 8-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Christine O’Connor
Canton won five of its final seven games last season to get back to .500 and qualify for the state tournament and the Bulldogs will be hoping to carry that momentum over to this spring with a roster that features nine seniors and eight juniors.
Some of the key returning players for Canton this season include senior attacker Mary Kent, senior defender Tessa Cudmore, and senior goalie Kathryn Doody, who form a solid spine for the Bulldogs to build on. Caroline Hagan, Rebecca Eckler, and Maria Mackie are among the other seniors that will be contributing for Canton.
One of the younger players to watch is sophomore attacker Leah McClellan, who is one of several players that helped the girls’ hockey team reach the state title game at the TD Garden. Another sophomore, Maggie Malloy, has already had strong seasons for the field hockey and ice hockey teams and will provide depth this spring.
“We look to gain strength as the season progresses,” said O’Connor. “We will look to the seniors for leadership and intensity in order to be competitive.”
Foxboro won its fifth straight Davenport division title last spring and returned to the Div. 2 South semifinal for the second straight season and expectations will be even higher this season for head coach Brittany Sherry, as the Warriors return 15 players to try and make it six league titles in a row.
Among the many experienced players coming back is an exciting core of sophomores that have made instant impacts, including the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Sophia DiCenso, who scored 65 goals and had 31 assists last year. Joining DiCenso up front will be classmates Caroline McGeary and Meghan Curran and juniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano.
Defensively, senior Hallie Canfield will be back to anchor things and provide leadership. Junior Christina Rogers and sophomores Jenna Stamatov and Molly Murphy will also be back to limit opposing offenses. Freshman Sara Addeche will take over in goal and is another in a line of talented underclassmen that Sherry is excited to see develop over the course of the season.
“Our goals stay about the same every year, most importantly getting another round further!” Sherry said. “The last two years our season has ended in the semi finals but I’m hoping with the scheduling and tourney experience last year we will have the edge we need to get to the finals.”
2016 Record: 19-5 2016 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 State Semifinal Coach: Kristin Igoe Guarino
Another spring and another league title for Franklin, which completed another perfect season in the Hockomock and then carried that success into the playoffs to win a second Div. 1 East title with a dramatic, one-goal victory over Acton-Boxboro. Even though they only return five players, the Panthers enter the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and with sights set on challenging for a state title.
There is experience coming back for the Panthers with seniors Grace McDermott and Dana Lewandowski coming back to control things on the defensive end, while former Underclassman of the Year Kendall Reardon and fellow senior Caroline Lounsbury will provide leadership in the attack.
Franklin always seems to have players ready to step in and, despite there being a youth movement on the varsity team, the Panthers have already started 2-0 with wins against Needham and Lincoln-Sudbury. Sophomore midfielder Annie Walsh and her freshman sister Erin have both gotten off to strong starts with sophomore Halle Atkinson helping out with a hat trick in the win over L-S as well.
“I am very excited for the 2017 season!” said Igoe Guarino. “Our freshmen and sophomores bring a lot of energy and competitiveness to practice and games, while our juniors and seniors bring the discipline and experience. The two combined could bring us very far again this year!”
King Philip surprised some last spring when the Warriors went on the road to beat Westford Academy in the first round of the Div. 1 East tournament and that experience could pay dividends as KP returns a number of key players with the intent making a run at earning a first league title since 2012.
Senior Angela Vellante is back and head coach Julie Boudreau called her the “quarterback” for the attacking unit. Vellante will be looking to feed junior Katie Crowther, who was the team’s and the league’s leading scorer as a sophomore with 111 points. Senior Meghan Wagner was a starter as a freshman and scored in every game but missed the last two years with an injury and is now back to make an impact on offense.
KP can also count on a strong sophomore class led by a core of midfielders: Caroline Klim, Alli Meehan, Victoria and Olivia Tormey, and Dana Truini. Also back is sophomore goalie Caroline Watson behind a defense of juniors Molly Mullins, Christina Hathaway and Izzy Agricola. Also making a return is assistant coach Mary Pasquantonio, Boudreau’s sister, who brings experience as a former KP player and will help the current crop of Warriors on draw controls.
“We have a deep bench with many sophomores and will be looking to run lines and sub regularly to keep everyone fresh,” said Boudreau. “Our theme for the season is ‘grit=hard work + passion’.”
Mansfield won its opening two games of the 2016 season, but the Hornets struggled during a difficult middle part of the spring and missed out on the state tournament. The Hornets showed flashes of potential during the year, including a close loss to perennial tournament team Hingham, and hopes are high that they can get back into the postseason this year.
Expectations are boosted by the return of a strong core of experience players. Senior Maire Foley will be a focal point of the Hornets attack this year, while classmate Maggie Dunn and junior Ann Maher will return in the midfield. Senior Jen McCabe will provide leadership in defense and sophomore Kaity Garvin will build off her rookie season in attack.
Among the new faces this spring are sophomore midfielders Maggie Danehy, who had a solid winter with the girls’ basketball team, and Lauren Whitman
“Our team really has been working together as a unit day one,” said head coach Alexis Kobey. “They came into the season ready to go and work on what they needed to work on to get better, from draw controls, ball movement, attack/defense they have been showing up everyday. They also really love playing with each other, working with each other, making each other better.”
2016 Record: 3-15 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Tim Dowd
It has been a tough run for Milford since moving to the Hockomock League, but the Hawks bring back an experienced roster for first-year head coach Tim Dowd and he is hopeful that the program will continue to improve over the course of the season.
Dowd’s excitement for the new season is in part built on the leadership of his senior class, including captains Taylor Dube, Jill Burley, and Jordyn Lombardo, who Dowd said would all have “incredible seasons.” He praised all three for their competitive spirits and for pushing their teammates to improve.
Another senior, Brainna Croteau, will be in charge of the defensive unit and Dowd is counting on the development of a talented group of sophomores and juniors. Milford also has two freshmen, Hannah Bangert and Anne Flanagan, who will be on the varsity roster this season and who Dowd thinks will make an impact.
“I think one of our strengths is going to be teamwork and work ethic,” said Dowd. “We want to be a team that goes the extra mile for each other and constantly works to win battles on the field. We’re going to try to outwork other teams. We’re going to try to focus on the little things to hopefully make big improvements.”
2016 Record: 13-7 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East Quarterfinal Coach: Mike Vitelli
Under first-year head coach Mike Vitelli (who had previously led King Philip to a Hockomock League title and a South final), North Attleboro made a jump into second place in the Kelley-Rex division and won 13 games, while reaching the playoffs for the first time. After a loss to eventual state champ Walpole, Vitelli has built up North’s schedule with perennial powers Notre Dame Academy, Natick, and Walpole to get the Rocketeers prepared for a tournament run.
North will clearly miss last year’s Player of the Year Hana Caster (who is now at UMass Lowell), the Rocketeers return a number of important players, including six of the team’s seven defenders. Seniors Samantha Taggart, Emily Schromm, Emma Cromidas, and Alaina Mello will provide an experienced defensive unit in front of junior goalie Kayla Moulin, who Vitelli believes will have a great season.
Up front, North will turn to junior Kenzie Rosenberg and senior Erin Holley, who had breakout seasons for the Rocketeers in 2016. Chloe Olsen, Julia Dakin, and Julia Tolfa will also be counted on to provide offense for North Attleboro, while Camille Pizzaro and freshman Katie Lindstrom will be newcomers to watch this spring.
“I really like the depth of our bench as well,” said Vitelli. “Lots of hybrid players who can play in many roles…Biggest question I’ve gotten this offseason has been ‘how can you replace Hana Caster?’ My response is we can’t. But that being said, I don’t think any player is replaceable…It just becomes an opportunity for other players to step in and make their mark.”
2016 Record: 8-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round Coach: Abby Tepper
Oliver Ames reached the postseason last year by finishing second in the Davenport division and will look to build on that in 2017 in the Tigers first season in the Kelley-Rex and first season under new head coach Abby Tepper, who is only one year removed from the end of a very successful college playing career at Salve Regina and a solid first season as coach of the OA field hockey program this fall.
Tepper inherits a roster with several key returning players that provide a foundation for the Tigers, who won the opening two games of the spring. Junior captain Sofia Masciarelli will be the main attacking cog for OA this season with senior Katie Davenport back in the heart of the defense and junior goalie Ari Waldorf will be back between the pipes.
Also back for OA and expected to make a step up into the starting lineup are senior captain Kendall Clifford in the midfield, junior Chloe Kilkelly in the attack, and sophomore midfielder Olivia Piazza.
“The girls have been working hard each day at practice to prepare for the tough schedule they will face,” said Tepper. They continually improve their skills and lacrosse IQ each day. I have been impressed with how the girls have pushed one another to get better and have committed themselves to the program.”
2016 Record: 10-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round Coach: Colleen Carchedi
In her second season in charge, Sharon head coach Colleen Carchedi (née Manning) led the Eagles to their first ever playoff appearance. On their home grass, the Eagles put in a great performance to battle perennial playoff competitor Bishop Feehan and the experience has generated a lot of excitement in the program as the new season begins.
Sharon has five key players returning from last season, including leading scorer Alex Rabb and twin sister Sam, who is one of the team’s top defensive players. Senior Anna Crosby will be the motor in the midfield and junior midfielder Sabrina Robbins has verbally committed to the University of Colorado. Carchedi said of Robbins, “She is someone who always gets the job done and deserves more credit than she gets. She is reliable and hard working, never afraid to take a risk.”
Sophomore Emma Eberhardt is another player coming back that Carchedi believes will be able to take on a much larger role this spring. Eberhardt will add size in the midfield and, particularly, on draw controls. Carchedi said, “She is an all around stud athlete and is for sure a player to watch.” Sophomore Rose Wald is a newcomer that takes over in goal.
“I know we are going to be a really well balanced team,” Carchedi added, noting that the Eagles had six different goal scorers in the season opener against Milford. “I am so excited for the season and ready to hit the ground running after a big game against my old high school, KP.”
With a win against Norton on Monday, Taunton avenged a pair of losses to the Lancers from 2016 and is halfway to last year’s win total. The Tigers are still a young program at the varsity level and, as such, head coach Kerry Northup knows there will be a learning curve against Hockomock opponents, but she is also excited about the team’s potential.
The Tigers will turn to seniors Delaney Powell, Annie Tate, and Abbey Kingman to provide consistent offense this spring and all three had big games in the opener against Norton, combining for 12 of the team’s 17 goals. Powell led the way with six goals in the win and junior Lorna Li had 12 saves in another strong performance for the Tigers’ “confident” goalie.
Taunton also has plenty of youth that will be gaining valuable experience this spring, including three sophomores, a pair of freshmen, and three eighth graders. One of the eighth graders, Alana Tavares, made the most of her varsity debut on Monday, potting five goals against Norton and will be one of the newcomers to watch in the Hock this season.
“We have a solid group of girls this season,” said Northup. “Our strength players have a nice balance throughout the field from offense, mid, to defense. We are not a powerhouse team, but a team with passion, drive, and grit. These girls play to the end and don’t give up until that last whistle sounds.”
2015 Record: 13-5-1 2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Kate Howarth
The Bulldogs will be happy to see Oliver Ames move on to the Kelley-Rex after finishing just behind the Tigers in the Davenport title race each of the past two seasons. Head coach Kate Howarth is now in her fourth season and Canton seems poised to make an even bigger impact this year with a number of returning players, despite still being a very young team that has only three seniors on the roster.
Canton’s strength starts at the back where senior goalie Kathryn Doody has developed into a solid shot stopper and also an extra sweeper who can cover when the defense steps up to press the play. Just in front of the keeper, Sarah Connolly will be in her third year on varsity and brings “loads of experience,” according to Howarth.
Junior Riley Duserick is back to run the middle of the pitch for the Bulldogs after a pair of all-star seasons. Her range of passing and her long-range shooting will force defenses to keep an eye on her at all times, which can open lanes for the pass into senior forwards Hannah Link and Tessa Cudmore. Both are in their fourth year on varsity and Howarth is counting on their experience to be in the right place to finish opportunities.
Howarth added, “We have some great depth this year. When we make subs I don’t think our quality will go down at all and that is very exciting.”
2015 Record: 9-9-0 2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Kaitlin Lamothe-Vaughn
The Warriors were one of several teams that battled injuries last season. Foxboro started the fall without its starting keeper, one of its primary forwards and with its star midfielder playing through an injury suffered in the off-season. The Warriors still reached the postseason but with a full roster set to start 2016, expectations are even higher.
The key player is junior midfielder Lily Sykes, who head coach Kaitlin Lamothe-Vaughn referred to as the team’s “rock.” Sykes has recovered from the injury problems she dealt with last year and will be the primary playmaker in behind the forwards. She will have plenty of experienced players to look for with the return of senior Kristen Bortolotti, who was one of Foxboro’s top scorers as a sophomore but missed all of last year with injury. Also up top, the Warriors will feature Olivia Dantona, Shaina Abbott, and Hannah Burns.
Another key returner is senior goalie Hallie Canfield, who missed significant time last year. She adds even more confidence to a returning back four of seniors Devon Mollica, Lauren Flahive, and Jamie Gorman and sophomore Alex Stamatos. With Hailey Maling and Riley Collins running the wings, Foxboro has plenty of familiar talent coming back to try and win the program’s first league title since 1993.
2015 Record: 8-9-2 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Jay Mastaj
For the past several seasons, Milford has been incorporating younger players in an effort to get back to the postseason, but injury troubles have limited the Hawks in the ultra-competitive Hock. This year, the Hawks have a good balance between senior leadership and young talent and could be poised for a breakthrough season.
The key players for Milford are senior captains Nicole Dahlgren, who is a strong presence in the center of defense with the ability to step into the midfield, and Kristen Franzini, who was the team’s leading scorer from a year ago with nine goals. The four-year starters will have help from midfielder Maggie Boyle and defender Rachel LeBlanc.
Head coach Jay Mastaj is excited about a strong crop of freshmen, including Maddie Boyle, Ashleigh Starks, Annie Flanagan, and Juliana France. Mastaj said that the team has plenty of depth this season. He added, “This is the most talented team that we have fielded in my four years here at Milford.”
While the Rocketeers had a solid regular season under first-year head coach Glenn Pasquel, not many expected North Attleboro to make a run through league rivals OA and Franklin to reach the Div. 1 South semifinal (a 2-1 loss to Whitman-Hanson). Key players like Hana Caster and Grace Guertin are gone, but North has a lot of returning talent for its first season in the Davenport and expectations are high at Kelly Field.
Much of the excitement around the program is in the attacking third where junior Haley Guertin will try to have another season like 2015 in which she scored 19 goals, led the league in scoring, and was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. She will receive help up top from winger Felicity Monfils, who emerged last year as a threat on the right wing for the Rocketeers. Emily Schromm and Julianna DiRenzo will try to fill the holes in midfield from the strong crop that graduated.
Goals are important but it was the development of the North defense that propelled the Rocketeers to a tournament run. The move of Rachel Labonte to sweeper turned into a masterstroke as she seemed to block every attack and move the ball quickly back into the attack. Emily Chiasson will join Labonte in the back line in front of new goalie Emma Noreck. Pasquel said, “Great start to the season, plenty of returning players…Looking forward to a great season.”
First-year head coach Brad Furnival has spent the preseason installing his style of play and building the organization needed to compete in the Hockomock League. So far, he said that results have been positive and he is excited to get the season underway. It may be a new coaching staff, but the Eagles have plenty of familiar names from last year’s young and talented squad.
Senior captains Anna Crosby and Ally Steinberg will be the players that Furnival is expecting to be leaders on and off the pitch and both have the potential to make an impact in the midfield. Ally Filipkowski has the foot skills and moves to create scoring chances for herself and her teammates.
In addition, Sharon will also have St. Michael’s College-commit Victoria Zambello and Ithaca College lacrosse commits Alex and Samantha Rabb back this season to add aggressiveness and energy to the team. There is a lot of talent on hand and Furnival is trying to find the right “vision” to mold the talent into a competitive team. He said, “I’m looking to have the perfect balance this season between players with a technical and physical prowess, which will make Sharon a much harder team to play against.”
Head coach Tara Daniels enters her second season with the Black Knights looking to continue the development of the program to compete in the very competitive Davenport division. Stoughton has several players that Daniels believes could make a big impact this season and see the Black Knights make a move up the standings.
The key for Stoughton will be the midfield where Emerson Sprague will try to run things from the center of the pitch. Daniels praised Sprague’s distribution and her ability to keep the Black Knights in possession. On the outside, senior captain Amelia Cochran will be racing up and down the wing and junior Mia Greene will be helping Sprague with the playmaking duties. Up front, sophomore Gabby Diaz will try to build on a solid freshman campaign.
The defense is led by junior captain Sarah Wildrow. Daniels said of the vocal outside back, “I’ve never seen Sarah get out-hustled.” Daniels added, “Hard work and staying healthy will be key to our success. Our goal this season is to keep our mind focused on teamwork and connecting passes.”
2015 Record: 7-12
2015 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round
Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
There is a new coaching staff for the Canton girls’ lacrosse this season and first-year head coach Chrissy O’Connor is looking forward to surprising a few people with a strong spring.
Seniors Casey Bradley (attack) and Olivia Devoe (midfield) will be the team leaders and the keys to the Bulldogs making a charge at Foxboro for the league title. Sophomore midfielder Molly Colburn and freshman Leah McClellan will be newcomers to watch this year as well.
O’Connor said, “I think the league will be surprised with Canton’s tenacity this season.They are a confident and smart group of athletes who have handled having a new coaching staff extremely well.This should be an exciting season for Canton lacrosse.”
At the end of last year’s Div. 2 East semifinal, Foxboro coach Brittany Sherry was emotional about losing the crop of seniors that had joined the program the same year she began. That group had won four straight league titles and gone further than any other team in program history. But when Sherry was asked about the future, she was confident in the talent coming back and believed that her fifth season could be another title-winning spring.
Senior Melissa Lynch was a standout in goal last year and will be back between the pipes and will have a strong defensive core in front of her including junior Hallie Canfield and senior Annie McGeary. Offensively, Foxboro will be looking for continued development from junior Lauren Flahive and sophomore Catherine Luciano, who will both be asked to fill in for senior Chloe Hurley, who begins the season with an injury.
Young players helped Foxboro on its run to the semifinal and freshman Sophia Dicenso is the next in line to try and make an instant impact for the Warriors. Juniors Ally Curran and Molly Farrell could also be poised for breakout seasons.
All eyes are on the matchup with Franklin in May, as the two teams have won their respective divisions each of the past four years, but Foxboro also has Hingham, Medfield, and Walpole on its schedule as it sets its sights on another tournament run.
Milford comes into the new season with a young roster after losing eight seniors from last year’s squad and head coach Jason Gelmini is hoping that the many underclassmen who saw playing time in 2015 will be ready to step into bigger roles in 2016.
The Hawks will be led by senior midfielders Morgan Smith and Julie Dam and senior defender Erin Fleming and Gelmini is counting on his captains to provide leadership. In addition, the Hawks will lean on junior defender Brainna Croteau, junior goalie Hannah Cairney, junior middie Jillian Burley, and junior attackers Taylor Dube and Jordyn Lombardo.
Gelmini said, “We definitely have a young team this year, so our goals are to get better each game and compete each time we step on the field.”
2015 Record: 10-9
2015 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East preliminary round
Coach: Craig Gardner
Oliver Ames is coming off a strong season in which the Tigers reached the Div. 1 East sectional before falling to Bishop Feehan in the opening round. This year, OA has a lot of returning players who experienced what a playoff run was like and head coach Craig Gardner is counting on that experience to pay dividends this spring.
The Tiger will be led by a strong senior class, including midfielder Erin Fitzgerald and defenders Cassie Gavin and Sarah Lewis. Senior attackers Abby Duvall and Sam Lang will help Fitzgerald provide attacking power while senior midfielder Carly Cidado and junior defender Katie Davenport will help lock things down at the back.
Gardner also noted a few young players that could be impact players this season, including sophomores Sofia Masciarelli, Chloe Kilkelly, and Ariana Waldorf and junior Kendall Clifford. Freshman defender Olivia Piazza will also be a newcomer to watch this season.
“We have a very strong and focused group of experienced upperclassmen athletes, coupled with some strong developing underclassmen athletes,” said Gardner. “The team has great chemistry, which I hope translates into a competitive season for us.”
Sharon had a program best record of 7-10 last season under first-year coach Colleen Manning, who is expecting the Eagles to take an even bigger leap this year by making the postseason for the first time.
Sharon only has three seniors (Alex Miller, Alexa Levitt, and Heather Seggelin), but plenty of young talent including “top shooter” Alex Rabb, attacker Anna Crosby, and defender Samantha Rabb (all juniors).
Sophomore Sabrina Robbins is drawing attention from colleges and will be a force for the Eagles on draw controls, while freshman Lydia Chase will add a new face to the Sharon defense.
FOXBORO, Mass. – There was the hint of a smile that played across junior forward Ally Steinberg’s face when the second goal found its way to the back of the net, but rather than join in the raucous celebrations of her teammates she immediately followed her shot, grabbed the ball and ran it back to midfield to get the game restarted.
“I’m not one to really celebrate,” said Steinberg after the game.
The Eagles did not need her to celebrate on Monday night, but they did need her in front of goal, as Steinberg scored twice in the final six minutes to steal a point for Sharon in a 2-2 draw with Shepherd Hill at Gillette Stadium.
When asked how it felt to score at Gillette, Steinberg was willing to admit, “It’s pretty awesome.”
Sharon coach Jon Lavien said, “They’ve been a team all year that has put a two-goal deficit between them and their opponent and fought their way back. From the back all the way up, everyone touched the ball and everybody participated.”
The Eagles controlled play for much of the game with the lion’s share of possession and a number of scoring opportunities that they failed to convert. Despite a strong start, it was the Rams that jumped into the lead in the 12th minute.
A long ball to the forward pulled junior Samantha Rabb into the channel where she conceded a free kick on the edge of the box. The kick was played into the middle and Sharon failed to clear with several attempts allowing the ball to fall to Hailey Demers and she looped it over the head of Sharon keeper Natalie Gray.
As if one sucker punch was not bad enough, the Eagles received another just five minutes later when Rebecca Nguyen slipped a through ball between the defenders to Rachel Bianculli and she made no mistake with her finish to make it 2-0.
“We really controlled the play but just didn’t capitalize,” said Lavien. “I think the wider field kind of confused us. You start going wide and it’s really wide and those corners aren’t going where you want them to go.”
In the 18th minute, Alexandra Filipkowski had Sharon’s first shot after Shepherd Hill failed to clear a cross from Rose Wald. It took another 15 minutes before the Eagles would get another chance and this one Steinberg headed onto the roof of the net from five yards out off a Victoria Zambello free kick.
At haltime, Lavien spoke to his team about continuing to play the way that it started and to keep pushing to try and get back into the game. He also reminded the Eagles that this was a unique opportunity that they needed to make count.
“I told them they have 40 minutes to play at Gillette and you won’t get that again so go out there and enjoy it,” said Lavien. “From there we just talked about we were dominating the game but we weren’t finishing and luck wasn’t on our side.”
The Eagles also adjusted the formation, dropping Filipkowski into midfield, Amanda Klayman to the wing, and moving Steinberg up top along with Zambello. The move worked as Sharon attacked time and again and started to look dangerous each time that it went forward.
Zambello was the primary target early in the half and could possibly have had a second half hat trick with a little better luck. In the 52nd minute she ran onto a pass in the middle, cut pat a defender onto her left foot inside the box and fired a low angled shot that seemed certain to cut the lead in half, until Rams freshman keeper Alyssa Trueman somehow got a fingertip to it and kept it out.
Again in the 21st minute, Zambello was denied. This time she flicked a loose ball over the prone Trueman only to have her shot kicked off the line by Julia Dandridge.
“The main focus was really just keep going and no giving up, play as a team, keep connecting the passes,” said Steinberg, who admitted that she was getting frustrated as the Eagles continued to be shutout. “We knew it was coming, so it was just a matter of getting the first one.”
With six minutes remaining, the goal finally came and it was Steinberg that provided the breakthrough. A cross from the right by Alex Miller picked out Steinberg inside the six-yard box and she found the corner to make it 2-1.
Just three minutes later she tied the game. This time it was Zambello who olayed provider with a cross, again from the right, that was whipped in low on the edge of the six. Steinberg needed only one touch to knock it past Trueman and tie the game at 2-2.
“We have a lot of heart,” said the Sharon hero, “even if we don’t always get the result that we want.”
There was still time for another chance to fall to Zambello, but this was not to be her night to get on the score sheet. The junior knocked it over the bar from close range and then had another chance denied by the combination of Trueman and Dandridge in the final minute.
“I think this will be a good catapult for them,” said Lavien. “You always want two points over one point but you don’t ever want to walk away with with no points.”
“You hate to say a tie is great but in this case…look at where we are and they were down a large portion of the game and they came back. I don’t think it gets better than that.”