Warriors Earn Draw Against Highly-Ranked Shamrocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Girls Soccer: 2016 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2016 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Reigning league MVP Francesca Calabraro (left) and OA will look to challenge Franklin’s Kelley-Rex supremacy this year. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2015 Record: 6-12-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

The Bombardiers won six games last year, including an upset of rival North Attleboro in the annual Blue-Red Game near the end of the season. Head coach Steve Santos is hoping that the momentum will carry over for his relatively inexperienced group this fall. The Bombardiers return 10 players from last year’s roster but not all were regular contributors. “They need to play simple and play quick,” said Santos, who mentioned that the program is developing with three freshmen seeing time in scrimmages.

The loss of Paige Medeiros to graduation leaves a big hole to be filled, especially with her set piece prowess, but Attleboro will turn to senior attacking midfielders Rebekah Entwhistle and Chloe Vieira to produce the killer pass and set up scoring opportunities. Up front, Hannah Meier will be counted on to finish those chances and give Attleboro the scoring punch it needs.

Defensively, Attleboro can count on junior goalie Maddie Brown, who is coming off a stellar sophomore season, and the center back pairing of Jordyn Forte and Morgan Laplume, who Santos said had a “high soccer IQ”. It is a junior-heavy roster, but one still in need of seasoning. Santos explained, “They’re great kids and hard workers. They just need some experience under their belts.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 17-1-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Tom Geysen

The Class of 2016 won a state title, two Div. 1 South titles, went to three straight South finals, and won the Kelley-Rex division four times. That is quite a legacy for the program and, while he has a number of new faces to try and incorporate into the lineup, head coach Tom Geysen is confident that this year’s Panthers will be team to contend with by the end of the season.

One reason for optimism is the combination of sophomore Halle Atkinson and junior Jess Krouschl up front (once Kroushl comes back from a niggling injury). Both players saw time in the attack last season and showed the potential to be a strong pairing with one as the forward or playing as the wings. The forwards will be helped by energetic midfielders Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira, two more players who saw plenty of playing time down the stretch in 2015.

Defensively, Franklin returns one half of its back four. Nadia Havens will continue as an outside back, while Abby Gibson, who stepped in to have a strong season on the outside last fall, will move in as one of the centerbacks. Junior Kat Robbins will take over from Dani Lonati between the pipes.

Geysen said, “We’re thin and we’re green…It’s a work in progress. But, by the end of the season I think we’ll give people a test.”

King Philip

2015 Record: 2-16-0
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Gary Pichel

The Warriors did not just have an injury or two to deal with in 2015, but almost entire starting 11 ended up with injuries that left King Philip head coach Gary Pichel scrambling to fill roster spots with players from the JV and freshman teams. As 2016 begins, many of the key players are back and healthy and the Warriors are hoping to spring a surprise on the Kelley-Rex.

Junior defender Emma Corcoran (“the heart and soul” of the defense, according to Pichel) has been a rock in the middle of the back line and will have a lot more help with seniors Sarah Fleck (ACL) and Katherine Turner (ankle) back after missing all but one game last year. Corinne Palumbo and Julia Massarone will also chip in from the midfield and will be counted on turning defense into attack quickly.

Up front, Rachel Hogan returns after leading KP in scoring for the past several seasons and she will be joined by fellow senior Maddie Smith, who is back from a quad injury. The seniors will be paired with talented freshman Chloe Layne, who is already drawing rave reviews. Pichel said, “We had a very tough season last year but will look to rebound with a new look and a new strategy to improve our chances in a very competitive Hockomock League.”

Mansfield

2015 Record: 12-6-2
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Kevin Smith

The Hornets are only bringing back three players who started regularly last season and that includes two goalkeepers. Senior Emily Gaumond started the season in net but missed the final month with a concussion, which meant that then freshman Lauren Whitman had to step in between the pipes. The only returning outfield player is senior Hannah Reiter. The Quinnipiac University-commit, who comes into the season as a contender for Player of the Year, was a standout in central defense, midfield, and up front last year.

While Mansfield does not return a lot of starters, there is plenty of experience on the roster. Head coach Kevin Smith utilizes a large roster and makes sure that a majority of the players get time on the field. Senior forward Emma Goulet and senior defender Emily Sullivan will be the captains and each has multiple seasons on varsity. Sophomore Stephanie Kemp and junior Allee Bezeau will be counted on to provide scoring punch and sophomore Melissa Reef will be taking a bigger role in the midfield this year.

With five freshmen and three sophomores playing “significant” minutes last year, Smith is confident that Mansfield will be able to challenge for the Kelley-Rex title. He said, “So even though we are very young we do have some players with some experience under their belts.”

Oliver Ames

2015 Record: 14-3-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

The Tigers have won the Davenport division each of the past three years and will now set their sights on claiming the Kelley-Rex title at the first opportunity. Head coach Britt Sellmayer has a squad capable of claiming the crown and with the potential to make a deep tournament run as well. With seven returning starters, including four league all-stars, and 10 seniors, the Tigers have the most experienced roster in the Kelley-Rex and arguably the deepest.

It starts with reigning Hockomock MVP Francesca Calabraro. The senior scored 24 goals last season and has been talked about as a potential All-American in the preseason. With Calabraro moving between a midfield and a forward role, it opens up space on the wings for the speedy Jackie Mills, who chipped in with nine goals last year and could be ready for a breakout junior season. Seniors Dana Lowney and Jess Robarge will also provide midfield support for the Tigers.

Defensively, OA has a strong core of returning players. Sophomore Zoe Chazan stepped in as a rookie and turned into one of the league’s top central defenders and her partnership with junior Emily Freeman will be a tough one for teams to break down. Behind the back line, OA has three solid goaltenders led by junior Regan Benton. Sellmayer said, “[We’re] looking forward to the challenge of playing in the large Hock.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 9-9-3
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Edith Dixon

The Tigers made history last season, becoming the first team in the program’s history to win a playoff game, knocking off Wellesley on the road. That Taunton team was filled with upperclassmen but head coach Edith Dixon wants the program to keep moving forward and believes that there are players ready to step up and take over.

One of the players leading the way for Taunton is senior captain Emily O’Brien, who Dixon credits with setting the tone at practice. The Tiger will turn to junior Sam Tichelaar for offensive production as the three-year starter is healthy after an injury-plagued sophomore campaign and is ready to be the “driving force” in the Taunton midfield. Senior Livi Sweeney will be the forward for Tichelaar to connect with up top.

Defensively, the Tigers will miss goalie Kayla Wentworth, who is now playing at Iona, but junior Kayla Felix will lead the defensive corps and help make Taunton tough to beat. Dixon said, “Last season was a great step forward for the program, but we’re not satisfied with making the tournament just once. Our upperclassmen want to get back there again and they’re being pushed every day in practice by some very talented eighth and ninth graders.”