SHARON, Mass. – The Sharon defense had held firm for more than 40 minutes without allowing a point, shutting down Cardinal Spellman twice inside the red zone, but as the fourth quarter wound down the Eagles were feeling the impact of the heat and humidity.
Spellman spread the ball around on offense, using four different running backs behind a sizable offensive line, and it started to pay dividends. The Cardinals were not trying to be tricky, just pounding the ball straight ahead and suddenly they were in the end zone with three minutes remaining. Only a minute later, they had the ball back again deep in Sharon territory and took advantage.
After 40 minutes without an offensive point, Spellman scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 3:21 of the game and stunned Sharon by pulling out a 21-14 victory on Saturday afternoon, denying the Eagles a perfect record heading into the start of Davenport division play next weekend.
“I thought we played well, we did a lot of good things,” said Sharon coach Dave Morse, “but it’s my fault not having these guys in shape and we wore down at the end. It’s something we’ve got to correct in the next week at practice and develop over the course of the season. It;s something we can control and we should have been in more control of that.”
It was the home team that struck first. Sharon faced third and 10 from its own 10 and junior Jeremy Ruskin (7-21, 240 yards) looked down the far sideline for sophomore Alec Filipkowski, who went up and pulled the pass away from the Spellman defensive back. He raced 67 yards before being pushed out at the Cardinals’ 23.
On the next play, Ruskin got his pass over the top of an outstretched defender and into Austin Dodes, who made a diving grab just across the goal line with fewer than 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“We’ve got our guys and we think that’s a strength of our team,” said Morse. “We’ve got to be a little more balanced, a little more consistent, but we like our guys out there and we think all of them can make plays.”
Spellman drove deep into Sharon territory on its next possession, getting as far as the Eagles’s 10, but Dodes broke up a pass play that would have set up first and goal and then Drew Naisuler (who also blocked a punt and was a constant menace on the edge) and Ahmed Sean stuffed the running back for a three-yard loss. On fourth down, Sean stopped a keeper for a short gain.
The momentum from the defensive stand only lasted six plays before the Cardinals tied the game. Ruskin’s second down pass was a little behind Naisuler, who got a hand to it but could not haul it in. The deflection fell to Spellman’s Jack Kingston and he returned the interception 40 yards for a touchdown.
The score stayed tied into the third quarter. Sharon’s first possession started at its own six-yard-line and Aaron Strong lost a yard on first down. Facing third and 11 from the five, Morse called for a middle screen and the Eagles executed it to perfection. Ruskin hit Chris Gong in a ton of space and the junior running back took off up the field, getting a couple of key blocks along the way, and scoring a 95-yard touchdown that shocked the Cardinals.
“It was definitely the best screen pass we’ve ran since I’ve been here,” said Morse. “We’ve got some kids and that’s an example of taking that step forward. We had linemen down field blocking, which is tough for those young linemen.”
Spellman put together a long drive early in the fourth quarter, once again reaching the Sharon red zone. Jaden Williams-Thomas and Jake Romanow stopped a run at the 18, setting up third and four. Naisuler stuffed a keeper for no gain and on fourth down, the Eagles stopped a pass play just short of the marker.
Unfortunately, the offense could only run a couple minutes off the clock before giving the ball right back. The defense looked winded as Spellman broke off runs of 15 and 11 yards straight up the gut and Jovan Marrero bounced a run off-tackle to the right and beat the Sharon defenders to the goal line to tie it 14-14.
Sharon went three-and-out on its next possession and the punt went only two yards, setting up the Cardinals at the Eagles’ 26. Marrero was again the primary back and five plays later he pushed the ball across from the one with just 38 seconds remaining.
Ruskin completed passes to Dodes and Filipkowski but then a spike and two incompletions ended the game.
“I told the guys we took two steps forward throughout the game but always took one step back,” said Morse, “and we are a young team and the quicker we can eliminate that step back than the better shape we’ll be in to move forward and get more wins.”
Sharon (1-1) will open league play next week by hosting defending league champion North Attleboro on Saturday afternoon.
But because of an injury, sophomore
Isaiah Stessman was stuck on the bench for the team’s first three games, and the Eagles were limited to just three goals so far.
Stessman made a splash in his season debut, scoring a goal in each half, including the game-winner in the final 10 minutes as Sharon recorded a 4-2 win over visiting Attleboro.
“His presence in the middle is huge,” Kelly said. “He’s young but he’s smart. With him and [Michael] Baur in the middle, we’re dynamic.”
It took the Eagles less than 10 minutes to take the lead over the Bombardiers. Using one of their most reliable options, senior
Tyler Hippler launched a long throw-in inside the attacking third that went over Attleboro’s keeper, deflected off sophomore
Michael Baur, off the post and in for a 1-0 lead.
Attleboro registered its first chance of the game in the 18th minute when
Devin Andre tracked down a long punt from keeper
Nick Hasenfus, touched it wide for sophomore
Michael Russo but his bid went just over the bar.
Big Blue’s momentum didn’t last long though. Just three minutes later, the Eagles doubled their lead. Sharon senior
Marques Benton found some space at the top of the area, turned and ripped a shot that forced a diving save by Hasenfus. But Stessman pounced on the loose ball and buried it to make it 2-0.
“That’s the offense we’ve been expecting,” Kelly said. “During the OA game, we were kind of stagnant in our midfield and weren’t moving the ball well. So yesterday during practice we focused on moving the ball and keeping our formation and it showed today. We kept the ball on the ground, we were stringing together some passes together.”
Attleboro had a last minute chance in the first half when
Connor Dunn struck a half volley inside the area, but Sharon junior goalie
Ethan Kantor made an acrobatic save to preserve the two goal lead at the break.
Sharon came close to adding a third just over five minutes into the second half but Hasenfus had a big answer. Sophomore
Viktor Schneider’s low cross found the feet of Baur inside the area, but a tackle from
Nathan LaPlume forced it free. Hippler jumped on the loose ball and placed his shot in the upper corner but Hasenfus timed his jump perfectly and knocked it away.
The save proved big for Attleboro as the Bombardiers cut the deficit in half just four minutes later. Russo launched a big clearance off a Sharon corner and junior
Will Halben was able to flick the ball behind the defense. Halben then tracked down the loose ball, taking advantage of a miscommunication between a Sharon defender and Sharon goalie, touched it wide and finished into the open net to make it 2-1.
The Bombardiers nearly pulled level three minutes later when
Aidan Lanc put a half volley on goal, but Kantor was positioned well.
Two minutes after Andre had his floating header stopped by Kantor, the Eagles found the game winner. After a first corner we cleared away, Baur whipped a cross into the near post and Stessman – who was on the bench for the majority of the second half as he eases into game form – made the run and connected with a header to make it 3-1.
“We have a bunch of young players so when we can score off a set piece, it’s a bonus,” Kelly said. “Our second goal and our last goal to ice it, those are the goals we want to see. But set pieces are big too, a lot of teams score on set pieces in this league. If you’re not scoring on them, you could be down. You take away the set piece goals and it’s a 2-2 tie.”
With Attleboro pushing almost all of its players forward, Sharon’s
Antonio El-Khoury took advantage and tucked his shot into the far corner in the 80th minute.
Sharon boys soccer (2-1-1 overall, 2-1 Hockomock) is back in action on Friday when it opens its Davenport schedule with a visit from Foxboro. Attleboro (0-2-1) is on the road for the second straight game, visiting King Philip on Friday.
On July 23, the Dominican Republic U-20 women’s national team stunned the favored U-20 Puerto Rican national team 1-0 on a scrappy goal in front of a raucous home crowd at the Estadio Panamericano in San Cristóbal. The victory meant that the Dominican team won its group and advanced into the finals of the CRU (Caribbean Football Union) championships to face St. Kitts and Nevis in November with the hopes of qualifying for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Despite being on the losing side that day in San Cristóbal, Sharon senior midfielder Ally Filipkowski focused only on the positives of her first foray into international soccer, which is a level that few Hockomock League players have ever reached.
“It was the best experience of my entire life,” Filipkowski said during an interview in the first week of the new high school season. “I’ve had so many cool experiences, especially in soccer, but this tops them all.
“This experience…it brought me closer to an island I don’t live on, it made my game so much better, and I really got to play at the international level and see how other countries play the game and how other girls work together.”
Playing for Puerto Rico also meant fulfilling a lifelong dream of representing the home of her mother, who was born on the island and lived there until attending college in the states.
“I always talked about it and dreamed about it, but I couldn’t believe that I made it a reality,” said Filipkowski.
According to FIFA regulations, players are eligible to represent a country in international competitions if they show a “clear connection” to the team they wish to play for, which includes having parents or grandparents that are from that country. With lots of family living on the island who she visits several times a year, Filipkowski already had the connection to Puerto Rico and its culture and wanted the chance to represent the island on the pitch.
Thanks to a call from the George Washington University (where Filipkowski will play next season) coaching staff to the Puerto Rican soccer federation, the program’s regional scout watched her play for her club team and invited Filipkowski to a tryout in Boston. The first tryout went well and that led to another camp, this time for a week in Puerto Rico.
Filipkowski estimated that there were around 150 girls invited from the U.S. to attend two tryouts and from that group a 30-player roster was formed with 20 players part of the active, traveling squad and a further 10 as reserves.
“I was super excited when I found out I was part of the U-20 team,” she explained. “I was completely in awe because it had been a dream of mine, but I didn’t want to get too excited until I saw the traveling roster because I wanted a chance to compete and represent my country.”
When the coaches made their decisions on who to bring with them for the upcoming Caribbean championships, Filipkowski was one of the 10 players from U.S. mainland selected. It was the moment that a dream came true for Sharon’s captain and a special moment to share with her mother.
“My mom was in awe,” Filipkowski recalled. “She didn’t really have much to say; she was just in disbelief that this far-fetched idea was becoming a real thing.”
Puerto Rico started its summer competition against the island of Bonaire on July 19 and started well, winning 11-0. That was followed two days later by a 6-0 victory over Antigua and Barbuda, as the Puerto Rican team showed why it was considered the team to beat in the group. According to Filipkowski, all 10 of the players from the mainland are committed to Div. I NCAA programs and the majority of players from the island are in university programs, with two who are being recruited for the next level.
Filipkowski was given the chance to be part of the starting 11 and the honor of pulling on the Puerto Rican jersey meant far more than simply being able to showcase her talent on the pitch.
“I had no idea what I was going to feel,” she said, “but when I was selected for the starting 11 for that first game, hearing the national anthem, really grasping the culture of Puerto Rico…I felt such love for the country and I was surprised how much love you can feel for a country you don’t live in.”
Although the result was not perfect, it was also the chance to experience international crowds and the very different atmosphere that conveys on the game.
“It was really hard, especially when they scored a really cheap goal and they had their whole home country behind them at the stadium it was really hard to rally back,” Filipkowski said. “They were really rowdy with their bands and their horns and their trumpets. It was crazy but it was really cool.”
The coaches have already indicated that Filipkowski, who will still be age-eligible, is in their plans for the next World Cup cycle, which will begin in two years. For now, she is focused on taking what she learned (on and off the pitch) and bringing it back to Sharon, where the Eagles got off to a flying start with a 6-0 victory over Norwood on opening day. Filipkowski scored all six goals that day.
“I try every day to bring what I’ve learned from my past experiences to the field in Sharon,” she said. “International soccer is a very rare experience, so I think anyone who gets that unique experience is going to take a lot out of it and this experience has encouraged me to make my game better than it already is and be the best player I can be.”
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017 Hockomock Field Hockey Preview
2016 Record: 4-13-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Lindsay Antunes
After registering just four wins a season ago, Big Blue is hoping for a big bounce back year in 2017. The toughest task will be finding replacements for the large amount of seniors that have graduated over the past two seasons. A big reason for hope to get back towards state tournament competition is four-year varsity player Grace Mayer. Mayer has been one of the top players in the Hock over the past couple of the seasons and led the Bombardiers with six goals and three assists for nine points. She will be joined on the forward line by junior Alexis Compton and junior transfer Takara Keele. Head coach Lindsay Antunes said her midfield has been strengthened “immensely” by sophomore Anna Beck, who was pulled up mid-season last year.
“There is an immense amount of unity on this team, and an outpouring of teamwork,” Antunes said. “Under the leadership of our current captains, many girls have assumed these roles [left by graduation] and are taking over the field. Some girls have been forced to transition into roles that are similar to ones they played in in the past, but not quite exact.”
2016 Record: 13-5-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Canton is returning a strong core of players from a 13-win team a year ago and will be in the hunt for the Davenport title. Key returning players include senior forward Andrea McNeil and junior forward Maggie Malloy, who will be back to pace the Bulldogs’ offense, as well as senior midfielders Emily Campbell and Maggie Wade. With experience back in the mid, the Bulldogs expect to have a strong passing game and strong ball control. Senior Riley Brown will step in as the starting goalie and freshman Maria Femia could make an impact as a rookie.
“Coming into our second season we look to strengthen our passing game and game sense,” said Canton head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “We look forward to another competitive season in the Hockomock League!”
2016 Record: 19-3-1 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D2 State Semifinal
Coach: Melissa Bordieri
Coming off its best season in program history, Foxboro is now focused on 2017 and trying to write its owm chapter in the history books. While the Warriors graduated over a half a dozen seniors, they return last year’s Hockomock League MVP in goalie Kelli McCarthy as well as 2016 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Lily Daly. With experience on both ends of the field, Foxboro is set up nicely for 2017. Daly has led the Warriors in scoring in each of the past two seasons.
The middle of the field will look most familiar from last season with seniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano, and juniors Meghan Curran and Sophia DiCenso all returning after playing valuable minutes last season. The biggest challenge for the Warriors could be replacing starting defenders Kelly Fisher and Angela VandenBoom, who both graduated.
2016 Record: 12-4-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Lisa Cropper
The defending Kelley-Rex division champions are in a good spot with so many returning players from last year’s squad. Leading the way is HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Annie Walsh, who led the Hockomock League with 25 points a season ago. Cassi Ronan (16 points) and Erin Walsh (10 points) are also back as Franklin returns its top three scorers. Another positive is that Franklin has some experience back on the defensive end as well. Kate Morse is back to anchor the unit after an impressive junior season and will be joined by Meri Gendreau and Emily Valentino in front of goalie Christina Luccini. Head coach Lisa Cropper expects senior Maddie Hinckley and freshman Victoria Quinn to also play big roles for the Panthers.
“Our biggest asset this season is depth,” Cropper said. “We are hoping to wear down our opponents and utilize our speed late in games.”
2016 Record: 14-3-4
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Liz Hathaway
After coming just a point shy of splitting the league title with Franklin a season ago, King Philip returns a strong core that will look to make another push for the Kelley-Rex crown. One big reason that the Warriors will be in the mix is because senior goalie Abby Campbell is back in the cage this season. And in front of Campbell, KP returns senior Christina Hathaway – two big reasons why the Warriors allowed only 13 goals all season in 2016. The offense will look very familiar with senior Liz Furfari (13 points) and junior Alli Meehan (25 points) back in the fold. Juniors Kate Lindmark and Caroline Klim will help bolster the defense while Nicole Connor and Dana Truini will be important players in the midfield.
“We have speed and can create a quick transition game with our passing game and formation,” said KP head coach Liz Hathaway. “We also have a couple of big hitters which should help us generate getting the ball inside the offensive 25 and to execute on corners.”
2016 Record: 13-5-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Theresa Nyhan
Mansfield is relying on seven returning seniors and a mix of young players as they look to get back to the state tournament yet again this season. The Hornets have senior leadership all over the field, which will be important in a very deep and talented league. Up top, Mansfield had Heather D’Amdra and Kristina O’Connell, while seniors Emily Ierardo and Ann Maher will lead the way from the midfield. On the defensive end, seniors Nicole Berluti, Julia Burhman and Brittany Lam will anchor the back line.
“As a unit we are looking to move the ball at pace,” said Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan. “We have speed at all levels and look to transition quickly.”
2016 Record: 3-15-2
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kim Danish
Although the Hawks graduated 11 seniors from last year’s squad, they return some key pieces that head coach Kim Danish is hoping will help Milford take a step forward. The Hawks will lean on tri-captains Shannon Cormier (the team’s leading scorer last season), Danielle Fokas (who will start on the wing) and Emily Condon (a returning member of the Hawks’ defense) to pave the way this season. Kate Wimette, Colby Bowers and Megan Larouco will see time in the midfield while Julie Rabinowitz would see time all over the field, depending on need. Milford is looking to rely on speed on offense to try and get the offense going.
“We have a strong mix of seven returning seniors who are fantastic leaders and a great core group from last year’s JV team who will step up and make an immediate impact on the field,” Danish said. “Overall, the motivation and work ethic among this group has been top notch! We are looking forward to a great season.”
2016 Record: 6-8-4
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Karen Folan
After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back years, Big Red field hockey is hoping to make a run at the Davenport crown and get back to the MIAA playoffs. One tough task will be replacing 14 seniors, including all-league goalie Liz Morehouse, all-star Mary Kummer and all-league honorable mention Teresa Bagarella. But head coach Karen Folan is confident she has the pieces to compete in a deep Hockomock League this year. Senior captains Emilie Pothier, Olivia Gedgaudus and Camille Pizarro return to make up the majority of the midfield. Senior Katherine Munley is also back on the wing, giving Big Red some speed on the outside. Sophomore Emma Strachan takes over in net this season, with Folan describing her as “quick and aggressive.”
“The returning members of the varsity team have shown they are ready to fill in any gaps our line up may have after graduating 14 seniors,” Folan said. “And our new team members are eager to step onto the varsity playing field.”
2016 Record: 11-6-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Abby Tepper
Oliver Ames will be relying on a mix of experience and youth as they try to stay competitive in a deep Kelley-Rex division. It starts with senior captain Sarah Stevens in the midfield, who will be the “quarterback” of the midfield according to head coach Abby Tepper. Senior Cristina Boudreau and junior Kayla Lozzi will bolster that midfield while senior Liz Nuss will provide speed to the attacking group. OA’s defense will be anchored by senior captain Sarah Tetrault while senior Caitlin Grant will be the starting goalie. Freshman Brynna Courneen has impressed defensively early on.
“This year our offense will be quick and have speed,” Tepper said. “We have some young players filling the wing spots and we are working on being hungry inside the circle. We want to be a scrappy team and get the ball in the bucket no matter what it takes. Our defense does a solid job recovering for one another in the circle and stepping to ball without hesitation. As a team we want to build a positive culture and work hard day in and day out.”
2016 Record: 1-17-0
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrea Vandette
Now in her third year at the helm of the Sharon Eagles, head coach Andrea Vandette is confident that her squad is ready to take the next step and find some more success. The Eagles are led by three captains: Elyse Korn, Abbi Solomon and Grace Leavitt. Leavitt started to come on strong at the end of the year last season and will be the anchor for the Eagles’ defensive unit this season. Senior Lindsay Moses will be be in the cage and has a good amount of varsity experience under her belt. In the midfield, Leora Leavitt will be in the center of the field and one of the Eagles’ most reliable players. Vandette is also expecting juniors Veronica Wallace and Stephanie Edwards to continue their growth after picking up the sport a season ago.
“My main goal for the girls this season is to compete,” Vendette said. “Being that this is my third year with the program, I believe they know my expectations and the seniors have a good understanding of how to move the ball on the field and how to be successful. We certainly have enough talent to put a few more wins on the board this season!”
2016 Record: 8-9-3
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Dan Mark
Despite graduating a handful of talented players, including 2015 Hockomock League MVP Angela Connolly, Stoughton head coach Dan Mark is bringing back several key players for the 2017 version of the Black Knights. The Black Knights’ offense will look the most similar to last season’s team that qualified for the state tournament. Julia Russell, Kamryn Oliveira and Jackie Evangelista are returning forwards who played regularly last year. Lisa Ramanauskas is a returning midfielder, and Haley Bushlow is back to anchor the back line. Gianna Barbosa will be the starting goalie again this season.
“We have several returning players who played many minutes last year and are expected to step in as starters this year,” Mark said.
2016 Record: 2-15-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Elizabeth Hathaway
With a strong core of experienced players back, and a couple of young talents looking to make an impression, the Tigers are hoping to improve on last year’s season. Senior Kya Enos has been a steady presence for the Tigers for the past four seasons and will be relied upon to lead the attack long with senior Liana Duarte. Juniors Jillian Pagliuca and Lauren Torres will be tasked with controlling the midfield along with freshman Alana Tavares. Sophomore Kathryn Robinson will be a key piece of Taunton’s defensive unit this season
“Our strength will be the ability of the forwards and mids to move the ball up the field,” said Taunton head coach Liz Hathaway. “Speed is also a factor that will help our offensive attacks.”
Players to Watch
Players are listed alphabetically
Abby Campbell, King Philip – Campbell has been one of the top goalies in the league for the past two seasons and helped KP come within a point of sharing the league title with Franklin last season and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. She had 11 shutouts in 2016 and saved 130-of-143 shots that she faced, finishing with a goals against average of 0.619.
Emily Campbell, Canton – Campbell was a versatile weapon for the Bulldogs, helping out both in midfield and defense to help Canton win 13 games and achieve a plus-40 goal differential for the season. With Campbell playing a critical role, Canton allowed only 14 goals on the year, which was second best in the league. She also chipped in with three goals and seven assists.
Lily Daly, Foxboro – Daly has been the leading scorer for the Warriors in each of her two varsity seasons, helping Foxboro win its first league title in 11 years and its first ever Div. 2 South title. Daly is a force near the net and was chosen as the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year after scoring 16 goals and recording 11 assists.
Emily Ierardo, Mansfield – Ierardo emerged last season as one of the top offensive weapons for the Hornets, helping Mansfield make another run at the league title and reach the second round of the state tournament. She played five different positions in the forward and midfield areas and she scored nine goals and recorded six assists last fall.
Maggie Malloy, Canton – Malloy made quite the impact in her first season playing field hockey. She jumped onto the Canton varsity squad early in the season and finished as the league’s top goal scorer with 16 tallies for the year. She was a big reason for Canton’s improvement offensively and this year, with a season of experience, Malloy could have even bigger numbers.
Kelli McCarthy, Foxboro – Voted Hockomock MVP by the league’s coaches, McCarthy was the backstop for a Warriors defense that was one of the best in the league and helped Foxboro claim a Davenport division title and its first ever Div. 2 South title. She finished with 115 saves on the season and recorded 15 shutouts in 23 games, allowing only 13 goals total.
Alli Meehan, King Philip – Meehan was integral to KP making a run at the league title last season, holding a lead into the final week of the regular season, and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. Meehan scored 14 goals and recorded 11 assists to tie for the league-high in points. She also assisted on the goal that forced overtime against Somerset-Berkeley in a state tournament win.
Cassi Ronan, Franklin – Ronan was a versatile cog in Franklin’s league championship season in 2016, playing both midfield and forward for the Panthers. She finished with 10 goals and seven assists, while being named to the HockomockSports.com First Team, but also did a lot of the defensive work that didn’t show up in the box score.
Sarah Stevens, Oliver Ames – Stevens had a strong season for Oliver Ames in 2016 and the senior will be counted on to create scoring opportunities for the Tigers again this fall. She scored six goals and recorded nine assists for OA last season, helping the Tigers get to 11 wins on the season, beat Durfee in the first round of the playoffs, and push perennial power Walpole to overtime.
Annie Walsh, Franklin – Walsh is the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year (she was also Player of the Year in girls’ lacrosse) after leading the Panthers to a Kelley-Rex division title. A year after being named Underclassman of the Year, Walsh took her game to another level with 14 goals and 11 assists for a league-high 25 points.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2017 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview
2016 Record: 10-8-2
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal
Coach: Kate Howarth
For each of the past two seasons, Canton has finished second in the Davenport division and, with only three seniors graduating from the 2016 roster, the Bulldogs are poised to make another run at a league title this fall. Enthusiasm is also high after a strong closing stretch to last year, which included a draw with Kelley-Rex champ Mansfield and playoff victories over Greater New Bedford and Milton.
Senior Riley Duserick is the focal point of the Canton midfield and her ability to open space, pick out the right pass, and shoot from distance gives the Bulldogs a consistent threat in the attack. Junior Julia Hamilton emerged last season as a solid counterpoint to Duserick in the heart of the midfield with her tenacity and speed adding even more cover to the back line. Sophomores Lauren and Morgan McCabe will be added to the midfield options after strong rookie seasons. Lauren Fitzpatrick could see more time up front to replace the graduated Hannah Link and Tessa Cudmore and head coach Kate Howarth expects several freshmen to contribute as well.
The defense had inconsistent moments early in 2016, but the Bulldogs seemed to figure things out midway through the season and with the back four all returning defense should be a strength for Canton. Seniors Sarah Connolly and Carly Hutchinson will lead the defensive unit and junior Sarah Collins brings energy and speed from her right back spot.
“We are working really hard every day to get better at the little things that will push us beyond being a good team this season,” Howarth said. “I think our biggest weakness last year was consistency, so if we can get ahead of that right away we will be in a much better place than we were last year.”
2016 Record: 11-9-0
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Katie Stalcup
Foxboro had an inconsistent 2016, but demonstrated the talent in the program by beating perennial power Notre Dame Academy in the first round of the playoffs and nearly going on the road to beat Medfield in the second round, only to fall in a penalty shootout. The Warriors have seven returning players, so this will be a young team in 2017, but new head coach Katie Stalcup will be familiar with those players after her stint as the JV coach last year.
The Warriors will be able to count on senior Lily Sykes. The four-year starter is one of the most dynamic players in the league and is capable of dominating the midfield by beating a defender off the dribble or picking out a defense-splitting pass. Senior Shaina Abbott will be one of the forwards that Sykes will be looking to set up, while senior Olivia Dantona adds speed on the wings. Senior Mackenzie Cusack is also back to lead the defensive unit along with junior Alex Stamatos.
Stalcup is counting on a number of young players to step in and contribute right away. Sophomore Lizzy Davis played for Stalcup on JV last year and brings speed and physicality to the forward position. Among the freshmen that will be on the roster are midfielder Katelyn Mollica, forward Jordyn Collins, and defender Emma Dahl.
“I am very excited about being the new varsity coach this year,” said Stalcup. “We have seven returning varsity players, four seniors who are all captains and five very impressive freshmen on the team for this season as well as some great players coming up from JV. We are a young team, but I am excited to see how well we can play together.”
2016 Record: 5-9-4
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jay Mastaj
Milford is looking to bounce back from a five-win season to challenge for a spot in the state tournament this fall. The Hawks have a roster filled with youth and bring the majority of the starting lineup back and head coach Jay Mastaj is confident that the talent is there to make a push up the table and compete with the top teams in the league.
The Hawks are deep and experienced on the back line and the defense could be a real strength for Milford this season. Seniors Rachel LeBlanc and Brianna Braza will be the leaders in the heart of the defense and will try to keep everyone organized. Senior Leeanne Kibbee will lead the attack and will be counted on to finish off chances created by senior Maggie Boyle and sophomore Ashleigh Starks, who will look to create from the center of midfield.
Mastaj said of the attackers, “The combination brings strong skills, familiarity and solid varsity experience.” He is also excited about the younger players and what they can bring to the table this year, including sophomores Madelyn Boyle, Julianna France, and Annie Flanagan.
“This season we expect to be very competitive across the entire league,” Mastaj added, “and with a little bit of luck we believe we can challenge for the top of the Davenport.”
2016 Record: 14-4-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Bill Wallace
Despite changing coaches midway through the 2016 season, North Attleboro rolled to its first league title in its first season in the Davenport division. The Rocketeers racked up 14 wins and a goal differential of plus-40. Expectations are even higher coming into this fall with North returning a roster filled with experienced upperclassmen.
URI-commit Haley Guertin is the player to watch for the Rocketeers, as the senior forward is both a goal threat and also a playmaker who consistently opens up opportunities for her teammates. Her 37 career assists is tied for the most in program history. Head coach Bill Wallace said that there is a change in systems coming up front, but with Leah Jette and Ashlyn Gaulin joining Guertin, North will have a formidable attack.
In the midfield, Aine Mendonca returns to hold things down in the center of the pitch. Her poise in posession and ability to break up opposing attacks is critical for the Rocketeers. Of course, if anyone gets through, HockomockSports.com Best XI defender Rachel LaBonte and fellow senior Emily Chiasson are on hand to clean it up. North also returns both Nina Beauvais and Emma Noreck in goal.
“We should be up tempo and have a lot of depth,” said Wallace. “These kids have played together for years and generally care about each other. As always, the Hock is a ‘bear’ of a league and for us to continue last years success we are going to have to work hard and continue to improve!”
2016 Record: 7-9-2
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Furnival
Sharon narrowly missed out on reaching the playoffs last season under first-year head coach Brad Furnival. This year, making the playoffs could be even more difficult after the team lost nine seniors and seven starters from last year’s team. The Eagles will be building with youth this fall and gaining experience for a number of new faces.
One returning player that the Eagles will be counting on is senior Ally Filipkowski, who is coming off an exciting summer that saw her named to the U-20 Puerto Rican national team. The George Washington-commit is one of the most talented players with the ball in the league and she will be tasked with creating most of the chances for the Eagles. Senior Sabrina Robbins will step into a leadership role at the heart of the Sharon defense this fall and will be counted on to organize a young group.
Among the new faces to watch is junior Maxine Gordon, who will be starting in the attack this fall and is hoping to build off her experience from last season to be a consistent goal scorer. Sophomore Bella Berger is another player that Furnival believes could be in for a strong season. Berger will be influencing the game from the center of midfield.
“This season will be more of a transition season for Sharon girls,” Furnival said. “We have a very young team so the vision for this team is a couple of seasons down the line. We are hoping to continue playing an attacking brand of soccer and are looking forward to coming up against some top opposition that the Hock will pit us up against.”
2016 Record: 0-17-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Tara Daniels
Stoughton has been in a rebuilding mode for the past couple of seasons, but entering 2017 head coach Tara Daniels is making changes to the formation and counting on an experienced back line to get the Black Knights moving up the table in the Davenport division.
The leader for Stoughton is senior Sarah Widrow, who was the team’s lone league all-star last fall and impressed during the HockomockSports.com Charity All-Star Game. As an attacking fullback, Widrow pushes the Black Knights forward and adds vocal leadership to the back line. She will be joined at the back by the speedy Gabriela Diaz, who was converted from striker to defender. Senior Mia Greene will be the focal point in the midfield to try and keep possession for Stoughton.
Sophomore Chinazo Odunze returns from a injury-shortened season to lead the line for the Black Knights attack. She had a strong start to her freshman campaign before her injury and Daniels calls her combination of speed and physicality a “game-changer” for the attack.
Daniels said, “This season we are trying a new formation to give us more offensive opportunities…Staying healthy and in good shape is key to a successful season. We are looking to step up our possession game and having more of an offensive push this year.”