Following an impressive four years at Stoughton High, Val Whalen elected to attend Virginia Wesleyan University (Norfolk, Va.) with the intention of continuing her volleyball career. Unfortunately, after tryouts, the coaching staff decided that Whalen wasn’t part of their plans for the season.
Rather than allowing her playing career to end there, Whalen transferred to Regis College (Mass.). Three years later, Whalen is a member of both the Pride volleyball and basketball teams and was recently named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Women’s Volleyball Player of the Week.
Not only was a historic moment for the program, as Whalen was the first Regis athlete to be named GNAC Player of the Week since the school moved to the conference in 2017, but also a moment of personal redemption.
“I went there assuming I was going to be playing and, at the end of tryouts, the coach was like there’s too many girls on the team, you’re a fantastic player but we don’t really need you, you’re not going to play,” Whalen recalled. “It did humble me because I did think I was a very good player. It kind of put me back some.”
The award was a boost of confidence for the senior, and also a special present since the award was announced on her birthday. “When I went to this school I tried to work my hardest to feel how I felt in high school,” Whalen explained, “because when I was in high school I was one of the top players for my team. When I got it last week, I was like wow I’m finally back to how I used to be. It was a wonderful feeling.”
The Pride are on a roll. After losing the first three matches of the season (two of them in five sets), Regis has rattled off 11 wins in a row going into Saturday’s match with Rivier and is now 4-0 in the GNAC. Whalen, who can play in the middle or the outside, has been critical to the early-season success. She leads the team with 112 kills and 2.43 kills per set, is second with 24 blocks, and has an impressive .277 hitting percentage.
Although being cut as a freshman was three seasons ago, Whalen continues to use that as inspiration and motivation, a reminder of how much it means for her to be out on the court.
“In the back of my mind, I was like I know I’m good at volleyball and I know that I can do this, so it was just pushing me to become the best player that I am,” she said. “Every time I try to step onto the court, I try to make it my best performance. I just try to go out there and play my game.”
Transferring is a difficult process, especially for athletes who need to start over and prove themselves to a new coaching staff and new group of teammates. Whalen credited her Regis teammates for welcoming her to the court three years ago and providing an atmosphere that allowed her to feel comfortable.
“The team believed in me,” she said. “Now we try to welcome every girl in with the biggest positivity and that’s what that team did too. They were just like prove yourself on the court every day and you’ll get that spot.”
Losing her freshman season was hard enough, but Whalen also lost her junior season because of the pandemic. She returned to campus and the court this season with a new coach (for both volleyball and basketball) and two new classes of players who all wanted to earn a starting role. It all continues to push her to prove she belongs but missing two seasons has also given her a different appreciation of how much it means to have sports be part of her college experience.
“Playing college sports was a very important thing for me,” she said, acknowledging that she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her sister Bridgette. “I wanted to continue playing the sports that I loved and I wasn’t ready to give them up.”
Whalen added, “Every single time I get to step on the court, whether it’s a game or it’s practice, I’m very grateful that I’m here. I’m just very grateful that things happened like they did and there’s a reason that I’m here at Regis. As we saw last year, you never know what could happen and you never know when we could stop playing, so every time I want it to be my best performance.”
Although she is listed as a senior, Whalen is a psychology and education major in a four-plus-one program. She will earn her Master’s next year and has an extra year of eligibility. She doesn’t have to worry about the end of her college career yet and can instead focus on keeping the Pride rolling this fall and then earning more playing time on the basketball team this winter.
“Definitely when we step onto the court,” she reflected, “we think about how we’re very lucky to be here. We need to go out there and make sure we’re trying our best all the time because we never know when we could stop playing.”
When asked about the potential for the Pride this season, she added, “On our team we like to take it one match at a time. We have to go out there with open minds and don’t let up the speed and just keep coming at them. Going into conference play, we just need to be strong and confident all the time.”
It has already been an award-winning fall, but Whalen is hoping Regis can earn trophies as a team too. She wants to make an impact on the program but also prove the final point to the coaches that doubted her.
“It would be amazing to do that,” she said. “It would be great for the program but it would also be the icing on the cake to the [Virginia Wesleyan] coach that I could’ve done it.”
It couldn’t have gone much better this time around.
Sparked by a broken play, the Black Knights finally got on the scoreboard with less than a minute to go in the first half and then scored on all four of its drives in the second half to land a 35-7 win on the road against Oliver Ames.
Locked in a scoreless game, Stoughton’s first two drives combined for eight plays and six yards, and the Knights lined up to punt on fourth down after their third drive stalled at their own 35-yard line with time running out in the second quarter.
But a low snap and pressure from an Oliver Ames special teamer forced senior Emmett Pearl to abandon the kick and take off running down the left sideline, sprinting 10 yards to move the sticks and keep the drive going.
“That was his decision, that was huge,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke.
Seven plays later, facing a 3rd and 20 from near midfield, sophomore quarterback Jarred Daughtry rolled out to the right on a bootleg, planted his feet, and fired back to the left side where Pearl, who had lined up on the right side of the formation, sprinted free and hauled in the catch, going for a 49 touchdown with just 29 seconds left in the half.
“It was a low snap and I saw the kid rushing, and I saw the open sideline and I wanted to score before halftime,” Pearl said. “I took off and it paid off. We really haven’t practice that so it was more my call off of instincts. I think coach felt the momentum with me and gave me a shot [on the touchdown].
“We learned our lesson from last week about staying up and keeping the lead. We fought and didn’t let the momentum take over after their touchdown.”
That spark ignited the Stoughton offense, which couldn’t be stopped the rest of the way. The Black Knights received the opening kickoff of the second half and quickly marched 65 yards on nine plays, highlighted by a 26-yard pass from Daughtry to Jonay Ly (11 carries, 82 yards, one touchdown).
Stoughton faced a 3rd and 2 inside the 10-yard line and the Tigers got to Anthony Girolamo (12 carries, 118 yards, two touchdowns) in the backfield but the senior running back withstood the hit and bulldozed his way forward for a first down. Two plays later, Ly plunged in from a yard out as the Knights doubled their lead to 14-0.
“The end of the half one really sucked,” said OA head coach Ed DeWitt. “We felt good at halftime, just made the one mistake, but they came out right away and scored. We thought we had a shot to get a tackle to get them into a longer fourth down but [Girolamo] breaks the tackle and they get in the next play. It’s kind of a killer. We’d like to get a little more push back there.”
Oliver Ames marched into the red zone, helped by runs from Collin Williamson and Chad Silva, for the second time in the game but came up empty-handed again. Stoughton’s Michael Jardim defended a pass in the end zone in the first half to end the Tigers’ first trip and this time around, a sack from Tyler Noel and Liam Joyce pushed OA back and on second down and Pearl came up with an interception on the next play.
“I don’t know if we’re at their level yet but I think we’re really close,” DeWitt said. “But when they had a shot, they got it in. When we had a shot, we don’t. If you score during the two red zone trips, it’s a different game. We’re playing differently, they have to play it differently, and all of a sudden you’re right in the game. But those big point swings are hard to overcome.”
Stoughton turned that interception into more points, going 83 yards on just six plays. Ly had back-to-back carries of nine and 12 yards, Girolamo broke free for 26 more yards, Konrad Rogers added 10 yards, and two plays later, Girolamo muscled his way to a 16-yard touchdown.
“We’re happy with the way we’re doing it,” Burke said, “As long as we can stay healthy I think we can hang in there with anybody…we’re going to be fighting and clawing and that’s Stoughton all the way.”
Oliver Ames reached into its bag of tricks to get on the scoreboard and get some momentum back. A reverse on the first play saw junior Jaden Graham go for 14 yards and a first down. On the next, senior quarterback Jake Grimaldi tossed a quick pass out to classmate Sean Friel, who was behind the line of scrimmage. Friel launched a pass down the left sideline and junior Jack Morley hauled it in, broke free from the last defender, and toed the line for a 51-yard touchdown.
The momentum was short-lived for OA, as the onside kick attempt just slipped through and Stoughton took over. Two plays later, Girolamo burst up the middle for a 45-yard touchdown and a 28-7 lead.
Stoughton got its second fourth down stop of the game and went 41 yards on seven plays, capped by a fourth down touchdown pass from Daughtry and Jardim from 11 yards out.
“Last week was tough, we played hard,” Burke said. “We didn’t win but we learned some lessons and fixed some mistakes. We’re just going to keep getting better and we’re happy we got our first league win. We’re hoping to get into the playoffs like everybody else in America.”
Stoughton football (1-0 Hockomock Davenport, 2-2 overall) is back on the road for the third straight week when it travels to Foxboro (3-1). Oliver Ames (0-1, 1-3) will try to bounce back when it takes to Canton.
For the third straight game,
Mansfield rallied from a deficit to earn a win, this time in impressive fashion in the form of a 42-14 win over Stoughton, the first meeting between the longtime Hockomock rivals since 2012.
The Hornets had to score a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to take home a win against St. John’s Shrewsbury after seeing a halftime lead disappear. Last week, it took a last-minute drive the length of the field to force overtime against North Attleboro, a game in which they won in double overtime.
On Friday night, Stoughton stunned the home side by scoring the first two touchdowns of the game. The Black Knights scored on their second drive of the game and on the first play of the second quarter, and were just five minutes away from taking a 14-0 lead into halftime.
“When the first quarter ended, this was not what I expected to be on the scoreboard at the end,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “I thought we were going to be in a dog fight and the way it was going, I thought we’d be lucky to pull it out. We were making mistakes, they were capitalizing and they were aggressive on both sides of the ball.”
Stoughton had to punt after going three-and-out on its first possession of the game, but on Mansfield’s second play of their first drive, the ball came loose on the handoff, and Anthony Girolamo, making his season debut after suffering an injury during the Fall 2 season, pounced on it to give the visitors possession.
The Black Knights got the first down on a gift when the Hornets jumped offside on fourth down but the visitors earned the next one when Girolamo rumbled for 12 yards on a fourth and two situation. On the next play, Jonah Ly bounced to the left side and Girolamo delivered a big block to a member of the secondary, springing Ly for a 14-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
Stoughton’s defense held when Emmett Pearl came up with a big tackle for no gain on fourth down at the Black Knight 40-yard line, forcing a turnover on downs. A sack from Mark DeGirolamo set Stoughton back but on third and 10, the Knights ran a screen play and sophomore quarterback Jarred Daughtry found Ly on the left side and he took off down the sideline. Junior Tyler Noel came up with the final block and Ly went in for a 50-yard score and a 14-0 lead just moments into the second quarter.
But from there, Mansfield showed how quickly it can change a game.
The Hornets overcame self-inflicted penalties to complete their largest drive of the game: 15 plays for 73 yards, capped by a two-yard plunge from Rocco Scarpellini. Stoughton looked to have a huge stop on third down in the red zone but were flagged for pass interference.
Mansfield converted the short third down and Scarpellini scored on the next play to halve the deficit with 4:04 left until halftime.
Five plays later, the Hornets found the end zone. Junior Conner Zukowski (15-for-18, 174 yards, three touchdowns) floated a screen pass to sophomore Brian Butler, who won the jump ball just over a Stoughton defender and went in for a 6-yard touchdown. Mansfield knotted the score, 14-14, on James Gilleran’s point after with 21 seconds left in the first half.
“The big drive was the first touchdown, we had all those penalties and still overcame it and got it to 14-7, and just a little bit of change in momentum and kind of took some pressure off,” Redding said. “Then we get the fumble and another one before halftime and that just changed the whole game, kind of flipped it on its head. If we don’t convert there and it’s 14-0 at halftime, this is a whole different game.”
Mansfield received the kickoff to start the second half and the offense continued to roll. The Hornets scored on four straight possessions in the second half, the only drive that didn’t end in points was the final one when the clock ran out.
“The second touchdown really hurt,’ said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “We should have just run the ball, punted if we had to, and go into half at 14-7. Next thing you know, they’re ahead. They had one or two big runs and they hurt us on a couple of passes. If you don’t move the ball and you give them the ball, you’re in trouble.
“I wish we had a better result but the kids tried. We’re down in numbers overall, we had three starters out. I’m not saying it changes everything but it would have helped for sure. It was great to get Girolamo back, once he gets going he’ll be fine. We had some chances to play better but we just didn’t get it done. But we’ll keep working hard at it.”
It took just four plays for the hosts to find the end zone in the second half. Faced with third and 12 near midfield, Zukowski found sophomore CJ Bell wide open downfield and dropped a pass into his hands. Bell spun free from a tackle and dove across the goal line for a score.
“We knew coming in after looking at their lineup, they have eight or nine kids that play every snap,” Redding said. “I thought that meant we could win the fourth quarter, which turned into maybe we had to score to win in the fourth, but I thought we wore them down a little running the ball.”
Sophomore Trevor Foley came away with an interception on the next Stoughton series and took it all the way to the house for a 50-yard interception return but a block in the back nullified the score. Instead, on the first play of the ensuing series, Zukowski threaded the needle up the seam to Foley for a 24-yard touchdown.
After a Stoughton punt, the Hornets were looking at 3rd and one from midfield. Stoughton sent a lot of pressure up the middle and Scarpellini got free after he bounced out wide, scampering the rest of the way for a 50-yard touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Curtis took over midway through the next series and had back-to-back option keepers, the latter going for an 11-yard touchdown to cap the scoring.
“It’s good to know with all the youth that we’ve got some character,” Redding said of the ability to come back in each week so far. “No one has really panicked, I think the kids realized at the end of the [first] quarter we had got get it going in a hurry. But for a bunch of young kids, especially at the skill positions, they don’t seem to get rattled and just move onto the next possession. In all three games, we’ve had a really good 36 minutes but we’ve had a 12-minute span where one quarter we just don’t play well but fortunately, we had enough time to overcome it.
“But we have our hands full the next two weeks with Franklin and Milford back-to-back, whoever did the schedule didn’t do us any favors. We’ve gotta bring our ‘A’ game for 48 minutes for the league schedule, there are some heavy hitters in the Kelley-Rex division. The next two weeks should be fun in the Hockomock.”
Mansfield football (3-0) opens Kelley-Rex division play next week when they hit the road to take on Franklin (3-0), who took down Duxbury on Friday night. Stoughton (1-2) is also back on the road, taking a trip down Route 138 to take on Oliver Ames (1-2).
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2021 Hockomock Volleyball Preview
2021 Hockomock Volleyball Preview
2020 (Fall II) Record: 1-11
Coach: Mary Katherine Runey
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the program as the Bombardiers are set to take the court for their second season, but first full season, under head coach Mary Katherine Runey.
The Bombardiers boast a large senior class featuring a lot of returning players along with a handful of juniors and even some freshmen ready to make an immediate impact on the court this Fall. It all starts with senior captains Lilly Boedeker, Marissa Conroy, and Summer Pereira, who will provide key leadership both on and off the court. Boedeker is the anchor of the defense as the libero while Pereira is making the switch to the right side to provide key blocking plus another offensive option.
Options will be vital for sophomore setter Natalie Brojek, who is back for her second season on the team as the setter. Seniors Delia Barthel, Holly Berg, Kate Petrosso, and Gabby Bolduc are all returning players and are joined in the roster by classmates Corina Lugo, Celina Lugo, Ellie Amaral, and juniors Brianna Frissora and Tigin Bombardier. Petrosso and Frissora will take care of business at the net as middle hitters while freshman Julia Leonardo could see time right away as an outside hitter.
“As a program, we are certainly looking to continue to build and grow,” Runey said. “Last year, we had to learn to play together and figure out which pieces of the puzzle work together. This year, we continue to work hard to minimize errors, control the pace of the game, and learn how to win. I believe that hard work will pay off this season.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 10-2
Coach: Pat Cawley
Canton made it 13 league titles in the past 14 seasons when it edged Sharon to the Davenport title a year ago. This season, the Bulldogs will have a lot of new faces, as only five players return from 2020’s abbreviated campaign, but there still remains a lot of enthusiasm for a new season and the potential to rebuild for yet another title challenge.
Senior Sydney Gallery returns as the team’s middle hitter after a solid season contributing off the bench. Gallery has improved and seen her playing time increase each season and will now be one of Canton’s primary weapons. Seniors Anna Verille and Tayla DeGraw will add to the attack on the outside. Both saw significant minutes as juniors and can also provide points from the service line. Sophomore Jess Wright is a newcomer that could make an instant impact on the outside as well. Senior setter Taylor Reynolds is back to run the Bulldogs offense and put the hitters in the right spots. She is also a strong presence on the back row defensively. Seniors Amaiah Christian, Katie Dever, Ella Lewis, Kelly McDonald, and Jess Vo will all see the floor and add depth to the Canton roster.
“What we lack in experience, we make up in work ethic and desire,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “This year’s team is motivated and anxious to keep the strong Canton volleyball tradition going! Led by a great group of seniors, the entire team has the same goal – to play at the highest level possible and to be the best they can be!”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 3-9
Coach: Vicki Santana
This will be a season of transition for the Warriors, who return only five players from last year’s team. Despite graduating 10 seniors and only featuring two seniors on this year’s roster, Foxboro is excited about the potential of its younger players and looking to grow as a team over the course of the new season.
Juniors Sami Sloan and Mallorie Meyer will both step into bigger roles after gaining some varsity experience as sophomores last year. They are part of a big junior class (eight players) that will be counted on to carry the Warriors this fall. Both Sloan and Meyer have been working not only on their hitting but also the defensive part of the game to be able to help in the back as well as the front row. Junior Alyssa Cloherty will be the setter and classmate Shannon McElhinney will take over as the libero and both have shown capable of making smart decisions with the ball on the back row.
“I am seeing a lot of talent and can’t wait to see how the team performs,” said Foxboro coach Vicki Santana. “Our focus is to build team chemistry for the team to be successful. As long as the players are ready to put in the work this fall, I am anticipating a successful year.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 12-1
Coach: Samantha Elliott
Franklin has won at least a share of the past three Kelley-Rex titles and last year also claimed the first-ever Hock Cup. Even while graduating important players, like leading hitter Ally Bonnet-Eymard, the Panthers continue to build squads that look ready to compete for the title every season.
The strength for the Panthers is at setter. Senior Cailyn Mackintosh is a three-year starter and one of the best passers in the league. Her ability to spread the ball around and hit spots opens up the floor for the offense and makes Franklin hard to match up against. Sophomore Taylor Lacerda will be one of Mackintosh’s top targets this year following a strong freshman season on the outside. Senior Lindsey Tarantola will be the main threat in the middle and senior Brigid Earley will be back at opposite. Defensively, the Panthers will count on senior Meghan Linkkila, who will be moving from defensive specialist to libero this season, to control the back row.
“I have high expectations for these players but more importantly they have high expectations for themselves,” said second-year Franklin coach Samantha Elliott. “This team is striving to continue proving themselves and working hard to be the best they can be, and hopefully, that is another Hockomock title.
2020 (Fall II) Record: 11-2
Coach: Kristen Geuss
When you look at the class that graduated from last season, the Warriors certainly lost a lot of talent from a team that won a share of the Kelley-Rex division title. But this is a program that doesn’t have many rebuilding seasons, they simply reload.
The Warriors have several returning players that will play a significant role this season. Senior captain Stella Bailey will take over as the primary setter, and she’s a confident player that can run the offense very well (136 assists last season). Bailey will have two very good options to work with in senior captain Liv Carey and junior captain Ahunna James. Not only is James one of the most lethal hitters in the league (124 kills last season), she’s a very good defender (104 digs) and server (94.6 serve percentage) as well.
King Philip will lean heavily on a pair of seniors to lead the way defensively in the back row with Samantha Asprelli taking over as libero and classmates Sofia Reidel and Gianna DeLorenzo as defensive specialist options. The graduation of the team’s top hitter and blocker Nicole Coughlan leaves a big void at the net but junior Sami Shore gained some key experience last year as she prepares to give the Warriors a boost at the net. Junior Emily Sawyer is a new addition that has been promising in the preseason as a middle while senior Molly O’Brien has played well on the right side. Juniors Kiera Hagen, Missy Canning, and Olivia O’Neil as well as sophomores Kate O’Neil and Shea Mellman are all battling for time on the court.
“I am very pleased with how prepared the players have come back from last season, they have been working very hard at practice,” Geuss said. “I think we will be strong on both offense and defense. The players are ready to go and are looking forward to a more normal season!”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 6-6
Coach: Tara DeGirolamo
For the second season in a row, Mansfield will have a new coach. The Hornets are turning to JV coach Tara DeGirolamo this fall and hoping that a mix of experienced returning players and some new faces can help them pose a challenge to defending league champs Franklin and King Philip.
Mansfield will run its offense through senior hitter Julia Kelly. A three-year-starter, Kelly is a versatile layer who rarely takes a rotation off and gives the Hornets a lift on both attack and defense. The middle should be a big threat as well with senior Nicole Santos and junior Alexandra Scibilia giving the Hornets good net presence. Senior Christina Lydon and junior Isabella Flint will be back at the setter position and senior Nora Buckley adds to the attack on the right side. Sophomores Elyssa Buchanan and Anna Goulet and junior Lily Verheggen will be new hitters to add depth for the Hornets. Defensively, senior Lauren Knight will lead the back row with senior Calysta Robyn and junior Jackie Zelic able to step in and provide defensive cover as well.
“The Hornet volleyball team has a great group of veteran and new players rounding out the roster this season,” said DeGirolamo.
2020 (Fall II) Record: 4-8
Coach: Tammy Webber
Volleyball is back in the fall and the Scarlet Hawks are hoping to make it back to the postseason with a strong core of players on the roster.
Despite only four seniors on the roster, head coach Tammy Webber has a lot of experience on the squad after a lot of the players experienced the varsity level for the first time during the Spring. One player who has been around for a long time is senior outside hitter Sarah Brogioli, an All-Hockomock selection from last season. Not only is she one of the top hitters in the league, but she is also a top defensive option for the Hawks. A big advantage for Brogioli and the rest of the Hawk hitters is having junior Emily Croteau back at setter. Croteau emerged as the team’s top setter during the Fall 2 season so she knows the pace of the varsity level and has some options to distribute too.
Beyond Brogioli, Croteau will have two experience middles to work with. Senior Lexi Starks is a good two-way player, providing the Hawks with some good swings on offense and key blocks defensively. She can also rotate all the way through the lineup, playing defensively in the back row. Junior middle Aliza Syed had a really strong sophomore season and can be really hard to stop when she gets into a groove; she’s also a strong server for the Hawks. Carley Haley, Jess Douglas, and Molly Hartman will anchor the back row for Milford.
“With the players we have returning, we are hoping to challenge the top teams in the league,” Webber said.
2020 (Fall II) Record: 2-9-1
Coach: Courtney Lambrese
It has been four seasons since North Attleboro ended Canton’s reign atop the Davenport division. Last year, the Rocketeers were rebuilding after graduating a big senior class and there were some growing pains but first-year coach Courtney Lambrese has eight seniors returning and will hope that experience can carry North to a much better 2021.
North will look to be aggressive on offense, utilizing the strength of senior outside hitters Amira Boory and Sara Carter. Senior Madelyn Corsetti will give the Rocketeers another look in the middle, adding some balance to the attack. All three move well at the net and should also be effective in the block. Senior Katherine McHoul will be the setter and is joined in the back row by senior defensive specialists Ava Dunlevy and Julianne Chen. It is a defensive unit that Lambrese praised for its ability to read the hitter and be aggressive getting to the ball.
“This will be my fourth season with the program, I am looking forward to taking on a new role as the varsity coach with the group of athletes we have,” said Lambrese. “Overall, I’m excited for the talent and drive this team expresses and to see their successes this season.”
2021 Hockomock Volleyball Preview
2020 (Fall II) Record: 8-4
Coach: Chelsea Cunningham
Head coach Chelsea Cunningham always has high expectations for her Tigers, and this year is no different. OA boasts some key returners on the court while Cunningham is excited to integrate some new faces into the lineup after the void left by graduation.
Anytime you can bring back your starting setter, you’re already at an advantage and the Tigers have one of the better ones in the Hock in senior captain Hadley Rhodes. She learned a lot last year and can spread the ball out to the weapons the Tigers have. Rhodes can also get involved in the attack as a solid option at opposite hitter. Another key piece to the puzzle will be junior Maddie Homer, who is a three-year starter and the team’s libero. Homer’s veteran presence will help solidify the back row for OA.
Senior captain Shannon Willard will be in the mix as a setter as well while junior Courtney Raymond is poised for a breakout season as a middle hitter after gaining valuable experience during the Fall 2 season. Sophomore Sarah Hilliard learned what the varsity level is all about and is back as one of the main hitting options for OA.
“Returning to more ‘normal’ practice in athletics is exciting enough as it is and being able to continue working with such wonderful student-athletes makes it even better,” Cunningham said. “This group is full of new faces and they all bring something unique to the team. This season, some of our main goals include playing “our” game, always being ready to compete, and making every moment count. I am privileged to coach another season for such an amazing, supportive, and competitive program and cannot wait to see what’s in store for us!”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 9-3
Coach: Bill Schustek
Sharon is coming off one of the best seasons in program history. The Eagles won nine times last season, picked up a very rare win against perennial power Canton, and finished just a game behind the Bulldogs, narrowly missing out on the program’s first league title. Graduation will have taken its toll, with Sharon losing its top hitters from last year, but first-year coach Bill Schustek will be hoping the momentum can carry over into 2021.
Although the Eagles lost the top four players from last season, they do return eight players with varsity experience. On the front row, seniors Simone Dunbar and Erin Schustek will be the primary weapons. Dunbar will be a threat in the middle, along with classmate Savannah Gray, and Schustek will be on the outside with help from junior Tess Letendre. Senior Trinity Payne is another strong player at the net, either in the middle or on the right side. Emily Rubenstein is in her third year as the starting libero and is the leader of the back row.
“Without a dominant hitter, we will need to be a defensive and ball control focused team to have success this year,” said Schustek. “Our goal for the season is to qualify for the state tournament.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 3-8-1
Coach: Felicia Baptista
With key players back in key positions, Stoughton is looking to bounce back after a down year during the abbreviated Fall II season. Kiara Scardina, Patrik Oliveira, and Vanessa Philemond give the Black Knights a solid core of veterans to build around for the 2021 season.
The Davenport is wide open this season with most teams graduating the majority of their lineup from a season ago. That means every team is in the mix and whoever is playing best down the stretch might be the one to take it. Scardina, a junior captain, got a lot of experience as a sophomore last year and will anchor the back row. Oliveira took over as setter last year and now has a good amount of playing time under his belt and will be ready to set the Stoughton offense in motion. Philemond will be one of the go-to options for Oliveira from her middle hitter spot, and she will also help set the tone defensively with her blocking.
Head coach Felicia Baptista, in her second overall season but first full Fall season, will be looking for some of the younger players to step up this year, including sophomore outside hitter Annalia Eschleman, sophomore outside hitter Maya Ashu, and freshman Angelina Barry, who will see some time as a defensive specialist.
“The fall 2021 season is one we are ready for,” Baptista said. “We are so happy that this season could go back to normal and start the fall season on time. Our program has worked hard all summer to make sure they were ready for August preseason this year. We have a large team this year and each one of them brings something different to the team which makes us that much stronger.”
2020 (Fall II) Record: 3-9
Coach: Toby Chaperon
Taunton won two of its first three matches in Fall II but only won once for the remainder of the season, as the Tigers went through the teeth of a loaded Kelley-Rex division. Taunton will have nine seniors on this year’s roster, many of which saw significant playing time last year, so there is hope that the Tigers can build on the experience of 2020 and be more consistent this fall.
The middle should be a strength for Taunton this season. Senior Mikayla Cleary and junior Hayley Krockta give the Tigers good size and athleticism both while attacking and defending. Senior Angie Lynch is a supreme athlete and has shown flashes of being a major weapon on the outside as she learns the nuances of the game and that position. Senior Dani Lofgren will be the libero. A good passer, Lofgren is another player that is growing into her role. Senior Jess Foley will help out defensively on the back row. Junior Anna Abouzeid is the new setter for the Tigers. Taunton coach Toby Chaperon said Abouzeid is athletic and has a good volleyball IQ and they are working on refining her play in the setter position.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2021 Hockomock League Girls Soccer Preview
2020 Record: 5-5-5
Coach: Steve Santos
Attleboro has been on the brink of tournament qualification for the past several seasons, but narrowly missed out. Last fall’s team had the potential to end head coach Steve Santos’ wait to get back into the playoffs only for the pandemic to force an abbreviated season. After graduating the team’s leading scorers and playmakers (Bella Salviati, Jessica Gates, and Briley Harnois), the Bombardiers will count on new faces stepping in and giving them a chance to taste the postseason.
The Bombardiers will be hoping to build on a strong defense. Senior Olivia Calderone and junior Ella Stromfors will be the anchors in the heart of the back line and their leadership will be critical. Attleboro will miss senior Olivia Cook, who had a strong preseason at outside back but suffered an injury that will keep her out for the season. Junior goalie Alexis Campbell also has an injury at the start of the season but will hopefully be back soon to take over in net.
In midfield, Attleboro has several returning players who will be looking at slightly different roles this year. Junior Emily Dunlea is a dynamic and versatile midfielder and could be the team’s playmaker this season. She will get help from senior Emily Khang, who missed the 2020 season. Another skillful midfielder, Khang will give Attleboro an attacking boost. Sophomore Bethany Alves can play as a holding or attacking midfielder, depending on the situation. Up top, junior Kacey Parker and sophomore Jamie Davies will be counted on to make up some of the goals that were lost to graduations.
“We graduated a solid core of players who brought a lot to the team, so we’re trying to figure out who’s going to embrace those roles,” said Santos. “We have some good talented players who can keep the ball on the ground and play some solid soccer. We have some more to grow on and learning how to play aggressive, Hockomock soccer.”
2020 Record: 8-3-1
Coach: Idris Senyonjo
Last season, Canton edged Foxboro by a single point to win its first league title since 2012. The Bulldogs graduated a strong class of seniors, particularly in the midfield and the attack, but there is plenty of returning talent on both ends of the pitch and second-year coach Idris Seyonjo to feel confident of another title challenge this fall.
The attack will look very different this season after graduating prolific forward Olivia Rodman and Elisa Diletizia (17 goals combined in 2020), but senior Gabriella Herivaux returns after scoring five times last year and could be poised for a breakout season as the primary target up top. Seniors Fay Gallery and Anne Hoban (who played at outside back last season) will also join in the attack and freshman Emma Cahill is a newcomer that could provide creativity in the final third. Sophomore Emily McCabe will step into the attacking midfield role and try to provide the killer pass from the center of the pitch.
Defense should be a strength for the Bulldogs this season with a mix of veterans and several incoming freshmen who could step in right away and contribute. Senior Allie McCabe continues to be the lynchpin of the Canton defense, commanding the heart of the back line with her strong play and leadership. There is plenty of experience in goal as well with senior Elyse Broderick back and healthy and junior Marissa Staffiere ready to step in, after being the starter all of 2020.
Seyonjo said, “Most important thing about this season is that I believe all teams are looking forward to what will hopefully be a normal season. I am excited. I look forward to my first full season as head coach. Every game will be different and we hope to be able to match or even better our performances from last season.”
2020 Record: 7-2-2
Coach: Katie Stalcup
Foxboro was just a single point short of a three-peat last season, dropping to second in the Davenport behind Canton, and the Warriors will have a lot of new faces this fall as they try to get back on top in the division. The Warriors graduated 10 seniors, but still have a lot of varsity experience, especially in the midfield, that will make them a tough challenge for their title rivals.
Senior Kailee McCabe, the reigning league MVP, is back in the middle for the Warriors this season. The four-year starter tied for the team (and league) lead with 11 goals in 2020 but she may have to take on a bigger scoring role this fall with Jordyn Collins now at Bryant. She should have a lot of help in the middle of the pitch. Senior Brooke Barreira, junior Lauren Milley, and sophomore Erin Foley all played significant minutes last year and capable of the quick combination passing that has been a hallmark of Foxboro’s play. Senior Jordan Carman will bring her versatility to the forward line this season, after playing pretty much every position (including goalie) last year.
Defensively, senior Meghan Burke will be the leader in the back line. An aggressive, solid defender, Burke has regularly been tasked with marking the opponent’s best attacker. Sophomore Lindsey Resnick had a strong rookie season and will add some game experience to the defense. Senior Maddie Maher and sophomore Alexis Sougaris will be the goalies tasked with replacing Morgan Sylvestre between the posts.
Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup said, “We had some major losses with our 10 graduating seniors last year, but I am very excited about this team and what I have seen from them so far and I am looking forward to seeing what they can do against the tough competition in this league.”
2020 Record: 6-4-2
Interim Coach: Jodi Klein
Long-time head coach Tom Geysen is dealing with a medical issue, so former JV coach Jodi Klein will take over this season and is emphasizing pressure high up the pitch and keeping possession in attack. Franklin returned to the top of the Kelley-Rex last season and Klein has an experienced squad to work with this fall, as they look to go back-to-back in what should be a wide-open title race.
The Panthers have built a lot of their recent success on a strong defense. This season should be no different. Junior Norah Anderson has been a mainstay in the heart of the back line for the past two seasons and she’ll be joined by junior Reilly Lorenzo and sophomore Maddie Horton. Senior Izzy Arnold and junior Katie Ewald give the Panthers speedy outside backs to provide width in attack and cover in the defensive third. Sophomore Rachel Welch will get the nod in goal after splitting time as a freshman and her reading of the game will help direct the defensive unit.
Franklin’s midfield has the potential to control games. Seniors Stella Regan and Chloe Barca and junior Bridget Leo bring plenty of experience to the middle of the pitch. Each are quick and solid in possession. Juniors Avery Greco and Chloe Stavely and sophomore Selene Hammad will step into the midfield to add depth. The Panthers will be looking to use the speed of the forward line to create chances. Senior Riley Fitzpatrick is the most experienced player up top and sophomore Anya Zub had three goals and four assists as a freshman. Freshman Kelly O’Connor is a new player to watch out for in the forward line.
“This is an exciting season for all of us,” said Klein. “I am a new coach to all of our returning varsity players and any of these girls who have played for me in the past have never played at the varsity level before. We are working through a brand-new system and style of play and we’re all very eager to see what we can accomplish together this season.”
2020 Record: 7-5-2
Coach: Gary Pichel
After graduating a large, talented group of seniors, including the top two scorers in program history, last year was bound to be transitional for King Philip, but it was also an opportunity for several players to step up into bigger roles. As it turned out, the Warriors had plenty of talent still on the squad and stayed in the hunt for a league title right to the final week.
The Warriors will be hoping last year’s game experience will pay off with a title challenge this season. The midfield should be a strength for KP. Junior Ella Pisani had a breakout 2020 season, showing off her skills as both a forward and midfielder and leading the team in scoring. She will be at the center of the KP attack again this year. Senior Paulina Baczkowski will give the Warriors width on the outside and delivers accurate crosses. Senior Morgan Norrman is an accurate passer who can push the Warriors into quick counterattacks.
Senior Brooke Mullins has improved every year in the KP defense, and she adds aggression and a willingness to get the ball forward quickly. After an impressive rookie year, junior Grace Lawler missed all of 2020 with an injury, but she is back and gives KP an instant upgrade in the back line with her ability to mark the opposing team’s best attacker. Freshmen Dani Lamuscio (midfield), Mikayla Thompson (defense), and Addisyn Lamothe-Vaughn (defense) should make an instant impact and add extra energy for the Warriors this season.
“I see this team keeping up with our KP tradition of good old-fashioned hard work and dedication to the cause,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “Our team will be competitive in every game as we go through the gauntlet of the Hockomock League.”
2020 Record: 6-4-3
Coach: Kevin Smith
Mansfield entered the abbreviated 2020 season with a relatively inexperienced group, and it showed during the early parts of the fall, but the Hornets put things together quickly and finished only a point back of Franklin for the division title. With nine starters returning, including most of the defensive corps, the Hornets should be in the mix for the title again this year.
Although the Hornets will definitely miss the on-field leadership and versatility of senior Maria Sevastos, who was injured in the spring, Mansfield has plenty of experience in the back line. Senior Anna Darlington will be the leader in the defense alongside sophomore Kara Santos, who is coming off an impressive rookie season at centerback. Junior goalkeeper Olivia Salisbury brings two years of experience in net and classmate Caitlin Zajac is a capable backup.
Senior Katie Miller will control the middle of the field. A four-year starter, Miller provides an extra layer of protection for the back line and can get the Hornets into the attack as well. Up front, senior forward Tarynn Smith is a willing runner, who can give opposing defenses a physical challenge. Sophomore Carly Devine is a creative playmaker that will give the Hornets an offensive spark.
“We are still very young with only four returning seniors,” Mansfield coach Kevin Smith explained, “but it’s a good core of players who have multiple years of varsity experience already.”
2020 Record: 3-6-3
Coach: Lou Colabello
Milford closed the 2020 season on a strong run, going 2-1-1 over its final four games that included two hard-fought games with Mansfield. Only three seniors are returning from last year’s roster, so the Hawks will be young this fall, but not necessarily inexperienced since many of the underclassmen stepped into the lineup last year.
The key to the Milford attack is junior Dani Atherton. She was the team’s leading scorer with eight goals last season (more than half of the team’s total) and most of the offense will flow through her feet. The Hawks will hope for more creativity and goals from the rest of the team, including juniors Brooke Ferreira and Amy Oliveira, a pair of players who can start up top or in the midfield. Junior Brianna Guerreiro is also back in the center of the pitch.
At the back, seniors Aubrey Korpi and Aislinn Bennett will provide much-needed leadership for this young crew and senior Jill Araujo can jump into the back line or help supply cover from the midfield. Junior Catarina Mestre is another returning defender from last season’s squad.
2020 Record: 5-5-3
Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro battled to a .500 record in 2020 and did it thanks to a strong defensive foundation. The Rocketeers allowed only 11 goals in 13 games last year and had five clean sheets. After graduating 15 players from that squad, and losing a starter to an injury, North coach Bill Wallace is enthusiastic about the potential for this year’s team to make a playoff push.
The Rocketeers return both of last year’s leading scorers. Senior Steph McKenna and junior Emma Pratt each scored five times last season and they will be counted on to improve those numbers with a full season (and without the restrictions that were in place in 2020). Behind the strikers, North’s midfield got a lot of experience last year. Senior Brayden Rice and junior Caroline Ferrin will be in the middle, while senior Autumn Hewitt and juniors Brooke Sullivan and Lily Adams provide the width.
Defense was a strength last year and it should be again in 2021. Senior Summer Doherty returns after missing a lot of last season with an injury. Her leadership and athleticism will be important in the middle of the back line. Seniors Meaghan Dowd and Charlotte Moynihan and junior Haley Sinacola make up the rest of the starting back four with junior Maddie Ferrin in goal.
“Right now, we are organized and making opponents work hard to develop their offense,” Wallace said. “Our goal is to play faster and with more urgency. The work rate is high, and the girls are looking forward to competing in the always tough Hockomock League!”
2020 Record: 8-1-5
Coach: Britt Sellmayer
Oliver Ames lost only once in 2020 and avenged that defeat by beating Canton in the Hock Cup final. The Tigers did draw five matches last season, but with eight starters returning, and several younger players who got valuable experience, OA will hope to turn those single points into two and bring home its first league title since 2016.
The Tigers pride themselves on being a tough team to break down and the defense should be stout again this fall. Senior Emily Meyers is back in goal and will be a vocal leader at the back. Senior Allison Evin moved from up top to the heart of the defense last season and her speed and understanding of the game made her a tough marker for opposing forwards to get away from, while juniors Mary Cross and Sophia Byron are looking to build off strong sophomore seasons. Senior Kyla Melton has transferred in from Milton Academy and her versatility will be a boost to the back line or in midfield.
Midfield will continue to provide cover for the back line with the likes of seniors Katie Gibson and Lauren Sellmayer not only giving the Tigers a physical, aerial presence, but also consistent delivery on set pieces. Senior Camryn O’Connor, a Boston University-commit, adds creativity to OA’s bite in the center of the pitch and will be a key to turning defense into attack. Junior Jenna Gilman will also provide playmaking and width and speedy sophomore forward Lucinda Cotter has been in good scoring form during the preseason.
“We have eight starters returning from last season, plus some younger players pushing for playing time,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer. “We are hoping our depth will be an advantage for our team this year.”
2020 Record: 2-8-2
Coach: Catherine Sullivan
Sharon won a pair of games in 2020, but was also competitive in several losses that showed there was potential for improvement heading into the new season. The Eagles will be young this year, particularly after a pair of preseason injuries cost them returning starters, including junior Sally Brouhard, but there is still reason for optimism about the athleticism in the squad.
The Eagles will lean on the midfield, as the most experienced group. Junior Sofia Goclowski stepped in last year and had an all-star-caliber season and will be the primary playmaker in the center of the pitch. Junior Amber Marcus-Blank is moving up from the back line and her aggression will be key to shielding the defense. Junior Olivia Soby combines physical presence with technical skills and will be an important piece to the attack.
Senior forward Wendy Wooden will be the team’s primary threat up top and her speed will stretch opposition defenses to open space for the midfielders. On the other end of the field, the Eagles will be very young. Senior Amanda Hu is the only returning player in the back line and she’ll be counted on to keep everything organized. Sophomore Jordanna Morris will add much needed speed and athleticism to the defense and already looks comfortable at the varsity level.
“We have a very young squad this year, but I am excited about our mix of talent and athleticism,” said Sharon coach Catherine Sullivan. “As always, the league looks to be extremely competitive, but we welcome the challenging matches that help us grow and continue to move our program in the right direction.
Hockomock League Girls Soccer
2020 Record: 0-11-1
Coach: Hermes Lima
Second-year Stoughton coach Hermes Lima is still looking for his first win, but he is confident that this year’s team has the right combination of skill and speed to give teams problems. The Black Knights are counting on increased depth and the pairing of experienced players and talented newcomers to get back in the win column.
One of the key players for Stoughton this season is junior Shayla Ford. Blessed with great speed, Ford can either stretch the opposition and attack the space behind the defense or drop into the Stoughton back line and give cover for her teammates. Freshman Makenzie O’Connor is going to step in up top and will add another dynamic element to the attack, while classmate Morgan Cook can slot in as a forward or in the back line to add aggression and a physical element. Junior Isabella Rodrigues gives the Black Knights speed on the wings and gives more speed for the forwards to run into.
The Black Knights will have experience in defense. Senior Abigail Durand is back in goal and provides vocal leadership for the back line. Senior Samantha Tran can play anywhere across the back line and her versatility is important. Junior Emma Tremblay and freshman Lauren Mitchell will both play in the center of midfield and can protect the back line or facilitate the Stoughton counter attack. Both can also slot in at central defense when needed. Junior Sabrina Rodrigues is another versatile player, jumping in at wingback or in the heart of the midfield.
“Every player bought into the culture last year and the new/returning players have bought in to every word/thing said and given to them this year!” said Lima. “The players are ready to fight for one another, represent their school and make this program proud of every achievement in their path. As a coach, I cannot ask anything else of them! This will be an intriguing but yet good step in the right direction for this program.”
2020 Record: 0-3-7
Coach: Mike Couture
Taunton coach Mike Couture only got four games to assess his team in 2020 before the season came to an abrupt end. Now in his second year, Couture is building around a young roster, composed mostly of sophomores, and is excited about the talent and the potential. The Tigers will be hoping to get off to a good start and end their wait for a nearly two-year wait for a league win.
Senior Isabella Anslow will be the leader of the defensive unit. She has been a busy goalkeeper in the past but has come up with several big games against big opponents. An example of that was being able to hold Mansfield to a scoreless draw in the first meeting between the teams last year. Junior Emily Calderon will lead the Tigers on the other end of the field. The forward is quick and experienced and she’ll be counted on to give Taunton a cutting edge in attack.
“This is a strong group and how quickly this good group of less experienced players develop, will determine the degree of our progress and we are off to a good start,” said Couture.
By HockomockSports.com Staff
2021 Hockomock League Field Hockey Preview
2020 Record: 5-3-6
Coach: Lindsey Antunes
With a large senior class full of experience, the Bombardiers are looking to make the tournament and a run at the Kelley-Rex division title. Attleboro has players back all over the field and could be a serious contender for the division crown.
The offense starts with returning All-Hockomock selection Madison Ellis, who enters her third year with the team. Ellis has been one of the best attackers over the past two years, leading the Bombardiers during last year’s abbreviated season and was third on the team as a sophomore. Classmate Sarah McMahon should see an expanded role this year and will be tasked with helping pace the offensive attack for Attleboro.
Defensively, the Bombardiers have senior Ava Haggerty back in the cage and that is a big boost for the defense. Haggerty has started since her sophomore year and is one of the most experienced goalies in the league. Stand out defender Emma Briggs will anchor the defensive unit in front of Haggerty. Senior captain Emelia Westwater and classmate Jordan Croteau highlight the midfield unit for Attleboro.
“We are looking forward to transitioning back into the 11v11 model and a more traditional season,” said head coach Lindsay Antunes. “We have a great senior class, who has been working diligently in the offseason which we feel will positively impact our program and our overall season.”
2020 Record: 8-2-2
Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
After missing out on back-to-back league titles but just two points, Canton graduated a host of long-serving players. Despite those graduations, the Bulldogs return several key players who are looking to step into bigger roles and help the team get back on top in what should be another difficult Davenport division title race.
Canton will obviously feel the loss of the league’s co-leading scorer, Maria Femia, but the Bulldogs have a lot of attacking talent that should be able to make up for at least some of those goals. Junior forward Ellie Bohane is a three-year varsity player and her quickness on the wing and finishing ability have her poised for a breakout year. Senior Erin Lane has been a playmaker from midfield and classmate Payton McDonough is a skillful, physical presence in midfield or inside the circle. Senior Sarah Cunningham and junior Audrey Koen will also be factors in what remains a dynamic attack.
The defense will be a young group this season. Senior Carly Fitzgerald is the lone returning starter and will be the backbone of the defensive unit. Junior Carolyn Durand and Jackie Smith are vying to take over the goalie position and there are several younger players that look capable of jumping into the defense and contributing right away. Sophomore Maggie McCready will be one of the newcomers to keep an eye on this year.
“Offensively we have some versatility with several players with scoring potential,” said Canton coach Chrissy O’Connor. “While we have several slots to fill on defense, we have our returning starter Carly Fitzgerald, who will undoubtedly be the backbone of our defense.”
2020 Record: 7-3-2
Coach: Melissa Bordieri
Foxboro slipped to third place in the Davenport last fall, but was only four points back of first-place Oliver Ames and went into the final week of the regular season with a shot at the title. The Warriors were impacted by graduation and transfers, so there will be some new faces in new spots this season, but there is still confidence that the pieces will come together for another division title challenge.
Even with the transfer of leading scorer Dylan Rappoli, the Warriors still have a lot of firepower up top. Senior Kate Collins will be the focal point at the center forward position, coming off a season in which she led the team with eight assists. Junior Mya Waryas and sophomore Mary Collins will be in the forward line and both have shown the ability to get into good scoring positions in the circle.
Midfield will be led by senior Paige Simoneau, who will bring much-needed experience. Alongside Simoneau will be junior Mia DiNunzio, who adds club experience to her time on varsity and adds a burst of energy. Sophomore Val Beigel is another dynamic player who can be counted on at both ends of the field. The midfield will play a big role in Foxboro’s team defense, but the Warriors can also count on two strong goalies. Senior Lilli Jones returns from varsity last year and Katherine Ferguson will make the jump up from JV and is expected to see some time this year as well.
“We’re looking good,” said Foxboro coach Melissa Bordieri. “We’ve got some new players and some returning players, so I’m feeling good about it. Trying to put players in the right position to get the maximum out of the team. I think, as a unit, we’ll be a competitor in our division for sure.”
2020 Record: 11-0-2 (Kelley-Rex division champions)
Coach: Michelle Hess
Franklin has won back-to-back league titles and enters the season on a run of 30 league games unbeaten (26-0-4) going back to 2018. After graduating 11 seniors from the Hock Cup champions, the Panthers will be inexperienced at several spots this season, but there is confidence in the new players that they can step in and keep Franklin’s impressive run going this fall.
It is in attack that the Panthers will have a lot of new faces, but Franklin coach Michelle Hess sees a lot of skill from the new group, and a willingness to get into dangerous positions. Junior midfielder Kaitlyn Carney is back after tying for the league lead with 22 points last year (15 goals and seven assists). Her aggressive personality will be a major factor in getting the Panthers into the attack. Defensively, Franklin is quick and experienced. Seniors Kate O’Rourke and Kendall Jones are both returning to provide leadership at the back. Senior Jill Fenerty is carrying an injury into the season, but the Panthers will hope she returns quickly.
“We are looking forward to defending our 2-year title and working hard towards a three-peat as champions,” said Hess. “Although we are inexperienced and have some positions to fill from last year, I feel we have players that will step up nicely into their new roles and do a great job.”
2020 Record: 8-3-3
Coach: Lisa Cropper
King Philip lost three games last season and all three were to league champ Franklin, by a combined four goals, including a one-goal loss in the Hock Cup final. The Warriors graduated their three starting forwards from last year, but return a roster that is as experienced (15 seniors) as any in the league and KP coach Lisa Cropper will be hoping that they have enough experience to end her former team’s two-year run at the top of the Kelley-Rex.
While the three all-stars are no longer leading the line for the Warriors, there is still plenty of firepower up top. Seniors Sydney O’Shea and Jen Daniels will be expected to take on bigger responsibilities and get into good goal-scoring positions. Sophomore Mara Boldy and freshman Makenzie McDevitt are a pair of newcomers to watch and could provide an instant burst of energy in the KP attack. Sophomore Kelly Holmes will run things from the center of midfield and senior Christina Gifun provides support for both the attack and defense.
The strength of the team should be an experienced back line. Seniors Morgan Cunningham, Lily Brown, and Haley Izydorczak are strong on-ball defenders and, if anyone gets through the first line of pressure, senior Molly Piller is always there at sweeper to clear the ball. Junior Haley Bright will be stepping in to be the new starting goalie.
“We should have some good depth and play about 14 kids rotating thru the lineup,” said Cropper. “Losing all three starting all-star forwards and goalie to graduation, we have some big shoes to fill at both ends of the field, but we should be solid in the midfield and on defense with a senior-heavy team.”
2020 Record: 2-7-3
Coach: Theresa Nyhan
Mansfield will be leaning on its senior leadership this season but it will need to be a complete group effort as the Hornets are looking for key contributions from both its juniors and sophomores on the roster. There are seven seniors on the roster with captains Celia Puleo (striker) and Caitlin Dumouchel (defense) leading the way on each end of the field.
Puleo spearheads a veteran offensive unit as she is joined by classmates Sadie Mello and Maddie Brown, giving the Hornets a trio of experienced players in its attack. Dumouchel is the anchor of the defense with senior Bethany Sears and junior Hallie Popat currently in the mix. Head coach Theresa Nyhan expects to see some new faces emerge both offensively and defensively as the season progresses throughout.
Senior Grace Bertolino is just one of six players back from last year’s team and is going to control the midfield for the Hornets, getting up the field to get involved with the attack while also transitioning back to help solidify the defense. Junior Danni Cuzzi and sophomore Lola Varricchione look to fill out the midfield for the Hornets. Junior Lily Danehy made the switch from the field to the cage last season and returns as the starter this year.
“The Hornets are excited to get back to the traditional field hockey format,” Nyhan said. “Team play, fluidity and communication will be tenets of Hornet success!”
2020 Record: 0-9-2
Coach: Tim Dowd
The Hawks will be putting a major emphasis on defense this season, hoping to establish a solidified front and work their way up the field against the always tough Hockomock League competition.
Senior captain Maddie Hunt returns in the cage for the second straight season, and she has played against a lot of tough competition already. Her experience will be key as the Hawks look to improve each game. Seniors Emma Tredeau and Stephanie Wong are also captains for the team and they’ll be counted on their leadership both on and off the field.
Head coach Tim Dowd is not only counting on his captains to lead the way but the entire senior class. Carmela Bon Tempo, Ashley Maldonado, Gill Meaney, and McKenna Smith will all play key roles for the Hawks this season. Tredeau and Smith will be the focus of the offense alongside Tessa Scrimgeour and Stella Portes as Milford looks to build cohesion on the offensive end of the field. Newcomers Sam Fazo and Lindsay Casman will be in the mix as well.
The midfield could be the strength of the team with dynamic players Jordan Douglas and Ashlynn Ringo — both juniors — ready to take a big step forward this year after getting experience at the varsity level last year. Bon Tempo will be joined by Sophia Soares and Hailey Beagle to help strengthen the defense in from of Hunt.
“We’re looking forward to a great season and getting back to the normal rules of play,” Dowd said. “As a team, we’re going to be focused on defense first and try to give our goalkeeper as much help as we can. We’re also going to try to work hard as a team and stay positive.”
2020 Record: 3-10-0
Coach: Karen Folan
Expectations are high for the Rocketeers this season with a strong mix of experienced seniors and juniors back in the fold. With key players back at all positions, North Attleboro is looking to get back into the mix for the Davenport title.
North Attleboro will try to be on the front foot this year, using speed and skill to apply pressure to opposing defenses. Senior captain Zoe McKeon is back for her second year up front and will be a target for the Rocketeers’ talented midfield unit. Senior captain Kelsey Briere will provide key leadership both on and off the field and will be joined in the midfield by junior Julia Puccio, the team’s leading scorer last season and All-Hockomock selection. Puccio is among the top players in the league and will be an important link in the transition game for North.
The midfield also will feature junior Caroline Folan, another two-year member of the varsity program. Her speed will help North get the ball up the field as the Rocketeers push from defense into offense, setting up teammates in the circle. Junior Ava Mckeon will add a strong defensive presence to the midfield while still firing drives on net from the top of the circle.
“We have high expectations for ourselves this season,” said head coach Karen Folan. “With a core line up of experienced players that mesh well, there is a drive to generate lots of offensive pressure. We will look to keep the energy on the field high by utilizing the depth on our roster.”
2020 Record: 9-1-2 (Davenport division champions)
Coach: Sharon Lawrence
Oliver Ames edged Canton and Foxboro to win the Davenport title in 2020. In each of the last three seasons that the Tigers have played in the division, they have come out on top. OA will have a challenge to make it four straight titles, as the Tigers graduated 11 seniors (eight of which were two-year starters), but there is a lot of talent returning to keep the expectations high going into the new year.
With nine returning seniors, eight juniors, and two sophomores that saw significant minutes last season, OA has reloaded to take on the league’s best. The key for the Tigers will be rebuilding the defense, after graduating an entire back line. Junior Maddie Proia will be the anchor on that end of the field. Senior Ava Costello will be the driving force in the midfield, which is loaded with experienced seniors, and she is a key to the Tigers getting forward into the attack.
Senior Georgia Costello is the team’s top returning scorer and the combination between the twin sisters will give OA plenty of chances in transition. The Tigers will also return junior Julia Maclaine and sophomore Erin Cottam, who were both vital to OA’s title run last year. The speedy wingers give the Tigers a consistent outlet and both showed a nose for the goal. Depth will also be a strength, as OA coach Sharon Lawrence believes her bench can step in to produce and give fresh legs.
“We are a brand new team this year with lots of re-positioning,” Lawrence said, “but we are improving every day and building on our passing game. There is magic in the air with our season back on track, and I know good things and lots of goals are in our future this fall.”
2020 Record: 0-11-0
Coach: Paulina Kosmadakis
Sharon has four captains this season and they will be leading the way as the Eagles look to improve each and every game, getting better as the season progresses.
Seniors Abby Gott, Rachel Glass, Ashley Young, and Shiraz Becker are all captains for the Eagles this team with Young back in the fold after missing last season due to injury. Young and Glass will help in all areas of the field while Becker and Gott will make up a strong forward line for the Eagles. Head coach Paulina Kosmadakis has been impressed with the captains’ heart, determination, and “true grit” so far.
Junior Natalie Kessler will start in the cage for the Eagles, who are looking to improve on the defensive end as they tackle an incredibly tough schedule against Hockomock foes. Sophomore Jane Hendrixson joins the varsity squad this year and will be an important piece of the Eagles’ defense.
“The girls have been working hard to try and be more of an offensive team,” Kosmadakis said “Sharon’s defense has always been strong but as an overall team, we are looking forward to playing both sides of the field this year.”
2020 Record: 5-7-0
Coach: Dan Mark
Varsity experience will be in short supply for Stoughton this season. The Black Knights graduated 20 players from last year’s team and return only four starters. This will be a season of transition, as a host of new faces get acclimated to playing against Hockomock competition, but with hope that the talent could carry the team to a playoff spot.
Senior Zofia Bangs scored 10 goals last season and she is back to give the Black Knights a consistent goal-scoring threat. Senior Mia Allie is also back at forward and will be looking to step into a bigger role and take advantage of more chances this season. Seniors Kate Bulger and Sydney Menz will bring athleticism to the midfield and senior Melody Casna will be stepping into goal this season. Although the Black Knights will have 11 seniors on this year’s roster, the vast majority will be getting their first varsity appearances.
“We lack experience at many key positions,” said Stoughton coach Dan Mark, “but the [returning] players will supply stability and experience for less experienced players.”
2020 Record: 0-2-8
Coach: Liz Hathaway
Taunton are another team that will be turning to youth this fall. The Tigers graduated eight seniors from a team that only saw the field four times in a very abbreviated season. There will still be plenty of speed and athleticism on display for Taunton, which has consistently proven over the past few seasons to be a tough team to beat even for the top teams in the league.
Senior forward Ashley Amaro scored three times in four games last year and will lead the line for the Tigers, using her ability to carry the ball and her speed to stretch the opposition. Junior Caelen O’Leary is a newcomer to the attack, who will offer Amaro a good partner up top. Senior Kylie Thorpe returns in the midfield and has been an important player supporting both the defense and the attack. Senior Emily Gannon is back in goal and will once again be one of the league’s top shot stoppers. Junior Thalia Nogueira is going to be a key player in the Taunton defense, with her aggression and leadership needed in a young group.
“We do have some returning speed and ball handlers that we will be really counting on,” said Taunton coach Liz Hathaway. “Our returning players do demonstrate a good field awareness that translates well both offensively and defensively.”