Black Knights Beat CM Behind Strong Defense

Stoughton football
Stoughton’s Evan Gibb throws for a first down in the third quarter against CM. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
WEST ROXBURY, Mass. – Even though it’s been a nearly a decade, Stoughton senior lineman John Jolley vividly remembers the last time he found himself in the end zone scoring a touchdown.

He was just nine years old, playing Pop Warner.

Jolley isn’t likely to forget Stoughton’s 28-14 win on the road at Catholic Memorial anytime soon either.

On the last play of the first half, the 6’2, 220-pound defensive end was in the right place at the right time, coming up with an interception and returning it 72-yards for a pick six.

Not only was it a once in a lifetime play for a high school lineman, it was a play that completely changed the momentum, and possibly the outcome, of the game.

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Stoughton’s defense held the Scarlet Knights to just 21 yards over the first three series of the game, but Catholic Memorial was in the midst of putting together its best drive of the half.

CM had rattled off eight plays, covering 61 yards to get into Stoughton territory with just five seconds to play. When the Scarlet Knights trotted out its kicking unit for a long field goal, Stoughton head coach Greg Burke used his first timeout of the half to ice the kicker.

With Stoughton up 7-0, first-year CM head coach Brent Williams elected to send his offense back out to try and tie the game on the final play.

Stoughton ended up getting pressure into the backfield and senior Jason Joseph made a huge play, hitting CM quarterback Nick Goffredo as he threw. The ball fluttered out of his hands and right to Jolley, who caught the ball and sprinted 72 yards for a touchdown.

“I saw someone come off the back side and hit the quarterback and the ball popped up and I just grabbed it and started running,” Jolley said. “I was looking back while running and saw my teammates so I knew I was going to score cause they’d throw good blocks.”

“Jolley was there, I don’t even know how far that run was,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “That’s pretty impressive for a big guy to get down there. It started with the sack and the ball popped up.”

And if you needed any more reassurance of just how big the play was, Stoughton was flagged on the play because its bench ran down the sideline in celebration of the big play.

And in a rare instance, Burke was fine was the penalty.

“That’s high school!” Burke beamed.

That interception was just one play in what was a very solid outing for the Black Knights’ defense. CM scored on its last two drives of the game, but its first five series ended in the following: fumble/turnover on downs, punt, punt, pick six and turnover on downs.

“It was pretty steamy out there, first half I thought we did real well on their run game,” Burke said. “They’re a big tough team, they probably didn’t think much of us. Their quarterback was our top priority, especially on scrambling. The end was a little hairy but we’ve got some tough kids. I was really happy, I thought we did pretty well when they came at us.

“This was a good 20-25% better than last week. We had a couple penalties, maybe. And we filled up some holes better inside. We got lit up a little bit inside and today [CM] didn’t get much inside.”

Stoughton’s offense also had a strong day, with four of its six drives resulting in double-digit plays run. Another was cut short by an interception, and its final drive of eight plays ended with the final seconds ticking off the block.

“That was it for us,” Burke said of the long drives. “If we can do that [consistently], we’re going to win a lot of games. We have to be able to run the ball but defenses have to be able to cover both. We can run our offense out of both sets. We can run pass plays or run plays from both sets so that helps us.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Black Knights were set to receive the opening kickoff but CM’s Will Fay blasted his kick off a Stoughton player and recovered the kick to give the Scarlet Knights the first possession. But on a fourth down in Stoughton territory, Alex Sjoquist came up with a strip sack with the ball bouncing out of bounds to give the Black Knights the ball.

Stoughton used a 12-play, 64-yard drive to take the lead. Highlighted by first-down runs of 10-yards and 12-yards by Justin Ly (16 carries, 77 yards), the Black Knights went up 7-0 on an eight-yard scamper by Alex Iverson on a counter play with just 14 seconds left in the first quarter.

The game stayed scoreless until Jolley’s pick six right before halftime. The bench penalty forced Stoughton back on the conversion and the two-point attempt was knocked away in the end zone.

“It was a huge momentum shift,” Jolley said. “If we got into the half tied and they’re getting the ball back, it’s a completely different came. But instead of 7-7, it was 13-0 and it was huge for us right at the end of the half.”

Stoughton’s defense started the second half as it did the first half, forcing a turnover on downs on CM’s first offensive possession. And its offense also had a repeat of the first half, taking its first possession to the end zone.

Ly’s game-long 18-yard run got the drive started early and eventually, Stoughton found itself on the CM 11-yard line. It looked as though Stoughton had a touchdown on fourth down, but an offensive offside call negated the score and pushed Stoughton back five yards.

Stoughton came up short of the end zone on the next play, but did get the ball to the 1-yard line on a pass from Evan Gibb (12/16, 137 yards, six carries, 30 yards) to Ruben Gonzalez (six catches, 79 yards) for a first down. Gibb then punched it in on a sneak and then found Sjoquist for the two-point conversion and a 21-0 lead with 5:18 left in the third quarter.

CM finally got on the board with under two minutes to play in the third, when Goffredo hit Khari Johnson in the flat. A bad snap on the extra point attempt resulted in a try for a two-point that failed.

The Black Knights did a nice job responding, putting together a 10-play, 58-yard drive that took up nearly six minutes (5:57) of the clock. Gibb’s completion of 23 yards to Iverson on a first down surprised the Scarlet Knights and was the longest play of the drive. Sjoquist punched it on an 8-yard toss with 6:41 to play.

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The Scarlet Knights scored on its final drive of the game. Goffredo floated one to the left side of the end zone and Franklin native Jarrett Martin absolutely climbed a ladder to win a jump ball for a 24-yard touchdown. CM converted the two-point conversion.

Stoughton then ran eight plays to kill the final 3:55 and all of CM’s timeouts.

“Being 2-0 right now with practically 99% of these kids being new, I’m as thrilled as I’ve been while coaching,” Burke said.

Stoughton (2-0) opens Davenport division play on Friday night when it takes a trip to Jack Martinelli Field in Foxboro to take on the Warriors (1-1).

Second Half Adjustments Spark Bombardiers’ Comeback

Attleboro girls soccer
Attleboro’s Abigail Guardado and Stoughton’s Sarah Widrow battle for possession in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – Attleboro used a slight adjustment in its formation and renewed energy in the second half to earn a 2-1 comeback win on the road at Stoughton.

The Knights came out with high energy, which resulted in a majority of the possession and play in their attacking third. It also resulted in a lead for Stoughton just over the midway point.

But Attleboro head coach Steve Santos tinkered with his five-member midfield at the break, pushing certain pieces forward to close down the space Stoughton was working with.

That change, along with a renewed energy and a pair of fortunate bounces helped the Bombardiers earn two points.

“Stoughton played really well in the first half, they wanted it and they came out with a lot more energy than we did,” Santos said. “They got the reward for working hard and we kind of put our heads down. We had a talk at half and the energy came in the second half, we had a little bit more intensity. The girls just worked for it, and we got the bounce in the end.

“We’re working on our confidence and being in situations we’re not used to being in. We got the bounce today and we’ll move forward and try to build on it tomorrow.”

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Attleboro had a pair of chances inside the first 20 minutes of the game, with senior Alison Wall tracking down a through ball and firing a shot from atop the area, but Stoughton keeper Emma Harrington was there for the save.

Just five minutes later, sophomore Sophia Salviatiplayed a through ball for freshman Briley Harnois, but her bid at the far post just slid wide.

Stoughton continued its pressure and began to register chances. Junior Elizabeth Kashian put the first shot on frame with a low big from the top of the area, but Attleboro keeper Madison Brown scooped up the shot.

But two minutes later, the Black Knights were able to break through. Mackenzie Manning delivered a cross that was flicked on by Sarah Widrow behind the defense. Stoughton sophomore Chinazo Odunza raced in and was able to slide her shot in to make it 1-0 in the 27th minute.

Stoughton had a chance to add to its lead in the 37th minute when a corner kick dropped just a yard off the goal line, but a scrum ensued and Attleboro was able to clear it. Harrington took away a chance from Attleboro’s Isabella Salviati on the other end by charging off the line.

“We had five midfielders but I felt like they were dropping too deep, giving Stoughton some space and they were using it to get forward,” Santos said. “I had them move up and take away that space and that helped us in the second half.”

The shift paid dividends right away as the Bombardiers put the pressure on early on in the second half. After a ball was cleared, Attleboro put a long ball back into the box that accidentally hit a Stoughton’s players raised hand, giving the Bombardiers a penalty kick.

Harnois stepped up and placed her shot into the bottom left corner to bring the Bombardiers level.

“In the first game against Canton, she had a couple of opportunities to put the ball away and she missed a couple that I’m sure she wished she had back,” Santos said. “But she showed it today, she has a promising future. She works hard and she knows how to be in the right spot to get things done.”

Attleboro kept the pressure up throughout the second half. Julia Hayes had a shot from distance turned away by Harrington off a bounce. Five minutes later, Morgan LaPlume played a perfect ball through Stoughton’s back line for Ashley Lauzier, but Harrington came charging off her line and made a great sliding save.

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Shortly after Harrington came out for the sliding save, the Knights went on the counter attack. A touch from Manning put her in along with Odunze, but Attleboro defender Jordyn Foote thwarted the attack.

In the final minutes, the Bombardiers got their reward for continual pressure. Harnois whipped in a cross in the 78th minute that took a deflection off a Stoughton defender and found the back of the net to make it 2-1.

“It was a well-fought game,” said Stoughton head coach Tara Daniels. “We just had two unlucky things happen in the second half and it cost us the game. The girls played tough, they played hard. I think this year is going to be a turning point for us looking at the two first results.”

Attleboro girls soccer (1-1 Hockomock, 1-1 overall) returns to action on Wednesday when it hosts Sharon. Stoughton (0-2, 0-2) travels to Mansfield on the same day to take on the Hornets.

Black Knights Fend Off Franklin In Season Opener

Stoughton football
Stoughton’s Evan Gibb (right) tries to avoid a tackle in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
RANDOLPH, Mass. – There might be a lot of new faces on the field dawning Stoughton’s black and orange – and at times it certainly showed. But when it mattered most, those new faces made vintage Stoughton plays to help the Black Knights open the season with a 28-14 win over Franklin.

Playing at Randolph High School because of the construction of the new Stoughton High building, as well as a delay in construction in Franklin’s track, the Black Knights looked completely different from last year’s squad.

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But a goal line stand in the third quarter that resulted in a blocked field goal, and a clock blending scoring drive in the fourth quarter to ice the game looked like true Stoughton football.

“We just did a hell of a job just to stop them a couple of times,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke, now in his 25th season. “We had some screw ups but there wasn’t a lack of effort. And that’s how it usually is with new kids and I’ll take it for the opening game. We had a couple big plays.”

A much improved Franklin squad came out on its first series and made a splash, going 59 yards on 12 plays to take the lead. Facing a fourth and three in the red zone, the Panthers went for and it and were rewarded. Senior quarterback Jake Noviello (15/31, 169 yards,) rifled a pass to junior Sean Leonard on a quick slant for an 8-yard touchdown. Matt Zucco’s extra point made it 7-0 just under five minutes into the game.

Stoughton’s new look offense didn’t have any trouble coming up with a response on its first drive of the season. Ruben Gonzalez (133 all purpose yards) ripped off a 45-yard run on the Black Knights’ first play from scrimmage. On third and goal, junior Evan Gibb (9/15, 154 yards, 4 total touchdowns) fired a bullet over the middle to sophomore Ajahn Rue for a 15-yard touchdown. Josh Cocchi’s extra point tied the game with 1:11 left in the first quarter.

The Black Knights defense came up with a red zone on Franklin’s ensuing drive, forcing an incomplete to end the Panthers’ nine-play drive. After Stoughton punted, its defense once again came up with a red zone stop. Once Franklin reached the Stoughton 18-yard line, the Black Knights forced another stop.

With time ticking away in the second quarter, Stoughton senior Alex Sjoquist (nine carries, 75 yards), ripped off a 28 yard carry to get the drive going. Gibb connected with Gonzalez and Colin Sanda on back-to-back third downs to keep the drive alive. And then on first down, Gibb took a shot to the end zone where Gonzalez was able to leap up between a pair of defenders and haul in a 35-yard touchdown to go up 14-7 with 0:37 left in the first half.

Stoughton wasn’t done in the first half though, forcing a quick three and out with just three seconds left. The Black Knights took another shot at the end zone, with Rue leaping over a defender and hauling in the pass but landed at the two-yard line.

“[Gibb] did a great job,” Burke said. “He had a couple of nice runs himself, which is going to be part of the offense. He’s a tough kid. He made some great throws. I don’t think he got sacked which is good. It’s good to have him back, and [Justin] Ly and [Alex] Sjoquist and Ruben [Gonzalez] and [Jason] Joseph. You can see the guys who have played before, they are just a step ahead.

Franklin’s defense forced Stoughton to punt to start the second half and the offense quickly made its way back into the red zone. A sack from Malachi Hightower-Green preceded a pair of incompletions. Franklin went for it on fourth down and it resulted in a pass interference, giving the Panthers the ball at the two-yard line and a new set of downs.

But Stoughton’s defense looked like its vintage self. Franklin was dropped for a one-yard loss on first down, a two-yard loss on second down and an incompletion on third down. The Panthers’ 22-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Stoughton’s Jason Joseph, keeping the Black Knights up 14-7.

“It was an incredible series for us. And then we get the block,” Burke said. “That’s hard to do. We toughened up there. We still have some problems, and we have to get more guys playing. But every week we’ll get better, this will be our worst game of the year I guarantee that. It was a good way to start, that’s a division 1 team which is good for us.

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Stoughton used that momentum to add onto its lead. The offense marched 82 yards on just eight plays to extend its lead. Highlighted by a 30-yard gain from Alex Iverson (six carries, 60 yards), the Black Knights moved into Franklin territory. On third and 15, Gibb hit Gonzalez on a bubble screen and the senior turned on the jets, racing for a 35-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead with just 0:19 left in the third quarter.

The Panthers didn’t quit though, responding with a nine-play, 54-yard drive to get within one score. Noviello hit Jack Nally (8 catches, 88 yards) to convert the first third down Franklin faced. Franklin found itself facing another fourth down in the red zone, and this time they went to its bag of tricks to execute. Senior wide receiver Evan Wendell took the toss in the backfield but instead of a run, he lofted a pass to a wide open Nally in the end zone for a 13-yard score.

But in vintage Stoughton fashion, the Black Knights went back to the ground game to bleed the block and restore its two score lead. It took 10 plays to cover 67 yards, capped with a 1 yard sneak from Gibb to make it 28-14. The drive took 5:39 off the clock in the fourth quarter.

“When it comes down to it at the end, you have to be able to run the ball,” Burke said. Stoughton finished with 227 rushing yards. “[Noviello] is probably the best thrower we’ll see all year. He was tough, [Leonard] was tough, [Ryan Driscoll] was tough. Those were some tough guys.”

Franklin’s last push reached the red zone again but Stoughton’s Justin Ly came up with a pass breakup to end the drive.

“The scoreboard is the scoreboard, you are what your record is but however this game turned out, I know that we’re tremendously better than we were a year ago,” said FHS coach Eian Bain “We brought a lot back but there’s a special buy in with these kids. Not that last year didn’t, but we’ve had this group for two years and they’ve just kept moving forward every day. They are a competitive group. This game could have easily gone a different way, we have a lot to learn.

“Our kids are getting that sense that they can play with anybody. If we just clean up some things, you know. It’s hard to simulate a Stoughton team in practice. Their team speed was overall better than ours and they made some great adjustments in the red zone.”

Stoughton football (1-0) hits the road to take on Catholic Memorial next Saturday while Franklin (0-1) will visit Milford for a non-league showdown with the Scarlet Hawks.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Field Hockey: 2017 Hockomock League Preview

2017 Hockomock Field Hockey Preview
Foxboro will look to defend its 2016 Davenport division and Div. 2 South titles this fall. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Hockomock Field Hockey Preview

Attleboro

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.”

Canton

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!”

Foxboro

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.

Franklin

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.”

King Philip

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.”

Mansfield

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.”

Milford

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.”

North Attleboro

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.”

Oliver Ames

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.”

Sharon

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!”

Stoughton

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.

Taunton

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.

Girls Soccer: 2017 Davenport Division Preview

2017 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview
The Davenport division is wide open in girls soccer in 2017 and the six teams will all have their sights set on competing for a title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Davenport Girls Soccer Preview

Canton

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.”

Foxboro

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.”

Milford

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.”

North Attleboro

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!”

Sharon

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.”

Stoughton

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.”

Football: 2017 Davenport Division Preview

2017 Davenport Football Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Davenport Football Preview

Canton

2016 Record: 3-8
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Bohane

Key/Returning Players: Brendan Albert, Jr., LB; Alec Ragusa, Sr., FB/LB; Jude Albert, Sr., OL/LB; Kearvens Theodore, Sr., OL/DL; Chris Benjamin, Sr., OL/DL; Tony Harris, Sr., SE/DB; Johnny Hagan, Soph., QB; Kyle Fitzgerald, Soph., FS; Ben Seaman, Jr., LB; Gersom Rivera, Soph., RB; Jack Connolly, Soph., OL/DL; Christian Walker, Sr., TE;

Outlook: The Bulldogs have a solid handful of experienced players back this season and will be looking to mix in a good amount of youth during the 2017 season.

While Canton will have plenty of seniors on the field, head coach Dave Bohane expects a good mix of juniors and even sophomores to get plenty of playing time. The youth starts under center as sophomore Johnny Hagan takes over as the team’s starting quarterback. He’ll have two big targets to work with in Tony Harris and Christian Walker as well as a versatile backfield that features Alec Ragusa and Gersom Rivera.

On the defensive side of the ball, a group of experienced linebackers, including Ragusa, Jude Albert, Brendan Albert and Ben Seamen will anchor the Bulldogs. Kearvens Theodore will be a big piece on the defensive line, alongside Chris Benjamin and Jack Connolly. Sophomore Kyle Fitzgerald will take on the responsibility of being a starting safety but will have plenty of experience in the secondary with seniors Cordell Smith and Marquise Montes manning the corners.

“Getting off to a good start is always important, and equally important is those later weeks,” Bohane said. “We have to keep bodies fresh and keep ourselves in a position to make playoffs. It’s a tough league, everyone we play will be a really good football team. We’re young but athletic and competitive, and I think that will make a difference.”

Foxboro

2016 Record: 5-6
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jack Martinelli

Key/Returning Players: Teddy Maher, Sr., SS/WR; Phil Dure, Sr., CB/WR; Louis Piccolo, Sr., FS; Devin Hassett, Sr., QB/SE/FS; Jake Addeche, Sr., WR/CB; Patrick Kaveny, Sr., DE; Mike Henri, Sr., RB/SS; Matt Pond, Sr., LB; Mike Luong, Jr., RB; Matt Suess, Sr., OL/DL; Anthony Capachietti, Sr., RB; Hunter Williams, Jr., OL; Andrew Longa, Jr., OL; Kade Treannie, Sr., OL.

Outlook: Foxboro is looking to ride the strength of a deep senior class to get back to the playoffs after missing out a season ago and also get back into the Davenport division title hunt after winning it two years ago.

The Warriors boast 35 seniors and have a handful of experienced juniors that are back after winning five games last season. Under center, senior Devin Hassett and junior Liam Foley are both in the running to take snaps. Hassett is also an option to catch the ball, giving the Warriors some flexibility on the offensive end. A strength that Foxboro will rely on on the offensive side of the ball is their playmaking ability at the skill positions. The Warriors boast multiple capable ball carriers (Mike Henri, Mike Luong, Anthony Capachietti) and pass catchers (Teddy Maher, Phil Dure, Jake Addeche) that can make things happen. Seniors Matt Suess and Kade Treannie and juniors Hunter Williams and Andrew Longa will see time on the offensive line.

Defensively, Foxboro will be looking to improve after giving up just over 29 points per game against division opponents a year ago. The Warriors will be relying on quickness and an aggressive demeanor to make plays on the defense end. Louis Piccolo, Maher, Hassett, Addeche and Henri are all likely candidates to see time in the secondary while Pat Kaveny (defensive end) and Matt Pond (linebacker) will lead the front seven.

“Chemistry amongst 35 seniors and a return to ‘old school Foxboro football’ will personify the 2017 season,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli.

Milford

2016 Record: 6-5
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Anthony Vizakis

Key/Returning Players: Ryan O’Toole, Sr., RB; Matt Curran, Sr., QB; Patrick Brogioli, Sr., OL/DL; Tyler Joyce, Sr., TE/DE; Cullen Burns, Sr., OL/DL; Kayden Kelley, Sr., WR/CB; Will Pointer, Sr., RB/LB; Shapel Feaster, Jr., RB/CB; Matt Annantuonio, Sr., RB/CB; David Abbatinozzi, Sr., OL/DL; Brendan White, Jr., TE/S; Josh Ligor, Jr., OL/DL; Chris Rivera, Sr., RB/LB; Jacob Eosco, Sr., OL/DL.

Outlook: First year head coach Anthony Vizakis is looking to the past as he begins his first season with the Scarlet Hawks. Vizakis is hoping the 2017 Hawks will pull from the tradition of the program as they look to get back to the playoffs once again this year.

It will certainly be a challenge as Milford graduated some of the most talented players in the league, from all different parts of the field. One constant is that the Hawks return quarterback Matt Curran for his senior year. Another familiarity for Curran will be running back Ryan O’Toole, who saw a lot of time last year alongside Blake Hill in the backfield. Receiver Kayden Kelley and tight end Tyler Joyce are also back after getting plenty of reps on the offensive end as well. Seniors Patrick Brogioli and Cullen Burns are two returning starters from the Hawks’ offensive line.

Defensively, the Scarlet Hawks will be looking to continue what they did in 2016, allowing just a shade over 17 points per game. While it was impressive that Milford allowed just 28 points total against Sharon, Canton and Foxboro, the Hawks will need to make a leap to try and halt the offensive firepower of North Attleboro and Stoughton. It will start up front with a tough line and then an athletic group of linebackers. Will Pointer and Chris Rivera will be two of those linebackers while Shapel Feaster and Matt Annantuonio will join Brendan White as members of the secondary.

“Milford football prides itself on the tradition of having ​​physically, and mentally tough football players,” Vizakis said. “That tradition is alive and well, and the energy and intensity coming out of our locker room and onto the practice field thus far has been infectious.”

North Attleboro

2016 Record: 9-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Final
Coach: Don Johnson

Key/Returning Players: Chad Peterson, Sr., QB/P; Zach DeMattio, Sr., RB/LB; Sam Bullock, Sr. OL/DL; Brad White, Sr. OL/DL; Mario Bresko, Sr., SE/DB; Ryan Clemente, Jr., OL/DL.

Outlook: With two straight league titles under its belt, North Attleboro isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon. With record-breaking quarterback Chad Peterson back under center for his senior season, the Rocketeers look to be the early favorite for another Davenport title.

After two straight impressive season, Peterson will look to lead this year’s Rocketeers to their second straight Davenport title and another deep run in the playoffs. While playmakers Bobby Mylod and Nick Rajotte are gone, Peterson will have running backs Zach DeMattio and Adam Eberle to work with and receivers Mario Bresko, Omar Jasseh and Ryan Gaumond when he drops back to throw. Junior Ryan Clemente already has a year’s experience under his belt and could be one of the most dominant lineman in the league this season. Sam Bullock, Brad White, John Bradley, Geoff Wilson, Jack Puccio, Aidan Harding and Joe Larkin will all be options alongside Clemente on the offensive line.

One of the biggest reasons for North’s success a year ago was its very impressive defense, which allowed just under 12 points per game (Hockomock League best). Big Red will have to replace some big names and might have to overcome some inexperience early on, but head coach Don Johnson notes there is good competition among the front seven and secondary. Bresko is one player that has experience in the secondary while DeMattio (linebacker) and Bullock (defensive tackle) will anchor the front seven.

“The team has worked hard in the offseason,” Johnson said. “We are confident that our strong scrimmage schedule (Marshfield, Braintree and Bridgewater-Raynham), and a Week 1 non-league game versus defending D2 Super Bowl champion King Philip, will help us prepare for the ultra-competitive Hockomock League schedule.”

Sharon

2016 Record: 6-5
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Morse

Key/Returning Players: Austin Dodes, Sr., WR/DB; Drew Naisuler, Sr., TE/DE; Coleman Loftus, Jr., OL/DL; Chris Gong, Jr., WR/DB; Sam Spencer, Jr., TE/LB; Aaron Strong, Jr., RB/LB; Jeremy Ruskin, Jr., QB.

Outlook: The 2017 version of the Sharon Eagles might be on the young side, but head coach Dave Morse is hoping that youth injects some energy into his squad.

The Eagles started and finished the 2016 season strongly, going 3-0 to begin and then closing with a win over Hopkinton and then a Thanksgiving Day win over rival Oliver Ames to finish over .500. Now, the Eagles will be trying to repeat that success while improving their league record. Junior Jeremy Ruskin is back under center after taking over late in the season last fall and will have senior Austin Dodes and tight end Drew Naisuler available as pass catching options. Junior Aaron Strong saw some carries last year and will likely be a feature back this season.

Defensively, the Eagles were one of the stingiest units in the entire league (just over 18 PPG). The Eagles held six of their 11 opponents under 14 points per game. Junior Coleman Loftus is a returning starter and a two-way lineman for the Eagles while junior linebacker Sam Spencer will look to make an impact this season. Chris Gong joins Dodes and Strong in the secondary while Naisuler will be a part of the Eagles’ front seven.

“It has been a pleasure coaching this group and seeing them make progress,” Morse said. “Despite being the youngest team I have coached, their commitment is refreshing and they motivate me to help them succeed.”

Stoughton

2016 Record: 8-3
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal
Coach: Greg Burke

Key/Returning Players: Evan Gibb, Jr., QB; Jason Joseph, Sr., DE/TE; Justin Ly, Sr., FB/LB; Colin Sanda, Sr., WR/DB; Ruben Gonzalez, Sr., WR/RB/DB; Alex Sjoquist, Sr., RB/DB; Paul Feeney, Sr., OL/DL; Anthony Burke, Sr., OL/DL.

Outlook: The Black Knights have had a strong stretch of success over the past couple of seasons and will try to continue that in 2017, despite graduating a very memorable senior class last season.

Gone are playmakers Ryan Sullivan and Izon Swain-Price, as well as linemen Lino Azul and Andrew Iverson and a handful of terrific role players. But, one key returning piece is junior quarterback Evan Gibb. Gibb took over early on during his sophomore season and looked very comfortable in his role. Now he will have to be a leader of the offensive unit. Justin Ly was the third member of Stoughton’s three-headed rushing attack a year ago and will likely be one of the team’s feature backs. Ly is a tough runner that can get yards up the middle but also has speed to get to the outside. Alex Sjoquist will likely also get carries while experienced receivers Colin Sanda and Ruben Gonzalez should see increased roles in 2017.

The Knights are well known for their defense during the successful stretch. While there will be a lot of new faces in new places, the Knights are relying on improved speed to go along with their strength. Jason Joseph is back after a solid junior campaign to lead the defensive line along with Paul Feeney, while Ly is joined by Anthony Burke as linebackers. Sanda, Gonzalez and Sjoquist will all see time in the secondary for Stoughton.

“We’re replacing so many kids from last year,” Stoughton head coach Greg Burke said. “We hope to be ready without a lot of experience. We hope to compete and be healthy.”