Field Hockey: 2018 Hockomock League Preview

Hockomock League Field Hockey Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Hockomock League Field Hockey Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 5-13-0
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Lindsay Antunes

Attleboro is looking to bounce back from a five-win season in 2017 and make a push up the league standings by mixing experienced players with a talented group of underclassmen that could make instant contributions for the Bombardiers.

The midfield will be a strength for the Bombardiers this season with returning starters like senior Kyra Lyons and junior Anna Back. Up front, leading scorer Grace Mayer graduated but senior Alex Compton was second on the team in points and will be counted on to fire in the goals. Attleboro will be hoping for more consistency from the defensive group this season to cut down on the 76 goals it allowed last year and senior goalie Shealyn Harrison will help keep things organized.

Attleboro coach Lindsay Antunes said, “We are looking forward to this season, as we have a lot of strong returning players throughout each line. We are fortunate to be pairing these returners with a very skilled and unsuspecting younger class, who I am certain will be instrumental in making a positive difference on our team.”

Canton

2017 Record: 16-4-1
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal
Coach: Chrissy O’Connor

Davenport division champion Canton went to overtime against top seed Somerset Berkeley in last year’s Div. 1 South semifinal and was a goal away from setting up an all-Hock final. The Bulldogs bring back a lot of talent from last year’s squad and will be hoping to make a run at back-to-back titles.

Senior forward Maggie Malloy will once again be the focal point up top after leading the Bulldogs with 27 goals and eight assists last fall. Malloy will be joined up top by sophomore Maria Femia. Junior Kaitlyn Goyetch, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, is back in the midfield and she will get helped out by sophomore Meghan Labelle. Senior Katie Trerice will be the leader of the defense and sophomore Rose Malloy will jump in and contribute as well. Sophomore Riley O’Connor will take over in goal this fall.

Canton coach Chrissy O’Connor said, “We are looking forward to seeing the hard work and effort our players put in this pre-season pay off on the field.”

Foxboro

2017 Record: 15-4-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal.
Coach: Melissa Bordieri

With 14 seniors on the roster this season, Foxboro has set its sights on regaining the Davenport division crown that it lost by just two points to Canton last year. Two years removed from winning the Div. 2 South title, the Warriors seem poised to make another deep tournament run with a team loaded with talent, depth, and experience.

Senior forward Lily Daly, the team’s leading scorer each of the past three seasons, will once again team up with classmate Sophia DiCenso to form one of the league’s most dynamic attacking units. Senior Molly Murphy and junior Jamie Notarangelo will add to an already formidable offense. Senior Meghan Curran will lead the midfield unit along with classmate Carly Stern and the defense will be guided by seniors Caroline McGeary and Kristin Whalen, while senior goalie Julia Carangelo.

After come narrowly short of the league title last season and reaching the sectional semifinal, expectations are typically sky high for one of the league’s perennial powers.

Franklin

2017 Record: 10-8-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Michelle Hess

Michelle Hess returns to the Franklin bench this season after eight years away from the program and she inherits a team that has the talent to compete for a league title and expectations of being able to make a deep run in the state tournament as well.

Senior midfielder Cassi Ronan is the primary playmaker for the Panthers and was the team’s leading scorer last fall with 16 goals and eight assists. One of the league’s top players, Ronan will be the primary focus of the opposition, but senior Regan Paterson can take some of that pressure off and will chip in with goals from the forward position. Senior Emily Valentino and junior Maeve Ledwith will provide organization for the defensive unit and senior Christina Luccini will be back in goal to backstop the defense.

“We are looking to improve on last years record and would love to go further in the tournament,” said Hess.

King Philip

2017 Record: 19-3-1
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 State Semifinal
Coach: Kimberly Meehan and Erin MacDonald

King Philip had a dominating run through the 2017 season, winning the Kelley-Rex title while losing just two games in the Hock all season, and then claiming the Div. 1 South title for the first time. This year, KP has a new coaching staff, with Kimberly Meehan and Erin MacDonald taking over the reigns, and high expectations with an experienced and talented roster.

The Warriors return six seniors, who will be counted on to keep the team focused in its quest for a second straight title. Alli Meehan will be the primary attacking threat again this season. The Northeastern University-commit scored 40 points last regular season, despite missing a couple of games. Senior Claire Lawlor will be on the left wing to support the attack, and senior Nicole Conner will jump into the attack from her midfield position as well. Three-year starter Dana Truini will run the midfield for the Warriors, providing support on both ends of the field. Defensively, senior Emma Izydorczak, a St. Anselm-commit, will be the leader of the back line to keep things organized. Fellow senior Kate Lindmark will also help out for a defense that last year allowed only 13 goals in 23 games.

Expectations remain high for the program this season and the new coaches “anticipate a very successful season led by their powerful seniors.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 7-7-5
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Theresa Nyhen

Mansfield reached the state tournament again last year and was the only team in the league to beat Kelley-Rex champion King Philip (twice, in fact), but the Hornets have their sights set on returning to the top of the league standings as they did in 2014 and 2015. With a balanced roster that has depth all over the field, the Hornets have a chance to unseat KP in the division.

The Hornets have 10 seniors and experience all over the field. The forward line will include seniors Lauren Clang, Tori Farrington, Alicia Hottleman, Brooke Downy and Hayleigh Crawford. The midfield unit will be led by seniors Maggie Danehy and Kelly Doherty, who showed her versatility last season in several positions. Senior goalie Kayla Hunter is also back to help keep the defense solid. Newcomers like sophomore forward Abby Varricchione and sophomore midfielder Stori Rounds will jump in and contribute as well.

“We have some speed, some strong and some finesse,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhen. “Mansfield field hockey is a team of heart and hustle. As a team, we still have lots of work to do but are looking forward to the fun competition in the Hockomock League.”

Milford

2017 Record: 3-15-0
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Katie Blackburn

New head coach Katie Blackburn will try to improve on Milford’s three wins from last season with a group that has a lot of experience, especially on the back line, and speedy forward line that will try to fire in the goals.

The defense is filled with upperclassmen with seniors Eliza Valente and Emily Haley anchoring the back line along with junior Paige Reisman. Juniors Bella Gonzalez and Kathryn Swineford will be key players in the midfield and sophomore Madison Carneiro is a player to watch in the Milford front line, which Blackburn said would include a number of players that have a variety of skill sets.

Blackburn added, “Each player is unique and it has been exciting to see them all learning how to play together. We have a lot of speed as well as ball handling skills that will help us move the ball up the field and into the attacking circle.”

North Attleboro

2017 Record: 9-7-4
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Karen Folan

North Attleboro got back into the state tournament last fall, only to run into perennial power Walpole in the second round, and the Rocketeers have a deep roster to make another run this year and potentially challenge Canton and Foxboro at the top of the Davenport. The new turf at Beaupre Field should also help North utilize the team’s speed.

The Rocketeers have a ton of experience coming back this season, including seniors Abby Calistra, Julia Feid, Shaylee Maxcy, and Lizzie Frost, who will form a solid defensive corps in front of junior goalie Emma Strachan, who head coach Karen Folan said has improved her quickness in the off-season. Speedy midfielders Michelle Pothier and fellow junior Lindsay Robinson will join senior Jess Strachan, while senior Tara Nair and junior Faith Graveline will be up top.

Folan said, “We are looking forward to another year in the competitive Hockomock League. Our offense will start with our defense this season. We hope to use our cohesive ball movement to transition the ball quickly up the field and into the offensive circle to generate lots of shots on net.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 9-7-3
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round.
Coach: Sharon Lawrence

Oliver Ames is coming off a strong regular season performance, tying for third place in the Kelley-Rex division with 18 points, but they had to go on the road to Taunton in the playoffs and lost an overtime heartbreaker. First-year coach Sharon Lawrence takes over this season and has a roster with 11 juniors and seniors to try and make another run at a postseason bid.

Senior Meghan Rockey is one of the players that the Tigers will turn to this year and she will try to control the middle of the field. Fellow senior Kayla Lozzi can step in at forward or midfield and scored 10 points (four goals and six assists) for OA last season, while senior Samantha Clapp adds a defensive presence whether in midfield or defense. Lawrence is also excited for the contributions from the younger players, including sophomore forward Hannah Stryke, who is the Tigers top returning scorer with seven goals and four assists as a freshman.

“As a first-year coach, my focus has been on learning and assessing our talent and athleticism to position our players as a team for optimal success,” Lawrence said. “We have returning starters as well as new young talent on both offense and defense, and look to be competitive this season.”

Sharon

2017 Record: 0-18-1
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ashley Courville

First-year head coach Ashley Courville is looking to build the program from the ground up, and she is counting on a large roster and a core of returning players to get Sharon moving in the right direction this season. With only one sophomore on the roster, experience shouldn’t be an issue for the Eagles as they turn things around.

The defense will be led seniors Varsha Poreddy and Rebecca Clayman. Junior Blaize Hanna will also be part of that group this fall. The midfield has seniors Georgia Cheney and Lauren Yaffe to help out in the attack and also chip in on the defensive side of things. Sophomore Lauren Prenaveau is another player to watch in the Eagles midfield. Up top, senior forward Elizabeth Romantz will be counted on to add to Sharon’s goal tally.

Courville said, “We have a large team this year with a handful of returning players giving the team consistency and determination. Our defense has added strength and depth, while our offense has added speed.”

Stoughton

2017 Record: 7-12-1
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dan Mark

Stoughton graduated 13 players from last year’s team and then lost leading scorer Julia Russell to a knee injury, but there is hope for the Black Knights to make a run at a state tournament spot as the inexperienced players gain valuable minutes at the varsity level.

Defense will be a strength for Stoughton this fall, with returning seniors Katie Widrow and Jeanna Girolamo adding stability and keeping things organized at the back. Sophomore Kayla Lobby will start in goal for the Black Knights. In the midfield, senior Jordan Lyons is a strong two-way player and she will be looking to get the ball forward to the sticks of seniors Allie Howe and Alanna McCormick, who will both be trying to make up for the production that was expected from Russell.

Stoughton coach Dan Mark is hopeful that his team can meet its potential. He said, “We will be inexperienced in many areas, but do have several players who played regularly last year.”

Taunton

2017 Record: 11-8-1
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Liz Hathaway

Taunton had one of its best seasons in program history last year, winning 11 games and advancing in the playoffs for the first time by beating Oliver Ames in an overtime thriller. The Tigers will look to build on that success and compete with the top teams in the ultra-competitive Kelley-Rex division.

The Taunton midfield will be a strength this season, as it is filled with experienced players. Seniors Jillian Pagliuca, Lauren Torres, and Mabel Smith are all capable of making plays on both ends of the field and all read the game well to keep the Tigers moving in the right direction. Senior forward Ciera Bartel will be joined up front by last year’s playoff hero Alana Tavares. The sophomore forward scored the game-winner against OA and has the speed to cause defense lots of problems. The Tigers defense will be led by junior Kathryn Robinson and sophomore Jocelyn Pagliuca and if anyone gets through then senior goalie Emma Sheehan will be there to stop them.

Taunton coach Liz Hathaway said, “This team has come together and have a great on field bond that allows them to successfully execute plays and breakaways.”

Hornets Upset KP to Book Spot in State Tournament

Mansfield field hockey
The Hornets clinched a spot in the state tournament by sweeping the season series with league champion KP on solid goaltending by Kayla Hunter (39) and a goal from Maggie Danehy (36).

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield came into Monday night’s game at Alumni Field needing two more points to qualify for the state tournament. The Hornets were celebrating senior night, trying to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Franklin last time out and looking to sweep the season series against league champion King Philip.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

It was never going to be an easy task, even with the Warriors missing leading scorer Alli Meehan, but the Hornets rose to the task behind impressive goaltending from Kayla Hunter and a goal from Maggie Danehy to beat KP 1-0 and clinch a spot in the playoffs.

“It’s just how everything falls into place,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan. “We’re coming off an embarrassing loss where we did not play well. It was senior parent night, it was a night game, and we had to qualify for tournament, so all of those things kind of channeled into this.”

She added, “Without a doubt the two best games we played this year were the ones against King Philip. King Philip is an excellent team and tonight they brought out the best in us.”

KP had the first clear chance in the game when Liz Furfari fired a cross from the right side that skidded through the crease but neither Claire Lawler or Reagan Simeone could get the necessary touch to put it away.

The next 10 minutes were completely dominated by the Hornets, who kept the Warriors pinned back in their defensive half and racked up a 7-to-1 edge in corners in the opening half. In one stretch, Abby Campbell had to use the blocker to deny a shot off a corner and then seconds later Emma Izydorczak needed to clear a shot off the line to keep it scoreless.

The Warriors did have a couple of chances in the closing 11 minutes of the half when Katie Lindmark’s pass was tipped just wide by Furfari and then Hunter made a close range stop on Lawler. Danehy had a long-range effort turned aside by Campbell.

Hunter was called upon numerous times in the second half as the league champions pressed for the go-ahead goal. Christina Hathaway saw her blast kicked aside and then moments later Furfari had a shot that was cleared off the line by a defender.

The Mansfield defense was put under pressure but the combination of Julia Burnham, Brittany Larm, and Nicole Berluti kept the Warriors at bay with help from Danehy and Ann Maher in the midfield.

“When our goalie made the first save and then followed it up with a second one then I thought we’re in it,” said Nyhan. “We’ve played so many games where we applied pressure and the other team goes down and scores one and we get deflated but this was just…was the best game we’ve played.”

In the 48th minute, Danehy nabbed the opening goal as she raced the length of the field to get the slightest of touches to a long distance rip by Danny Radev. The ball eluded the leg of Campbell and just beat the stretch of Izydorczak to cross the line.

“She never gives up on the ball,” said Nyhan of Danehy, who seemingly covered every inch of the field. “She is relentless. She is without a doubt our most tenacious player.”

KP coach Liz Hathaway admitted that her team was trying to play away from Danehy, who was breaking up a number of attacks. Hathaway said, “She was outstanding, so we were trying to get the ball out to the right side and send in crosses from there and get players in front.”

The strategy was working for the Warriors with Furfari setting up Simeone only to have the tip go just wide and then having her own shot kicked away by Hunter. The Mansfield goalie was also forced into a solid save by Caroline Klim, teed up by Hathaway off a corner.

Nyhan said, “Huge saves. I’m so happy for her. She worked super hard in practice yesterday. We made some defensive adjustments to help her see the ball and it’s just a confidence builder for her.”

“I thought we played well,” said Liz Hathaway. “I thought we had more shots and more corners and had a lot of pressure at the end. Their goalie played great.”

As the clock wound down to zero, the Hornets all stormed the field and surrounded Hunter in goal, a clear sign of how important this game was to Mansfield.

“Not qualifying was becoming a real pressure,” Nyhan explained. “Kids were playing with their shoulders up around their ears, super tight and I think playing KP where you’re the underdog anyway, they were just like, whatever let’s go for it. Hopefully we can maintain this intensity and this level of play.”

It was only the second loss of the season for the Warriors and Hathaway said, “I guess they have our number this year.” When asked if this might be a reminder to the players of the type of intensity that is coming when the playoffs start next week, she replied, “I think it can be. We’ll have a tough practice tomorrow to get ready for Franklin.”

Hathway added, “When I have 80-90 minutes of intense practice, the girls really enjoy that and it gets them going. We’ll work to be ready for Franklin on Wednesday and try to get a win to build confidence heading into the tournament.”

Mansfield (7-5-4, 7-4-4) will travel to Oliver Ames on Wednesday before hosting Foxboro in a non-league game on Friday to close out the regular season. King Philip (14-2-1, 13-2-0) will travel to Franklin on Wednesday to close out its regular season.

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.

Hornets Roll Past Nauset in Opening Tourney Game

Mansfield field hockey
Mansfield celebrates the opening goal for Amalia Todesco (19) that turned out to be the game-winner in a dominant performance against Nauset in the D1 South preliminary round. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Wednesday night’s Div. 1 South preliminary round matchup started with a spell of pressure from the visiting team, as Nauset put Mansfield on its heels for the first minute or two and earned the game’s first penalty corner.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The remaining 58 minutes were completely dominated by the Hornets, last year’s D1 South finalists. Mansfield rolled to a 5-0 win at Alumni Field with five different players getting on the score sheet and the Hornets forcing Nauset goalie Lucy McNamara to make 19 saves (14 in the first half alone).

When asked if this was the most dominant performance of the season, Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan said, “We’ve played a few games like this, but it’s nice to be able to score some goals too. We reached our goals today. We wanted quick passes through the midfield and we wanted to get the ball deep right and put the pressure on.”

McNamara was forced into action early and often by the Hornets. Emily Ierardo started the onslaught in the third minute with a point-blank chance that the goalie kicked aside. Three minutes later Caitlin Whitman had a shot off a corner that was saved and three minutes after that it was Olivia Horn who had not one but two shots kicked away.

Another penalty corner in the 12th minute saw McNamara make another stop on Ann Maher’s blast from the edge of the circle and, despite the goalie’s heroics, it felt like the breakthrough was imminent.

The opening goal came on a rebound as Ierardo had another chance from close range denied but the ball skidded out to Amalia Todesco and the senior hit a low shot through traffic to make it 1-0.

Nyhan explained, “We went with our speedy lineup and we have to give credit to Emily Ierardo…she is relentless all by herself putting tons of pressure on. Everyone turned it up.”

McNamara was forced to stand on her head to keep the Hornets at bay and she denied Horn again in the 18th minute with a diving save then dove back across goal to make a second stop. Mansfield kept pressing and a third shot hit a foot of a defender on the line to give the Hornet a penalty stroke that Whitman coolly put away to double the lead.

The scoring opportunities kept coming for Mansfield, which forced 10 penalty corners in the opening half (to just three for Nauset) and saw goalie Molly Norton spend almost the entire 60 minutes as a spectator with little to do.

Nauset defender Madison Morris cleared a pair of chances off the line with seven minutes to go until halftime and McNamara closed the first half with a flurry, making stops on shots by Mariana Palanza and Heather D’Ambra.

“They kind of put a girl right on the goal line,” said Nyhan of the Nauset set-up. “They didn’t come out and pressure us either; it kind of worked for us.”

Any hope for Nauset was extinguished early in the second half when Mansfield tacked on a third goal just two minutes after the break. Kristina O’Connell played a ball into the crease that was tipped by Ierardo but saved by McNamara. The ball broke kindly for Palanza, who stepped up and tipped it into the empty net.

“Our talk was just to draw a couple corners early,” said Nyhan of the team talk at halftime. “Defensively they had a high percentage of their team in that circle, so it gets a little crowded. What we did today really was shooting the ball early. We were just firing it on goal.”

That plan continued in the 40th minute when Todesco ripped a shot from the right side and O’Connell turned it in at the near post with a clever deflection. In the 57th minute, Mansfield sealed the big win by adding a fifth, Mairead Dunn stepping up from her defensive position and firing a low shot through legs in front and into the bottom corner.

With the win, 13th-seed Mansfield (13-4-2) will travel to face No. 4 seed Sandwich on Friday afternoon in the first round.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Nuss Hat Trick and Quick Start Lift OA Over Mansfield

OA field hockey
Elizabeth Nuss (16) was all smiles after scoring one her three goals on Wednesday against Mansfield, including two in the opening four minutes. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – A biting wind was whipping across Muscato Stadium on Wednesday evening and blowing a cold mist around the field. Rather than having her team sit in the weather waiting for the start of the varsity game, first-year Oliver Ames coach Abby Tepper moved the Tigers inside to warm up.

“I had them go into the team room before because they were sitting out watching the JV game,” said Tepper. “I usually try to give them a good pregame speech…I think they took it well.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Whatever happened prior to the start of the game, once the whistle blew the Tigers were fired up and raced out to a 3-0 lead inside the first eight minutes. Junior Elizabeth Nuss scored two goals in that stretch and added a third with nine minutes remaining to clinch a 6-4 victory for the Tigers over division rival Mansfield.

“Liz is very quick,” said Tepper. “At practice I have her get on pads the whole time. We work all offense at practice because that’s what I knew and we do a ton of drills, a ton of tipping. She just knows to get on pads because I throw her on there all the time.”

Nuss was right on the pads of Mansfield goalie Molly Norton (six saves) just two minutes in to tap in a rebound after Norton saved two shots from the Tigers. Just two minutes later and Nuss scored from further away as her shot from the right side slipped through a traffic jam in front of goal and found the back of the net.

OA added a third in the eight minute when Sarah Stevens teed up Dimitra efremidis at the edge of the circle off a penalty corner. The senior buried the chance and forced the Hornets to take an early timeout.

“They came out strong, but actually we did too,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan. “The difference was the way they positioned the player in front of the goalie. It kind of threw us for a loop.

“It kind of threw our goalie off and then once we got that straightened out I thought it was a pretty even game. It’s just too bad that we started in the deficit.”

Katherine Vamosi made six of her nine saves in the first half and denied several Mansfield chances, but in the 13th minute the Hornets got on the board. Jill Hobaica was in the right place in front of goal to tip home a centering pass from Caitlin Whitman. The momentum only lasted four minutes before OA answered back on another long-range shot from Efremidis that snuck through a tangle of legs in front to make it 4-1.

With the lead, OA started to sit back a little deeper and Mansfield took advantage to get back into the game. A ball knocked in from the edge of the circle was tipped by Heather D’Amrab and flicked over the goalie’s pads by sophomore Maggie Danehy. Three minutes later and the lead was cut to just one when Whitman’s cross was redirected by Danehy into the path of Emily Ierardo at the back stick to tap in.

The scoring was not done with Sydney Hedrickredirecting Cristina Boudreau’s near post cross to widen the gap to two goals. Vamosi came up with a big sliding stop on Olivia Horn in the final seconds of the half to keep it 5-3.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think at the end of the first half we were back on our heels,” said Tepper. “We played with a lead and we weren’t playing aggressive… I told them that they had to keep the same intensity that they had at the beginning.”

The Hornets did come out of the break with renewed energy and eight minutes into the second half had cut the lead back to one. Ierardo was denied on a penalty corner by a point-blank save, but Mansfield kept the pressure up and Horn’s shot rebounded to the stick of Kristina O’Connell to make it 5-4.

OA did not sit back on the lead but continued to counter quickly and had several chances on the break. The Hornets continued to pressure and create openings in an entertaining end-to-end half.

“It was a fun game,” said Nyhan. “We needed enthusiasm and we brought it today. They played great, Oliver Ames played great…take away those first two, three goals and it was anybody’s game.”

With the Hornets chasing the tying goal, the Tigers were able to strike and put the game away. Efremidis had a restart on the left side and it was tipped Boudreau into the path of Nuss to close out her hat trick and seal the win.

“That was a reassurance one, for sure,” Tepper said. “But still anything could have happened in 10 minutes.”

Nyhan said, “I thought we had a shot but by that point, you know, we had key people who were tired and we just couldn’t quite pull the trigger. It was tough to do it at the end.”

Oliver Ames (6-0-3, 5-0-3) will try to keep the momentum going against Milford on Friday before having a week to prepare for the visit of Tepper’s alma mater, Foxboro. Mansfield (4-3-1, 4-3-1) will try to bounce back on the grass at Sharon on Friday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield Comes Up Short In Overtime Against Walpole

Mansfield's Caitlin Whitman carries the ball up field in the second half at Muscato Stadium. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Mansfield’s Caitlin Whitman carries the ball up field in the second half at Muscato Stadium. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief

NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The numbers game finally caught up to Mansfield.

In a 1-1 game, the Hornets controlled the first five minutes of overtime in the D1 South Final, pushing the pace and getting into attacking positions but never found an opportunity to bury the game winner.

Walpole used the counter attack, first a breakaway from Emma Flynn that Mansfield goalie Brenna Prior denied point blank. Then a minute later, the Porkers got a two on none chance when Brooke Skulski net Abigail O’Sullivan in for a chance but once again Prior got the stop.

But just one minute later, the Porkers had a three on none breakaway chance with Mansfield trying to sub and off a counter attack and Prior had no chance when Mel Weber slipped a pass to her right to Celia Walsh for the tap in as Walpole got a 2-1 win in overtime.

“The whole secret to success in overtime is to bury the biscuit early and we had our chance and unfortunately we didn’t do it,” Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan said. “Then your legs get tired and then you saw what happened.”

Mansfield took the lead after weathering an early push from Walpole in the first 10 minutes. The Hornets were finally able to get some pressure going forward and after a restart, Amalia Todesco ripped a shot into the area and the rebound fell to senior Caroline Maher and she buried it while falling to give Mansfield a 1-0 lead just 13 minutes into the game.

The Hornets nearly doubled the lead when sophomore Emily Ierardo beat her mark down the right sideline and cut in. She fired a cross that Maher got a good piece of by Walpole goalie Audrey Lynch got her pad in the way to stop the shot. mansfield was able to kill off a green card penalty to end the first half.

After a back and forth start to the second half, the Porkers were able to break through with just over 18 minutes to play. Weber charged down the middle and a rebound fell right to Walsh and she buried it to tie the game.

“Our whole defense is really a cohesive unit and they’ve played great all season and today was no different,” Nyhan said. “Walpole was going to score a goal, you get to this point of the season and someone will score a goal. It’s how you respond to it and it took a little bit of wind out of our sail and by the time we got going we were fighting the clock.”

Walpole nearly had the winner with just over six minutes to play when Prior was beat but Maggie Dunn did well to cover the goal and stopped a shot right on the goal line.

In overtime, Mansfield controlled possession for almost all of the first five minutes but failed to register a decent scoring shot. Prior made two huge saves to extend the game before the Porkers finally scored with just over seven minutes to go in the second overtime.

“She had an awesome season,” Nyhan said of Prior. “What she did all season you saw here today so it wasn’t anything that we didn’t expect. It was three on zero at the end, we were subbing a kid so it was just too bad because she played terrific.”

Mansfield finishes the season 20-2 overall and won the Kelley-Rex division for the second year in a row. It’s the first time the Hornets have won consecutive league titles since 1997 and 1998 that the program has done so.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Mansfield Stings Franklin With Last Minute Goal

Caitlin Whitman
Mansfield celebrates Caitlin Whitman’s Last-minute penalty stroke goal that gave the Hornets a win in the Div. 1 South semifinal against Franklin. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Panthers had dominated from the beginning of the game, forcing Mansfield to defend deep and putting consistent pressure on the Hornets’ back line. Then, with a minute remaining, Mansfield broke forward on a rare attack on the Franklin net.

Franklin goalie Sam Jones made two kick saves, but in the mass of white and blue jerseys in the crease she was forced to cover up the ball to prevent a goal. The result was a penalty stroke with just 40 seconds left to play.

Mansfield junior Caitlin Whitman stepped up to the spot. The Hornets had been practicing and Whitman put the effort to good use, dispatching a shot into the bottom corner and past the outstretched leg of Jones.

The goal gave Mansfield a 1-0 win on Wednesday afternoon at a rainy and cold Alumni Field, decided the season series between the rivals, and advanced the Hornets to the Div. 1 South final.

“We always have a plan when we step up to the line,” said Whitman, who admitted that she had put in a lot of time practicing penalty strokes in the lead up to the game.

“I was nervous but working through the nerves is part of what we practice every day. I was trying to put the nerves aside and try to sink it.”

The Panthers jumped onto the front foot right from the opening whistle. The midfield, led by Mackenzie Pleshaw, Diana Griffin, Dana Lewandowski and particularly senior Taylor Reutlinger, blocked off every Mansfield attack and kept the ball in the Hornets defensive third.

“They’re like an onion – you peel one layer and there’s another layer and another layer,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan. She joked, “Sometimes I feel like they’re playing with 13 or 14 on the field.”

Despite the pressure that Franklin was exerting, Hornets goalie Brenna Prior was largely untroubled in the opening half. The Mansfield defense kept Franklin at bay. Ann Maher, Amalia Todesco, and Jennifer McCabe forced everything to the outside and limited Franklin to only a couple of shots that got through to Prior.

“They dominated but didn’t have a ton of shots,” explained Nyhan. “It was a lot of midfield play and even three-quarter play; they had it in that section.”

“When we got the chance to open up the field, we had some chances.”

Pleshaw had the ball in the net for Franklin in the 17th minute but it was from outside the arc and did not count. Ruetlinger had a shot kicked aside by Prior and it started a break with Maher racing into the counterattack. A steal by Whitman forced Jones into a save with just two minutes before the break.

“Early in the first half, we had more chances but nobody was going to the ball and everyone was standing there watching,” said Franklin coach Lisa Cropper. “My best attackers are freshmen and…sometimes it’s brilliant and sometimes it’s where are you? When you don’t take care of your chances then you give the other team the chance.”

Whitman had an early chance in the second half for Mansfield that was kicked aside by Jones and then Franklin went back on the attack. The Panthers had a second goal disallowed for a violation in the crease in the 34th minute and in the 42nd minute freshman Annie Walsh had a shot saved by Prior.

“I had one timeout but I wish I had four. I wanted to borrow some from Coach Redding, but I know he uses his all up,” Nyhan joked. “I was happy they used their timeout because…clearly we were back on our heels.”

Walsh had another chance in the 48th minute off a corner but no one could redirect her pass through the crease and the chance was gone. Six minutes later, Walsh again saw a shot find the side of the net not the back of it.

“Everyone says defense wins championships, but you don’t win if you don’t score,” said Cropper.

The Franklin midfield had been mostly impenetrable but as the clock wound down under a minute and the Panthers bench started making plans for overtime, the Hornets broke quickly. Julia Todesco found Caroline Maher with open field to run into for the first time all game and Mansfield turned it into a chance.

Jones made several big stops but the play developed into a scrum in front of goal with both teams trying their best to get a stick on the ball. In the end, Jones was forced to cover up and the penalty stroke was awarded.

Cropper had no complaints about the decisive call. She said, “The stroke was the correct call. We kind of broke down in the last minute and Sam had no choice but to cover it and the kid made a nice stroke.”

She added, “Their two best players really didn’t do a whole lot until right down there…we tried to have someone on them and we did it for the most part but you have to do it for 60 minutes not 59:30.”

Nyhan added “It’s unfortunate that it needs to be the game decider, but also you can’t bury the ball.”

The victory sends Mansfield to the Div. 1 South final at the expense of their rivals.

Whitman gushed, “They’re our biggest competitors in the regular season, so playing them in the tournament is a huge deal and we were all nervous, but luckily we could let that go and play our game.”

“We haven’t been here in so long. It just means so much.”

Mansfield will face perennial power Walpole on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Oliver Ames.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Horn is the Hornets Hero in D1 Quarterfinal

Olivia Horn
Olivia Horn (8) scored the game-winning goal with 19 minutes remaining to send Mansfield into the Div. 1 South semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

MANSFIELD, Mass. – With 19:37 left in the a scoreless game, Wellesley coach Erin Stickle called a timeout. Up until that point, the Raiders had dominated play, albeit without finding the back of the net. Twenty-six seconds after the timeout, Mansfield scored.

Olivia Horn, playing her final game before going on a mission trip to Africa, swept home a centering pass by Caitlin Whitman on one of the few clear chances the Hornets had up to that point.

Mansfield controlled play for the final 19 minutes and, with help from a last-minute save by goalie Brenna Prior, pulled out a 1-0 win over the Raiders at Alumni Field and advanced to the Div. 1 South semifinal to face rival Franklin.

The Raiders had started the second half strongly and Prior was forced into several clutch saves to stop Ling Groccia and Danielle Hickman from opening the scoring. Groccia also whiffed on a good look from close-range.

The Hornets had escaped, but head coach Theresa Nyhan was hesitant to call a timeout. She smiled when asked about Wellesley taking a timeout and allowing her to settle down her team.

“I’m glad she called the timeout,” said Nyhan. “The clock doesn’t stop so you want to keep those in your pocket.”

Out of the timeout, Mansfield started to push forward and Whitman got room on the left side of the attack. She played a ball across the middle of the crease where Horn was stationed and the  junior attacker redirected the pass inside the post for the goal.

“We have a player in her last game because she’s going on a mission trip,” said Nyhan, indicating that it was Horn that would miss the remaining tournament games. “She played out of her mind today.”

For the first 41 minutes of the game, it was the Raiders that had the territorial edge. Wellesley was bottling up the Hornets attack, particularly limiting the touches of senior Caroline Maher, who was moved from the middle out to the wing to try and find space.

“When you score four goals in a game (against Duxbury in the first round) you’re going to get attention,” said Nyhan of the Wellesley defense keying on Maher. “It’s great to see other players step up and make plays.”

The Raiders thought that they had taken the lead in the ninth minute when a long shot from nearly midfield took a deflection and snuck past Prior. The referee waved it off because the deflection was by a Mansfield defender not a Wellesley player and thus did not count.

Horn had the two best chances for the Hornets in the opening half, but both were saved at the near post. Following the Mansfield goal, Julia Todesco had a shot from the middle of the crease kicked aside and Horn had a shot from a Todesco pass that was saved.

Amalia Todesco had a chance off a corner that was saved and then Brianna Puccia had the follow up blocked off the line by a Wellesley defender.

With five minutes remaining, Mairead Dunn was given a card for blocking a restart, which left the Hornets down a player. Amalia Todesco and Jennifer McCabe were immense down the stretch intercepting Wellesley passes towards goal.

The Raiders continued to press until the final whistle and created one last chance with only 59 seconds remaining, but Prior once again kicked out a leg to stop the shot and the rebound was cleared over half.

“Everyone needs to make plays and she stepped up with her leg and her arm and came through with a big stop at the end,” said Nyhan.

The final whistle blew and the Hornets mobbed the goalie and celebrated another big win to advance to the sectional semifinal. Standing in their way will be Franklin, their rival and the team that they edged for the league title this season.

The semifinal will also provide the chance to determine the winner of the season series with the two teams splitting their regular season games.

“They’re a strong team, well-coached and…I love the Hockomock,” said Nyhan, “and I’m glad they weren’t knocked out.”

The semifinal will be played on Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Alumni Field.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Maher Four-Spot Leads ‘Resilient’ Hornets Past Foxboro

Caroline Maher
Caroline Maher (4) scored four goals on Thursday afternoon to lead Mansfield to a win over Foxboro and into the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

MANSFIELD, Mass. – Each time Foxboro took the lead on Thursday afternoon, Mansfield bounced right back with the tying goal. And each time it was the Hornets No. 4 that got the telling touch to swing momentum back to the hosts.

Senior Caroline Maher scored all four of Mansfield’s goals in a 4-3 win over the Warriors at Alumni Field and in the process clinched tournament qualification for the Hornets (9-1-0, 8-1-0).

Foxboro took the lead with 18:54 remaining in the first half. Sophia Dicenso assisted on a goal by Caroline Wheatley to put the visitors ahead. Only 1:56 later and it was tied. Maher took a feed from Julia Todesco and finished.

Dicenso pounced on a chance in front of goal with 6:35 remaining in the opening half to again give the visitors momentum but just 4:15 later Maher once again found space in the middle of the Warriors defense to tie it up.

Maher would add two more goal in the second half, one at 26:35 off a corner from Emily Lerardo and the other at 15:44 from Olivia Horn, to build the Mansfield lead to 4-2 and put the Hornets in command.

“We were trying to keep the ball on the outside as much as we could,” said Foxboro coach Melissa Bordieri. “Their strength is in the middle and I knew she (Maher) was going to be tough.”

When asked what made Maher such a scoring threat, Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan responded, “She is a bull in a china shop. She’s tenacious. She’s a playmaker and a finisher…she’s able to do both and that’s what separates her from the others.

“She scored some beauties today.”

The game’s momentum swung on Maher’s second that tied the game heading into hafltime. It was a pivotal moment with the Hornets on the edge but the Warriors unable to press their advantage.

“As soon as you get the momentum, you have to keep going and kudos to them for keeping going forward and not falling back,” said Bordieri.

Nyhan added, “It was a big momentum shift. We have our little turbo time after a goal where we have to pick it up for two minutes and just caught them back on their heels.”

The Hornets have shown the ability to bounce back at several points this season and Nyhan believes that her team has confidence when faced with adversity that it can find a way to get back into a game.

“We’re a resilient team,” she said. “We know we can score goals, so we didn’t panic. At practice we give up goals all the time and we keep coming back.”

The Warriors also showed resiliency on Thursday. Despite falling behind by two goals, Foxboro continued to push forward and won a corner that Annie McGeary fed out top to MaryLou Long and she blasted it past the defense and goalie Brenna Prior to cut the lead to 4-3 with 11:41 remaining.

“They played with really a lot of poise and they fought back,” said Bordieri. “They kept attacking the ball like I was telling them to, making concerted efforts to mark-up like we practiced, and shut down the middle as best we could.”

She added, “It was back-and-forth and I thought we played well; we just need to eliminate those small mistakes.”

Mansfield hung on for the one-goal victory that clinched the necessary 18 points to reach the state tournament and also kept the Hornets within one game of league leading Franklin with a rematch just 12 days away.

“If we’re really going to contend and go after Franklin then we need every point we can get,” said Nyhan. “So, the one point, the win instead of the tie, could be decisive.”

Before Mansfield can try and get revenge against the Panthers, the Hornets will face Sharon on Tuesday. Foxboro (5-4-2, 4-4-2) will travel to Pembroke on Monday morning.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.