WRENTHAM, Mass. – With the modified 7-on-7 rules for field hockey this season, and all the space that leaves on the field, speed is more important than ever. It’s just two games into the season, but King Philip has wasted no time finding top gear.
Behind two goals apiece from Isabelle and Grace Crocker, the Warriors rolled to a 5-1 win against Mansfield on Thursday afternoon at Macktaz Field, sweeping the home-and-home against the Hornets ahead of next week’s matchup with defending league champion Franklin.
“It starts from the defense,” said KP coach Lisa Cropper. “With only six field players, you can’t chase all the way to the corners, so we kind of took the protect the house, protect the circle, and just shadow them. You’re also not running as much that way. Then we work it out just like a fast break. You outlet the ball and go right down the sideline into space.”
She added, “Our kids are so fast, if we just dump it into space no one is going to catch them.”
The teams played a tight, one-goal game on Tuesday and the second encounter started in similar fashion with Mansfield having a several early chances denied by KP goalie Makenzie Manning (seven saves). Once KP settled into its style of play, the Warriors took off and never looked back.
Abby Nixon (three assists) caused problems on the left wing all game and it was her run into the circle that led to the opening goal. The senior hit a cross just in front of goal that Kelly Holmes had first crack at but the ball slid to Isabelle Crocker at the far post for a tap in.
Sydney O’Shea also found room on the left to test Mansfield goalie Lily Danehy, as KP was able to keep the majority of the pressure in its attacking half of the field. Mansfield managed a couple of breakouts down the right with Grace Danehy and Abby Varricchione heavily involved, but Manning kicked aside a shot from Lindsay Devine on the only ball that got through on net.
KP doubled its lead just three minutes into the second when Nixon got free on the left and put a ball into the middle. Grace Crocker reacted first to the loose ball and knocked it through a crowd and in. Nixon was proving to be a handful. She made a long run and had a shot cleared off the line then was able to make a run from half, with Grace Fernandez on her shoulder the whole way, and force a save out of Danehy.
“Abby Nixon is doing phenomenal,” said Cropper. “She’s the one creating a lot of havoc out there with her speed and her stick work and the others are picking up the loose ends.”
With just two minutes to go before halftime, Isabelle Crocker got free on the right side and fired a shot to the far corner to make it 3-0. It was her fourth goal of the young season.
Cropper explained, “She’s so fast and she has a quick release and I’ve been telling the kids as soon as you have daylight in the circle then shoot it. I don’t care if it hits the goalie, she can’t smother it in this game, so then someone’s going to get a rebound.”
Any hope of a second half comeback was dashed just two minutes after the break when Nixon blocked an attempted clearance and found Grace Crocker alone in front. Danehy made the first stop but Crocker was able to get the rebound and finish for a four-goal advantage. KP was peppering the Mansfield goalie but Danehy came up big in the third quarter to keep it 4-0. Eight of her 11 saves came in the second half.
The Hornets got on the board with two minutes left in the third. Caitlin Dumouchel picked out Lola Varricchione right in front of goal and the freshman managed to squeeze it past Manning and just over the line for her first varsity goal.
Grace Danehy set up Abby Varricchione for a chance in the first minute of the fourth quarter but the shot went just wide. Six minutes later, KP put the game away. Nixon was again the playmaker, slipping a pass to Paige Berdos and she blasted it into the back of the net.
“You have to sub at the right time because if someone makes the run, then they can’t quite make the run back and if they’re in too long then they can’t get there,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan about defending with the new rules. “The defense is hard.”
Mansfield kept going even as legs were starting to tire. A nice passing combination from Alexandra Burnham to Lilly O’Brien to Celia Puleo forced Manning into a good save. Then Dumouchel teed up Emma Kelly but her quick shot smacked the post and stayed out.
Nyhan added, “We had chances early. KP had all six kids in the circle, so it’s just foul, back to the 25, foul, back to the 25, and we were not smart with our 25-yard hit options. We’ll be working on that at practice. They certainly took advantage of their opportunities.”
King Philip (2-0) will host undefeated Franklin on Tuesday in a battle of the first place teams in the Kelley-Rex. Mansfield (0-2) will host Taunton on Tuesday.
2019 Record: 9-8-3 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lindsay Antunes
The Bombardiers had one of their best years in recent memory during the 2019 season and with a strong group of returning players, are looking to carry that success over to 2020.
While replacing HockomockSports Player of the Year Anna Beck will certainly be a tough task, the Bombardiers have a lot of talented players back ready to take advantage of the pace and space that comes with 7v7 field hockey — a new rule modification this season. There is a lot of firepower in the Attleboro offense, a group that has played together before and is always looking to set each other up. Senior captains Amanda Burns (five goals, nine assists), Campbell Compton, and Hannah Webster will spearhead the attack alongside junior Madison Ellis (seven goals, six assists).
Attleboro’s defensive unit is coming along, showing plenty of progress in preseason alone. With some open spots up for grabs on defense, potential candidates took advantage of offseason club teams to improve their game. Senior Kiara Murray will be an important part of the backline while junior Ava Haggerty returns in net after a stellar sophomore season.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the accomplishments and success of this team this season,” said Attleboro head coach Lindsay Antunes. “The strong leadership skills, the positive attitudes and the confidence my players have this season is amazing to see given the nature of this season and all of the changes and challenges. We have a lot of returning players with tremendous skill, paired with new additions to our roster who are sure to make an impact this season.”
2019 Record: 12-4-3 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Expectations are high in Canton as the Bulldogs, one of the perennial league powers year in and year out, will be looking to repeat as Davenport division champions. A big reason for that optimism is the amount of returners from last year’s squad that had 12 wins, just one league loss, and a division-best 61 goals scored.
Senior captain Maria Femia played a part in nearly half of those goals, finding the back of the net five times while recording a Hockomock-best 27 assists. She’ll work alongside Meghan LaBelle (nine goals, eight assists) to form one of the most dangerous attacking units in the Hockomock League.
Beyond Foxboro, one of the biggest challenges the Dogs will face this year is the new rule modifications. Just six players plus a goalie will grace the field at one time, meaning a lot more space to cover. Add in the fact the girls have to wear a mask while wearing a mouthguard.
Allie Gefteas and Lizzie Tassinari will be key pieces in the Canton lineup as well. While defending will look a bit different this year with breakaways more of a concern than penalty corners (which aren’t allowed), the Dogs have senior Riley O’Connor back in net. O’Connor has been one of the top goalies in the Hock the past two seasons and is very aggressive off her line.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to be back on the field this season,” said Canton head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “Our team has worked hard to be here and they do not take it for granted. Our seniors who have played together since a young age deserve to have a competitive and fun season. We look forward to getting started with games next week.”
2019 Record: 13-2-5 2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Melissa Bordieri
Last year’s Davenport division race came down to just one game, with Canton taking the title with two more points than Foxboro. With just 10 games on tap this season, the Warriors know each point is vital if they want to try and knock off the Bulldogs atop the division.
Replacing Jaime Notarangelo won’t be easy but the Warriors have options and depth as they navigate the new rules of 2020. Foxboro is coming off a 13-win season that ended in the D2 South Quarterfinal round.
Senior Ella Waryas will be a key piece in the middle of the field for the Warriors this season. Her ability to play strong defense and then transition into a key piece of the offense will be vital in the new 7v7 style. Sophomore Mya Waryas (seven goals in 2019) had a breakout season and could be an important part of the Foxboro attack in 2019. The Warriors will also see production from senior Molly McElhinney, juniors Kate Collins and Mikayla Doherty, and sophomore Dylan Rappoli (four goals, four assists in 2019).
All-Hockomock selection Shannon Egan is back to anchor a defensive unit that was the best in the Hockomock League last season with just 11 goals allowed. And on top of that, senior Hannah Trombley is back in the cage to anchor the defensive unit.
2019 Record: 15-3-2 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Michelle Hess
When you look at the talent the Panthers possess on their roster this season, it’s hard not to immediately think what kind of run they could go on in the postseason. Unfortunately, there aren’t any playoffs this season so Franklin’s focus zeroes in on one thing: repeating as Hock champs.
A year removed from going undefeated against league opponents, the Panthers enter the 2020 season as the favorites to take home another Kelley-Rex title. For starters, Franklin has its top three scorers back from last year’s team that scored a Hockomock-best 91 goals. Amanda Lewandowski (20 goals, 10 assists), Stephanie Bell (14 goals, eight assists), and last year’s HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Kaitlyn Carney (14 goals, eight assists) combine to make the Panthers one of the most lethal teams in the region.
Franklin’s offense even more of a boost with the return of senior captain Sara Carney (who missed last season with an injury) and junior forward Jill Fenerty.
Senior captain Neilee Hess anchors the defensive unit as the starting goalie. Hess’ experience will be vital as Franklin has some new faces on its defensive unit, including Molly Collins, Kendall Jones, and Kate O’Rourke. Freshman midfield Sophia Cuneo could make an impact right away.
“I am extremely proud of my team and how they have adapted to the modifications,” said Franklin head coach Michelle Hess. “They have taken a situation that could have put a damper on their enthusiasm and shared with me that they are just ready to get to work. They have a Hock Title to defend and these modifications are not going to stop them from accomplishing their goal of a Back to Back Kelley-Rex Title!”
2019 Record: 10-7-3 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lisa Cropper
King Philip had a lot of new faces last year, but there wasn’t a huge drop-off from the team’s success of the back-to-back title-winning seasons, as the Warriors finished in second place in the Kelley-Rex division and picked up a win in the postseason. With returning players all over the field, KP has high expectations to challenge Franklin for a league title this fall.
Speed will be one of the strengths for the Warriors, who will try to take advantage of experience on the wings in the new 7-on-7 format. Seniors Abby Nixon and Paige Berdos are both coming off strong seasons in the attack and senior midfielders Grace and Isabelle Crocker will push forward to add more threats in front of goal.
Experience will be a key to the defensive effort this year, starting in goal with senior Makenzie Manning, who has been on of the league’s top shot stoppers (and showed it in the season-opening win against Mansfield). Junior Molly Piller had a very strong sophomore season and will be the team’s sweeper, while juniors Christina Gifun and Morgan Cunningham and senior Alli Beltramini are all back as part of the defensive unit.
“We have a lot of experience, but I’m not sure how much that will help us with no penalty corners and only six field players,” said KP coach Lisa Cropper. “Hopefully our depth and overall team speed will help to cover all that empty space out there this year.”
2019 Record: 12-7-2 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Theresa Nyhan
Longtime Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan is excited to see what the 2020 version of the Hornets can do on the field this season. The new rule modifications have taken some players off the field, making it 7-v-7, but that opens up a lot of space on the field.
That space benefits the Hornets as Nyhan says her squad has speed in both the attacking and defending ends of the field. But the new rules also bring a pair of intriguing challenges. First will be figuring out a new substitution pattern that keeps players fresh for 60 minutes, and the other is adjusting the offense without penalty corners — not only for gameplan purposes but for the active rest players can get while setting up.
The Hornets have a large number of seniors and juniors on the team this year, hoping that experience will translate to success on the field. Tai-captains Abby Varracchione, Alex Burnham, and Grace Danehy lead the way for the Hornets and will be vital to the success of the squad. Seniors Fiona Katz, Stori Rounds, and Emma Kelly will bolster the forward group, Lindsay Devine, Grace Fernandez, and Ally McDevitt provide depth to the midfield, and Bella Deberghes, Lily O’Brien, and Leah Sheehan are important pieces to the defensive puzzle.
Juniors Caitlin Dumouchel, Celia Puleo, Maddy Brown, and Grace Bertolino should factor in this season while sophomore Lilly Danehy will take over as the starting goalie. Nyhan expects freshman Lola Varracchione to be an impact player at the varsity level right away.
“The Mansfield field hockey community wants to thank all who have worked long and hard to make a season possible,” Nyhan said. “We are grateful seniors have a “senior season” and look forward to competing!’
2019 Record: 4-12-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Tim Dowd
The Scarlet Hawks saw improvement during the 2019 season and are hoping that upward trajectory continues into 2020 under new head coach Tim Dowd.
Milford will be leaning on its three captains to lead the way: Maddy Carneiro, Olivia Macleod, and Olyvia Whyte. All three have been cornerstones of the program and will be leaders both on and off the field.
Maddy Hunt will start in the cage for the Hawks, who will be putting a lot of importance into the defensive side of the ball. With the new rule modifications meaning there will be more breakaways, the Hawks are hoping to have good numbers defensively to give Hunt as much help as possible.
Offensively, the Hawks will turn to speedy juniors Emma Tredeau and Stephanie Wong to try and take advantage of all of the space on the field. With just six field players, conditioning and positioning are going to be of the utmost importance.
“It’s certainly going to be an interesting season as we all try to adjust to the modifications and a new way of approaching the game,” Dowd said. “We’re just focusing on working hard and keeping a positive attitude.”
2019 Record: 6-8-4 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Karen Folan
North Attleboro finished third in the Davenport division last season, just two points out of a playoff spot, but will not only have to contend with the typical top two of Canton and Foxboro but will also have Oliver Ames in the division this year and the modified 7-on-7 rules, which should make this an interesting fall.
The Rocketeers have a strong group of returning players that they can count on and expectations of being competitive in every game, but also are trying to adapt to new positioning and the much quicker transitions that come from having fewer players and more space on the field. Senior forwards Lauren Abusheery and Emma Bailey will look to take advantage of those openings to create scoring chances, while sophomores Ava Spencer and Caroline Folan are newcomers that have shown a scoring touch in the preseason.
In the midfield, senior Nora Dluhy is a consistent performer wherever she lines up and sophomore Julia Puccio has the speed and ball control to weave through defenders. Senior Emily Daby will lead the defensive unit and can also step up into the midfield and carry possession, which will be a big help with the new rules. Senior Hannah Bachand will take over in goal this season.
The team is excited to start games this week,” said North coach Karen Folan. “I’ve told them to enjoy each minute on the field and to make the most of the shortened season and the unique situation.”
2019 Record: 9-10-0 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Rou Coach: Sharon Lawrence
There are a lot of familiar names on Oliver Ames’ roster this season, highlighted by 11 seniors and eight returning starters from last year’s team. The Tigers have experience all over the field and could be a dark horse in the Davenport division title race.
With the game reduced to six field players due to the rule modifications, there is plenty of space on the field. That fits right into OA’s gameplan as the Tigers are looking to utilize their speed and passing game to jump-start their offense. Like many teams in the league, Oliver Ames will be shifting to lines similar to an ice hockey team. With a total of 24 players on the team, there is plenty of depth so head coach Sharon Lawrence will be using her deep bench to keep fresh legs on the field throughout the game.
“We are all just happy to be together and have a season,” Lawrence said. ”They have all worked so hard and deserve it! Getting outside to play together is a mental and physical win for all.”
The heart of the team lies in the midfield as the Tigers have a strong mix of talent and experience. Senior captain Maggie Woods, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last season, gets it done on both ends of the field, a big part of getting Oliver Ames transitioned from defense to offense. She will be joined by senior Sofia Anestam, junior Ava Costello, and sophomore Julia Maclaine in the midfield.
The Tigers return two dangerous attacking players in junior Georgia Costello (nine goals, five assists in 2019) and senior Haley Gilman (five goals, one assist). Without penalty corners, OA will lean on its speed up front to try and beat the defense and score in the run of play. The defense will be anchored by senior captain Emily Han, who has a lot of experience at the varsity level and senior Abbey Boyce.
2019 Record: 2-13-3 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Paulina Kosmadakis
Former Sharon standout Paulina Kosmadakis is back with the program, this time taking over as new head coach. And after an improved 2019 season, Kosmadakis is hoping the program continues heading in the right direction in 2020.
The Eagles broke into the win column last season and Kosmadakis has liked what she’s seen from her team so far in the preseason. It starts with the team’s four captains: Sam Sherman, Ashley Young, Jill Parker, and Yesha Sharma. Kosmadakis said that the group has brought a new, competitive edge to the program.
Offensively, the Eagles strength is on fast breaks. Improved passing has led to some odd-man rushes and the opportunity to go one-on-one with defenders. It also comes as a result of a lot of space on the field due to the modifications to the rules. On the flip side, the Eagles are adjusting to the new intensity that 7v7 field hockey brings. Kosmadakis plans on using as much of her bench as possible with a lot of subbing throughout the game.
“I believe that the team is really stepping up their competitive edge and going to “Shock the Hock” both defensively and offensively,” Kosmadakis said. “I am excited for this season and the seasons to come!”
2019 Record: 2-15-2 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dan Mark
After a two-win season in 2019, Stoughton will look to bounce back this fall with an experienced group, with 20 seniors on the roster, which faces the tough test of trying to compete with the top teams in the Davenport division, and it starts right away with two games against defending league champ Canton in the first week.
The Black Knights should be capable of scoring goals this year with a speedy forward line getting extra space to work with the new 7-on-7 rules. Senior forwards Haley Nelson and Morgan Lessa will be the leaders in the attack and have the skills to put defenders on the back foot. Juniors Zofia Bangs and Mia Allie are new forwards that add depth to the attack this season.
Seniors Sarah McGrath and Kat Billo will shore things up in the midfield and try to help cover for the backline. Senior Lena Allie jumps in goal this season after a solid year with the JV team last fall.
“The biggest obstacle with the modifications is only having six field players and a goalie on the field,” said Stoughton coach Dan Mark. “I plan on using line shifts like in ice hockey. We have a large senior-dominated team, so hopefully that experience should help us.”
2019 Record: 5-12-1 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Liz Hathaway
Looking back at last year’s standings, if there’s one team’s record that isn’t indicative of how good a team was, it’s Taunton. The Tigers had a stellar defense, allowing just 30 goals in total, playing close games against some of the top teams in the league including KP, Foxboro, and Canton.
Defense will be a strong suit of the Tigers once again this season. Even with the changes to the game with the new rule modifications, Taunton will hang its hat on the defensive end. Junior Emily Gannon is a major part of that, returning as the starting goalie after a breakout sophomore season. Gannon had over 100 saves last season, five shutouts, and allowed one or fewer goals in 10 of the 18 games played.
Gannon will have a familiar face in front of her as Jocelyn Pagliuca enters her third season as a key piece of the Tigers’ defense. With that much experience in the defensive end, expect Taunton to be among the toughest groups to break down.
The Tigers are hoping to find the back of the net more during the 2020 season. With last year’s leading scorer back in Alana Tavares, there’s a good chance that happens. Tavares, who has been on the team since eighth grade, will be among the top threats in the league. Having more space will allow Tavares to use her speed to get behind the defense and attack the net. Taunton head coach Liz Hathaway is expecting big contributions from junior Ashley Amaro and senior Skylar Rheaume as well.
“This season will be different but we are up for the challenge and we are grateful to have a season,” Hathaway said. “The girls have been working hard to keep the season going. They are also working hard and embracing the 7 vs. 7 format.”
2018 Record: 6-11-1 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Lindsay Antunes
The Bombardiers are looking to climb off the foot of the Kelley-Rex division standings this fall and challenge for a return to the state tournament. With a number of players making the move up after successful seasons on JV, Attleboro coach Lindsay Antunes is confident that her team will have the firepower to compete with the league’s top teams this year.
Senior Anna Beck will lead the way for Attleboro again this fall. The midfielder led the team in scoring last year and was one of the top scorers in the Hock, and she will be counted on to open up chances for her teammates. Junior Campbell Compton will add to the midfield group with her playmaking and stick skills. Junior Kiera Murray will be the lynchpin of the defensive unit, providing leadership at the back. The forwards are going to be a combination of returning players and new faces that are expected to provide additional scoring this season.
“Though spots are still being established and player combinations being determined,” Antunes said, “we are confident that this year’s offensive line is going to make a significant impact on the league.”
2018 Record: 15-4-1 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Canton finished just one point shy of back-to-back league titles and for the second season in a row saw its season ended by the eventual South champion, but the Bulldogs remain one of the teams to beat in the Davenport thanks to a roster filled with returning, experienced players ready to make another tournament run.
Midfield will be an area of strength for the Bulldogs this season with senior Kaitlyn Goyetch back to create scoring chances for her teammates. She was second on the team in scoring last year and is capable of opening up space for the attackers. Juniors Maria Femia and Meghan LaBelle will help Goyetch out in the middle of the field, adding to both the attack and the defense, and senior Meg Aldrich provides energy to push the team on both ends of the field. Junior Riley O’Connor returns in goal to shore up the defense. The attack will certainly miss leading score Maggie Malloy, but there are a number of players that are ready to step in and try to make up for that loss of production.
“Canton field hockey is excited for the regular season to begin,” said head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “Our captains Kaitlyn Goyetch, Meg Aldrich and Rose Malloy along with several key returning players will be major contributors to our success this season. We are working towards a strong showing in the always competitive Hockomock League”
The Foxboro Warriors will have almost an entirely new look this season after graduating 10 starters and 14 seniors overall.
While it will be almost an entirely new team, there is definitely plenty of talent and a lot of team speed. Jaime Notarangelo is the lone starter to return and will see time at both center forward because of her goal-scoring abilities plus time at center mid because of her distribution skills. Ella Waryas will see a significant increase in her role in the midfield alongside Molly McElhinney. Anna Marcucella and Mikayla Cloherty will see time both in the midfield and defensively for head coach Melissa Bordieri, who is still moving all the pieces around in search of the right combination. Lauren Foster is a team captain and will be tasked with anchoring the defense while junior Hannah Trombley and sophomore Lily Jones battle for minutes in goal. Kate Collins picked up some valuable minutes last year and will be relied on offensively alongside Olivia Simoneau.
“We still have a lot of talent, it’s just a matter of piecing together who fits where and who works well together,” Bordieri said. “We are a tenacious team so we are optimistic about the season.”
2018 Record: 13-6-2 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Michelle Hess
After finishing second in the Kelley-Rex division and making a run to the Div. 1 South semifinal, where they led perennial power Walpole by two goals with 10 minutes remaining, Franklin wants to build on that momentum and return to the top of the league standings for the first time in three seasons. The experience of last year’s run, which included finishing on an 11-2-2 run, has confidence brimming through the program.
The loss of do-everything midfielder Cassi Ronan will certainly hurt, as well as defender Emily Valentino and goalie Christina Luccini, but the Panthers still have a solid foundation of returning standouts to rely on. Senior Maeve Ledwith will continue to lead the defensive unit and is one of the league’s top distributors out of the back. Junior Amanda Lewandowski saved her best for the end of the season and playoffs and will be one of the team’s top attackers. Freshman Kaitlyn Carney is expected to contribute right away and possibly ease the loss of Ronan from the midfield. Junior Neilee Hess will take over between the pipes.
“The players worked very hard in the offseason, and I am proud of them for their dedication and determination,” said Franklin coach Michelle Hess. “I look forward to watching this team come together and earn a top spot in the Hockomock League along with another deep run in the tournament.”
2018 Record: 18-2-1 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal Coach: Lisa Cropper
After winning the league and South titles in 2017, the Warriors made a coaching change. After making it back-to-back Kelley-Rex crowns and getting back to the South semifinal last season, the Warriors are making another change on the sideline. Former Franklin coach Lisa Cropper is back in the Hock after two years at Dean College and she will be trying to keep the momentum going for KP this fall.
While the Warriors dominated the league in goals scored last year, thanks in large part to HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Alli Meehan, and that drew a lot of attention, but the Warriors were even more impressive defensively, allowing only 15 goals in 21 games. Senior Sammy Robison is back to hold down things on defense along with classmate Grace May and junior Mackenzie Manning, who may end up sharing duties in goal. Sophomore Christina Gifun and junior Paige Berdos will drive the team in the midfield.
In addition to the graduation of Meehan, KP will be without reigning Underclassman of the Year Meghan MacDonald, who transferred to Tabor Academy. Senior Raegan Simeone and juniors Abby Nixon and Grace Crocker will be counted on to try and make up that production in the attack.
“We have a lot of really solid players with no real superstars, which should give us a very balanced team,” said Cropper.
2018 Record: 9-8-2 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Theresa Nyhan
The Hornets are only four years removed from back-to-back league titles and a trip to the South final and the experience on this year’s roster gives Mansfield hope that another deep tourney run could be on the cards. With seniors in every layer of the field and talented underclassmen to fill in the depth, the Hornets look like a serious contender at the top of the Kelley-Rex division standings.
In attack, Mansfield will count on a speedy trio of seniors to try and boost the goal totals. Paige Peterson, Becca Hottleman and Gabby Devlin are all back on the front line. In midfield, Kelly Doherty and Grace Doyle provide the engine that pushes the Hornets forward, while also providing the necessary cover for the defense. Senior Kayla Hunter is back in goal and will try to organize the back line, which will include seniors Grace Maher, Mallory Burke, and Angela Burnham.
“Overall we have a good balance of juniors and seniors at each level,” said Mansfield coach Theresa Nyhan. “We should be able to keep fresh legs on the field at all times. Looking forward to a good season.”
2018 Record: 2-14-2 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Katie Blackburn
The Hawks have a number of players returning who have several years of varsity experience and will try to blend in players that are making the leap from JV in order to improve from last year’s two-win season, which included five games that Milford lost by only one or two goals.
Senior goalie Paige Reisman will be the key on the defensive end, solidifying a back line that will see several new faces that are trying to get up to varsity speed. Her communication and vision will help the newcomers be ready for opposing attacks. Senior Megan Hart is also back on defense to add leadership in front of Reisman. Junior Olyvia White can play in midfield or defense, while senior Kathryn Swineford will try to push the Hawks into the attack from the middle of the field.
“We have a lot of returning players on offense that have experience playing together,” said Milford coach Katie Blackburn. “This experience will help in creating an offensive attack throughout games. The players have worked hard this offseason to improve on skills and come into the season conditioned.”
2018 Record: 6-10-2 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Karen Folan
The Rocketeers are hoping that an experienced lineup will be the key to challenge the top teams in the Davenport division and also to make a return to the state tournament. North Attleboro only missed out on a playoff spot by four points last season and there is the potential to make a bigger push this fall.
Senior Emma Strachan will be in her third year as the starting goalie and will continue to lead the defensive unit. Senior Lindsay Robinson heads into her second year as a force in the North midfield and senior Michelle Pothier will start her third year generating offense as one of the starting forwards. Senior Grace Cole adds speed on the wings to open space for the attack and senior Faith Graveline will move into the midfield from defense, adding another layer of cover for the back line and another weapon in the offensive circle.
“We have a solid group of returning varsity players for the 2019 season,” said North coach Karen Folan. “We hope to utilize our knowledge and experience to come out strong at the start of the season and continue to build on our strengths as the season moves forward.”
2018 Record: 8-9-2 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Sharon Lawrence
While Oliver Ames brings back 11 returning players from last year’s playoff team, the Tigers remain relatively young, with a strong junior class anchoring the team throughout the roster. That level of experience gives OA the potential to make noise in the loaded Kelley-Rex division and be competitive with the perennial title challengers.
The offensive unit is deep and expectations are high for an improvement on last year’s 31 goals scored as a team. Juniors Haley Gilman and Hannah Stryke and seniors Maura Kiernan, Ellie Waters, and Cassie Gennis will all play up top and are all capable of making plays inside the offensive circle. Several younger players will get the chance to impress right away, including sophomores Ava Costello and Lily Gaskill and freshman Julia Maclaine.
Junior Maggie Woods is the leader of the midfield group, constantly finding herself around the ball and propelling the Tigers forward. Sophomore Georgia Costello will join her in the middle of the field. Juniors Emily Han and Emily Dionne will lead the defense, while juniors Abbey Boyce and Courtney Lake are newcomers to the defense that will contribute right away. Senior Kara Ostrander and junior Peyton Phillips are both capable of being the starter in goal.
“The team shows improvement in skill and confidence from last season after a strong off-season commitment to the game,” said OA coach Sharon Lawrence. “We have a deep bench with lots of talent in the forward and midfield lines to keep legs fresh and performance strong, giving us good game endurance.”
2018 Record: 0-18-0 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Ashley Courville
After a winless season, with no goals scored, there is plenty of room for improvement for the Eagles this fall. Sharon ended that goalless stretch in the opening game of the season against Norwell and there is an increased level of confidence that the program is mixing in more experienced players with newcomers that can help make the team more competitive this year.
The defense will be led by an experienced corps of players. Seniors Holly Davis, Blaize Hanna, and Anya Lane are all back to solidify a back line that reduced the goals allowed by 27 from 2017 to 2018. Senior Lauren Glass will be the team’s primary playmaker in midfield and she will get help from junior Jenna Goldstein. There are a lot of new faces in the attack, including sophomore Ashley Young, who got Sharon’s first goal of the season in the opener. Juniors Samantha Sherman and Jillian Parker will also chip in up front.
Sharon coach Ashley Courville said, “Our strengths on defense this season are consistency and strength. We have a handful of returning players back on defense giving us stability. Our offensive strengths are added speed leading to the ability to carry the ball on the field more effectively.”
2018 Record: 7-11-2 2018 Result: Missed Playoffs Coach: Dan Mark
The Black Knights would love to make a push for a playoff appearance this fall and Stoughton will rely on is experience in midfield and attack to overcome some of its inexperience in defense to try and make that run possible.
In the midfield, seniors Skylar Carroll, Madison Araujo, and Juliana Rush give the Black Knights speed and stick skills to push forward and make the transitions that will break down opposing defenses. In the attack, senior Brittni Paul and juniors Haley Nelson and Sarah McGrath have a nose for being in the right spots around the goal to create scoring chances. While the defense is relatively new, junior Kayla Laboy will be back between the pipes to add leadership and organization at the back.
Stoughton coach Dan Mark said, “We have a good nucleus of returning players, but do have some inexperience defensively. I think the key to our team will be a strong offense.”
2018 Record: 8-7-4 2018 Result: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Liz Hathaway
The Tigers have made great strides as a program, becoming a regular in the state tournament and competing with the top teams in the Hock, but after graduating 10 seniors Taunton will have its work cut out to make sure that another playoff berth is secured this fall.
Junior forward Alana Tavares will carry a lot of the scoring load for the Tigers this season. Tavares led the team in scoring last year and showed that she can also play in the midfield to create opportunities for teammates. Senior Kathryn Robinson will move up from defense into the midfield and her stick skills added to her defensive mindset will give the Tigers cover on both ends of the field. In defense, junior Jocelyn Pagliuca returns to provide leadership and cover in the back line with her ability to step into a challenge.
“We graduated 10 seniors last year and have many players stepping up for this season,” said Taunton coach Liz Hathaway.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
After registering just four wins a season ago, Big Blue is hoping for a big bounce back year in 2017. The toughest task will be finding replacements for the large amount of seniors that have graduated over the past two seasons. A big reason for hope to get back towards state tournament competition is four-year varsity player Grace Mayer. Mayer has been one of the top players in the Hock over the past couple of the seasons and led the Bombardiers with six goals and three assists for nine points. She will be joined on the forward line by junior Alexis Compton and junior transfer Takara Keele. Head coach Lindsay Antunes said her midfield has been strengthened “immensely” by sophomore Anna Beck, who was pulled up mid-season last year.
“There is an immense amount of unity on this team, and an outpouring of teamwork,” Antunes said. “Under the leadership of our current captains, many girls have assumed these roles [left by graduation] and are taking over the field. Some girls have been forced to transition into roles that are similar to ones they played in in the past, but not quite exact.”
2016 Record: 13-5-2 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Chrissy O’Connor
Canton is returning a strong core of players from a 13-win team a year ago and will be in the hunt for the Davenport title. Key returning players include senior forward Andrea McNeil and junior forward Maggie Malloy, who will be back to pace the Bulldogs’ offense, as well as senior midfielders Emily Campbell and Maggie Wade. With experience back in the mid, the Bulldogs expect to have a strong passing game and strong ball control. Senior Riley Brown will step in as the starting goalie and freshman Maria Femia could make an impact as a rookie.
“Coming into our second season we look to strengthen our passing game and game sense,” said Canton head coach Chrissy O’Connor. “We look forward to another competitive season in the Hockomock League!”
Coming off its best season in program history, Foxboro is now focused on 2017 and trying to write its owm chapter in the history books. While the Warriors graduated over a half a dozen seniors, they return last year’s Hockomock League MVP in goalie Kelli McCarthy as well as 2016 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Lily Daly. With experience on both ends of the field, Foxboro is set up nicely for 2017. Daly has led the Warriors in scoring in each of the past two seasons.
The middle of the field will look most familiar from last season with seniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano, and juniors Meghan Curran and Sophia DiCenso all returning after playing valuable minutes last season. The biggest challenge for the Warriors could be replacing starting defenders Kelly Fisher and Angela VandenBoom, who both graduated.
2016 Record: 12-4-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Lisa Cropper
The defending Kelley-Rex division champions are in a good spot with so many returning players from last year’s squad. Leading the way is HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Annie Walsh, who led the Hockomock League with 25 points a season ago. Cassi Ronan (16 points) and Erin Walsh (10 points) are also back as Franklin returns its top three scorers. Another positive is that Franklin has some experience back on the defensive end as well. Kate Morse is back to anchor the unit after an impressive junior season and will be joined by Meri Gendreau and Emily Valentino in front of goalie Christina Luccini. Head coach Lisa Cropper expects senior Maddie Hinckley and freshman Victoria Quinn to also play big roles for the Panthers.
“Our biggest asset this season is depth,” Cropper said. “We are hoping to wear down our opponents and utilize our speed late in games.”
After coming just a point shy of splitting the league title with Franklin a season ago, King Philip returns a strong core that will look to make another push for the Kelley-Rex crown. One big reason that the Warriors will be in the mix is because senior goalie Abby Campbell is back in the cage this season. And in front of Campbell, KP returns senior Christina Hathaway – two big reasons why the Warriors allowed only 13 goals all season in 2016. The offense will look very familiar with senior Liz Furfari (13 points) and junior Alli Meehan (25 points) back in the fold. Juniors Kate Lindmark and Caroline Klim will help bolster the defense while Nicole Connor and Dana Truini will be important players in the midfield.
“We have speed and can create a quick transition game with our passing game and formation,” said KP head coach Liz Hathaway. “We also have a couple of big hitters which should help us generate getting the ball inside the offensive 25 and to execute on corners.”
2016 Record: 13-5-2 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Theresa Nyhan
Mansfield is relying on seven returning seniors and a mix of young players as they look to get back to the state tournament yet again this season. The Hornets have senior leadership all over the field, which will be important in a very deep and talented league. Up top, Mansfield had Heather D’Amdra and Kristina O’Connell, while seniors Emily Ierardo and Ann Maher will lead the way from the midfield. On the defensive end, seniors Nicole Berluti, Julia Burhman and Brittany Lam will anchor the back line.
“As a unit we are looking to move the ball at pace,” said Mansfield head coach Theresa Nyhan. “We have speed at all levels and look to transition quickly.”
2016 Record: 3-15-2 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Kim Danish
Although the Hawks graduated 11 seniors from last year’s squad, they return some key pieces that head coach Kim Danish is hoping will help Milford take a step forward. The Hawks will lean on tri-captains Shannon Cormier (the team’s leading scorer last season), Danielle Fokas (who will start on the wing) and Emily Condon (a returning member of the Hawks’ defense) to pave the way this season. Kate Wimette, Colby Bowers and Megan Larouco will see time in the midfield while Julie Rabinowitz would see time all over the field, depending on need. Milford is looking to rely on speed on offense to try and get the offense going.
“We have a strong mix of seven returning seniors who are fantastic leaders and a great core group from last year’s JV team who will step up and make an immediate impact on the field,” Danish said. “Overall, the motivation and work ethic among this group has been top notch! We are looking forward to a great season.”
After missing out on the state tournament in back-to-back years, Big Red field hockey is hoping to make a run at the Davenport crown and get back to the MIAA playoffs. One tough task will be replacing 14 seniors, including all-league goalie Liz Morehouse, all-star Mary Kummer and all-league honorable mention Teresa Bagarella. But head coach Karen Folan is confident she has the pieces to compete in a deep Hockomock League this year. Senior captains Emilie Pothier, Olivia Gedgaudus and Camille Pizarro return to make up the majority of the midfield. Senior Katherine Munley is also back on the wing, giving Big Red some speed on the outside. Sophomore Emma Strachan takes over in net this season, with Folan describing her as “quick and aggressive.”
“The returning members of the varsity team have shown they are ready to fill in any gaps our line up may have after graduating 14 seniors,” Folan said. “And our new team members are eager to step onto the varsity playing field.”
2016 Record: 11-6-3 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Abby Tepper
Oliver Ames will be relying on a mix of experience and youth as they try to stay competitive in a deep Kelley-Rex division. It starts with senior captain Sarah Stevens in the midfield, who will be the “quarterback” of the midfield according to head coach Abby Tepper. Senior Cristina Boudreau and junior Kayla Lozzi will bolster that midfield while senior Liz Nuss will provide speed to the attacking group. OA’s defense will be anchored by senior captain Sarah Tetrault while senior Caitlin Grant will be the starting goalie. Freshman Brynna Courneen has impressed defensively early on.
“This year our offense will be quick and have speed,” Tepper said. “We have some young players filling the wing spots and we are working on being hungry inside the circle. We want to be a scrappy team and get the ball in the bucket no matter what it takes. Our defense does a solid job recovering for one another in the circle and stepping to ball without hesitation. As a team we want to build a positive culture and work hard day in and day out.”
2016 Record: 1-17-0 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrea Vandette
Now in her third year at the helm of the Sharon Eagles, head coach Andrea Vandette is confident that her squad is ready to take the next step and find some more success. The Eagles are led by three captains: Elyse Korn, Abbi Solomon and Grace Leavitt. Leavitt started to come on strong at the end of the year last season and will be the anchor for the Eagles’ defensive unit this season. Senior Lindsay Moses will be be in the cage and has a good amount of varsity experience under her belt. In the midfield, Leora Leavitt will be in the center of the field and one of the Eagles’ most reliable players. Vandette is also expecting juniors Veronica Wallace and Stephanie Edwards to continue their growth after picking up the sport a season ago.
“My main goal for the girls this season is to compete,” Vendette said. “Being that this is my third year with the program, I believe they know my expectations and the seniors have a good understanding of how to move the ball on the field and how to be successful. We certainly have enough talent to put a few more wins on the board this season!”
2016 Record: 8-9-3 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Dan Mark
Despite graduating a handful of talented players, including 2015 Hockomock League MVP Angela Connolly, Stoughton head coach Dan Mark is bringing back several key players for the 2017 version of the Black Knights. The Black Knights’ offense will look the most similar to last season’s team that qualified for the state tournament. Julia Russell, Kamryn Oliveira and Jackie Evangelista are returning forwards who played regularly last year. Lisa Ramanauskas is a returning midfielder, and Haley Bushlow is back to anchor the back line. Gianna Barbosa will be the starting goalie again this season.
“We have several returning players who played many minutes last year and are expected to step in as starters this year,” Mark said.
2016 Record: 2-15-1 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Elizabeth Hathaway
With a strong core of experienced players back, and a couple of young talents looking to make an impression, the Tigers are hoping to improve on last year’s season. Senior Kya Enos has been a steady presence for the Tigers for the past four seasons and will be relied upon to lead the attack long with senior Liana Duarte. Juniors Jillian Pagliuca and Lauren Torres will be tasked with controlling the midfield along with freshman Alana Tavares. Sophomore Kathryn Robinson will be a key piece of Taunton’s defensive unit this season
“Our strength will be the ability of the forwards and mids to move the ball up the field,” said Taunton head coach Liz Hathaway. “Speed is also a factor that will help our offensive attacks.”
Players to Watch
Players are listed alphabetically
Abby Campbell, King Philip – Campbell has been one of the top goalies in the league for the past two seasons and helped KP come within a point of sharing the league title with Franklin last season and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. She had 11 shutouts in 2016 and saved 130-of-143 shots that she faced, finishing with a goals against average of 0.619.
Emily Campbell, Canton – Campbell was a versatile weapon for the Bulldogs, helping out both in midfield and defense to help Canton win 13 games and achieve a plus-40 goal differential for the season. With Campbell playing a critical role, Canton allowed only 14 goals on the year, which was second best in the league. She also chipped in with three goals and seven assists.
Lily Daly, Foxboro – Daly has been the leading scorer for the Warriors in each of her two varsity seasons, helping Foxboro win its first league title in 11 years and its first ever Div. 2 South title. Daly is a force near the net and was chosen as the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year after scoring 16 goals and recording 11 assists.
Emily Ierardo, Mansfield – Ierardo emerged last season as one of the top offensive weapons for the Hornets, helping Mansfield make another run at the league title and reach the second round of the state tournament. She played five different positions in the forward and midfield areas and she scored nine goals and recorded six assists last fall.
Maggie Malloy, Canton – Malloy made quite the impact in her first season playing field hockey. She jumped onto the Canton varsity squad early in the season and finished as the league’s top goal scorer with 16 tallies for the year. She was a big reason for Canton’s improvement offensively and this year, with a season of experience, Malloy could have even bigger numbers.
Kelli McCarthy, Foxboro – Voted Hockomock MVP by the league’s coaches, McCarthy was the backstop for a Warriors defense that was one of the best in the league and helped Foxboro claim a Davenport division title and its first ever Div. 2 South title. She finished with 115 saves on the season and recorded 15 shutouts in 23 games, allowing only 13 goals total.
Alli Meehan, King Philip – Meehan was integral to KP making a run at the league title last season, holding a lead into the final week of the regular season, and reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal. Meehan scored 14 goals and recorded 11 assists to tie for the league-high in points. She also assisted on the goal that forced overtime against Somerset-Berkeley in a state tournament win.
Cassi Ronan, Franklin – Ronan was a versatile cog in Franklin’s league championship season in 2016, playing both midfield and forward for the Panthers. She finished with 10 goals and seven assists, while being named to the HockomockSports.com First Team, but also did a lot of the defensive work that didn’t show up in the box score.
Sarah Stevens, Oliver Ames – Stevens had a strong season for Oliver Ames in 2016 and the senior will be counted on to create scoring opportunities for the Tigers again this fall. She scored six goals and recorded nine assists for OA last season, helping the Tigers get to 11 wins on the season, beat Durfee in the first round of the playoffs, and push perennial power Walpole to overtime.
Annie Walsh, Franklin – Walsh is the reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year (she was also Player of the Year in girls’ lacrosse) after leading the Panthers to a Kelley-Rex division title. A year after being named Underclassman of the Year, Walsh took her game to another level with 14 goals and 11 assists for a league-high 25 points.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.