FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin entered the postseason with just two losses (both in double overtime) and with its highest-ever seed (No. 2). The Panthers rolled through a perfect league campaign, going 10-0 in the Hockomock, while compiling both the league’s best attack and its stingiest defense.
So, all the pressure was definitely on the Panthers when they opened up the state tournament at Pisini Stadium on Tuesday night against division rival Mansfield. The Hornets were playing with house money, having won the final three games of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs and having lost to Franklin by 20 goals a month ago.
When Jake DiSangro scored with just under six minutes left to go in the opening quarter, cutting the Franklin lead to 2-1, the Hornets bench exploded and there was a fleeting moment where an upset seemed possible.
But, the Panthers responded with two goals in 29 seconds and rattled off seven straight goals to close out the quarter with a 9-1 lead. Franklin never looked back, going up by 14 at halftime, and, despite Mansfield scoring the game’s final five goals, comfortably advancing to the second round with a 19-8 victory.
The combination of junior attackers Jake Davis and Ben Greco and sophomore Matt Lazzaro proved especially potent again for the Panthers on Tuesday. Greco and Lazzaro are cousins and Verrochi said they refer to Davis as “the third cousin.” That familiarity was on display as they combined for 16 of the team’s 19 goals and added 11 assists as well.
“They’ve been playing together since they were young kids,” Verrochi said of his attacking trio. “They just really respect one another and they just do a real nice job moving the ball. It’s just fun to watch when they’re on.”
Davis got things going just about a minute into the game with a rip from the left side under the bar. Ninety seconds later, Greco found Lazzaro cutting through the middle and he went behind-the-back to double the early lead. DiSangro answered four minutes later with Mansfield’s first, managing to beat Franklin goalie Will Davis with a shot while being knocked to the ground.
That goal seemed to spring Franklin to life.
Jacob Alexander, the newly-selected league MVP, won the ensuing face-off and quickly got the ball to Greco, who fed Lazzaro for a goal. Mansfield’s momentum lasted all of eight seconds. Twenty-one seconds after that Greco to Lazzaro made it 4-1.
Lazzaro (seven goals and three assists) hit a cutting Davis (seven goals and two assists) not once, but twice to add to the advantage. Greco (two goals and six assists) took one himself, squeezing past the Mansfield defense and beating goalie Joe Plath (11 saves) from a tight angle. Owen Kielty took a hit but still got a lot on a shot from distance to make it 8-1 and then Nitin Chaudhury wound up in traffic for a ninth just before the end of the quarter.
“We tried to slow them down,” said Mansfield coach Tim Frias. “We implemented a zone a little bit to slow down the high-powered offense but they’re good. They’re No. 2 for a reason.”
Despite Mansfield’s switch to a zone defense, Franklin figured out ways to manufacture space and the ball movement continued to open up scoring chances.
“The kids solved the zone pretty well,” said Verrochi. “They were ball watching and we were fortunate to get some good, open looks. Ben Greco, he’s been doing it all year, our fast breaks, our unsettled situations, the kids just move the ball. This is probably the best ball movement from any team we’ve had.”
The Hornets started the second man-down, but managed to end the Panthers scoring run. Connor Quirk beat two Panthers on the far side trying to clear after a timeout and then he raced all the way on goal before tucking it away.
Chaudhury found Davis with his hands free for a rocket into the corner to get the hosts going again. Davis added a side-arm effort off a turnover and then assisted on Lazzaro’s fourth. With just under five minutes left in the half, Patrick Morrison scooped a ground ball in his defensive third and raced forward on the break to find Greco alone in front for his second. Eleven seconds later, Greco to Lazzaro worked again to make it 14-2.
Lazzaro scored his sixth and Tim Kolb got his first to put the Panthers up by 14 heading into the break. Nico Holmes won the face-off to start the third and powered towards goal, flicking a pass to Brady Kessler for the goal to make it 16-3. Davis added two more and Lazzaro one to push the lead to 19-3, Franklin’s largest of the game.
The Hornets didn’t stop at that point and they pushed to win the final 16 minutes of the game. Aidan Sacco got it started with a goal with 3:57 left in the third and, after a Holmes face-off win, Mansfield got a goal from Brian Rockwell.
Mansfield (8-9) would shut out Franklin in the fourth. Holmes got a goal straight from the face-off to start the quarter, Sacco assisted on a goal by Thomas Norton, and Holmes (two goals and two assists) completed his four-point night with a rocket from long-range.
“That’s all you can ask out of a team is play with pride,” said Frias. “In the second half it was the little things that you hope you take away and can build on that. Hopefully we will.”
Franklin (17-2) advances to take on No. 7 seed Natick on Thursday night.
FRANKLIN, Mass. It’s tough to rank players in terms of importance on the field, but there is certainly no doubting the value in Franklin junior face off specialist Jacob Alexander.
Alexander’s second half dominance at the face off X translated into a big half for the fourth-seeded Panthers, resulting in a 13-7 win #13 Mansfield.
The two Kelley-Rex division rivals were knotted 4-4 at halftime but Franklin dominated time of possession and scoring chances thanks in part to Alexander’s continued success at the ‘X.’ Those possessions and chances resulted in an 8-0 run over the third and fourth quarters.
“It all starts with Jacob, he’s such a key component to our success,” said Franklin head coach Lou Verrochi. “What can you say? He’s winning 86% of his face offs, he’s such a tough draw for any team. He’s so talented, and for a kid his size, he’s got good wheels, he can really play. He’s got great ground ball skills, great dodge skills…he could be an effective first line middie really.”
Mansfield had a strong start, racing out to a 3-1 lead after a quarter of play. But Franklin scored back-to-back goals within a minute span to tie the game. Franklin took its first lead at 4-3 but Mansfield tied it shortly before half.
“We were right in it but Alexander in the face off X, getting them all of those possessions really hurt,” said Mansfield head coach Tim Frias. “[Freshman] Nico [Holmes] is holding his own and he’s done really well but Alexander is a seasoned vet and it shows. I think in that third quarter we had two offensive possessions compared to the first half where it was a lot more back and forth. Franklin did a great job of possessing and making the most of their opportunities.”
Mansfield’s Danny DiGirolamo opened the scoring three minutes into the game and the Hornets nearly doubled it two minutes later but Franklin goalie Connor O’Rourke (12 saves) made a terrific one-on-one save. That save turned into transition for Franklin and senior Eric Civetti buried his shot on the other end to tie it.
The Hornets didn’t flinch though and capitalized on a transition chance of their own when senior Hunter Ferreira came racing down and buried a shot despite being double teamed. Mansfield survived a man-up opportunity from Franklin and drew a penalty in the process.
During the man-up chance, Ferreira went behind the net and then connected on a pass to Brad Grant right in front, who put the Hornets up 3-1 with just over a minute left in the quarter.
Franklin freshman Matt Lazzaro got things going for the Panthers in the second quarter, charging in from a tight angle before bouncing out in front and ripping a shot in. Lazzaro drew a penalty in the process and the Panthers cashed in less than a minute later when Civetti came from behind the net and found just enough space to sneak a shot in to tie the game.
The Panthers capitalized on the momentum and took the lead just over a minute later. Civetti backed his way down and found the slightest of angles to slip his shot inside the post for a 4-3 lead. Mansfield tied the game with three minutes left in the half when Ferreira found Connor Quirk right in front for the tying tally.
Not only did Alexander change the game with his face off wins in the second half, he set the tone early with a goal less than a minute into the second half.
After winning the opening face off, Mansfield nearly forced a turnover but Alexander scooped up the loose ball. He was able to spin between two defenders and fired a bound shot in to put Franklin up 5-4 just 18 seconds into the third quarter.
Mansfield almost had the tying goal in transition but O’Rourke came up with another one-on-one save to preserve the lead. From there, it was all Franklin.
“Connor really came up big for us a couple of times in big moments,” Verrochi said. “If [Mansfield] gets those goals where he came up with brilliant saves, it’s a different game. He made a huge save when it was 3-1 too and if it gets to 4-1, you never know.”
Just 30 seconds after O’Rourke’s save, Franklin cashed in when Chase Tanner ripped a hard shot that bounced just before the goal line and in. Out of a timeout, junior Patrick Morrison found a cutting Ben Greco in front for a 7-4 lead.
With just 12 seconds left in the third, Civetti again worked his way from behind the net in front and found the top corner with his shot for an 8-4 advantage heading into the final quarter.
“I think the offense settled down,” Verrochi said of the second half. “Everything was a little tight in the first half. Once they settled down and looked for good possessions, things started to go our way. We stopped throwing the ball away which we did a couple of times which is uncharacteristic. But it’s a playoff game, emotions are high, but we settled down in the second half. The long possessions helped us and defensively we extended them a bit.”
Alexander continued to win at the X and Franklin’s offense continued to manufacture goals. Lazzaro converted on a breakaway after the Panthers forced turnover near midfield. Mansfield goalie Jack Munroe (13 saves) made a nice stop on a shot but Jonathan O’Glishen cleaned up the rebound for a 10-4 lead.
Sophomore Owen Palmieri made it 11-4 with a goal midway through the quarter and Civetti netted his fifth just a minute later for a 12-4 lead, capping the Panthers’ 8-0 run that started in the third quarter.
Mansfield’s Michael Reed snapped the scoreless drought with a nice individual effort with 4:23 to go. It marked the Hornets’ first goal since the 3:15 mark of the second quarter.
“We felt like we needed to extend on them so we did and I think it kind of took them out of the comfort zone that they were in during the first half,” Verrochi said. “We started to cause some turnovers and did better on the ground balls. We got some nice breaks and some nice finishes from Eric and Matty Lazzaro.”
Tanner answered for Franklin on a nice feed from Kyle McEniry to cap Franklin’s scoring. Joe Cox and DiGirolamo scored in the final two minutes for the Hornets.
Franklin boys lacrosse (16-3) advances to the D1 South quarterfinal round to take on #5 Xaverian (15-4), who beat Marshfield 11-4 in the first round. The game is scheduled for Saturday but a time has yet to be determined. Mansfield finishes the season at 9-9.
2017 Record: 8-10 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Kevin Koppy
After coming up just one game shy of the postseason, Attleboro is aiming to make the playoffs for the first time in program history in 2018.
The Bombardiers doubled their victory total from 2016 to 2017, going from four to eight in the win column. Attleboro returns 11 players from last year’s squad and has a total of 12 seniors on the team. Now in its fourth year, interest in the program is growing rapidly with 17 combined freshmen on either varsity or the JV roster.
There will be a lot of experience on the defensive end for Big Blue. Junior captain Trevor Koppy is back for his third year as the Bombardiers’ starting goalie. He turned away 306 shots last year with a 64% save percentage. In front of Koppy, senior captain Dan Perry is back to anchor the defensive unit which features all seniors.
“Dan is a physical defender that has excellent field awareness and leads by example,” said AHS head coach Kevin Koppy. “He’s constantly hustling and fighting hard for loose balls.”
Perry is joined by classmates Jim Nordberg and Chris Reynolds on close defense while Matt Potter will man LSM and Matt Jiminez brins an extra long pole presence to the defensive unit. Another returner is senior Kyle Henry, resuming his role as the team’s primary faceoff man. Henry had a successful 2017 season in that role and Big Blue will rely on him to spark the offense once again.
Seniors Jimmy Burke and Aidan McKenna, junior Cam Littig, and sophomore Thomas Shipman return to the midfield for Attleboro. Big Blue will have some new faces on the attack with seniors TJ Infante, Shane Joubert, and Aidan Downey leading the way. Freshman Mike Strachan and Matt Perry will also be involved in Attleboro’s attack.
2017 Record: 8-10 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Bill Bendell
The Bulldogs found themselves in an unfamiliar position at the end of last season: on the outside looking in for the postseason.
Canton is looking to get back into the postseason this year after coming up just one game shy of qualifying. The Bulldogs won three straight to give themselves a chance but fell just short on the road against Abington in the final game of the season.
Using that as motivation, look for the Bulldogs to be right back in the mix this season. Leading the way will be senior captains Kevin Albert, Charlie O’Connor, and Griffin Roach. All three patrolled the midfield last season but could see time in other spots depending on how the lineup comes together.
O’Connor will step in to handle faceoffs but could miss some time early along with defensemen Brian Ghostlaw and Brendan Albert. Until Canton gets back to 100%, it will rely on senior Gabe Galeotos, junior George Kent, and sophomores Nick Mackay and Jace Emma to provide protection in front of sophomore goalie Jack Connolly. Connolly had a superb freshman season in the cage for the Bulldogs and will try to build upon that his season.
Junior Mike Shaw is back for his third year on attack for Canton, providing experience and leadership up front. Juniors Matt Martin and Dan Cohen, along with sophomores Chris Lavoie and David Allen will also figure into the Bulldogs’ offense this season.”
“We have a great group of kids this year with a nice blend of experienced players and new faces,” said CHS head coach Bill Bendell.
2017 Record: 11-9 2017 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East First Round Coach: Matt Noone
It’s safe to say Foxboro head coach Matt Noone is optimistic about the 2018 season.
The Warriors graduated just three players total and return their starting goalie, the entire defensive unit, and top three scorers from a season ago. Foxboro’s record was a bit deceiving based on how much talent they had, with five one-goal losses and two two-goal losses. The Warriors were dropped in the opening game of the playoffs by just one goal after holding a multi-goal lead in the second half.
With so much of the line up back, Noone is hoping to turn those close losses into wins.
“We’re going to be a better team than we were last year,” Noone said. “We have to play within our system, and do the simple things…if we do that, we will be very good and very tough to beat. If they don’t, we’ll be losing those one-goal games again.”
It all starts with defense in Foxboro with Jake Addeche returning in the cage for his third season. Addeche (185 saves) is one of the best goalies in the region and will have a very experienced defense in front of him. Senior Pat Kaveny and junior Pat Stapleton will anchor the defense, both with equipped with plenty of skill and experience, while sophomores Ronnie MacLellan and Matt Lathrop each already have a year of varsity experience under their belts.
Junior Brendan Tully (24 goals, 15 assists) will pace the Warriors in the midfield (“His lacrosse IQ is off the charts,” Noone notes). Tully can help transition Foxboro from defense to offense, and his ability to keep possession helps the Warriors control the tempo. Tully is complemented in the middle by seniors Louis Blake and Mike Collins while both Shayne Kerrigan and Bobby Yerardi will be in the mix as well.
Offensively, the Warriors look to be well-balanced with Louis Piccolo (25 goals, 13 assists) back this year along with senior Mike Moses (18 goals, 20 assists), junior Pete Conley (15 goals, 23 assists) and senior Andrew Whalen.
2017 Record: 16-5 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lou Verrochi
Expectations are high for the 2018 season based on the talent the Franklin Panthers boast this year.
“We return a very good team,” said FHS head coach Lou Verrochi. “We have a very good and deep bench too, we’re looking forward to the season.”
The long list of returning talent starts with All-American and 2017 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Eric Civetti. Civetti (Rutgers commit) has been tormenting opposing defenses since his freshman year. He scored 70 goals and notched 24 assists as a sophomore, and then netted 79 goals and 21 assists last year, totaling 194 points between the two years. The Panthers will also boast senior Zach Alexander and freshman Matt Lazzaro on attack.
The midfield will be loaded with two talented lines available. Captains Kyle McEniry (10 goals, 21 assists) and Chase Tanner (29 goals, 10 assists) will be joined by the speedy Nitin Chaudhury (24 goals, 10 assists) on the Panthers first unit while Jake Davis, Johnny O’Glishen, and Owen Palmieri give Verrochi an incredibly talented second unit.
As if the midfield wasn’t loaded enough, the Panthers have 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Jacob Alexander back to dominate the faceoff X. Alexander, who is committed to play at Bryant University, has dominated at the X for the past two years and really gives the Panthers an advantage in terms of getting possession. “He’s arguably the best FOGO in Mass,” Verrochi noted.
The defense will be anchored by junior Patrick Morrison (Rutgers commit) along with Trevor Raffin, Jack McGrath and Spencer Briggs. Sean Lazzaro will be our top LSM while the Panthers have plenty of talent as SSDM with Will Harvey, Ben Kolb, and Aaron Mollo in the mix. Backstopping the team in goal will be Colorado commit and captain Connor O’Rourke (169 saves, 64% save percentage).
2017 Record: 13-9 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals Coach: Hal Bean
The Warriors will be looking to replicate the success they had in the 2016 season again this year.
After finishing 9-2 in league play (second in the Kelley-Rex), the Warriors had an impressive postseason run, competing with top-seeded and eventual sectional champ BC High in the D1 South Quarterfinals.
A big reason why KP has had a lot of experience over the past four years is goalie Paul Macrina. Macrina is now manning the cage at Drexel University, so there are big shoes to fill in the cage this season for KP.
King Philip also has to find replacements for the production lost by LSM Zach D’Amico, attack Tim Watson (56 goals, 28 points – second in the Hockomock League), and defenseman Connor Khung – the first two selected to the 2017 HockomockSports.com First Team and Khung apart of the Second Team.
All is not lost though as the Warriors have junior Colin DeVellis back to spearhead the attack. DeVellis was fourth overall in the Hockomock League in points last season, scoring 22 goals and notching 36 assists (58 points). Another key piece will be senior Nate Minkwitz, who can make an impact on both ends of the field. Minkwitz had 13 goals and five assists last season and will aim to improve on that. Expect LSM Wesley Bishop and midfielder Aidan Bender to factor in this season as well.
2017 Record: 12-7 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tim Frias
Mansfield returns a good amount of talent from last year’s playoff squad so the Hornets will certainly be looking to book a return trip as well as compete for a Kelley-Rex title.
The Hornets return one of the most dangerous attackmen in the area in senior Hunter Ferreira. Ferreira’s combination of size, speed, and strength – as well as finishing ability – make him a must-watch for opposing defenses. Most will dedicate two defensemen his way but Ferreira still finished fifth in the league in points with 34 goals and 19 assists. Ferreira will be joined by returners Aidan Sacco and Mike Reed, giving the Hornets an experienced three-headed monster on offense.
The midfield is also loaded with experience behind returning starters Joe Cox (19 goals, 14 assists) and Danny DeGirolamo (17 goals, 15 assists). Cox, who was named to the 2017 HockomockSports.com Second Team, muscles his way through opponents, while DeGirolamo can use his speed to cause problems. Haig Megerdichian, Brett Kessler, Connor Quirk, and Brad Grant will all see time in the midfield as well.
Tommy Donnelly will anchor the defensive unit but the Hornets will have some new faces in back. Dan Plugis and Chris Copponi will both see a lot of minutes for the Hornets in front of goalie Jack Munroe, who stepped in last season and impressed in the cage.
“Our strength this year will be at the midfield with lots of legs,” said MHS head coach Tim Frias. “We should be good in transition as well.”
2017 Record: 4-13 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jacob Scordato
Milford hasn’t had a ton of success overall since it joined the Hockomock League, but new head coach Jacob Scordato is hoping to change that going forward.
Scordato takes over a team that had just four wins a year ago and is the third coach in the past three years for the program.
“Our players are focused on making our program a successful one,” Scordato said. “Boys lacrosse in the Hockomock is known for being a tough league, and Milford lacrosse is going to be making a lot of noise from here on out.”
Although the Hawks don’t have an incredibly deep roster, the optimism stems from the experience returning on offense. UMass Boston commit and senior captain Andrew Gallagher (16 goals, 7 assists) will be a key weapon up front along with junior captains Ryan Hazard (41 goals, 10 assists) and Josh Ligor.
Scordato also expects junior newcomer Brendan White, who has had successful football and basketball seasons so far this school year, to make a big impact on offense for Milford. Defensively, Milford will rely on senior captain and midfielder Chase Blanchette.
2017 Record: 16-3 2017 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals Coach: Kevin Young
North Attleboro graduated a lot of talent from last year’s squad, so it’s no surprise head coach Kevin Young believes this season will be a big challenge for his young squad.
Although he expects it to be a challenge, the Rocketeers have built a strong program and will likely be in the mix for the division title with Foxboro. Big Red will be anchored by defenseman and captain Tom Lockavitch (Roger Williams commit) and senior LSM Max Fontes. Both Lockavitch and Fontes had tremendous junior seasons and were both honored by HockomockSports.com (first and second teams, respectively). Sophomores Brett Labonte and Will Yeomans will round out a strong defensive unit.
One of the biggest tasks will be filling the void left in goal with Hock MVP and long-time starter Dan MacDonald now graduated. The Rocketeers have three goalies in the mix with Young noting all are working hard to claim the starting spot. Junior Jack Puccio and sophomores Nate D’Amico and Jake McNeany will all be in the mix.
Captain Tommy Lindstrom (Springfield commit) will pace the offense with the help of sophomores Jack Connolly and Andy DeMattio. Faceoff specialist Jason McNeany (Cocker College commit) is also back and will be a key piece of the offense. Nick Ward, Damien Curtis, and Dan Conroy should carry the transition in the midfield with help from Ryan Rajotte and Matt McSweeney.
2017 Record: 8-10 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Ben Devlin
Oliver Ames nearly made it two straight years in the postseason but came up just one game shy of qualifying in 2017. So the goal is simple for the Tigers in 2018: get back to the tournament.
The Tigers return their top six scorers from last season, and now with a year more experience under their belts, should be ready to take on some of the top defenses in the league.
Assistant coach Ben Devlin takes over the reigns of the program, and the familiarity should help make for a smooth transition. Senior captains Eric LeBlanc (30 goals, 13 assists) and Owen Gallagher will spearhead the attack while senior captain Jack Lang will make an impact on both ends of the field while also handling faceoff duties. Junior Colin Bourne and sophomores Sam Stevens and Shane Kilkelly give the Tigers varsity experience in the midfield. Sophomore Frankie Ireland and freshman Remi Creighton will also figure into the mix on offense.
Devlin will have holes to fill on the defensive end but its excited about the skill that the Tigers have. Shane Murphy, Cullen Gallagher, and Matt Saba will be relied upon to carry the defensive unit while Rory Madden will handle LSM duties after missing last season. Nick Gillis will take over for Sean Cosgrove in net after impressing at the JV level.
“We are a couple years into rebuilding this program, which is difficult while playing in such a tough conference against some of the best players and coaches in the state,” Devlin said. “We’re young and inexperienced, but talented on defense. All I can ask is for my kids to play to their capabilities. If we do that I think we can win enough games this season to reach our goal.”
2017 Record: 7-11 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Jon Shocket
New head coach Jon Shocket is excited and optimistic that the 2018 season will be a successful one on the lacrosse field for the Sharon Eagles.
Shocket believes the Eagles have the lacrosse IQ and skill to get back to the postseason after missing out on qualification by two wins. A big reason for the optimism is the senior class.
“I have a really good senior group,” Shocket said. “If everyone buys into the system and trusts the process, this should be a fun season. This year, we have to make better decisions and move the ball around. It’s about working as a team instead of as individuals.”
The Eagles have experience at all positions on the field, starting with returning goalie Johnny Greenberg. Greenberg enters his third year as the starting goalie and will have good size in front of him. Both Sam Spencer and Coleman Loftus stand at 6’2 and look to be key pieces in the Eagles’ defensive unit.
In the midfield, Jimmy Fitzhenry, Chase Waxman, and Spencer Hall give the Eagles a well-balanced and experienced group. The three provide a combination of speed, strength, and skill that will help Sharon transition from defense to offense. Junior Matt Callan will handle faceoff duties while freshman LSM Tyler Freidman will be in the mix as well.
Senior Brett Litner brings a strong shot to the offense and will be tough to stop on the inside. Classmate Kadin Nestler gives the Eagles speed on the outside and makes the move from midfield to attack this year. Freshman Drew Litner rounds out the Eagles’ attacking unit.
2017 Record: 4-12 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Pat Healey
After winning four games in its inaugural season at the varsity level, Stoughton boys lacrosse is hoping to continue heading in the right direction this spring.
The Knights picked up wins over Milford twice, Taunton, and Norton and will look to be in competition with those squads again this year. Leading the blue collar group will be captains Justin Ly, Sean Doherty, and Danny Nakhili. Ly is a three-sport athlete that is willing to do the dirty work, Nakhili provides a lot of leadership in the midfield and uses his speed to give the offense a boost, and Doherty will handle the faceoff duties and provide an offensive punch.
Twins Nate and Alex Wilson bring skill to the long poles, Marty Barrett and Josh Cohen will be key pieces on defense, and Charlie Morgan, Luke Bainton, and Mike Tracey will all be in the mix offensively.
“I’m hoping for more wins,” said SHS head coach Pat Healey said in an interview with Stoughton Media Access. “Last year we got four under our belt which is great for a first-year program. We brought up a lot of freshmen this year from the youth program. But baby steps, this is a tough league so we’ll do as best as we can.
Now in its third year as a varsity program, Taunton is aiming to progress day by day to continue to build the program.
The Tigers went without a win last season but bring seven starters back with another year of success on their belts. Junior goalie Ryan Williams returns in cage to give the Tigers a familiar face on the defensive end. Williams has been manning the cage for Taunton since the team moved to a varsity schedule.
In front of Williams will be junior Justin Demoga, a captain, that handles close defense. Head coach Brendan Chambers noted Demoga is great with positioning, takes a great approach, and is willing to learn and improve every day. Chambers noted Demoga will be tasked with menacing opponents’ best attack throughout the season.
In the midfield, junior captain Dylan Nichols provides leadership and experience for the Tigers. Nichols has the speed to make an impact on both ends of the field and Chambers is hoping for some offensive production out of the junior. Nichols will be joined by senior Chris Kanabayashi who will contribute to the offense with his hard shot.
Junior Noah Kuczewski is making the jump from JV to varsity and will be one of the Tigers’ main pieces on attack. Chambers is also relying on junior captain Joel Delgado, who put a lot of time in during the offseason to improve, to be an important part of the offense.
“Our goal this year is to continue to build on what we did last year,” Chambers said. “We want to increase our lacrosse IQ and try to be more competitive in all our games. Ideally, we’ll win a couple games and get better every day.”
MANSFIELD, Mass. – In the playoffs, winning and losing games generally comes down to execution in crucial moments. That is especially true when it is two league rivals that know each other well and would love to advance at the other’s expense.
After King Philip traveled to Alumni Field and knocked out Mansfield 6-5 with a strong second half comeback in the Div. 1 South first round game, the one word that both coaches used to define why the Warriors came out on top was execution.
“We put a lot of time in practice to different defensive scenarios,” said KP coach Jacob Kravitz, “and we used everything at least once even if it was just for one possession. Everybody on ‘D’ had a lot on their plate from a playbook perspective and they executed everything.”
Mansfield coach Tim Frias was blunt in his assessment of the second half. He said, “They didn’t make mistakes and we made a lot of mistakes. They did very well and they had a great game plan going into it.
“It really came down to their players executing and our players not.”
The Hornets were executing early and built a 4-2 lead at the break. In fact it took only 44 seconds for Jarrett Saunders to open the scoring with a low angle shot that snuck past Paul Macrina. KP nearly tied it late in the first with a great passing move in transition only to have Harry Fallon hit the post.
With 2.4 left in the quarter, Billy Grant made it 2-0 with a shot from straightaway that Macrina got a piece of and appeared to have kept out, only to have the ball trickle past him and over the line.
KP responded in the second quarter to tie it. John Deluca got the first with a shot that bounced over the head of Mansfield goalie Sean Powers (15 saves). Fallon tied it with 6:04 left to halftime when he snared a rebound and went behind his back to find the top corner.
Mansfield again found late goals to regain the lead. Ryan Smith was involved in both, scoring the first when he snagged a loose ball on the edge of the crease and then taking advantage of a bad turnover to assist on a goal by Sam O’Connell, who matched Fallon with the creativity of his finish.
Coming out of halftime, the Warriors took control of the game. KP would score the next four goals between the third and fourth quarters to take the lead, while its defense continued to shut down the Mansfield attack. Even when the Hornets did get chances to possess the ball, they rushed their chances and allowed KP to heap even more pressure on the Mansfield defense.
“Not settling and not playing our game and that really showed in the second half,” said Frias. “Really it was something that we hadn’t done all season.”
Kravitz credited Macrina for sparking his team at the break. The junior goalie followed up his halftime team talk with a stellar showing in the second half, making nine of his 11 saves to regularly deny the Hornets another goal.
“I see it all the time,” said Kravitz with a smile. “He’s just always that good and he’s a great person too.
“At halftime, the first person to say anything was Paul and he said, we can’t get down, we can’t blame anyone, we can only win it as a team. That was probably a big part of that second half.”
Anthony Truini got the comeback started with a lefty shot to the bottom corner on the run within the first minute of the third quarter. With three minutes left in the third, Sam Agricola popped up in transition off an assist by Zach D’Amico to tie the game at 4-4.
“He matched up against two or three different all-league midfielders today (Connor Finerty, Hunter Ferreira, and Billy Grant) and did a great job,” said Kravitz of D’Amico, who he called an underrated part of the team’s success. “He was also the one man clear on the timeout that ended up icing the game.”
Early in the fourth quarter Agricola struck again off an assist from Deluca. He sniped the top corner to make it 5-4. Seven minutes later, Tim Watson forced a turnover in the attacking zone and fed Agricola for another rip into the corner to make it 6-4.
“He’s tough,” said Kravitz of Agricola. “He takes elbows and sticks and hits and he doesn’t care and he puts the ball on the cage.”
Grant took advantage of a man-up situation to fire in his second of the game and cut the lead back to one. With 1:04 remaining, Jon Reed had one last chance for the Hornets to try and tie it. He was open on the edge of the crease and had time to throw several fakes but Macrina still managed to read the play and stuff the chance.
“Paul is an unbelievable goalie,” said Frias of Macrina. “He did it all last year and he’s doing it again this year especially at the right time getting hot.”
King Philip (11-8) will face the winner of Newton North and Natick in the quarterfinals.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The Hornets got off to a great start against Kelley-Rex rival North Attleboro in a non-league meeting on Friday afternoon. Behind two of Bill Grant’s three goals, Mansfield took a 4-0 lead in the first half and that turned out to be the difference.
The Rocketeers closed the gap with a fourth quarter rally but in the end the early deficit proved to be too much and Mansfield held on for an 8-5 victory.
“That was the really difference that our guys popped out to,” said Mansfield coach Tim Frias, “and, you know, North is a great team, they’re well-coached and you see them work hard after every ball, so nothing’s safe.”
North Attleboro coach Kevin Young, whose young team only has three seniors in the starting lineup, admitted that the lack of intensity at the start hurt on Friday.
He said, “That class last year was nice and strong, carried the load, so these guys have to step up and learn and they are. The second half was good…made a push at the end.
“We just have to get confident, start working together, and not make JV kid mistakes.”
Grant opened the scoring inside the opening minute off a feed from Connor Finerty. The score would stay the same for nearly seven minutes before Grant won a ground ball and then fed it to Ryan Smith, who had his first shot saved by Danny MacDonald but batted in the rebound.
Sam O’Connell made it 3-0 for the Hornets before the end of the first quarter off a great pass from Jon Reed from the ‘X.’ The Mansfield passing moved the North defense around and got MacDonald to chase out of his crease for a second to allow space in front for O’Connell.
“That’s the philosophy we’re working on on offense,” said Frias. “The faster you move the ball, the more opportunities you’ll get, especially with a lot of guys that can shoot. Move it around and you’ll get open and they’re getting it.”
North had a few chances in the first quarter. Sean Powers made three of his seven saves in the half and the Rocketeers hit the post twice, including a chance for Zack McGowan that smacked off the bar from close range. One shot by Owen Costello slipped past Powers but the muddy field held the ball just short of the line and the goalie was able to cover in time to prevent the goal.
Grant tacked on his second goal of the game on a man-up three minutes into the second quarter, but North was finally able to get on the board on its own EMO when freshman Nick Ward fired a shot inside the post.
In the second half, Finerty restored the four-goal lead on an assist by Hunter Ferreira, as the senior cut through the middle of the North defense. On a turnover, Ferreira got his first to make it 6-1 and it looked like Mansfield could run away with the game.
But, North had an answer. Costello beat his man to the middle and despite heavy contact was able to get a shot away and beat Powers. Shortly after, Colin Young beat the Mansfield defense in transition after a strong clear and made it 6-3.
Frias laughed when asked if the muddy field affected his team, which is used to playing on turf. He said, “It slows you down and they take advantage of it on some of their clears. It was brilliant how they had great clears and we almost lost it based off of that and make it into a race.”
The North defense started to clamp down after the break and limited the chances for the Hornets and was aided by MacDonald, who made five of his nine saves in the second half.
“We have Danny in net this year, last year he was on attack,” explained Young. “That’s his position and I expect him to go far. He’s kind of a young kid too but he stepped up and made some huge saves. He’s been outstanding for us.”
The defense could only hold out so long, as Grant beat his close defender with a head fake to the back of the cage and then a spin move into the middle before depositing his shot to MacDonald’s left to complete his hat trick.
“That always helps,” said Frias of getting a hat trick from Grant. “Between him, Hunter, and Connor you figure we’re going to get one out of one of those guys.”
Smith fed Reed for his second goal of the game to make it 8-3, but North did not give up and managed to cut into the lead with a pair of quick transitions in the final minute.
McGowan beat his defender and then finished just under the bar and then Collin Young tacked on his second on a man-up in the final 30 seconds to cut the lead to three.
“That sense of urgency has to come all game,” said Young, “it can’t come just because we need a goal with a minute left. I think they’ll mature. The kids I have now will grow into people as strong as the teams we graduated.”
Frias admitted he was starting “down the path” to being nervous as North scored two quick goals, but he was proud of his team’s strong start to the season.
“That’s a credit to these seniors,” he said. “They’ve played on some very good teams, we’ve just had a hard time grinding it out. They’ve lived it so now they’re grinding it and they’re coming together.”
Mansfield (4-1) will face Hanover on Tuesday, while North Attleboro (2-2) will travel to Taunton.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.