Fitzpatrick Nets Winner as Franklin Edges Mansfield

Franklin girls soccer
Sophomore Riley Fitzpatrick (11) scored on a Rachel Hogan cross eight minutes before halftime to hand Franklin a 1-0 win against Mansfield. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – In a game of few scoring chances, it took only one moment of skill, only one defensive lapse, to decide a winner in Friday night’s match at Pisini Stadium.

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The only goal of the game arrived with eight minutes before the break, as sophomore Riley Fitzpatrick showed a deft touch to tap in Rachel Hogan’s cross on the edge of the six-yard-box and lift Franklin to a 1-0 victory over rival Mansfield.

“She’s awfully good athletically,” Franklin coach Tom Geysen said of Fitzpatrick. “She played far more aggressively than she has at any other point in the season and that makes a big difference. If you can put pressure up front on their backs, somebody’s going to make a mistake.”

Most of the game was played in the middle of the pitch, as the two teams did a good job of cancelling each other out and limiting the ability for either to get into the final third. When the teams did get the ball forward, both defenses stood tall to clear their lines and keep both goalies largely untroubled.

“Neither team,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith about the lack of clear scoring chances. He did note that the overall play had improved from the teams’ first meeting, adding, “We were both chatting about how we’ve been developing and both teams were passing, moving. The soccer is much better and both teams have grown.”

It took 18 minutes for the first shot in anger. A clearance by Franklin left back Anna Balkus popped out to Katie Miller and the sophomore had a go from 20 yards that was held by Breanna Atwood. A couple minutes later, Tarynn Smith had another chance for Mansfield, but freshman defender Norah Anderson forced the forward wide and made it an easier stop for Atwood.

Franklin needed half an hour to register its first shot on goal. It just happened to also find the back of the net.

Hogan battled to win the ball back on the right side of the Mansfield penalty area and she needed only a sliver of space to fire a cross to the edge of the six. Fitzpatrick made a late run towards the back post, cut across her marker, and side-footed a shot past Mansfield keeper Olivia Salisbury.

Fitzpatrick created Franklin’s other scoring opportunity of the first half when she won the ball in midfield and got it forward to senior Carly Alston. She cut inside on her right foot and fired a shot that was straight at the keeper.

Things opened up slightly at the start of the second half, as the Hornets created a scoring chance just a minute after the break. Smith played Avery Hawthorne down the left channel but her shot to the near post was grabbed by Atwood.

Eleven minutes later, Hawthorne hustled to pressure Franklin defender Sabrina Addi, blocking a clearance and getting free in the box only for Balkus to come flying across and block the goal-bound shot.

Fitzpatrick continued to be a menace for the Panthers. She created space for a cross from the right side that picked out Sydney St. Marie at the back stick but her volley was blocked by Megan Krone.

“We’ve been having that problem all season,” said Geysen. “We get a minimum number of shots. You have to score goals and we don’t. We have to play good defense and keep working our butts off to stay in the game.”

He added, “We need to be able to pressure the ball and get to it quickly. Not having Stella [Regan] (who is out with a broken leg) in the middle is a real kick in the butt because she’s so good moving the ball.”

With six minutes remaining in the game, Maria Sevastos had a free kick right on the edge of the box. The Franklin wall struggled to get itself set and gave Sevastos a look at the corner, but the shot skidded just wide.

The Hornets finished with a flurry, looking for an important equalizer that would get them one point closer to a playoff spot, but the Panthers held out and nearly doubled the lead when St. Marie couldn’t get full purchase on a volley off an Alston cross.

“It’s not going to be easy,” said Smith about Mansfield’s chances of getting into the postseason. “We needed that [challenge]. We’re getting there. I love working with these kids, they’re great.”

Franklin (8-4-1, 7-4-1) will travel to Taunton on Tuesday, while Mansfield (5-5-4, 5-5-3) will begin its quest for four points from its remaining four games with a trip to Oliver Ames.

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Layne Lifts King Philip Over Franklin With Early Goal

King Philip girls soccer Chloe Layne
King Philip’s Chloe Layne and Franklin’s Carissa Alers battle for possession in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The Franklin girls soccer team put on a nearly flawless defensive performance against visiting King Philip on Tuesday afternoon.

But the potent Warriors’ offense only needs one chance to punish teams.

Such was the case at Pisini Field as senior Chloe Layne scored inside the opening 10 minutes, the 100th point of her career, and the Warriors walked away with a hard-earned 1-0 decision over the Panthers.

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While King Philip’s lone goal came early, the Warriors had chances throughout the game that were either thwarted by the Panthers’ defense or denied by senior goalie Bre Atwood.

“Defensively, [Franklin head coach Tom Geysen] always comes up with a good scheme, you just have to try and work and work and work until you break through,” said King Philip head coach Gary Pichel.

The Warriors started on the front foot, keeping possession as they built towards their goal. In the eighth minute, senior Avery Snead controlled a service and linked up with Layne. Layne first carried towards the end line but cut back inside and fired a left-footed blast that powered through defenders and into the back of the net. The assist was also the 100th point for Snead in her KP career.

“You can’t let Chloe get in that deep, and all she needs is a little space,” Pichel said. “She just knocks it in with a lot of firepower. I thought Franklin did a good job [defensively] on Chloe and Avery, they were all over them, made it very difficult to get decent shots off. But that’s what you expect, a close game against Franklin.”

Minutes later, Snead nearly doubled the lead. She took a pass from classmate Jenna Hitchen and rifled a one-timer from just inside the 18 but her low shot was wide as Franklin senior Sam Powderly applied pressure.

The Warriors best chance to add onto their advantage in the first half came in the 22nd minute. Junior Paige Varvarigos lofted a corner kick that Snead rose up to meet but her header flashed just wide at the near post.

Although Franklin defended for the majority of the half, it did have some breaks that turned into looks offensively. In the 20th minute, Carly Alston served a corner kick to the near post. Anna Balkus was the first to the bar, getting a touch that eluded the keeper but the ball was cleared in front of goal by the KP defense.

King Philip had two great chances to add onto the lead in the opening 10 minutes of the second half but Atwood came up big for the Panthers on both occasions. In the 45th minute, Snead blocked a clearance attempt but Atwood quickly closed down and turned away her shot.

Four minutes later, Makayla Griffin found Ally Stanton with a corner kick, and Stanton’s header looked destined for the back of the net before Atwood made a terrific diving save to prevent the ball from crossing the line.

“I thought their goalie made some really good stops, especially on that corner it looked like Ally Stanton had taken care of it, it was going right in, and she got there right in the nick of time,” Pichel said. “We knew coming in that, the trouble they had with Milford, you forget about it. It’s KP against Franklin and it’s always a dogfight.”

Franklin got strong defensive performances from Powderly, senior Sabrina Addi, junior Carissa Alers, junior Erin Quaile, and freshman Norah Anderson.

“You have Snead, Layne, and Stanton…that’s a lot of firepower,” Geysen said of the KP attack. “When you look at their scoring, goals and assists, it all goes through the three of them. So we just tried to make it a little bit harder, tried to be in their face, and when you have the opportunity, double team them.

“Just one chance, that’s all it takes. And that’s what happens when you don’t score.”

Anderson applied pressure so Snead couldn’t get off a clean one-timer in the 63rd minute. Less than a minute later, Jenny Montville blasted a shot from 25 yards out but Atwood handled it on the bounce. And in the 69th minute, Stanton’s cross found Montville but good defending from Addi prevented a serious chance.

Franklin had its best chance of the second half come in the 73rd minute on a near post corner kick but KP keeper Taylor Butler came off the line and disrupted the service.

“I told Taylor she did a fantastic job of coming out when she needed to and taking care of business,” Pichel said. “I thought Grace Lawler did a fantastic job on defense, picking up some of their runs. Jenny Montville and Ava Tormey, things changed drastically when I put those two in the middle. They really picked it up for us and gave us a lot of energy.

We’re a work in progress. Who’s going to step up, who’s going to be consistent…and you just do the best you can. We don’t think we’re fantastic but we’re more of a meat and potatoes type team, just keeping fighting.

Hitchen intercepted a clearance in the 76th minute to give the Warriors one final chance, but the near post service was knocked away by Atwood before Layne could get a touch.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Bre played extremely well in the second half after being a little passive in the first half,” Geysen said. “Same thing with Sabrina [Addi], she had a great second half. They were both better today and it worked well.

“We beat Milford but we didn’t play very well, they physically knocked us all over the place and took advantage of our lack of aggressiveness. We needed to be more physical and aggressive today, that was the goal for today. I don’t care what the score was, we needed to play better. And I was very proud that they did that today.”

King Philip girls soccer (3-0 overall, 2-0 Hockomock) is back in action on Friday with a trip to Milford. Franklin (1-1, 1-1) is on the road at Canton on Thursday afternoon.

Girls Soccer: 2019 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2019 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Last fall, Mansfield won the league title for a third straight season but the rest of the loaded Kelley-Rex division will be aiming to take down the Hornets this year. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2018 Record: 6-11-1
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos
The Bombardiers have made great improvements over the last couple of seasons, jumping from eight goals scored as a team to 26 and then 24 in 2017 and 2018, and now head coach Steve Santos is looking for Attleboro to take the next step and make its first state tournament appearance since joining the Hockomock League. With an experienced corps and several talented newcomers, Santos hopes this will be the year to get a taste of the postseason.

The attack has been led by junior forward Isabella Salviati, who had half of the team’s goals last year and assisted on seven other goals. The forward play flows through her, but the Bombardiers will be hoping to get more contributions from junior Briley Harnois, who had a breakout sophomore campaign, and from midfielder Jessica Gates, who has the vision to find the key pass that will spring one of the forwards. Also helping out through midfield and into the attack with be seniors Ashley Dame and Julia Reyes.

There is also experience in the heart of the Attleboro defense with senior Sophia Salviati paired with classmate Emily Antonik. Junior Vanessa Laguerre makes the move up from JV this season and will be slotted into the back line as well. Goalie has been a position of strength for the Bombardiers for several seasons but this year it is in flux as senior Ashley Macia is slated to be the starter, but she is also capable in defense and saw a lot of time as an outfield player last year. Freshman Alexis Campbell could eventually step in between the posts. Junior Riley Sullivan could contribute right away and is capable of playing multiple positions and sophomore Emily Khang adds another player with ball skills.

“We have a lot of returning players,” said Santos, “and I think we have more depth so we won’t have to rely on the starters for as many minutes. We have a lot of players who can contribute and fill in the pieces. The key this season will be being consistent for 80 minutes and keeping our pace for the whole game.”

Franklin

2018 Record: 10-3-5
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tom Geysen
Franklin lost only three games all of last season and had one of the league’s best defensive records, allowing only 10 goals in 18 games. That solidity in the defensive third will be hard to replicate, as the Panthers graduated three of last year’s back four, but there is also hope that the promising young attackers can take some of the pressure off by improving on the team’s 40 goals scored, which was seventh best in the Hock.

Senior Sabrina Addi is the lone returning defender for the Panthers, but she will get help from senior goalie Breanna Atwood to try and organize an inexperienced defense. Freshman Norah Anderson will jump into the center of the defense and looks ready for the physical challenge of Hock play. Senior Sam Powderly will drop back from midfield to help out as well.

Once the Panthers get the ball back, there are plenty of familiar faces to try and get goals. Senior Anna Balkus can play a number of different positions, including in the heart of midfield, the wing, or in the attack. Sophomore Stella Regan is coming off a breakout rookie season and adds even more pace to the center of the pitch, while senior Carly Alston is a solid performer on both sides of the ball. In the attack, juniors Erin Quaile and Sydney St. Marie are looking to make the leap to add more consistent scoring.

“I know the kids with experience won’t back down,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen, “but I need to see how the younger kids will react to this level. I need to see if they can physically cope with playing where I need them to play.”

King Philip

2018 Record: 12-5-2
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Gary Pichel
When you bring back players the caliber of seniors Avery Snead and Chloe Layne, the expectations will be very high for the upcoming season. King Philip enters 2019 as the favorite to bring home a league title but also with the goal of matching the run that the Warriors made in 2017, when they won the South title in double overtime and reached the state semifinal.

Layne, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, and Snead, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and two-time league MVP, have been among the league’s leading scorers each of the last three years and will make one more run at a league title. They are joined up top by senior Ally Stanton. The trio was one of the league’s most dynamic attacking groups, combining for 50 goals and 33 assists last season

Senior Jenna Hitchen and juniors Emma Glaser and Jenny Montville will also contribute to pushing the Warriors forward, while freshman Ella Pisani is a newcomer to watch in the attack. A lot of attention will (rightfully) be paid to KP’s attack, but its defense is also experienced. Seniors Makayla Griffin and Olivia Berry and junior Paige Varvarigos return to the back line with a combined eight years on varsity. Junior Taryn Greenberg and freshman Grace Lawler will also contribute in defense in front of junior goalie Taylor Butler.

“I am very excited about the prospects for our team this year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “That being said, we will remain laser-focused on not overlooking any team that we play. We will not look ahead but instead, will prepare for each team we have on our schedule with great intensity, one game at a time.




Mansfield

2018 Record: 15-3-4
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Kevin Smith
The Hornets have had an unprecedented level of success over the past three seasons, winning three straight Kelley-Rex division titles, and reaching last year’s Div. 1 South semifinal, but Mansfield enters the fall with an almost entirely new roster and having only one player on the team with more than one year of varsity experience.

Senior Erin Dooling is by far the most experienced player on the roster, but defender Maria Sevastos and midfielder Katie Miller both saw a lot of playing time as freshmen and impressed during their rookie campaigns. Senior midfielder Kerrin Sears and senior defender Megan Krone join Dooling as captains this season and will both need to provide leadership for a team with four freshmen on the roster.

Mansfield coach Kevin Smith said, “We are young and learning each day with an entire new starting lineup, four freshmen on the roster and 18 of 24 players new to the team. Erin is the lone player with more than one year of varsity experience while Maria and Katie earned a lot of minutes last year. All three will be leaned on to share their experience with the team.”

Oliver Ames

2018 Record: 11-5-3
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Britt Sellmayer
Oliver Ames continues to turn out competitive teams ready to challenge the best teams in the league and put themselves in the state tournament picture. This fall will be no different, as the Tigers have six returning starters and 14 players who saw varsity action last year. While there is still a relative lack of experience, the Tigers remain a team with high expectations.

Defense has also been a strength of the program and this year is no different with seniors Olivia Carroll, Abigail Hodges, and Leah Johnson providing a strong backbone for the team and will be a unit that is hard to break down. Junior goalie Emma O’Donnell is dealing with a preseason injury, so sophomore Emily Meyers will get the start for the season opener. Seniors Erin Holmberg and Abby Evin will lead the forward line, but there were strong rookie seasons from Camryn O’Connor and Allison Evin that give confidence for additional help in the final third.

“For OA to return to the tournament we will need some of our less experienced players to step up,” said Oliver Ames coach Britt Sellmayer.

Taunton

2018 Record: 3-16
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Joe Rocha
Former Taunton boys soccer coach Joe Rocha takes over the girls program this fall and will continue a rebuilding effort to try and get the Tigers off the foot of the division standings, which is a difficult task in the loaded Kelley-Rex division. Rocha knows it will be a process with a relatively young roster and is looking for improvements over the course of the season.

Senior Grace Pimenta will be back in goal for the Tigers this season, after missing part of last year with an injury. Pimenta will add leadership to the defensive unit that features senior Emma Silvia and sophomore Isabella Anslow in the middle. Keeping things solid in the center will be the key and Taunton will hope that the forwards can stay active and put pressure on the opposing defenses. Seniors Paige Tolan, Allison Calderon, and Kerla Sylvestre, and juniors Emily O’Gara and Morgan Zakrewski will be counted on to step up and improve Taunton’s goal-scoring numbers (after scoring 16 goals as a team last season).

“We are a very young team and will have some growing pains,” Rocha said. “As a first-year coach, my players are learning a new system and once we all get on the same page, I feel that our play will improve.”

McMahon Goal Gives Hornets Win in Battle at Franklin

Mansfield Girls Soccer
Mansfield senior defender Mikaela Maughn (9) battles with Franklin forward Sydney St. Marie during Monday’s divisional battle at Pisini Field. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – In a game where chances are at a premium, with physical battles being waged all over the pitch, and with defenses largely coming out on top, finishing is the difference between taking home the points or leaving with none.

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Mansfield had one great chance in the box and put it away. Franklin had two chances in the box and both went narrowly off target. So, on Monday night at Pisini Field, the Hornets walked away with a hard-fought 1-0 win and stayed unbeaten, while, for the second time in a week, the Panthers lost a close game with one of the two defending Kelley-Rex division champions.

“It’s such a tough opponent, such a tough place, a great coaching staff, so it’s a good win,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith.

The first scoring chance of the game fell to the Panthers. Junior Carly Alston sprung senior Hailey Toolin down the right wing and she crossed the ball into the six-yard-box. Junior Anna Balkus had made a late run from midfield and got free right in the center but she tried to redirect the ball with her right foot and could only touch it wide.

Mansfield took a while to get going in the game. Franklin’s pressing in the midfield was causing problems for the first 15 minutes, but eventually the Hornets started to string passes together and create looks on goal.

“They pinched their four midfielders together, so it was 4-on-3,” said Smith. “They went forward and brought more people up and then it was man-up or man-even and we were able to take advantage of that or finally go wide and then find a passing angle. Sometimes it takes a while to see what they’re doing and readjust.”

Melissa Reef had the first shot from distance but it was easily saved by Franklin goalie Breanna Atwood. Bryn Anderson nearly opened the scoring with a free kick from 18 yards out, just to the right of the box. Her shot to the near post was only a foot over the bar.

Franklin continued to worry the Mansfield defense with cutting passes in behind. Calen Frongillo was able to slide a pass through the right channel to again get Toolin, who just beat the offside trap, into space but she could only play a ball through the box that was in between a shot and a cross and that Balkus could not get on the end of.

Alston also freed up freshman Stella Regan to make a run at goal, but Mansfield defender Emily Vigeant showed off her pace (and long reach) to get a toe to the ball just before a shot could be taken. Franklin’s young forwards were giving the Hornets back line a fight, but Vigeant and fellow senior Mikaela Maughn were solid throughout.

“She’s so good. She’s been such an unsung player for us for years,” said Smith about Maughn. About Vigeant, he added, “She’s got great soccer IQ. If she has a lack of speed compared to what she’s up against, she reads it quicker than the other person and it makes her look even faster than she is.”

In the 24th minute, Mansfield struck. A giveaway at the back gifted possession to Steph Kemp in the attacking third and she quickly played the ball out to the left toCassidy McMahon. The duo played a quick give-and-go to isolate the last defender and get McMahon free on goal and the senior picked the bottom corner with a cool finish.

Mansfield had two chances to double the lead in the opening five minutes of the second half. Anderson sprayed a pass out to McMahon on the left wing and she squared the ball into Kemp inside the six, but the senior forward could not get the right contact and it was an easy save for Atwood. Anderson again played provider shortly after to set up Sydney Mulkern, but her chipped shot went over the bar.

Just two minutes later, Franklin had another golden opportunity to get on the board. Sophomore Sydney St. Marie got space to attack down the left wing and she played a perfect low cross into the middle to pick out Balkus, but her side-foot effort was again just inches wide of the bottom corner.

“It was the same thing against KP,” Franklin coach Tom Geysen explained. “I thought our kids handled the pressure pretty well, moved the ball pretty decent, made good choices up front, but when you have it wide open and can’t put it in the back of the net…”

Kemp nearly added a second for Mansfield in the 53rd minute only to be denied by Atwood. After making a tackle on the edge of the box, the forward found room to unleash a shot that looked destined for the top corner, but the keeper was able to get fingertips to it and tip it around the bar at full stretch.

Franklin continued to push until the final whistle, with the physicality from both teams ratcheting up as the seconds ticked down. In the end, Mansfield keeper Caty DeMassi made a couple of routine saves, but was well-protected by the defense in front of her and the Hornets headed home with the two points.

While disappointed to not come away with a result, Geysen was still pleased with the effort of the Panthers against one of the league title favorites.

He said, “I don’t think they (Mansfield) were expecting what they got from us after last year. When we played them the second time last year, we had nobody, but we’ve got kids that if we can just take one more step then we’ll score the goals to be competitive with everybody.”

Mansfield (4-0-1) will next travel to Milford on Friday afternoon, while Franklin (2-2-0) will travel to Stoughton.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Girls Soccer: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2018 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
King Philip and Mansfield shared the league title last season and look like being favorites to make another run at the crown this fall. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 4-13-1
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs.
Coach: Steve Santos

Attleboro improved last season, scoring 18 goals and showing signs of an improved passing game, which head coach Steve Santos has been trying to build over the past few years. An exciting group of younger players added speed to the Bombardiers and the team’s increased depth allowed them to be competitive against even the league’s best teams.

That group has continued to develop and sophomore forwards Isabella Salviati and Briley Harnois will be counted on to provide a consistent threat to the opposition defense. The midfield should be a strength for the Bombardiers this season with a group of versatile players that will set the foundation for the Attleboro passing game. Senior Sam Fasoldt will be joined by juniors Julia Reyes and Ashley Dame, who returns after missing 2017 with a knee injury, and sophomore Jessica Gates. Junior Sophia Salviati will help out in midfield and defense, where Attleboro returns just one starter from last year. Seniors Felicia Laguerre and Ashley Lauzier will be at the heart of the defense in front of goalies Taylor Drake (senior) or Ashley Macia (junior).

“The team looks good and is playing some good passing soccer,” said Santos about the Bombardiers in the preseason. “As a team, our speed is where we need it to be to keep teams on their heels and not let them dictate play.”

Franklin

2017 Record: 10-8-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round.
Coach: Tom Geysen

Franklin battled injuries throughout the 2017 season and those injuries tested the Panthers depth, but heading into a new season head coach Tom Geysen is confident that this year’s squad can withstand the rigors of Hockomock play. The Panthers will be tested early, with King Philip, Mansfield, and Canton in the opening four games.

Versatility will be a key for the Panthers this season with players capable of slotting into different positions. One of those players is junior Anna Balkus, who can play up top or drop back into the midfield depending on the formation. Sophomore Sydney St. Marie will also play up top and Geysen said that she has shown real progress from last year. Junior Carly Alston will be in the heart of the midfield, while senior Halle Atkinson will give Franklin an outlet on one wing and sophomore Erin Qualie, fresh off an impressive rookie campaign, will be on the other. Defensively, Franklin will count on third-year center back Grace Gallo, fellow senior Maddie Stewart, and junior Sabrina Addi, who moved from the midfield to defense last fall. Athletic junior Breanna Atwood will jump into goal and continue Franklin’s run of strong goalkeepers.

“We have a good nucleus of kids coming back and kids moving around to new positions,” said Geysen. “There are a lot of freshmen with potential to develop into strong players. Everyone had a good attitude and has been working hard.”

King Philip

2017 Record: 20-2-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 state semifinal.
Coach: Gary Pichel

King Philip put together a dominant season in 2017, winning a league title for the first time since 2002 and then winning the Div. 1 South title as well. The Warriors scored 18 more goals than any other team in the Hockomock last year and also allowed fewer goals than all but two teams. With a loaded roster back this fall, KP has its sights set on even more in 2018.

Expectations are sky high for the Warriors this season because of the return of junior forwards Chloe Layne and Avery Snead, the reigning league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year. Layne and Snead were the top two scorers in the Hock last season and they continue to develop and improve. KP wasn’t a two-player team and they will also count on senior Abby Baker in the midfield along with wingers Makayla Griffin and Ally Stanton to provide outlets when defenses crowd the forwards and close down the middle of the park. Junior Olivia Berry will be in the heart of the defense and look to provide the leadership and physical play of graduated defender Emma Corcoran. Junior Faye Veilleux also stepped in at the end of last season and showed her growth as a defensive presence in midfield.

KP coach Gary Pichel said, “The team’s strength’s lie in the ability of our offense to create a great deal of scoring opportunities. There is a relentless desire to push hard up top and keep it there through pressure on ball at all times. We are fortunate to have players that have the ability to do so on a consistent basis.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 13-2-2
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round.
Coach: Kevin Smith

While King Philip earned a lot of attention for their run to the state semifinal, Mansfield was equally as strong in the league last year. The Hornets matched the Warriors step for step and earned a share of their second straight Kelley-Rex division title. With a number of players back again this year, Mansfield looks ready to battle for a three-peat and make a deep tournament run.

The Hornets feature 13 seniors on this year’s roster, so experience won’t be an issue. Melissa Reef and Bryn Anderson headline the midfield group, with Reef providing cover for the back line and Anderson acting as the fulcrum that gets the offense in motion. The defense will be spearheaded by Emily Vigeant, who has been on the top defenders in the league for the past couple of seasons. She is joined by versatile and physical defenders like Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, and Erin Daniel. Goalkeeper Lauren Whitman will be back between the sticks this season.

There will be plenty of depth in the Mansfield attack this fall with Stephanie Kemp, Sydney Mulkern, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy McMahon, and freshman Maria Sevastos all expected to contribute. “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith.

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 11-8-0
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South first round.
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

Oliver Ames had a number of new faces last year, but the Tigers were still able to earn a postseason appearance and were the only team in the league to beat King Philip during the regular season. With another year of experience, OA should be ready for another postseason run.

Defense should be a strength for the Tigers this season with plenty of varsity experience on the back line, including seniors Gabriele McLaughlin, Maeve Hogan, and Brianna Gibson. The defensive unit will help sophomores Emma O’Donnell and Emily Meyers get comfortable in goal, as they try to replace EMass all-star Regan Benton. Junior Abby Hodges will be a key component in the OA midfield this season. Junior Erin Holmberg and senior Maggie Ault will be up front for the Tigers, who will hope to improve on the 31 goals they scored last year.

OA coach Britt Sellmayer said, “We have a good mix of experienced players and younger players that have potential to develop into a good team. The key will be replacing one of the best keepers in EMass in Regan Benton. We are counting on the seniors in the back line staying healthy and providing leadership.”

Taunton

2017 Record: 5-13-1
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs.
Coach: Edith Dixon

It has been a few seasons since Taunton made history with a trip to the postseason and a road playoff win at Wellesley, but the program is continuing to build and head coach Edith Dixon expects the Tigers to be an “interesting” team in 2018 with a mix of youth and experience.

Taunton will clearly miss leading scorer Sam Tichelaar and defensive stalwart Kayla Felix, who both graduated after last season, but there is a lot of talent for the Tigers to build around. Grace Pimenta will be back between the pipes and her aggressiveness off her line will help the Taunton defense. Maggie Sullivan will be counted on to be the field general in midfield and Dixon praised her “never-ending motor.” Up front, speed will be a strength for the Tigers, who are hoping to use it to create numerous chances in transition and being aggressive attacking the opposition goal.

Dixon said, “ The best part about this team is their amazing attitude as a group. Everyone has bought into the team concepts and wants to contribute everything they have towards the team goals. This is the first season I’ve had at Taunton where there are no superstars, just 11 players all working together with great synergy.”

Franklin Doubles Up On Brockton To Advance

FRANKLIN, Mass. – It only took three and a half minutes for #14 Franklin to get its first goal on Friday night at Pisini Field, and the Panthers never looked back en route to a 4-2 win over #19 Brockton in the first round of the MIAA Tournament.

Following a miscue by the Brockton goalie, the ball ended up at the feet of Miranda Smith and she capitalized, putting it in the back of the net to give Franklin a 1-0 lad. Ten minutes later, Anna Balkus scored off a feed from Molly Duncan to give the Panthers a 2-0 advantage.

“The first half when the first group was in there, they moved the ball really well, and they had the defense moving and they made their own breaks,” Franklin head coach Tom Geysen said about Franklin’s quick start.

In the 28th minute, Brockton saw their first scoring chance of the game, but their shot off a free kick was saved by Cat Robbins, who had seven saves on the night for the Panthers.

In the 33rd minute, Emily Mastaj found Sydney St. Marie cutting to the net, and St. Marie buried her shot to put Franklin up 3-0. One of the keys for the Panthers was their crisp passing all night, which set up numerous scoring chances and helped them hold the possession advantage.

“[Moving the ball] was specifically what we were trying to do, to move the ball, to get the kids to move when they gave up the ball, and the constant movement with and without the ball is tough to cover if you’re doing it right, and in the first half I thought we did it really well,” Geysen added about his team’s ball movement.

In the second half, both teams saw scoring chances early, as Franklin’s attempt to extend their lead was denied on a save by Brockton goalkeeper Tory Viola-Laughery in the 43rd minute. Five minutes later Robbins was equal to the task, fully extending on a dive to make a save to keep the Boxers off the board. In the 52nd minute, Smith looked like she had her second goal of the night, but another beautiful save by Viola-Laughery kept the Brockton deficit at three goals.

Franklin finally broke through for their fourth goal in the 64th minute, as Duncan found Jess Kroushl streaking downfield, and Kroushl scored to put the Panthers up 4-0.

Just two minutes, Brockton got on the scoreboard when Madison Hendrigan capitalized on a penalty kick to cut Franklin’s lead to three goals. With the game winding down, senior Kyla Cullors scored for Brockton to make the score 4-2, and that’s where it stayed until the final whistle.

With the win, Franklin (10-7-2) moves on to play Hingham (16-1-1). The Harborwomen have won three straight D2 State titles, and are looking to go on a run in their first year as a D1 team. They come in on a 15-game point streak (14-0-1) in which they’re outscoring opponents 60-8.

“We’re going to have to play very, very well to have any opportunity to beat them, but we’ll show up and we’ll do what we need to do,” Geysen added about the Panther’s upcoming opponent.

Franklin and Hingham will play Sunday night at 6:00 PM in Hingham.

Bulldogs Find Right Mentality and Dominate Franklin

Canton girls soccer
Canton freshman Elisa Diletizia (32) had a goal and an assist in the 4-1 win over Franklin. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Just four minutes into Wednesday night’s game at World War II Veterans Memorial Field, Franklin opened the scoring, but instead of hanging its head and allowing the visiting Panthers to take control, Canton turned up the aggressiveness, pressured all over the pitch, and turned the game around.

Riley Duserick, Elisa Diletizia, and Lilah Sullivan each recorded a goal and an assist, as Canton stormed back to dominate Franklin, winning 4-1 to get back above .500 for the season.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We know how to play soccer and we have good soccer players,” said Canton coach Kate Howarth. “If we come out with that mentality then we’re going to play games like this. If you have that passion and that drive and leaving it on the field then there’s no way you can lose. It’s not a lack of talent; it’s a lack of oomph.”

Inside the opening four minutes, Franklin took the lead. Molly Duncan slid a through ball between the Canton defenders to find Miranda Smith running down the right channel and the senior forward lifted her shot over onrushing keeper Lindsey Barrett.

Although the Panthers had the lead, it was Canton that was pushing the tempo and creating scoring chances. Duserick and Diletizia both had long shots saved by Franklin keeper Cat Robbins in the opening 15 minutes.

The Bulldogs pressure created the breakthrough in the 23rd minute. Sullivan made a long run to the end line and sent in an inch-perfect cross over the outstretched arms of Robbins and to Diletizia unmarked in the middle of the six-yard-box. The freshman forward got a shin to the ball and knocked it in for the equalizer.

Ten minutes later, Canton got the lead. Leianne Bruce won the ball in front of the Bulldogs’ bench and played it forward towards Diletizia, who cushioned a one-touch pass into the path of sophomore Morgan McCabe. Franklin right back Madison Stewart came all the way across to get a piece of the ball but it bounced right back to McCabe, who fired an unstoppable shot into the far corner.

“They knew we build from the back and that we build with the outside backs because they had them man-marked in the first half,” said Howarth. “We kept trying to play them and they would come in and counter. Once they turned and faced up, we could find our forwards and they found opportunities that way.”

Franklin had one chance before halftime but a first-time shot from the edge of the box was sent over the bar by Carly Alston. Otherwise, the Canton defense looked impenetrable with center backs Sarah Connolly and Carly Hutchinsoncutting off every Franklin pass.

“We didn’t play well defensively,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen. “We’ve got some problems we need to fix on the back line. We’re having problems all over the field at the moment. We don’t play the ball where we need to play the ball, we over-touch the ball, you saw how timid we were.”

He added, “You can’t play that way against them or against Oliver Ames or Mansfield or anyone else in this league because this is what you’re going to get.”

The second half was completely dominated by the Bulldogs. Franklin center backs Grace Gallo and Brenna Atwood seemed to be under constant pressure from the speedy Canton attack.

Diletizia had chance from the edge of the box saved by Robbins just one minute into the half. In the 47th minute, Duserick’s corner into the center of the box picked out Sullivan, who nodded home the third for the Bulldogs.

Howarth remarked, “I said at halftime, if we get one then we’ll get more than one. As long as we get that next one then it’s going to break them and we’ll get more after that.”

The chances kept coming for Canton. Diletizia set up Sullivan for a first-time hit from the edge of the box but it went narrowly over the crossbar. A minute later, Juliana Agnitti burst forward from midfield and set up Diletizia, but the shot was saved.

“They’re soccer players,” said Howarth about Diletizia and classmate Olivia Rodman. “They play the game all the time and they have instincts that you can’t teach kids. It’s different than just being a physically good athlete…they have soccer instincts and it’s a special thing.”

Lauren Fitzpatrick drove at the Franklin defense in the 56th minute and the ball was deflected by Atwood into the path of Julia Hamilton and she fired a shot that just missed the top corner.

In the 61st minute, Duserick wrapped up the win for Canton with a pinpoint 35-yard free kick from outside the right hashmark that sailed into top, far corner. After the game, Howarth called it the midfielder’s “sweet spot.”

“Front to back it was the best game mentality-wise we’ve had yet,” said Howarth. “We have had lots of goals scored on us and we haven’t in the past responded well. The passion has to be there; you have to respond well…Today, we finally responded the way that we try to instill.”

Canton (4-3-2, 4-3-2) will try to keep the momentum going on Friday with a trip to Taunton, while Franklin (6-3-1, 6-3-0) will look to bounce back when it hosts Stoughton.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Hornets Shutout Franklin, Take Lead in Division

Mansfield girls soccer
Mansfield junior Bryn Anderson (5) scored the final goal in a 3-0 win for the Hornets over Franklin to take a one-game lead in the division. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – While it is only about a third of the way through the league campaign, Monday night’s meeting between unbeaten Mansfield and Franklin at Alumni Field was an opportunity for one of the Kelley-Rex’s perennial powers to grab a slim advantage at the top of the table.

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It was a opportunity that the defending division champion Hornets would not pass up. Mansfield dominated large portions of the game, created the majority of the few scoring chances that either team managed, and came away with a 3-0 victory that puts it one game up on the Panthers and King Philip.

“We played very well,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith after the game. “It’s good to play like that against a really quality opponent.”

As expected from a meeting between these two programs, the game was combative and fast-paced, but neither team was able to find space for a shot against two well-organized defensive units (the top two defensive teams in the league).

The game changed in the 14th minute when senior Taylor Smith played a long ball out of the back that bounced past the Franklin center backs and into the path of Kerina Geminiani. The junior beat Franklin keeper Cat Robbins to the ball and touched it past her into the open net.

“There’s so much pressure on the defense,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen, “and eventually someone is going to make a mistake and something bad is going to happen. Even if it’s not your fault, something is going to go wrong with all that pressure in the back.”

The first half was limited in offensive chances for either team. Stephanie Kemp had a shot easily saved by Robbins in the 25th minute, but it was one of only two saves that the keeper was forced into in the game. Meanwhile the Mansfield defense bottled up Franklin midfielder Molly Duncan and held the Panthers without an attempt on goal in the opening 40 minutes.

“We’re getting there,” said Smith about the defense, including Erin Daniel and Mikaela Maughn on the outside and Emily Vigeant and Taylor Smith in the middle. “There’s still a couple breakdowns here or there, lack of concentration, but we’re getting there.”

The defense also popped up with a goal for the Hornets. In the 38th minute, Vigeant lined up a 35-yard free kick. Her effort took a deflection off the end of the Panthers wall and bounced past the dive of Robbins for a 2-0 lead at half.

Smith admitted that goal was important for the Hornets heading into the break. He said, “It would’ve been weird to go in with that much possession, but again give Franklin credit. They really limited us, we didn’t have a lot of shots in the first half, and that’s a credit to their defense.”

Franklin made a change of system at halftime to try and give more of a challenge in the midfield. It seemed to work, as the Panthers got their first shot two minutes after the break when freshman Erin Quaile had her shot saved by Lauren Whitman.

Four minutes later, the Panthers nearly got back into the game. Jess Kroushl stole the ball in the midfield and showed off the speed that has made her a track standout to create a chance on the break. Her first effort was blocked and Duncan’s follow-up effort was also blocked by the retreating Mansfield defense.

“When they changed back to four in the middle,” Smith explained, “they overran us a little in the midfield and we had to make some adjustments and find the length in the corners. Once we did that, we could expand them and find space in the middle.”

With seven minutes left to play, the Hornets wrapped up the points. Smith played a long free kick into Allee Bezeau in the box and the senior forward flicked the ball across goal to the back post. Bryn Anderson ran onto it and calmly finished with one touch.

Kroushl gave the Panthers one more chance to ruin Mansfield’s clean sheet but her breakaway with two minutes remaining was stymied by a sliding Whitman, who managed to get a toe on the ball.

“They continued to fight hard,” Geysen said, “but we obviously need to make some changes because we didn’t generate much offense at all. We need to find ways to create some offense to take the pressure off the defense.”

Smith was happy to get the lead in the division, however slim it may be.

“Any kind of cushion gives you a little bit of breathing room,” he said, “but this league is so good…I think out of our last 10 games, seven are against above .500 teams. We might as well start the state tournament now, it’s that kind of quality.”

Mansfield (6-0) will get another top of the table test on Thursday when it plays host to second place King Philip. Franklin (5-1-1) will also be back in action on Thursday when the Panthers host Attleboro.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin Opens With Shutout Win Over North Attleboro

Franklin girls soccer
North Attleboro’s Ashlyn Gaulin and Franklin’s Molly O’Rielly battle for possession in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

 
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin head coach Tom Geysen admitted he had concerns about his defense coming into the season, especially after graduating two Hockomock all stars.

But in its first test of the season, and a tough one at that, the Panthers passed with flying colors, earning a 3-0 shutout over visiting North Attleboro.

Junior Grace Gallo anchored the center of the defense with senior Molly O’Reilly and junior Madison Stewart on the outside. While North was able to register 10 shots, only two were true tests for keeper Cat Robbins.

“It was a good win, we’re young as far as experience goes and I thought we would be a be a little thin in certain areas but some kids stepped up a bit today that I wasn’t really anticipating,” Geysen said.

“Defense was one of my concerns coming in. We graduated two all-league starters we had to replace. We changed our formation a little bit, and I was a little concerned about it during the preseason. But you have to let it ride and get used to it. The back line bent but they didn’t break.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

It didn’t take long for Franklin to try and use its speed to get in behind North Attleboro’s back line. Just five minutes in, after a long ball was spilled by North’s keeper, Miranda Smith jumped on the loose ball in the area but had her bid slide wide at the far post.

North registered its first chance in the 16th minute when a ball put into the area fell to Big Red senior Aine Mendonca, but her low shot was saved comfortably by Robbins at the near post.

The Panthers broke open the scoring less than five minutes later. Senior Molly Duncan gained possession in the midfield, turned forward and played a perfect diagonal through ball to Smith. Smith faked with her right, cutting past a defender, carried to goal alone and tucked her shot in at the near post to make it 1-0.

North Attleboro nearly had an immediate response, forcing Robbins into one of her two big saves in the 21st minute. The Rocketeers quickly moved the ball up field before junior Ashlyn Gaulin unleashed a wicked shot from 25 yards out, but Robbins made a leaping save and tipped the ball over the bar.

“That’s what you expect from Cat,” Geysen said. “She might not be the greatest athlete in the world but nobody is tougher than her, nobody works harder than her and she anticipates really well.

North had one more serious chance just before the halftime break when Mendonca laid a pass off for senior Felicity Monfils but her strike from just outside the area went just over the bar.

The Rocketeers carried that momentum into the second half and looked like they found the equalizer less than a minute in. Mendonca served a ball to the far post and Haley Guertin calmly finished her shot from close range, but the ref disallowed the goal, whistling for a foul off the ball.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I’ll be the last person to use an excuse, but to have that goal called back changed things,” said North Attleboro head coach Bill Wallace. “I felt like we came out and were playing really well to start the second half. And then they scored five minutes later so it hurt.

“We’re working through some kinks right now. I thought we’d be further along offensively than we are. But Franklin always throws one of those defenses at you where you have to work your butt off to get anything. It’s that one extra pass or one shot instead of a pass. The good news is that we have a great group of seniors and they’ll pick each other up. It proves how tough this league is.”

But seven minutes after North’s goal was waved off, Franklin doubled its lead. The Panthers took advantage of a quick throw with Smith springing Duncan in behind the defense. North’s goalie came charging out but Duncan calmly carried around her and finished into the back of the net to make it 2-0.

“We have some speed,” Geysen said. “We have to work on our touch, and that’s one of the reasons we don’t have the possession yet because our first touch isn’t where it needs to be. But with the speed and the two kids in the middle, [Molly] Duncan and Carly Alston, they can really thread the ball. Carly looked good the last couple of days.”

The Panthers put the finishing touches on the win in the 69th minute. Junior Hailey Toolin laid a perfectly weighted pass in the area to sophomore Anna Balkus and she placed her shot just inside the post to make it 3-0.

North Attleboro had one final chance with just over three minutes remaining when Gaulin turned and ripped a left footed strike from inside the area but Robbins made the diving stop at the near post to preserve the shutout.

ranklin (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) hosts Algonquin on Saturday in a non-league showdown while North Attleboro (0-1, 0-1) will welcome Taunton (1-0, 2-0) to town on Monday afternoon.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Girls Soccer: 2017 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview
Mansfield and Oliver Ames shared the Kelley-Rex division title last season and both expect to be in the mix again this fall. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Soccer Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 2-15-1
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Santos

Goal scoring has been the biggest issue for the Bombardiers in the past few seasons, including a league-low eight in 2016, but head coach Steve Santos is confident that this year’s squad has the speed and experience to take advantage of counter attacks and he expects Attleboro to create a lot more scoring chances this fall.

While goal scoring is a focus of the preseason work, it is at the back that Attleboro boasts the most experience with the entire back line returning. Senior Jordyn Forte is the leader at the back, using her “good soccer IQ,” according to Santos, to keep things calm and making the right plays. She is joined in the defense by fellow seniors Morgan Laplume and Graycen Cassidy. In goal, Madison Brown returns to give Attleboro a solid presence to control the penalty box.

Turning that defense into attack will be the responsibility of senior midfielder Julia Hayes, who will be a key player in the center of the pitch. Junior Ashley Lauzier and senior Kara Thornton will be hoping to take advantage of the opportunities that are created. Santos is also excited about the youth coming into the program with three freshman on the varsity roster to start, including Riley Harnois, who will help out in the attack.

“We have a little more speed this year,” said Santos, “and we’ve been generating a little more in the transition. This year I can rest [the starters], bring people off the bench and the pace doesn’t drop off. They’re great kids, they work hard, and they fight for the team every day.”

Franklin

2015 Record: 10-3-5
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tom Geysen

After six straight league titles, Franklin had an atypical season in 2016. The Panthers only lost three times all season, but drew five times, struggling to find consistent goal scoring that would turn a tie into a win. Franklin only allowed nine goals, but only scored 36, which was 20 goals fewer than league champ Mansfield. This year, head coach Tom Geysen is working on a new formation to get the best out of his attacking options with the goal of returning to the top of the league standings.

The Panthers return leading scorer Miranda Smith and the senior takes advantage of her size to create scoring opportunities in the box. Junior Halle Atkinson is back for her third year on the varsity and gives Franklin speed on the wings and is an accurate crosser of the ball to give Smith plenty of chances. Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira are also back and will give the Panthers a consistent presence in the center of midfield, while Emily Mastaj is another option on the wing.

The key to Franklin’s defense this season will be senior goalie Cat Robbins. Stepping in between the posts last year, Robbins turned in an impressive year and quickly became one of the top goalies in the league. This year, there will be several new faces and younger players that will be counted on to step up on the defensive side of the ball, including senior Molly O’Reilly and juniors Grace Gallo and Madison Stewart.

Geysen noted that there are several underclassmen that could step in during the season to add to the Panthers’ depth. He added, “We need to find the right mix. If we can patch things together and they can gain experience over the course of the season I’m confident that we will get better.”

King Philip

2016 Record: 12-8-2
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Gary Pichel

It was a great turnaround for King Philip from 2015 to 2016. The Warriors were snakebitten by injuries the year before, losing almost an entire starting 11 many of them to long-term injuries, but last year a large and talented freshman class stepped in to supplement the players who were back healthy helping the program jump from just two wins to 12 last fall.

Expectations are even higher for the Warriors this year, as that freshman group gained a year of experience playing in the Hock. The sophomores are led by Avery Snead, last year’s Underclassman of the Year, who excelled up front or in the midfield and sealed the team’s playoff victory over Mansfield with an overtime headed winner. Chloe Layne showed off silky skills and finishing ability in the box and Olivia Berry stepped right into the heart of the defense and showed that she belonged.

It is not all about the underclassmen. Senior Emma Corcoran is back for another year at the heart of the defense and as the primary dead ball specialist, being named an Eastern Mass. All-Star in 2016. Senior Emma Durant has grown into the role of starting keeper and was a solid and steady presence between the posts last season. Senior Julian Massarone is a three-year varsity player and will be one of the primary playmakers in the center of the pitch.

“Overall, we made great strides in improving our game last year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “We want to continue to become more advanced in all three phases of our game. Last year, we turned a corner. This year, we want to move full speed ahead and compete hard against all of our opponents in the Hock!”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 14-1-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Kevin Smith

Mansfield is coming off the program’s best ever season. The Hornets set records for wins, points, goals scored and claimed their first ever league title, finishing the regular season unbeaten. An overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs to league rival KP was a tough finish to 2016 and trying to replace the production of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Hannah Reiter will be a challenge, but the Hornets return a ton of talent to make a run at another title.

Juniors Melissa Reef (an Eastern Mass. All-Star last season) and Bryn Anderson will be back in the midfield this fall, breaking up opponents’ attacks and pushing Mansfield into the attack. Their ability to cover a lot of ground in the center of the pitch and pick out the right pass to start the transition will be key. Classmate Stephanie Kemp will be back at the top of the attack, after scoring nine goals as a sophomore. Junior Emily Vigeant will lead an experienced defensive unit and also gives the Hornets a dangerous weapon from set pieces.

Mansfield coach Kevin Smith likes has a lot of players that he can call on this season. In the attack, Kemp will be joined by Sydney Mulkern, Allee Bezeau, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy MacMahon, and Emma Oldow. Defensively, the Hornets will turn to Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, Erin Daniel and goalkeeper Lauren Whitman.

Smith said, “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers and relying on the experience of 13 juniors and three seniors who were on varsity last year to fill the roles of the five starters who graduated.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 14-3-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Britt Sellmayer

Last fall, Oliver Ames made the switch from the Davenport to the Kelley-Rex division, but it had little effect on the success of the program. The Tigers shared the league title with Mansfield, the fourth title in a row for OA and seventh since 2007. That run of success may be tough to keep going this year, as the Tigers graduated 10 seniors and are battling injuries to start 2017.

Losing players like Francesca Calabraro (who was injured midway through last season) and Kiana Lozzi is tough enough, but the Tigers lost almost an entire starting 11. To make matters worse, the strong central defensive pairing of Emily Freeman (knee) and Zoe Chazan (academy) are both missing to start the season. Senior goalie Regan Benton is back and will give the Tigers one of the best goalies in the league and in Eastern Mass. to backstop the rebuilt defense.

Offensively, the Tigers have been known for pace and strength, particularly on set pieces, and this year will count on three senior to try and provide consistent scoring opportunities. The pacy group of Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, Annabella Walsh will be the primary focus of the attack. There will be a lot of new faces on the pitch this season, trying to keep the legacy of OA success going for another fall.

“We have quite a few players who had limited minutes last year,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer, “but they practiced against some good players every day. If we can stay healthy I feel confident.”

Taunton

2015 Record: 3-14-2
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Edith Dixon

It has been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers over the past few seasons under head coach Edith Dixon. In 2015, Taunton reached the postseason for the first time in program history and made it count by beating Wellesley on the road in the opening round and gave top seed Bishop Feehan a tough game in the second round. But, after losing a number of players to graduation, Taunton won only three games last season and are looking to bounce back behind a young roster in 2017.

The key for the Tigers is senior Samantha Tichelaar, who is coming off a league all-star and HockomockSports.com Best XI season, and gives Taunton speed, control, and leadership either as a forward or dropping deep into the midfield. Her versatility opens opportunities for her teammates. Classmate Kayla Felix will be the leader at the back for the Tigers, adding aggressiveness to the defense from her sweeper position.

Numbers are good for the program overall and Dixon expects that the younger players, including a strong crop of freshman and even eighth graders could make an impact on the varsity as the season goes along. She said that many of the younger players are “ahead of their age performance-wise.”

Dixon added, “Some of our younger players are going to step up and change how we play, but our upperclassman and seniors will remain the core of our team. I believe that their leadership and team-first mentality will push us to do well this year and set the program up for long-term success as the underclassmen mature.”