Boston High School: Foxborough

Recap: No. 13 Walpole 31, Foxborough 8

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
2:39
AM ET


WALPOLE, Mass. – When Walpole football head coach Barry Greener talks about senior captain Jack Lavanchy, he uses the word special. It’s not about just what the two-way starter at wide receiver and defensive back brings in athleticism; it’s also the intangibles.

“He’s tough and when the going gets tough he’s there,” Greener said. “He scraps on every single play. He’s not only skilled, but he’s very competitive.”

Lavanchy – who also handles place kicking duties for the Rebels – did just about everything except turn out the lights at Turco Memorial Field as the No. 13 Rebels rolled over Foxborough, 31-8, Friday night. While hauling in three touchdown passes, Lavanchy accounted for 25 of the Rebels’ points (three scores, three point-after tries and a field goal). Aside from his scoring line, he also pocketed an interception on defense in the second half.

“He’s something else,” Greener said of Lavanchy. “What did he have, twenty-five or twenty-six of our points? But he’s a great captain – as all of my senior captains are – but Lavanchy’s a special player.

Lavanchy got the Rebels (1-0) started early, hauling in the first of two touchdown passes from junior first-time starting quarterback Tyler Berkland with a 37-yard connection at 7:44 of the first quarter. The pair were in sync once again to start the second quarter, giving Walpole a 14-0 lead with a 23-yard score on a perfectly executed fade to the near left-hand pylon.

The Rebels picked up the pace on the ground in the second half, taking the opening possession of the half 10 plays and 63 yards downfield for a score on a 2-yard run by Steve Cuqua.

After an interception by junior corner Amire Loftis, Lavanchy tacked on a 24-yard field goal for a 24-0 lead with 1:55 to play in the third. His third touchdown reception of the game came on the first throw from junior Noah Miree, who replaced Berkland at quarterback, on a 27-yard play.

The Warriors (1-1) added their lone score with about a minute remaining in the game as backup quarterback Mark Clagg hit Darren Kelly on a 23-yard touchdown.

Game face: Even in the bask of a career night, Lavanchy deflected praise at every turn.

“Tyler came to play, the offensive line played very well,” Lavanchy said. “Everyone tried their best and gave it their all.”

He continued, “We’re expecting a big season, but we’re just taking it game by game. We got Needham next and we’re going to focus on them.”

Improvements on D: Greener was satisfied by the efforts of his defense after what he termed to be a “down year” for the group last season. The Rebels were opportunistic, coming away with three interceptions from Andrew Papirio, Lavanchy and Loftis.

Walpole’s defense was also there to pick up the offense after it’s lone miscue of the night, when Warriors safety Jake Pond undercut a route for a pick at the end of the first quarter. The Rebels responded, hemming Foxborough in its own end. Walpole’s defensive line asserted its will, working to force the Warriors to back-to-back negative yard plays. Defensive end Nate Porack disrupted a screen pass for a loss of one before Xavier Andujar broke through the line to drop Warriors running back Keeyon Neal for a loss of four.

After a punt, the Rebels took advantage of the plus-50 field position with Lavanchy’s second touchdown catch.

“We played well against a team that can really run the ball,” Greener said. “Their offensive line is good, they have two running backs [Ronnie Marin] and [Neal], who are terrific and [quarterback Nolan Rogers] could throw the ball and run, too. So we knew we were going up against a strong offense.”

“I’m pleasantly surprised that we did as well as we did on defense. But we were prepared and my coaches do a great job.”

On the other hand, Foxborough was never able to recover.

“We didn’t show up and Walpole’s good football team, obviously,” Warriors head coach Jack Martinelli said. “If you don’t show up from the get-go, it ends up like it did.”

Foxborough field dedicated to Sam Berns

June, 12, 2014
Jun 12
10:25
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Nearly five months ago to the day, Sam Berns passed away at the age of 17. On Thursday evening, his classmates and school administrators at Foxborough High ensured that his memory, and the impact he had on others, would never be forgotten by dedicating the school’s new turf field as the Sam Berns Community Field.

“Today is really, really special,” said Foxborough superintendent Debra Spinelli. “The fact that his name is up on the field represents everything that is good about our community and everything that was so good about him -- the coming together of people from all walks of life, the focus on our children, the willingness to do anything to make it happen -- and that’s the way Sam was. He didn’t see any barriers to any challenges.”

Megan Ennis, one of four students that presented the idea of naming the field in memory of Berns to the Foxborough School Committee, said, “I’m really honored because I knew Sam very well through band and music and everything, but I’m also a three-season [athlete] and I’m just so happy that everyone cares for him and that he’s really represented in all of the community at the high school.”

Berns had progeria – a rare genetic disorder that causes accelerated aging in children. However, the disease did not hold him back. He spoke publicly about his condition to help raise awareness for the Progeria Research Foundation, which his parents, Dr. Scott Berns and Dr. Leslie Gordon, founded.

His story gained national appeal through an HBO documentary, “Life According to Sam.”

But it was his smile and his sense of humor, not his disease that would be remembered most by his friends, of which there many in attendance on Thursday.

As the memories flowed from each of the speakers, it was obvious that the real tribute to Sam Berns was not that his name would forever be linked with a turf field, but the continued inspiration that his life, and his memory, will give to his classmates and the Foxborough community.

Spinelli said, “He always had a smile on his face. We never knew when he wasn’t feeling well or if he was tired…We never knew anything about how he really felt because he was always positive and always moving forward.”

Gus Herlihy, another of the students that spoke in front of the School Committee and Sam’s friend from the high school band, added, “He was very witty, very funny. You always wanted to hang out with him because he always made you laugh. He was just such a nice kid…everyone that wanted to meet him, he welcomed with open arms.”

Varun Nambikrishnan, Kyle Newcomb, Herlihy and Ennis were the four students that presented the idea to the school board. They were encouraged by the school administration, but also needed to research the bylaws about naming fields and create the presentation on their own.

“They’re smart; they’re caring; they have integrity and they want to give back,” said Spinelli. “This was the most special project that you could imagine.”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft also spoke at the ceremony on Thursday. He recalled his first meeting with Berns at Gillette Stadium prior to the team’s trip to Atlanta last September. He smiled at the image of Berns speaking in front of all the Patriots players, who dwarfed him in stature, and running through the game plan for stopping Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

“You should’ve seen him,” Kraft said, “cool as a cucumber.”

Kraft illustrated Berns’ wit in a story from that first encounter. “I told him that I would donate $1,000 to the Progeria Research Foundation for every year that he had been alive,” said Kraft. “He immediately told me, ‘Can you wait three weeks? Because then I’ll be 17.’”

After the ceremony, Kraft reflected, “If you saw his physical appearance, if you didn’t know him, you might feel sorry for him, but when you met him and saw how special he was … I fell in love with him the first time that I met him.”

At the end of his remarks, Kraft was noticeably emotional and struggled to finish.

When asked about it afterward, he explained, “I was going to say how I loved him and I just…There was something about his persona that drew you to him and you just respected him. I felt deep affection for him and I really miss him.”

The field project is not yet complete, according to Spinelli. There is still the need for concessions, bathrooms, lights, an entryway, and an eight-lane track to circle the field. An Eagle Scout, who does not attend Foxborough High, will be adding flowers and birdhouses on the outside of the field.

There’s one part of the project that does seem ready to move forward. During his remarks, School Committee member Jim Devellis surprised the crowd when he said that the Spinney family had donated $25,000 on Thursday morning to build a scoreboard, which will be up in time for the fall season.

Immediately following the ribbon cutting, the students in attendance threw beach balls into the air and the atmosphere turned into one of celebration. As Spinelli noted, this was what Sam would have wanted -- to move forward with a smile.

Ennis said, “He was always positive, always motivating people and he never let his situation get him down and that was really a motivation to everyone. He always was there to put a smile on everyone’s face.”

When asked about how he felt seeing the sign hanging between the goal posts with Berns’ name, Herlihy said, “It’s very fitting considering how much influence he’s had in all our lives – teaching us by leading by example…We all learned by how great of a person he was.”
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Foxborough

Top 10 Plays of 2013 MIAA Football Season

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
12:28
AM ET
Saturday's six inaugural MIAA State Championships put a bow on another thrilling season of high school football in Massachusetts. This year was filled with highlight reel-worthy plays, including two that made SportsCenter's "Top 10 Plays" in consecutive months. This year, more than any other year, it felt like there was a deep volume of wild plays and wilder finishes.

Here are my 10 best plays from the 2013 MIAA football season:

(Video clip of play No. 2 is courtesy of The Needham Channel. All other clips are courtesy of HUDL.com)

Honorable Mention -- The Megatron
In case you missed Cody Demers' ridiculous touchdown catch for Central Catholic, our No. 1 play from last Saturday's state championships, here it is again. Because it is that good:
10. Velociraptor Valenza
Foxborough linebacker Luc Valenza, a UMass lacrosse commit, dished out his fair share of violent hits this fall for the Warriors. Arguably none were more brutal, though, than the one he delivered here in the third quarter of their Thanksgiving loss to Mansfield:


9. Behind the Back
This Top 10 list is littered with nifty run-backs, but on pure athleticism, Weymouth sophomore defensive back Matt Long makes a strong case here. Watch as he returns a behind-the-back interception 52 yards to the house in the Wildcats' 49-14 rout of Braintree:


8. Juke 'Em Jahkari
There was a point this season where it seemed like every week, Doherty junior running back Jahkari Carpenter was ripping off a ridiculous run like the 55-yard catch-and-run TD he made here in the D4 Central semifinals against Hudson:


7. Zach's Zig-Zag
As the name implies, watch as Holliston junior Zach Elkinson pounces on an errant pass and, after some shake and bake, puts on the afterburners for a 70-yard interception return touchdown, late in the Panthers' win over Medway:


6. Phone Booth
We've seen some nice-looking one-handed catches from time to time, but none in as tight of quarters as Attleboro tight end Luke Morrison, who reels in this catch with a Xaverian defender sewing him up nicely, in this Division 1 South Final:


5. The Pinball Run
Penn State-bound St. John's Prep tailback Johnathan Thomas led all rushers statistically in Massachusetts through three games, before being lost for the season with a knee injury. It's possible that with a full season we could have dedicated an entire Top 10 entry to his best runs, because we're pretty sure he would have made runs like this 42-yarder in the Eagles' win over Brockton -- in which he breaks about a bajillion tackles -- somewhat routine.


4. The Ed Reed
It takes endurance to pull off interception returns like the one Leominster's Neil O'Connor did here late in the second quarter of the Blue Devils' rout of Wachusett. The state's Gatorade Player of the Year changes direction several times as he takes it 89 yards to the house:


3. The Miracle at Mahar
Strictly reading by box score, this was one of the season's best finishes, as Greenfield evaporated an 18-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation to knock off Mahar, 30-29. But the ending, a 40-yard tip-drill Hail Mary from Connor Eckstrom to Parker Hickey with five seconds left, puts this over the top:


2. Can't Catch Cliff
Needham's Cliff Kurker made national headlines with this 70-yard punt return in a win over Framingham, breaking free of five tacklers after he was thought to initially be stopped on forward progress. He was the talk of the town after this play, which reached No. 1 on SportsCenter's "Top 10":


1. Johnny Unstoppable
This one never gets old. You might go another decade without seeing a play quite like this. Thomas made No. 1 on SportsCenter's "Top 10" after this record-setting 107-yard interception return late in Prep's win over Central Catholic, the longest touchdown in school history.

Thanksgiving Day: To play or not to play?

November, 26, 2013
11/26/13
7:36
PM ET
WESTWOOD, Mass. – On a cold and dreary Tuesday afternoon, Xaverian football went through its practice paces at the high school. It was like any other practice, except that it’s St. John’s Prep week. The Hawks kicked off the session with a chorus of “Beat Prep” after running through stretches.

Although Xaverian still has another game to play past its Thanksgiving Day duel against its Catholic Conference rival – the Division 1 state championship against Central Catholic to be played Dec. 7 at Gillette Stadium – they weren’t looking any further than the task at hand.

SportsNation

If you were the head coach of a state championship-bound team, how would you approach Thanksgiving Day?

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    39%
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    11%
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    50%

Discuss (Total votes: 498)

The Hawks are one of 12 teams in Massachusetts presented with the same conundrum this week: With a state championship game looming, how do you approach a game that essentially has become exhibition?

Now, with that being said, in this scenario, the Catholic Conference is a bit of an outlier. With the MIAA’s new playoff guidelines taking hold this year, the conference is an exception in the state, as league foes meet only once on Thanksgiving to count for its regular date, keeping with tradition. So while other Thanksgiving rivals who also happen to be league foes might be playing for the third time this season (Holliston vs. Westwood, Plymouth North vs. Plymouth South, etc.), Xaverian will be seeing the Eagles for the first time come Thursday.

It also sets up a duel for the Catholic Conference regular-season championship – no small pot.

And so Hawks head coach Charlie Stevenson is preparing as if there were no tomorrow.

“If one of my players didn’t want to go out there and play Thursday and beat Prep, I would think there’s something wrong with them,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson stands in support of a handful of statewide coaches who are staring down state championship games beyond Thanksgiving who also answered the question of whether to play starters on Thursday with the retort, “Let them play.”

So, during the weekend, we took the matter to those who will be charting the course with the question of whether to play, or not to play.

The responses were varied, from Dennis-Yarmouth head coach Paul Funk’s Belichick-ian, noncommittal approach, to this pearl from Plymouth South’s Scott Fry, on the status of star running back Dylan Oxsen: “You don’t think we should give it to Oxsen 30 times on Thanksgiving Day?”

Here it is in their words:

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Peter Afanasiw, Cohasset

“We’re going to try to roll out a team that stays healthy, competes and, hopefully, comes away with yet another win. No team in school history has ever registered 11 wins.”

Brian Aylward, Tewsbury

“It is a rite of passage for any football player that plays football in Tewksbury. It's an 80-year tradition against Wilmington; it's the one chance you get to play them in front of all your family and represent your town and do battle. And that's exactly what we're going to do. We have to. We're not good enough not to play."

Scott Fry, Plymouth South

“We expected, if we won this game, that a lot of our kids weren’t going to be playing on Thanksgiving. It’s the third time we’re going to play [Plymouth] North and we’ve already canceled the J.V. game because of that reason. The young kids are going to play on Thanksgiving. You’re going to need a different roster for the Thanksgiving Day game.”

Paul Funk, Dennis-Yarmouth

“We’re going to do what’s best for our football team.”

Ken LaChapelle, Northbridge

"We're going out to win that game. I'm not going to have Uxbridge start chanting the score [if they win] during the basketball season. I'm playing to win that game. Do I maybe not run [quarterback Koby Schofer] 20 times? Maybe. But I'm playing to win the game and Uxbridge better be prepared because we're coming to win."

Michael Lynn, Littleton

"We can’t even put some of our backup kids in there, it’s not safe. We’re 11-0, we want to protect our perfect season, so we’re going to have to play our starters and our premier guys as much as we have to — we don’t have much of a choice. To me this is the fatal flaw in the playoff system, Thanksgiving being sandwiched in between the state semifinals and state finals. For everybody but 12 schools it’s not a problem, but for those 12 schools it’s definitely a dilemma."

Sean Mulcahy, Doherty

"We have a big Thanksgiving game to get through first. Burncoat has ruined a lot of my Thanksgivings, so I'll make sure we have our kids ready for them come Thursday. We will be playing our starters. I'm not planning to go out and play for hopefully a state title and then walk around the streets of Worcester and have some Burncoat fan come up to me and say, ‘but we beat you.’ Hopefully, that's not happening."

Mike Redding, Mansfield

"We’re going to play to win. Obviously, we’d like to get our guys out early. Two years ago, we won on the last play of the game and, last year, they won. We want to beat Foxborough. We don’t want to be 11-1 as a state champion; we want to be 12-0. We want to beat our rival, but it would be in our best interest to score early and get some guys out and get some guys rested as soon as possible."

(Editor’s note: Correspondents Chris Bradley, Phil Garceau, Paul Lazdowski, John McGuirk and Josh Perry contributed original reporting to this story.)

Soccer tourney roundup: Newton North girls advance

November, 3, 2013
11/03/13
10:57
PM ET
NEWTON, Mass. – Shannon Fitzgerald scored a brace and tacked on an assist as the No. 2 seed in Division 1 North (and No. 2 ranked team in the ESPNBoston.com statewide rankings) Newton North moved into the sectional semifinals with a 3-0 victory over No. 10 seed Andover on Sunday afternoon.

The final score was comfortable for the Tigers (15-0-2), but the start of the game was anything but easy, as the visitors stormed out of the gates and put pressure on the Newton North back line. Forward Veronica Alois, in particular, caused problems for the Tigers and helped the Warriors (11-5-4) earn three corner kicks in the opening five minutes.

There is a cliché in soccer that goals change games. In the 20th minute, Newton North proved it right again.

A long ball forward by Fitzgerald caught Tigers forward Angela Ward one-on-one with Andover senior defender Sarah Van Antwerp. The two players came together and van Antwerp went to ground, but the official waved play on and Ward took advantage of the breakaway to score what turned out to be the game winner.

Andover head coach Meghan Matson commented, “It stinks because we were dominating to start the game possession-wise and just our opportunities on goal. I think we did a really good job stepping up and winning the 50/50s and being a real defensive presence on the field.”

She added, “It was a non-call that from our perspective should have been a call but it is what it is and you kind of have to move on from there.”

The Warriors had to move on without Van Antwerp, who pulled her hamstring in the collision with Ward. Four minutes after her injury, with Andover still reshuffling its back line, Newton North struck again. Fitzgerald this time was the scorer. With a deft touch to take the ball inside a defender on the edge of the 18, she struck a shot inside the post to make it 2-0.

Newton North head coach James Hamblin remarked, “The first five minutes, I think we were all over the place. They were nervous, excited…I don’t know and to be fair Andover came at us. The first five minutes we couldn’t get out of our own half.”

He continued, “That old cliché - the goal turned the game and they had to take her out and we got the second while they got organized.”

After halftime, Newton North took control of the game with Andover keeper Emily Masterson forced into strong, diving saves at her near post to stop both Ward and Fitzgerald from finding the third goal. Matson acknowledged the improvement in her senior goalkeeper this season.

“This season our starting keeper was out with a concussion and she stepped in and she’s been incredible for us. She’s made some really clutch saves and it’s amazing to see the transformation in her confidence.”

Bay State Conference MVP Christina Callahan and fellow midfielder Amelia Williams started to get control of the center of the pitch in the second half and the Tigers grew increasingly willing to hit long diagonals to the forwards, as the clock ran down.

“We definitely have good power, strength, and speed up top,” noted Hamblin. “The front two of Ang and Shannon are excellent and we’ve had a rotating system on the other forward. We used our pace and power to get in behind them and it worked at times.”

Andover did create a couple of chances in the dying minutes as it grew increasing desperate to find a goal.

Alois took advantage of a slip to break into the box and rounded Tigers keeper Maddie Bledsoe only for right back Maya King to come across the field and make a last-ditch block. A minute later, Alois’ footwork created space at the top of the 18 for Meredith Van Antwerp, but her shot was right at Bledsoe.

As the game entered the final 30 seconds, the Tigers had one more flurry on offense, but Masterson made two sliding blocks in the 18 and one slide tackle well outside of the box. Despite the keeper’s best efforts, the ball fell to Fitzgerald who fired home her second and clinched the game.

Hamblin remarked,” I said to the girls at halftime that the next goal is huge. I said that if we get it, it’s game over. I would have liked for it to come early, not with 10 seconds left, but I thought the more we defended well then the more frustrated that they got and started hitting longer balls that we soaked up.”

Matson was disappointed that the final score was not indicative of how well Andover played against the still unbeaten Tigers.

You look at the score and see 3-0 and think that’s kind of a rough game, but it was definitely not indicative of how the game went,” she said. “To go down 2-0 like we did and keep attacking says a lot about their heart.”

Newton North will advance to Tuesday night’s semifinal at Manning Field in Lynn to take on Masconomet.

Tournament Notes:
  • The No. 1 seed in D1 North also advanced on Sunday, as Central Catholic (the No. 1 team in the final regular season, ESPNBoston.com statewide rankings) defeated Lincoln-Sudbury, 4-2. It was the second game in a row that the Raiders have won by that score, after giving up only a single goal in the first 17 games of the season. Central Catholic will take on another DCL Large team in the semifinals – No. 5 Acton-Boxborough.
  • On Sunday, several of the defending state champions advanced in the tournament: In D1, the Needham boys scored late to beat league rival Weymouth, 1-0, in a rematch of last year’s sectional final and the Franklin girls scored five goals to beat league rival Milford. In D2, the Medfield girls went on the road to beat Foxborough, 4-2. In D3 girls, Weston will take on Hamilton-Wenham on Monday.
  • There is guaranteed to be a new champion in D2 and D3 for the boys, although each of the state champions from 2012 is still alive in the postseason. Groton-Dunstable was moved from D2 to D1 in the Central (D2 no longer exists outside of Eastern Mass.), and pulled off an upset of No. 2 seed Doherty on Sunday. Sutton was also moved during realignment, from D3 to the newly created D4 in Central, and will take on Maynard as the No. 2 seed on Monday.
  • To this point (although to be fair not all of them have taken the pitch yet) each of the No. 1 seeds are still alive. The biggest upset to this point happened on Sunday evening as the Walpole girls, the No. 19 seed in D1 South, knocked off No. 3 seed Oliver Ames, the Hockomock’s Davenport division champ and 2012 sectional finalist, on penalties after 100 scoreless minutes. It was the second straight PK victory for the Rebels, who also beat No. 14 Plymouth South on Friday. Walpole advances to face No. 6 North Attleborough, which beat Whitman-Hanson, 3-2, in overtime on a goal by Hana Caster. The Rocketeers had their own penalty let off on Sunday when a Panthers PK struck the post in a tie game with fewer than 10 minutes remaining.
  • The D1 South boys’ quarterfinals are set with four very intriguing match-ups. Top seed and top ranked Silver Lake crushed Milford on Sunday and will host another Hockomock League opponent, Mansfield, on Tuesday. The winner of that game will face the winner of New Bedford (beat Marshfield, 3-1), which spent several weeks ranked no. 1 this season, and Franklin (beat Taunton, 2-1), which took home a Kelley-Rex division title and has only lost once all season.* On the other side of the bracket, Needham will face Brockton (beat Bridgewater-Raynham, 2-0) in a rematch of last year’s first round meeting and the winner faces whichever team advances out of a Top 20 battle between Wellesley (beat Braintree, 4-0) and BC High (beat King Philip, 4-0).
  • In D1 North, there were a pair of upsets on the boys’ side with No. 13 Malden beating No. 4 Peabody, 1-0, in overtime and No. 12 Lowell advancing past No. 5 East Boston, 3-2, on penalties. Those two will face off in the quarterfinals. Top seed Somerville moved on with a comfortable 4-0 win and will take on a talented Bay State team, Brookline, which beat Lincoln-Sudbury, 1-0). Second seed Madison Park beat Chelmsford, 1-0, and will next face perennial power Acton-Boxborough, which beat Framingham, 1-0, in overtime. St. John’s Prep (beat Andover, 2-0), the No. 3 seed, will play No. 11 Lexington (beat Revere, 5-0) in the final second round match — all to be played on Tuesday.
*Franklin also lost, 2-0, to Attleboro, but the game was officially changed to a 1-0 win after Attleboro was forced to vacate its wins.

Recap: No. 14 Walpole 37, Foxborough 15

September, 7, 2013
9/07/13
4:18
AM ET


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was an unfortunate set of circumstances for Foxborough on opening night. Practically from the get-go, it just didn’t seem like the Warriors’ night.

And, of course, with No. 14 Walpole visiting, the margin for error was thin. The Warriors first play from scrimmage was a botched snap that quarterback Nolan Rogers was forced to boot through the back of the end zone for a safety. On the Rebels first touch of the game, senior running back Conor Moriarty broke off a 49-yard touchdown run – his first of four.

It didn’t get much easier from there for Foxborough as the Rebels run away with a 37-15 win.

“I thought it would be a barn-burner, right down to the last minute of the game,” said a surprised Walpole head coach Barry Greener.

Moriarty paced the Rebels (1-0) with four rushing touchdowns, while running for 72 yards on 10 carries, coming primarily in the first half. Walpole built a 30-8 lead by the half.

While Moriarty was tough to stop in the red zone, Walpole senior quarterback Will Bolster was responsible for setting up several first-half scores. Bolster completed 9 of 15 pass attempts for 147 yards.

He showed a good rapport with rangy sophomore wide receiver Amire Loftis, who hauled in receptions of 21 and 49 yards – both of which directly preceded Moriarty touchdown runs.

Difference-makers: Greener gushed throughout the preseason about the deep and talented group of sophomores he has. They were on display during the season opener.

In addition to Loftis, running back Steve Cuqua showed great speed to the outside on jet sweeps and counters, running for a team-high 97 yards and a touchdown. Greener also praised the efforts of tight end/ linebacker Nate Porack, who was making his first career start.

The youngsters, along with some of the Rebels’ other first-year starters, such as 7-technique defensive end Munachiso Egbuchulam (1 sack), it was evident Walpole makes up for talent in what it might have lacked in game experience.

An evolution: Bolster reflected on the changes the Rebels offense has undergone during his high school career. It’s been a steady progression for the third-year starter under coordinator Bill O’Connell and new offensive assistant Todd Collins.

“When I was a sophomore, I did a lot of pro-style, under-the-center stuff,” Bolster said. “It was a lot of simple two-receiver, tight end and two running backs. Then, we’ve moved to more a spread style.”

With Collins – in his day, a Super Bowl winning quarterback at Walpole and veteran of 16 NFL season – assuming a role on Greener’s coaching staff, Bolster hinted at greater variations to come.

Even still, the Rebels attacked Foxborough with a wide variation of formations, which at times included bunch trips looks.

“When they’re playing Cover 1, Cover 3 like that, we can run all day against that,” Bolster said.

Next up: The main question surrounding Foxborough entering this season is how the Warriors could replace graduated running back Kiivone Howard.

Enter junior Keeyon Neal. The 6-foot, 175-pound back led all rushers with 121 yards on 16 carries.

And, while Neal’s performance was a bright spot on an otherwise tough evening for the Foxborough faithful, there’s other reason for optimism with the Warriors as they look ahead to Davenport division play. Rogers, a junior and first-time starter, completed 13 of 25 pass attempts for 106 yards and touchdown.

A new beginning: Greener remarked to the bus driver on the way to the Ahern Middle School that it would be his team’s shortest trip of the season – save that to archrival Norwood. But it’s surprising that the Rebels and Warriors had never met till Friday night – mostly due to the fact that Walpole, only under the provisions of the MIAA’s new playoff scheduling plan, is able to schedule outside of the Bay State League.

ESPN Boston Week 1 football picks

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
7:28
PM ET
ESPN Boston High Schools editors Scott Barboza and Brendan Hall give their Week 1 MIAA football picks:

No. 19 BC HIGH at NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Friday, 7 p.m.

Scott Barboza: I really like this Eagles linebacking corps, led by Steve DiCienzo. BC High, 27-17.

Brendan Hall: What better way to kick off BC High’s redemption tour than with a team that ran circles around them last year. Methinks Eagles coach Joe Gaff has a few tricks up his sleeve for this one. BC High, 21-7.

No. 4 MANSFIELD at DUNBAR (Md.), Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: I think the Hornets keep it close for a half, then the Poets’ depth bears its head. Dunbar, 35-27.

Hall: There isn’t a quarterback in New England as gifted as Dunbar’s William Crest, a West Virginia commit and one of the Old Line State’s top prospects. Hornets are already snakebitten, but injuries aside this is not a matchup you want to make a track meet out of. And unfortunately for the Hornets, I feel their game plan plays right into the Poets’ hands. Dunbar, 35-14.

No. 12 BARNSTABLE at DENNIS-YARMOUTH, Friday, 6 p.m.

Barboza: I still maintain the Dolphins will be a playoff team in Div. 4 South, but damn this Red Raiders’ secondary is going to be tough for anybody to beat this year. Barnstable, 33-27.

Hall: The three games prior to last year’s blowout were decided by a total of five points. I think we’re in for another thriller here, but the Barnstable secondary does just enough in the end to preserve the win. Barnstable, 25-21.

ANDOVER at NORTH ANDOVER, Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: Sounds as though the Golden Warriors were another squad hit hard by the injury bug in the preseason. I’m going with the “upset” here. North Andover, 17-10.

Hall: I predict a big night on the ground for whoever gets the start at tailback, and an even bigger night on defense for Will Eikenberry. Andover, 24-10.

No. 14 WALPOLE at FOXBOROUGH, Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: Man, this one shapes up as an appointment viewing date for years to come. It’s a shame we never got a chance to see these games earlier. Walpole, 20-13.

Hall: Clean, old-fashioned border rivalry. This one has lots of potential. Lots. Walpole, 10-7.

ABINGTON at No. 13 DUXBURY, Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: Having picked against the Dragons in last year’s playoffs, I fear I’m going to have to lay low in Duxbury for a while. Abington, 12-7.

Hall: Losing Matt Kilmain hurts Abington in this one, but their defense is going to keep them in the game. But it’s just a simple matter of being overpowered at the line of scrimmage. Duxbury, 20-10

No. 9 LOWELL at WESTFORD ACADEMY, Friday 7 p.m.

Barboza: Watch for wide receiver/ defensive back Keagan Latta to have a breakout year this year. Lowell, 28-20.

Hall: Expect gaudy numbers for Brian Dolan in his first start under center for the Red Raiders. Lowell, 38-31.

TEWKSBURY at CHELMSFORD, Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: Watch out for the Redmen as a sleep for the Division 3 state title. Mark it down. Tewksbury, 17-10.

Hall: It’s not every year the Redmen are favored in this matchup. But that’s the kind of power Brian Aylward has built at Tewksbury. Expect a big game from Eddie Matovu. Tewksbury, 28-17.

HAVERHILL at BEVERLY, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Barboza: Panthers’ cupboard isn’t completely bare after their historic 2012 season, but the winning streak ends against the Hillies. Haverhill, 21-13.

Hall: All preseason, all we kept hearing with regards to Haverhill is “How do you replace Chance Brady”? Two words: Ian Kessel. The young sophomore is going to one to watch in the coming years. Haverhill, 21-13.

No. 10 BRIDGEWATER–RAYNHAM at No. 1 ST. JOHN’S PREP, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Barboza: I think there are some defensive questions the Eagles will have to answer against a top-flight ground game such as B-R’s on Saturday, but I give the edge to the Prep’s passing game. Prep, 14-7.

Hall: Trojans play ball control and put together a monster drive early to stay ahead in what should be some trench warfare. You can’t cage Johnathan Thomas, the state’s most explosive player, but somehow they’ll limit his trips to the end zone. B-R, 14-7.

No. 6 SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL at No. 2 EVERETT, Friday, 7 p.m.

Barboza: The Golden Eagles will show they belong at the state’s big boys table, but I’m giving the edge to the home side – with the advantage of not having to shack off Friday night bus legs.Everett, 24-21.

Hall: The Golden Eagles are going to have to control the line of scrimmage in this one if they are going to keep pace. But something tells me Cody Williams has some more magic up his sleeve after last season’s historic run. Springfield Central, 24-23.

 

ESPN Boston boys' lacrosse All-State team

July, 1, 2013
7/01/13
5:53
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FIRST TEAM
G – Nick Marrocco, Jr., Duxbury
In his first season starting between the pipes for the Dragons, Marrocco was named an Eastern Mass. All-American while averaging 13 saves per game. Also a standout hockey player during the winter season, Marrocco is committed to Georgetown and was named Most Valuable Player of the bostonlax.net All-American game.

D – Rob Breed, Sr., Xaverian
One of the galvanizing forces behind the Hawks’ run to the program’s first state lacrosse title, the Eastern Mass. All-American was tasked with shutting down the opponent’s top attacks.

D – Ben Cox, Sr., Medfield
Named the Tri-Valley League’s Defensive Most Valuable player, Cox was a four-year member of the lacrosse team and part of back-to-back MIAA Division 2 state championship lacrosse teams. During the winter, Cox finished second on the Warriors hockey team in scoring, posting 12 goals for 38 points in 21 games. He will continue his lacrosse career at the University of Vermont.

D – John Sexton, Jr., Lincoln-Sudbury
The Notre Dame commit was a jack of all trades for the Warriors this season, taking faceoffs, playing on man-up situations and providing lockdown defense. Sexton was named an Eastern Mass. All-American and is a three-time Dual County League All-Star.

LSM – Nick Brozowski, Soph., Concord-Carlisle
A ground ball machine, the Maryland commit was named an Eastern Mass. All-American in addition to Dual County League All-Star honors.

M – Dan Delaney, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
The Eastern Mass. All-American tallied 38 goals and 20 assists while leading the Warriors to a Division 1 final appearance. Delaney will continue his lacrosse career at Fairfield University next year.

M – Keegan Dudeck, Sr., Longmeadow
The Lancers captain closed out his career on a high with a five-goal outburst in their Division 2 state championship win over Medfield. Dudeck tallied 38 goals and 17 assists for his senior season.

M – Jack Wheeler, Jr., Xaverian
Turning in a dazzling offensive display at Harvard Stadium, Wheeler was a key component to the Hawks’ first-ever lacrosse championship. The Boston University commit and Eastern Mass. All-American tallied 42 goals with 15 assists this year.

A – Jay Drapeau, Jr., Westford Academy
Among the state scoring leaders in each of the last two seasons, Drapeau ripped off 71 goals in 2013. The Loyola commit was an ESPN Boston MIAA Lacrosse All-State second-teamer last year and also was a Hockey All-State Honorable Mention during the winter season.

A – Andrew Melvin, Sr., Medfield
The Eastern Mass. All-American helped lead the Warriors back to the Division 2 state championship game. Melvin will continue his lacrosse career at Bates College.

A – Nico Panepinto, Sr., Needham
Named ESPN Boston’s third annual “Mr. Lacrosse” winner last week, the Fairfield University signee finished his high school career with 179 goals and 159 assists. Panepinto, also a standout on the football field for the Rockets, was a two-time Eastern Mass. All-American and ESPN Boston All-State selection.

Specialist – Derek Osbahr, Sr., St. John’s Prep
Osbahr was an offensive weapon for the Eagles at the faceoff X as the best draw-winner in Eastern Mass. Also a member of Prep’s Super 8 hockey squad, the Eastern Mass. All-American will continue his lacrosse career at Bentley University.

SECOND TEAM
G – Ryan Goodall, Sr., Dover-Sherborn
D – Jack Ullrich, Jr., Hingham
D – Jay Walsh, Sr., Duxbury
D – Ian Yanulis, Sr, BC High
M – Caleb Brodie, Jr., Hingham
M – Brendan Flaherty, Sr., Beverly
M – Mike Panepinto, Jr., Needham
M – Roby Williams, Jr., Wayland
A – Hunter Burdick, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
A – Nick Pino, Sr., North Andover
A – Tyler Reilly, Sr., Grafton
Specialist – Drew Kelleher, Jr., Longmeadow

Honorable Mention
Dom Abate, Sr. M, Beverly
Tommy Bannan, Sr. G, Hingham
Kevin Bletzer, Jr. M, Catholic Memorial
Rogers Boylan, Sr. D, Dover-Sherborn
Evan Boynton, Sr. D, Concord-Carlisle
Mike Carbone, Sr. A, Marshfield
Tucker Ciessau, Sr. A, Scituate
Matt Comerford, Sr. G, Reading
Pat Cronin, Jr. A, BC High
Matt Crowell, Jr. M, Medfield
Mark Dente, Sr. A, Reading
Kevin Farrell, Sr. FOGO, Billerica
Chris Frye, Sr. A, Walpole
Andrew Gallahue, Jr. A, St. John's Prep
Henry Guild, Sr. M, Lincoln-Sudbury
Carson Hart, Sr. M, Wayland
Keifer Heckman, Sr. A, Peabody
Eamon Hunter, Soph. LSM, Lincoln-Sudbury
Joe Igoe, Sr. M, Framingham
Reid Leveillee, Jr. D, Longmeadow
Giles Ober, Sr. G, Algonquin
Kieran Presley, Sr. M, Amherst
Brian Rotatori, Sr. M, Grafton
Drew Smiley, Jr. A, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
D.J. Smith, Sr. G, Billerica
Robert Treiber, Jr. G, Medfield
Luc Valenza, Sr. D, Foxborough
Tyler Weeks, Sr. D, Andover
Sam Wheaton, Sr. G, Minnechaug

Coach of the Year -- Ryan Liebel, Longmeadow
The Hockomock League recently announced its boys' lacrosse All-Stars and season Most Valuable Player.

Here's a look at the list, courtesy of Ryan Lanigan and HockomockSports.com:

Editor's note: League all-star lists may be sent to editors Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com) or Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com).

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Pat Ward, Canton

ALL-STARS
Kurt Leavitt, Canton
Ben Lodge, Canton
J.C. Marcone, Canton
Conor O’Brien, Canton
Pat Ward, Canton
Tyler Ames, Foxborough
Alex Pacitti, Foxborough
Luc Valenza, Foxborough
Kyle Finamore, Franklin
Mike Patjane, Franklin
Jake Sargeant, Franklin
Mike Sullivan, Franklin
Connor Eshmann, King Philip
Brendan Murphy, Mansfield
Matt McIntire, Milford
Eric Overdahl, Milford
Josh Rosenblum, Sharon
The Eastern Mass Lacrosse Coaches Association announced its boys' lacrosse 2013 All-Americans.

Here is the list:

FIRST TEAM
ATTACK
Jay Drapeau, Jr., Westford Academy
Nico Panepinto, Sr., Needham
Andrew Melvin, Sr., Medfield
Nick Pino, Sr., North Andover

MIDFIELD
Mike Panepinto, Jr., Needham
Dan Delaney, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
Jack Wheeler, Jr., Xaverian
Caleb Brodie, Jr., Hingham
Brendan Flaherty, Sr., Beverly

DEFENSE
John Sexton, Jr., Lincoln-Sudbury
Ben Cox, Sr., Medfield
Rob Breed, Sr., Xaverian
Jack Ullrich, Jr., Hingham
Jay Walsh, Sr., Duxbury

SPECIALIST
Nick Brozowski, Jr., Concord-Carlisle

GOALIE
Nick Marrocco, Jr., Duxbury
D.J. Smith, Sr., Billerica

SECOND TEAM
ATTACK
Tucker Ciessau, Sr., Scituate
Andrew Gallahue, Jr., St. John's Prep
Mark Dente, Sr., Reading
Henry Guild, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury

MIDFIELD
Dom Abate, Sr., Beverly
Roby Williams, Jr., Wayland
Matt Crowell, Jr., Medfield
Eric O'Brien, Sr., Reading
Joe Igoe, Sr., Framingham

DEFENSE
Luc Valenza, Jr., Foxborough
Tyler Weeks, Sr., Andover
Rogers Boylan, Sr., Dover-Sherborn
Evan Boynton, Sr., Concord-Carlisle

SPECIALIST
Kevin Farrell, Sr., Billerica
Derek Osbahr, Sr., St. John's Prep

GOALIE
Ryan Goodall, Sr., Dover-Sherborn
Tommy Bannan, Sr., Hingham

D2 lacrosse: Foxborough 8, Walpole 7

May, 29, 2013
5/29/13
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WALPOLE, Mass. – Walking away from an 8-7 win over Walpole in a Division 2 tournament preliminary round matchup, Foxborough head coach Matt Noone referred to his team as the “Road Warriors.”

His Warriors have proved themselves a worthy adversary on the road during the regular season, and they were want to continue the trend on Tuesday facing the Rebels. They ran with it.

“We took the adversity, we took the seed, and we went, ‘alright, let’s prove what we can do,’” Noone said.

Despite trailing the Rebels 5-3 at half, Foxborough (13-7) pulled ahead in the third on the backs of attackmen Tyler Ames and Kyle Sperzel, who both tallied hat tricks.

Yet, it all came down to the defense, as Walpole (11-8) made it a one-goal game late in the fourth. In the final minute, with possession and coming out of a timeout, the Rebels cycled the ball around the attacking zone, looking for attack Chris Frye, who’d already scored five goals (for six points) on the afternoon. With less than 30 seconds to play, Warriors senior pole Ryan Smith sealed the victory, forcing a Rebels turnover with a deft stick check.

While the Rebels – in particular Frye – were able to get theirs, the Warriors held (just enough) when it counted most.

“Nice little slap check there,” Noone said of Smith’s crucial defensive play. “I had Brendan [Lovely] on [Frye] at the beginning of the game, but Brendan was a little too aggressive on him. So I wanted to change it. Lukey [Valenza] ended up on him for a while in the third quarter and then Ryan ended up on him.”

However, the defensive struggle against the Rebels began even before the game’s start, with Foxborough’s coaching staff implementing a zone defense.

“We knew they like the inverts, so we put a zone in today and I think our zone did well today,” Noone added.

It was a bittersweet end for the Rebels, in particular Frye – a 60-goal scorer this year who ended the season with a dazzling display of skill and a pure nose for the cage.

“It was a game of runs,” Rebels head coach Jason Andalo said. “We made ours early, they made theirs late and we came up one short.”
CANTON, Mass. -- It was a moment frozen in time. The members of the Canton boys' lacrosse team crouched underneath the scoreboard at Memorial Field for a picture in the late afternoon of last Thursday. Even though the junior varsity game was about to begin, the scoreboard remained unchanged from the previous one. The Bulldogs had just beaten Hockomock League rival Foxborough for the first time since the 2007 season -- in double overtime, nonetheless -- and they were content to savor it.

"This is a banner win for us," head coach Bill Bendell said following the Bulldogs' momentous win, their first against the Warriors in 12 tries . "In 2008, we lost a couple of one-goal games to them, but since then it hasn't been close."

He isn't kidding, too. The memories of some of the absolute drubbings Foxborough doled out against Canton remain fresh. Canton's seniors had registered an oh-fer in six games against the Warriors entering last week. The average margin of victory in those Foxborough games was more than nine goals per. "Pretty slaughtered" was how senior attack Pat Ward described the previous encounters.

But even after a psyche-shifting victory the Bulldogs have kept rolling. After Wednesday's 10-5 win over King Philip, Canton improved to 9-0. It's the longest such unbeaten streak in program history and, as a result -- for a program which has enjoyed just one winning season in its last eight -- the Bulldogs are rapidly approaching their record for wins in a season this millennium (12, in 2011).

“We haven’t won the league or anything, and there’s a long road ahead of us," said senior Kurt Leavitt, who scored the overtime game-winner against Foxborough, "but it’s definitely something to build off.”

It's been a steady build for the Bulldogs, and it hasn't come easy.

Bendell was tasked with finding a new starting goaltender for this year. With no apparent candidates to fill the role, he turned to then sophomore attackman Ben Lodge. It happened nearly by accident. Lodge was horsing around during a summer lacrosse camp when Bendell had the inkling for a radical idea -- this kid might actually be the solution. It turned out to be a stroke of genius. Through the nine-game winning streak, Lodge and the Bulldogs defense has allowed just shy of six goals a game.

To his credit, Lodge has done it at less than 100 percent as well. After suffering a knee injury, which may require offseason surgery, he's forced to play the position with a bulky knee brace.

"He's been clutch," Bendell said. "He's been lights-out. He's been a little dinged up, but he's a tough kid."

Aside from the on-field success, Bendell talked about importance of changing the perception of the program within the school community. He pointed to senior defensive midfielder Dexter Green as a prime example. The All-League football player hardly had ever picked up a stick before some of his friends on the team persuaded the hard-hitting, physical defender to try lacrosse.

Bendell believes that converts such as Green are the key to perpetuating the success his team has experienced this season. He credited his senior core for having toughed it out during some rough stretches in recent years.

We just kept thinking that, if they stick together, stick with us and they persevere, we could get somewhere," Bendell said.

He continued, "It's part of the culture change in that kids want to play lacrosse. Hopefully, this will help us build this program long-term, in that the kids will motivated to join and want to be a part of it."

While the Bulldogs entered the season with best intentions, their early season success has even caught them by surprise. "We didn't expect that we'd be undefeated right now," Ward said following the win over Foxborough. It hasn't come without complications either, as Canton has played three overtime games, including back-to-back, double-overtime epics against Sharon and then Foxborough. Even in their historic win against the Warriors, Canton had to erase a two-goal deficit in the final two minutes of regulation to tie it.

“I think winning this can give the boys a new mentality," Ward said of the team's resiliency. "With any team that we play, any team in Division 3, if we play our game, and we’ve had a couple of close ones, but if we play our game, we can hang.”

There remains a strong possibility the Bulldogs will remain undefeated in Hockomock League play heading into their May 15 rematch with their nemesis. Then, the Bulldogs will carry a different kind of burden -- no longer the wanting of knocking off the league power from their perch, but rather defending their newfound pole position.

"We know they’re going to be ready to go again come the second game," Ward said.
Longmeadow makes quite a splash, entering this week's MIAA boys' lacrosse Top 25 poll at No. 11 while making its season debut.

The Lancers crack the rankings this week after notching a Top 25 victory over Central Mass Power Algonquin. However, they weren't the only Western Mass. squad entering the poll this week, as South Hadley -- only a half-game behind Longmeadow in the Wheel standings at 5-0 -- also makes its season debut at No. 22.

(Editors note: Rankings do not reflect Tuesday's results or the adjustment in records made in accordance with Foxborough's forfeited win over No. 12 Reading.)

A BIG WIN
Aside from Longmeadow, the team covering the most ground this week is Dover-Sherborn. The Raiders hop up 10 spots to No. 15 after a huge 6-3 win over Tri-Valley League rival Medfield -- showing why they're to team to beat (again) in Division 3. Now, we could have been more harsh on the Warriors, but we still believe Medfield is the team to beat in Division 2, so we're keeping them in the Top 10 at No. 7 -- for now. Also drawing a significant boost from a conference win last week is Andover, which moves up seven spots to No. 16 after a thrilling overtime victory over Merrimack Valley rival Billerica.

MIAA boys' lacrosse preseason All-State Team

April, 8, 2013
4/08/13
2:24
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Attackmen:
Tyler Bogart, Soph., Catholic Memorial
Jordan Dow, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
Jay Drapeau, Jr., Westford Academy
Brandon Jaeger, Sr., Dover-Sherborn
C.J. LoConte, Sr., Duxbury
Andrew Melvin, Sr., Medfield
Nick Menzel, Jr., Archbishop Williams
Nico Panepinto, Sr., Needham
Robbie Pisano, Sr., Needham
Tyler Reilly, Sr., Grafton
Andrew Smiley, Jr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)

[+] EnlargeLacrosse
Scott Barboza/ESPN Army commit C.J. LoConte will look to shoulder a bigger part of the offense for defending Division 1 state champion Duxbury.
Midfielders:
Kevin Bletzer, Jr., Catholic Memorial
Will Blumenberg, Soph., Concord-Carlisle
Caleb Brodie, Jr., Hingham
Alec Brown, Sr., Wakefield
Tucker Ciessau, Sr., Scituate
Dan Delaney, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
Henry Guild, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
Carson Hart, Sr., Wayland
Davis Kraft, Sr., Algonquin
Matt LaCroix, Sr., Westfield
Drew O’Connell, Jr., St. John’s Prep
Mikey Panepinto, Jr., Needham
Kieran Presley, Sr., Amherst
Bryan Rotartori, Sr., Grafton
Jack Wheeler, Jr., Xaverian

Long-stick Midfielders:
Nick Brozowski, Jr., Concord-Carlisle
Mike Elcock, Jr., Needham
D.J. George, Sr., Arlington Catholic
John Sexton, Jr., Lincoln-Sudbury

Defensemen:
Evan Boynton, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
Tim Gillis, Soph., Cohasset
Brian Uva, Sr., St. John’s Prep
Luc Valenza, Sr., Foxborough
Jay Walsh, Sr., Duxbury
Tyler Weeks, Sr., Andover
Ian Yanulis, Sr., BC High

Goaltender:
Andrew Blood, Jr., Walpole
Matt Comerford, Sr., Reading
Ryan Goodall, Sr., Dover-Sherborn
Nick Marrocco, Jr., Duxbury
Giles Ober, Sr., Algonquin
Jake Reynolds, Jr., Scituate
D.J. Smith, Sr., Billerica
Robert Treiber, Jr., Medfield
Tighe Van Lenten, Sr., Masconomet

Recap: No. 24 Franklin 2, Mansfield 2

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
12:06
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Franklin seniors Mike Patjane and Cam Curley had the chance to be heroes. In the final minute and with a man-advantage, each of the Panthers’ captains had a shot to break the deadlock, but both were robbed by acrobatic saves from Mansfield goalie Rich Shipman in the matchup of Hockomock League rivals Wednesday.

The Hornets’ senior netminder was the game’s standout player. Shipman made 39 saves and earned his team a 2-2 tie against the defending league champions in Wednesday night’s encounter – which did not, however, count toward the league standings -- at the Foxboro Sports Center.

With his team hanging on late in the third period, Shipman went post to post to deny Patjane with a kick save before throwing everything he had in front of Curley as the Panthers leading scorer bore down on the net.

“I thought Shipman played phenomenal,” said Mansfield head coach Rick Anastos, whose team was struggling with illness and, for the second time this season, had a late bounce go against them. “The second goal went off a skate. That sucks. It’s the second time that’s happened to us.”

Franklin head coach Chris Spillane praised the play of both Shipman and his own goalie Devon Maloof (21 saves), but felt that his team did not do enough to cause problems for a top goalie.

“We created a lot of turnovers, but we just didn’t turn them into quality scoring chances,” he explained. “He’s a good goaltender and he made quality stops but with a goalie of that caliber you need to move him post to post and we didn’t do that enough.”

The Panthers (2-1-1) dominated the opening period. Franklin out shot Mansfield 15-4 but was unable to find the back of the net. After Maloof started the second period with a great kick save, Franklin finally got on the board.

Junior forward Troy Donahue fired the Panthers into the lead. Donahue chose to shoot over trying to play a pass back to Dennis Pisani, who had hustled to fill the lane, and he picked the perfect spot over the shoulder of Shipman and just under the crossbar.

The goal sparked Mansfield (1-1-3) into life and the Hornets would play their best period of the game, outshooting Franklin, 14-12.

Mansfield evened things up at 1-1 with 2:19 left in the period. Senior captain Brendan Murphy scored on the rebound of a shot by fellow senior Kevin Flynn. With 34.7 seconds on the clock, Murphy was at it again with a scrappy goal on a loose puck on the edge of the crease. While not a pretty goal, it put Mansfield into the lead heading into the final 15 minutes.

Spillane was disappointed in the type of goals that his team has been giving up in recent games.

“It’s sort of been our nemesis the last couple of games, turning the puck over and giving up goals like that,” he said. “When he made the stop, we didn’t do enough to clear the puck away.”

“We just tried to be more aggressive and to play our system a little better than we did in the first,” noted Anastos about his team’s improvement in the second period. “The kids felt a little more confident about their game and I think that’s what you saw in the second period.”

The third period was all Franklin.

Three minutes into the third Donahue struck for the second time in the game when his shot deflected past Shipman for an unassisted goal to make it 2-2. The Panthers would go on to outshoot Mansfield 14-5 in the period, but could not generate a winning goal.

Spillane said, “You can’t win games when you’re chasing. Under a minute left you need to put the puck in the net and be a hero. There are no heroes in our room tonight.”

Franklin enters its most difficult stretch of the season when it travels to Newburyport on Saturday before hosting Lincoln-Sudbury on Monday night. Mansfield has a road game against league rival Foxborough on Saturday.

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