Boston High School: Tri-Valley League

MEDFIELD, Mass. – For Jack Isaf and the 19 other seniors on the Medfield lacrosse team, there was but one acceptable outcome.

“You play with these guys for eight years and I think this is the largest senior class we’ve ever had,” Isaf said after Tuesday night’s Senior Night game against Tri-Valley League archrival Dover-Sherborn. “It’s a really close bond and it was a really special night.

“We couldn’t go out with a loss.”

Down a goal to the Raiders inside the final minute of the fourth quarter, Isaf took it upon himself to make certain that would not happen in regular. Cutting around the cage and taking a feed from Nigel Reiff, Isaf tied the game, 6-6, with 12.9 seconds on the board.

Then, as the teams moved on to overtime, Isaf – who predictably is nicknamed “Ice” – completed a storybook ending to the Warriors seniors’ final regular season home game, scoring the game-winner and, in the process, securing Medfield’s first outright TVL championship since 2010.

Isaf’s dramatics were only underscored by that fact this his proud papa was on the sidelines – Warriors head coach John Isaf.

The coach, who needed a few deep breaths to collect his emotions during postgame interviews, said that his son’s late-game exploits only sweetened the experience. Yet, for a coach who began with this senior group as an instructor on their fourth grade town team, Tuesday night was about the extended family.

“It wouldn’t have mattered who scored the goal,” John Isaf said. “D-S is a great team and to win in that fashion, it didn’t matter. A win like that is always great against a great team.

“These are guys that really like each other and enjoy playing for each other. They’ve been playing together a long time, so I think they trust one another – and that’s what it comes down to.”

Medfield (17-2, 12-0) struggled offensively early on through some sloppy possessions fell behind the Raiders, 5-2, at the half.

D-S (13-3, 10-2) pushed its lead to four goals almost three minutes into the second half on a Tyler Mann goal, but the Raiders would be shut out during the final 21:02 of the game, in part due to Warriors goaltender Robert Treiber who made five saves in the third quarter alone.

The Warriors then embarked on a streak of five straight goals to close out and win the game. Back-to-back goals from sophomore midfielder John MacLean, sandwiched around the third and fourth quarters, got Medfield back within a goal with less than four minutes to play.

Medfield had more possessions to notch the equalizer, but the Raiders defense remained strong behind Rogers Boylan and Chase Hyde in front of goaltender John Fontaine.

That is, until the Ice-man applied his touch.
The Millis/Hopedale football co-op program is no more and that has cast uncertainty on the upcoming season for some of its players.

In March, a meeting of Tri-Valley League athletic directors voted to disband the co-op team, which has been in place since 2009. On last year’s Mohawks squad, nine players from Hopedale were represented, but now – without being grandfathered into the program for next season – those returning players could be in dire straights.

Without the additional bodies from Hopedale, Millis figures to have 34 players on its varsity roster for the upcoming season – nine more than the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) imposed minimum of 25 players – and first-year head coach Dana Olson told ESPN Boston that he doubts his program will field a junior varsity team. Only one player from Hopedale started for the Mohawks last season.

The move to disband is not the first time the arrangement came under scrutiny. In 2012, the MIAA board on co-op programs granted it an extension. In the co-op system, the host school (Millis) enters the agreement until it is deemed that the said host school can accommodate enough players to field a team on its own.

However, the timing of the decision has left administrators, coaching staff and players scrambling. After the March vote to disband, the athletic directors of Millis and Hopedale wrote appeal letters those TVL athletic directors who voted in opposition to the extension of the co-op, pleading to allow the program one more season to allow holdover players a chance to finish their high school careers, while allowing Hopedale to make according plans for its players past 2014. That measure was also denied in an April vote of TVL athletic directors.

As a result, Hopedale has attempted to find another co-op partner for its players, which as first reported by The Milford Daily News has targeted nearby Blackstone-Millville Regional.

But both parties have held out hope for reconciliation, taking their case before the MIAA in a Monday meeting with the schools’ athletic directors.

“It creates depth, especially, safety-wise,” Olson said of the co-op. “If you’re starting with about 30 kids to start the season and you come across injuries, or concussions, then you’re left with 20 kids and might be forced into the situation of putting freshman or JV-level players into a situation where they might have to play, even if they’re not ready to play at the varsity level. That can be a safety concern, too.”

Olson, who has yet to coach a game since taking over the head coaching position from Dale Olmsted, believes the Mohawks’ recent success, which has included winning seasons and playoff appearances in each of the last three years and producing a Division 1 scholarship player in Boston College’s Jon Baker, made the program an easy target for detractors.

“We worked very hard from taking this program to the brink of folding to becoming a successful program,” said Olson, who is in his fifth year with the program overall. “We don’t want to go back to where we came from. We were a blueprint for what a co-op program should be. It created a sense of community and the kids worked so well together.”

Recap: No. 7 Medfield 9, No. 15 D-S 7

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
12:58
AM ET
DOVER, Mass. - Medfield coach John Isaf would not reveal exactly what he said to the Warriors at halftime, but whatever it was lit a fire under his players.

After a sluggish opening 24 minutes that saw the Warriors trail for the first time this season, Medfield outscored Tri-Valley League rival Dover-Sherborn 5-2 in the second half to come away with a 9-7 victory on Wednesday night at Searle Field that gives them the upper hand in the league title race.

“It was more about playing the way that we’re supposed to play and playing Medfield lacrosse,” said Isaf about his second half changes. “I think our guys played a little bit looser and a little bit tougher for us then we did in the first.”

Medfield (6-0) shifted its offensive sets and it paid early dividends in the second half when sophomore Nigel Reiff collected a loose ball behind the net and came around to score and tie the game at 5-5. Three minutes later, senior pole Jimmy Ganem raced forward out of defense and caught D-S in transition. He picked out sophomore Matt Treiber who finished and gave Medfield its first lead of the game.

With 1:10 left in the third, another sophomore, BU-commit John MacLean, stepped with his second goal of the game to make it 7-5. D-S (4-2) would cut the lead to one goal early in the fourth on a laser from freshman Bailey Laidman, but on the ensuing face-off an unlikely hero emerged for the Warriors.

Jack-Henry Vara, who had just been pulled up from the J.V. after the top two face-off men went down with injuries, won the faceoff (he won 14 of 18 in the game) and took the ball the length of the field before bouncing one past the stick of D-S goalie Jack Fontaine.

"Any time that you can make a play like that, especially when they’re not expecting it -- that’s a great play," Isaf said. "Jack-Henry has been patient; he’s been working down at the JV level…we gave him the opportunity and he did a great job. We’re fortunate to have that kind of depth.”

D-S was not without its opportunities in the second half, but Medfield goalie Robert Treiber made several huge stops to keep out the Raiders.

“I think he’s one of the best goalies in the state,” said Isaf. “When he’s one and making stops…that might be the difference in a one- or two-goal game.”

Another change that worked well for Medfield was the move of long-stick midfielder Blake Frasca back into close defense to work against D-S senior attack Grant Gregory, who was making his first appearance after being out with an injury. Gregory scored two and caused havoc in the first half, but was limited to just two shots in the second and did not get his hat trick until the final 10 seconds of the game.

“I didn’t think we shot particularly well in the second half,” said D-S coach Brian McLaughlin about the turnaround in play after the break.

He added, “I thought the defense still played strong, but I thought they made the shots that they had to and I thought that we missed on a few that we could’ve had shots on. Their goalie made some great saves…but I thought, you know, we could have shot and finished a little better.”

The combination of Gregory (three goals), who has committed to play at BU, and Laidman (two goals), who has already committed to play at the University of North Carolina, was a positive that McLaughlin thinks the Raiders can build on.

“It’s the first time that [Grant] and Bailey have stepped on the field together, so we have a lot of growing to do as a team,” McLaughlin said. “We really haven’t had everybody together, so in that sense it’s a positive. We played a lot better than we did on Friday and a lot better than we have in the past couple of weeks.”

After having a relatively comfortable start to the season with several routine TVL wins, Isaf was happy to see that his team could step up when it was challenged.

He said, “What I think it said about us is, I think, we’re tough. Things weren’t going our way in the first half, it was the first time that we’ve been down in a game, and the kids responded. That’s what you hope to see from a team.”

Medfield has a quick turnaround to host Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) on Thursday night. D-S will be back in action next week in the annual Coaches Challenge Cup.

Recap: Medway 3, Medfield 2

January, 12, 2014
Jan 12
1:57
AM ET


FRANKLIN, Mass. – Sophomore goaltender Mike Purnell made 31 saves to help Medway beat Medfield, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon at Pirelli Veterans Skating Arena and, in the process, ended its Tri-Valley League rival’s unbeaten start to the season.

Medway head coach Chris Ross was full of praise for his young goalie, who made 11 saves in a hectic first period and went on to stop 13 in the third, as the Mustangs were clinging to a one-goal lead.

He commented, “One of my favorite hockey quotes by Jack Parker, he said, ‘They should rename the game goalie.’ I fell very blessed that we have a good goalie.”

Purnell gave much of the credit to his communication with his defensemen, as Medfield controlled most of the possession in the attacking zone and outshot the Mustangs 33-15.

“There was a lot of talk from the goaltender to the defense to the wings,” Purnell said. “That’s a big part of hockey. If you can communicate it makes the play flow better and we were able to do that. It’s a good win.”

The Mustangs (5-2-1, 3-1-1) jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 39 seconds into the game. Josh O’Toole, shooting from the right circle, had his shot slip past Medfield’s sophomore goalie Matt Malvese.

Medfield head coach Toby Carlow admitted that an early goal like that can change a team’s whole approach to the game.

“The first period was a terrible period,” he said. “It’s tough because these guys are young kids and they sometimes get off their game plan really easy, especially when that happens, and then it struggles to get back on track and that’s exactly what happened.”

Medfield (6-1-1, 5-1-0) responded a little more than two minutes after the opening goal. Justin Hirschfeld knocked in a loose puck just two seconds after a Mustangs penalty ended. The Warriors gained momentum from the goal and controlled play, but with 3:53 left in the period Medway struck again when Mark Bittrolff’s shot from the point somehow found the top corner for a shorthanded goal to make it 2-1.

The Medway penalty kill would get plenty of work in the opening period. Although it went down as just two power play opportunities for the Warriors, Medway took four penalties in the first period and, at one point, were on the kill for a stretch of more than three minutes that included a pair of 5-on-3 situations.

“We had two 5-on-3’s in a row and those guys just did a great job,” said Ross. “We dedicate a lot of time in practice to special teams because these things pop up all the time in high school hockey. Those guys just executed perfectly tonight.”

Regarding his team’s power play, Carlow noted, “We just didn’t shoot. We didn’t do enough to get the puck to the net. Their guys did a good job keeping the puck outside, but we didn’t make them make mistakes, which you have to do on a power play.”

The Mustangs extended their lead four minutes into the second period. After a Medfield turnover in the defensive zone, Jared Reynolds slipped a pass across the crease to freshman Adam Dwyer, who knocked it past Dan Graham (who had taken over in goal for the Warriors) for what turned out to be the game-winner.

Medfield cut the lead to one with 9:18 left in the second. As a Medway power play ended, a loose puck found sophomore Matt Treiber charging up ice and Patrick Lawler came out of the penalty box to make it a 2-on-1. Treiber did not need his teammate but instead ripped a wrist shot into the roof of the net to make it 3-2.

In the final 10 seconds of the second period, Medway nearly doubled the lead, but Mike Boldy could not finish a breakaway chance and Graham smothered a pair of shots from close range.

In the third period, Medfield was desperate to find a game-tying goal and put 13 shots on Purnell, but the sophomore held firm and the Mustangs continually cleared the puck from the front of the net.

The win was clearly important to Medway, as the players stormed the ice on the final whistle and surrounded Purnell behind his net.

The goalie remarked, “It’s a confidence boost, you know. We weren’t playing that well in the past couple of games, but we stepped our game up here and hopefully we can just move on from here.”

Ross added, “I told the boys in there that this is one of my proudest moments as a coach…I thought it was a whole team effort. I’m beyond thrilled right now.”

Recap: Westwood 2, Medway 1

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
9:27
PM ET
FRANKLIN, Mass. -- Westwood knows it caught a break. But in the world of competitive sports, no one is about to complain, especially if you happen to be on the winning side.

In tonight's Tri-Valley League early-season showdown, it appeared as though the Wolverines would have to settle for a tie against rival Medway at the Staff Sgt. Pirelli Veterans Memorial Rink. Westwood was nursing a one goal lead through much of the final period until Mustang junior Kevin Kaufman ripped a shot from the left circle that eluded all-everything goaltender Will Ribas to knot things up.

As the clock ticked down to a few precious seconds, the Wolverines made one final rush into the Medway zone. Junior captain Ken Mackin let go of a shot from about 20 feet out. The puck hit the stick of Mustang goalie Mike Purnell and soared into the air. Kaufman, standing alongside Purnell, tried to swat the puck mid-air away from the net but instead, the puck deflected off his stick and went backwards into the net with 16 seconds remaining giving the Wolverines an unexpected 2-1 triumph.

"We kept skating but I don't think this was our best game and it wasn't Medway's best game either," Wolverines head coach Mike Welby said. "We tried to keep skating with those guys and put pucks deep and tried to work the puck to the net. We knew their goalie was good so we knew a second goal would be tough to come by. It's tough to see a game end like that where it goes off their own player's stick but that's the way it goes sometimes."

With the victory, Westwood improves to 2-0-0 while Medway drops to 0-1-0.

The Mustangs controlled most of the action. The Wolverines had trouble containing the puck at both ends of the ice due in large part to a solid mix of fore and back checking by the Medway defense. That, in turn, led to some quality chances offensively.

However, in spite of holding a 24-13 advantage in shots through two periods, the Mustangs trailed 1-0. At 12:50 of the middle frame, Wolverine forward Mike Riley gained possession of the puck after it caromed off the back dasher and onto his stick. The junior, left all alone in front, slipped a shot by Purnell.

"We tell our kids all the time to get the puck to the net and get bodies to the net," Welby said. "Good things will happen. Fortunately, tonight something good happened for us."

Throughout this contest, Medway was left wondering if it would catch a break as easily as Westwood did. For the first time all game, the Wolverines opened the third period the aggressor. Looking to add to its lead, Westwood put up a couple of quality chances on Purnell (18 saves) but came away with nothing to show for it.

With just under nine minutes remaining, Medway freshman Andrew Diebus had his team's best chance of the evening after rifling a hard wrist shot at Ribas.

But the netminder reacted quickly by sticking his left pad out and turning the shot aside. Ribas, who last year maintained a productive 1.50 goals-against-average, looks to be on track for another stellar season between the pipes.

"A lot of our success has to do with the way our defense plays," said Ribas, finishing with 31 stops. "If I do let up a rebound it's always going in the corners. I think our team is extremely deep this year and I think we're going to give everyone we play a good run. We hadn't beaten Medway in five years so it feels pretty good. I felt we all played very well tonight."

With the clock showing less than six minutes to play, the Mustangs finally caught a break after Medway defenseman Joe Reissfelder was sent to the penalty box for interference -- the first and only penalty charged to the Wolverines all night. It took but eight seconds for Medway to capitalize on the man-advantage thanks to Kaufman's tally coming at 9:12.

During the final four minutes, both teams worked feverishly in their attempts to score the go-ahead goal only to come away empty. That is until the fluke score in the waning seconds which left the Mustangs a bit stunned.

"I told our kids how proud I was in the way they fought back," Medway head coach Chris Ross said. "Westwood has a very good goaltender and we knew we had to throw a lot of pucks toward the net and jump on rebounds. We just couldn't bury our chances when we had them. We weren't getting there for any loose rebounds. We were getting some good first shots but not getting good second opportunities off the rebounds.”

Ross continued, “In the third period we started doing that a little more and were able to tie things up. But sometimes when you put yourself in a situation late where anything can happen, sometimes anything does happen."

TVL Large football All-Stars announced

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
2:10
PM ET
The Tri-Valley League Large division today announced its All-Stars and postseason award winners for the football season.

Thanks to Medfield head coach Erik Ormberg for the email sent to local media today.

Coaches or league representatives, across all fall sports, are encouraged send their league All-Star lists to editors Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com) and Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com):

TVL MVP – Bo Berluti, Westwood
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Matt Jeye, Holliston
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Paul Beling, Holliston
LINEMAN OF THE YEAR – Kevin Sheehan, Medway
COACH OF THE YEAR – Dave McSweeney, Medway

-----

ALL-STARS

O-LINE
Austin Barrett #52-Holliston
Jon doCarmo #55-Holliston
Callan Berry #51-Hopkinton
Joey Sears #55-Medfield
Chris Eldridge #52-Westwood

RECEIVERS
Zach Elkinson #3-Holliston
Chris Hanley #24-Westwood

RUNNING BACKS
Anthony Parchesky #23-Medway
Dan Roache #28-Westwood

TIGHT ENDS
Brendan Patterson #44-Westwood

QUARTERBACK
Stephen Ledogar #7-Medfield

D-LINE
Cam Smith #77-Medway
Joe Belomo #30-Holliston
Ryan Demaranis #75-Westwood

LINEBACKER
Tim Huffam #1-Medway
Jordan Jacobs #34-Hopkinton
Scott McManus #56-Westwood
Tom Radonich #53-Westwood

DEFENSIVE BACK
Nick Athy #12-Holliston
Nick D’Aloia #7-Hopkinton
Tommy Sears #5-Medfield
Matt Patry #25-Medfield

ALL-PURPOSE
Jeff Greenberg #17-Medway
Drew Donahue #22-Hopkinton

Roundtable: Predicting MIAA Football District Champs

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
4:21
PM ET
EDITOR'S NOTE: Picks for Western Mass. are omitted, as the district concludes its final week of regular season this weekend)

Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


Division 1 North: Everett
Plain and simple, I just don’t see John DiBiaso getting outcoached in this field.

Division 1 South: Attleboro
One of several surprise picks I’m going to lay down here. The Blue Bombardiers’ program has long been a sleeping giant, and they’ve finally awoken this fall with a slew of skilled athletes, including quarterback Tim Walsh, tight end Luke Morrison, receiver Brenden Massey and promising young two-way lineman Kyle Murphy. The key may be junior Damon Belin, a speedy pass-catching running back who is elusive in space.

Division 2 North: Haverhill
Hard to think just two years after an 0-11 campaign, the Hillies are the No. 1 seed in a playoff tournament. Sophomore running back Ian Kessel, one of the area’s leaders in yards from scrimmage, has been at the forefront of the renaissance, and I expect him to have a breakout campaign this next month.

Division 2 South: Natick
If there is one player capable of carrying his team on his back, it is quarterback Troy Flutie, who has put up video game numbers yet again (2,500-plus yards, 35 TD) with an assortment of supporting cast members.

Division 2 Central: Leominster
This is the most talented team of Dave Palazzi’s tenure, and it may be his best coaching job yet. They are not the most physically intimidating team, but they are one of the most disciplined, and they squeeze every inch out of their talents, led by dual threat QB Neil O’Connor. The Blue Devils brought the biggest crowd ever to Gillette Stadium two years ago. I can only imagine what kind of caravan from this football-mad city would show up this year.

Division 3 Northeast: Tewksbury
There may be some bumps in the road in this field, but at the end of the day there isn’t a team as deep as the Redmen in this field. They were the most dominant team in the MVC this season, and with a stable of running backs led by James Sullivan and Eddie Matovu, along with a scheme that draws formations from seemingly every family of offense throughout history, I just don’t see how anyone knocks these guys off.

Division 3 Northwest: Arlington
Two Dubzinskis are better than one, and the father-son duo of head coach John Jr. and his father John Sr. as defensive coordinator has taken the Middlesex by storm this fall after showing promise a year ago. I don’t know what direction this bracket is headed in, but the Spy Ponders are a safe pick.

Division 3 Southeast: Plymouth South
As long as Dylan Oxsen is carrying the rock, I don’t see anyone but the Panthers taking this bracket. It’s a different story after that, though.

Division 3 Southwest: Walpole
The Rebels’ ground game has come along well, after hitting a few bumps. As long as the defense can hold up, their multi-dimensional stable of backs can do the rest.

Division 4 North: Bedford
Another field that can go in an assortment of directions, the ground game dictated by Olan Abner could be the difference.

Division 4 South: Dennis-Yarmouth
The Dolphins typically hit their stride in the second half of the season, and the way this offense is clicking, it’s going to take a flawless defensive performance to shut down Spencer Tyler, Michael Dunn and company.

Division 4 Central: Doherty
Twitter follower and familiar 98.5 The Sports Hub caller “Aidan From Worcester” guarantees Shepherd Hill beats Doherty in this bracket. The Rams are a dangerous bunch, but the Highlanders have arguably the best grouping of pure athletes statewide across Division 4, so I'm sticking to my gut.

Division 5 North: Bishop Fenwick
Rufus Rushins gets much of the glory in this dominant run for the Crusaders, and deservedly so, but quarterback Nick Bona is the catalyst of this offense, and will be the difference in a close game somewhere down the line.

Division 5 South: Abington
The Green Wave lost some key bodies to start the year, but have been rolling ever since, capped with a convincing 36-7 rout of East Bridgewater. The versatile backfield of Al Freeman, Jason Halpin, quarterback Bryan Dwyer and promising sophomore Shawn Donovan will wear front sevens down.

Division 5 Central: Leicester
Tom Rodrick has been the driving force on both sides of the ball, but quarterback Drew Mazzeo puts the Wolverines over the top.

Division 6 North: Latin Academy
There are trendier picks in this field, such as Boston Cathedral, but the Dragons have one of the better overall athletes in this field in quarterback/safety Kyle Dance. He will be the difference.

Division 6 South: Upper Cape
Mike Hernon has done a fantastic job with this program, and while the Rams are a low seed headed into this wide-open field, Jon Dumont is a dangerous asset to this triple-option scheme who can take them deep.

Division 6 Central: Blackstone Valley Tech
Nic Wojnar is as elusive with his feet as he is throwing the ball in the Beavers’ read option scheme. Expect big numbers from the senior this postseason.

***

Scott Barboza
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


DIVISION 1 NORTH: Lowell
I’ve gone on record since the summertime months saying the Red Raiders are making an appearance at Gillette Stadium this year. Lowell has a tough road there, staring with a first-round road game at St. John’s Prep in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 swing matchup, but I’ve like the strides this defense has made behind Alex Quintero and Shyheim Cullen.

DIVISION 2 NORTH: Haverhill
One of the tougher races to project in Eastern Mass., the Hillies enter as the No. 1 seed. Preseason favorite Reading, a buzz worthy Waltham team and old stalwarts Lincoln-Sudbury could all claim the prize, but I’m going with the upstart Hillies, vindication for the terrific job Tim O’Connor has done since taking over the program.

DIVISION 3 NORTHEAST: Tewksbury
Marblehead might have the best athlete in the field with two-sport standout Brooks Tyrrell, but Tewksbury proves too much to handle, with a three-headed rushing attack and a stout defense.

DIVISION 3 NORTHWEST: Melrose
The Red Raiders lone loss of the regular season came against Middlesex Freedom division rival Wakefield, coming on a late field goal, but I like Melrose the second time around. The teams couldn’t meet until the sectional final and who wouldn’t love ensuring a third meeting of the season by Thanksgiving rivals.

DIVISION 4 NORTH: Watertown
Perhaps a surprise pick coming out of the division, the Red Raiders have some athletes on the boundaries with T.J. Hairston. I think Bedford might be the team to watch here, but just playing a hunch.

DIVISION 5 NORTH: Bishop Fenwick
Pick the Crusaders to go all the way, on a tear through Gillette. They haven’t just beaten teams, they’ve annihilated the CCL’s best, including St. Mary’s (first-round opponent) and Austin Prep, which they both will/can see down the road.

DIVISION 6 NORTH: Cathedral
Another North-based team I have running the field. As I mentioned earlier in the state championship Roundtable, I think the Panthers are just hitting their stride now. This could be the second championship of more to come.

DIVISION 1 SOUTH: Xaverian
Almost wanted to pull the trigger and go with Bridgewater-Raynham here, but I think the Hawks’ defense, which has carried them through the regular season, continues to be the story in the postseason, leading them to Gillette.

DIVISION 2 SOUTH: Mansfield
If this were the World Cup, this would be referred to as the “Group of Death.” Seriously, whichever team survives this gauntlet will be battle-tested. Ever since Week 1, it seems as though Mansfield’s been a team of destiny; they follow through.

DIVISION 3 SOUTHEAST: Plymouth South
An intriguing bracket, littered with some of the Atlantic Coast League’s finest, so look no further than the Panthers, the league’s playoff representative from last season. Nauset and Plymouth North are lurking, but also don’t look past an underrated rivalry game between Somerset-Berkley and Dighton-Rehoboth as a first-round appetizer.

DIVISION 3 SOUTHWEST: Oliver Ames
Another division strongly influenced by the presence of one particular league, in this case the Hockomock. OA and Stoughton drew the top two seeds, but let’s not sleep on No. 4 seed North Attleborough, which plays up in the Kelley-Rex division. Whichever team emerges from the Red Rocketeers’ first-round duel with Walpole could be a dark horse for the sectional title.

DIVISION 4 SOUTH: Westwood
Tons of Tri-Valley League talent to go around here, but I’m sticking with the regular-season champion. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if Dennis-Yarmouth wears the sectional crown, but the Wolverines are a team that simply seems to get it done when the chips are on the table, led by dynamic senior quarterback Bo Berluti.

DIVISION 5 SOUTH: Cardinal Spellman
Old Rochester Regional enters the tournament with the No. 1 seeding, having posted some gaudy offensive numbers throughout the year behind running back Richie Phillips. I picked the Cardinals to win the state title from the start of the season, and while I like Fenwick a little more in terms of the state championship, I still envision Spellman returning to Gillette.

DIVISION 6 SOUTH: Millis/Hopedale
Perhaps no injury will have a greater impact on the outlook of the division than that of the Mohawks and lineman Jon Baker. Granted, I still like M/H’s chances emerging from a wide-open field, thanks to running back Chris Ahl. That being said, the Mohawks’ first-round date with Mashpee could determine the sectional champion.

DIVISION 2 CENTRAL: Leominster
I like the Blue Devils to advance to Gillette, but the sectional field is fraught with peril, too. Marlborough and St. John’s (Shrewsbury) can score with the best of them, but I don’t think anything short of an act of god slows down the Leominster caravan.

DIVISION 4 CENTRAL: Doherty
From season’s start, I’ve tabbed the Highlanders as my statewide Division 4 championship favorite. However, the toughest matchup in the path might very well in their first-round test against No. 6 seed Quabbin.

DIVISION 5 CENTRAL: Leicester
Coming into the season, it would have been easy to project Auburn running away with another championship of sorts, but I’m going with the No. 1-seeded Wolverines, led by linebacker Tom Rodrick – a strong Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

DIVISION 6 CENTRAL: West Boylston
This is a case of what have you done for me lately? While No. 1 seed Littleton rolled through its Mid-Wach schedule undefeated, scoring at a clip of nearly 43 points per game, West Boylston notched a thorough win over previously mentioned Leicester two weeks ago. Granted, the Lions’ lone loss of the season came at the hands of Littleton, but after a one-possession loss in Week 1, I’m banking on the second meeting having a different outcome.

Silver Lake claims boys' soccer No. 1

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
7:55
PM ET
Silver Lake takes over the top spot in the statewide ESPN Boston boys' soccer Top 20 poll after winning its 17th straight game last week.

The Lakers have outscored opponents 78-9 this season and showed their state title aspirations with a convincing win over No. 8 St. John's Prep last week.

Somerville keeps hold of the No. 2 spot and New Bedford drops from the top spot to No. 5 after losing to Brockton.

There was a lot of movement in the bottom half of the rankings this week as some of the teams struggled in the final games of the regular season, which is to be expected when other teams are desperately fighting for points to qualify for the playoffs.

Holliston enters the rankings for the first time after beating Medway and claiming the title in the competitive Tri-Valley League.

Oliver Ames jumps back into the rankings after winning the Davenport title and starting to show some of the firepower that helped it reach the D1 South semis last season. Meanwhile, unbeaten Martha's Vineyard also enters the rankings at No. 18, but the EAC champs will still have something to prove in the tourney, as some question just how good the team from the island is this season.

Medway, Wachusett, and Framingham each dropped into the Last 10 Out after tough losses over the past week, but all three will be looking forward to a potentially long run through the postseason.

Brockton was right on the edge of the rankings after beating former No. 1 New Bedford, but the Boxers followed with a 2-0 loss to BC High and stay just out of the Top 20.

State tournament brackets will be released on Wednesday.

For this week's full Top 20 poll, click HERE.

In This Week: No. 15 Holliston, No. 16 Oliver Ames, No. 18 Martha's Vineyard

Out This Week: Medway, Framingham, Wachusett


WESTWOOD, Mass. – At the end of a double-overtime, 43-41 win over archrival and traditional Thanksgiving Day foe Holliston, firework shells exploded overhead Westwood quarterback Bo Berluti.

It was the eve of “Westwood Day” and it appeared the entire populous of the leafy suburb had spilled out onto the turf at Flahive Field. Encircling Berluti was a gaggle of pint-sized youth football players, chanting, “Bo! Bo! Bo!”

The postgame fireworks were merely a coincidence, prompting one parent in passing to comment: “This would’ve had a different feel had they lost.” But they didn’t. All together, it seemed as though the Wolverines had already lost several times over. Yet, somehow, they avoided demise at every turn.

Like Robert Redford rounding the bases under popping stadium lights in “The Natural,” it was pure magic, and the Wolverines’ star receiver-turned-signal-caller had a hand in it all.

The ball was in Berluti’s hands on the two-point conversion to tie the game with less than a minute to play in regulation.

It was in his hands when Westwood faced certain loss with a fourth-down situation and 25 yards to go. And, when Berluti somehow dialed up the perfect touchdown play to Chris Hanley to tie the game once again, he took it into his own hands to finish the job, converting his third two-point conversion try of the game.

“The composure that kid had at the end was just unbelievable,” senior running back/defensive back Dan Roache said of Berluti. “And Chris Hanley, it’s his first year playing varsity, comes up huge. It’s just hard to describe it right now.”

Berluti accounted for three touchdowns total (two passing, one rushing) and factored directly in 24 of the Wolverines’ 43 points. He ran for 166 yards on 29 carries, while throwing for 89 yards.

Of course, it wasn’t a one-man production. Roache was a wrecking ball in between the tackles, rushing for 160 yards on 30 carries with three touchdowns. He initiated contact and, oftentimes, was seen carrying a gang of would-be Panthers tacklers draped on his shoulders.

But there was something more to this victory, some kind of universal accord that, no matter what the situation, Westwood (3-1, 2-0 Tri-Valley League) simply was not to lose.

Holliston (4-1, 1-1) overcame a 15-0 deficit to earn its first lead early in the third quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Nick Athy. The Panthers proceeded to make it a two-possession game on Matthew Jeye’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Zach Elkinson (his second of three).

On the evening, Jeye completed 12 of 26 pass attempts for 270 yards.

But, not to be outdone, Berluti clawed the Wolverines closer with perhaps his biggest play of the night, ripping off a zig-zagging 53-yard touchdown run to make it 29-21 Holliston with 2:36 to play in the third.

Westwood tied the game in regulation on the heels of a 16-play, 67-yard drive, kick started on a Chris Eldridge fumble recovery. The drive culminated in Roache’s 1-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal with 21 seconds remaining.

Roache went on to score his third touchdown of the game in the opening overtime session, battling across the line from two yards out. However, Westwood’s 2-point conversion run by Berluti fell a yard short.

The Panthers promptly answered on Jeye’s 4-yard touchdown run, but let a chance to win the game slip through their fingers on a missed point-after try.

Holliston also scored on the next possession, with Jeye hitting Elkinson on a 10-yard pass. But again, a missed two-point try opened the door for the Wolverines.

The ensuing Westwood possession was an unmitigated disaster. The series unfolded with a holding penalty wiping out a certain Roache touchdown run, a run for a 3-yard loss followed by a 3-yard gain and a false start penalty.

That left Berluti staring down one last chance at the end zone from 25 yards away.

“We’d practiced that route all week,” Berluti said. “We knew that when we gave them that formation they had nobody in the middle of the field. So I looked at him, gave him the sign – usually, he gives me the sign. And I said, ‘Chris Hanley, I want this.’ And he made a great catch. My line gave me all the time in the world, so really it was the perfect storm.”

And that set the stage for Berluti’s two-point dash.

“The snap before, we went up there with no intention of snapping the ball, but we wanted to see what kind of look they were going to give us,” he added.

Then, Berluti found some open running space and, at long last, victory.

Missed chances: The Panthers have more than a few chances to salt away the victory at various stages of regulation and beyond.

After a potentially deflating last-minute score by the Wolverines, Holliston zoomed downfield on the final possession of regulation. Aided by a 50-yard connection from Jeye to Athy, the Panthers found themselves in field goal range with seconds remaining. However, Jeye’s 34-yard field goal attempt fell shy of the crossbar and the teams soldiered on to overtime.

The kicking game again cost Holliston in the first overtime period. After Jeye’s 4-yard scamper tied the score, 35-all, a botched point-after try kept the game alive.

After another Elkinson touchdown reception in double overtime, the Panthers’ 2-point conversion attempt (their only failed conversion of the game) fell short, setting the scene for Westwood’s final act.

“Our kids battled tonight,” Holliston head coach Todd Kiley said. “We’re a young team, we have four seniors. We played one of the most talented teams in the state, a senior-laden team, and we were down 15-0 – most teams would’ve folded.”

Medfield's Crowell chooses Bowdoin

July, 11, 2013
7/11/13
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Medfield lacrosse junior midfielder Matt Crowell has made his college decision and has committed to the admissions process at Bowdoin College, according to the program's official Twitter account today.

Crowell was named Tri-Valley League Offensive Player of the Year for the spring season after scoring 56 goals and adding 15 assists for the MIAA Division 2 Eastern Mass. champion Warriors.

He is also a two-time TVL hockey All-Star.

TVL softball All-Stars announced

June, 4, 2013
6/04/13
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The Tri-Valley League recently announced its softball All-Star teams.

Here's a look at the list, as provided by Hopkinton athletic director Eric Karjel:

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

Coach of the Year - Dennis Baker Jr., Hopkinton

MVP - Alissa Karjel P/SS Hopkinton - Sophomore

TVL 1st team all-stars:


Kaycee Babineau, Sr. CF, Medway

Jackie Dunne, Jr. CF, Norton

Ilyza Holman, Sr. SS, Ashland

Alissa Karjel, Soph. P/SS, Hopkinton

Lauren Keast, Sr. SS, Holliston

Rachel Kuhlman, Jr. C, Bellingham

Lindy Kyger, Sr. 1B, Holliston

Erica McBride, Jr. C, Hopkinton

Jess Pieterson, Jr. P, Norton

Nicole Reed, Sr. SS, Bellingham

G.G. Ricciardi, Sr. P/OF, Bellingham

Dannielle Vaclavik, Jr. C, Medfield

TVL boys' lacrosse postseason awards

May, 28, 2013
5/28/13
10:28
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The Tri-Valley League recently announced its boys' lacrosse All-Star team and postseason award winners.

Here's a look at the list, as provided by Dover-Sherborn head coach Brian McLaughlin:

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

Tri-Valley League All-Stars:

Brandon Jaeger, A, Dover-Sherborn
Andrew Melvin, A, Medfield
Paul Beling, A, Holliston
Matt Crowell, M, Medfield
Drew Adams, M, Westwood
Zach Elkinson, M, Holliston
Matt Huemme, M, Dover-Sherborn
Brian Bissell, M, Medfield
Rogers Boylan, D, Dover-Sherborn
Ben Cox, D, Medfield
Jimmy Ganem, D, Medfield
Ryan Goodall, G, Dover-Sherborn

Specialist – Jeff Bolton, Ashland

Offensive Player of the Year – Matt Crowell, Medfield

Defensive Player of the Year – Ben Cox, Medfield

League MVP – Ryan Goodall, Dover-Sherborn

Coach of the Year – Chris Collins, Holliston

Assistant Coach of the Year – Dave Fredrickson, Westwood

Sportsman of the Year – Alex Muscanell, Hopkinton

Recap: No. 10 King Philip 6, No. 16 Hopkinton 0

May, 23, 2013
5/23/13
9:23
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HOPKINTON, Mass. -- On paper, it was a marquee match-up. It was a meeting of the champions of the Hockomock League’s Kelley-Rex division and the Tri-Valley League, as well as two teams in the Top 25 in the state.

But, on the field, the game was more about two teams closing out busy weeks and long regular seasons with all eyes on potentially deep postseason runs. In the end, King Philip (16-4) had just a little more gas in the tank and a little more depth.

The No. 10 Warriors cruised to a 6-0 victory on the road at No. 16 Hopkinton (17-3) behind six innings of relief from freshman pitcher Kali Magane. The Warriors No. 3 starter struck out eight Hillers while giving up only two hits. At the plate, she also added a pair of hits and drove in a run.

“She hasn’t been on the mound in three or four weeks so to come in and perform that way goes to show you how tough she is. She’s got a lot of good years ahead of her,” Warriors head coach Norm Beauchemin said.

Magane entered the game in the second inning after starter Anna O’Neill, who has been KP’s ace all season, complained of tightness in her arm. This was O’Neill’s third start of the week and second in as many days (an eight-inning loss to Taunton on Monday and 3-1 win over Coyle on Wednesday) and Beauchemin did not want to take any chances with his top pitcher with the tournament looming.

He remarked with a chuckle, “Anna was a little sore from last night’s game. She pitched Monday and she pitched yesterday and said she had a little stiffness. So, with playoffs coming, we can’t ruin our horse.”

Magane struck out the side in the second inning and the Warriors offense responded in the top of the third.

Lead-off hitter Bre Shaffer began the inning with a walk and shortstop Ashley Hession reached on an error by catcher Erica McBride. With runners at second and third, senior Tori Constantin lined an RBI single to left. Sophomore first baseman Renee Poirier followed with the game’s big hit – a three-run homer that was crushed to right center.

Beauchemin marveled, “She’s been killing the ball all year. She probably has the most extra-base hits for us. She’s a great hitter.”

He added with a laugh, “She struck out for probably the fourth time all season tonight. So, she’s probably more upset about that than happy about the homerun.”

Prior to the game, Hopkinton head coach Dennis Baker Jr. admitted that he was struggling to put together the line-up because of injuries and the fact that the Hillers were playing their fourth game of the week. Hopkinton clinched the TVL title on Wednesday night with a win over Westwood (in conjunction with Bellingham’s win over Norton) and Baker gave a rest to several of his starters.

King Philip essentially put the game away in the top of the fourth when Hession doubled home Shaffer and was then brought home by a Magane single. Hannah Engstrom ended the inning with a perfect throw to the plate to nail Constantin trying to score from second. The Warriors took advantage of the 6-0 lead to use some of the substitutes that have not seen playing time in recent weeks.

It was a comfortable road win over a tough opponent for King Philip but, for both the Warriors and the Hillers, all eyes are on next week and the start of state tournament play.
DOVER, Mass. – As spring turns to summer and as the MIAA lacrosse tournament nears, it’s also around this time of year that Tri-Valley League rivals Dover-Sherborn and Medfield wrap up their season series – usually, with a conference title on the line.

Monday night’s tilt between the old adversaries was no different, with the Raiders looking to win the TVL outright, having beaten Medfield in the teams’ first meeting. Looking to earn a share of the league crown, the Warriors took the task to heart, taking a two-goal halftime lead. D-S pulled even in the second half, however, and the game looked destined for overtime.

But Medfield’s John MacLean tallied his lone goal of the game with 56 seconds remaining in regulation, and along with goaltender Robert Treiber’s 11 saves, the No. 9 Warriors earned a 6-5 win and a share of the TVL championship.

“It shows we can be tough in the fourth quarter,” Medfield head coach John Isaf said. “They came back to tie it, so we had to make a play to win it. We were smart, patient in the fourth quarter and good things happened.”

The Warriors (16-3) received multi-point games from Matt Crowell (goal, three assists) and Andrew Melvin (G, A) to shoulder the offense, but it was the defenses that were on display.

Despite suffering the loss, Raiders goaltender and ESPN Boston preseason All-State selection Ryan Goodall made 19 saves and was active in the clearing game, even earning an assist on Rogers Boylan’s goal to start the second half.

Treiber was equally up to the task. The junior netminder’s final save of the evening was his most important, stopping Brandon Jaeger last-ditch attempt to tie the game with about 12 seconds remaining.

“I wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to come near-post, so I locked that off and got ready to explode off-post,” Treiber said. “He put it out and there and I was able to catch up to it.”

His performance came as somewhat of a surprise to his coach, considering Treiber has been battling a groin injury and was held out of practice this week, as a result.

“I was sitting there wondering how he’s going to react when he hasn’t seen a shot in four days, going into tonight,” Isaf said. “But he’s a tough kid, he’s a gamer. He made some key saves for us tonight.”

FOCAL POINTS
Both Goodall and Treiber racked up the saves, but it was their clearing game, which paid real dividends for their teams.

Goodall got on the scoresheet with his third quarter assist, drawing the Raiders (13-4) within a goal. But Treiber’s feet were also an asset. On several occasions, particularly in the first half, the junior took off and created transition opportunities as D-S sought to cut off his midfield options.

“I like the run-and-gun,” Treiber said. “In transition, they’re always tough, and we allowed a few of them, but that’s part of the game. That’s what we’re trying to do, that’s what they’re trying to do.”

Although Isaf and his staff made a concerted effort to limit Goodall’s ability to connect on home-run passes, the talented senior still found his spots.

“Our game plan was to keep Goody [Goodall] from open-field clearing,” he said. “We didn’t do a very good job of that. He can throw a 50-yard pass on a dime, we know that, we’ve played against him for two years and we know he’s dangerous.”

MOVING ON
Aside from the opportunity to sweep the season series from their rivals, the Raiders missed out on a chance to claim the TVL title.

And while the result was ultimately different (following the Raiders’ 6-3 win on April 26), there were similarities between the two matchups.

“They were pretty similar games, in that they were both defensive battles,” said D-S head coach Brian McLaughlin, who secured career win No. 200 last week. “We were shaky, at best, on offense, with a lot of turnovers. They were probably caused by good defenses on each end, and that’s a main thing.”

With just one non-league game remaining on their regular-season schedule (against Franklin on Wednesday), McLaughlin’s team turns its attention to the lessons learned in Monday’s shortcomings and defending their Division 3 state championship.

“It’s a good measuring stick going into the playoffs,” McLaughlin said of playing the Warriors. “Obviously, we need to score some more goals. But, if we can hold Medfield to six, hopefully, we can some Division 3 teams to six as well.”

AC, Apponequet enter softball Top 25

May, 19, 2013
5/19/13
2:49
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With many teams suffering losses in the last week, there was plenty of shakeups in this week's MIAA softball Top 25 poll.

This week's changes are marked by plenty of up-and-down movement, in addition to four teams entering the poll this week, including a couple of newcomers.

Both No. 24 Arlington Catholic and No. 25 Apponequet make their first-ever Top 25 showings, after some critical league wins. The Cougars claimed their first Catholic Central Large crown after beating Archbishop Williams last week. Meanwhile, the Lakers now stand atop the South Coast Conference standings, thanks to an extra-innings, walk-off win over Fairhaven.

Also moving back into the poll this week was No. 15 Bellingham and No. 20 Taunton on the heels of significant divisional victories. The Blackhawks split their season series with defending Tri-Valley League champion Hopkington while the Tigers nipped former No. 2 North Attleborough in an extra-innings Hockomock League battle.

(Editor's note: Records are as of Friday.)

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