With the fall sports season coming down the home stretch, here’s a look back at the last few months through the lenses of photographer Gary Fournier.
high school field hockey
BOLTON — The Nashoba Regional field hockey team opened the Division 2 tournament on Friday evening in dominant fashion.
The 16th-seeded Wolves welcomed No. 17 Masconomet Regional to Bolton and proceeded to dominate as Nashoba came away with a 3-0 victory in the opening round.
Nashoba improves to 6-10-3 overall on the season while the visiting Chieftains wrap up the campaign at 8-7-3.
The Wolves advance and will play the winner of top-seeded Reading (18-1) and No. 33 Malden in the Round of 16.
“This was a great win. It felt good to be able to find the back of the net tonight,” said Nashoba head coach Jaime Mariani. “We’ve had a really challenging year, but the kids and coaches have stayed positive throughout. Coming in to this one we knew it would be anyone’s game. We saw a little film on them and knew they were going to be a challenging team.”
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Wolves struck for single goals in each of the remaining periods.
Senior captain Kayla Flanagan led the Wolves offense with a goal and assist, while sophomore goalie Valerie Michel was solid in net, making five saves to preserve the shutout.
“Valerie has come so far from where she was at the beginning of the season and being a new goalie,” said Mariani. “We have two senior defenders back there, Grace King and Sofia Smith, that have been in big games and they bring that experience and that’s really important.”
Nashoba got on the board early in the second quarter with 10:03 remaining when the Wolves took advantage of their first penalty corner of the game. Katie LaFrance beat Chieftains goalie Sam Serio with a shot from inside the circle to make it 1-0 in favor of the hosts, with Flanagan assisting on the tally.
The Chieftains’ best chance to score came in the final seconds of the first half when the guests found themselves on a breakaway with 10 seconds remaining. Michel and the Wolves defense were up to the task as they defended the play and were able to break it up just before the halftime whistle.
The Wolves doubled their advantage late in the third quarter when Flanagan potted a goal, once again cashing in on a penalty corner with 54 seconds remaining. Hannah Dwight was awarded the assist on the Wolves’ second goal.
The hosts weren’t finished as they added another insurance goal early in the fourth quarter when Chloe Hughes found the back of the cage with the assist going to senior captain Lauren DiTullio to cap the scoring in this one.
“We play a tough schedule against some of the best teams in the state and I think that helps prepare us for games like this,” said Mariani. “I feel like we can face anybody and play with them.”
LEOMINSTER — Seventy minutes had decided nothing.
And as the end of a second sudden-victory, seven-on-seven overtime period drew closer, it looked like 80 wouldn’t be enough for No. 12 Leominster High and 21st-seeded North Attleboro on Thursday night.
But with just 1:42 left in the second extra period, Emma Miller found the back of the cage to lift the Blue Devils to a 2-1 victory in the opening round of the Division 2 tournament at Doyle Field.
“I just wanted the game to end. We needed to score,” Miller said. “My legs were hurting, but we had good rotations with players coming in and keeping things fresh and I think that pushed us to get that goal at the end.”
Miller picked up a loose ball on the right side and rushed in, slotting a low shot past North Attleboro goalkeeper Gracie Leary (eight saves) for the game-winner for the Blue Devils (11-7-1).
While Leominster advances to the round of 16, North Attleboro’s season comes to a close with an 8-10-1 mark.
“At this point, everybody is starting fresh, everybody wants to win and nobody wants it to be their last game,” Leominster head coach Kate Phillips said. “There’s something that happens when November turns and the weather gets cold. There’s this fuel in everyone’s body and they just turn it up. (North Attleboro) is a great team and they played a hell of a game tonight.”
Knotted at 1 in the fourth quarter, Leominster looked to have taken the lead with 3:40 left courtesy of a Miller drive from the left side. But despite the ball finding the back of the net, the goal was nullified as the officials ruled the shot was too high and a dangerous play.
“I think when you have that many opportunities, the only frustration is waiting for one to actually make its way in. The fact that it was going in was tough. … I think with Emma’s shot, the call could’ve gone either way. But the message was to keep doing what we were doing because what we were doing was getting shots on net and getting the ball to where it needed to be. We just had to keep doing what we were doing and hope we’d get one to find its way into the back of the net.”
In the fourth quarter and first OT, Leominster netminder Kailyn Cuddahy was spectacular as the visiting Rocketeers surged. The junior goalie showed no hesitation in coming off her line, making several big stops in the closing minutes of regulation and six saves on the night.
Leominster broke through for a 1-0 lead five minutes into the second quarter as a pass by Miller settled in front of the North Andover net and was shot home by Taylor Boulay.
But the visiting Rocketeers pulled even 7:53 into the third as Julia Smith’s shot trickled through Cuddahy for the equalizer.
Maddie Salovardos netted a hat trick and Emma Kibbe added four assists as the sixth-seeded Lunenburg field hockey team disposed of No. 27 Maynard, 7-1, Thursday night at McCarron Field in first round action of the Division 4 tournament.
Lunenburg improves to 16-1-2 overall with the win and will host Clinton on Monday. Maynard finishes its season at 10-7-2.
Lunenburg goalie Tegan Arnold was solid in net in the victory.
Dennis-Yarmouth 3, North Middlesex 0: The 25th-seeded Patriots (8-8-2) fell in the opening round of the Division 3 tournament.
College cross country
Fitchburg State sophomore Michael Burns was named to the 2023 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Men’s Cross Country All-Conference team on Thursday afternoon, while classmate Skye Goba earned a spot on the MASCAC Women’s Cross Country All-Conference team.
Burns notches his second consecutive MASCAC MXC All-Conference accolade after guiding the Falcons to a third-place finish at the MASCAC Men’s Cross Country Championships on Friday afternoon with an eighth-place time of 28:58.48 over the 8K layout at Willard Park.
Skye led the Falcons to a fourth-place finish at the MASCAC Women’s Cross Country Championships after placing fourth overall with a time of 29:02.75 over the 5K layout at Willard Park on Friday afternoon.
The Power Rankings have spoken, figuratively, and the MIAA’s field hockey postseason pairings have been set.
Released Tuesday afternoon, the brackets — featuring 134 schools spread across four divisions — include a half dozen teams from the Sentinel & Enterprise coverage area with play beginning later this week.
Both Leominster High and Nashoba Regional drew home games in the Division 2 pairings, which feature 34 teams.
Leominster (10-7-1) is seeded 12th and will host No. 21 North Attleboro (8-9-1) in the round of 32 at Doyle Field Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Nashoba (5-10-3) is the 16th seed and will host No. 17 Masconomet Regional (8-6-3) Friday at 5:30 p.m.
A trio of local teams will start their journey a Division 3 title on the road in the 34-team Division 3 pairings.
Oakmont Regional (7-9-1) is the 19th seed and will play at No. 14 North Reading (11-4-2) in the round of 32 Thursday at 5 p.m., while North Middlesex Regional (8-8-2), the 25th seed, heads to No. 8 Dennis-Yarmouth (7-7-4) Thursday at 2:30 p.m.
In a preliminary round game, No. 33 Monty Tech (10-5-1) travels to Whitcomb Middle School Thursday to face No. 32 Marlboro (5-11-2) at 5 p.m.
In the 32-team field for Division 4, Lunenburg High will be at home for a while, should it continue to advance. With a 15-1-2 record, the Blue Knights earned the sixth seed and will host No. 27 Maynard (10-6-2) Thursday at 6 p.m. at McCarron Field.
The boys and girls soccer pairings are scheduled to be released Wednesday afternoon.