Vettori asked to take key role for BC soccerKristie Mewis left quite a void in the middle of the field for the Boston College women’s soccer team with her graduation in June. The former Whitman-Hanson standout was the program’s all-time leading scorer.
In spring scrimmages, without hesitation, BC coach Alison Foley shifted Dedham High graduate Patrice Vettori into the pivotal position of attacking center midfielder, Mewis’s former spot.
Foley liked Vettori’s skill set and leadership and she was further impressed earlier this month when the 5-foot-6 senior captain scored twice and added an assist in a preseason win over Providence College.
“Patrice was more of a holding midfielder in her first three seasons, but now we want her to be our playmaker, dictate the tempo of the game, and finish off her chances from the perimeter,’’ said Foley, who played the same position while starring at Plymouth-Carver Regional High and later Keene State College.
“She’s coming off a fantastic spring and I think her game against Providence gave Patrice and our team a confidence boost,’’ said Foley, who has never fielded a losing squad since coming to the Heights in 1997. Her Eagle squads have advanced to the NCAA Division 1 Tournament nine consecutive seasons. BC, 11-8-3 a year ago, hosted second-ranked Stanford in the season opener on Friday night and plays Boston University Sunday at 3.
“Patrice was in Kristie’s shadow and understood that, now she’s embracing doing what we’re asking of her and I feel she’s as well-rounded at her position as any player in the [Atlantic Coast Conference].’’
Vettori played as an eighth-grader on the varsity girls’ soccer team at Dedham High that advanced to the state final.
“I’ve had a soccer ball with me since I was little,’’ said Vettori, who went on to help lead the Marauders to a pair of Bay State Conference titles while recording career totals of 68 goals and 54 assists.
Her high school honors included an All-New England selection, league MVP, and Globe All-Scholastic.
Playing forward in high school has prepped her for her final college season.
“It’s still an adjustment getting more into our offense, but I’m working hard getting into the box, making a better final pass, and shooting more, and coach Foley’s confidence in me has meant a lot,’’ said Vettori, who played under head coach Don Savi in high school and for Jason Dewhurst with the elite FC Stars of Massachusetts team.
She worked diligently this summer on campus with several of her BC teammates — lifting and running — and said she feels the regimen has made her more fit and stronger on the ball.
“It’s helped me get more into the attack,’’ said Vettori, who grew up playing and watching sports with her older siblings, Stephen, Brian, and Janelle, all varsity athletes at Dedham High.
Vettori, like her coach, prefers not to dwell on past success.
“If we take care of the here and now and get better with each training session, that’s what’s most important,’’ said Foley. “I’m used to seeing great players like Kristie leaving, but this is a new group and it’s time to see how they step up.’’
That group includes junior goalkeeper Alexandra Johnson of Westwood and sophomore Coco Woeltz of Boston, who played at Noble and Greenough School in Dedham.
Both, along with freshman forward Hayley Dowd of Peabody, also participated in the Stars of Massachusetts program.
“I’m excited to be with them and to be a captain,’’ said Vettori. “We’ve all put in a lot of hard work this summer. Every soccer season is a new challenge and I’m looking forward to it.’’
Heffernan shocked to be in Senior Amateur
Bill Heffernan, a two-time senior club champion at Dedham Country & Polo Club, will play on a bigger stage starting Sept. 21 at the US Senior Amateur golf tournament in North Carolina.
Heffernan, 59, who resides in Dover, rebounded from a 39 on the front nine earlier this month at Segregansett Country Club in Taunton to post a 34 on the back that included two birdies and an eagle. His final birdie, on 18, gave him a third-place tie and the final sectional qualifying spot.
“It’s definitely a breakthrough and a lifetime achievement. I’m still in shock,’’ said Heffernan, a four-time national champion sailor out of the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead.
His son Tom will caddy for him at the US Amateur. They are past father and son champs at the Dedham club.
Two area coaches
are on the move
Former Walpole High field hockey and softball star Nicole Panciocco and Pembroke resident Meghan Griffin, who spent the last three years as assistant women’s lacrosse coach at her alma mater, Bridgewater State University, are on the move.
Panciocco, a 2012 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, where she was captain of the field hockey team, has been named field hockey and women’s softball coach at Regis College in Weston. She was interim field hockey head coach/assistant coach last season at Wheaton College.
Griffin is the new head field hockey and women’s lacrosse coach at Wheelock College in Boston. At Bridgewater, Griffin helped guide the Bears to three consecutive NCAA Division 3 Tournament appearances and a 46-13 record. She also coached at Oliver Ames High School.
Here and there
Former Oliver Ames High basketball star Lauren Battista, an All-American point guard who led Bentley University to a 30-2 record last season and to the NCAA Division 2 East Regional final, returned home from Israel this month with a gold medal as a member of the US Women’s Open squad at the Maccabiah Games. . . . Junior back Mariah McGrath, a graduate of Mansfield High, is a tricaptain on the Massachusetts Maritime Academy women’s soccer team. McGrath started 13 games last season.