Falmouth Clippers Girls' Hockey Slays Dragons
By: Rich Maclone
Over a span of 23 months the Duxbury High School girls’ ice hockey team had collected two state championships and had not lost a single game. The Falmouth High girls’ hockey team suffered three of the losses doled out by the Dragons during the streak, the most painful of which came in March in the Division II state championship game, a contest that DHS won by a 3-1 score at the TD Garden.
All good things must come to an end, and the Clippers were more than happy to be the ones to finalize the conclusion on Saturday.
Behind a standout effort in the net by sophomore goaltender Maddie Scavotto (28 saves), a brilliant effort by the team’s penalty killing unit, and a highlight reel goal by Maggie MacDonald, the Clippers finally made the Dragons have to use the loss column in the standings. The sixth-ranked Clippers upset the No. 1 Dragons by a 1-0 score at The Bog in Kingston, improving to 6-0 on the season while the Dragons fell to 5-1.
Falmouth got the only goal of the game late in the first period and then Scavotto and the defense made it stand up. With 3:45 left to go in the first, Falmouth’s Maddie Haberl fought for the puck with the Dragons coming out of the Clippers’ defensive zone, where the puck was batted away toward the red line. MacDonald stuck her stick into the fray and came away with it, making a beeline for the DHS net and all-star goaltender Rachel Myette (19 saves).
MacDonald bore down with speed, with the puck on her forehand. At the last moment she crossed over to her backhand and raked a shot back inside the near post, putting a little air under it to get it up and over the goalie’s glove. As the speedster skated by the net, her arms went into the air as she spied the puck resting inside the goal.
The backhand was a new trick that MacDonald decided upon at the very last moment, a bit of improvisation that worked brilliantly. “The coaches told me to before the game to shoot low, and that (lately) when I shoot the forehand, I miss the net. I didn’t even know it was going to go in. I just kind of went to my backhand, and I never do that,” she said.
Falmouth’s spirits were lifted greatly by that goal, but it wasn’t the score that had FHS believing that they were capable of pulling off the upset. Head Coach Erin Hunt said that it was apparent before the team ever hit the ice that they were locked in and dead set on a little payback for last year’s state championship game loss.
“We could tell before the game, when we went into the huddle, that they just had their game faces on. They wanted this one,” Hunt said. “To be at their rink, and to get a win, is a big accomplishment...we all had it in the back of our minds what happened last year, and that they were undefeated.”
Scavotto and the defense took that 1-0 lead and made it stand up, although it wasn’t easy. Duxbury’s Hannah Murphy and Marissa Fichter each had several quality scoring chances in the game, and Falmouth’s penalty killers were put to the test throughout the game as the shorthanded unit had to stave off five separate Dragons’ power plays in the game.
The PK unit had to kill off two penalties in the first period, two more in the second and then a fifth one in the third period. With Alexx Good, Amy Wilson, Hannah Ghelfi and Kendall Stouffer doing the bulk of the skating on those kills, the Clippers were excellent. Duxbury was held without a shot on goal over the first two and had just a long, soft perimeter shot on the third one. The Dragons put some pressure on Falmouth on the fourth one, late in the second period, but Scavotto stoned a shot from the doorstep by Fichter with 60 seconds left in the period. Duxbury’s last one came midway through the third period, but the unit of Stouffer, Good, Wilson and Rachel Moore held the Dragons to just a single shot against Scavotto.
Scavotto said that FHS was ready for the Duxbury power play after ample practice during the week. “We knew how they run their power play, and how to defend it. It was just a matter of their players, like Hannah Murphy, they can do anything with the puck pretty much. So basically, stay close to those players, cross your fingers almost, but we knew what we were doing and I had confidence in my players in front of me,” Scavotto said.
FHS appeared to add to its lead late in the game, but a blown call by the officials took a goal off the board, one that was ready-made for the highlight reels. With the ref’s arm in the air for a delayed penalty call against Duxbury, Falmouth was on the attack. The puck was chipped from the right point to the middle of the slot, where Kelly Ferreira was camped out. The FHS power forward reached up with a glove, and knocked the puck down, placing it in perfect shooting position. Ferreira snapped off a wrister at Myette that the goalie kicked out, but she was first to the rebound and buried it, seemingly making it a 2-0 game with just 3:23 left in the contest.
The referees ruled, however, that they had blown the whistle because Duxbury had gained control of the puck. Hunt said that she thought the goal should have counted, but that the referee saw things otherwise.
By dodging that bullet, the Dragons saw an opportunity to keep their undefeated streak alive and threw the kitchen sink at the Clippers over the final few minutes.
Fichter had the best chance for the Dragons. With 40 seconds to play, she crashed the net and attempted to put one under the crossbar from in close, but Scavotto played tall in the goal and got a shoulder on it. The puck fell in front of the FHS goalie and she smothered it as an Expressway pileup broke out in her crease.
Duxbury called timeout after the whistle to design a play, and they got the shot they wanted, but Scavotto denied them the goal they needed. Murphy rifled a hard shot for the near post off the draw, but Scavotto kicked it out. Falmouth was able to skate out the remaining seconds and scored one of the biggest wins in the history of the girls’ program.
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