Something Worth Smiling Over

Falmouth High School senior goalie Kyleigh Waggett, one of the Clippers’ three captains, is handed the state final four trophy from MIAA tournament director Annette DiMascio after the Clippers’ 2-0 win over Reading Thursday at FHS.

Home field advantage served its purpose for the Falmouth High School field hockey team, and now it’s on to neutral sites in hope of bringing a championship back to the Cape.

The Clippers did what they’ve been doing all throughout the state tournament once again on Thursday, November 11 as they staked themselves to an early lead and never relented in a 2-0 win over No. 7 Reading High School.

The Clippers (15-1-5) advance to the Division 2 state semifinals where they will face the winner of last night’s game between Westwood and Danvers on a neutral site some time next week.

FHS took a lead on the scoreboard before most of the packed seats at the FHS All-Purpose Field had been filled. Just 90 seconds into the game senior Nevaeha Melton continued her red-hot postseason by scoring on a weak side tip off a cross by junior Katie Shanahan to give Falmouth a permanent lead. The goal was Melton’s fifth of the playoffs.

Four minutes later, sophomore Avery Johnsen made it a 2-0 game, giving FHS some breathing room. Off a penalty corner the Clippers pushed the ball to the front of the net, where the Clippers’ leading goal scorer from the regular season backhanded a hard shot past the lunge of RHS goalie Myles Lakin for her first playoff goal.

“One of the objectives of this game was to score first, so that we could determine the tempo of the game, which they did, thank God, because (Reading) brought it in the last three quarters,” FHS head coach Courtney Lima said.

After FHS went up by two, the Rockets settled down, and the game played out very evenly. Clippers’ goalie Kyleigh Waggett had not been called upon to do much in the first two shutouts of the playoffs, but she came up big late in the second and early in the third to keep the team ahead. In the second she made a huge kick save with her right leg pad on a laser of a shot by Brooke Golden. Early in the third quarter, off a Reading penalty corner, Waggett had back-to-back stops on bids from the doorstep off a try from Olivia Chamberlain.

Waggett wasn’t even sure that she’d be able to play in the contest following the team’s last game. The veteran keeper injured her shoulder in the third quarter and had to sit out the fourth. She said she was ecstatic to be out on the field with her teammates, and that she was more worried about staying healthy than she was about her team showing up to play well.

“My biggest (worry) was definitely my shoulder. Keeping that in is kind of important. I watched how to pop it back in, so if it happens again, I’m ready,” she said. “I wasn’t nervous (about the game) at all. I believe that this team can hold their own. I wasn’t nervous for a second.”

Falmouth’s defense had not been tested much as a whole in the first two wins of the playoffs, but had to answer the call against the Rockets and was up to the challenge. Grace Hostetter and Natalie Bosselman led an excellent showing by the back end, with Drea Perez, Jane Hostetter and Eliza Roman chipping in.

“It was a game-changer for us to get the first two goals, and we held our own the whole way,” Waggett said. “(The defense) is a wall. The three of them (Perez and the Hostetters) have my back, the whole team has my back, and I know nothing is getting through them.”

So far nothing has. The Clippers have now outscored their opponents 9-0 in three tournament games.

Falmouth 5, Somerset-Berkley 0

Somerset-Berkley had not lost a state tournament game since its current crop of seniors were in the 8th grade. The Raiders won the state championship in 2018 and 2019, and there was no tourney last year. For the first time in their high school careers they suffered a loss in the postseason, and it was not a close one.

Falmouth dominated from the opening whistle to the final horn to keep its excellent season going as the Clippers routed the Raiders 5-0 on a chilly autumn evening at the FHS All-Purpose Field on November 8. Seniors Nevaeha Melton and Colleen Caswell each scored two goals and junior Katie Shanahan assisted on four goals in the one-sided game.

“We played great. We’ve been waiting to see some of those plays develop all year long, and tonight they did,” head coach Courtney Lima said.

The second-seeded Clippers wasted no time getting things going against the Raiders, scoring just 6:45 into the game to take a 1-0 lead on a goal by Kara Guidi. The senior co-captain smashed home a loose ball in front of the net to put her team ahead to stay.

Getting that first one was very important, coach Lima said.

“We’ve been talking about that all week, scoring early,” she said. “It gave us a lot of confidence.”

That confidence only blossomed as the team began to convert on plays that had not been working the way that they’d been drawn up, but suddenly clicked. Shanahan is one of the team’s biggest weapons because of her excellent ability to pass the ball from the top of the circle to the posts for tip-ins and deflections. It is a well that FHS goes to often, but had not been drinking from as much as the coach would like. On this evening their cup overflowed.

The two goals that both Melton and Caswell put home were all the results of feeds from Shanahan on set plays. The first two came less than a minute apart and all but ended any hope that S-B had.

Melton made it 2-0 from the back post with a perfectly timed sweep on a cross by Shanahan to light the lamp, then Caswell tipped in a shot from high in the zone 49 seconds later to make it 3-0 with just 3:48 left in the first half.

All hope for S-B was gone in the opening moments of the second half. Melton struck again just 54 seconds into the third quarter on a goal that was nearly identical to her first. Caswell added the cherry on top for Falmouth with two minutes to play in the game.

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