Leaning On The D

Goalie Lucy Armour and the FHS defense shone throughout their run through the state tournament, which ended on Sunday with a loss to Wellesley.

Cinderella’s glass skate ran out of magic in the Division 2 south semifinals at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton on Sunday, March 8. The 12th-seeded Falmouth High girls’ deepest run through the playoffs since their 2015 state championship was ended by a Wellesley team that seems destined to win its second D2 state title in a row.

WHS dominated from the get-go and after a scoreless first period popped three goals in both the second and third periods to take a 6-0 decision. Wellesley, which has allowed just 13 goals all year long, outshot Falmouth 38-6 in a game that the Raiders dominated from the start.

FHS ended its season at 13-6-5 overall. Wellesley advanced to the state championship game and will play on Sunday, March 15, with a 22-1 record.

“That’s the best girls’ high school team that I’ve seen. I’ve been involved for five years and it’s the best I’ve ever seen, from top to bottom. What are you going to do,” Coach Brian Ferreira said.

FHS goalie Lucy Armour (32 saves) played much better than the final score might indicate. She kept the club in the game with several great saves, but the torrent of chances was too much for her and her gritty defense to keep up with.

The first period was scoreless, but Falmouth held on for dear life over the last two minutes of the frame and took a costly penalty with just two seconds to go. That gave WHS a power play to start the second period, and they used it to grab the lead just 52 seconds in as Emily Rourke potted the first of the night with a shot from a tough angle that ricocheted in off Armour’s pads and inside the near pipe.

Armour made several big saves to keep the team in the game after that, but the Raiders were relentless. They doubled the lead at 7:07 with a fantastic play by Danielle Cimino, who played a carom off the lively rear wall perfectly. A shot from high in the zone by Mackenzie O’Neil missed wide to the left, but it sprung off the boards to the opposite post and Cimino popped it in off of Armour’s leg pads as she hurried to cover up the far post.

Falmouth’s only real chances of the game came on a five-on-three power play shortly after that, with just over four minutes to play in the period. Sam McKenzie had a solid wrist shot she labeled to the far side that Liddy Schulz gloved and then she followed that up a few minutes later by denying a nice shot along the ice by Ryann McDonald that she kicked out.

With 95 seconds left in the period the Raiders made it 3-0 on a goal from Bliss Vernon. Coach Ferreira said that the third goal did in FHS.

“At three it was over, and two out of those three were power play goals,” he said. “We were hanging on and getting lucky, and clawing, but if we could have stayed out of the box we could have made it a game all of the way through.”

Wellesley then opened the third with two goals just 45 seconds apart, at 2:11 and 2:56, to put it away. One more at 4:59 accounted for the final tally.

Falmouth 2, Dennis-Yarmouth 1

There were plenty of complaints from both fan bases that the Falmouth and Dennis-Yarmouth girls’ ice hockey teams had to travel all the way to Brighton’s Warrior Arena to play a game between Cape Cod clubs in the MIAA Division 2 quarterfinals. While the arguments were certainly valid, the complaining from the Falmouth side died down after the girls scored an exciting 2-1 victory over the Dolphins to advance to the state semis.

Freshman Megan Azzato slammed home a rebound of a Sam McKenzie offering with 5:33 left in regulation time to break a 1-1 tie. FHS, which dominated the second half of the game, then carried the play the rest of the way and got a bit of help from the D-Y side, which did not pull the goaltender for an extra attacker until just 30 seconds remained in the game, despite having several chances to do so well before that.

The win was the Clippers’ 13th of the season, and third in the playoffs. It also marked the first time in three meetings between the teams this year that either squad actually won—the two prior games ended in ties—and was the second straight year that it was FHS that eliminated D-Y from the postseason.

With the game knotted up at 1-1 entering the third period the Clippers found another gear and took over the contest. With plenty of established zone time it seemed it was just a matter of time before Falmouth buried the go-ahead goal, and it came off of the stick of Azzato at 9:27.

“Sam took it down, got a nice shot off and I was there for the rebound to tip it and get the goal. It felt great, I was so excited,” Azzato said.

The fact that the Clippers were able to get to that point after the way that the game started was remarkable. FHS was flat in the first period and could not get anything going. The team took several penalties, and was getting beaten up and down the ice.

Georgie Snow scored with 31 seconds left to play in the first to give the Dolphins a huge boost heading to the locker room on a brilliant feed from Lily Holmes. Holmes carried the puck up the right wing, curved toward the back of the net and delivered a fantastic backhanded pass past the pipe for a cutting Snow, who received the puck, dragged it back and then lifted it up and over Lucy Armour’s pad.

While Armour got beat on that play, she was the reason that FHS was in the game. She stopped 27 shots in the game, with 22 of them coming in the first two periods.

“The first period was our worst of the postseason, the worst of our nine periods. I think we were nervous, we were squeezing our sticks and playing like nobody wanted the puck. They were afraid to touch the puck, but I think once we scored that goal in the second period, getting it early was huge, everybody settled down,” Coach Brian Ferreira said. “I went in and told them, ‘girls, I’m going to be honest with you, that’s the worst period you’ve played in a month, yet it’s just 1-0.’ D-Y’s been up to us 1-0 all three times...to get out of that period at 1-0, as badly as we played, was huge, and Lucy played great.”

It did not take long for Falmouth to tie the score in the second period and turn the game around. Ryann McDonald scored on a rebound on the doorstep that she nudged under Tess Labelle just 20 seconds into the frame to knot the score. A great passing sequence between Katie Shanahan and Abby Roman led to a shot from the perimeter that Labelle stopped, but McDonald was in position to bang in the tying goal.

With the game tied, Falmouth slowly began to take control. FHS started to win the puck battles all over the ice and by the third period they were setting the tone.

“I think that (DY was) a little tired...I think we got back to playing the way that we did against them last time, and how we did against Sandwich. We had a little jump to get to loose pucks. In the first period we were timid.” Ferreira said.

FHS advanced to play Wellesley with their victory, earning a trip to the state semifinals for the first time since their state championship in 2015.

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