In a perfect world, one year from now the Falmouth High School girls’ ice hockey team will be gearing up for a run at the Division 2 state playoffs. With a crop of experienced players on the roster next year, that run could be deep, maybe even deeper than last year when the team went all the way to the D2 semifinals.
Coach Brian Ferreira knows that last year’s team might have overachieved a little bit when they got hot at the right time and charged to the semifinals at Warrior Ice Arena. Next year, though, when most of the players from last year’s team are still on the roster and have gotten bigger, stronger and faster, the sky should be the limit.
With that mind, the coming abbreviated 2021 season is going to be about fine-tuning, trying new things and getting better.
“We have a nucleus of 20 girls; 19 are back next year,” Ferreira explained. “The next 12 months are a training camp and team-building exercise. This is the preseason for March of 2022.”
Ferreira said that his club has plenty of talent and that the players who have returned—which is most of them–have the capacity to play at a high level. With some “experimenting” over the course of this year’s season—which hopefully will finally start next week—the team will be pushing all of its chips into the middle of the table for next year.
In a lot of ways the current crop of players that FHS has is very similar to what the program had when it last won the state championship back in 2015. That team had a large group of girls who came up together as freshmen and came close three times in a row before getting over the hump their senior year with a title.
This group, which is heavy on juniors and sophomores, took that first step last year with its journey to the semis. This year they had hoped to match or exceed that, had things been normal. The groups are not identical, but there’s enough in common to picture the current Clippers being able to follow in the footsteps of the squad that did it all before.
A reason that coach Ferreira is confident that this year’s team should contend for the Cape and islands playoff title is that the team can build on the foundation of a solid defense in front of two goalies who are both solid.
Abby Roman, the team’s captain and only senior, will be a rock for the squad on the back end, as will sophomore Abby McDonald, who showed flashes of brilliance last year. Sophomore Chloe Champani grew into a regular contributor over the course of last season and got better with each game and junior Charlotte Davis has developed her game maybe more than any of the other players on the blue line.
Adding to that group of defensemen will be sophomore Caroline Sullivan, who played a little as a freshman and has improved. Freshman Gabby Ferreira, the coach’s daughter who has grown up around the team, will finally be able to put on an FHS sweater this year as well. Coach Ferreira said that Gabby is a “solid stay-at-home defenseman, but she’s going to have to get used to the speed of the game.”
Sophomore Lucy Armour has quietly put up two rock-solid seasons already between the pipes for the Clippers. Sandwich goalie Sophia Visceglio is the one that everyone on Cape talks about as being the best in the area, but Armour outdueled the SHS star in a double overtime classic last winter with a shutout in a 1-0 FHS win and allowed just two goals over the first three playoff games before the Clippers ran into the wagon that is Wellesley in the semis.
Freshman Jayden Ghelfi will push Armour for playing time. The youngster has played well on her way up the ranks in Falmouth Youth Hockey. “The competition between them is good. Jayden is going to push Lucy, and that’s going to make everyone better,” Ferreira said.
Offensively, Falmouth should be able to score goals. Junior Sam McKenzie had 22 goals last year, and Ryann McDonald popped 17. With a 1-2 punch like that, that has played on two different lines for the majority of the last two years, opposing teams will have trouble stopping the FHS offense.
While she may not score the same number of goals as her teammates, sophomore Katie Shanahan is probably the team’s most well-rounded forward. Defensively, Shanahan does a great job of taking away the other team’s top threats and was able to score eight goals last year during the regular season, the third-most on the team.
More offensive depth will be provided by junior Lola Russell, one of the most improved players from last year to this. Russell is “better all-around” and one of the team’s strongest players physically. Also seeing her stock rise from last year to this has been junior Ella Sieger, who should see much more ice time during this season.
Junior Jamie Roth was injured early on last year, but got into the lineup midway through the season and worked herself into a regular shift. With a healthy preseason this year, she’s on the right track to contributing more. Sophomore Tatum Cox gives the team a quick skater who has gotten more comfortable at the varsity level.
Sophomores Natalie Bosselman and Ally Underhill, along with freshman Avery Johnsen, all will be vying for regular spots in the forward rotation. Freshman Jane Hostetter and sophomore Eliza Roman are also in the mix for the Clippers.
When things do get going, Ferreira believes that the Cape and Islands League will be a three-horse race for the title. Along with FHS, Sandwich and Barnstable should both be strong contenders.
As of now, FHS is slated to open its season against Sandwich on January 16.