The two top girls’ hockey teams in the Cape and Islands League each did what they do best against one another on Wednesday night, February 10, at Gallo Ice Arena. The Falmouth girls’ biggest attribute is their ability to play tough, and get pucks to the net. Sandwich’s best asset is goalie Sophia Visceglio, who makes the best of shooters look bad.
Sandwich’s hope of earning at least a share of the Cape League championship hinged on the Lady Knights’ best bettering Falmouth’s, and then closing the season with some help. Visceglio was excellent, making 41 saves, but FHS sniper Ryann McDonald popped in two goals and Falmouth swept the season series with the Knights by taking a 2-1 decision at Gallo. The win all but assured that FHS (9-0) will be the top seed in the postseason tournament.
FHS head coach Brian Ferreira was pleased but not completely satisfied with his team’s effort.
“We played great, we played hard, but we played dumb a lot of times, we didn’t always play smart hockey, which cost us some scrambling at the end,” Ferreira said. “I don’t think that we’ve played a 45-minute game. The first period against Barnstable, the first period tonight, we played a really good first period. I’m waiting for us to play 45 full minutes, and we’ve got nobody easy left, so hopefully we start to do that soon.”
Falmouth dominated the first period to the tune of an 18-4 advantage in shots on goal, but Visceglio kept SHS in the game with 17 saves. Falmouth’s lone goal came from McDonald at the 11:05 mark. Moments after hitting the crossbar, she went in and dangled one past the keeper to give FHS the lead.
Sandwich got that back in the second period at the 11:35 mark. After Falmouth had had several chances to get some insurance, including a penalty shot that Visceglio kicked aside, the Knights drew even on a well-timed rebound shot by Adrianna Kelsch. Lucy Armour kicked aside a snap shot from Maura McIver, but Kelsch popped in the carom to knot things up.
In the third period Falmouth wore down Sandwich. The Clippers, who had outshot SHS 18-4 in the first, enjoyed a 17-5 margin in their favor in the third. McDonald scored her second of the game, from Abby McDonald and Taytum Cox, at the 1:14 mark to make it 2-1. Sam McKenzie appeared to score an insurance goal after that, but the puck hit the back iron and bounced out of the net.
Sandwich’s best chance to get even came midway through the period. With Jayden Ghelfi in goal for FHS, Keslch and McIver once again put consecutive shots on quickly. Ghelfi handled the first and covered up the second to keep the Clippers ahead.
“Sophia’s been awesome since day one,” SHS coach Steve Noll said. “I think they play heavier than us. They’re better with their bodies and their size. We were a little bit hesitant getting to pucks...I think we were a little sloppy making passes out and being a little soft with our passes.”
Falmouth improved to 9-0 overall. Sandwich is 7-2-1.
Falmouth 9, Nantucket 4
After a horrid first period, Falmouth found its game and dominated the final two frames to blow out Nantucket for the second time in a week. Following a 13-1 shellacking of the Whalers on the island a week prior, the Clippers did not come out with any fire in the first and found themselves down 4-1 after a very flat opening 15 minutes. NHS took advantage of nearly all of its chances, and FHS was able to get a goal from Avery Johnsen, set up by Jamie Roth and Natalie Bosselman.
FHS turned it around in the second period, tying it up with goals from Chloe Champani, Jane Hostetter and Ryann McDonald. Then, in the third, it needed less than a minute to turn the tie into a two-goal lead. Abby McDonald scored just 20 seconds into the frame, and then 20 seconds later Taytum Cox fired one home for a 6-4 lead. Katie Shanahan, Lola Russell and Gabby Ferreira added to the total before the dust settled.
Falmouth 4, Barnstable 3
Midway through the second period Falmouth needed a lift as it took on its rivals from Barnstable. FHS had coughed up a 2-0 lead to allow BHS to tie the score, and things were not trending in the right direction at all.
Jayden Ghelfi came off the bench to play goalie and was fantastic, helping Falmouth pull one out, 4-3. Ghelfi stopped 23 of 24 shots on net after coming into the game with 10:23 to play in the middle frame and helped Falmouth to win a close one and remain undefeated.
“Jayden stepped up, made some really big saves,” Ferreira said after the game.
Two goals by Ryann McDonald in the first period had Falmouth up by a pair, but in the second BHS potted two within three minutes, and Ferreira made the move. Ghelfi faced seven shots in the second and helped the Clippers get to the intermission with the game knotted up.
In the third Falmouth was able to get a couple of big breaks to score twice and get some breathing room, which it would need at crunch time.
The first break came when forward Abby McDonald found herself in the right place at the right time to steal an errant clearing pass by Barnstable at the blue line. McDonald wristed a shot from high in the zone and it flew by the keeper to put Falmouth ahead by one at the 2:17 mark.
The second goal was pure luck for Falmouth and a bad break for BHS. With the Clippers trying to clear the puck out of their own end, Abby Roman flung the puck up the middle of the ice and at the red line it hit Abby McDonald’s stick blade and rolled toward the BHS net, where the keeper attempted to play the puck on her forehand and pass it up to a teammate, only she lifted the stick a fraction of a second too early and missed the puck, watching in horror as it slid into the back of the goal for a 4-2 Falmouth lead.
Barnstable responded with some inspired play from that point forward, but the Clippers held on. The Raiders scored on a redirection with 3:02 to go, but Ghelfi helped FHS hold on with a couple of nice stops after that. The FHS keeper faced 17 shots in the third period and was a big reason the Clippers were able to keep their perfect season alive.