WHS girls play well in tourney loss to Belmont
The Winthrop High girls hockey team played well and gave it their all, but came up short in a 4-2 loss to Belmont in a preliminary round game of the MIAA Division 1 Girls State Hockey Tournament last Wednesday evening.
The Lady Vikings, who compiled an 8-7-3 record on the season, entered the tourney as the 26th seed among the 32 D-1 teams who qualified for the post-season. Belmont was the seventh seed with a 13-3-4 mark..
The contest opened with both squads battling fiercely in up-and-down fashion, but neither could reach the back of the opposing net until Belmont’s top scorer, Emma O’Donovan, escaped for some daylight to score two goals on a pair of breakaways.
“Belmont was fast, but we kept up with them until late in the period,” said WHS head coach Anthony Martucci. “We had two breakdowns at the end of the period and both times it ended up putting the puck on their best player’s stick, and she buried both of her chances.”
However, the Lady Vikings responded to the challenge after the intermission and answered with a pair of goals in the middle frame to bring matters back to level at 2-2 by the second horn.
Eighth-grader Hannah Parker scored her first career goal (what a game to score your first high school goal!) on a power play, with an assist going to Brooke Costin, who made a picture-perfect pass to set up Hannah for the score.
Emma Holmes then lit the lamp to notch the equalizer with a superb individual effort and well-executed finish. Emma carried the puck from center ice and skated past the Belmont defense before shooting the puck between the Belmont goalie’s legs.
“This was one of our best periods of hockey the entire season,” said Martucci. “We took over and just willed the game back in our favor with hard work and persistence. All year long this team has had a tremendous response and once again, through the leadership of our captains, we were able to respond.”
That set the stage for a dynamic final 15 minutes of hockey between two evenly-matched teams. The contest remained deadlocked at 2-2 through the first 12 minutes of the period when Belmont caught a break thanks to a referee whistling Winthrop for a hand-pass (that was seen only by the ref), setting up Belmont with a face-off in the Winthrop zone.
The Vikings were unable to clear the puck from their defensive zone and with two minutes left, O’Donovan scored her third goal for a hat trick. Winthrop pulled goalie Summer Tallent in the final minute in favor of a sixth skater, but Belmont put the game on ice with an empty-netter with 18 seconds on the clock.
“I have no complaints or regrets about how our team played in this game,” said Martucci. “Belmont was a very good team and we were right there. You always want to win the game, but even in losing, I was extremely proud of my team. They never gave up, never backed down, and regardless of our age and inexperience, we played like champions all the way.”
Martucci singled out the efforts of Jenna Dorr and Tallent for their strong performances.
“Jenna played her heart out in this game and did more than we could have asked for,” Martucci said. “She blocked shots, battled along the boards, and made some great passes. The effort of Summer Tallent and our entire defense was incredible. They worked so hard and fought the entire way. I was very impressed with Summer and her effort.”
With the 2020 season in the rear-view mirror, Martucci already is looking forward to next season with his young squad, but took a moment to thank the team’s seniors for their contributions to the WHS girls program.
“I am very excited for next season,” Martucci said. “We have so much talent coming back. Our three seniors, Olivia Driscoll, Sydney Mignosa, and Ryan Parker, will be greatly missed. They are three of the classiest players we have ever had here. They are true leaders and role models both on the ice and in the classroom. Their contributions to this program have been immense and they will be sorely missed.”