Ups and downs for varsity hockey, boys and girls
The Martha's Vineyard girls' varsity hockey team had an up-and-down ride this past week, losing 3-0 to Scituate on Saturday and then bouncing back with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Latin Academy on Monday.
The Vineyarders now stand at 9-6 on the season, and are only one win away from clinching a spot in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Tournament. They next play powerhouse Falmouth on the road Wednesday (scores were not available at press time).
They Vineyarders then close out the season with three home games at the MV Arena; starting with Marshfield on Saturday, then Medway on Monday and Westwood next Friday, which is also Senior Night.
The Vineyarders played well against Scituate Saturday at Milton Academy in a rematch of the first round of the Nan Rheault tournament at the MV Arena last month (which the Vineyarders lost 2-1). The Vineyarders came into the game riding a three-game winning streak.
On Saturday Scituate scored halfway through the first period on a power play goal to take an early 1-0 lead. The Sailors then added single goals in the second and third period to put the game away.
Coach John Fiorito said his team played well but couldn't get a break.
"We hit the post three times and had plenty of opportunities. I think we are evenly matched, but they had a sophomore goalie named Hannah Clougherty who is really good," he said.
Celia Mercier showed great courage when she returned from a crash into the boards early. Aubrey Ashmun and Emily Cimeno had several shots on goal but were turned away by Clougherty. Tayla Kuehne played strong defensively and Texe Craig did her best to keep the Vineyarders close.
On Monday against Latin Academy, the Vineyarders were trailing 1-0 after the first period, and suddenly they had gone four periods without scoring a goal. "I admit we were getting nervous," the coach said. "Or I should say I was getting a little nervous. I don't think it got to the players."
The Vineyarders stormed back with three goals in the second period. Mercier scored her 25th goal of the season on an assist by Kuehne, Emily Cimeno scored on an assist from Mercier and Callie Jackson scored on an assist from Ashmun with a minute left in the second period.
Latin Academy scored halfway through the third period to make things interesting, but the Vineyarders held on for the victory and move just one win away from the state tournament. "We took over the game and had that scoring explosion just at the right time," the coach said.
"We really didn't allow them many scoring opportunities and the comeback showed our resiliency. Now we have won four out of our last give and we are playing some pretty good hockey as we head into the final stretch," he added.
The boys' varsity team was one of the first teams in the state to sew up a berth in the MIAA tournament. They clinched their spot when they climbed to 10-2 a few weeks ago, and have played up and down hockey ever since.
This week the Vineyarders skated to a 1-1 tie against Nantucket, a team they easily defeated 10-2 at home on December 30. Things were a bit tougher this time around on Nantucket, coach Matt Mincone said.
"We played then really well the first time and they were bad. And this time they played much better and I think we played down a little. We outshot them 44-11, but a lot of those shots were directly at their goalie, who played a good game," the coach said.
The Vineyarders next host the 15th Annual Farleigh S. Dickinson Jr. this weekend at the MV Arena, with an opening game against the powerhouse Lynnfield Pioneers at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Pioneers are ranked first in Division II hockey this year.
Coach Mincone said it will be a great test for his team as they head to the state tourney. "They are a real challenge and I think we are playing them at the perfect time. I think we are playing consistently okay hockey, and this is a chance for us to up our game," he said.
The Vineyarders will face either Dennis-Yarmouth or Masconomet in either the championship game or consolation game Sunday. The Vineyarders have only won the Farleigh Dickinson tournament once in its 15-year history.