Martha’s Vineyard girls skate to 4-2 win over Hanover/Cohasset

Kassidy Bettencourt, races a Hanover Cohasset player for a loose puck in the third period of a 4-2 Vineyard win Saturday at the M.V. Arena. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls hockey team closed to within one win of qualifying for the state tournament with a rousing 4-2 victory Saturday afternoon at the M.V. Arena over Hanover/Cohasset. The win over its Southeast Mass. Girls Hockey League rival puts the Vineyard girls at 8-4-2 overall and 6-3-2 in league play. The Vineyarders need two points from the final six games to clinch a spot in the state tournament for the second consecutive year and second time in the history of the program.

The win over Hanover/Cohasset was a struggle. The visitors came to the Island on a hot streak, with recent league victories over Norwell and Latin Academy.The Vineyarders got off to a perfect start by scoring twice in the opening five minutes. Belle Dinning lit the lamp at 2:43 from Sydney Davies. Erin Hegarty then set up Emily Cimeno for 2-0 lead at 4:45.

Speedy winger Julia Dares got a goal back for the visitors to make it 2-1 at the first intermission.

The second period was all Hanover/Cohasset, who outshot the Vineyarders 34-16 for the game. Vineyard goalie Texe Craig was outstanding and was beaten only once in the second period, on a goal by Sam Taylor at 3:30.

The Vineyarders weathered the storm and regained the lead on an Aubrey Ashmun power-play goal, assisted by Tayla Kuehne, with 5:50 left in the period.The third period was a nail-biter. Despite the best efforts of Julia Dares, who repeatedly posed a threat down the right wing, the Vineyarders were resolute on defense. With 2:32 left on the clock, Kassidy Bettencourt gave the Vineyarders the insurance goal they desperately needed. The Vineyard senior scored a classic poacher’s goal by heading for the crease at just the right moment to jam in a feed from Belle Dinning.

With the nerve-racking win under his team’s belt, coach John Fiorito hailed his team’s effort. “That was our best game of the year, even though we got outshot,” he said. “We played a good first period. We’ve been improving after hitting that wall a few games ago. It was nice to see. For all the running around in our zone, there’s a sort of method to that madness. We want to pack it in, in front of Texe [Craig], to make it difficult to score in close. Texe played great and it was a good effort.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the girls beat Bourne/Mashpee/Wareham, 3-1. Aubrey Ashmun scored twice, Kassidy Bettencourt once.

The Vineyarders had their first crack at clinching a state tournament berth on Wednesday at 4:30 pm with a home game against non-league Nauset. Powerful Sandwich visits the M.V. Arena on Saturday at 1 pm.