The fact is that the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls varsity hockey team (1-9) lost 5-2 to undefeated (8-0-4) Division One behemoth Barnstable High School on Saturday afternoon at the MV Ice Arena in Oak Bluffs.
The story, however, is that the game represented another giant step forward for the young Vineyarders, following a dramatic shootout win over Scituate in the Nan Rheault Tournament last weekend.
The Vineyarders, aware that Barnstable blasted them 12-1 a month ago, bounced out to a 1-0 lead at 10:13 of the first period on a great individual effort by junior Meghan Sonia, who went end to end and beat Red Raider keeper Liisa Aalto top right.
Barnstable answered with 3:01 left in the period to tie it. Barnstable would add two more goals in the second period before Ms. Sonia scored again at 10:43 in the second on passes from junior Sally Caron and freshman Ruby Reimann to make it 4-2. The Red Raiders added a goal in the third for the final score.
For some context, understand that this game was a shooting gallery for Barnstable, who dominated play. The Red Raiders played five lines, as Coach Pete Nuges advised The Times he would do before the game. In high school, coaches hope for two solid lines and pray for a third line. Mr. Nuges has five honest-to-God lines.
They came furiously, in short-shift waves, and unleashed an estimated 70 shots on sophomore keeper Amelia Simmons, who had an all-star night. For the record, she had 38 saves on 43 shots, and Vineyarder defenders blocked at least 20 more, not counting shots wide of the net.
Vineyarder focus and willingness made this a 5-2 game. Ms. Simmons kept her focus for 45 puck-filled minutes, and her teammates were willing to confront Red Raider shooters. In fact, Ms. Sonia’s first goal was a result of a shot she blocked inside the Vineyarder blueline; she then took the puck and outraced and outmaneuvered two defenders on a rink-long rush.
Coach John Fiorito saw players show up in the absence of injured sophomore standout Lauren Boyd. “We couldn’t be happier,” Coach Fiorito said. “We knew the game would be in our zone. The entire team showed up all day. Meghan Sonia played the best game of her life, and finally got rewarded [with two goals]. Amelia [Simmons] gets better every game. She just started playing last year, and has dedicated herself to the game.
“Somehow we hang in there. As athletes, we want to be better in the second half of the season. We did that last year, and we get Lauren Boyd back this week,” he said.
The Vineyarders travel to Bishop Stang on Wednesday, then play Norwell High School next Saturday, Jan. 27, at 5 pm at the MV Ice Arena, followed by Fontbonne/Latin Academy on Sunday at 3 pm, also at the MV Ice Arena.