Falmouth girls' hockey rallies for semifinal win; Greely drops a heartbreaker
A pair of close and intense semifinal round girls' hockey games produced diverse emotions for two local teams Saturday.
In the West Region, the third-ranked Falmouth Yachtsmen went to No. 2 Scarborough and erupted for three goals in the final period to rally for a 3-2 win, setting up a regional final date with top-ranked, undefeated Cheverus.
In the East, No. 4 Greely, which made a late surge just to qualify for the playoffs, lost by the same score at No. 1 Lewiston as its season came to a close at 8-10-1.
Falmouth went 10-7-3 and lost, 4-1, to Biddeford in last year's semifinal round. This winter, the Yachtsmen enjoyed a nine-game unbeaten streak in one stretch and finished 9-5-4, good for the No. 3 seed in the West Region, sending them to No. 2 Scarborough for the semifinal round.
Things did not begin auspiciously for Falmouth Saturday as the Red Storm got a goal 36 seconds in, then added another in the second period to put the Yachtsmen on the ropes, but Falmouth was simply saving its best for last.
With 7:34 to go, sophomore Megan Fortier's power play goal gave the Yachtsmen life. Just 39 seconds later, freshman Jayde Bazinet tied the game with a power play goal and with 3:27 to go, senior Nicole Foley put Falmouth on top. Junior goalie Jen Greene (17 saves) helped the Yachtsmen stay there and they advanced with the stirring victory.
"It was just a bunch of nerves at the beginning and Scarborough took advantage," said coach Rob Carrier. "It took us all of two periods to recover and get focused. We caught a couple breaks on penalties in the third. A 5-on-3 led to our first goal. We tied it up on the ensuing 5-on-4. We kept pressing and late in the game, got the winner."
The win gave Falmouth the daunting task of meeting No.1 Cheverus (19-0), which has outscored the opposition 119-11 this season, in the regional final. The teams didn't play this year.
"It'll be the toughest game we've had all season," said Carrier, who served as an assistant coach with the Stags for five seasons. "Cheverus is deep. They have at least nine all-stars in my mind. They don't have a weak line. I think we're up for the challenge. Within two minutes of the win the other night, the girls were talking about Cheverus."
If the Yachtsmen sprung the upset, they'd meet the winner of the East Region (Lewiston or St. Dom's) in Saturday's state final, 7 p.m., at the Colisee in Lewiston.
End of the line
For most of the second half of the season, Greely, a regional finalist a year ago, didn't look as if it was going to make the playoffs, but the Rangers closed with a tie against Winslow and a pivotal win over Falmouth to earn the No. 4 seed with an 8-9-1 mark. Greely drew top-ranked Lewiston, the defending champion, in the semifinals, but as was the case in the regular season (losses of 5-0 and 5-2), the Rangers hung tough.
After the Blue Devils went up 2-0 on a pair of early tallies, Greely got on the board with 5:29 to play in the first when junior Michaela Finnegan scored unassisted. Lewiston answered on the power play to go up 3-1 and that score remained entering the third where with 12:14 to play, junior Casey Benner set up freshman Paige Tuller for a power play goal. With sophomore goalie Emma Seymour (30 saves) holding the Blue Devils at bay, the Rangers pressed for the equalizer, but never could tie the score and the season came to a disappointing end.
"The game was a tough one," said Greely coach Heather Geoghan. "There were a total of six shots in the second period between both teams, it was an extremely defensive game. We went into the third at 3-1 and decided that we were going to give it everything we had. It was a hard-fought game and certainly a tournament-level game in terms of atmosphere, drive, and hard work.
"In terms of the season as a whole, we had some ups and downs, but really pulled it together for the final third of the season as systems seemed to finally click and offense and defense were working well together as one unit. Our record wasn't as strong as last season, but we learned a lot, and definitely have a great core of returning players for next season. We are graduating 10 seniors, seven varsity players, which will certainly be felt next year, but the returners are up to the task, and our JV players are looking strong and ready to step up next season."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org