Ducks Fall 2-0 to Unbeaten Spartans at Shea Rink
The Fontbonne Academy Girls Hockey team suffered its first loss of the season with a 2-0 defeat to top ranked St. Mary's of Lynn in Thursday's high anticipated showdown.
As the final buzzer sounded in the distance, tears of sadness streamed down the faces of the Fontbonne Academy High girls hockey team.
Sabrina Ianetti and Alison Butler recorded a goal apiece as No.1 ranked St. Mary’s of Lynn escaped with an intense 2-0 victory over the second ranked Ducks in Thursday afternoon’s highly anticipated showdown at a packed Shea Rink. With the win, the Spartans remained unbeaten at 8-0-2 while extending their streak to an impressive 88 games.
The Ducks, who entered the contest unbeaten (7-0-2), suffered their first loss since losing to Winchester in last year’s Division 2 State Championship contest.
Despite the loss, Ducks’ coach Bob Huxley was quite pleased with his team’s efforts.
“The girls were loose and relaxed, but they were ready to play,’’ said Huxley. “They came out and played with a lot of effort and intensity, but St. Mary’s did a great job forcing us to take a lot of shots up at the perimeter. They did a great job jamming the middle and they didn’t give us a lot to shoot at.”
With the tenacious defensive play of Hannah Quin and Rachel Donohoe, the Ducks created limited scoring opportunities throughout the bulk of the first period. Off a pass from Liz Coleman on the far side, Taylor Shepherd maneuvered through a pair of defenders, but her attempted shot deflected off a defenders’ stick. Seconds later, Liz Coleman broke through a pair of Spartan defenders and whisked a shot from the perimeter that goaltender Sarah Foss quickly stopped.
“We pride ourselves in our D-zone coverage,’’ said Spartans’ coach Frank Pagliuca. “We knew coming in that Fontbonne was a great team, and they had Taylor Shepherd, who’s one of the top players in the state. I thought we did a nice job, bunching up the middle and forcing them to shoot from the outside. They had some shots, but most of them weren’t difficult and were from pretty far out.”
While the Spartans’ defensive unit stymied the Ducks’ potent offensive attack, defenders Meghan Collins and Michelle Barrett fared impressive, breaking up several odd player rushes in the offensive zone.
“Our defense played very well and I thought (Collins) really stepped it up,’’ said Huxley. “Our puck possession was solid, but offensively, we couldn’t get anything going. I told the girls, no matter how well we played on defense, if you don’t score goals; you’re not going to win games, plain and simple.”
Capitalizing on an odd player rush, the Spartans broke through and grabbed a 1-0 lead with 40 seconds remaining in the first period. On a two-on-one breakaway, Marisa Maccario crossed a pass to Sabrina Ianetti, who one-timed a shot past goaltender Sam Curley.
“We didn’t have many opportunities, but we were able to capitalize on them,’’ said Pagliuca. “They (Fontbonne) did a nice job shadowing our forwards, but when we did have chances, we tried to make the most of them.”
Midway through the second period, the Ducks nearly tied the contest. Emerging on a breakaway, Shepherd moved in all alone and whisked a wrist shot from close range, but the puck landed inches wide off the far post with 9:53 left.
With 8:32 remaining, the Ducks missed another scoring opportunity as Erin McLoughlin appeared to have poked the puck in on a wraparound shot, but the goal was nullified as the net was dislodged.
In the final minutes, Shepherd was once again within inches of tying the contest. On a two-on-one, Shepherd fired a shot from close range that Foss snatched in midair for the save.
“(Foss) did a spectacular job for us,’’ said Pagliuca. “I thought she played one of her best games of the season, and she made some unbelievable saves for us. I’m happy with the way we played, but I also thought we could’ve played a little better as well.”
In the final seconds, the Spartans delivered a backbreaking goal, increasing the lead to 2-0.
Off a pass from Maccario, Butler launched a slap shot from between the face-off circles that landed past a stunned Curley top corner with nine seconds remaining.
“That second goal was huge,’’ said Pagliuca. “It helped change the pace of the game, and it gave us a two goal-lead to work with.”
Early in the third period, the Ducks were within inches from cutting the lead to 2-1. On a two on-one, McLoughlin dished a pass to Taylor, who one-timed a shot from outside the goal crease right into the glove of a sprawling Foss.
“That was a huge save by (Foss),’’ said Huxley. “I thought that was in, but she (Foss) somehow made the save on that. I thought we played right with them, but St. Mary’s had that triangle defense set up, and they always had two defensemen back. Every time we tried to generate scoring opportunities, it would always be a one on three, and you’re just not going to be able to get quality chances when you’re facing situations like that.”
While both teams failed to score in the third period, both Foss and Curley delivered strong performances, stopping a combined 20 shots.
“(Curley) did a great job for us, and she made some huge saves,’’ said Huxley. “She really rose to the occasion, and kept us in the game.”
The Ducks won’t return to the ice until next Wednesday when they’ll face-off against Hingham at 7 p.m. at Pilgrim Arena.
The photos at right were provided by Pat McCarthy. For more photos from this, and other games, visit http://mccarthy-clan.smugmug.com/Fontbonne-Hockey/2010-2011-Season.