BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. -- Falmouth’s quest for three straight trips to the TD Garden and the Division 2 state title game ran into a brick wall on Tuesday night at Gallo Arena.
That wall’s name was Meghan King.
Wellesley’s junior goalie stopped just about everything that was thrown at her over the final two periods, including 21 saves in the third period alone, to lead the Raiders to a 3-2 victory and the program’s first trip to the state final since winning it all in 2006.
“You get into a game like this, you might have a few jitters but we’re happy with the way she settled down,” said Wellesley coach George Campbell about King, who dropped a couple shots in the first period, but made 30 of her 37 saves in the final two periods.
Campbell continued, “She’s pretty much in control every game that she gets back there. There’s no sense of panic ever and she just has worked herself into a place where she’s as solid as any goalie that we’ve ever had.”
In examining the final result, Falmouth coach Erin Hunt could only applaud King’s effort.
“I really think we played awesome in the third and we battled to the end,” she explained. “I think we outshot them by quite a bit for the game but we just couldn’t pop one in. She played a great game; they’re a great team.”
The Raiders jumped into the lead 2:30 into the first period when leading scorer Cecily Docktor rounded the net and fired a wrister up over the shoulder of Madison Scavotto. Soon after, Docktor nearly added a second after a great move through a pair of defenders but her shot went just wide.
With 3:02 remaining in the first, Falmouth bounced back to tie the game. Maggie MacDonald took and inch perfect pass across the crease and planted a wide open shot into the top corner to make it 1-1.
“That was huge for us to go into the second period with a tie game,” said Hunt. “It’s tough to play with a point down going into the second.”
Unfortunately for the Clippers, the momentum was shortlived. Wellesley stormed out of the locker room in the second period and recorded the first seven shots. Sophomore Carley Boyle, who assisted on the opening goal, punched the Raiders back in front on the third attempt and it was 2-1 after just 40 seconds.
“It was mostly them talking to each other in there,” said Campbell about what was said during the first intermission. “We kind of set the task for them and told them what they had to do and then hoped that we weren’t going to run out of gas with the two lines and they didn’t. They sucked it up and just kept playing hard for the entire 45 minutes.”
From the midway point of the second period to the end of the game, Falmouth controlled puck possession and outshot the Raiders by a 32-4 margin. That was when Kelly took over.
“It’s definitely a lot of pressure and it’s hard but, I mean, I have a great team in front of me so I’m not too worried about that,” she explained. “My team did a great job clearing out the front of the net.”
About the pressure of playing in a one-goal game in the third period, Kelly added, “It’s definitely scary because you don’t want to give up any goals, but I knew coming in that we were the better team and that we were strong. So, we just had to take time and calm down.”
The nerves were eased momentarily by an empty net goal with 41 seconds remaining that appeared to clinch the Raiders a spot in the finals. Keely Corscadden scored the goal to make it 3-1. Each of the three top line forwards (Boyle, Corscadden, and Docktor) recorded a goal and assist apiece.
Falmouth did not give the game up after the empty net goal and Kelly Ferreira had a shot from beyond the blue line skip past Kelly on a very tough hop with still 21 seconds remaining. Kelly recovered to make a two more saves for the win.
“Those kinds of things happen and we knew that Falmouth would not give up and pucks take funny bounces -- that thing had a crazy bounce,” said Campbell. “She had it all the way and then all of a sudden it jumped over her shoulder.”
Kelly simply said, “It’s just a ton of fun to play a fast-paced game like that and to have such a great team around you.”
Wellesley will play either Westwood in the D2 state final at the TD Garden on Sunday.