BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – A lightning-strike start bolted the Wellesley Red Raiders (19-1-3) into the Division 2 girls’ hockey semifinals.
Wellesley scored three goals over the first 12 minutes of the game and then held off a late charge by Milton (10-9-4). The 3-1 win marked the third time this season that the Raiders had notched a win over the Wildcats, including a pair of Bay State League contests earlier in the year.
With the win, Wellesley will meet Falmouth in the semifinals at Gallo on Tuesday. The contest is a match-up of the two teams that entered the tournament as the favorites to reach the Garden from the right side of the bracket. Wellesley and Falmouth met last month, at the Cape Cod Classic, with the game ending in a 2-2 draw.
It took just 31 seconds for the Raiders to light the lamp as they dominated the first 15 minutes. Wellesley scored three times, owned possession of the puck the majority of the stanza and outshot the Wildcats, 10-6.
Co-captain Keely Corscadden got the game off to a raucous start for the second-seeded Raiders, scoring from the slot on a snap shot at the 31-second mark. She was set up by Cecily Docktor.
Shortly after that, at 4:25, the Raiders doubled their lead on a goal by Carley Boyle, who camped on the far post and tipped in a bouncing puck off of the stick of co-captain Sarah Goss.
The team’s third captain, Docktor, capped the scoring for the Raiders at 11:56 of the first. She buried a rebound of a Goss shot that came from the top of the right circle, making it 3-0.
“I thought that we had the advantage early. We were a little bit faster than them. Milton’s a real physical team, they know how to play. We just told our kids that you don’t make it to this level, a quarterfinal game, without being a real good team. They showed what they had,” Wellesley head coach George Campbell said. “They don’t care if you have a three or four goal lead. They keep coming.”
Campbell was right because 26th-seeded Milton did keep coming at his club in periods two and three, which were pretty even.
The D2 Cinderellas showed some moxie and more than held their own. They took it to Wellesley for the entire first half of the middle frame, with Julia Scannell producing a number of quality scoring chances. Wellesley keeper Meghan King (18 saves) robbed Scannell on a pair of point blank to keep Milton off the board.
McKenzie Stanley ended King’s shutout bid late in the second period. Stanley worked up the left side with speed, leaving a defenseman in her wake, and snapped a wrister past King that made it a 3-1 game.
Milton pressed Wellesley in the third, but could not get another one to fall. Elena Kapolis had a quality bid midway through the frame on a wraparound, but King held the post. Scannell followed with a poke at the puck, but couldn’t find a seam.
Milton was able to get the goalie out of the cage with 1:29 left and kept it in the offensive end for over a minute, but the Wellesley defense kept the puck out of harm’s way and held on.
“We felt that our defense was going to hold up and it was just a matter of playing total team defense and getting everybody back and taking away some of the explosive chances that Milton had,” Campbell said. “I’ve seen Milton several times this year. Once they sense a scoring chance, they gain a new speed that you haven’t seen the whole game. Our think our team did a good job of taking that away.”