Boston High School: Justin DeSorgher


BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – Tuesday’s Division 2 girls’ hockey state semifinal between Sandwich and Westwood was a matchup of one of the state’s top lines against one of the state’s most balanced forward line combinations.

Although the Blue Knights’ top trio left their mark, it was the Wolverines’ depth which eventually won out in a 4-3 victory.

Sophomore forward Kailey Jacobs’ goal at 14:30 of the third period advanced Westwood past the semifinal for the first time in program history, despite having played in the semis in each of the last three years.

Westwood (15-2-5) will play Wellesley in Sunday’s final at TD Garden (time to be announced).

While the Blue Knights (15-10-1) rode their top troika of Claire Gauthier, Maggie Layo and Katie Lowry to within a step of the Garden ice, Westwood remained a step quicker and a bit fresher in a tie game late in the third period, with head coach Justin DeSorgher consistently rolling three lines.

“I think running our three lines most of the third period really helped us rest up when we went on the ice and we gave it our all every shift,” Jacobs said.

The Wolverines opened scoring at 4:38 when Kelly Healey beat Allison Hir with a one-timer off off an Ela Hazar centering pass.

The Blue Knights tied the game, 1-1, about two minutes later as Gauthier put back a rebound of a Layo shot on the power play.

The Wolverines distanced themselves in the early part of the second period, however. Senior forward Catherine Barrett score the go-ahead at 3:49, with an assist from Olivia Fay, before Hazar’s lazer-like slap shot slipped over Hir’s shoulder from an impossible angle.

But Sandwich utilized its power play to get back in the game once more, with Gauthier and Layo teaming up for another goal (Gauthier’s team-leading 32nd on the season) on the man-advantage at 10:02.

“Every time I look up and see No. 6 [Gauthier], I got nervous,” DeSorgher said. “Claire’s a great player.”

Sandwich tied the score, 3-3, at 8:45 of the third, with Layo notching her third point of the game. Layo had missed her previous shift after being hobbled on an attack-zone check, but showed no worse for the wear, putting back a rebound of Lowry’s shot.

Gauthier also picked up her third point of the game on the secondary assist.

While the Blue Knights had several chances in the waning moments of the game to claim a late lead, Jacobs became the hero with 29.3 seconds to play, driving the net.

“That play doesn’t happen with out the effort of Allie Damren as well,” DeSorgher said. “She went hard up the side, chipping that puck ahead. Allie’s a fabulous player and she’s really rounded into her game this year.”

Back it up: Westwood’s team speed and tenacity on the backcheck paid dividends in the third period – both in keeping the game tied and then in the lead-up to Jacobs’ eventual game-winner.

“We talked about that before the game,” DeSorgher said, “after the first period, after the second period, during the third period -- picking up that third player, fourth player, fifth player of theirs. At least two of their three goals were somebody playing smart hockey and staying high.”

While Sandwich’s top line of Gauthier, Layo and Lowry was dominant once again, the Wolverines countered with three lines’ worth of stick checks, subtle nudges and back-side pressure.

In fact, Westwood’s back-checking prowess

“We were just trying to back-check hard, and get on the puck, and take the body, and that just developed into the goal,” Jacobs said.

D2 girls quarter: Westwood 4, Shrewsbury 2

March, 8, 2014
BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – With only one game under its belt in the last 15 days, Westwood girls’ hockey head coach Justin DeSorgher was worried how long it was take his Wolverines to get their feet back under them.

But those worries were put to sleep early as just 21 seconds into the game Kim Egizi scored her first of three goals on a deflection down low, leading the fourth-seeded Wolverines to a 4-2 victory over No. 12 Shrewsbury in the Div. 2 quarterfinals.

“Last game we had a rough first period,” said Edizi. “Our goal was to go in in that first period and go as hard as we possibly could and that first couple shirts and just get it low and get that momentum.”

The Wolverines used their team speed to slow own the Shrewsbury attack and dominate time on attack, as seen with their 21-11 shot advantage. The standout was the second period when the Wolverines launched 10 shots on net and broke through for two power-play goals, both from Egizi.

Staring down a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period, the Colonials caught a break and build up some momentum to end the period.

With 1:23 left in the period, Lauren Ineson picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated in for a breakaway, to bring Shrewsbury within one.

“Big, big momentum and we almost scored with 10 seconds to go right after that,” Shrewsbury head coach Frank Panarelli said. “But we had some momentum but just a couple bounces and breaks weren’t there.”

But Westwood stiffened up in the third period and kept the Colonials off the board while getting an insurance goal from Ela Hazar to advance into the semifinals.

“We can score quick, I actually like how we more than when we scored,” DeSorgher said. “I thought our two big advantages against that team were speed and depth.”

“Overall I wasn’t happy with our speed and I thought we played to their level a little bit.”

Crashing the net: The Westwood goals weren’t flashy but were plenty effective. Over the past two weeks, the Wolverines have been preaching to keep the puck low and crash the net and Egizi bought into that system.

“I think one of our goals were to get shots on net and just crash and all three of my goals were out in front of the net,” said Egizi. “Lauren White was just rocketing shots from the top and I was just in front of the net and got my stick on it.”

Having a pair of power play goals in the middle period was the difference for Westwood, once again set up by getting bodies in front.

“We had a shot from the point and got bodies in front and we got a piece of it,”

DeSorgher said. “We have tried to preach that and been successful when we do it but get away from it at times.”

Back to the semifinals: Another year, another trip to the semifinals for Westwood. This marks the third year in a row that the Wolverines are on the cusp of playing at the Garden.

With Falmouth on the other side of the Div. 2 bracket, the Wolverines will avoid their kryptonite that has ended their season the last two years.

With their repeated success in the postseason over the last three years however, Westwood doesn’t take it for granted.

If you make an expectation of something that tangible and don’t make it, how do you feel?” said DeSorgher. “We want to keep improving each day and get better and better.”

D2 girls: Falmouth 3, Westwood 1

March, 10, 2013

BOURNE, Mass. – While not ideal, Falmouth girls’ hockey head coach Erin Hunt has come to expect a certain kind of finish from her team this season.

“They keep us right on the edge, until they know they need to get it done,” said Hunt of her young Clippers.

Facing No. 11 seed Westwood in the Division 2 state semifinals for the second straight year, Falmouth found itself in familiar territory, trailing by a goal headed into the third period. But somehow the Clippers have managed to find focus late in games and held true to their track record, taking the ice in the third with an ebullient noise and clatter.

But Falmouth also let their sticks do the talking in the final period, tallying three straight goals to claim a 3-1 comeback victory on Saturday at Gallo Arena. With the win, the Clippers earn the right to skate on the TD Garden ice for the state title against Duxbury, in a much-anticipated rematch of last year’s final.

“I’ll take anyone at the Garden,” Hunt said. “We’re happy to be there, but it’s nice to get another shot. They’re a great team, we split this year and I think it’s going to be a great game.”

Falmouth (19-1-2) stemmed the tide early in the third period while short-handed. The Clippers found themselves in another common position – on the penalty kill—when defenseman Hannah Ghelfi sprung Madison Haberl for a short-handed goal a minute and 58 seconds into the third.

“I always say, if you get a shorty, you’re going to win the game,” Hunt said. “It’s huge to get one when you’re a man down, so it was a huge momentum changer for us.”

Special teams again came into play when Falmouth scored on the power play at 4:31. Maggie MacDonald camped on the off wing post and put back the rebound off of Kendall Stouffer’s point shot.

The Wolverines (14-7-3) had their best scoring chance of the third when junior forward Ela Hazar split the Clippers’ defense pairing and bolted in on goaltender Madison Scavotto. Hazar had her second goal of the game ticketed for the low right-hand corner before Scavotto (20 saves) flashed her left toe with her finest save of the night.

Hazar scored the Wolverines’ lone goal at 5:34 of the second period, with an assist from Kelly Healy.

“We wanted to come through the neutral zone with speed, we wanted to forecheck them,” Westwood head coach Justin DeSorgher said. “We were successful at times; we weren’t as successful at times. They have a couple of defensemen who can really handle the puck. That does a lot against the forecheck.”

At times, particularly at the tail end of the second period, there seemed to be a revolving door at the penalty boxes. The teams combined for 14 power-play opportunities (Falmouth had the advantage with eight of those).

And, while both coaches were perturbed by their teams’ propensity to wind up in the bin, the Clippers’ kill unit was up to the task, holding Westwood scoreless on six chances, allowing just three shots-on-goal during those opportunities.

While Falmouth had chances with the man-up, they did come away with one power-play tally, in addition to the crucial shorty by Haberl.

“They have a very aggressive penalty kill, a very aggressive power play,” DeSorgher said. “One our keys coming into this game was to not end up in the box. But we were in the box all night. That was tough to get over.”

Falmouth and Duxbury are no strangers, having split two regular-season tilts this year, following last year’s win by the Dragons at the Garden.

However, a couple of Clippers pointed to their 1-0 win over Duxbury on Jan. 5 as a significant moment, counting for more than a victory.

“They were so pumped to beat us the last time because we’d beaten them,” Scavotto said. “We learned that they value this rivalry as much as we do. We can’t underestimate that.”

While Westwood’s season comes to an end, there’s reason to believe a young Wolverines teams could yet have another late postseason meeting in store with Falmouth next year. Westwood loses just two seniors off its roster.

“It’s sad for our two seniors, Meghan Kelly and Kristina Barounis,” DeSorgher said. “They were here the year we first got here and to see them grow and mature. They’re great kids, it’s tough to see them as upset as they are.”

You know things are going well for a hockey team when its members talk about having fun.

Scavotto offered a refreshing take on goaltending and the game after celebrating with her teammates in a raucous room. Also, entering the third, you couldn’t much tell the Clippers’ season was on the line as they emerged from the intermission with a loud, stick-tapping display as they took the ice.

They’re a group that thrives on raw emotion and their vest for the game is evident in such displays.

Whether it’s Game 7 of the Cup finals, a state high school playoff game, or a game of shinny on the pond, at the end of the day, it’s a game.

“When you’re playing well, you’re having fun,” she said. “That’s what hockey’s all about to me.”

Well said.