BOSTON -– McKenzie Haberl clutched a stuffed animal close to her chest while attempting to answer questions from a horde of media members before gladly handing things off to the veterans in the room, seniors Kelly Ferreira, and her sister Maddi. It was the only time Sunday at the TD Garden that the Falmouth High School freshman was out of her element.
Filling notebooks might not be the Falmouth High winger's thing, but filling up nets certainly is. The Clippers' leading scorer did that twice against Wellesley (19-3-3) in the Division 2 girls' state championship game, including the game-winner at 5:57 of overtime to propel her team to its' first-ever state title. The 3-2 win came in the Clippers' third shot at the trophy in the last four years.
Haberl intercepted an offline Wellesley pass at the top of the offensive zone midway through the 12-minute overtime period and broke in alone against WHS keeper Meghan King (35 saves). She snapped it high to the glove side, setting off a pig pile on top her team's keeper, Maddie Scavotto (29 saves).
“I remember skating down with the puck, really fast, and I knew that I was going to do it,” the rookie said while clutching the “Dangle Dragon” plush toy, which is awarded to the game-winning scorer of each game. “I just looked in the right hand corner and it went in, and I was so happy.”
King said that it was a tough spot to be in.
“She intercepted a pass, it was a lucky break for her. Then coming down, one-one-one, she scores or I save it. Unfortunately, she scored,” a teary-eyed King said. “She has a great shot, she scored the second goal. I did as much as I could, but...”
Scavotto felt her counterpart's pain.
“She's used that move on me so many times in practice,” Scavotto said with a laugh. “I told her, 'McKenzie, use it in a game, you'll score.'”
That goal by the freshman, her ninth in the state tournament and 24th of the year, ended an epic battle between rivals that easily could have gone either way. The game was knotted at 1-1 after one period, and at 2-2 after two. Each team had golden opportunities to pop a winner in the third, but Scavotto and King took turns flummoxing their foes.
“That will hurt for a while. Falmouth's a tough opponent,” Wellesley head coach George Campbell said. “This was our sixth meeting over the past four years. Going into today's game we had won two, they had won two, and there had been one tie...we knew we had our work cut out for us, and they made a play at the end and that was it.”
The Clippers, who had fallen at the Garden to Duxbury to end the 2012 and 2013 seasons, rallied from behind to tie the score in the second period on McKenzie Haberl's first of the game, an eye-popping end-to-end rush that started from behind Scavotto and ended with her celebrating with her linemates after roofing a wrist shot inside the near upper-triangle at 4:38 of the second.
Wellesley had taken the lead, 2-1, just moments earlier. At 3:23 of the second the Raiders took their only lead of the game, as Cecily Docktor jammed in a rebound for a power-play goal that was set up by a shot from in close by Keely Corscadden.
In the first, Falmouth got the scoring started. Shannon Upton scored the first one, on a pretty backhand that was set up by Maddi Haberl just 4:27 into the game. Wellesley fought back late in the period, at 11:26, to tie it up on a tip Sophie Vernon, who redirected a Carley Boyle shot.
So Close: Wellesley lost in the state championship game for the second year in a row. Unlike last year's 6-2 defeat to Westwood, the Raiders went toe-to-toe with the victors and had a great chance to prevail.
Kaleigh Donnelly had the best bid. The forward, who had scored five times over the last two games, had Scavotto dead-to-rights in front of the net with exactly five minutes left in regulation. She fired to the stick side and beat the keeper, but rung her shot off the pipe. It caromed hard off the iron and out the other side.
With 1:47 to play, Annika Witt slid a wrist shot from the high point through a traffic jam. Scavotto never saw the puck, but got a pad down to block it away.
Defenseman Sarah Goss also had a great bid, earlier in the third, while on the power play. She crept down the slot to be a fed a pass from behind and snapped one high, to the glove side, but Scavotto snared it out of the air.
“We had a few of those, but how many times do we say this, 'that's hockey.' That's hockey, that happens at every level,” Coach Campbell said.
Finishing The Job: The third time truly was the charm for the Clippers, who were dead set against leaving the visitors' locker room as losers for a third time at The Garden. The Clippers said that they never got tight when time got short, or when overtime started.
“It's a relief knowing that we're going out on top,” Scavotto said. “We're going out the best way possible, it's just insane. It's one thing to just say we're confident and that this is everything that we wanted...there was a sense of finality, and a sense of urgency that we all felt. We didn't just talk the talk, we went out there and got it done.”
“We were in the huddle, and nobody said, 'Oh my God, this is overtime,'” Ferreira recalled. “We kind of just looked at each other, the nine seniors and just smiled and said, 'this is what we worked for all four years, and this is what we wanted.' And we got it, and I couldn't be more proud of everyone on this team.”
Maddi Haberl, who assisted on the first goal and was a defensive dynamo all throughout the postseason, heaped praise on everyone in a maroon sweater. “We all knew that we had to get this done. Us seniors, for a lot of us, it was our last game. For me, it's my last game. I'm not sad that it's over, I'm happy that I'm leaving on a happy note.”