Photo: Belmont Lola Rocci (4) reacts to the Marauders’ tie the game vs. Malden Catholic
After being in the wilderness since its last tournament appearance in 2018, Belmont High Girls’ Hockey’s return to the MIAA Division 2 playoffs was a short one as the Marauders fell short against a quick team from Malden Catholic, 4-1, in a first round matchup on Wednesday night, March 1, held in Malden’s Valley Rink.
While more than holding their own against the team that beat Belmont, 4-3, earlier in the season, Malden Catholic were just a step faster on both ends of the rink, taking a 2-1 lead late in the second period on a freakish goal where the puck wobble its way through Belmont four-year starting goalie Bridget Gray’s stick and pads.
“Unfortunately our MO has been playing from behind in the third period all season,” said Belmont Head Coach Ken Murphy. “You can do that right up until you can’t, because you’re gonna come up short one time and tonight was that night.”
“They played as hard as they could tonight and they played so they would be in the right place where they would get the shot to tie it up. But it just didn’t go our away tonight.”
Gray – who would end with 30 saves adding to her more than 2,000 career saves – was her stellar solid self in the first period as the Lancers held the slight edge keeping Belmont’s first line defenders Katyla Pisuk and Alex Townsend busy. The Marauders’ had the better chances to break the deadlock with a pair of Mackenzie Clarke solo rushes against Malden Catholic’s goalie Daniella DeJon, the second a clear breakaway. Clarke’s wrister barely missed the left post, which the first-year left wing slammed her stick in frustration. Just before the period ended, Belmont’s Charlotte Wright came close on the near side left post followed by an open shot from forward Sadie Taylor on the same shift.
The Lancers took the lead midway through the second all with their speed, intercepting a clearing pass that resulted in a Samantha Crowley in close shot that beat Gray. It took Belmont only two minutes to knot it up with a long-distance blast from Pisuk, assists from Mia Taylor and Euey Long. It appeared that the game would enter the third tied but then came the wafflier from Alyssa Jankowski that lucked its way into the net.
Less than five minutes into the final period, MC put the game on ice as Mikayla Holland snapped a shot from a face-off that found the net by Gray’s right pad. Jankowski would earn the brace with an open netter in the final minute.
“That they put every effort they can into it,” said Murphy. “And they did. So we’re happy with what they did. We wish we went a little further, but all in all, I think they had a good season.”
With the loss of a handful of seniors, Murphy’s young team will have valuable playoff experience when they regroup in November.
“We have an exciting, fast group of freshmen coming up. We will have to fill in on defense [especially with the Gray graduating in June] but even with that need, Belmont has a good program coming next season,” said Murphy.