By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Playing their first playoff game since March of 2020, the Medfield and Needham High girls hockey teams put on a show on Wednesday night in the MIAA Division II round of 32.
Following a 2-1 defeat to Walpole to conclude the regular season last Monday, the Warriors were dabbed the No. 22 seed, forcing them to the road for their opening postseason contest. Thankfully for Medfield, a first-round matchup with No. 11 Needham made for a quick trip down the road to Babson.
With the barn packed with students from both schools, sophomore Katherine Flippo gave Medfield the early momentum boost. Just 2:28 in, Flippo entered the offensive zone on a three-on-two and snapped home a shot off the left post and in to seize the Warriors a 1-0 lead.
The game remained 1-0 until 1:49 into the second period, when Needham responded through freshman forward Jill Peabody. After a steal in the neutral zone, Peabody skated in down the right wing and wristed home a shot upstairs to even the game at one. Just 2:39 later, a steal by Katelyn Birnbaum in the high slot allowed the freshman forward to walk in and fire home the go-ahead goal from between the hashmarks, giving Needham a 2-1 lead at the end of two periods.
With 10:26 to play, junior defenseman Gabby Curl drew even for Medfield. Freshman forward Lily Shaughnessy won a race to a loose puck down in the corner and fed a pass back to Curl at the point. Curl pivoted and wristed a shot through traffic and into the top-right corner of the net to tie the game at two.
Moments after the equalizer by Curl, it appeared that Medfield had taken a 3-2 lead off the stick of senior captain Grenne Campbell in front. However, a sprawling right pad save by Needham goalie Mina Brown saved the game and the season for the Rockets, keeping the score tied. Following some intense back-and-forth play throughout the remainder of the period, regulation ended with the score still tied at two, forcing eight minutes of four-on-four overtime.
In the extra period, Medfield received the best chance when Shaughnessy fed a breakaway pass to Campbell, who dashed in, but fired a shot into the gut of Brown, forcing play to continue on. Still without a winner after eight minutes of four-on-four, the game went to a second overtime of three-on-three play. Just 1:36 into the second overtime, puck luck bit Needham and awarded Medfield. Flippo broke in down the left wing and wristed a shot on net. The puck deflected off the mask of Brown, up and over her shoulder, and into the back of the net. The Medfield crowd erupted as the Warriors advanced with the 3-2 victory behind Flippo’s second of the night.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.