By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
With posters taped to the boards, parents holding flowers and an upper level of fans cheering them on, the Wellesley Raiders scored a goal ten seconds into their game against Medfield Saturday night at the Boston Sports Institute. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Medfield girls hockey team maintained its composure despite the tough circumstances and let up only one more goal en route to a 3-2 victory.
Things started roughly for Medfield as Wellesley won the opening faceoff, took the puck down and scored at 14:50. Still excited from the pre-game festivities, the Wellesley crowd got loud as the team celebrated and Medfield tried to figure out what just happened. Medfield almost immediately responded when Grenne Campbell nearly found Lily Shaughnessy in front of the net less than a minute later, but after Campbell’s and Cassie McDonald’s shots were deflected by Wellesley’s goaltender, at 7:58, a Casey Donovan slap shot found the back of the net to make it a 1-1 game. After killing a penalty at around the seven-minute mark, Grenne Campbell scored on a wrist-shot despite having a Wellesley defender draped all over her at the four-minute mark.
Now down 2-1, Wellesley deserves credit for not folding themselves; they took advantage of a two on one opportunity with twenty seconds left in the period to even things, 2-2, after one.
After all that excitement, the second period was a bit of a letdown. At around ten minutes to play, Medfield made a defensive mistake that led to a Wellesley two-on-one opportunity, but Katelyn Cardoso’s save let the defense off the hook. Two minutes later and after a Wellesley tripping call, Lily Shaughnessy’s hustle stopped what looked like it was about to become a shorthanded Raider breakaway. At 6:36 Medfield’s Grenne Campbell was whistled for tripping, but the Raiders didn’t do anything with the one player advantage and seemed like they were overthinking whatever they tried to set up. With thirty seconds left, a Wellesley shot just kissed the top of the crossbar, essentially ending a scoreless second period with the score still 2-2.
Cardoso made a ton of big saves to start the third period, before Campbell stole the puck, had a breakaway and scored what would be the game-winning goal at the ten-minute mark. From there, Cassie McDonald had a few shots that Wellesley stopped, and Makayla Mathews blasted a slap-shot the Wellesley goalie snatched with her glove; Medfield came closer to scoring than Wellesley would. A penalty with around three minutes left in the game certainly didn’t help the Raiders, who pulled their goalie with 57 seconds left in the game, but didn’t come close to scoring. In what was an anti-climactic ending to a fun game, the puck got trapped in the corner, the clock wound down and the final horn sounded. Medfield briefly celebrated, the PA played “Closing Time”, and Wellesley wondered how a night that started so promisingly ended with them losing on senior night.
It was not just a great night for Medfield — it was a historic one, according to Coach Sarah Small. Coach Small noted this was the first year (since she’d been here, though she believed possibly ever) that Medfield beat Wellesley, and this year they’d done it twice.
“This was a great game for us,” she explained. “We’d never beaten Wellesley, never mind beating them twice in one season. So, just overall, it was a great effort, and the girls didn’t quit. We went down 1-0 within seconds of the game, but they just kept on it. They didn’t get down, they kept composed and focused, so I’m very proud of them tonight”
While the atmosphere and the sudden deficit was one thing to overcome, Coach Small was most proud of how her team responded to Wellesley’s aggressiveness, since it is something they’ve struggled with in the past.
“They’re a good team. They’re aggressive, they didn’t back down. We tend to, sometimes, with more aggressive teams, get a little bit nervous around them, but that was not the case tonight.”
She pointed to Grenne Campbell’s play as a highlight, noting her two goals and a nice assist to Casey Donovan on the third. For that effort, Campbell was named the “dirt dog of the game”.
Now looking towards the playoffs, Small explained her postgame message to the team was a simple one: “keep the train rolling.”
Unfortunately for the Wellesley Raiders on senior night, that Medfield train rolled over their best-laid plans.