KINGSTON — They say all good things must come to an end.
For the Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake girls’ hockey team, that proved true Sunday.
The co-op gave it everything it had, but came out on the wrong end of the stick in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Winchester in the first round of the Division 2 state tournament held at The Bog Ice Arena.
Sixth-seeded WHSL (15-4-3), which was in the midst of its best campaign since its inception in 2014, allowed a quick goal 3:05 in and could never recover as No. 11-seed Winchester added another tally late in the third to secure its victory. The Sachems silenced a WHSL offense, which found the back of the net 120 times coming in, and had only been shut out once (5-0 against Duxbury Feb. 5) all season.
“They did a good job shadowing Hannah [Tracy] and Mel [McAleer] all game, taking away time and space for them to create offense,” WHSL head coach Kevin Marani said. “They played a strong game.”
Winchester (14-4-4) will meet No. 14 Canton (12-4-6) in the quarterfinals Saturday at 5:15 p.m. at Galo Ice Arena.
At the 11:55 mark of the first period, the Sachems’ Mariah Redler snuck behind the WHSL defense and found herself all alone with netminder Melissa Crone and flung a shot on goal. The senior goaltender looked as if she had made the stop, the referee at the goal line signaled for the save, but the referee at center ice overruled him.
“It absolutely did not go in the net, but sometimes you’ve got to fight through those things,” Marani said. “Melissa was great in goal all game, like she’s done for us all season.”
The Sachems had a few more quality chances on net – including a Redler blast from the face-off circle – but Crone stood strong in goal.
WHSL found itself on the power play with 9:14 remaining in the second period, but failed to even record a shot on net.
Late in the second period, Mary Kate Webb ripped a blistering shot on Winchester goalie Baile Lazarus, who turned the senior captain away with a glove save.
With time winding down in the second frame, Tracy found herself in 1-on-1 with Lazarus, who yet again rose to the occasion to preserve the shutout.
2:59 into the third period, Meave Hickey beat Crone on a wrist shot to push the Sachems ahead 2-0, and that is where it would stand.
Over the past three seasons, the Panthers have snatched back-to-back SEMGHL Northeast titles, have not missed the MIAA tournament and have gone 38-19-5.
But this go-around had the makings of something special. Not only was it the first year WHSL had made it out of the preliminary round of the tournament, it was the last season on the ice sporting red and black for seniors Tess Corkery, Crone, Sophia Dauksevicz, Katie Johnson, McAleer, Tracy and Webb.
If there was ever a silver lining coming from the defeat, it is the mark all seven of them have had on the underclassman of the team. They helped establish a culture, a tradition, a foundation and most importantly—a hockey program.
“They’re a great group of girls,” Marani said. “With them, they brought girls that could have gone to other schools and now that they get the fever of WHSL hockey, I think they’re going to stay.”