If Tuesday’s home tilt against Walpole were to serve as a litmus test, a measuring stick of sorts, the Tigers would discover that they have some of the right pieces in place.
The team’s difficulty this season may lie in putting the pieces together.
Although girls’ hockey fell to the Rebels by a count of 4-0, the final score was less important than the evident differences between the two teams. Walpole, a perennial state and Bay State Conference power, dominated the run of play and forced long shifts that wore down the Tigers, whose lack of depth became painfully clear as the game progressed. Despite game efforts from both their offensive and defensive lines, the Tigers, 0-2-2, struggled to clear the puck out of their own end, giving the Rebels lengthy opportunities on offense.
“A lot of the girls in the locker room were disappointed with the result,” said coach Bob MacDougall. “We had a bunch of practices before the game, but we played not as consistently as we had earlier, and it just didn’t really work out.”
Senior goaltender Courtney Leahy, a captain with seniors Katie Caruso and Stephanie Vitone, had a fantastic game between the pipes, keeping her squad within striking distance until late in the third period.
“She’s been seeing a lot of pucks come her way, and although I know she wasn’t happy with the start, the goals were not because of her,” MacDougall said. “She’s doing her job keeping us in games, but it’s a team game, and the rest of us aren’t doing enough.”
After knocking on the door in the opening 10 minutes, Walpole finally found a breakthrough on the power play at 4:34. Walpole sophomore Rachael Barry blasted home a slapshot from the right point with two Rebels shielding in front, giving her team the all-important first goal and frustrating the Tigers’ defensive unit, which, for the most part, had limited Walpole’s scoring opportunities during the first frame.
From there, Walpole added two more in the second period and one in the third to seal the road victory. Walpole sophomore Brooke Matherson tallied the last two goals for the Rebels in the second and third periods, each coming on long-range snipes from the top of the circle. Her two scores doubled Walpole’s 2-0 lead to a four-goal advantage, but the insurance wasn’t necessary. Rebels’ junior goaltender Bethany Welch was barely tested en route to a painless shutout, while Walpole led a clinic of possession and puck movement on the other end of the rink.
“We talk a lot about effort and execution. Our effort’s never a problem, but our execution let us down,” MacDougall said.
“In practice, we have to get back to the basics and practice with more intent. We know our structure, but it comes back to execution.”