Stamford/Westhill/Staples girls ice hockey gets first win of season
MILFORD --Members of the Stamford/Westhill/Staples girls hockey team were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief after one last Notre Dame-Fairfield shot attempt -- among many in the waning seconds -- deflected just wide of the goal. Stamford squad held off Notre Dame-Fairfield 3-2 in a holiday week matinee clash at Milford Ice Pavilion on Monday.
Cassie Miolone scored twice and assisted the deciding tally, a net-finder by Meg Fay late in the second period, to lead Stamford to its first win of season. The visitors finished the game with a 36-29 advantage in shots, but the Lancers -- aided by a late-game power play opportunity and pulling their goaltender for the extra attacker for a rare 6-on-4 situation -- put heavy pressure on the Stamford goal to nearly draw even before the final horn.
Notre Dame's Emily Rowland, Sierra Chavez and Ally D'Aurio all sent shots toward the goal, some of which were blocked, stopped by opposing goaltender Casey Bang, or grazed the outside of the post or went wide.
"I am very proud of this team -- they always work so hard," Notre Dame coach Kerri Rowland said. "They never quit." The Lancers' record dropped to 1-4-1.
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Neither did Stamford which, in the eyes of Coach Eli Williams, is beginning to gel. Williams said leadership is emerging among the upperclassmen and players from three separate schools are learning to come together and play for each other.
"For the girls to bounce back right now and come together like we did; huge win for us," said Williams, whose team improved to 1-2. "We got the monkey off our back."
It remained a back-and-forth contest in the middle stanza. Miolone, once again assisted by Fay, got things started just a half minute into the period. Nearly 13 minutes later, the Lancers tied things up again. Abby Porzio was assisted by D'Aurio at the 13:22 mark to make it 2-2. Just 56 seconds later Stamford went back in front to stay. Fay scored the ultimate difference-maker and was assisted by Rachel Sanford and Miolone at the 14:18 mark.
Stamford had chances to build on the lead in the third, but Lancers goalie Brooke Bonetti (33 saves) kept it a one-goal game with some clutch stops.
Rowland believed some bad bounces were the difference in this one. In addition to shots going just wide, an early apparent goal was waived off by the officials.
"We've got to learn to play through that and not let that frustrate us," Rowland said of the importance of her team overcoming those tough bounces and bad breaks.
Rowland noted that her team has fought back from behind before and she's pleased with the team's stick-to-itiveness. "Just because we get scored on first doesn't mean we don't hang in there," she said.
Williams, meanwhile, was also pleased with his squad's efforts and has high hopes for his group.
"Every girl worked their tail off," Williams said of the collective effort. "We're a pretty good team. We're tough to play against and we're on the verge of becoming a really good team."