High School Girls Ice Hockey: Wilton-McMahon gets back on ice but falls to Hall-Conard
By STEVE GEOGHEGAN
Hour Staff Writer | Posted: Saturday, January 4, 2014 10:01 pm
NORWALK -- The last time the Wilton-McMahon girls hockey team played a game prior to Saturday was two weeks ago.
The co-op was off on its holiday break and Friday's game against Ridgefield was postponed due to inclement weather so the rustiness of the Warriors, plus a formidable opponent in Hall-Conard, proved to be a little too much for them to overcome following a 6-1 loss on Saturday at the SoNo Ice House.
"A two-week break at Christmas definitely hurt us," Wilton head coach Melissa Hawkins said. "Some girls are just getting back into the flow. We had one full practice as a team with everyone back so I think that had an effect on our play."
Hawkins also said her team, which slipped to 2-3 with the setback, didn't do a good enough job of marking the Hall-Conard players in front of the net because several of their goals were off rebounds. And it wasn't just one person doing the damage as six different players scored a goal for Hall-Conard (3-2).
"A loose man found the puck and we didn't find the loose man," she said.
Hall-Conard grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead after Mikayla Gordon-Wexler scored off an assist from Juliana Bailly-Simao (10:52) and Zaidyn Lieberfarb found the back of the net with assists credited to Alessandra Mitrano and Carley Gorman (6:02). The offense for Hall-Conard put a tremendous amount of pressure on sophomore goaltender Brooke Jonsson, who finished with 35 saves.
Hall-Conard, which beat Wilton 3-2 earlier in the season, returned forwards Lieberfarb and Lindsay Penn from injury as the duo missed the initial encounter. Hall-Conard head coach Bruce Woolley said the duo made a significant impact this time around.
"They make a difference with the lineups we put together," said Woolley, whose team has played in the state championship game the past two seasons, winning it all two years ago. "These guys (Wilton) have a solid team and we knew we'd be in for a battle."
A three-goal barrage by Hall-Conard in the second period extended the lead to 5-0 going into the third.
Erin O'Meara netted a goal in front with assists from Gordon-Wexler and Sarah Gockel (12:47), Penn scored a power-play goal following a face-off in Wilton's end of the ice from Caitlin O'Meara and Alyson Alissi (11:29) and Olivia Starr gathered up a rebound and scored with assists going to Mitrano and Melanie Newton (9:59).
With all the pressure Jonsson was under, Hawkins had high praise for her netminder and said she did a good job keeping the team in the game.
"A couple of the goals that went in she was screened so we can't put those on her," Hawkins said. "Tightening up in the 'D' zone, for a team goal, is one of the things we want to accomplish."
Jonsson said it's difficult to deal with constant pressure but it will make her better in the long run.
"It keeps me focused on stopping the puck," said Jonsson, a two-year starter. "We did a good job of not hanging our heads and keeping ourselves motivated to score."
Whereas Hall-Conard's scoring chances were plentiful, Wilton had only a handful of opportunities and each time were stoned by Lauren Sorgio (13 saves). As Jonsson said, however, the Warriors never let up and stepped up in the third period with Nicole Lue netting her team-leading eighth goal of the season through the wickets of back-up goalie Shannon Racz (2:53).
Alissi opened the scoring in the third with a goal off a rebound from Caitlin O'Meara and Grace O'Connell-Bach (14:13).
Even though Hall-Conard won the majority of face-offs through the first one and a half periods, Hawkins said her team did a much better job of battling for every puck thereafter.
Now that the team has a game under its belt again, Wilton will get back to the business of trying to secure FCIAC and state playoff berths.
"Monday morning we'll bounce back (at practice)," Hawkins said. "We have a lot of stuff to work on, such as catching passes, getting down the ice and shooting the puck on net."
NOTES: Wilton will play in its Alumni Game on Sunday in Danbury.