CHARLOTTE ROSSICONE, with her team trailing 4-1 on Saturday, scored a big goal to get the team back into it, with Wakefield tying it at 4-4 and 34 seconds left in the 3rd to force overtime where they eventually fell 5-4. (Michael Flynn Photo)
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
STONEHAM — The Wakefield High girls’ hockey team played the role of the visitors at their own rink as they took on Stoneham/Wilmington at the Stoneham Arena on Saturday. The Warriors overcame a 1-0 1st period deficit to play the Spartans close throughout and force overtime where Stoneham/Wilmington senior captain Gabby Daniels ended it for a final of 5-4.
The Warriors moved to 6-3 with the loss.
About two minutes into the 2nd, Welch made a sprawling stop and after the puck was cleared by Celeste Scoppettuolo and Ava Gustafson, Grace Seabury turned on the jets, beating a defender at her own blue line before outskating the final Spartan and finishing past the goalie on the backhand. It was the first of a combined six goals scored in a wild 2nd period.
Stoneham reclaimed the lead about two minutes later and with 5:45 left in the period, took a 4-1 lead, their 4th goal coming just 9 seconds after their 3rd, both by junior Lily MacKenzie.
Never panicked, Wakefield got themselves right back into it with two unanswered goals of their own to conclude the period at 4-3 Spartans.
Senior captain Rossicone recovered the puck in her own zone, skated behind her net and took it herself all the way, finishing her own rebound for a tenacious goal to make it 4-2 with 3:12 remaining.
The Warriors capitalized on that momentum when Celeste Scoppettuolo scored 37 seconds later, picking off a pass in the offensive zone and in a flash, burying one top shelf from the slot to make it 4-3 and officially get the Warriors right back into it.
“You can see the team chemistry showing with how we came back in the 2nd period led by all four of our seniors,” said Mansfield of Rossicone, Scoppettuolo, Gustafson and Seabury. “These girls play for each other and have that drive to win.”
Replicating the tense opening period, the 3rd went back to a near-stalemate with the home Spartans holding onto their lead while the Warriors continued to battle to equalize. Goalie Julia Welch and the defense made plenty of plays to keep their team within striking distance but Wakefield was frustrated by a strong Spartan goalie and penalty kill as they couldn’t capitalize on two power plays.
Then, with just 48 seconds left, Wakefield went on the power play again and pulled Welch for a 6-on-4 advantage.
This time, in the biggest of moments, they made it count as Seabury scored the equalizer assisted by Fiona Recene and Rossicone.
The play, set up by a timeout from Mansfield before their final chance, first featured a good chance for Rory McNeil after a faceoff win. Rossicone then got to a loose puck and played it deep again where Recene made a no-look centering pass to a crashing Seabury in front, who finished stick-side to set off an epic celebration.
A late Wakefield tripping penalty was evened out by a roughing from Stoneham/Wilmington, setting up an NHL-style 3 v. 3 in overtime where Daniels struck just 28 seconds in.
“It stings to lose in OT especially with the penalty calls at the end of regulation time,” said Mansfield.
The tough loss came after Wakefield beat Melrose for the second game in a row, 6-0 on Wednesday at Flynn Rink.
Welch stood out in this game as she collected her first shutout of the season.
“Julia Welch got her first shutout with the defense stepping up and playing the best defensive game I’ve seen from them this season,” said Mansfield.
Wakefield’s offense was consistent throughout too, scoring two goals in each period to secure the win.
Seabury had two goals, and McNeil and Alexis Biscoe each had a goal and an assist to lead the way.
Biscoe scored assisted by McNeil to start the game and McNeil made it 2-0 soon after assisted by Biscoe and Recene.
Seabury scored both her goals in the 2nd, the first assisted by Celeste Scoppettuolo and the second assisted by Gustafson.
Leading 4-0 after two, the Warriors finished strong with two defensemen scoring unassisted goals to finish it off.
Maddy Taylor made it 5-0. A defensive anchor for Wakefield, it was Taylor’s first goal of her career.
“Maddy Taylor has stepped up her game these past few weeks and it’s nice to see her rewarded for that,” said Mansfield.
Gianna Scoppettuolo accounted for the final goal as Wakefield cruised to their 6th win of the season.
“It was nice to see multiple different scorers,” said Mansfield. “It was a solid, team win.”
The Warriors were ranked 33rd in the first MIAA Div. 2 power rankings. The top 32 ranked teams automatically qualify but Wakefield is currently in a position to make it as teams with a .500 or better record can also get in. There were 33 teams in the tournament last year.
Wakefield fell to 6-4 with a 9-3 loss to Div. 1 Shawsheen/Bedford on Monday.
The Warriors will look to get back on track against 3-7 Gloucester tomorrow, 4 p.m. at the Talbot Rink.