CANTON — It was an uphill battle from the beginning.
The Winchester High girls hockey team battled back to tie Ursuline Academy of Dedham twice in its MIAA Division 2 state girls hockey first-round tournament game on Saturday. The second time, the Sachems forced an overtime period.
The Bears prevailed, 4-3, however, when Kayla Rice scored a short-handed goal 1 minute and 51 seconds into the first eight-minute sudden-death overtime at the Canton Ice House.
“It hurts to give up that short-handed goal,” said Winchester coach Craig Seabury, whose team finished the season at 6-13-2. “You have to give them credit. The girl made a nice play and scored a nice goal. If we stopped it and got the rebound, we could have caught then short and had a breakaway, but she made a nice play.”
One minute and 17 seconds after the eight-minute four-on-four overtime period started, Ursuline’s Emily McHugh went to the box for tripping. After the Bears won a faceoff, Bridget Popkin took the initial shot. Winchester’s Amy Scali made the save, but Rice was there to knock in the rebound and end the game.
“We had the momentum, but we had people out there for a long time and they were gassed,” Seabury said. “We don’t have much experience playing four on four or four on three.”
Winchester junior Niki Micciche scored the tying goal with 1:56 left in the third period. Micciche stole the puck in the neutral zone and went toward the goal. Double-teamed, she made it to just outside the crease and slipped a backhand into the net, tying the score at 3.
Ursuline (13-3-4) jumped out to a 2-0 lead just before the midway point of the first period. Mary Kate Rusnock flipped the puck under the crossbar from the left circle at 5:54 for the first goal.
At 7:19, Rice scored her first goal, capitalizing on a Sachem turnover.
The Sachems got on the board at 8:57, when Ariane O’Rourke scored a power-play goal from the right circle.
Winchester tied the score at two, 27 seconds into the second period. Issy Brissette scored from in front of the crease, knocking in a rebound after Whitney Krayer’s initial shot.
Ursuline regained the lead at 5:21 of the second period when Popkin knocked in a rebound after a shot from Rice.
“I’m proud of the effort,” said Seabury, whose team advanced to the first round with a 5-2 victory over 11th-seeded Bishop Fenwick on Tuesday in the preliminary round. “We had more intensity on Tuesday. It was a good effort today, but a little uneven.”
In the third period, Ursuline killed two penalties and the Sachems outshot the Bears , 7-1. With 3:32 left in the third period, while still on the power play, Winchester swarmed the Bears’ net but Ursuline goalie Lucy Reardon kept the puck out of the net.
Winchester graduates six players, Whitney Krayer, Hannah Freedman, Erin Ladd, Brooke Ross, Brissette and Colleen Murphy.