STONEHAM – On Saturday afternoon, the visiting Tanners of Woburn dealt the Stoneham-Wilmington girls cooperative hockey team a third straight defeat. Despite dressing just several skaters over the minimum, Woburn handily spoiled the Stoneham-Wilmington home-opener, 5-1.
Woburn freshman forward Taylor Buckley notched a natural hat trick, scoring three consecutive across the first and second periods. Her senior teammate ML Pineros added a pair in the third to salt the win for the 2-1 Tanners. Winless Stoneham-Wilmington, meanwhile, could only manage a single goal to snap the shutout, also in the final frame.
Earlier in the week, S-W was on the path to success against Belmont but squandered the opportunity. Stoneham’s Kaylee Cronin had picked up a pair of early goals sandwiched around Gabby Daniels’ first tally of the season to claim a 3-2 lead. But Belmont stormed back with two in the third to capture a 4-3 win.
Facing Woburn several days later, the situation went from bad to worse. S-W sophomore goaltender Maddie Sainato was, at times, left to fend for herself as the defense was often slow to react. Tentative has been a word used to describe the approach.
“Woburn is a skill team, first of all, so let’s give credit where credit is due,” said Stoneham-Wilmington co-coach John Lapiana, who is now 0-3 on the young season. “But I agree. What I think is happening is we’re playing the game a little too gently. We’re late to pucks, we’re getting there second, and when we get the puck on our stick, we’re not in high gear.”
There was no question what gear Woburn’s Buckley was in as she put her team on top 5-minutes into the game, flipping a puck over a defenseman’s stick, retrieving it, and beating Sainato glove side. She made it 2-0 on a solo rush early in the second and achieved the hat trick with seconds left in the middle frame.
Stoneham-Wilmington, meanwhile, was unable to manufacture scoring chances. Wilmington’s Lily MacKenzie, skating on a line with Katelin Hally and Daniels, drilled several shots on Woburn’s Mia Crones in the early minutes. The Stoneham line led by Ava Krasco also contributed a number of bids. But the Tanners’ eighth-grade netminder was equal to the task and neutralized the threats. Rebounds were few and far between.
As the third period got underway, Woburn put it out of reach, 4-0, on a Pineros goal.
“Mentally, we thought we came in prepared,” said Lapiana. “We thought we knew what we needed to do. We drew up the defense ahead of time and how we were going to play against them. Unfortunately, it didn’t click right away. It took awhile for it to sink in and after two or three goals, we realized that we should have made adjustments early on.”
Stoneham-Wilmington turned a corner after the fourth Woburn goal. Defensively, they were quicker to move the puck out of the zone, giving Sainato a well-deserved breather. And compared to the seven total shots combined during the first two periods, S-W managed to test Crones ten times in the final frame. The effort yielded a goal, as the Wilmington line of MacKenzie, Daniels, and Hally crashed the net to make it 4-1 with 13:11 left in the game. In a hail of snow and sticks, MacKenzie emerged with her first of the season. Unfortunately, Pineros re-established the 4-goal lead minutes later, putting an end to any thoughts of a rally.
Stoneham-Wilmington now has five goals in three games. There is a great deal of talent on this squad but the offense has yet to start clicking.
“The biggest problem is we’re not gaining the zone,” explained Lapiana. “We work on zone entry in every practice but we seem to be carrying pucks directly into coverage or carrying pucks directly into sticks. I tell the girls to leave their youth hockey mentality behind and play high school hockey. When you face a good team like Woburn, that really magnifies that the youth hockey mentality isn’t going to be successful.”
Stoneham-Wilmington traveled to Winchester on Tuesday night and were defeated 4-0 to fall to 0-4. The team will be on holiday hiatus until December 29th when they face undefeated Central Catholic.