ROCKLAND – When Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) first made the leap to the Div. 1 girls hockey ranks this year, the Cougars did so knowing that they were essentially entering uncharted territory.
Despite a drastic uptick in competition, and some minor growing pains along the way, the Cougars have still fared pretty well for themselves so far. In contrast to past seasons where they have relied on one to two skaters for firepower, this year has seen production across the entire roster, and that was once again the case Friday night. Eighth grader Devon Moore notched a goal, while junior Ava O’Donoghue buried what turned out to be the eventual game-winning tally, as Notre Dame Academy survived a late scare during an impressive 2-1 victory over Sandwich at Rockland Ice Rink.
“Our team is so used to having someone who can just grab a puck and go and score,” said Notre Dame Academy coach John Findley. “This year, it’s a little different. Everybody has to work hard to put pucks on the net, and their goalie is excellent…we had to work hard to score goals, and we did.”
After the two programs struggled to get anything going offensively early on, Notre Dame Academy (4-3-3) found a spark behind Moore, who found twine off a rebound shot to put the Cougars ahead 1-0 with 6:31 to play in the opening stanza.
Notre Dame Academy then seized control of the tempo, and the Cougars maintained it for the majority of the evening. With 10:34 remaining in the second period, O’Donoghue scored for the Cougars to make it a 2-0 contest. Jules Connor and Ashley Maguire were credited with assists during the sequence.
“I saw Jules going up, and I just knew I had to be on the net as fast as possible,” O’Donoghue said afterward. “I knew I had to make a play on the goalie, because she was out pretty far. I just put (the shot) in.”
Just when it appeared the Cougars were going to coast to an easy victory however, they were suddenly whistled for an interference violation with 3:07 left in the third. Sandwich took advantage of its opportunity shortly thereafter, as Meghan Barrett sniped a power play goal to cut it to a one-goal game with 1:30 to go in regulation.
The Blue Knights weren’t quite finished there. Notre Dame Academy was then called for a cross-checking penalty with 39.7 seconds left, providing Sandwich (10-2) one last bit of life.
However, the Cougars held strong in the waning moments, sealing a critical victory for the program.
Connors closed her night with a pair of assists for Notre Dame Academy, while Emily Coughlin recorded one herself.
Emma Itri and Olivia O’Brien added helpers for Sandwich in the effort.
Findley hopes that the team’s newfound momentum will continue to carry as the campaign progresses, having weathered the aches that came earlier on.
“We need to make sure that we stick together as a team, which we are,” said Findley. “And that we continue to improve. We had 16 girls out with COVID, so that was an issue. Now, things are better. We’ll figure it out. It’s good. That Sandwich team only had one loss, so that’s a big win for us.”
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