With Boston Bruins Stanley Cup banners hanging high overhead, Norwell freshman goalie Nicole Prescott played as if she was in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup on Friday night at the Warrior Ice Arena, and helped lead her team into the MIAA Division 2 state semifinals in the process.
Senior Casey Ward had the game-winning goal 1:27 into double-overtime – her second of the game – that propelled the second-seeded Clippers over seventh-seeded Notre Dame Academy (Hingham), 2-1, in a D2 state quarterfinal, but it was the play of Prescott in the third period and the first overtime that made all the difference.
Prescott had 42 saves on the night, with 15 of them coming in the third period and 13 more in both overtimes to help Norwell (20-2-0) set up a date with Canton on Sunday night back at Warrior Arena (7 PM) with a berth in the Division 2 state championship at TD Garden on the line. NDA’s run at a second-straight appearance in the state title game ends two wins shy at 14-5-3.
“She stood on her head,” Norwell coach Frank Messina said of his freshman netminder. “To say the least, she played great. She calmed down her nerves from the beginning of the game and really was just outstanding tonight. It says a ton about her character and her will to win to put on that kind of performance when the lights were at their brightest.”
Things didn’t start out well for Prescott as a low dipping shot from just inside the blue line off the stick of NDA’s Ava O’Donaghue somehow found its way through her pads with 4:26 left in the first to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead after one.
“I guess I was upset at first because I thought that was it,” Prescott admitted. “But, then I realized if I keep going and just believed in my team that they would eventually pull through and I wanted it more than anyone else on the ice after that first goal.”
With just 2:59 left in the second period the Clippers tied it when Ward collected the puck inside her own zone, made a couple defenders miss on a rush down ice and let a rocket of a wrister go into the top right corner from a poor angle while on the power play to make it 1-1 heading to the third.
It quickly became the Nicole Prescott show in the third as she made save after save, whether it was on a break away or with traffic in front of her, the young goalie never flinched, eventually helping the Clippers get to overtime. The first 4-on-4 overtime period replicated the third as NDA peppered the net but Prescott stood tall until the teams were destined for eight more minutes, this time of 3-on-3 action.
Then, just 1:27 in Ward streaked in all alone, faked forehand and tucked a backhander past Cougar goalie Lily Pendergast (18 saves).
“I don’t know what to say (about Nicole), she’s a freshman and obviously quarterfinals, first year, she could’ve had so much nerves but she didn’t show it and if it wasn’t for her we would’ve been out tonight,” Ward said. “I know it seems like since I scored both goals it might’ve been me but I couldn’t have done it without every single person on the ice.
“I honestly didn’t think that many (fans) were going to be here, and to see them all here just shows how nice it is to play for the team on the front of your jersey. NDA doesn’t have that, they probably have like 12 different towns, I feel bad honestly. It’s cool to play for NDA, but there’s nothing like playing for your hometown.”
The double-overtime thriller was actually the night cap of a two-game slate at Warrior Ice Arena. In the first game it was 12th-seeded Falmouth upsetting fourth-seeded Dennis-Yarmouth, 2-1 in the other D2 quarterfinal.
All three meetings this season were one-goal games between the two teams, with two of them ending in ties (Falmouth won a shootout 2-1 in a holiday tournament but the MIAA recognized them as ties).
Falmouth (13-4-5) will face two-time defending state champion Wellesley in Woburn on Sunday (5 PM) with a spot at TD Garden on the line. The Dolphins’ season ends at 13-3-3.
Tied at 1-1 after two, Falmouth got its game-winning goal with 9:27 left in the game from Megan Azzato who was jamming in front after a feed from Sam McKenzie. Like Prescott, freshman goalie Lucy Armour was outstanding, making 26 saves in the win.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win,” Armour said. “This was our third time playing DY, and to beat them and end their season is a great feeling.”
D-Y led 1-0 after one on a goal from Georgie Snow who finished a feed from Lily Holmes. Just 20 seconds into the second the Clippers tied the game when Ryann McDonald finished a loose puck in front after a pass from Katie Shanahan.
From there, both Armour and D-Y goalie Tess Labelle (19 saves) traded some big stops until the Clippers were ultimately able to get the game winner.
Now, Falmouth faces a daunting test with Wellesley.
“I know they’ve been at the Garden every year since like 1980,” Clipper coach Brian Ferreira joked when asked if he knew anything about the Raiders. “Obviously we’ve got our work cut out for us, but right now we’re playing with house money. Anything can happen at this point with a couple bounces here and there.”
* Top-seeded Wellesley got a hat trick from top scorer Emily Rourke in a 6-1 win over Westwood. Bridget Noonan, Kaitlin Braun and Maja Desmond added goals for the Raiders.
* Freshman defenseman Olivia Maffeo scored four goals as third-seeded Canton advanced with a 5-0 shutout win over Ursuline. Tess Khoury also had a goal in the win.