When the Falmouth girls’ hockey squad pulled up in its bus to TD Garden for the Division 2 state championship last season, you could say the girls were star-struck.
This would be the biggest crowd and the biggest stage they had skated on, with the most pressure on freshman goalie Madison Scavotto.
Scavotto’s challenge was taking on defending Division 2 state champion Duxbury, a team that had gone unbeaten. And she was paired up against one of the best goalies in the state, the Green Dragons’ Rachel Myette.
Scavotto’s mindset? “We have to put our nose to the grind.”
The young netminder recalls her nerves when stepping out on the ice as a “deer in the headlights” moment. The stakes were high and despite stopping 29 of 31 shots, the Falmouth girls left the arena with a 3-1 loss, ending their season at 16-6-1.
After the game, Myette, who collected 14 saves, even sent Scavotto a Facebook message congratulating her on her performance.
“It was the nicest thing I’ve ever read and she complimented me and my team,” said Scavotto.
The two also attended the same soccer camp and Scavotto admitted there is friendly competition between the two.
“It’s positive between us. From her, I’ve learned she has taken her team to the Garden twice. She’s shown me what you can do,” she said.
The experience at the Garden hit a switch for Scavotto.
This season Scavotto has posted a state-best 0.58 goals-against average, a big improvement from her 1.35 GAA last season.
She knows that confidence and preparation are key to changing the Clippers’ fate this season, and with a 10-0 record and a No. 2 ranking in the Globe Top 20 it’s paying off.
“She is always trying to get extra shots in practice and goes above and beyond. Other girls see her working hard and she has been successful,” said Clippers coach Erin Hunt.
Scavotto got some help preparing for the season by working with Matt Lopes, the vice president of Puckstoppers Goaltending School.
Lopes’s advice to Scavotto was, “you’re playing well enough and you made it this far. But you need to step it up and make an impact. You had a good freshman season but the difference-maker is you are going to have a great sophomore season,” Scavotto said.
His biggest message to her is that goaltending is confidence-based.
“I’ve tried to come into that mindset that I’m the better goalie than the other in the net,” said Scavotto.
This season she has been. Scavotto has a .971 save percentage and also leads the state in shutouts with five.
“Being able to look at her and see her hard work and given skill set she has is a positive thing for the team,” said Hunt.
Scavotto was finally able to cash in on all her hard work when the Clippers met Duxbury at The Bog Ice Arena in Kingston on Jan. 5.
Scavotto was ready to step up her performance, stop the nerves, and change last season’s outcome. Not only had the Green Dragons won the title, they had beaten Falmouth in two regular-season meetings.
Said Scavotto, “I was less nervous and had taken what I learned at the Garden and being to nervous to play and brought to Duxbury [the mentality] you know them and you’re going to be good to have to stop the puck. We were completely prepared.”
The Clippers came out on top, 1-0, thanks to a 28-save effort by Scavotto, and ended Duxbury’s unbeaten streak at 34.
“It felt awesome,” Scavotto said.
“[Scavotto] is motivated to get back there [to TD Garden] and to help the team in any way she can and that’s invaluable to the team this season. We can win games because we have a strong goaltender,” said Hunt.
Duxbury coach Friend Weiler acknowledged Scavotto as a “high-caliber goalie,” along with his star between the pipes, Myette, who has posted a 1.00 GAA for the 9-1-1 Green Dragons.
“[Scavotto] certainly was the difference. She squared up nicely and we had great chances and she came up with big saves. She has another year of maturity and experience and it made her stronger,” said Weiler.
“I would put Maddie and Rachel right there at the top [of the state’s best goalies],” he said.
Games of the week
No. 20 Archbishop Williams (9-3) at No. 11 Austin Prep (6-3-3), Monday, 11 a.m. — The Bishops’ Erin Dwyer is a threat with a team-leading 15 goals. Austin Prep tied defending Division 1 state champion Arlington Catholic and beat Hingham.
No. 8 Westford (8-1) at No. 3 St. Mary’s (7-2-1), Monday, 2 p.m. — After the squad’s first league loss, Westford will have to refocus on the Spartans’ duo of Kaleigh Finigan and Alison Butler, who account for 21 of the team’s 33 goals this season.
No. 16 Walpole (7-2-1) at No. 10 Canton (10-1), Monday, 2 p.m. — It’s the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The Bulldogs have emerged as the top contender, with their only loss coming to defending Division 2 champion Duxbury. The Rebels come in off back-to-back losses to Falmouth and Norwood.
No. 5 Reading (9-1-1) at No. 13 Acton-Boxboro (6-3), Monday, 8 p.m. — Despite taking down previously undefeated Westford, the Colonials will need goalie Cali Loblundo (1.58 GAA) to be at her best against Reading freshman sensation Ali O’Leary.
No. 6 Hingham (6-3) at No. 7 Arlington Catholic (8-1-1), Wednesday, 6 p.m. — Jane Freda (14 goals) leads the offense for the Harborwomen but the Cougars can counter with Megan Messuri between the pipes. Arlington Catholic comes in with a seven-game unbeaten streak.
No. 2 Falmouth (10-0) at No. 10 Canton (10-1), Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. — Both squads are undefeated in league play, but the undefeated Clippers beat Duxbury, 1-0, while the Bulldogs were lost to the Green Dragons, 3-0.
No. 18 Winthrop/Lynn (6-3-1) at No. 3 St. Mary’s (7-2-1), Saturday, 4:30 p.m. — The Bulldogs have struggled recently, dropping two of their last three games.Liz Torres can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @etorres446.