The Cambridge-Somerville Falcons got a goal from each of their three offensive lines, and goalie Ruby Johnson saved 11 third-quarter shots to help the Falcons beat the Masconomet Chieftains, 3-1, Wednesday afternoon at Cambridge's Simoni Skating Arena.
With only four defensive players on the roster, the Falcons relied on strong puck possession in the Chieftains' zone, using their balanced offense to minimize the Chieftains' scoring opportunities.
"We're really working on just small battles," said Falcons coach Kevin Mitrano. "Making sure we're winning the battle to the puck, and then we're winning the battle to the net."
The Falcons out-shot the Chieftains 13-5 in the first period, according to Chieftains coach Andrew Boepple, taking the game's first few shots at Chieftains goalie Alex Jones. The Chieftains - a co-op team of players from Masconomet. Newburyport, North Andover, Hamilton-Wenham and Georgetown - struck first, however, when junior Kendra Dow got the puck from Masconomet's zone to junior Catherine Headrick in the neutral zone.
That set up a 2-on-1 for the Chieftains, with Headrick passing to senior captain Katrina Buchta between the circles. Buchta shot past Johnson for the 1-0 lead with 8:27 left in the first.
"We teach them to read the defensemen," Boepple said. "If the defensemen's playing pass, you shoot and crash. If they play you and they commit to you, you slide the puck over."
The goal briefly unnerved the Falcons, leading to several quick scoring chances for the Chieftains. But despite any mental lapses by the Falcon defense, Johnson maintained the one-goal deficit.
The Falcons won a faceoff in the Chieftains' zone with under six minutes left in the first, eventually working the puck to sophomore defenseman Kellie Haggerty. Haggerty fired the puck toward eighth-grade teammate Alex Desrosiers just outside the crease. Desrosiers then chipped the puck to her left to sophomore Emilia Logan, who wristed it in to tie the game 1-1 with 4:41 to go.
The Falcons added another goal with just under two minutes left in the period when sophomore Katie Bayly took the puck away from the Chieftains in their zone, feeding the puck up to senior Rachel Cooper by the right goalpost. Cooper skated further to the right, ripping a tight-angle shot past Jones to put the Falcons up 2-1.
A penalty against Haggerty gave the Chieftains a power play in the second, but the Chieftains again came up empty, as Jones stopped all seven shots sent her way during the period. The Falcons added an insurance goal with 4:29 left in the third, when sophomore Sabrina Alves got the puck up to Cooper in the left circle, and Cooper pegged the top-right corner of the goal for the 3-1 lead.
The Alves-Cooper goal came from the third Falcons line to score Wednesday.
"We've really been working on making sure that we have that depth, that we have three solid lines that we can throw out at all times," Mitrano said.
Despite getting out-shot 21-12 through two periods, the Chieftains refused to back down in the third, putting together their best 15 minutes of offense.
"All season long, we've been talking about getting pucks to the net, but following that up by sending bodies to the net," Boepple said. "I think the third period, down by a couple goals, we just got much more aggressive sending people to the net in our rushes."
The aggression almost paid off, with the Chieftains almost equaling their first two periods' shot total. They sent 11 shots at Johnson, but Johnson caught or deflected all of them. No matter the shooter or the shooting angle, Johnson would not be fooled.
Johnson finished the game saving 21 of 22 shots. She held the Chieftains scoreless for over 38 minutes following Buchta's goal, even during the Chieftains' two power plays and an empty-net situation in the closing minutes. She lowered her goals-against average to 1.93.
"Ruby is probably the most consistent player on the team," Mitrano said, adding: "She keeps us in games, and she's just a very solid goaltender."
Jones saved 32 of 35 shots for the Chieftains, dropping her GAA to 2.31.
With the win, the Falcons improved to 9-4-1. The Chieftains fell to 4-6-3.