WEST GOSHEN – It only took less than four minutes for the outcome of the game to be decided, and it wasn’t going to be in Unionville’s (12-1-1) favor.
Just a couple of bad bounces was all it took for Unionville to go down in a 3-0 hole early and despite its efforts, couldn’t Strath Haven (9-2-1) and suffered its first regulation loss of the season, 3-2.
“I’m pretty proud of our effort,” said assistant coach Dave Elvin. “Our girls rallied. We showed that we have an awful lot in the tank. A couple mistakes and bad bounces game [Strath Haven] their opportunity. Our skating really kept the pressure on them, we just couldn’t get the puck in.
“Hats off to their goaltender. She did a great job facing 50 shots.”
That goaltender was junior Kendall Smythe, who stood tall in net for Strath Haven, stopping 48 of 50 shots thrown her way.
For Unionville, the loss will serve as a valuable lesson to the girls who had yet to lose in 45 minutes of play.
“Earlier in the season, we had seen a little bit of games where we had to come from behind,” Elvin said. “It’s been a little while since we’ve had to do that. It certainly is a lesson that you have to be prepared for. You can’t come out flat and you have to be ready for every single opponent. I think they learned that lesson.”
A bad bounce of the puck between junior forward Catherine Ward’s legs led to a breakaway by eighth-grade defenseman Eleanor Miller and she didn’t miss on her shot to give Strath Haven a 1-0 lead 58 seconds into the game.
Another breakaway for Strath Haven, this time from Unionville’s blue line, sent seventh-grade defenseman Sarah Piechel in for a 2-0 Strath Haven lead at 3:20 of the first.
Miller tacked on the eventual game-winning goal 20 seconds later, giving Strath Haven a commanding 3-0 lead not even four minutes into the game.
From that point on, Unionville wasn’t going to go quietly and poured on the shots.
With just nine seconds left in the first, eighth-grade forward Hannah Close got Unionville on the board with her shot from the bottom of the left circle.
Unfortunately for the Indians, they were facing an immovable force in junior goaltender Kendall Smythe, who turned away 36 shots in the first two periods alone.
Freshman defenseman Sierra Dycio came close to breaking through with 20 seconds left in the second with a deke around a Strath Haven defender, but Smythe made the initial save and Dycio’s second chance on the rebound went wide.
A bounce finally went Unionville’s way in the third period when a point shot from senior defenseman Jordan Hagerty bounced off junior defenseman Melanie Florio’s stick and into her own net to pull the Indians to within one at 7:39.
Junior forward Sarah O’Neill had a point-blank chance to tie the game 24 seconds later, but Smythe came up huge for her team with the save.
Despite 50 shots total in the game, Unionville couldn’t find the last goal needed to knot the game.
Even though it was a loss, the team remained in high spirits as the regular season is quickly approaching the end.
“We have a very good, young team,” Elvin said. “They all have smiles on their faces and they’re all in pretty good spirits.”