Boys Hockey Looks to Upset Falmouth in Opening Round Tilt

Walpole+Senior+breaks+past+a++Wellesley+defender.

Walpole Senior breaks past a Wellesley defender.

Matt Brownsword

Walpole Senior breaks past a  Wellesley defender.
A Walpole senior breaks past a Wellesley defender.

 

They say lightning never strikes the same place twice.

For the Walpole Boys Hockey program, they hope to avoid that second lightning strike when they return to Bourne at 4pm on Wednesday, February 26 —  the site of last year’s defeat against Norwood in the playoffs.  Unlike last year though, this year they face Atlantic Coast League runner-up Falmouth at the Gallo Arena.

“It means a lot to be back at the same rink in which we played out our first playoff game,” said senior Pat Baker. “We’re just looking for a different result this time around.”

Despite the expected hostile environment and being the lower seed — albeit, only one seed lower — the Rebels hope to shut down the Clippers’ star forward Robbie Souza and put together a strong defensive performance against a team that averages 3.2 goals per game.

“He is definitely a challenging player to deal with and someone we must watch out for,” said Baker. “But one player can’t beat a whole team, so we have to look at Falmouth as a team and [look at] what we need to do to beat them.”

Both teams enter the tournament on a mediocre streak: Falmouth has lost three out of their last four games — including two poor showings against Waltham and Archbishop Williams — and Walpole has lost 2 out of their last 3. However, both teams also rattled off big winning streaks in the middle of the year — Walpole won 7 and Falmouth won 5 — and look to rekindle that type of play come 4:00 on Wednesday in Bourne.

The Division 1 South tournament this year is riddled with teams from the Bay State League and the ACL — 10 out of the 14 teams, and maybe 11 if Braintree loses to Catholic Memorial in its Super Eight Preliminary Matchup — so the competition within those divisions is pretty comparable.

The Rebels played more games against teams in this tournament — 7 out of the 10 ACL/BSL teams are from the Bay State — and amassed a 7-3 record, while Falmouth was 2-2 against Division 1 ACL opponents. Both teams lost embarrassingly to the Super Eight teams they faced off against this year; however, Walpole’s overwhelming quantity of tougher games should tip the experience in their favor.

Falmouth has fought off inexperience all year: with a new coach and a defense that revolves around all underclassmen, the Clippers did not expect the kind of success that this year has brought them. Yet, with the prolific goalscoring of Souza, the lockdown play of senior Jordan Beaton in goal, and strong play of the starting juniors on defense, Falmouth has combated their relative inexperience with pure talent.

One problem with Falmouth has been their Goals Against — despite the goal scoring (their 3.2 GSA is equal to that of Walpole’s), a 2.8 GAA has stood in the way of Falmouth winning the ACL and a higher seed. The Clippers have given up 4 goals or more 8 times this year — the Rebels have a 2.1 GAA and have only allowed 4 or more goals four times this year — but have also given up one goal or less 6 times.

But — in what is expected to be a home atmosphere for Falmouth (where they are 8-5-1) — the Rebels hope to thrive, as they have achieved a 7-2-1 record in away arenas.

“With away games, a lot more preparation time is put in before the games in terms of getting our equipment and taking the bus over to the rink,” said Baker. “I think we thrive off of other teams’ fans and being the underdog.  We simply look to be a tough team to play against when we are on the road.”

With the success of Fall Sports in the role of being an underdog, Boys Hockey hopes to continue the trend by proving lightning cannot strike the same place twice.