Tom McCormick, assistant coach for the Warwick co-op Lady Titans, said that it is the heart and intensity with which his team plays that separates them from the rest of the squads in Division I girl’s hockey.
However, Warwick’s determination could not prevent them from falling 6-0 to the undefeated La Salle Academy Lady Rams at Thayer Arena on Friday night. The loss dropped the Lady Titans to 4-3 in league play and they fell to 4-4 with a 4-3 loss to the South County co-op on Saturday night. Warwick entered the weekend hoping to challenge the Rams, whom they lost to 5-0 in the season opener. But La Salle, which has out-scored opponents 59-3, had too much yet again. “They wore us out a little bit,” McCormick said. “They have a really good team. I give them a lot of credit but I think we hung in there.”
Warwick also entered the game at a disadvantage, playing without two of their three top scorers, senior Emily Fox and sophomore Abby Ellis. Despite the loss of offensive power, the Lady Titans held tough in the early going and goalie Kayleen Murphy made several early stops on her way to a 35-save night.
La Salle could not be kept off the board for long, though. Fewer than four minutes into the game La Salle struck first when sophomore Michaela McNamara fired a shot past Murphy for her sixth score of the year.
The Lady Rams made it 2-0 when McNamara netted her second goal of the game, this time while on the power play.
The next 15 minutes of play saw the La Salle defense take over the game. Led by senior captain Jordan Moore, the Lady Rams only allowed Warwick to have one shot on goal in the second period.On the flip side, Warwick stifled the Rams for a large portion of the period. Murphy stopped the first 13 shots fired at her, and she was aided by the defensive work of sophomore Savannah Hersey.
“Our defensive zone coverage was working really well,” McCormick said. “Our offense and breakouts need a little bit of work, but we were keeping shots to the outside to give [Murphy] opportunities to make saves and our defense did a [great] job of clearing in front of the net.”
With six seconds remaining in the period, Murphy was unable to cover a shot from senior captain Karoline Inman that put the Lady Rams at a three-goal advantage entering the second intermission.
“I feel like we all really put our heart and soul into the game,” Warwick senior Julianna Mollo said. “At first I thought that everyone was going to start to give up, but no one gave up.”
The strong goaltending of Murphy carried over into the final 15 minutes when she was able to send away the first five La Salle shots. However, the Lady Rams were persistent and freshman Martha Peppes padded her team’s lead when she lit the lamp halfway into the period.
Warwick continued to be cold in the offensive zone, only grabbing two shots on goal in the third including a breakaway chance for freshman Madison Balutowski that was deflected by freshman goalie Taylor Peltier.
La Salle sophomore Sarah Migliori tacked on another score for the Lady Rams with fewer than four minutes remaining. Peppes helped bring the torrid third period to a close, netting her second goal of the night at 12:09 when she blasted a shot past Murphy.
“We were just a little slow in the decision-making,” McCormick said. “It was the pressure of playing big minutes in big situations. The more we put [the team] in that situation, the more comfortable they’re going to be. I think by the end of the year we will be firing on all cylinders.”
The Lady Titans will return to action with two more games this weekend. On Saturday, Warwick will play the Burrillville/Ponaganset co-op at 6 p.m. at Thayer Arena. On Sunday, the team will play Mount St. Charles at 3:45 p.m. at Thayer as part of the annual Andrew J. Gauthier Hockey Festival.