Warwick drops finale
Titans still win regular season title
The Warwick co-op girls’ hockey team tied its game with Barrington/Mt.Hope/Portsmouth at one midway through the second period on Saturday night, and the Lady Titans seemed to be finding their footing.
The Eagles didn’t see it that way.
Barrington scored twice in a 73-second span before the period was over, and then controlled a penalty-filled third period to down Warwick 3-1.
“They played better than we did,” Warwick head coach Dave Tibbetts said. “They definitely deserved to win.”
Barrington got goals from Kelly Kraunelis, Emily Carlson and Chelsea Larisa, as well as strong play in net from Sophie Faxon.
Warwick’s lone goal came off the stick of Casey McCormick, while Kayleen Murphy took the loss in net. Warwick’s Claudia Collins did not play after being injured on Friday night.
The game was the regular season finale for the Titans, who finished in fourth place in all of Division I with an 11-5 record and 13.2 power points.
Barrington had one more game left, and could have overtaken Warwick for that No. 4 spot had it won, but the Eagles fell 6-1 to Burrillville/Ponaganset on Sunday. Barrington finished at 10-5-1, with 13 power points.
Because of the way the league is set up, Warwick was the regular season champion of D-I-DeCosta, but will play in the Emma Division playoffs.
The top four teams in the state qualify for the Emma playoffs – or the state championship playoffs – while the next four teams play in the Division I tournament.
Barrington is the top seed in the D-I playoffs.
Essentially, Warwick is now facing an uphill battle because of its strong play during the regular season. The other three teams joining it in the state championship playoffs are perennial powers Mount St. Charles, La Salle and Bay View.
Still, even though the task of winning a championship is now harder, reaching that point is an accomplishment in itself.
“I took a poll a few weeks ago, and the majority of the team said they’d rather finish up and play in that division than play in our division for the playoffs,” Tibbetts said. “They want to compete at that level.”
If the Lady Titans are going to compete in the playoffs, though, they’ll need to improve on Saturday’s performance.
After dictating play for most of the first period, Warwick allowed Carlson to skate untouched from the neutral zone over the blue line for a breakaway. Murphy made the save, but the rebound bounced right to Kraunelis, who pushed it into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Again, the Lady Titans controlled the puck in the early portion of the second period, and they got on the board with 9:41 left on a 5-on-3 advantage.
With 14 seconds remaining on the 5-on-3, Jacqui Lyman sent the puck on net from just inside the blue line on the right, and it ricocheted off Faxon out in front. McCormick was in position, and swept it in to tie the game.
But Barrington was undeterred.
With 4:19 left in the period, after Warwick’s Abby Ellis picked up a penalty, Carlson ended up with the puck on the right side after Barrington won a faceoff, and she wristed a shot past Murphy to give Barrington the lead again.
Just over a minute later, with 3:06 on the clock, Larisa took the puck from behind the net and stuffed it into the goal just inside the right post, making the score 3-1.
The game remained that way into the third period, where Warwick took two penalties in the first three minutes, severely limiting its comeback efforts.
“We took some undisciplined penalties, which is really not like us,” Tibbetts said. “But it was kind of a physical game.”
Warwick also struggled to get the puck to junior forward Emily Fox in space.
With Barrington keying on Fox – the leading scorer in the state – the Lady Titans had a hard time picking up the slack.
“They were keying on Emily Fox the whole game, obviously,” Tibbetts said. “We didn’t play well.”
Warwick did play significantly better in the final six minutes of the period, as it dominated the play and showered Faxon with shots, but nothing could get through.
The Lady Titans pulled Murphy with one minute remaining, yet shots from Fox, Ellis and Jaime Given were to no avail.
“She’s a solid goalie,” Tibbetts said of Faxon. “We just didn’t get enough second shots. I don’t think we put enough pressure on her.”
Prior to the game, Warwick honored its seven seniors – Ericka Franzen, Emma Hindinger, Claudia Collins, Lyman, Julia Walsh, Jamie Claeson and Alex Given – as part of its Senior Night festivities.
And now, the Titans will play top-seeded Mount in the best-of-three semifinals, beginning on Friday. Game two is scheduled for Saturday, with a third game to be played Monday if necessary. The rinks and times of the games are to be determined.
The Mounties are two-time defending state champions, and they went 15-1 during the regular season. Warwick fell 7-1 in the lone regular season meeting between the two teams on Jan. 6.
Still, Tibbetts expects his team to be ready.
“That’s what we’ve been planning on for several weeks,” Tibbetts said of playing Mount. “That’s what our goal is. Our goal is to finish as hard as we can. We’re not going to throw a game. We play every game to win, and see where we end up.”