ORLEANS – There was a charge in the atmosphere around the home team bench of the Cape Cod Furies. The energy was nearly electric, the chatter among players intense and determined, peppered with “let's do this!” and “c'mon ladies, we've got this!” even though a single goal had yet to be scored.
Then came the third period between the Furies and the Vineyarders and a final score of 3-1 in favor of the home team, and the Charles Moore Arena erupted into cheers at the final buzzer. The Furies had earned their first victory of the season.
The scoring began with Monomoy's Nikki Awalt, a key player for the Furies, a team comprised of players from Monomoy, Cape Tech and Nauset. At the start of the period, Awalt seized the puck and blasted off down the ice with it, swatting it into the net after spying her opening, her team's excited shouts echoing off the rafters.
But could the Furies hold their lead?
Five minutes later the answer came through loud and clear when Monomoy's Jodi Wahtola capitalized on an assist from Nauset's Margaret Dickson, making it 2-0 with less than nine minutes left in the game.
After the visiting Vineyarders narrowed the Furies' lead 2-1, desperate for extra power and another opportunity to score, the visitors opted to pull their goalie, setting up an ideal empty-net situation that Nauset's Connor Boucher seized, giving the Furies a 3-1 edge with a minute left in the game.
That final minute belonged mostly to Furies goaltender Molly McKenna, with the Monomoy senior making an impressive 25 saves in net, several of which came during the final seconds of regulation play when penalties put the Furies into a 3-on-5 situation that they determinedly outlasted.
When the final buzzer rang out, the entire Furies squad darted across the ice and pounced on McKenna, while also offering high praise to Awalt for getting the scoring started. Head coach Addie Weeks was walking on sunshine after the game.
“That was unreal,” she said. “Just so overdue. I'm so happy.”
Weeks said the win was something her team has been preparing for throughout the season.
“They really rose to it,” she said. “Nikki at the end there. She saved the day. She really was outstanding.”
Weeks said one of the highlights of the game, along with the score, was when Charlotte Manganaro had her stick knocked away by a Martha's Vineyard opponent but didn't miss a beat in skating after a potential scorer, knocking the puck away with her skate blade.
“She lost her stick and played that with her body,” said Weeks. “It was a lot of that, all guts.”
Along with Awalt, Manganaro and McKenna, Weeks had high praise for Boucher.
“He had a great goal,” she said.
Weeks said both sides had issues with officials regarding missed and questionable calls, but was choosing to focus on the long-awaited win. She said the win is especially noteworthy given that many of her players, as well as herself, have battled winter illnesses recently.
“This was the gas needed,” she said. “This is huge. When we played at the Vineyard we didn't play our best, so this was a revenge game. The energy today was so good. Everyone, whether you knew you were getting a shift or not, was so fired up. That makes all the difference. I think, for the Furies program, this is the most unified team they've had.
“Finally, under pressure, we did it,” she said. “It's just so huge. We know we've been getting better and progress has been made, and morale has been up, but it's been like, 'When are we going to do it? When is the game going to go our way? We needed this momentum for the last chunk of the season.”
The Furies travel to Falmouth to face the Clippers on Feb. 2, game time to be determined, with their next home game set for Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Charles Moore Arena.