Wearing gold for the first time this season, the Flatbush Falcons Girls Hockey team looked like that might just do the trick, but a two-goal lead slipped away late in the game as the ever-improving Falcons came up just short in their quest for the team’s first win, falling on Tuesday night (4/4) to the SKA Sonics by a score of 5-4 at the Aux Nest in Brooklyn, NY.
Playing on back-to-back nights, the Flatbush girls looked to show that they are soaking in the knowledge of each game experience, and from the ouotset it was clear that they are doing just that. A little over one minute in, Daniella Leybovitch opened the scoring with her first career goal to give Flatbush the very early 1-0 lead, letting the more experienced team from SKA know that this group of rookies came to play!. Defensively, Flatbush got strong play from Shelly Alkadaa and Stella Lessler as they worked hard to keep the defensive zone clear. The second defensive line gave a similar effort, with great pressure from Sharah Shasho and Jane Zakay anchoring the midline to keep the ball in the Sonic zone, but a few minutes later they then struggled to clear the defensive zone, and SKA took advantage and evened the score. Two outstanding Talia Ovadia saves preserved the tie, while the defense picked up for both teams. Flatbush got two great rushes, one from Sarah Weingarten and Leah Krym then a second from Esther Beyda and Krym, but with 14 seconds remaining in the period, it was the diminutive backliner Lessler who drove the ball from midcourt through a sea of players – and the Sonic keeper’s legs – to notch her first career score and give Flatbush a 2-1 advantage heading into the first intermission.
After an strong offensive rush, hthe Flatbush defense played “bend don’t break” for over two minutes to keep the score at 2-1. Then, nearly midway through the period, Flatbush took advantage on a switch with Beyda finding Leybovitch who sneaked the ball under the Sonic goalie’s feet for the Falcons first ever 2 goal lead. With 3:30 left, Ovadia made a beauty of a save, but the defense struggled to clear, and the Sonics got one goal back against the falcon defense. Flatbush once more put the offensive pressure on, with great anchoring of the midline by Alkadaa and Lessler, but a Sonic block of a defensive clear attempt with the clock winding down tourned in to a man advantage deep in the Falcon zone, and a crossing pass was poked home by SKA with 4.2 seconds left in the period. The score was knotted at 3-3, and it was a whole new ballgame, with one 12-minute period left to play.
Halfway through the final period, both teamss defenses looked like they each would yield a goal, but neither did, and the teams switched ends with 5:37 left in regulation still tied at 3-3. Again, Flatbush looked like they might take the lead as they had a number of near misses. But with 2:33 left, disaster struck for the Falcons. The ball rolled to the point, right of the Flatush goal, and the Falcons left side defenseman got held up as she tried to close. SKA had just too much time to set up, and beat Ovadia to her left, just squeezing the ball inside the post to give the Sonics their first lead of the game. And, 40 seconds later,t he Sonics about salted away the win when they got another just inside the left post. But, the game was not over yet, as there is just no quit in these Falcons. They kept pressing the play, and with 36 seconds to play, Beyda let fly a blast that shot past the SKA defense and into the Sonic goal, making it a one goal game. Flatbush continued to push the offense, but they just ran out of time, falling short by a final score of 5-4.
Exhausted, the Falcons gathered first around their goalie, cheering her, recognizing the effort and markedly improved play from Ovadia throughout the game, then they all gathered around their coaches, who heaped much praise on their players for the way they continue to step up their play with every game. The improvement, and the unrelenting play did not escape the Falcon faithful in the stands, who like the team were disappointed with the result, but thrilled by the effort, and let the Flacons hear it with their cheers.
“We are getting closer and closer with every game,” shared Coach Donovan afterwards. “I am so proud of the way we are playing. Defensively, the girls are really understanding the concepte we are teaching, and they did an outstanding job of holding the midline to extend our offensive posessions. That effort led to at least two of our goals tonight. And, I cannot say enough about the way Talia is playing in goal. She has really learned from every single game, and she is growing as a player by leaps and bounds! This game was right there for us, but I cannot be prouder of the way we are playing.”
These Falcons are clearly learning, and in just four games, the hockey they are playing now as aopposed to what they were capable of at the start of the season is like the diffeeewncew between night and day. Next step – putting that first win in the books, which these Falcons wil look to do whe n they return after the Pesach Break.
NEST NOTES: Midway through the season, the Falcon Girls Hockey Team is scoring more and more with every game. They will get right back at it after the Peasch Break when they travel to HAFTR immediately upon their return to school on Thursdsy, 4/20, in search of that elusive first win. Game time in the new HAFTR hockey gym in Lawrence, NY is 7:45 pm.