Whether it’s on the field or on the ice, Jenna Cavaleri and Laura Kaplan have been playing hockey together for years. The connection they’ve developed was on display big-time Monday afternoon.
Cavaleri scored three goals and Kaplan had the other two as the Flames built a big lead and then held on for a 5-4 win over Sweet Home in a Class B Section VI girls field hockey quarterfinal.
“Our inners, Laura and Jenna, they work so well together,” East coach Erin Rajczak said. “They have that good comradery. They know where each other is going to be. Watching the two of them working together, it’s just insane.”
Cavaleri leads the Flames in goals with 11 and also has a pair of assists. Kaplan leads the team in assists with five, along with eight goals.
“We do a lot of give-and-goes,” Cavaleri said. “We’re good friends, and that helps, and we communicate all the time.”
Cavaleri scored twice in the first half and added another in the opening minute of the second half. Kaplan followed with two more. When she scored with 20:11 left to give East a 5-1 lead, the game seemed to be in the books.
But Sweet Home coach Dawn Kauderer called a timeout and could be heard loudly yelling for her Panthers to keep up the fight regardless of the score.
They listened, closing within one with 2:08 left but couldn’t get the equalizer.
“I’m extremely proud of the fight,” Kauderer said. “It would have been easy for them to just give up and step away but they did not. They dug deep. My girls made up their minds after that timeout that they were going to step back on the field and we were going to fight.”
Sophia Vadnais scored with 3:30 left to cut the cap to 5-3 and then again 1:22 later to make it a one goal game. That caused a suddenly-nervous Rajczak to call a timeout for East.
“Sweet Home wanted it,” she said. “We got a little comfortable, myself included, so we just had to make some adjustments and thankfully they didn’t put the tying goal in.
Brielle Brodnicki and Megan Rude also scored for Sweet Home (6-11). Riley Kromer assisted on both of the Vadnais’ goals.
The fourth-seeded Flames (12-5) will play top-seed Iroquois (15-2) in a semifinal at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Williamsville North High School. The Chiefs beat Starpoint, 3-0, in their quarterfinal.
Williamsville East traveled to Elma on Oct. 15 and dropped a respectable 2-0 decision to Iroquois.
“Iroquois is a good team,” Kaplan said, “but if we play the game start to finish, just keep pressuring them, staying with the game plan, I think we’ll do well.”