It was already the best regular season in the program’s history. Saturday night, the Warwick co-op girls’ hockey team finished it with a bang.
Thanks to a strong performance in net from Gabriella Dicomitis and a late goal by Kelsey Holmes, the Lady Titans edged Mount St. Charles 2-1 in the season finale at Warburton Rink. It was the second victory of the weekend and the fourth in a row for the Titans, who matched La Salle for the best record in the state at 13-4.
The Rams will be the top seed for the playoffs because one of their losses came in overtime, which is worth an additional point in the standings. Even without the top spot, the Titans will be riding high when the playoffs begin this week. They haven’t lost a league game since Feb. 1, when La Salle beat them 4-2.
“This is what we wanted,” said head coach Dave Tibbetts. “We want to peak at the right time. We feel like things are coming together well.”
A little excitement didn’t hurt either. The Titans trailed 1-0 and were out-shot 27-19 against Mount, but they tied the game in the second period and watched Dicomitis keep it that way. Then, with just 1:13 left in the third period, Holmes scored the go-ahead goal.
The result was one of Warwick’s most satisfying wins of the season. It was their fourth game in five days, and though the Mounties will miss the playoffs, they still have some of the firepower that made them a powerhouse in years past.
Warwick got it done anyway.
“I think we had to dig down deep and find the next gear,” said senior Jaime Given. “Every game, our coach is saying, ‘Find the next gear.’ This game especially, we wanted to win it. We’ve had a lot of tough games against them. It’s really nice to finish the season against them and come out with a win.”
The Titans also won on Friday night, getting a shutout from Dicomitis en route to a 1-0 victory over Burrillville/Ponaganset.
But any momentum from that faded quickly against the Mounties, who seemed eager to play spoiler. Just 3:47 into Saturday’s game, Alexis Fagan converted a Warwick turnover into a goal for the 1-0 lead. Warwick couldn’t cut into it, even with some golden opportunities. The Titans came up empty on three first-period power plays.
“We had a long week,” Tibbetts said. “We wanted to challenge them at the end of the season and see what they could do. And Mount has been playing really well.”
The Titans were up to the challenge. With just over three minutes gone in the second period, Abby Ellis slipped a pass from behind the net to Madison Balutowski on the left post. She had her initial shot saved but whacked away at the rebound and knocked it into the net to tie the game.
With new life for her team, Dicomitis made sure it didn’t slip. She finished the game with 26 saves, several on quality chances for the Mounties, who have two of the state’s top scorers in Fagan and Briana Castro.
“She’s coming on,” Tibbetts said. “She went through a little bit of a learning curve early in the season, but she’s playing with confidence now.”
The Titans still faced a battle but killed off two penalties in the third period and started to turn the tide.
In the final two minutes, they broke through.
After a save by Dicomitis and a face-off win, the Titans set up in the offensive zone and got the puck to Holmes with some daylight on the left wing. She ripped a shot into the net for what proved to be the game-winner. Ellis and Paula Cavanagh assisted.
“I was just playing the puck and keeping my eyes open,” Holmes said. “Once I saw a spot, I just went for it. I saw it go in and just exploded.”
Mount still had time, but Warwick possessed the puck for much of the final minute. Even when the Mounties pulled their goalie with 23 seconds left and kept the puck in the zone, they didn’t get a single shot off.
“We played physical and played as a team,” said junior Savannah Hersey.
The Titans mobbed Dicomitis after the final whistle, celebrating another ground-breaking win. The program’s best season before this year was an 11-5 campaign in 2011-12, when they were playing in Division II. Now, against the state’s best, Warwick has established itself as one of the best.
“I feel like we’re getting better each game,” Hersey said.
Warwick will now prep for the postseason, where it will match up with third-seeded Bay View in a three-game semifinal series. The Titans went 3-0 against the Bengals (10-7) this season.
Times and locations for the semis are still to be determined.