HAVERHILL — The memorable performance turned in by Masconomet senior Sierra Harris on Senior Night was music to the ears of the Chieftain faithful in more ways than one.
Harris treated her family, teammates and fans to a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner before the game and then made sure her squad earned two points by netting the game-winner goal in a satisfying 2-0 Senior Night triumph over Marblehead Thursday night at Valley Forum.
Getting that goal didn't feel like a sure thing for much of the game. Marblehead's eighth grade goalie, Lily Francoeur, was standing on her head and stopped the first 32 shots that went her way though a period-and-a-half of action. When Harris finally broke the seal, the Chieftains (10-4-3) could finally exhale on their way to their second straight win.
"So happy for Sierra. I love the way she plays," said Masco coach Ryan Sugar. "She's our leading scorer now and it's a real power game for her. She does it all ... penalty kill, power play, you name it."
Her fellow seniors also had tremendous outings in what could be their last game at Valley Forum. Senior goalie Molly Elmore made 12 stops to collect another shutout, the 19th in her future Hall of Fame career. Defenseman Meghan McElaney, another four-year stalwart, assisted on Harris' winning goal and had an outstanding all-around game.
"It's a small senior class but they're as impactful as any that we've had," Sugar said. "I hate to lose them. Molly's Molly, Meghan has been one of the top D in the area for a long time and Sierra's having an awesome year."
The Lady Headers (6-11-1) kept it 0-0 through one period and 1-0 through two by playing committed defense in front of Francoeur, who finished with a career-high 46 saves. Brooke Brennan blocked a number of shots out front, as did Elle Seller and Jane Whitten. Forward Molly O'Handley made a highlight defensive play when she got back to deny what could've been a breakaway and Madison Twombly was nearly flawless in the faceoff circle to help Marblehead clear loose pucks.
Then there was Francoeur, who used every part of her body to deny shots at different times throughout the game.
"She came up with some big saves," Sugar said. "Early on we were shooting everything high and we couldn't get anything past her. We started trying to shoot low and maybe look for some rebounds or bounces."
That was how Harris got her stick on a loose puck for the winner, her sixth goal of the year, assists by McElaney and Lauren Dillon, with 3:58 left in the second. The Chieftains double that lead when freshman Kiara Farrar scored her first varsity goal on a tip in front after Elle Turgeon redirected defenseman Izzy Kirby's blast from the blue line.
It was quality over quantity in terms of Elmore's saves; she was challenged by Twombly and Hadley Wales on pretty tough shots and came up with the goose egg, her fourth of the year (and second against Marblehead).
State tournament bound for a ninth straight season, Masco now faces No. 1 ranked Haverhill/Pentucket/North Anodver on Saturday followed by a Newburyport Bank Tournament field that included Wellesley (15-1-2), Methuen/Tewskbury (10-3-4) and Shrewsbury (13-4-1). It's a very difficult way to end the way, but should be prime in terms of tuning up for the Division 1 tournament.
"I absolutely love that we're ending the season this way," said Sugar. "It's the perfect way to make sure we're ready for the kind of tough, physical and low scoring games we're going to see in the playoffs."
Masconomet 2, Marblehead 0
at Valley Forum, Haverhill
Marblehead 0 0 0 0
Masconomet 0 1 1 2
First period: No scoring.
Second period: MS, Sierra Harris (Lauren Dillon, Meghan McElaney), 11:02.
Third period: MS, Kiara Farrar (Elle Turgeon, Izzy Kirby), 9:22.
Saves: MHD, Lily Francoeur 44; MS, Molly Elmore 12.
Records: MHD, 6-11-1; MS, 10-4-3.