Williston girls hockey cruises into NEPSAC semis with 8-1 victory over Tabor (PHOTOS)

Williston’s Violet Carroll (5) gets a breakaway shot past Tabor goalkeeper Avery Olson (30) for a goal in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Violet Carroll (5) gets a breakaway shot past Tabor goalkeeper Avery Olson (30) for a goal in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Violet Carroll (5) fires a shot against Tabor in the third period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Violet Carroll (5) fires a shot against Tabor in the third period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston players celebrate a goal by Violet Carroll (5) against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston players celebrate a goal by Violet Carroll (5) against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Emily Hamann (10) fires a shot against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Emily Hamann (10) fires a shot against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Zola Piekarski (7) celebrates after scoring against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Zola Piekarski (7) celebrates after scoring against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Zola Piekarski (7) celebrates with the sideline after scoring against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Zola Piekarski (7) celebrates with the sideline after scoring against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Monique Lyons (19) fires a shot for a goal against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Monique Lyons (19) fires a shot for a goal against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Monique Lyons (19) wraps a pass around the net against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Monique Lyons (19) wraps a pass around the net against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Yasmine McKenzie (14) fights battles for a rebound against Tabor goalkeeper Elizabeth Jacobsson (31) in the third period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Yasmine McKenzie (14) fights battles for a rebound against Tabor goalkeeper Elizabeth Jacobsson (31) in the third period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Camille Armaganian (22) weaves the puck between Tabor defenders Whitney Dacko (19) and Grace Long (10) in the third period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Camille Armaganian (22) weaves the puck between Tabor defenders Whitney Dacko (19) and Grace Long (10) in the third period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Brenna Ziter (4) shoots past Tabor defender Katie Murphy (3) for a goal  in the third period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Brenna Ziter (4) shoots past Tabor defender Katie Murphy (3) for a goal in the third period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Zola Piekarski (7) carries the puck up the ice against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Zola Piekarski (7) carries the puck up the ice against Tabor in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Brenna Ziter (4) fights for possession against Tabor defender Katie Murphy (3) in the third period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Brenna Ziter (4) fights for possession against Tabor defender Katie Murphy (3) in the third period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Williston’s Camille Armaganian (22) charges up the ice past Tabor defenders Katie Murphy (3) Whitney Dacko (19) in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton.

Williston’s Camille Armaganian (22) charges up the ice past Tabor defenders Katie Murphy (3) Whitney Dacko (19) in the second period of the NEPSAC girls hockey quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lossone Rink in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 02-28-2024 8:59 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The No. 2 Williston girls hockey team raced out to a 2-0 lead in the blink of an eye, as Wildcats seniors Monique Lyons and Camille Armaganian each found the back of the net in the first five minutes and change to seize early control in their NEPSAC quarterfinal matchup with No. 7 Tabor.

But the Seawolves responded with a goal of their own and took advantage of an uncharacteristic stretch of play from Williston to end the first period.

Coming out in the second, the back-to-back conference champions wasted no time making it known they weren’t losing on their home ice.

Not even a minute in, Violet Carroll escaped on a breakaway and fooled Tabor goalie Avery Olson with a beautiful move to light the lamp. That kick-started a five-goal frame as the Wildcats steamrolled the Seawolves 8-1 on Wednesday night at Lossone Rink to advance to the semifinals.

Williston (20-3-2) will host No. 3 Phillips Andover (which beat No. 6 Deerfield) on Saturday with a trip to the NEPSAC championship on the line.

Carroll, who has played defense for the majority of the season, turned the tide after a disappointing end to the first period.

“That was a huge momentum shift,” Wildcats head coach Christa Talbot Syfu said of Carroll’s goal. “When you’re up 3-1 as opposed to 2-1, that makes a big difference in your confidence and the way that you play. Violet has played a lot of defense this year, so for her to score a goal, especially short-handed, on offense was a big pick-me-up.”

And although it may not have led to the first-period ending it had wanted, the two-goal advantage Williston built gave them a jolt of energy right out of the gate – specifically Lyons’ goal just three minutes and 46 seconds in.

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“It was definitely a momentum-builder,” Lyons said of the Wildcats’ hot start. “Our goal was to get the puck deep and keep the pressure on Tabor’s defense. Seeing that first goal go in is always a good boost for our team, so we were very excited for that first one.”

Two of Williston’s eight goals came via the power play, a pair of tallies were generated short-handed and one while playing 4-on-4.

Special teams is something the Wildcats spend a ton of time on during practice, and it paid off on Wednesday with it being the difference-maker.

“It’s great to be able to score special teams goals, especially when we spend a lot of time on it in practice,” Talbot Syfu said. “Finding open space, finding the right pass, the right shot, it definitely makes a difference and it did tonight.”

A little over five minutes after Carroll’s goal put Williston ahead 3-1, Emily Hamann went 1-on-2 with a pair of Tabor defenders and out-worked them for a scoring opportunity in front of the net. Hamann fired a shot on goal from a step inside the point, and then hustled to collect her rebound and beat Jacobsson while taking a hit from a Seawolves player.

Fourteen seconds later, Williston was celebrating again. Carroll added her second of the night.

“We tightened things up heading into the second,” Talbot Syfu said. “And then, obviously we exploded offensively.”

Lyons notched her second of the night, another short-handed score, and Zola Piekarski joined the party with a goal as well to round out the Wildcats’ nearly half-dozen tallies in the second period.

“It meant a lot,” Lyons said of her two goals. “It was due to the team and all of our hard work we’ve put in. Each goal we kept gaining confidence and momentum, and that’s how you win games. Our culture here is to play gritty and hard, and never give up – that’s what’s resulting in those goals.”

Brenna Ziter added the lone third-period goal to cap off an emphatic Wildcats win. Nora Curtis recorded two assists while Nina Coffee, Catie Putt, Armaganian, Lyons, and Caroline Aufiero also each dished out an assist on Wednesday.

For the first time what feels like all season, Williston is fully healthy – and it couldn’t have come at a better time as it searches for a third straight NEPSAC title.

“We have had a variety of illness and injury over the course of the year, and we now finally have three lines and six [players on defense],” Talbot Syfu said. “That makes a huge difference when building momentum, because each shift is as strong as the last one.”

Those injuries, which includes quite the list, most notably Aufiero tearing her meniscus early on in the year and Mia Daley – who’s on the top line – missing over a month, and illnesses have only made Williston stronger and more prepared for any adversity ahead.

Typically teams that are battle-tested have the most success come tournament time, and that could be the case with this year’s Wildcats.

“This team has experienced a lot of adversity over the course of the year that I think has given us a taste of how to learn and grow from certain situations,” Talbot Syfu said. “I think that’ll serve us well as we continue in the tournament.”

Williston’s boys basketball season comes to an end

Wednesday wasn’t how the No. 5 Wildcats planned their NEPSAC quarterfinal game with No. 4 Taft would go, as Williston left Watertown, Conn. with a 65-35 loss – putting an end to its season.

Earlier this year, the Wildcats defeated Taft 55-54 on their home floor, but they didn’t have enough in the tank to get it done a second time on Wednesday.

Williston finishes the year with a very respectable 16-8 record, while Taft advances to the NEPSAC semifinals to

Taft defeated Williston to move on to the NEPSAC semis, playing the winner of No. 1 Loomis and No. 8 Phillips Academy Andover.