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New Season Brings Excitement for Girls Hockey

New Season Brings Excitement for Girls Hockey
Posted on 03/13/2019
New Season Brings Excitement for Girls Hockey

The Flatbush Varsity Girls Hockey Team opened the 2019 season on Wednesday night with a real thriller, taking the early lead, but the visiting Central Wildcats came back and eventually won the game by a score of 7-3 at the Aux Nest in Brooklyn, NY.

 2019 Girls Varsity Hockey Team

The returning Falcon Girls Hockey players have been looking forward to this date since the 2018 season came to a close last Spring, and with the addition of a number of new players, there was great anticipation for all to see what 2019 would bring. The off-season also brought the arrival of a new coach. With the position left vacant by the departure of highly valued Coach Chelsea Donovan – the only coach the Falcon girls team had ever had, the school went on a search for her replacement. The position was filled by one of the most respected hockey minds in the Yeshiva League, veteran coach Elliot Weiselberg.

 Coach Weiselberg

Coach Weiselberg is a familiar face to those who follow Falcons Athletics, having spent three seasons as the lead assistant to former Flatbush Boys Varisty and JV Coach Dan Leffel, and was in line to succeed Coach Leffel when he made Aliyah three years ago. But, the timing was not favorable as Coach Weiselberg had been offered a promotion at his work and his schedule would not allow him to coach any longer. Since then, he has served as the lead hockey official for the MYHSAL. But, to the good fortune of the Flatbush Girls program, this time around Coach Weiselberg’s work schedule was amenable, and with returning Assistant Coach Barbara Stern at his side, there was a renewed energy to the program. That positivity was tempered with a loss, though, as at the end of one of the team’s practices a few weeks ago, Team Captain Danielle Malka landed on a hockey ball, turning her ankle on it, and in the process tearing ligaments in that ankle – she would be lost to the team for the season - at least on the court (though definitely not on the sideline where her spirit still infuses her teammates with positive energy!).

 Injured Danielle Malka

Nevertheless, Malka’s teammates were committed to working even harder to help lift up their fallen captain. It was now time to get the 2019 season underway.

 Face Off

The initial possession of the game went to Central, and was contested in the Flatbush defensive zone. Sophomore Goalie Zoe Sabbagh was tested early, and she made the stops. Play quickly shifted into the Wildcats zone, and Flatbush pushed the play towards the Central net. With just under two minutes gone, Flatbush struck first with a goal by Senior Kayla Motovich, scoring off an assist from rookie defender Norma Hizami – it was the first goal of the game, and the season!

 Hizami shoots Celebration

Flatbush really looked to press the advantage, with Gabby Eisner and Perla Berkovitz finding quality shots on goal, and Katriella Weingarten also getting a scoring chance. Meanwhile Berkovitz, along with fellow defenders Stella Lessler and Frieda Dabbah, worked to keep Sabbagh’s area clear on the defensive end. Flatbush had carried the majority of the play during the opening period, but with just under three minutes to play, the momentum quickly swung 180 degrees. Flatbush’s defense struggled to not clear the zone, and in the span of 23 seconds, Central got two shots into the Flatbush net to take the lead. Flatbush had a good chance to tie with under a minute left, but Motovich was denied. Central struck a big blow at the close of the period, scoring off a draw in the Falcons zone with 4.1 seconds to play with a shot that popped up and over Sabbagh’s left shoulder. At the first intermission, Central held a 3-1 advantage.

Lessler clears the zone 

In the second period, Flatbush came out with the same energy with which they started the game, and it soon paid dividends. A backhand sweep from Motovich at 9:43 got one goal back for the Falcons. The Falcons kept sniping at the Central goal, but Lessler, Chen Menashe and Motovich were denied. The offense was on the doorstep, and it was readily evident that the team was missing that one more push that injured Captain Danielle Malka would have been able to provide. Again, the Falcons carried the play, with Lessler and Berkovitz anchoring the mid-line. But, another small lapse on defense let the Wildcats get the next goal of the period. With three minutes left in the period, Sabbagh came up with back-to-back amazing saves to keep Flatbush in striking distance. And, she repeated the feat a minute later amid a flurry of activity in her goal crease. Fortune soon again would favor the visitors, though. With 1:32 left, Motovich was whistled for a very questionable penalty, and Central took advantage, scoring virtually off the drop. The Falcons were on their heels, and 20 seconds later the Wildcats added another one. Flatbush went on the power play of their own with 43 seconds left in the period, but could not get the ball into the net. The period came to a close, with Flatbush again being outscored in a period 3-1, leaving Central with a 6-2 lead.

 Motovich scores Sabbagh makes the stop

The third period got underway with Flatbush still on the power play for 49 seconds. Flatbush could not take advantage, and the teams exchanged possessions without scoring. At this point. Coach Weiselberg looked to take advantage of the opportunity in this season opening contest to get his younger players some experience. They played well, but at one point the ball slipped through Sabbagh’s pads, and no one saw it sitting on the doorstep. It sat there for what seemed like an eternity, until a Wildcats forward spotted the loose ball and poked it home for their seventh score. Motovich nearly got the goal back, and moments later a Lessler blast was denied only by the misfortune of striking the crossbar and the post then ricocheting out from the goal. With half the period left, the teams switched ends, and Coach Weiselberg inserted rookie Lauren Heskiel into goal for the Falcons. Heskiel made a pair of very solid saves, and Motovich capitalized on the offensive end to record a hat trick for the game. In the final minutes of play, Flatbush got strong defensive effort from rookies Vivan Hamui and Sandy Bernstein, and rookies Corrine Elbaz, Aimee Cohen and Dinah Chazanow had scoring chances but were denied. The clock hit 0:00 and the win went to the visiting Wildcats, 7-3.

 Defense by Hamui
Heskiel in goal Chazanow shoots

Like his players, thought disappointed with the loss, Coach Weiselberg recognized the positives from opening night. He pointed out, “we made mistakes and they capitalized. That is frustrating, but there were definitely things to be proud of from our first game of the season. When we played the right way, we controlled the game and got what we wanted out of the play. And that is a very big positive to take away from tonight.”

 Lessler shoots Save Heskiel

NEST NOTES: The Girls Hockey Team will have a short time to wait to try and notch that elusive first win. They will hit the road on Tuesday night, March 19, when they head to Manhattan for an evening match up with the Heschel Heat. Game time is set for 7:15 pm.

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