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March 18, 2013

Swampscott's state title chase falls short in Garden loss to Westfield (With Photo Slideshow)

BOSTON — Every great ride — a five minute roller coaster, a nine-month season of your favorite TV show, or two-week playoff runs by incredible high school sports teams — has something in common.

At some point, it has to end.

The joy ride that was the Swampscott High hockey team’s 2012-13 season came to a halt yesterday at TD Garden, where Westfield held off the Big Blue, 4-1, in the Division 3 state championship game.

Swampscott (19-6) had won its last three playoff games by scoring late goals and coming from behind. Yesterday, the Bombers (19-3-2) were just too disciplined in the defensive zone to allow another Big Blue miracle.

“We’re pretty happy with the season, but its also bittersweet to get here and not win,” said Swampscott senior captain Chris Carman.

The Big Blue played without senior defenseman Trevor Massey, a team captain and the NEC South MVP, after he and sophomore forward Ryan Cresta were suspended for school and MIAA rules violations.

“There was nothing we could do about it, and the guys that were here today played their hearts out. That’s all we can ask,” said Swampscott head coach Gino Faia.

Senior captain Robert Serino scored a wrap-around goal with 8:55 to play that made it 3-1 and gave the Big Blue some life. Swampscott controlled much of the play the rest of the way, but couldn’t get one by Westfield goalie Nick Liberto, who made nine of his 20 saves in the third period.

Liberto was also sharp in the early going, stopping all 12 shots he faced in the first period. The Big Blue struggled on the forecheck in the second period as the Bombers built a 3-0 lead.

“I thought the difference was our goaltender,” Westfield coach C.B. Matthews Jr. said after leading his team to its third state title. “The game could’ve gone either way quickly, and then when we were running around a bit in the third he kept us in it.”

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