By Matt Williams
---- — STONEHAM — The Masconomet girls hockey team overcame their share of adversity this winter. The Chieftains were on their way to doing so again when they rallied from a two-goal deficit in their state tournament opener against Austin Prep at Stoneham Arena yesterday.
The host Cougars and their gifted goal scorer, Maddy Ricci, had other ideas.
Ricci’s hat trick and a pair of goals by Michaela Boyle lifted Austin Prep by Masco, 5-2, in a Division 1 preliminary round match. Ricci netted the game-winning goal with 1:33 left in the second and scored on a 60-foot empty netter with 12.7 seconds left in the third to put it away.
“The one thing this team has is a lot of fight,” said Masco coach Andrew Boepple, whose team went 3-0-1 in its last four games to qualify for the postseason and finished 8-9-4.
Austin Prep (13-5-3) ends Masco’s season in the playoffs for the second straight season. The Cougars outshot the Chieftains 31-16 for the game, with some tremendous work by junior goalie Molly Kelly keeping Masco in it throughout the game.
Kelley made 26 saves in all, flashing the glove on no fewer than three occasions. She left the game with 2:06 to go with a knee injury, and Masco played the vast majority of that time with the net empty in favor of an extra attacker.
Capable fellow goalie Andraya Ferraro didn’t face a shot in about 30 seconds of work. All in all, it was one of the best outings of the season for Kelley, who came into the game having recorded back-to-back shutout in her last two regular season starts.
“Our goalies have taken a ton of steps forward,” said Boepple. “They’re both in their first year playing goalie and to be playing at this high a level is a pretty good thing.”
Kylie Currier was in the middle of both Masco’s goals, which came in a two-minute stretch in the second and knotted the score 2-2. Less than a minute after AP took a 2-0 lead, Masco had an offensive zone draw to begin a power play. Captain Jensena Moner won it to Currier, whose shot was saved by AP goalie Caty Flagg (13 saves).
Adara Nazarian buried the rebound at the other post to make it 2-1.
Just 2:40 later, Currier scored on a feed from Nell Criscione to even it up.
“We were down and we came out unphased,” said Boepple. “We came out fighting for rebounds and that worked for us. To go down two and tie it shows that fight.”
The Cougars regained control at the end of a long defensive shift for the Chieftains. With a pile of bodies in front of the net, Masco’s clearing bid didn’t get across the blue line. The puck then found Ricci at the post for her second goal, this one proving to be the game-winner.
“We had a couple of long shifts before that one, and Austin Prep was keeping the pressure on us,” said Boepple. “We just couldn’t clear it out.”
Boyle’s goal with 12:14 remaining put Masco in a two goal hole again. The Chieftains had pressure with Currier, Izzy Sarra and Maddy Werner testing Flagg. Austin Prep’s sophomore goalie and her defense held the fort in order to advance.
The Chieftains were without junior captain Dana Valletti due to illness, and Boepple was proud of how his girls adjusted their lines and played cohesively. Masco was also a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Masco graduates one senior, Danielle Teixeira, and Boepple said he believes coach Nicole Twomey will return to the bench next winter. Boepple took over on an interim basis in December when Twomey, who was in her second season on the Chieftain bench, took a leave of absence for personal reasons.
Assistant coach Corinne DiPietro was invaluable in the transition and on the bench, he added.
Austin Prep 5, Masconomet 2
at Stoneham Arena, Stoneham
Masconomet: 0 2 0 — 2
Austin Prep: 1 2 2 — 5
First period: AP, Maddi Ricci (Rachael Utegg), 12:35.
Second Period: AP, Michaela Boyle (Ricci), 4:08; M, Adara Nazarian (Kylie Currier, Jensena Moner), ppg, 5:16; M, Currier (Nel Criscione), 7:52; AP, Ricci (Boyle, Meg Hanlon), 13:26.
Third Period: AP, Boyle (Becky Raphael, Jaime Cooke), 2:46; AP, Ricci (Boyle), eng, 14:48.
Saves: M, Molly Kelley 26; AP, Caty Flagg 13.
Records: M, 8-9-4; AP, 13-5-3