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Newburyport News 3/10/17: SARRA SETS THE TONE

SARRA SETS THE TONE

Newburyport senior, Masco girls hockey have taken the D1 tourney by storm
By Dan Harrison Sports Editor

Teams have a way of adopting the attitude of their leaders.

Masconomet girls hockey captain Izzy Sarra definitely has a knack for putting the puck in the back of the net, considering her 90 career points are second in program history. But unlike some prolific goal-scorers, the forward’s most unsung character trait on the ice is her willingness to battle in the corners.

It doesn’t matter the size or strength of the opponent, the Newburyport senior never backs down from a challenge — and this postseason, with Sarra leading the way, the Chieftains have been giant killers.

“It’s amazing. I don’t have the words to describe it. It’s so humbling, but also at same the time, so incredible,” Sarra said of winning three playoff games including triumph’s over second-seeded Beverly and seventh-seeded Austin Prep.

“The fact that we’re really going out with bang, at least for me at the end of my (high school) career, there’s no better way to end it than in this way with these girls.”

As the No. 18 seed in the bracket, Masco (12-8-3) will head to Woburn Monday to face the third-seeded Tanners (19-2-2).

The playoffs were far from a certainty for Sarra’s crew, who didn’t qualify for the tournament until the second to last game of the season. Now that the Chieftains are in the dance, they’re making the most of the opportunity.

When it came to setting the tone for the Cinderella run, it was Sarra leading the way as she potted four goals in the opening round victory over Quincy.

“When the fourth goal went in, to see the smile on her face, that set the tone for the tournament for the entire team,” Masco head coach Ryan Sugar said of Sarra.

“She’s a powerful skater who digs hard and she has a good shot. She’s a strong athlete all around … and she transfers that onto skates. She goes into the corner and nobody wants to go in there with her … She doesn’t stop playing until the final buzzer and if I can get that out of everybody on the team it’s a great thing to have.”

A four-year varsity player, Sarra and the Chieftains had been one-and-done in the tournament every year until this winter.

But that’s not to say the senior doesn’t have the mark of a champion. After all, she was the goalie for the Newburyport girls lacrosse team that won the Division 2 state championship during Sarra’s freshman season. So she knows what it takes to cut it in a win-or-go-home kind of atmosphere.

“You have to take care of your mind before you can take care of your body. You have to be patient with yourself. It’ never going to come easily. The playoffs are the playoffs for a reason. You’re playing the best of the best, but you also have to keep in the back of your mind that you are one of the best and you have to build off that,” said Sarra.

“You have to cherish where you’re going and where you’re coming from. I’m not going to be doing this next year, so I have to empty the bucket while I still have the chance.”

Sarra’s bucket is filled with a lot of game pucks.

In her four seasons with the red-and-white, the power forward with soft hands has scored a remarkable 54 goals and dished out 36 assists, and this winter marks her second-straight 30-point season as she has lit the lamp 18 times to go with 13 helpers.

The 91 career points, and her place in Chieftain lore is only part of what makes the milestone special. Sarra is a player young female skaters can look to and think ‘one day, that could be me.’

“It’s crazy to think of the people that have come before me and the people who are going to come after me,” Sarra said when asked about her mark on the program.

“Building this sport is so important to me and to be able to represent girls hockey. People don’t give it the credibility it deserves. Because this sport is incredibly trying, the fact I was able to make that statement is crazy to me.”

The skill set is only amplified by Sarra’s mental make up.

Sugar says he’s amazed by the way his captain rallies after the opposition scores a goal, and that nothing seems to throw her off her game.

Port girls lax skipper Catherine Batchelder thought so highly of Sarra that she named her a captain last year as just a junior. And the feeling is one shared by coach and teammates alike.

“I love Izzy. I enjoy playing with her so much I wish I could play with her year round. I never get sick of her,” said junior forward Sami Kelleher, who also plays lacrosse with Sarra at Newburyport. “She was my captain last year in lacrosse and this year in hockey and she’s an amazing captain. She always keeps the spirit up on the team and makes us play to the best of our ability.”

The Chieftains will all need to be playing their best hockey if they’re going to take down the Tanners on their home ice, and look for Sarra to establish the pace early for Sugar’s group.

After all, a win Monday would give Sarra and the Chieftains the chance to skate on the most hallowed sheet of ice in all of New England.

“It’s such a staple of the Massachusetts and New England culture,” Sarra said of the TD Garden. “That place has such a huge affiliation with the greats — and I want to be one of those.”

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