Masconomet girls hockey defeats defending state champion Austin Prep
By Joshua Boyd
“They just know that, if they win, they get to go play hockey again tomorrow. And they love it.”
Masconomet girls hockey head coach Ryan Sugar had a smile a mile wide as he said these words, following Masco’s 3-1 victory over defending Division 1 state champion Austin Prep on March 7.
“Just the fact they can keep going right now, they’re having fun doing it, and I am, too,” said Sugar.
The Cougars were Masco’s third opponent that came in with a higher seed and saw their seasons end to the feisty 18th-seeded Chieftains. Austin Prep was No. 6, Beverly was No. 2 and Quincy/North Quincy was No. 15. Seeds are best reserved for gardens, as they really don’t carry any weight once the games are played.
“We weren’t going to let anyone come at us no matter what their record is,” said tri-captain Madison Brooke, who scored the third goal for Masconomet. She now has three goals in the last two playoff games.
“The regular season doesn’t matter at this point. We came in with the attitude in the playoffs, 0-0, everyone is on an even slate,” she said. “It feels really good to win.”
Masco will play on Monday at 5 p.m. in the state semifinal, against either Woburn or Westford Academy. Those teams play on Wednesday night in Woburn. Woburn is a No. 3 and Westford Academy is a No. 6 seed, for those who care about that sort of thing. (continued below photos)
Masconomet’s Riane Vatcher tries to get past an Austin Prep player on March 7 during Masco’s 3-1 win in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Div. 1 girls hockey tournament. [Wicked Local Photo/Kirk R. Williamson]
Masconomet’s Izzy Sarra and Abby Gendron celebrate Masconomet’s second goal against Austin Prep in Woburn on March 7 during Masco’s 3-1 win in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Div. 1 girls hockey tournament. [Wicked Local Photo/Kirk R. Williamson]
Masconomet’s Lexi Rosenbaum charges up ice against Austin Prep in Woburn Tuesday night March 7 during Masco’s 3-1 win in the quarter finals of the MIAA Div. 1 girls hockey tournament. [Wicked Local Photo/Kirk R. Williamson]
Masconomet players celebrate scoring their first goal against Austin Prep in Woburn on March 7 during Masco’s 3-1 win in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Div. 1 girls hockey tournament. [Wicked Local Photo / Kirk R. Williamson]
“I’d rather not play Woburn in their home rink,” said Sugar.
Both teams approached each other a bit timidly from the start of the game and there were only four shots on goal for either side in the first period.
Masco goalie Molly Elmore (of Newburyport) was stopping essentially everything thrown her way from the start, whether it was a slapshot from the point or a point-blank shot from right outside the crease.
“For a freshman to come in and step into a team like this, and play in big games like this, it’s awesome to have someone like that,” said Sugar. “She felt a little shaky in the beginning of the season, but somewhere around mid-January, it just clicked with her.”
Masco really started to attack with an onslaught of 2-on-1’s through the second period.
At the 3:26 mark of the second, Masco’s Abby Gendron sent a tape-to-tape pass essentially through the crease to tri-captain Kate Irons, who made no mistake of popping it in the net to break the deadlock.
Newburyport schoolmates Izzy Sarra and Mikayla Vincent also had a breakaway, and Gendron and Irons had another chance on a 2-on-1, but this time, they couldn’t beat Austin Prep goalie Hannah Aveni.
With just 1:48 remaining however, Sarra worked some dazzling stickhandling towards the net and scored glove-side on Aveni for a 2-0 lead going into the second intermission. Gendron and Riane Vatcher (of Triton) had the assists.
It very well could have been 2-1 if not for a highlight-reel pad save in the final seconds of the second period by Elmore.
“We’re still trying to figure out how she saved that shot in the end of the second,” said Sugar. “I’m happy to have her for four years now.”
Masco had all the momentum in the world. On a power play to start the third period, Masco’s Rachael Duval found Brooke down below the faceoff circle. Brooke zeroed in on the top of the net, flicked a wristshot and it was 3-0 before Austin Prep knew what hit them.
As strong as Elmore was in making her 27 saves for the evening, the night couldn’t be perfect for Masco, defensively. After an initial save, the puck came loose at the right side of the crease, and Annie Richards scored for Austin Prep. Middleton resident Kendra Currier – a co-captain for Austin Prep – and Francesca Frelick had the assists.
The Cougars came so close to pulling within one or tying the game in the third. Right after the Richards goal, they hit two posts in a row. In the middle of the period, Masco fought off a 5-on-3 advantage for Austin Prep. Between Elmore and every player put out for the penalty kill, Austin Prep could never cash in. Masco players were blocking shots wherever they could, making sure not to screen Elmore too much.
“I told them just stand in front of the puck,” said Sugar. “That’s why you have all those pads on.”
Austin Prep, who pulled Aveni, shot itself in the foot a bit with a penalty to Isabella Sarocco with 1:03 remaining in regulation. Austin Prep pulled Aveni again once they had a chance for five skaters against five. Masco kept the puck on the perimeter and let out a collective scream once time expired. Upset No. 3 was complete.
Masconomet may be made up of players from the namesake school, along with Georgetown, Triton, Newburyport and Amesbury. But all of these students from up and down I-95 are united, with a focus as straight as the highway that unites them.
“They come from five schools,” added Sugar, “but from the first day of hockey, they’re best friends, like they were in class together that day.”