Sports

St. Mary’s blows past Winthrop, claims playoff spot

St. Mary’s Codi Butt tries to get off a shot through Winthrop defenders Ashley Miles, Bella Perrotti and McKayla Norris. (Katie Morrison)

WINTHROP — When the St. Mary’s girls hockey team needs to score goals, it has plenty of options. Every game, a different player steps up to provide that spark and ignite the offense.

Saturday at Larsen Rink, it was junior forward Codi Butt who took over the game and gave the Spartans an early lead they wouldn’t relinquish in a 6-2 win over the Vikings.

Butt logged a natural hat trick, scoring the first three goals of the contest and capping her big afternoon with the Spartans’ final goal.

“She had a big game for us,” St. Mary’s coach Frank Pagliuca said of Butt, who has six goals over the last two games. “She’s really starting to pick it up offensively. We have good balance, and we’re not relying on one or two players. The lines are all contributing, and we’ve had good goaltending. I think that’s why we’ve been successful to this point.”

The win makes St. Mary’s 10-2 and secures a playoff berth for the Spartans.

“I think our forecheck is really working and we’re just getting so many opportunities and finishing the opportunities that we’re getting, which is big,” said Butt. “We’re ready to have a big second half and get ready for the tournament that we just qualified for. That’s going to be our focus for the rest of the season.”

Eighth-grader Aylah Cioffi and sophomore Zoe Solomons also added a goal apiece. Senior captain McKayla Norris and eighth-grader Sophia Kennedy scored for Winthrop.

Neither team could get much going in the first 11 minutes of action until Butt broke through with a top-shelf wrist shot past Winthrop’s eighth-grade goalie, Summer Tallent, to get the Spartans on the board. Butt struck again three minutes later, knocking home a loose puck in the crease.

The momentum carried over into the second period, as Butt completed the natural hat trick with a shot from the neutral zone that found its way in.

“When we got all three lines out there rolling and skating, we created some chances,” Pagliuca said. “I thought we sat back a little bit too much in the first half of the first period, we were a little passive.

We had too many shots blocked in the first period and waited too long to get pucks to the net,” the coach added. “Our shot selection improved throughout the game.”

Cioffi added to the lead a minute later, getting an assist from senior captain Mady Hentosh. Solomons made it 5-0 after she picked up a puck in front of the net and slipped it past Tallent.

But the Vikings were not planning on going quietly. Winthrop swarmed the Spartans defensive zone during a roughly minute-long 5-on-3 power play, but it was fruitless. Norris finally broke through with 5:28 left in the second to make it 5-1.

Winthrop kept up the pressure throughout the rest of the game. The Spartans were battling penalty trouble as well, with a total of nine St. Mary’s players sent to the box.

“Too many penalties, we can’t play like that, but we did a good job on the penalty kill and Lauren (Vaccaro) was excellent in net,” Pagliuca said. “We dodged some of those opportunities they had and were able to finish some of ours, so that was the difference.”

Vaccaro, who racked up 28 saves, faced the vast majority of her shots over the final 25 minutes of action, and stood tall despite the Vikings threatening for more.

Butt added another insurance goal in the third, and Perrotti netted the Vikings’ second with about 10 seconds left to play.

St. Mary’s will host Lexington for a make-up game tonight at Connery (8), while the Vikings (8-3-1) look to bounce back against Beverly Tuesday at Larsen (6:10).

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