Spartans hand Reading its first loss of the season

St. Mary's Madi Hentosh scored a goal in Wednesday's win. (Item File Photo)

LYNN — Goalkeeper Lauren Vaccaro put together a solid night in net for the St. Mary’s girls hockey team to help lift the Spartans to a 5-1 win over Reading at William P. Connery Rink Wednesday.

Vaccaro tallied 20 saves.

“Lauren played really well today,” St. Mary’s coach Frank Pagliuca said. “We had a lot of unforced breakdowns and turned the puck over a lot which is honestly uncharacteristic for us. That’s when you need good goaltending to bail you out. She was one of the best players on the ice for us.”

Offensively, Samantha Porazinski led St. Mary’s with two goals. Mady Hentosh, Kate Gray and Kelsey Sullivan each scored one goal to help the Spartans hand Reading it’s first loss of the season.

“Reading did a good job tonight,” Pagliuca said. “They’re well coached, so we knew what type of team they were.

“It is so early in the year but it’s good to have a good team like Reading to play,” Pagliuca added. “We have just been focusing on getting better each night. Our game is kind of ebbing and flowing a little bit here early on.”

The Spartans struck first early, going on the power play less than three minutes into the game. Reading goalkeeper Casey Machera blocked a few shots but Porazinski eventually sent a pass out front that hit off Machera and found the back of the net to put St. Mary’s ahead 1-0.

The Spartans were put on the defensive after a tripping penalty with 8:15 remaining in the period. Vaccaro stepped up for St. Mary’s with two key stops on shots in front of the net.

Reading started quickly in the second period with an odd-man rush, but once again Vaccaro held strong on a wrist shot by Ainsley Cohen. Reading continued to dominate possession for much of the period, but the Spartans caught a break with 4:26 to play in the second.

Hentosh ripped a shot from the point that caught an odd bounce off the ice and beat Machera to her right to put St. Mary’s ahead 2-0.

The two-goal lead was short lived. Less than a minute later, Sydney Conte won a battle for the puck in front of the St. Mary’s goal and found the back of the net to cut the Spartans’ lead to 2-1.

“We came out really flat and lethargic in the second period and I thought Reading took advantage of that momentum,” Pagliuca said. “In the third period we turned it up a little bit and started doing things we should have been doing from the beginning of the game.”

The Spartans extended their lead early in the third. After St. Mary’s killed a Reading power play, Gray gained possession at center ice and used her speed to break away from the defense for a breakaway that she finished to put the Spartans ahead 3-1.

“Kate had been one of our most improved players all year and she took advantage of the opportunity,” Pagliuca said. “I thought once we got some of our girls starting to move we gained momentum. Felicia D’Alessandro, Marina DiBiasio and Kate, who are some of our better skaters, really pushed the tempo a little bit and it created a lot of opportunities for us. We have that team speed that once we are using it we can create some opportunities.”

From there the Spartans controlled the pace. Porazinski finished a rebound out front for her second goal and Sullivan added an empty-netter in the final minute to put the game out of reach.

“Moving forward we have to tighten up some areas,” Pagliuca said. “We haven’t put three periods together yet but we have found ways to come out with two-points and that’s a positive that you can take away from it.”

St. Mary’s (6-0) travels to Peabody next Wednesday (5:15).

More Stories From Lynn