LYNN– It’s always best to jump out to a nice lead and set the tone early in the state tournament. That’s exactly what the St. Mary’s girls hockey team did Wednesday night in its Division 1 preliminary round clash against Mansfield at William P. Connery Rink.
No. 6 St. Mary’s scored three goals in the opening period and when No. 27 Mansfield answered with a goal of its own, the Spartans answered with four second-period tallies in a 9-1 win.
“We were pressing a little bit to start the game,” Spartans coach Frank Pagliuca said. “I think our shot selection improved quickly after we made some adjustments. We had some good looks early, we just didn’t capitalize on it. Once we figured out where to shoot and how to shoot, it made a big difference as we moved forward.
“It was nice to jump out early,” Pagliuca said. “We gave them that goal early in the second period and they gained some momentum. We were able to come right back and score. We finished some opportunities there.”
Codi Butt, Jenna Chaplain and Makayla McGrath each scored two goals.
“I thought Makayla played excellent,” Pagluica said. “I thought she played how I wish everybody played. She was physical, she was aggressive, she scored a couple on her opportunities. I thought she really drove us offensively which was great to see.”
Megan Parthum, Sam Porazinski and Zoe Solomons each scored once. Chaplain, Mady Hentosh and Kelsey Sullivan dished two assists each.
St. Mary’s goalies Lauren Vaccaro and Angelina Catino combined for the win.
Perhaps the best part of the win was St. Mary’s underclassmen played valuable minutes down the stretch, many of whom saw their first minutes in a state tournament game.
“Haylie Grossman touched the ice for the first time all year,” Pagliuca said. “She’s been battling injuries all year. It was great to see her get an opportunity to get out there. Ang Catino’s a great teammate in practice. She’s always positive, has improved tremendously. I wanted to reward her with an opportunity. It’s great for those kids. They work hard in practice, they don’t play a lot but they don’t complain. They’re great teammates and for me to be able to reward them, that’s what it’s all about.”
The Spartans wasted no time grabbing the lead, with Chaplain scoring just over a minute into the game. Chaplain’s shot deflected off a Mansfield defender but she scooped her own rebound and found the back of the net for the goal. Things settled down for the next seven minutes before McGrath scored to make it a 2-0 lead. Butt’s power play goal gave the Spartans a 3-0 lead at the first intermission.
Mansfield got one back when Skyler Sharfman scored on a slapshot 25 seconds into the second period. How did the Spartans answer to Mansfield clawing its way back into the game?
Goals from Butt, Parthum, McGrath, Porazinski and Chaplain (shorthanded) allowed St. Mary’s to take the wind out of Mansfield’s sails with an 8-1 lead at the second intermission.
“That was a great job by our kids to respond,” Pagliuca said. “I told them after the first period, ‘if they get the next goal that’s going to give them a lot of momentum,’ and sure it did for the next few minutes. I thought they were carrying the play but fortunately we were able to come right back and score which defused them a bit. Then we scored a couple more to put the game away.”
Solomons found the back of the net on a breakaway with 5:50 left in the game to seal the 9-1 St. Mary’s win.
The Spartans advanced to the first round, where they’ll face a familiar foe in No. 11 Peabody. St. Mary’s will host the Tanners Saturday (TBA) at Connery. The Spartans defeated the Tanners twice during the regular season.
“We played Peabody twice already this year,” Pagliuca said. “We know what they’re about. They’re a very good team so we’re going to have to play better than we did tonight in order to be successful.”