BOURNE, Mass. -- Two top shelf goaltenders had themselves an old fashioned duel in the Division I south quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon. Xaverian's Aidan Murphy stopped all 16 shots that he saw to win the battle, and post the shutout, against Braintree's David McDonough, who halted all but one of the 29 shots that he faced in the game.
Xaverian forward Jack Cook was the only shooter to solve one of the keepers in the 1-0 win, which advances to the South semifinals later in the week. The Hawks' forward sniped one from between the circles at 8:51 of the third period to end the run of perfection by McDonough, who'd stopped numerous quality scoring bids throughout the contest.
Cook received a pass at the top of the circles and let one fly. It changed direction on the way, skipping up and over McDonough's left leg pad to find the twine. Ironically, Cook wasn't aware that he'd put one home, at first.
“I just know it popped out to me at the top of the circle and we were stressing that we had to get some shots on net, and I just let it go. I didn't really see it go in, but I saw everyone put their hands up, so I assumed it went in,” Cook said.
That goal came moments after the Wamps had come very close to taking the lead on a shot by Corey Woodward. The assistant captain for Braintree snapped a wrist shot from the righthand dot that knuckled on Murphy and trickled under him. The goalkeeper was able to smother the puck with his back before it could roll in.
Xaverian head coach Dave Spinale said that both goalies were superb, and that it was obvious that it was not going to be easy to find a goal.
“Both [goaltenders] were fabulous. We knew [McDonough] was really good, and obviously Aidan's been solid for us all year. We thought it might be a defensive battle, then all of a sudden it opened up there, and both goalies made key saves,” Spinale said. “We tried to get a little too cute there in the second period. In the third we finally broke through and I thought we battled. They're a great team, they're well-coached and it's so hard to score against them.”
Xaverian had great chances early in the game to take the lead, but were turned away by McDonough. Tim Sweeney had a pair of bids in the first, both from the doorstep, but each was met by a pad.
Xaverian outshot Braintree 12-4 in the first.
The second period saw the Wamps turn the tables, asserting themselves more on both ends of the ice. The best scoring bid for Braintree was a bomb off the point by Sean Casey that Murphy snared with his glove.
In the third, both teams had their fair share of chances. Braintree head coach Dave Fasano, who led his Wamps to the TD Garden for the Division 1 championship game last year, said that his club answered the bell.
“We have to keep our heads high walking out of here...I thought we laid it all out on the line today,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a tight, one goal game. If we'd been able to get one, who knows. If we got two we thought it'd definitely be enough.”
Xaverian, the top seed in the D1 south field, is now 16-6-1 overall on the season. Braintree, which was the eighth seed in the field, wraps up a good year at 10-6-6.