D1 Girls: Austin Prep 2, Watertown/Belmont 0

WOBURN, Mass. -- Austin Prep senior Maddy Ricci takes her job as a shutdown defender seriously.

On Wednesday night, Ricci had the arduous chore of shutting down Watertown/Belmont sniper Emily LoPrete and she did just that while adding the title of goal scorer to her resume, leading the Cougars to a 2-0 win in a Division I quarter-final tilt at the O’Brien rink.

“She rises in the playoffs and she is our spark plug,” said AP coach Stephanie Wood of Ricci. “She thrives on it. She loves it. She can serve a lot of roles but she will step up when we need her in big games and she did today.”

After a scoreless first period, AP got on the board with the aid of a fortuitous bounce.

Meghan Hanlon dug the puck free along the goal line to left of Mauraiders keeper Jonna Kennedy and threw a pass to the front of the net that deflected off a defender’s stick and in for a 1-0 lead.

Late in the second period, Ricci showed some offensive skill when she stole a pass in the neutral zone, chipped it past a defender, and shifted to her forehand and buried a wrist shot past Kennedy for a 2-0 lead.

On the defensive end, Ricci continued her approach to shut down the other team’s top gun.

“I have done it so many times before,” said Ricci of her role as shut down defender. “She [LoPrete] was honestly the hardest one besides Alison Butler [St. Mary's] from two years ago. She is an unreal player but I just tried to stay on her but my teammates helped me when I would lose her.”

Those teammates included a solid defense led by junior Jamiee Cook and freshman Kendra Currier, as well as junior goalie Caty Flagg (16 saves).

“We are lucky this year where we have a good mixture of youth and more upper classmen,” said Wood of her team’s defense. “It is really great to see someone like Jamiee [Cook] as a junior who we will have next year and you have Kendra [Currier] who is a great addition for us. And Caty [Flagg] is in the zone back there. She is playing some of her best hockey right now.”

Austin Prep (17-3-2) will battle Reading (20-2-0) Sunday night in a battle for high school girl’s hockey bragging rights in the 0-1-8-6-7.

“We know it is going to be a great game and obviously it is going to be a very tough game,” added Wood. “It should be great for everyone there to watch and we are looking forward to it. We haven’t seen them yet this year but I think that makes it also more interesting and fun for a postseason matchup.”