Boston High School: Jess Piracini

D1 girls final: Duxbury 2, Arlington Catholic 1

March, 16, 2014
Mar 16
11:36
PM ET


BOSTON — Midway through the third period of the Division 1 girls’ state final game at TD Garden, the Cougars of Arlington Catholic tied the game at one and appeared to seize the momentum.

However, there is a reason the Duxbury Dragons had won three consecutive state championships coming into the game.

Just 11 seconds after AC tied the game at one, junior Marissa Fichter pounced on a Julia Nolan face-off win and fired a blast past Cougars goalie Katherine Crane for the eventual game winner in Duxbury’s 2-1 victory.

“It is a lot of credit to my center Julia Nolan,” said Fichter. “We practice it all the time and scored on it once before in a game. I would like to say I was picking a spot but I just fired it towards the net and it went in.”

It is the fourth straight championship for the Dragons, their first in Division I, after being moved up from Division II this season.

“This team was not going to be denied,” said Duxbury head coach Friend Weiler. “It was a complete team effort. This team just worked so hard and never gave up. The girls just wanted it today.”

After a relatively quiet first two periods, things opened up in the third period, specifically for Duxbury who got on the board just 40 seconds into the final stanza.

On the first shift of the third period, Dragons junior forward Jane Dudley crashed hard into the end boards but later in the shift, she exacted her revenge.

Collecting a loose puck near center ice, Dudley broke down the left wing with an AC defender draped on her, but Dudley stayed strong on the puck and cut to the middle firing a low, hard shot through the legs of Crane for a 1-0 lead.

“Jane [Dudley] has been on fire for the entire playoff run,” said Weiler. “She is a fierce competitor and today when we needed her at the biggest time, she came through. She had kind of been pushed to the outside and I was trying to get her to get her to lower the shoulder and cut it to the middle and she did today.”

The Cougars would not go quietly and despite having many good chances on Duxbury goalie Rachel Myette, they finally broke through with 6:59 left in the third period.

After some hard work behind the net by senior Danielle Kelley, the puck squirted in front to Jackie Sindoris who tucked a nifty back-hand pass to Kelley who beat Myette high to tie the game at one.

The celebration was short lived as Fichter provided the game winner just seconds later, leaving the Cougars stunned, and unable to rally in the final minutes.

“We didn’t play our style of hockey the first two periods I felt,” said Cougars head coach Maggie Taverna. “Danielle [Kelley] came up with a huge goal for us and then they got a quick goal back. It was a good game. Duxbury is a great team and has a great goaltender.”

OH MY-ETTE: Midway through the third period, Duxbury senior goalie Rachel Myette proved that she was human, after allowing a goal to tie the game at one.

The goal was noteworthy because it was the first she had let up the entire postseason.

In fact, Myette went through all of last postseason not allowing a goal. You have to go back to the 2011-12 final against Falmouth to find the last time she allowed a postseason goal before today’s final which locked up her fourth individual championship.

“I don’t think it is real at all right now and I feel like I am in a dream,” said Myette. “It is real and it is an insane feeling that I can’t describe. To end my senior year like this is just insane.”

Despite allowing the tying goal, Myette’s confidence never wavered.

“My team is a third period team and we have shown that we have the heart in us to dig down deep,” added Myette. “It was really important to get on them and destroy their momentum after their goal.”

As the final seconds ticked down, the Cougars had a last ditch effort as snipers Jess Piracini and Adrieanna Rossini bore down on a two-on-one. The Duxbury defender played the pass, allowing Myette to play the shooter, and flash a pad to deny Piracini with five seconds left, putting a stamp on a remarkable career.

DOWN BUT NOT OUT: For Arlington Catholic, the sting of losing consecutive state title games will take some time to wear off.

However, they will return their three top scorers in Rossini, Piracini, and Sindoris as well as their group of four talented defensemen.

Goaltender Katherine Crane also returns but recall that she was a first-year goalie this year, so the future is sure to be bright for the Lady Cougars so don’t rule out a potential return trip to the Garden next year.

“We do have a lot of good kids coming back,” added Taverna. “We had a great year this year and the kids were very successful early on and into the rest of the season.”

D1 girls semi: AC 2, AP 1 (OT)

March, 9, 2014
Mar 9
10:55
PM ET
STONEHAM, Mass. -- Austin Prep finally broke through against Arlington Catholic after eight plus periods of futility, but AC got in the last word when junior Adrieana Rossini collected a pass from Jessica Piracini and fired a backhander to the top corner 1:26 into overtime, over a valiant Caty Flagg.

The goal sends AC back to the Garden to play Duxbury in the girls Division 2 final after a thrilling 2-1 victory in Sunday’s state semifinal.

“Getting to the final game regardless of the year you are going to go through some games that are going to be hard fought wins,” said Arlington Catholic coach Maggie Taverna. “If a kid is going to score a goal to win a game, it is probably going to be Rossini.”

If this sounds familiar, it is, because Rossini did the exact same thing last year against Westford Academy in the semi-final game.

Last year, AC went on to lose the finals to St. Mary’s, but hopes things will be different this year.

“With the experience of being there once it may not be so overwhelming,” Taverna said. “It was a good game back and forth last year but this year hopefully we will be a little more prepared because we have more veterans.”

Rossini’s heroics came when Piracini picked up a puck in the left wing corner and found Rossini heading to the net. She corralled the puck on her forehand and shifted to her backhand before finishing off the play.

“I am just glad it happened. I am so glad we won,” said Rossini. “We knew Caty [Flagg] was an unbelievable goalie, but we knew we had to go at her and there had to be a break sometime.”

AP relied heavily on its sophomore goalie, who almost stole the game, making 37 saves on the night.

“We knew Caty (Flagg) was going to be solid and she put on a great performance tonight,” said Austin Prep coach Stephanie Wood. “I think she really rises to these occasions and has been really solid for us the entire postseason. I think that is a good sign for the future for us.”

Despite being outshout, 12-6, in the opening period, AP thought it had the game’s first goal when Jaimee Cooke’s wrist shot broke off of AC goalie Katherine Crane and in but the net was ruled off the moorings and the game remained scoreless.

After a quiet second period, Austin broke the ice 3:11 into the third period on a power play when junior Maddy Ricci wrapped one in at the left post off of Crane’s blocker. After being shut out in their previous two meetings, it was the first goal AP scored in more than 123 minutes of play against AC.

From there, the ice tilted in Arlington’s favor with Flagg continuing to stand on her head making 18 third-period saves.

“She is unbelievable,” said Taverna of Flagg. “At the beginning of the year we went and watched her but since about February 1 on she has been an unbelievable goaltender. She is going to be great for them in the future.”

At 8:53 of the third period, AC finally broke through on Flagg when senior Duggan Delano stole a puck along the right wing boards, skated through the face-off circle, and wristed one off of Flagg, short side to tie the game 1-1.
STONEHAM, Mass. – With a team as skilled as Arlington Catholic, a power play can be a deadly thing.

No. 6 seed Winthrop/Lynn played the game they need to beat the No. 3 Cougars through two periods of their Division 1 state tournament quarterfinal Tuesday at Stoneham Arena. But, in the third, penalties did in the ‘Dawgs, as AC scored two power-play goals en route to a 4-2 win.

The Cougars (18-2-2) advance to play the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal between Beverly/Danvers and Austin Prep in Sunday’s state semifinals.

Neither team was able to muster much offensively in the first period, with only a combined eight shots – four aside. AC’s Eileen Flynn broke the stalemate, however, at 4:54, on the Cougars’ first shot on goal.

“She’s like 95 pounds soaking wet,” Cougars head coach Maggie Taverna said of Flynn. “But she knows the game so well, she knows where to be and sometimes when she connects with the puck, it fires off pretty hard.”

The Cougars added to their lead at 4:05 of the second, when Jackie Sindoris put back a rebound of a shot from Adrieana Rossini.

But the Bulldawgs (14-4-2) would draw even by the end of the period.

While penalties started to add up in a highly physical game, Winthrop/Lynn took advantage of the extra space on the ice on a brief 4-on-4, as Emma English scored at 10:01. The Bulldawgs notched the equalizer just a minute, 57 seconds later on Ariana Dembro’s stuff shot from the top of the crease, beating Cougars goaltender Katherine Crane (17 saves).

“I just think we got in on our forecheck, worked hard and battled in the corners, mucked it up in front,” Winthrop/Lynn head coach Anthony Martucci said. “I think they’re skilled and we have to play to our strength, which is battling and doing all the grinding work. We ground it out and got a copule.”

The Cougars then found their closing stride, via a couple of power-play opportunities in the third.

Danielle Kelley scored the eventual game-winner at 2:20, via the man-advantage, with an assist from Sindoris on her second point of the night.

AC added an insurance marker with 2:47 remaining on Jess Piracini’s power-play goal from Duggan Delano.

“I thought it was going to be a little bit different,” Martucci said of the third period. “It’s hard to take penalties against a good, skilled team like that. It’ll burn you, and it did.”

Recap: No. 4 AC 3, No. 15 Westford 0

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
12:17
PM ET
HINGHAM, Mass. – School vacation week hockey can make for some earlier-than-usual start times in the barns. With that, comes a possibility for slow starts.

With that in mind, Arlington Catholic entered Monday’s action the winner of 11 straight games following a Jan. 8 upset loss to Ursuline Academy. The Cougars were looking to avoid a letdown against a tough Westford Academy squad – ranked No. 15 in ESPN Boston’s statewide poll – at the Hingham High School Girls’ Hockey Showcase.

But there was no evidence of that, as the No. 4 Cougars looked to finish the season with the top ranking, earning a convincing 3-0 win over the Grey Ghosts.

“What’s better than that? No school and just playing hockey,” Cougars head coach Maggie Taverna said.

AC (16-2-1) took a 1-0 lead to the room at the first intermission after Duggan Delano’s goal, assisted by Jackie Sindoris at 12:45.

All but for a brief stint during the second period, the Cougars continued their possession dominance through the final two periods.

“They swung the momentum in the first period when they got one, but the second period we got a burst of energy, got some life to our game, but we got nothing,” Grey Ghosts head coach Todd Fletcher said. “But then the mometum swings back their way and they get another one. We just need to be able to capitalize on those opportunities when they’re presented to you.”

Mickey McLaughlin added a second-period goal before Adrieana Rossini rounded out scoing in the third with a wrist shot from the slot – with the aid of Jess Piracini’s second assist of the game.

Meanwhile, in net, Katherine Crane earned her eighth shutout of the season.

“They’re becoming successful toward the end of the season and that’s what you want out of your team,” Taverna said. “I thought they just played very, very well. They cycled well. We had a few breakdowns in our D zone, but they got bodies and sticks in front of them and Katherine [Crane] made all the saves.”


ARLINGTON, Mass. – Although Arlington Catholic girls’ hockey has twice hoisted a state championship trophy, there was one honorific that had eluded the program altogether. Even in their championship seasons, the Cougars never had laid claim to the Catholic Central League title.

Entering Monday’s action against league foe of fellow ESPN Boston state poll Top 10 squad Austin Prep, AC had the opportunity to finish out its first league championship.

AC delivered, as Adrieana Rossini tallied both goals and junior goaltender Katherine Crane made 15 saves for 2-0 shutout win.

“We were so excited for this game, even though half the team is sick,” Rossini said, in between sniffles.

AC (12-2-1, 5-0-1 Catholic Central) played at less than 100 percent, as senior forward Danielle Kelley missed the game due to illness, in addition to the rest of the Cougars’ room, which has been battling various ailments.

Perhaps due to AC’s physical state, AP (10-4-2, 1-4-0) was the aggressor early. While the teams were scoreless through the first period and matched each other with six shots apiece, AP had the better scoring chances in the first.

After being shut in two of its previous three games entering Monday’s action, a solid start was a point of emphasis for AP.

“We had a lot of good chances, but the last couple of games we haven’t been finding the back of the net like we did earlier in the season,” AP head coach Stephanie Wood said. “We’re still getting good opportunities, good chances, but we’re just not burying it when we need to.”

The game remained scoreless until the 8:13 mark of the third period, when Rossini clubbed a home run. Playing a bounding pass from linemate Duggan Delano out of midair and past AP goaltender Caty Flagg (22 saves).

Rossini closed the game with an empty-net goal with virtually no time remaining on the clock.

For everything in between, Crane, a first-year starter in AC’s net, showed an increasing confidence in the paint, clamping down on rebounds and snuffing out any second-chance ideas.

“I think she’s on Cloud Nine right now,” AC head coach Maggie Taverna said. “She’s such a competitor. Even in practice, she’ll deny Ardieana [Rossini] a goal and she’ll chirp her in practice. She just hates to get scored on.”

Crane’s play is part of the momentum that AC has built up entering the final weeks of the regular season.

With an eight-game winning streak in tact, AC is again building at the right time of the year.

“We hit a couple of rough points in the middle of the season, around Christmas break, but we got back on track,” said Jess Piracini, who also picked up an assist on Rossini’s first goal. “We’ve got a win streak going.”
LYNN, Mass. – St. Mary’s of Lynn girls’ hockey head coach Frank Pagliuca swears shots on goal don’t mean all that much. After all, it’s only the big numbers on the scoreboard that count.

“I don’t care if we get outshot four-to-one,” Pagliuca said after Monday’s scoreless tie with Catholic Central League rival Arlington Catholic.

With a defense as disciplined as the Spartans’, and with senior goaltender Lauren Skinnion looking in mid-season form, Pagliuca is content with how his team played despite being outshot 32-9 by the Cougars.

“This is probably the most complete game we played. It wasn’t pretty at times,” he said. “But structurally, in the ‘D’ zone we did a nice job for the most part after we made a couple adjustments after the first period.”

The Spartans remained unbeaten (3-0-2, 2-0-1 CCL) with Skinnion’s third shutout on the young season.

St. Mary’s currently boasts a scoreless streak of more than two games, extending to the third period of its 4-3 win over Reading on Dec. 23 and including the Spartans’ 1-0 blanking of league foe Austin Prep on Wednesday.

“I challenged them and Lauren [Skinnion] to really raise their games against a great team and they did that tonight,” Pagliuca said. “I actually thought our forwards were much better tonight competing for pucks. We didn’t lose as many pucks as we did in the past.”

AC (4-1-1, 1-0-1) set up shop early, peppering Skinnion with 12 shots through the first period. By the second intermission, the Cougars held a staggering 21-5 advantage in shots-on-goal.

However, as the game wore on, the Spartans’ defensive corps, led by senior assistant captain Tatiana Doucette, strengthened. Despite dressing only four blue-liners (Amanda Donahoe, Vanessa Van Buskirk, Ashley Wojewodzic and Doucette) and logging mountains of ice time, St. Mary’s found increasing success in prohibiting AC from setting up down low on the cycle.

“We had plenty of scoring opportunities, we just never finished,” Cougars head coach Maggie Taverna said. “I think it was a good game, I think there were some times St. Mary’s had us hemmed in, we had them hammed in a couple times. But I thought our scoring chances were pretty good and for us to not put any pucks away … It was puck-luck, we didn’t have any.”

While St. Mary’s was largely able to negate the Cougars’ foot speed presented in snipers Adrieana Rossini and Jess Piracini, the Spartans weren’t always able to create on the rush.

Despite being badly outshot, St. Mary’s had the better scoring chances in the latter stages of the third period. Pagliuca even rolled the dice a little, electing to pull Skinnion in a tie game with seven seconds remaining, as St. Mary’s took a draw in AC’s defensive zone on the power play.

The Spartans had a couple cracks at a potential game-winner, but were shut out, too, by junior goaltender Katherine Crane (9 saves).

While the old rivals were unable to find a resolution in their first meeting of the season, they’ll soon have another chance to take an elusive win, next Wednesday at Ed Burns Arena.

MIAA championship hockey picks

March, 16, 2013
3/16/13
9:55
PM ET
GIRLS’ DIVISION 2
No. 1 Duxbury (21-1-2) vs. No. 2 Falmouth (19-1-2), 11 a.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Duxbury – F Hannah Murphy, F Marissa Fichter, F Jane Dudley, F Meredith Wright, F Julia Nolan, D Ally Hammel, D Payton Donato, G Rachel Myette; Falmouth – F Alexa Scribner, F Rachel Moore, F Madison Haberl, F Kelly Ferreira, D Hannah Ghelfi, D Alexx Good, G Madison Scavotto.

Breakdown: It is perhaps the most predictable of all of Sunday’s matchups and the most anticipated. The Dragons and Clippers renew a burgeoning rivalry, intensified by last year’s duel at the Garden and invigorated by the fact that either team’s lone loss of the season was handed to them by the other. Duxbury has been playing lockdown defense throughout the playoffs and haven’t allowed a goal in more than six games, including the regular season. The Clippers’ young corps will look to get over the hump, building on a bittersweet experience on the Bruins’ home ice sheet one year ago.

X-factor: Scavotto. As dominant as Duxbury’s defense has been in front of and including Myette, the Clippers are capable of the same. And their sophomore netminder is a big reason why. She could steal one.

Pick: Duxbury, 1-0.

GIRLS’ DIVISION 1
No. 4 St. Mary’s of Lynn (18-3-4) vs. No. 7 Arlington Catholic (17-4-2), 9 a.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: St. Mary’s – F Alison Butler, F Kaleigh Finigan, F Gabby Crugnale, F Madison Molea, D Tatiana Doucette, D Amanda Donahoe, G Lauren Skinnion; AC – F Adrieanna Rossini, F Jess Piracini, F Duggan Delano, F Hayle Rudin, D Melissa Richard, G Megan Messuri.

Breakdown: The Catholic Central rivals meet for the second straight year on championship Sunday and, like their Div. 2 counterparts, also split their season series at a game apiece. Behind the benches, both the Spatans’ Frank Pagliuca and the Cougars’ Maggie Taverna have done work worthy of Coach of the Year honors. St. Mary’s has the feel of a team of destiny, neither a short bench nor nagging injuries all season long have kept the Spartans from returning to the biggest stage, all while dispatching No. 1 Woburn in the process.

X-factor: Rossini. You’d be hard pressed to find a young player in recent memory who has scored more clutch playoff goals than the AC sophomore.

Pick: St. Mary’s, 3-2.

BOYS’ DIVISION 3
Swampscott (19-5-0) vs. Westfield (18-3-2), 3:30 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Swampscott – F Corey Carmody, F Noah Maercklein, F Nunzio Morretti, D Chris Carman, D Trevor Massey; Westfield – F Sean Spohr, F Mike Santinello, F Anthony Cagliostro, F Adam Collier, F Neil Parrow, D Nate Barnes.

Breakdown: The Big Blue took down defending D3 finalist and South sectional champion Medway (thanks to an OT goal from Maercklein) to advance to the program’s first title game appearance. Westfield returns to the Garden ice after a one-year hiatus after taking a scorched-earth policy to Western Mass. competition, while averaging more than 5.5 goals per game.

X-factor: Swampscott freshman goaltender Tristan Bradley. The first-year backstop has been a key element to the Big Blue’s success, maintaining a 91.5 save percentage through the season.

Pick: Swampscott, 5-4.

BOYS’ DIVISION 2
Wilmington (20-3-2) vs. Franklin (17-7-2), 1:30 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Wilmington – F Cam Owens, F Brendan McDonough, F Jake Rogers, F Dylan DiNatale, D Brian Pickett, D Cam Collins, G Drew Foley; Franklin – F Cam Curley, F Dennis Pisani, F Aidan Isberg, F Troy Donahue, D Kyle Powers, D Kyle Filbert, G Devon Maloof.

Breakdown: The third of six rematches on the day, after the Wildcats claimed a 3-2 victory over Franklin a year ago on championship Sunday, propelled by a hat trick from Owens. The Panthers will be looking to avoid their third straight fruitless trip to the Garden, having dropped title tilts with Wilmington and Tewksbury. The Wildcats, who had Super 8 aspirations until late in the season, are eying their second straight title.

X-factor: McDonough. He’s been the break-out performer of the tournament and provides a great complement to Owens on Wilmington’s top line.

Pick: Wilmington, 3-2.

BOYS’ DIVISION 1
Burlington (13-6-5) vs. Marshfield (20-6-0), 8:15 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Burlington – F C.J. Grinnell, F Joe Berardi, F Joey Scali, D Adam Crowley, D Sean Costa, G Derek DeCastro; Marshfield – F Mike Carbone, F Pat Burchill, F Joe Admirand, F Pat Shea, D Matt Burchill, D Trevor Salmon.

Breakdown: While this isn’t another rematch, these teams are no strangers to this stage, with the Red Devils and Rams representing as the last two Div. 1 state champions. Both teams were near .500 squads through the first month of the season, and closed their regular-season slates with momentum they’ve carried over into the playoffs. Both these teams can skate with the best of them, but they also pay attention to the little things in the defensive zone as well.

X-factor: Crowley. I’d expect a defensive struggle in this one and so I’m going with the Red Devils’ blue-liner who always makes his presence felt.

Pick: Burlington, 3-1.

BOYS’ DIVISION 1A – SUPER 8
No. 4 Austin Prep (16-1-6) vs. No. 7 Malden Catholic (15-6-3), 6 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: AP – F Nolan Vesey, F Bobby Carpenter, F Frankie Candelino, F George Sennott, F Eric MacAdams, D Andrew Cross, D J.J. Layton, G Elijah Harris; MC – F Ara Nazarian, F Mike Iovanna, F Tyler Sifferlen, F Pat Wrenn, F Austin Goldstein, D Casey Fitzgerald, D Nick Rolli, G Connor Maloney.

Breakdown: AP, while short on years, is not short on talent. I think we all knew coming into this season that they were capable of reaching this stage, but it might have been a question of when. The Cougars earned their way to Sunday after dispatching town rival Reading and then No. 1 seed St. John’s Prep in Wednesday’s semifinal. It seems like years ago since there was a time when the Lancers were in jeopardy of missing the tournament all together, but they’ve played the best hockey in the state during the last month.

X-factor: Nazarian. It’s his tournament, the rest of us are just living in it.

Pick: Malden Catholic, 4-2.

Recap: No. 5 St. Mary's (Lynn) 4, No. 3 AC 1

December, 20, 2012
12/20/12
12:26
AM ET
LYNN, Mass. -- The official roster for the St. Mary's girls hockey team lists just 16 names. With a couple of those missing for Wednesday night's clash with Catholic Central League rival and defending Div. 1 state champion Arlington Catholic, Spartans fans would have been excused for thinking a long night was in store.

Instead, Frank Pagliuca's club received key contributions from several players thrust into larger-than-normal roles. Oh, and they still have Alison Butler, Kaleigh Finigan and Lauren Skinnion, too.

Finigan scored twice, Butler had two assists and an empty-netter and Skinnion turned in a 31-save performance that helped No. 5 St. Mary's grab a 4-1 victory over the third-ranked Cougars in a rematch of last year's Div. 1 state final at Connery Rink.

"A lot of girls stepped up tonight," Pagliuca praised. "Obviously we had to make a couple of roster adjustments tonight but I thought some players really stepped it up. My two defenseman, Amanda [Donahoe] and Vanessa [Van Buskirk] played tremendous tonight, as well as Lauren. One of our eighth-graders, Sarah Ryan, really stepped up. We moved her from defense to forward at the beginning of the year and she’s really starting to pick it up. She took advantage of the opportunity. And the usual suspects, Alison and Kaleigh were strong tonight."

From the opening faceoff, it looked indeed like it could be a long night for the Spartans (2-1-1) as Arlington Catholic (2-1-0) dominated the first period. The Cougars piled up 11 shots and sophomore standout Adrieana Rossini potted the game's first goal, winning a race to a loose puck at center ice and racing in alone for a breakaway goal at 2:59. The assists on the play went to Duggan Delano and Jess Piracini.

"I thought our puck pursuit was very poor the first period," Pagliuca admitted. "I thought we were sitting and reacting instead of playing it as the game came to us a little bit. I thought we were waiting too much. We didn’t pursue the puck, we didn't pressure the puck enough in all three zones. I thought once we made a forecheck adjustment, we started to get our legs going and started to force them to make some decision with the puck and we capitalized on them."

Capitalize they did as Finigan and Butler began to go to work. With under five minutes remaining in the first, Butler forced a turnover and fed Finigan for a quick blast to tie the game at 1-1. Then, in the second, Ryan made a terrific play along the boards and sprung Finigan loose for a breakaway on which she went deep enough to draw AC goalie Megan Messuri (22 saves) out of the net for an open look.

"I know where she is and she knows where I am," Finigan said about playing alongside Butler. "Same thing as last year. We just have to go right to the net. Don’t let up, shoot right at the net and get rebounds."

Senior Gabby Crugnale provided a backbreaking score with just 13 seconds to go in the second, flying into the slot to collect a pass from Butler and sniping the go-ahead goal.

AC managed to regain control on the ice, but Skinnion was at her best in the end, singlehandedly preserving the lead with three consecutive clutch saves on a Cougars power play in the early minutes and another midway through the frame on a Rossini breakaway bid to preserve the lead.

"Lauren was tremendous," Pagliuca said. "The last two games she’s been really stepping it up. She’s been making the key saves and not giving up the rebounds. and I thought she played tremendously again tonight as well."

UNEXPECTED BUT SPARTAN CONTRIBUTION ON D
Butler finished things off with her empty-netter with 36 seconds to play, but the senior All-State forward may have made as big an impact while playing behind the blue line.

The Spartans normally dress just four defensemen and Donahoe and Van Buskirk were forced to and a mammoth amount of time on the ice due to some missing players. Eighth-grader Ashley Wojewodzic contributed several strong shifts while Pagliuca also moved Butler back on defense on occasion, and by the end of the game, it was Butler charged with marking the dangerous Rossini.

"It’s fun I guess," Butler said with a smile and a tired shrug. "It's not my favorite but I’ll do whatever it takes. I used to play defense all the time when I was little so I'm kind of used to it but it's a different pace up in high school. But it's alright. I played defense a couple times last year but not taking a regular shift. I'm a little tired but happy."

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