Boston High School: Lauren Skinnion

St. Mary's Skinnion commits to Trinity

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
11:27
PM ET
St. Mary's (Lynn) hockey senior goaltender Lauren Skinnion has committed to Trinity College, Spartans head coach Frank Pagliuca told ESPN Boston, Monday.

The Boxford resident backstopped the Spartans to a Division 1 state championship in 2012-13 and was 10-6-0 with a 1.42 goals against average, 94 save percentage and six shutouts in her senior season.

"Lauren exemplifies the definition of a student-athlete," Pagliuca said. "She had a tremendous career on the ice at St. Mary's. She was one of the key components to the team's success over the past couple years.

"In addition, Lauren excelled in the classroom, as a top 10 student in her grade. The combination of those factors allowed Lauren to pursue a variety of college options. I believe Trinity is a great fit for her academically and athletically."
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.

Recap: No. 4 St. Mary's 4, No. 7 Reading 3

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
2:14
AM ET
READING, Mass. – In some way, it’s still way too early in the season to declare, but St. Mary’s of Lynn girls’ hockey’s win over Reading Monday night was of the character-building kind.

Despite tallying the game’s first goal, the No. 4 Spartans didn’t play their best hockey in the first period. The second period wasn’t any better, and the No. 7 Rockets took a one-goal lead to the second intermission while outshooting St. Mary’s by a wide margin.

But somehow, some way, the Spartans found a way to escape from Burbank Arena with a 4-3 win after scoring two power-play goals in the third.

“It’s early in the season,” St. Mary’s head coach Frank Pagliuca said. “It’s a nice win, but it’s two points. It pushes us forward, but hopefully, it builds confidence. After the [Christmas] break, we going to have to compete hard. We have some things to work on. There were some good things and not so good things, but we’re still a work in progress.”

The Spartans (2-0-1) stayed in the game during the early going simply because of the play of senior goaltender Lauren Skinnion, who made 17 of her 38 saves in the first period alone.

“She’s one of the best goalies around and that’s what she’s supposed to do,” Pagliuca said of Skinnion. “Especially in the first period, we got the first goal, but the first two periods, we were standing around watching. I was discouraged that we weren’t competing enough.”

Despite a lead-footed start, St. Mary’s claimed the first lead of the game just two minutes in. Samantha Callahan scored the first of her two goals (3 points) batting in a point shot from Vanessa Van Buskirk.

The Rockets (3-1-0) were unable to find their first goal until the 3:16 mark of the second, despite outshooting the Spartans 17-4 in the first. Gabby DeCologero stepped out from the right wing circle and cut across the top of the crease to slide one past Skinnion.

Reading took a 2-1 lead to the room after the second as Tori Grimmer (1 G, 2 A) put back a rebound off an Ali O’Leary shot.

After a good “talking to” from Pagliuca in the intermission, St. Mary’s found what it needed in the form of any early goal.

Callahan tallied her second of the game, picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone and charging her way down the center of the sheet, finishing with a wicked rising wrister at 1:39 of the third.

“When she’s on her game, she’s hard to stop,” Pagliuca said of Callahan. “She’s really come into her own this year and she’s going to continue to get better. It was a great lift for us to get the goal right at the beginning of the period.”

The Spartans then regained the lead with their first of two power-play goals in the period, with senior defenseman and preseason All-State selection Tatiana Doucette turning a failed clearing attempt into a goal with a fluttering shot from the right point at 4:58.

However, less than two minutes later, Reading knotted the game at 3-all with a power-play goal of its own. Grimmer picked up her third point of the game, lending a helper to Caroline Seibold’s wrist shot at 6:56.

St. Mary’s scored the eventual game-winner 6:51 to play, also coming on the power play. Callahan picked up her third point of the tilt, working down low and finding Katie Terban at the top of the crease.

Our MIAA girls' hockey All-State Team

April, 1, 2013
4/01/13
7:11
PM ET
FIRST LINE
All-StateF - Alison Butler, Sr., St. Mary's
This year's ESPN Boston Miss Hockey award winner, Butler captained the Spartans to their fourth Division 1 state title, scoring the game-winning goal against Arlington Catholic at the Garden. The St. Anselm's commit was third in Division 1 in scoring with 37-25-62 totals. It is her second ESPN Boston All-State nomination.
All-StateF - Hannah Murphy, Sr., Duxbury
The fulcrum to Duxbury''s run of three straight Division 2 state championships. Murphy, a three-sport athlete, finished fifth among all Division 2 scorers, putting up 29-24-53 totals. Murphy will play lacrosse at UMass-Amherst.
All-StateF - Kayla Smith, Sr., Woburn
One of the most talented pure scorers in the state, Smith finished second in Division 1 across the state in scoring with 34 goals and 24 assists for 63 points. The three-time ESPN Boston All-Stater will continue her hockey career at Salve Regina.
All-StateD - Cassandra Connolly, Sr., Woburn
The repeat ESPN Boston All-Stater finished fourth on the Tanners in points (2-15-17) while helping goaltender Courtney Davis notch seven shutouts on the season. Connolly will continue her playing career at the University of New England next year.
All-StateD - Hannah Wright, Sr., Arlington
A shut-down, physical blue-liner, Wright also finished tied for fourth on the Spy Ponders with 17 points (3 goals, 14 assists). She will attend Castleton State College next year where she will play hockey.
All-StateG - Shannon O'Neil, Sr., Austin Prep
Pitched a remarkable 10 shutouts on the season, along with a dazzling 96.8 save percentage. O'Neil, a Franklin Pierce commit, was also among the statewide leaders in goals against average with a 1.08 marka.
SECOND LINE
All-StateF - Kaleigh Finigan, Sr., St. Mary's
Despite missing time with an injury, Finigan still managed to finish second on the Spartans in scoring - following Alison Butleró with 17-28-45 totals. The Medford resident is also a standout on St. Mary's softball team.
All-StateF - Jane Freda, Sr., Hingham
A two-time ESPN Boston All-State selection, the Harborwomen captain finished among the Top 10 scorers in the state, tallying 31 goals to go along with 16 assists.
All-StateF - Ashley Moran, Jr., Woburn
The rangy winger made great strides this season, finishing among the Top 10 scorers in the state, posting 25 goals and 31 assists.
All-StateD - Brooke Matherson, Jr., Walpole
The blue-liner led the Rebels in scoring this year with 33 points points and her 24 goals were also a team-best. Matherson is also a standout player on Walpole's field hockey team.

All-StateD - Annie Messuri, Jr., Acton-Boxborough
Messuri was named the DCL/MVC Large division Most Valuable Player this year after posting 13-17-30 totals.
All-StateG - Courtney Davis, Jr., Woburn
Led the Tanners to an undefeated regular season while registering seven shutouts. The three-year starter registered a 92.1 save percentage while posting a 1.35 goals against average.

BEST OF THE REST - HONORABLE MENTION
Forwards

Carolyn Avery, Sr., Lexington
Megan Barrett, Frosh., Acton-Boxborough
Christie Caliendo, Sr., Billerica
Leah Cardarelli, Soph., Acton-Boxborough
Molly Connolly, Sr., Wellesley
Amanda Conway, Soph., Tewksbury/Methuen
Gabby Crugnale, Sr., St. Mary's
Jackie Denning, Sr., Lexington
Cecily Docktor, Soph., Wellesley
Kara Donati, Sr., Winthrop/Lynn
Erin Dwyer, Sr., Archbishop Williams
Marissa Fichter, Soph., Duxbury
Ela Hazar, Jr., Westwood
Shannon Hickey, Sr., Arlington
Emily Kelly, Jr., Norwood
Olivia Konaxis, Sr., Beverly/Danvers
Brittani Lanzilli, Jr., Medford
Maggie Layo, Jr., Sandwich
Sara Lehman, Sr., Lexington
Emily Lissner, Jr., Woburn
Kim Lizotte, Sr., Westford Academy
Emily Loprete, Soph., Watertown/Melrose
Meaghan McKenna, Sr., Canton
Rachel Moore, Soph., Falmouth
Ali O'Leary, Frosh., Reading
Adrieana Rossini, Soph., Arlington Catholic
Nicole Woods, Jr., Beverly/Danvers

Defense
Allison Cunningham, Soph., Arlington Catholic
Tatiana Doucette, Jr., St. Mary's
Erin Ferrara, Sr., Fontbonne Academy
Hannah Ghelfi, Soph., Falmouth
Alexandria Gong, Sr., Hingham
Ally Hammel, Jr., Duxbury
Melissa Richard, Sr., Arlington Catholic
Caroline Seibold, Frosh., Reading

Goalies
Megan Messuri, Jr., Arlington Catholic
Rachel Myette, Jr., Duxbury
Madison Scavotto, So., Falmouth
Lauren Skinnion, Jr., St. Mary's

Coach of the Year
Frank Pagliuca, St. Mary's (Lynn)

While piloting to the Spartans to four Division 1 state championships, perhaps Pagliuca's finest job behind the bench came this year, as St. Mary's knocked off Catholic Central rival Arlington Catholic in a rematch of the 2012 title game.

Finalists:
Todd Fletcher, Westford Academy
Michael Golden, Reading
Friend Weiler, Duxbury

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.

D1 girls: St. Mary's 3, Woburn 2 (SO)

March, 11, 2013
3/11/13
2:30
AM ET


BILLERICA, Mass. -- After three regulations frames and an overtime, Ashley Wojewodzic sat on the bench watching shooter after shooter take to the ice as her St. Mary's teammates engaged in an epic shootout with Woburn for the right to play for a Div. 1 state championship next Sunday at TD Garden.

The eighth-grade defenseman hadn't taken a shift all night but wasn't worried, figuring with all the talent on the two teams, someone in the first five shooters would score a goal. Spartans goalie Lauren Skinnion and Tanners netminder Courtney Davis felt otherwise, however, as they took turns snapping off every shot, every deke and snagging every puck that came their way.

Finally, after nine players had taken a turn, St. Mary's coach Frank Pagliuca looked down the bench and called for 'Wojo' to get out there. With the huge crowd hanging on every move, the youngster was rightfully nervous. She was the last Spartans shooter before the lineup went back to the top and the game would be decided by the multitude of all-stars on each roster.

After a word of encouragement from fellow defenseman Amanda Donahoe, Wojewodzic went to center ice, skated in drifting to her right, pulling Davis over in the process, then slipped the puck right between the pads for the first goal of the shootout. Woburn's Shannon Walsh had one last chance to extend it but her shot hit the post and the Spartans poured onto the ice to celebrate.

"I didn't expect it at all," Wojewodzic said of hearing her name called. "I thought one of the first five shooters were going to get it in and it just kept going and going and going. Then I heard [Pagliuca] call my name and my eyes went open and he just looked at me and told me to go and I was really nervous.

She added, "I was just a little nervous. It was nervewracking getting out in front of everybody that was here because there were so any people out here. Everyone was watching me, it was scary."

Nerves or not, the eighth-grade defensemen came off the bench cold and sent her team back to TD Garden to play for the Div. 1 girls hockey state championship for the fifth time in the last six years with a 3-2 victory over No. 1 seed Woburn.

"Every team practices the shootout," Pagliuca said. "We kind of knew our list, 1-10, what we were going to do, we were just trying to figure out the order that we wanted to go in. Congrats to Ashley, she came up and pulled a great move. We told the kids to look five-hole, Ashley got her to open up and finished the job."

THIRD PERIOD FRENZY
That overtime or a shootout was even needed to decide a winner is a story unto itself. St. Mary's (18-3-4) had built a 2-0 lead on goals by freshman blueliner Vanessa Van Buskirk and senior forward Gabby Crugnale, the latter coming off an end to end rush that saw her stick a shot so perfect that Davis' water bottle went flying off the net behind her at 9:13 of the second period.

The Tanners got the first one back when Emily Lissner pounced on a bad giveaway in the Spartans zone and passed over to Ashley Moran, who fed Kayla Smith for an easy one-timer just 1:44 later.

Both Davis (19 saves) and Skinnion (27 saves) kept their respective cages clean until the final 91 seconds when Smith was the beneficiary of a fortuitous deflection off a Spartan defender. The puck landed right on her stick and Smith buried it to tie the game at 2-2.

St. Mary's needed just 20 seconds to pull back in front as Kaleigh Finigan, playing her first game in four weeks after missing time with a shoulder injury, got the puck to Crugnale, who poked it to Alison Butler for the finish.

Rather than fold up the tent, the Tanners showed their heart and tied it up once again as Erica Lissner sniped a perfect shot from the left-wing circle with just 33 seconds remaining to force the overtime.

"I was really proud of the fact that we stuck with it, didn't get too panicked," praised Woburn coach Bob MacCurtain. "I'm really proud of the kids. It was crazy. Coaches nightmare, probably the fans like it. In a tournament game this tight, there's a lot of momentum shifts and fortunately we were able to get the last one to send it into overtime."

FINIGAN'S RETURN
During the first game of the season-ending 8 Showcase in Hingham, Kaleigh Finigan suffered a shoulder injury that ended up being diagnosed as an elevated clavicle. A stalwart on the Spartans top line since transferring in from Austin Prep two years ago, Finigan has provided St. Mary's with the combination of tremendous skill and a physical presence that no other player in the state quite possesses.

The senior sat out the final regular season game and all of the postseason. She dressed for the Spartans last game against Austin Prep but did not play. Finigan got an assist on the Spartans last goal in regulation and her return helped bring an edge back to the team on the ice.

"Kaleigh gave us kind of an adrenaline shot today, getting her back in the lineup," Pagliuca said. "That physical presence we've been missing the last couple of games. She wasn't 100 percent but she sucked it up and came back for us and have us a huge lift."

A potential Div. 1 scholarship softball player, Finigan had plenty of reason to take it easy but that simply isn't in her makeup. Missing out on another chance to make a run at state title? Not going to happen.

"I told my team, get me back to the semis and I'm going to play for you guys," Finigan said. "They played for me the whole time and I wanted to get back and help them win. I want those young girls to feel how we felt last year. I want them to know what the playoffs is. This is the best time of the year."

SHOOTOUT NOT A FAVORITE
It has become almost a rite of passage every March that the shootout rears its ugly head during the girls Div. 1 postseason. Since 2007, there have been at least two games decided by shootouts in each year except 2010, when there was only one.

St. Mary's has been involved in three, winning two, and Pagliuca has been outspoken each year against the format. The coach was a bit more understated this time, but his point was made clear.

"You know, we've been on the other side of those," he said. "I hate shootouts. It shouldn't be allowed but it is what it is. Unfortunately in that situation somebody has to lose the game."

MacCurtain's teams have been involved in four shootouts since 2007, splitting those games. He refused to make any excuses, but his thoughts on the subject were made pretty clear as well.

"It just makes a team sport an individual sport," the Woburn coach stated. "I'm not complaining because we knew what it was going in but it's a tough way to end the season."

MacCurtain added, "As you're watching, I think from a coach's perspective I was glad I had Courtney in my net, I felt confident. With some of the kids we had shooting I thought we would get one but I just think the team aspect gets taken away from it."

Skinnion, who made 10 stops in the shootout on top of her 27 saves in the game, said, "I would rather have it play out just because I don't want to win a game because someone got a lucky shot. I want to win by playing the game. But its what we have to do."

Spartans standout Alison Butler may have summed up the way the players and coaches on the bench feel about shootouts, simply stating, "I hate them. I think I was going to have a heart attack."

D1 girls: St. Mary's 3, Austin Prep 0

March, 6, 2013
3/06/13
2:59
AM ET


STONEHAM, Mass. – Alison Butler had the book on Austin Prep goaltender Shannon O’Neil. The St. Mary’s of Lynn winger knew Tuesday night’s opponent well, having battled the Cougars twice during the regular season. She’s also been a teammate of O’Neil’s, playing travel hockey together in summer and fall tournaments.

Still, beating the Cougars’ senior netminder is easier said than done. O’Neil entered Tuesday’s action leading the state in shutouts with 10, in addition to maintaining a Vezina-caliber 96.8 save percentage during the regular season.

Yet, the Division 1 state quarter-final matchup at the Stoneham Arena went to the shooter. Butler led the No. 4 seed Spartans to a 3-0 win over their Catholic Central League rivals. The senior captain figured in each of St. Mary’s goals, netting two of her own in addition to dishing out the assist on the Spartans’ final tally.

It all went to plan.

“We had to come out strong and get one quick on Shannon [O’Neil],” Butler said, reflecting on the team’s game plan for the evening.

Butler did just that, forcing an AP defensive zone turnover behind the Cougars’ net and finished out front on the back-hand, beating O’Neil top shelf 2:50 into the first. She followed suit in the second period with a power-play goal at 2:05 of the second with assists from Tatiana Doucette and Samantha Callahan.

St. Mary’s (14-3-5) then struck 54 seconds later, with Butler throwing the saucer pass onto Madison Molea’s stick on a 2-on-1 break.

In premiere matchup of one of the state’s top forwards against one of its top netminders, Butler was on point.

“If she has an open opportunity,” Cougars head coach Stephanie Wood said of Butler, “she’ll rarely miss.”

Spartans goaltender Lauren Skinnion was the one earning the shutout over her counterpart, making 14 saves in victory, seven of which came in the first period.

“Lauren Skinnion was awesome tonight,” St. Mary’s head coach Frank Pagliuca said. “She made some big saves in the third period, she really kept them at bay.”

With the victory over AP, the Spartans set up another anticipated matchup, as they’ll face top-seeded Woburn on Sunday at the Chelmsford Forum in a semi-final bout to determine who will skate on Garden ice.

END OF A RUN, START TO THE FUTURE
While O’Neil played her final game in a sensation season, the future certainly is bright at AP (12-8-4).

The Cougars will graduate just four players from their roster, including their starting goaltender. There are seven freshman on the roster, in addition to three eight-graders, so there’s a youth movement afoot.

And they’re talented. Two of AP’s top six leading scorers (Michaela Boyle and Mauri Anthony) aren’t even freshman. It’s second-leading scorer, Maddy Ricci (8-9-17), is a sophomore and freshman forward Kathleen McHugh (8-8-16) was third.

The Cougars’ bumper crop of young talent even prompted Pagliuca, after the game, to call AP a favorite for the league title entering next season.

While the maturation process will continue, it’s doubtful the Cougars have hit their stride just yet.

“They’re babies still,” Wood said.

The 8: Duxbury, St. Mary's skate to tie

February, 20, 2013
2/20/13
12:29
AM ET


HINGHAM, Mass. -- With eight of the state's best girls hockey programs on display at The 8 Showcase at Pilgrim Arena, you had to expect at least a nailbiter or two. That game turned out to be the third of the day as No. 2 Duxbury and No. 5 St. Mary's battled to a scoreless draw.

At the end of regulation, a three-skater shootout was held for fun and the Dragons' Hannah Murphy scored the only goal.

The goaltending was nothing short of spectacular at both ends, necessarily so in the face of two of the state's most potent offenses. Spartans (15-3-3) junior Lauren Skinnion made 25 saves while her counterpart Rachel Myette stopped 16 shots in goal for Duxbury (16-1-2).

"Duxbury is a great team, they hustle a lot and they are really talented," Skinnion said. "For me, it's just focusing on one shot at a time and not worrying about what's going to happen next. Just focusing on what I have to do on each individual shot. My defense really stepped it up and played great. They were really aggressive and kept people away from and cleared pucks well."

Added Duxbury head coach Friend Weiler, "Rachel [Myette] is always there when we need here. She came up huge in the shootout, even though it didn't mean anything it's still good practice to get. She's nursing a few injuries, trying to get back healthy again and she's definitely a gamer. She stepped up big for us."

St. Mary's already thin roster took a couple of hits as first-line forwards Kaleigh Finigan (shoulder) and Sam Callahan (hamstring) were taken to the hospital with injuries. That forced Spartans head coach Frank Pagliuca to do some juggling with his lines, but players such as Madison Molea, Jacqueline Murphy, Sarah Ryan and Kira Iaccoupucci filled in admirably.

Additionally, second line center Gabby Crugnale continued to look like the most improved player in the state. The senior has the talent to play up on the Spartans top unit, but instead serves as the lynchpin of the second line. She was one of the most notable players on the ice for either side at both ends, as well as on special teams.

"I'm proud of my kids, we battled hard today," Pagliuca said. "We had some kids step up. Obviously the depth is an issue when we lose two of our regular players but I was proud of our kids. I thought we played a really good game considering everything."

The Dragons also got key contributions from several spots aside from the usual standouts. Weiler praised freshman defenseman Payton Donato, who continues to look like a player to watch over the next few years, as well as top blue liner Ally Hammel. Sophomore Marissa Fichter also continues to gain tremendous strides, displaying incredible strength and skating ability while excelling in all facets of the game.

"She's a complete player," Weiler said of Fichter. "She works just as hard in the defensive zone as the offensive zone and in the neutral zone as well. She's always in the right place. She's just a high caliber kid and a high caliber hockey player. She's a force out there and she never quits."

ARLINGTON 2, ACTON-BOXBOROUGH 1
The Spy Ponders, the lowest ranked team in the field at No. 18, may have been the biggest surprise on the first day of the showcase. Carolyn Woodin and Katie Cummings had the goals in a 2-1 victory over No. 12 Acton-Boxborough.

"We have to do the little things and get the puck in deep and chip it in and forecheck and play smart," explained Arlington coach Jeff Mead. "We have nine seniors, we're big and we're strong. We don't have a tremendous amount of skill but we can skate and we're physical. We just have to keep doing the little things. Today was one of those games where we got the bounces and AB didn't."

The Colonials (13-5-2) scored the game's first goal as Lauren Roche collected a bouncing puck that came off the stick of teammate Megan Barrett and rifled home a bull's-eye wrist shot for a power play goal at 5:33 of the first period.

Arlington (11-8-0) got it back late in the frame as Woodin converted a feed from captain Kaitlyn Morse. Then, midway through the second, senior Eva Colarusso made a pair of heads up plays, first intercepting an attempted clearing pass and then having the presence of mind to dish the puck over to Cummings, who buried her shot into an open net.

"Eva is a workhorse," praised Mead. "She works hard all the time and she's one of those kids that, once the puck is below the dots, she's big and she's strong, she knows how to protect the puck and she keeps it below the circles. Katie Cummings is another one. They're my number one penalty killers and they're tough to knock off the puck. When they get the puck on their stick its tough to knock them off it."

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."

ESPN Boston MIAA girls' hockey All-State team

March, 23, 2012
3/23/12
6:48
PM ET
First Team:
All-StateF- Alison Butler, Jr., St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Perhaps no player in the state made bigger strides this season than the Spartans junior. The Danvers resident finished with 17 goals and 44 assists for 61 points, good for third in the state.

All-StateF – Kati Goguen, Sr., Acton-Boxborough
One of the state’s top perennial scorers, the Holy Cross commit and captain was again among the MIAA’s leading scorers, tallying 17 goals along with 26 assists. Goguen also plays with the prestigious Assabet Valley travel league squad.

All-StateF – Kayla Smith, Jr., Woburn
A pure sniper in the truest sense, Smith finished fourth in the state in scoring, with 57 points, and finished tied for fourth in goals with 31. This year marks Smith’s second straight ESPN Boston All-State First Team appearance, improving upon her 53-point performance from a year ago.

All-StateD – Martha Findley, Sr., Duxbury
This year’s ESPN Boston Miss Hockey Award winner, Findley is a two-time All-Stater to go along with the Dragons’ second straight Div. 2 state championship. The Duxbury captain had five goals and 21 assists for 26 points this season. Findley plans on attending Cushing Academy for a postgraduate year next year.

D – Rachel Donahoe, Sr., St. Mary’s (Lynn)
The Spartans captain was among the top-scoring blue-liners in the state with 22 points (two goals, 20 assists). The Wakefield resident highlighted a deep defensive corps that boosted St. Mary’s to another Division 1 state final appearance.

All-StateG – Courtney Davis, Soph., Woburn
The second-year starter tied for second in the state with seven shutouts this season while posting a measly 1.25 goals against average and a 94.3 save percentage.

Second Team:
All-StateF – Natalie Flynn, Sr., Arlington Catholic
The Cougars captain lifted her squad to a victory over a heavily favored St. Mary’s squad and a Division 1 state championship. Flynn tallied 19 goals and 15 assists for 34 points.

All-StateF – Jane Freda, Jr., Hingham
It wasn’t too long ago that the Harbormen junior captain was moved up from the blue to add a scoring punch. This season, Freda went crazy, finishing second in the state in scoring with 31 goals and 32 assists for 63 points.

F – Erika Kelly, Sr., Watertown/Melrose
The pride of Watertown led the state in scoring this season with a state-best 49 goals for 70 points. Not only a dynamic scorer on the ice, Kelly is a highly decorated field hockey talent, in addition to playing softball in the spring.

All-StateD – Cassandra Connolly, Jr., Woburn
A true two-way defenseman, Connolly was among the state’s scoring leaders among blue-liners with six goals and 20 assists for 26 points, while helping a Tanners unit that allowed just 28 goals in 22 games.

All-StateD – Emily Loebs, Sr., Acton-Boxborough
The senior captain has been a rock on defense on some deep, defensive Colonials teams. Loebs finished second on A-B in goal scoring — her 14 goals fells just off the pace of fellow All-Stater Kati Goguen—and her 26 points ranked among the state’s top defensemen.

All-StateG – Rachel Myette, Soph., Duxbury
After turning in a dominant freshman year, Myette returned with an outstanding second-year effort, including another Div. 2 title. Her 0.90 goals against average was the best in the state, as were her eight shutouts. Myette’s 93.2 save percentage also ranked among the best in the MIAA.

“Best of the Rest”
Molly Connolly, F, Wellesley
Mackenzie Clark, F, Winthrop/Lynn
Lily Connolly, F, Duxbury
Colleen Doucette, F, Wakefield
Kaleigh Finigan, F, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Samantha Girard, F, Dedham
Bryana Harron, F, Woburn
Brittani Lanzilli, F, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Sara Lehman, F, Lexington
Kim Lizotte, F, Westford Academy
Caroline McCarthy, F, Belmont
Hannah Murphy, F, Duxbury
Danielle Phalon, F, Stoneham
Adrieana Rossini, F, Arlington Catholic
Sarah Schwenzfeier, F, Hingham
Brenna Callahan, D, Falmouth
Jackie Denning, D, Lexington
Alexandria Gong, D, Hingham
Britta Marden, D, Belmont
Brooke Matherson, D, Walpole
Caroline Shaunessy, D, Duxbury
Kaitlin Spillane, D, Franklin
Rebecca Zappalla, D, Arlington Catholic
Cali Loblundo, G, Acton-Boxborough
Megan Messuri, G, Arlington Catholic
Shannon O’Neil, G, Austin Prep
Maddie Scavotto, G, Falmouth
Casey Schaejbe, G, Arlington
Lauren Skinnion, G, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Bethany Welch, G, Walpole

Coach of the Year
Maggie Taverna, Arlington Catholic
Third time's a charm, right? In just her second year behind the Cougars' bench, Taverna lifted AC back to the top of the MIAA hockey world with a Division 1 state title, beating Catholic Central Conference rival St. Mary's of Lynn after suffering two regular-season losses to the Spartans.

Finalists:
Erin Blood, Falmouth
Mark Haley, Belmont
Frank Pagliuca, St. Mary's (Lynn)

MIAA hockey championships primer, picks

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
7:24
PM ET
All eyes will be on the TD Garden Sunday as championships will be decided in six divisions of MIAA hockey title games.

We'll have you covered all day long, but until then, we provide to you a breakdown of each of the game and our prediction:

GIRLS’ FINALS Division 2
No. 1 Duxbury (21-0-1) vs. No. 7 Falmouth (16-4-1), 11 a.m., TD Garden
The Breakdown: If the Dragons win this game, they make a strong argument that they were the strongest girls’ hockey team in the state, regardless of division, with the potential for an undefeated season. As any strong hockey squad goes, the Dragons are built from goal out with sophomore goaltender Rachel Myette (0.91 GAA) looks for her second state title in as many seasons as starter. Duxbury’s blue line corps is regarded as the deepest in the state, led by ESPN Boston Ms. Hockey contender Martha Findley (4-19-23). Of course, Duxbury has plenty of offensive firepower to go along with their strong defensive play with junior forwards Hannah Murphy (18-27-45) and Lily Connolly (18-20-38) as leading scorers. Falmouth has been one of the stories of the tournament, making a run behind first-year head coach Erin Blood. The Clippers have also received strong play from a young goaltender in freshman Maddie Scavotto (1.26 GAA). Falmouth is also deep and experienced on the blue line with senior captain Brenna Callahan and junior Alexx Good. The Clippers have received scoring punch from a pair of freshman forwards in Kelly Ferreira (13-9-22) and Madison Haberl (11-12-23).

The Pick: The defending Division 2 champion Dragons spent half the season as the No. 1 team in our poll. We’re not about to go against them now. Duxbury, 4-1.

Division 1 No. 3 St. Mary’s (Lynn) (21-3-1) vs. No. 4 Arlington Catholic (20-3-1), 9 a.m.
The Breakdown: If two regular season meetings between these Central Catholic powers weren’t enough, we get a rubber match for all the marbles on Sunday. The Lady Spartans came away with two wins in the teams’ regular season series, including a defining 5-2 decision by St. Mary’s on Feb. 1 after they’d been upset by crosstown rival Winthrop/Lynn. Can’t underscore the coaching in this game enough, as Frank Pagliuca has turned in perhaps his finest performance behind the bench and Maggie Taverna has vaulted the Cougars back onto the state’s biggest stage in Year One. Taverna has been helped by one of the state’s most dynamic scorers in senior Natalie Flynn (19-15-34). Adrieana Rossini (8-14-22) has also come up with some huge postseason goals. On the blue line, AC has one of the state’s best in senior Rebecca Zappala. First-year transfers Kaleigh Finigan (30-goal season) and Brittani Lanzilli (25-28-53) have not disappointed while Alison Butler (team-leading 61 points) has taken a huge step forward. The Spartans blue line is airtight with preseason All-Stater Rachel Donahoe leading the group. Lauren Skinnion (7 SO) has been strong as a first-year starter in nets.

The Pick: Third time’s a charm? Not so. Spartans are too strong. St. Mary’s, 4-2.

BOYS’ FINALS Division 3
Medway (19-6-1) vs. Hudson (21-1-1), 1:30 p.m.

The Breakdown: This marks the return of one of the state’s great public hockey programs to its biggest stage in Hudson (seriously, look it up), with the Hawks making their first state finals appearance since 1978, when they took the Div. 1 title from Burlington. The Central sectional champions are strong up front with a trio of 30-point scorers in seniors Tyler Kirby, Tim Murphy and Blake Seymour. The Mustangs are paced by one of the state’s top snipers in Jake O’Rourke (43-13-56). This matchup will also feature two of most dominant D3 goalies in the state with Hudson junior Shane Barry and Medway junior Mike Narducci facing off with sub-2.00 goals against averages.

The Pick: We’re going with the storyline and perhaps the most consistent D3 team throughout the season. Hudson, 3-2.

Division 2 Wilmington (15-4-5) vs. No. 1 Franklin (19-2-3), 3:30 p.m.
The Breakdown: This might be the most intriguing matchup of the day. Both of these teams were among four Division 2 teams on the Mass. Hockey Coaches Association’s initial Super 8 Watch list a month ago and haven’t disappointed in the tournament. Franklin was here a year ago, when they had their hearts broken by Tewksbury in an overtime stunner. Many observers, including us, had last season pegged as the Panthers’ opportunity to break a nearly three-decade long drought, but Chris Spillane has showed why he’s one of the state’s premier coaches. It also hasn’t hurt that Franklin has received tremendous senior seasons from Adam Hall (17-25-42) and Nick Bertoni (25-15-40). Sophomore netminder Mike Donadio (1.64 GAA) has been a revelation. The Wildcats offense has taken off since Cam Owens’ (14-19-33) return to the lineup, while senior captain Dalton Rolli (9-16-25) is an underrated two-way presence. Junior forward Jake Rogers (12-6-20) has come up with some timely goals in the postseason. Sophomore netminder Drew Foley (1.69 GAA) has played his best when it’s counted most, carrying a three-plus game shutout streak into the Wildcats’ North sectional final with Winthrop.

The Pick: The last time the Panthers hoisted the trophy Coach Spillane skated. Unfortunately for the hockey hotbed, this isn’t the year either. Wilmington, 2-1 (OT).



Division 1 Burlington (17-2-6) vs. Milton (19-3-3), 8:15 p.m.
The Breakdown: The Red Devils pulled off a tough feat, bouncing back from a Super 8 play-in game loss (and a very competitive one at that) to pull themselves into the D1 championship. The Middlesex League champions have plenty of speed to burn, and senior assistant captain Trevor Cimino (17-22-39) is about as good a two-way forward as you’ll find. Along with Joe Berardi (22-13-35), Brett Romkey (17-3-20) and C.J. Grinnell (6-14-20), Burlington can score in piles. We’ve also come away impressed by their defensive corps led by Steve Mattos, in addition to Cody Crocker, Adam Crowley and Brien Diffley. The Wildcats ran the Bay State League gauntlet in the South sectional tournament to get to the Garden. Paul Curran (26-33-59) is one of the best pure scorers in the state, and along with top-liners Brian Higgins (23-29-52) and Terrance Walsh (16-33-49), Milton provides matchup problems. Blue-liner John Murtagh is a rock, logging boatloads of ice time, and senior netminder Jay Hankard is peaking at the right time

The Pick: Red Devils are simply too potent, but they’re the pick mostly because of the way they’re playing defensively right now in front of Derek DeCastro. Burlington, 6-3.

Division 1A No. 5 BC High (13-6-5) vs. No. 1 Malden Catholic (19-1-4), 6 p.m.
The Breakdown: After beating another Catholic Conference rival, St. John’s Prep, to advance to the final, Eagles head coach John Flaherty said he’s had a special feeling about this group. That feeling might have developed after BC High skated to a 2-2 tie with MC on Jan. 25, a game in which the Eagles in some regards out-played the Lancers. This will be the fourth meeting between these teams, with MC taking two wins, including a 3-1 win in the Super 8’s round robin last week. The crucible for BC High is which of their defensive units shows up: The out-of-sorts group that surrendered a 7-spot earlier this season to MC, or the cohesive group that bounced Prep and its top line? Of course, that all starts with junior goaltender Peter Cronin (2.00 GAA), who has turned in another solid tournament. Brian Furey leads a much improved blue-line group. The Eagles are also disciplined in their own zone, with Matt Sullivan (12-16-28) providing as much defensively as he does offensively. Everyone knows of the Lancers top line of Brendan Collier, Ryan Fitzgerald and Mike Iovanna, but freshman center Ara Nazarian has been the breakout star of the tournament, filling the scoresheet in every game and tallying five goals. It’s not just offense with MC, however, as you’d be hard pressed to find a deeper, more dynamic top three than Casey Fitzgerald, Colin MacGillivray and Brendan White. If netminder Connor Maloney plays as he did against Central Catholic in the crossover round, that’s game, set, and match.

The Pick: Doin’ it for CS5. MC, 5-3.

D1 Girls: St. Mary's 4, Hingham 3 (SO)

March, 11, 2012
3/11/12
12:51
AM ET


STONEHAM, Mass. -- There simply is no better rivalry in Massachusetts high school girls' hockey than the one between Hingham and St. Mary's.

Winners of the last four Division 1 state championships, the two teams have faced off 11 times since the Harborwomen made the jump up to Div. 1 in 2009. Saturday evening at Stoneham Arena, they added another classic battle what is becoming a storied series.

Hingham rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third period on goals by Sarah Schwenzfeier and Samantha Ryder, the latter coming with just three seconds remaining in regulation, but it was the Spartans who prevailed in the end as Ann Marie Manganiello scored on the final attempt of the first round of a shootout to give No. 3 St. Mary's a 4-3 victory over defending champion and 10th seed Hingham.

"Our kids have been resilient all year," Spartans head coach Frank Pagliuca said. "People have counted us out all year and we just keep fighting. That group has it. They bust their butt all game. It says something when you give up a goal with three seconds left and come back and play a good overtime and finish it off in the shootout. I can't be more proud of this group and what they did tonight."

Ryder, a freshman, scored the first goal of the shootout for the Harborwomen (18-7-1), but Alison Butler fired a wrist shot off goalie Taylor Walsh's glove to tie it for the Spartans (21-3-1).

Three more shooters stepped up and were denied by Walsh (23 saves) and St. Mary's netminder Lauren Skinnion (25 saves), setting the stage for Manganiello. The sophomore walked in, used a head fake to slide Walsh over, and beat her between the pads for the winner.

"Right after the goal I skated straight to my sister [Gina Beth] and I was like, 'I did it,'" Manganiello said afterward. "[Pagliuca] really helped me on the bench. He said, 'You've got this. You did this, you know this, you know what you have to do. And as I was going down, I was thinking, I've been here just as long as the seniors have, I've lost with them, I've won with them, and I wanted to win for them so that's what I tried to do."

THE COMEBACK
How this game even got to overtime is a story unto itself. The Harborwomen took a 1-0 lead in the first period when Schwenzfeier chipped the puck out to linemate Jane Freda, who picked the top corner behind Skinnion on Hingham's first shot of the game.

In the second, St. Mary's scored three straight times, getting one apiece from its top line of Brittani Lanzilli, Alison Butler and Kaleigh Finigan. Defenseman Rachel Donahoe assisted on two of the tallies.

Schwenzfeier started the Hingham comeback in the third, floating around the Spartans cage for a shot then stuffing her own rebound through at 4:45. Hingham head coach Tom Findley pulled Walsh for an extra skater with 31 seconds left in regulation and Jane Freda chased down a dump-in by Schwenzfeier, getting off a shot that rebounded right to Ryder, who buried it with 3.7 seconds showing on the clock.

"I just told them they had to put it behind them," Pagliuca when asked what he told his team heading into overtime. "I know its hard but its a zero-zero game now and next team that scores now is going to win."

Butler, a junior captain who immense in killing off a penalty with under two minutes to play, was also asked about the Spartans mindset after Ryder's goal and said, "The game's not over. We just have to keep going, keep fighting and we'll get to where we want to be."

GOALIES TOUGH IN THE EXTRA FRAME
With the excitement of the overtime and a shootout between two of the state's perennial power programs, it took a pair of standout performances by a two first-year sophomore starters between the pipes to keep things scoreless in the extra frame.

Walsh and Skinnion, both sophomores who have improved by leaps and bounds over the course of the season, stood toe to toe and took each team's best shots to force the shootout. Butler fired a one-timer from the slot which Walsh stopped and managed to hold off both Finigan and Lanzilli, who were jamming at the rebound, until the net came off its moorings behind her.

"Taylor's our MVP. Without her, we don't have a chance," praised Hingham coach Tom Findley. "The team is built from the back out. You have to have a good goalie, you have to four or five good defensemen, and if you have that you're going to be in some games and you're going to win some. I think at the end, Taylor just stepped up. I'm so proud of her."

At the other end, Hingham defenseman Alexandria Gong made a terrific end-to-end rush and got a clean shot off that Skinnion was able to handle with 3:15 left. Less than two minutes later, Schwenzfeier had a great bid after forcing a turnover at the Spartans blue line and got off a hard shot through a defender that Skinnion was able to corral.

"[Lauren was] phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal," Pagliuca said of his goalie. "Players have stepped up this year and she's right at the top. To stop Freda and Sarah [Schwenzfeier[ in the shootout, that says something right there. She was outstanding. She gave us a chance to win the shootout. I can't be more happy with her play this year."

Recap: No. 1 Duxbury 2, No. 3 St. Mary's 2

February, 18, 2012
2/18/12
9:47
PM ET
KINGSTON, Mass. -- St. Mary's goalie Lauren Skinnion and Duxbury goalie Rachel Myette have several things in common. Chief among them are the fact that they are both sophomores, and they are both huge reasons for the respective success of their teams.

In Saturday's showdown between the two squads, both considered among the state's elite, Skinnion made 28 saves while Myette stopped 17, including two critical saves with the Green Dragons killing off a penalty in the final two minutes, as as top-ranked Duxbury and No. 3 St. Mary's skated to a 2-2 draw at The Bog.

Skinnion, in her first year as the Spartans (15-3-1) starter, was particularly brilliant in the second period. She stopped 19 of 21 shots in the frame, including a fantastic save on a breakaway bid by Duxbury's Marissa Fitcher and another on Fitcher attempting a backhander while sweeping through the Spartans crease.

"She seems to be playing better against the best competition and that's a good thing going into the tournament," praised St. Mary's coach Frank Pagliuca. "She's more relaxed. Her rebound control was phenomenal tonight. She made a lot of key saves for us, especially in the second period. Lauren really kept us in the game and gave us a chance to battle back."

Added Skinnion, "They had a lot of shots, but my D does a good job of clearing the front of the net. I was just focusing on one shot at a time and not getting overwhelmed or panicking. We count on each other to get it done."

Myette made a couple of key stops in the second as well, but saved her best for for the final two minutes of the game. With the Dragons killing a late penalty, St. Mary's forward Brittani Lanzilli found herself with a great chance trying to jam the puck through off the post that Myette was able to get to and cover.

Thirty seconds later, Myette made a stop and watched the rebound squirt out to Gina Beth Manganiello, who looked ready to tee up a possible game-winner. Myette hurried from right to left, getting to the post in the nick of time to stop Manganiello's bid and cover up the puck.

"I just felt that we could pull it off and as long as we didn't give up any passes or have any letdowns in that we could kill the penalty and try to get another goal," Myette explained. "[On the Manganiello bid] I made the initial stop and it was just sitting there and I saw her go for it so I slid over and tried my best to keep it out of the net hoping they wouldnt score."

Both goalies displayed quick glove hands in the first to keep things scoreless, but Duxbury finally broke through early in the second as Hannah Murphy fired a wrist shot from the right wing circle past Skinnion to the far side of the net.

Back to back penalties by the Spartans allowed the Dragons to cash in again as Jane Dudley tipped home a Martha Findley drive from the point or a power play goal at 11:46.

As the momentum was all going Duxbury's way, Kaleigh Finigan got St. Mary's right back in it, converting a one-timer with assists from Manganiello and Alison Butler in the final minute of the frame.

Then, in the third, Gabrielle Crugnale poucned on a Duxbury defenseman struggling to control a puck at the blue line, poked it forward, witched to her backhand and scored a beautiful goal to tie the game at 2-2.

"We stress angling and staring on the forecheck," Pagliuca said. "Gabrielle did a wonderful job of that and had the composure to go back to her backhand and Im very proud of her for finishing that opportunity. It was a great job by her to be the first one on the forecheck and to take a good angle at the puck and force the defenseman to try and play the puck. She ended up deflecting it and walked in on the goalie and made a great move for the game-tying goal."

Recap: No. 4 St. Mary's 4, No. 6 AC 2

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
12:20
AM ET
LYNN, Mass. -- As a member of the Austin Prep girls hockey team the past two years, Kaleigh Finigan had to sit back and watch as St. Mary's wrapped up Catholic Central League championships in part at the expense of her team.

This year, the junior transfer from Medford found out what it's like to be on winning side, as well as what it feels like to be a major factor behind the Spartans success.

Finigan scored twice and added an assist as the No. 4 Lady Spartans held off No. 6 Arlington Catholic for the second time in a week to take a 4-2 decision Wednesday night at Connery Rink.

"It's very different," said a smiling Finigan on winning the league title. "It's my first time getting it. It means a lot knowing that our team can win the league and keep going on with the wins. And we'll keep going hard. We just want to keep playing better and better every game. That's our goal."

Playing better and better every game is something Finigan and her linemates, Alison Butler and Brittani Lanzilli, have certainly done. Butler added a goal and two assists in last night's victory, while Lanzilli had a goal an assist. Their may be no hotter offensive trio in the state at this stage of the season.

"We decided to leave them together for the last month or so and they're really starting - not only in the offensive zone but even in the defensive zone - they're really starting to trust each other and learn from each other," St. Mary's coach Frank Pagliuca said. "I think Brittani and Kaleigh had a transition coming in here and Alison's done a great job settling them down. As you can see, they're starting to get it. They're not hesitating anymore. They're starting to play with speed and its making a huge difference for us."

Finigan scored twice in the first period as the Spartans (13-3-0, 6-0-0 CCL) jumped out to a quick lead. Her first tally exemplified the communication and trust factor that has evolved on that first line. With Butler working her way around the back of the Cougars (15-2-1, 4-2-0) net, Finigan screamed "Middle!" and Butler hit her right on the tape for an easy one-timer.

"We finally got used to each other and know where we are and communicating more," Butler said. "I just heard her. We've done it a couple of times now this year and I know where she is when I hear her."

Finigan added her second tally on the rebound of a Butler shot right before the end of the first, and Butler took one for herself on a nice backhander from the low slot to give the Spartans a 3-0 lead with 6:24 remaining in the second.

Arlington Catholic found a spark, and Allison Stone got the Cougars right back into the game by scoring just 44 seconds later. thins got a bit sloppy after that as the two teams traded five penalties back and forth, but AC got another goal as Duggan Delano hammered home a rebound of a shot by Adrieanna Rossini (two assists) to cut the deficit to 3-2 with 1:23 left in the frame.

Lanzilli quickly pulled the momentum back to the Spartans side early in the third when she floated around the back of the AC goal and flicked a backhander through while attempting to get off the ice for a line change.

Thanks to goalie Lauren Skinnion (23 saves) and strong defensive play from standout blue liner Rachel Donahoe, the Spartans were able to hold off the Cougars and wrap up another Catholic Central crown.

"It's a great accomplishment," Pagliuca said. "Although our league's not big, we have some tough teams. It's tough to play three league games right in a row and to play (AC) twice in a week is no easy feat. I'm very proud of my kids. They've battled hard all year and they keep getting better.

"That's the thing I'm noticing - every game they're getting better," he continued. "It's not pretty every game but you can see it. You can see them making better decisions overall and you can see us playing with more confidence. It's a wide open year this year and the hot team is going to be successful. We're just trying to play our best going into the tournament."

Recap: No. 3 St. Mary's 5, No. 7 AC 2

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
12:22
AM ET
ARLINGTON, Mass. -- It took all of 25 seconds for the St. Mary's girls' hockey team to show it was capable to answering the bell when adversity came calling. In the bigger picture, the 45 minutes the Spartans put together Wednesday night might do exactly the same.

Kaleigh Finigan had a hat trick and two assists, Alison Butler added two goals and three helpers and Lauren Skinnion stopped 24 shots to help No. 3 St. Mary's topple previously unbeaten No. 7 Arlington Catholic, 5-2, last night at Ed Burns Arena.

In the process, the Spartans (11-4-0 overall, 4-0-0 Catholic Central League) qualified for the postseason, took a one-game lead over the Cougars (14-1-1, 3-1-0) atop the league standings while picking up a much needed bounce-back victory.

"It was good to see us respond to a little bit of adversity, I was proud of them for that," Spartans head coach Frank Pagliuca said. "I thought the game was physical, I thought AC had some opportunities to score and Lauren came up big for us. Great win for us, a good bounce back win. Big league win as well. AC is a great team. They're going to be one of the team's fighting for it at the end."

St. Mary's jumped out fast in this one, something they haven't always been able to do on the season. Butler screamed a pass down to the low slot where Finigan was able to tip it past AC goalie Megan Messuri 4:09 into the game.

The Spartans top line of Finigan, Butler and Brittani Lanzilli (2 A) continued to pressure, and Lanzilli came up with the assist of the year, threading the puck between the skates of an AC defender to Butler, who made a nice move outside the crease to tuck it just past the right skate of Messuri with 2:27 left in the first.

Then, just 21 seconds into the second, Butler sprung Finigan and the junior fired a shot from the high slot that went off a defenseman's stick, shot over the head of Messuri and somehow ended up in the net behind her.

Skinnion made 11 of her 24 stops during the second but Arlington Catholic caught a break when Melissa Richard snuck one through right at the buzzer and Adrieana Rossini kept the momentum going with a shorthanded breakaway goal at 3:25 of the third.

As the walls seemed to be caving in, the Spartans got plays from Finigan, Skinnion and senior captain Rachel Donahoe that turned the tide back in their favor.

Finigan popped in her third goal of the night just 25 seconds after Rossini's tally to stop the bleeding, then Skinnion turned in perhaps her best save of the season as Rossini got loose again, and Donahoe came flying back into her own end to snuff out yet another breakaway bid, this time by Natalie Flynn.

"I thought Rachel Donahoe was unbelievable tonight," Pagliuca said. "She was all over the ice. She's a captain and she's really starting to step up and elevate her game. And Lauren Skinnion I thought was phenomenal."

Butler tacked on one more goal on a rebound of a Finigan shot with 3:45 remaining to close out the scoring.

While the taste of the season's first loss will be sour for the Cougars, they will have a chance to get it back when the two teams meet again next Wednesday at Connery Rink in Lynn (4:30 p.m.).

"When we play St. Mary's there's always that stigma that exists from previous years," admitted AC coach Maggie Taverna. "The kids know like last year, they creamed us 8-1, and they came in excited. Sometimes I feel like they get over-excited and they hold their sticks to tight or they dump pucks and things too quickly. St. Mary's, even though they have a short bench, they're a great team. We're excited to play them again next week. I told the kids, let it stick with you, let it sting a little bit because we have another chance."

'SPARTAN' DEFENSE
Pagliuca's praise of Donahoe was most certainly warranted. A preseason ESPNBoston All-State defenseman and one of just two seniors on the squad, Donahoe turned in a brilliant performance while being matched against the the talented Flynn. Everywhere Flynn went on the ice, Donahoe was was within arms reach. Not only did Donahoe chase Flynn down on the breakaway but she continually forced the Cougars star forward to take wide angles with the puck rather than drive to the net where she is deadly.

"She's definitely one of the players we needed to look out for on the ice," Donahoe said of Flynn. "She has a good shot, she's very good at seeing the game so whenever she's out there we had to make sure she was covered or it wasn't going to be a good deal."

"I was just saying to myself, 'Don't let her shoot and get the puck to the corner,'" the senior continued. "Mainly I was just trying to keep a body on her, keep her to the outside of the goal and not let her get any opportunities to put the puck in the back of the net."

Along with Donahoe, fellow blueliners Tatiana Doucette, Hannah Quin and Amanda Donahoe turned in strong performances. The shots on goal total for AC would have been much higher if not for this unit's relentless work in both blocking and forcing bad shots.

"Lot of blocks, they moved the puck pretty well. We got caught a couple of times flat-footed and AC has some good speedy forwards that exploited us a little but I thought D zone, we played much better. I thought we moved the puck well out of the zone. They came down hard and crashed on the walls and I thought we made a nice adjustment coming out of the zone.

GOLD STAR FOR THE GOALIE
Despite a terrific night for the St. Mary's defense, Arlington Catholic still managed several breakouts and had plenty of good scoring opportunities. If not for the play of Skinnion, AC might still be undefeated and it would be the Spartans looking for revenge in next Wednesday's rematch.

The sophomore was particularly brilliant in the final three minutes of the second period. She zipped to the far post to cover a wraparound attempt by ACs Michaela Scutti, made a great stop on Flynn (who also hit two posts) walking in from the blue line and covered the post as Katie Waitt tried to jam the rebound through.

Then in the third, with the memory of Rossini's breakaway goal still fresh in her mind, Skinnion saw the exact same play develop, adjusted, and made a spectacular stop.

"I didn't want to let in the same goal again," Skinnion admitted when asked about her thought process on the play. "The first time I didn't come back fast enough so I tried to stay back a little bit more. (Rossini) went to the left again and I thought she was probably going to try and do the same thing so I just tried to stay low and make sure I got the pad on the puck."

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