Boston High School: Morgan Bishop

The 8: No. 1 Woburn wraps up unbeaten season

February, 21, 2013
HINGHAM, Mass. -- The Woburn girls’ hockey team is a team on a mission.

A five-point night from junior center Emily Lissner helped the No. 1 Tanners complete their first undefeated regular season since 2003-04, as Woburn defeated No. 12 Acton-Boxborough, 5-3, Thursday in the second night of The 8 Showcase at Pilgrim Arena.

Colonial freshman Megan Barrett scored a pair of third-period goals – the second coming with 2:54 left in the game – to turn a comfortable 4-1 Woburn lead into a 4-3 nail-biter. The Tanners held on in the closing minutes though and put the game away on an empty-net goal from junior Ashley Moran with just a second left on the clock. Lissner set up the play by breaking up a rush from A-B junior Eleana Cardarelli at the Tanner blue line and finding Moran, who backhanded the puck from neutral ice into the empty net.

It was Moran’s second goal of the game, as she had scored at 5:49 of the third off a face-off in the A-B zone that Lissner worked toward the net. Moran scored two goals in both of the Tanners’ games in this competition.

The No. 1 star Thursday night, however, was Lissner, who scored all three of her goals in the first 18 minutes of the game to give head coach Bob MacCurtain’s Tanners (17-0-3) an insurmountable lead.

“Finishing, I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s her greatest strength, but she did a great job of it today,” MacCurtain said. “She’s gotten better and better at it this year.”

Lissner and her linemates set the tone early with a terrific opening shift that resulted in a goal just 43 seconds into the game, as senior Kayla Smith set up Lissner in the slot from behind the net for a 1-0 lead.

“We always try and get a quick start,” Lissner said. “We’ve learned to get the quick goal but also stay in the game and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Lissner scored her second with 12 seconds left in the period, establishing position in front and tipping home a shot from the point from sister Erica.

Woburn would have led by even more at the first intermission but for the efforts of A-B freshman goalie Cali Loblundo, who denied Smith on two golden opportunities in front.

Despite it being even on the scoreboard, Woburn dominated the second period to the tune of a 15-5 shot advantage. Lissner completed her hat trick at 2:56 of the period with the Tanners on the power play, taking a pass across the slot from Smith and finishing past Loblundo.

The Colonial goalie again made some fine saves to keep her team in it, as A-B didn’t get its first shot of the period until there was 5:01 left in the frame. But sophomore Alex Loblundo put the team on the board with 59 seconds remaining, stuffing home a rebound off a shot by freshman Kaitlin Hoang.

Woburn’s group of defensemen – led by senior Cassandra Connolly and featuring senior Haley Rafferty, junior Gabby Mourousas, and freshmen Morgan Bishop and Madison Cole – helped limit A-B (13-6-2) to just nine shots through the first two periods.

“It’s been a little bit of a work in progress over the course of the season, but they’re all playing really well right now,” MacCurtain said.

After beating Arlington Catholic, 4-1, in the Showcase’s first day of action Tuesday, Woburn has likely established itself as the team to beat in the MIAA Division 1 state tournament that kicks off next week.

A goal by Arlington senior Katie Cummings with 4:08 to play capped a wild third period that featured four goals and several good saves, as No. 18 Arlington and No. 6 Hingham played to a 3-3 draw in Thursday night’s final game.

The Harborwomen (13-6-3) had come back from a 2-0 second intermission deficit to take a 3-2 lead, with senior Jane Freda’s second goal of the night at 5:49 of the third period putting Hingham ahead. That goal came in the midst of a four-minute major penalty against Arlington, during which Hingham senior Alexandria Gong scored at 4:08 to tie the game.

But the Spy Ponders (11-8-1) wouldn’t give up, and Cummings was in position to put in a centering pass from senior defenseman Hannah Wright to earn Arlington a point. Junior goalie Katie Gilligan came up big for Arlington with four stops in the final 90 seconds, including a great double-save on Freda with 21 seconds to go.

“She’s been flawless these two games,” Arlington head coach Jeff Mead said. “That’s a good confidence booster for her going into the tournament.”

Arlington came into the week on the heels of a 4-0 loss to Reading, but a win over Acton-Boxborough followed by this tie will certainly give the club some momentum going into the state tournament.

“I think they want to prove a point and they want to prove that you might not want to face us in the first game of the playoffs,” Mead said. “The kids battled hard. Win or lose, we were competitive all week.”

Senior Carolyn Woodin gave Arlington a 1-0 lead at 6:56 of the first. Senior Shannon Hickey made it 2-0 with 4:58 left in the second after a terrific individual effort, beating two Hingham players in the offensive zone before putting the puck past Hingham junior goalie Taylor Walsh.

Freda got Hingham back in the game just 2:12 into the third, and Gong tied it off a pair of good passes from Freda and sophomore Hannah Falvey with the Harborwomen enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage.

Head coach Tom Findley’s team finished with a 30-15 advantage in shots, but had to settle for the draw.

“That’s our season in a nutshell,” Findley said. “We get a lot of shots on net -- sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t ... I think the team played really well in the first two periods. They just didn’t score.”

Each team had two all-stars named for the tournament. Representing their programs from the second half of Thursday’s festivities were: Smith and Connolly (Woburn); Barrett and Cali Loblundo (Acton-Boxborough); Woodin and Wright (Arlington); Gong and Freda (Hingham).

Recap: No. 1 Woburn 3, No. 7 Reading 1

January, 13, 2013

WOBURN, Mass. - A year ago, the Woburn girls team knew it had plenty of talent, and three selections to ESPN Boston's preseason All-State Team proved that. It was a lack of depth that hurt them in the long run.

Depth doesn't seem to be as much of an issue this winter, and the top-ranked Tanners second line came up with a big performance as Erica Lissner popped in a pair of power plays goals to lead Woburn to a 3-1 victory over Middlesex League rival and No. 7 Reading last night at O'Brien Arena.

"I think the difference between this year's team and last year's team is our second line is scoring a little bit more," Woburn head coach Bob MacCurtain said. "I don't think you can go real far at any time of the year without at've got to have two lines that can score."

Lissner centers that second line, flanked by wingers Morgan Bishop and Hannah Sullivan. And after a scoreless first period produced a feeling that both team's goalies were on their games, it was Lissner who managed break through.

Just over a minute into the Tanners (8-0-1) second power play of the game, defensemen Cassandra Connolly sprung Lissner loose down the right side and the sophomore buried her shot. Then, with 17 seconds to go in the frame, Lissner's older sister Emily gave her a perfect pass to set up a good look that went through traffic to the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.

"The first goal was a great play by Cassandra. She threw puck right up and I just took it right in and had my head up," described Lissner. "The second goal, it was like everything I've achieved in my life - without my sister, it never would have happened. She fed me the puck in a perfect spot. Cassandra could have stepped in but she backed off and let me take it."

Rachel Thomson got one back for the Rockets when she stuck a seeing-eye shot through traffic to the top, far corner to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 6:27 remaining. But that would be all Reading would manage as the Tanners defense locked down and Ashley Moran banged in an empty-netter with 29 seconds to go to lock up the win.

Connolly displayed the talents that made her one of those first-team all-star selections, blocking numerous shots, including a span of three straight during a Reading (7-1-1) power play. She also keyed the effort against the Rockets dynamic freshman forward Ali O'Leary, who rarely found a clean sheet of ice on which to unleash her devastating speed and stickhandling abilities.

"We knew they had a lot of fast players so we knew we had to watch the neutral zone and we just stayed with them every play," the senior captain explained. "I think we knew we knew we were going up against a good goaltender so we had to shoot high and it worked every time."

And on the blocked shots, Connolly added with a laugh, "In practice we stand up tall and try and block them. We can't be afraid of anything at this point so we go all out. I have all the equipment so I just stand there and hope for the best of it."

As a unit, the Tanners blue-liners turned in possibly their best performance, and the forwards routinely excelled in back-checking to do their part to help. And when all else fails, you can't beat having a stopper like junior goalie Courtney Davis, who made a number of highlight reel stops among her 22 saves.

"I thought they did a terrific job. That was their best game as a unit that we've played," MacCurtain praised. "Cassandra was excellent. All four of them were excellent. We knew that we had to keep [O'Leary] off the board and see if someone else would beat us but I was really proud of how they played as a group. The team defense was really good."