HINGHAM, Mass. – Acton-Boxborough scored just over a minute into the game and controlled the first and third periods to ease by St. Mary's, 4-1, at the Hingham Girls’ Hockey Showcase at Pilgrim Arena.
The Colonials’ depth was apparent as they were able to set the terms of engagement throughout and make the Spartans work harder for chances.
“The girls were really excited to play St. Mary's,” A-B head coach Brian Fontas said. “Since I've been at Acton-Boxborough, I think we've played them six or seven times and haven't beat them yet. It's nice. They're such a great program, I have a lot of respect for them.”
The Colonials were led by senior captain Annie Messuri. Messuri scored the opening goal of the game off a rebound and assisted on A-B's third goal with just over three minutes remaining to seal the victory.
Messuri led an offensive attack that only outshot St. Mary's, 23-18, but had far more quality scoring chances.
Megan Barrett scored for the Colonials to put AB up 2-0 just under four minutes into the game.
Leah Cardarelli had Acton's third goal, and Olivia Keefe buried an empty-net goal in the waning seconds from the neutral zone.
“I guess you could say that the first goal is important for our team,” Messuri said. “It gives us the adrenaline to go into the game and all three periods more excited to play.”
While scoring in the first minute was a boon for the Colonials it was a nightmare for the Spartans. St Mary's was on its heels for the final 44 minutes and was never fully able to push back A-B.
Samantha Callahan scored early in the second period to halve a 2-0 deficit, but that was as close at St. Mary's would get.
“I thought we came out flat and they took advantage of it,” St. Mary's coach Frank Pagliuca said. “We've had an issue coming out stronger, and they scored a goal on us. Right away we're behind and playing catch up the entire game. I thought after the first we played a really good second. We just didn't have enough finish.
“[Callahan's] one of our more offensively talented players, and she finished the chance for us.”
CLUTCH CALI: St. Mary's didn't have many top-notch chance,s but when they did Cali Loblundo was up to the challenge. The sophomore goalie shined for Acton-Boxborough turning aside 17 shots, including a Tim Thomas-esque dive across the cage in the second period.
“She's a big-time goalie,” Fontas said. “She's capable of those saves. St Mary's didn't stop and I knew they wouldn't.”
Loblundo chirped at her teammates all game about positioning and when Spartan forwards tried to sneak behind the AB defense. Messuri said having a confident goalie is a lift for the team.
“I thought Cali was great tonight,” Messuri said. “She stood on her head for us when we needed her most. She hung in for us real well tonight and I'm real proud of her.”