St. Mary’s worked for a full year to earn its second chance and when they got it, the Spartans delivered by toppling Framingham, 4-2, in Sunday night’s MIAA Division One title game at TD Garden to claim the first State title in program history.
The Spartans (18-7-2) had come ever so close a year ago, only to fall to Franklin, 4-3, in double overtime. This time St. Mary’s removed the possibility of OT when it created space with a three-goal second period before withstanding a late Framingham push. Senior captains Dante Maribito and Mike Zampanti scored two goals each and senior goalie Andrew LoRusso turned aside 17 shots.
“This is the best feeling ever. I’ve been here four years and to have my last game be a State championship win is unbelievable,” proclaimed Maribito. “This year we knew how to deal with the surroundings.”
To Maribito’s last point, St. Mary’s 31-year coach Mark Lee elaborated: “This was not new to us and a good start helped us gain momentum. We made the mistake last year of being concerned about where we were.”
Not so this time as the Spartans seemed calm, composed and in control pretty much from the outset in a penalty-free performance.
“To finish it with this group is special. It was a long year to deal with that [loss]. This team knew that they were going to do whatever it took to get back,” said Lee. “There’s been a lot of kids over 31 years that also deserve this and I’m glad this team was able to make them part of it.
“First and foremost, this is all about the kids. Personally, the monkey is off my back. Third time’s the charm,” Lee added.
Framingham’s junior goalie Alex Moore (24 saves) held the North Sectional champion Spartans off the board in the first period with a number of quality stops among his nine saves in the opening 15 minutes.
Things changed at 49 seconds of the second period when Zampanti stole the puck behind the net and beat Moore with a wraparound at the right post.
“You score that first goal and it’s huge. You can loosen up and play with a little more confidence,” Zampanti said.
LoRusso gobbled up a dangerous attempt by Framingham sophomore Mike Tersoni at 9:03 and it remained a one-goal lead until Maribito and Zampanti delivered goals 1:04 apart in the final two minutes.
Maribito made it 2-0 at 13:10 when he checked a Flyer off the puck in the neutral zone, gathered speed by circling wide, closed to the right circle and sniped a wrist shot into the tiniest of windows over Moore’s glove.
Then, with 46 seconds left in the period, Zampanti charged up the left side with speed, cut hard toward the crease and, while sprawling after being tripped, swept a backhand past Moore into the far side for a 3-0 lead
Any doubt as to the final outcome was removed with 11:42 remaining when Maribito deposited his second of the game, an open net tap-in of a rebound.
The Flyers did not go quietly. Senior standout Scott Swennes made it 4-1 with 10:21 left when he sifted through the Spartans’ defense and beat LoRusso from 15 feet. He added another with 2:40 to play to account for the final.
South Sectional champion Framingham finished 16-7-4 under first-year coach Will Ortiz.