Top-seeded Notre Dame Academy (23-0-1) capped off an undefeated season and repeated as MIAA D2 Girls state champions with a 5-2 win over 14th seeded Canton at TD Garden Sunday morning.
The Cougars nursed a 1-0 lead into the third period, then were able to outscore the 14th seeded Bulldogs 4-2 in a wide-open third period for the win.
“We lost a good number of players from last year’s team, and we didn’t know how things were going to mesh together this year,” said Notre Dame coach Jean Yves-Roy. “Our leaders did a great job leading the way for the new girls.”
Freshman Skyler Irving backhanded home a rebound 5:42 into the first period to give NDA a 1-0 advantage. Defenseman Jilian Lyons had the initial shot from the blue line that was saved by Canton goalie Colleen Kelleher, but Irving swooped in to tuck home the rebound.
A key sequence occurred early in their period. At 1:45, Canton’s Andrea McNeil banged home the rebound of Kendra Farrelly’s bid to tie the score at 1-1. Farrelly made a nice move from the left wing boards towards the net. Her shot was stopped by NDA goalie Erin Murray, but McNeil was right there to convert.
But, just nine seconds later, right off the ensuing faceoff, Cougars freshman Katherine Pyne moved in and was able to tap home her own rebound, restoring Notre Dame’s one goal lead at 2-1.
“We told the girls before the game that Canton wanted a low-scoring game, that they were comfortable playing that style,” said Roy. “We can play that style as well. Entering the third period with a one-goal lead is uncomfortable. To be able to bounce back like that, when the opposing team gets the momentum. It was a huge goal for us.”
Just over a minute later, Pyne went to work again. She was alone in front and received a nifty pass from Maureen Keenan. The freshman deked Kelleher, and deposited home a backhander to make it 3-1.
Canton (14-5-6) refused to quit and kept coming, finishing with 14 third period shots. At 5:08, a Lauren Fitzpatrick wrister from just inside the blue line found its way past Murray to creep the Bulldogs within one at 3-2.
Notre Dame grabbed another huge two-goal advantage at 8:03 when Pyne collected the puck on the left wing boards, swooped around the net and pushed the puck into the crease, where it snuck under Kelleher’s pad as Irving whacked at it. Pyne was at first given credit for the goal,but it was changed to Irving to make it a 4-2 ballgame.
Pyne scored her third of the period to seal the deal at 12:34, tucking in the puck at the near-side post. The goal was her 39th of the season, and 10th in the post-season.
“Katie is a very talented player,” Roy said. “She could stickhandle in a phone booth and still score. I don’t want to take anything away from her, but she was enabled by the rest of the team. Our tough defense allowed her to have the opportunity. She is a tremendous player.”
Asked how this title compared to last year’s, Roy said “I love the feeling of both years. Last year we had a bit different group. I loved both teams. We had challenges in both seasons. This year what we were able to accomplish, going undefeated, was pretty special. I told the girls that what we accomplished they should be very proud.”
With no seniors on its roster, Notre Dame Academy is in pretty good shape for another solid campaign in 2017-2018.