Last year, in the first round of the MIAA Girls D1 Tournament, Reading saw their post-season dreams cut short, falling to Austin Prep, 1-0.
They were not going to let it happen again.
Flash forward to 2015, and the two programs, located just about a mile apart, met again in the post-season, this time in a semifinal matchup.
And the top-seeded Rockets were not to be denied, utilizing a pair of second period power play goals en route to a 3-0 shutout win and a berth in the D1 state final at TD Garden on March 15, where they will face Acton-Boxboro.
“This team has been on a mission since day one,” said Reading coach Mike Golden. “This was the team that knocked us out last year. We played a full 45 minutes and never let up.
The Rockets controlled much of the first period, but the stanza ended scoreless.
It was still scoreless more than midway through the second period when Reading got its first power play opportunity.
Some nice work around the perimeter got the puck to Caroline Seibold on the left point. Her shot hit some traffic in front of Austin Prep goalie Caty Flagg and bounced over to Ali O’Leary on the right side. O’Leary calmly whisked the puck into the open side for a 1-0 Rockets lead.
“That was a big goal,” Golden said. “We knew that someone would get the first goal, and the other team would have to change their game plan. Austin had to change their plan. We were able to maintain our style of play.”
A couple of minutes later, the Rockets got another power play, and again, they delivered.
This time it would be Seibold getting the goal. She took a pass from Ryley Coleman, floated in from the left point and fired a high shot through a maze of players in front and into the top far corner. O’Leary also assisted on the goal.
That was a boost of confidence for the Rockets, who hadn’t allowed a goal all post-season and now had a two-goal lead.
At 5:54 of the third period, Dani Seibold broke down the left wing on a 2-0n-1. Flagg stopped her slap shot but the puck rebounded directly to a rushing Gabby DeCologero who snapped it high short side for a 3-o Reading cushion.
Reading goalie Jessica Strack, working on her third straight post-season shutout, shut the door the rest of the way on the Cougars, who finished the season at 17-4-2.