Starting the season 9-0 and outscoring opponents by a 26-3 margin, there shouldn’t be much to worry about heading into your next game. But, there was some concern for the D1 #1 ranked Arlington Catholic girls hockey team Thursday.
First was the fact that they had played Wednesday night, not leaving much time for rest. Second, they were playing a road game against a more-than-solid opponent – Billerica, which came into the contest ranked #4 in Division 1, and looking to make a big statement.
The Indians stood up to the top-ranked Cougars and gave them good shot, outshooting AC by a 26-21 margin. But in the end, Arlington Catholic made the most of its scoring chances and took a 3-1 win at Billerica’s Hallenborg Pavilion.
The win upped AC’s record to a perfect 10-0-0 and officially qualified the Cougars for post-season play.
“We played last night at 7:30 against a good team in Andover, so we were back at it in less than 24 hours,” said Arlington Catholic coach Maggie Taverna. “It was a quick turnaround against a very good team. Billerica is a good team. Tina (Carrabba) does a good job with them. They can do good things with the puck. They can skate and shoot.”
Senior Eileen Flynn scored two goals for the Cougars, including the back-breaking tally at 7:19 of the third period, when she snuck behind the Billerica defense, collected a long dump-in from teammate Abby Knight and fired a shot that Indians goalie Amanda Burns got the most of, but the puck trickled over the goal line. At the time, AC was holding a precarious 2-1 lead.
“Eileen competes really hard,” Taverna said. “Last year, she was on the team, but didn’t have too big of a presence. She has really stepped it up this year.”
Both teams had scoring chances in an up-and-down first period, but Burns and Arlington Catholic goalie Jasmine Mucci stopped everything they faced.
The Cougars would draw first blood on their first shot in the second period. Juliana Dolan collect the puck in the right wing corner and sent a perfect pass to a wide-open Flynn in the slot, Flynn one-timed a low shot into the far corner to give AC a 1-0 lead at 0:51.
Defenseman Erin Healy expanded AC’s margin to 2-0 late in the period. The puck came back to her at center blue line and her slap shot made its way past Burns, looking like it hit something in front along the way. Nicole Amato picked up an assist on the play.
Billerica (9-2-2) came out strong in the third period and during an early power play, cashed in to make it a 2-1 game. Senior Samantha Ginsburg set up behind the net and made a nifty pass to Macy Vercellini, cutting the net from the left wing boards. Vercellini beat Mucci high to the far side.
It stayed that way until Flynn outraced the Billerica defense to the puck and scored the insurance goal.
Billerica did have another great opportunity to score when both Dolan and Healy were whistled off, leaving the Indians with a two-man advantage for a full 1:30. But they were unable to take advantage. Mucci did rob Vercellini with a great glove save, and a rocket from Samantha Fantasia clanked the left post.
Arlington Catholic is schedule to play Fontbonne Academy on Saturday ( 2pm, LoConte Rink) while Billerica is off until Thursday when it has a key MVC/Dual County game against Westford Academy (7pm, Groton School).