A year ago, Scituate and Nashoba Regional met in the MIAA Division 3 state quarterfinals.
On Sunday, they meet again with the state title on the line at the TD Garden (5:30 p.m.).
Last year, Scituate defeated the Wolves, 6-1, before falling to Patriot League rival and eventual state champion Hanover, 1-0 in the semifinals.
For the top-seeded Sailors (20-5-2) this is the first state final appearance since 2017 when they lost to Lowell Catholic.
“I was on the bench when we lost to Lowell Catholic in 2017,” said Scituate coach Brian Hurcombe. “That was a really tough one. They scored with less than two minutes left, I believe, on a breakaway to win 5-4. We let a guy get behind our D.”
This winter, Scituate opened the tournament with a 7-0 win against Bishop Stang, followed by a 3-1 victory against Dighton-Rehoboth/Seekonk. In the the quarterfinals, the Sailors defeated Essex Tech, 4-2 before defeating Watertown, 4-2 in the semifinals, with an empty-net goal at the end.
“It has been a battle,” Hurcombe said. “We just had a great one with Watertown where one bounce could have sent us home and we ended up with the empty net (goal).”
Nashoba Regional (14-5-5) is making its first appearance in the Garden in the state finals. The program has won Central/West Division 3A titles under the MIAA’s previous format.
The Wolves entered the tournament seeded 11th and were in the lower seed in three of its four games on the way to the finals. They have certainly had a flair for the dramatic.
They opened the post-season with a 2-1 overtime win against Groton-Dunstable.
In the round of 16, Nashoba took two overtimes to edge Marlborough, 3-2. In the quarterfinals the Wolves knocked off third-seeded Medfield 2-1 in a shootout. In the semifinals, Nashoba prevailed against Triton Regional, 4-1, their only post-season contest that has not gone into extra time.
“It has been a wild ride,” said Nashoba coach Matthew Biggs. “As the 11th seed, we haven’t been at home in quite some time. The team has embraced the underdog role and really played strong over the last three weeks. Our team defense and goaltending has been outstanding and coupled with timely goals, has led to our success.”
The Sailors’ top offensive players are Teagan Pratt, James Sullivan and Johnny Donahue. Senior captain Matt Seghezzi leads Scituate’s defensive crew in front of junior netminder Thomas McMellen.
“Scituate is an outstanding team,” Biggs said. “They are talented and well-coached. Our team is embracing the challenge, especially considering they knocked us out of the playoffs last year. I certainly continues to write the script for our season.
“We need to stick to our strengths. Team defense and goaltending will limit their chances but we need to score some timely goals, too.”
Seniors Ryan May (8-16-24) and Joey Quinn (16-12-28) have been among the Wolves’ leaders up front, while senior Dillon Lowe (3-16-19), senior Colin Ruschioni (11 pts) and freshman Ryan Balewicz will be keys on the Nashoba blue line. In goal, junior Charlie Mattocks has had a great post-season, as Nashoba has allowed just five goals in four games.
“[Nashoba] is a really great team that has really come together towards the end of season and into the playoffs,” said Hurcombe. “They have knocked off Marlboro and Medfield, two awesome teams.
“We will need our absolute best from every player who steps on the ice.”