The MIAA Girls Division 1 State final is set and it should be a battle. Top-seeded Austin Prep (23-0-0) continued its undefeated season beating #4 Andover 3-1 in a hard-fought game. #3 Methuen-Tewksbury (21-1-1) is headed back to the TD Garden on Sunday for the second consecutive year after knocking off Longmeadow 9-1 in an offensive explosion.
Freshman Aylah Cioffi scored what would be the winning goal for the Cougars with one minute remaining in the second period as the game was tied at one to give Austin Prep the advantage.
“Aylah’s goal was great,” said Austin Prep coach Stephanie Wood. “It shows her offensive skill and finesse and that she works really hard. I thought we did a great job defending them. As we get further, the games get harder. But, we are ready and have been looking forward to this game since last year.”
Austin Prep struck first four minutes into the first period as junior Francesca Frelick took a shot that was blocked by D’Urso and freshman Katrina Michalak was right there to bury the rebound.
Andover wasted no time as less than two minutes later they would tie the game at one on a wrap-around goal from senior Emma Gilmartin.
The game remained tied until late in the second, when Cioffi scored the game-winner. The Cougars outshot Andover 17-2 in the second, but Golden Warriors goalie Sean D’Urso was outstanding and turned away almost every bid that came her way.
Austin Prep sealed the win with an early third period goal by Maeve Crehan and is now headed to the TD Garden for the first time since 2016, when they won the state title.
In the nightcap, Methuen-Tewksbury cruised to their 9-1 victory with six second period goals to break what was a close 2-0 game at the time wide open and that was something coach Sarah Oteri wasn’t expecting to happen.
“We definitely didn’t expect that,” said Oteri. “We were nervous coming in, but we had a good game plan and the girls executed it really well.”
The offense was led by first line seniors Cassidy Gruning (4 goals, 1 assist) and Julia Masotta (1 goal, 3 assists). Gruning scored the first four goals of the game for the Red Rangers. The pair seemed to feed really well off of each other.
“They (Gruning and Masotta) are both such great players,” said Oteri. “When one is passing and winning battles, the other is scoring goals and vice versa. But, I thought a lot of our players had great games tonight and that is why we had the score we did.”
Linemate Lydia Pendleton chipped in with three assists. The Red Rangers also got second period goals from junior defenseman Brenna Greene and two from senior Carolyn Curley. Jessica Driscoll had a third period goal.
Longmeadow’s lone goal came off the stick of Karalyn Jones.
Methuen/Tewksbury is now headed back to the Garden for the second straight year. The Red Rangers lost last year to Woburn 1-0 and are hoping for different results this year.
“We are very motivated,” said Oteri. “We are really excited to get back there. I think we have a little less nerves and more experience so hopefully it will be a different outcome.”
- Story by Alexis Demopoulos