The last two undefeated teams in the state went head-to-head Monday night when top-seed Austin Prep (23-0-0) met up with Winthrop (18-0-1).
Things would go the Cougars way in this one, as they took down Winthrop 6-0 in the MIAA Division 1 Girls Round of 16. Despite the score the Vikings gave Austin Prep a battle.
The score was 2-0 in favor of Austin Prep late into the second period, when a goal by senior Maeve Carey upped the Cougars’ lead and they took off from there.
“It was a very exciting win,” said Austin Prep coach Stephanie Wood. “Going into this, every game is tough, but it is so nice to be back playing playoff hockey in front of a big crowd. Winthrop had a great season, but with the team we have this year we are able to generate offense in a lot of different ways – through our forwards and our blue line and tonight that was a big factor for us.”
Austin Prep broke the game open in the third netting three more goals to come away with the victory and move on to the Quarterfinals where they will take on the winner of Wednesday’s HPNA-Reading game.
Winthrop goalie Summer Tallent was outstanding in her final high school game, finishing with 37 total saves.
“I commend Summer (Tallent),” said Wood. “She did an incredible job tonight and just in general with her career. We knew we would be facing a really tough goalie, so we had to find ways to score through traffic, screens and tips and we had a couple goals like that tonight. But, Tallent did a phenomenal job and I commend Winthrop on such a great season.”
It didn’t take long for the Cougars to get on the board as 1:43 into the game, junior McKenzie Cerato tipped it right in front after a pass from Sabrina Axelrod.
Austin Prep carried most of the play in the first, as they put 18 shots on Tallent, keeping her busy.
Cerato netted her second goal of the night later in the period as she came up the left wing and fired home a wrist shot to put the Cougars on top 2-0.
The score remained 2-0 heading into the second and Winthrop was giving Austin Prep a battle with solid defense and Tallent’s magnificent goaltending that kept them in the game. The Vikings got their offensive cranked up a bit in that second period, but could not get a shot past Cougars goalie Lauryn Hanafin. The best chance was a close-in bid from Emma Holmes that Hanafin steered aside.
With a little over a minute to play in the second, Austin Prep notched that all-important third goal on Carey’s first of the game, exteningd the lead to 3-0. The senior’s wrist shot from the blue line found its way into the net through traffic in front.
Winthrop was determined to come out in the third with good energy and try to get back in this game.
But, 41 seconds into the third, Carey scored her second consecutive goal after a beauty of a pass from senior forward Kathryn Karo.
Austin Prep wasn’t done there, as Cerato completed her hat trick mid-way through the third on a power play goal. Isabel Hulse made a nice play along the boards and passed across ice to Karo who threw the puck in front of the net, where Cerato was there to bury the shot.
Later in the third, the Cougars scored one last goal and this time freshman Molly Sullivan scored on a tip in front after a shot from Carey on the point to seal the 6-0 win.
Austin Prep will now await to see who they will take on next and coach Wood knows the deeper into the tournament you get, the tougher it gets.
“We will be ready and we will rest up before our next game,” said Wood. “We are very excited to move on and keep it going but we know every game here on out will be tough and we have to show up and play.”
** Story by Alexis Demopoulos