One program has been in this situation many times and is a defending state champion. The other is making its first appearance in a state title game and in fact, is in its first season in Division 1.
Both second-seeded Woburn (23-0-2), and fourth-seeded Methuen/Tewksbury (22-1-2) arrive at Sunday’s MIAA Girls Division 1 final (9 am, TD Garden) on a roll. The Tanners, Middlesex League Liberty Division kings and defending state champions, have outscored their opponents by a 93-25 margin. The Red Rangers, champs of the MVC/Dual County Large, have scored 97 goals this season, and allowed just 28 having moved up from Division 2.
As they say, something has to give.
At first glance it would seem the clubs are very similar: potent offenses with many scoring options, solid defensive play and good goaltending. But at least one opposing coach feels the Tanners and Red Rangers are different types of clubs, which should make for a great game.
“They are similar in one way, they both have a dynamic individual player,” said Winchester coach Craig Seabury, whose Sachems faced both teams during the year (losing twice to Woburn in Middlesex League play, 3-1 and 3-0, and once to Methuen/Tewksbury, 6-2). “Other than that the teams are very different. Woburn is very disciplined and does not make mistakes in bad areas that hurt them. Methuen/Tewksbury is a run-and-gun team that loves the offense. They will trade chances with you and hope to outscore you in the end.”
The two dynamic players Seabury is referring to need no introduction. Woburn’s Georgie Santullo and Methuen/Tewksbury’s Kelly Golini are two of the premier offensive talents in the state. Santullo, who enters this game with 37 goals, has seven post-season strikes and went over the 100-career goal mark this year. Golini has a 32-20-52 scoring line, and recently eclipsed the 250-career point plateau and became the Red Rangers all-time leading scorer.
But those two stars aren’t the only players opposing defenses need to worry about.
Woburn seniors Cassidy Connolly (14 goals) and Marissa Gregory (15 goals), both, like Santullo, have had post-season hat tricks. Seniors Maddie Russo and Kaitlin Delaney are two more offensive players to watch for the Tanners.
On the other bench, coach Sarah Oteri’s Red Rangers also feature the likes of the junior tandem of Cassidy Gruning (18 goals) and Carolyn Curley (16-15-31). Sophomore Lydia Pendelton (16 pts) and freshman Kaylen Taddia (20 pts) are two more offensive threats.
On the blue line, Woburn coach Bob MacCurtain’s defensive crew is headlined by senior Angie Moore (11 pts) and a pair of impressive freshmen in Cailin Flynn (17 pts) and Sophia Gregory. Sophomore Erin McComiskey has had a solid year as well.
For Methuen/Tewksbury, sophomore Brenna Greene (15 pts) has emerged as a shutdown blueliner who gets involved offensively as well. Sophomore Madi Sjostedt and junior Megan Forbes have been solid.
Sophomore Kaia Hollingsworth will be in goal for the Red Rangers, as she has been since the seventh grade. Also a sophomore, Amanda Essigman has handled the majority of netminding duties for Woburn as a first-year starter.
Woburn has outscored its opposition in the post-season by an 18-3 count, with wins over St. Peter Marian (4-0), Winthrop (6-1), Braintree (6-1) and Austin Prep (2-1). Methuen/Tewksbury has defeated Reading (3-2), Franklin (4-1), Barnstable (3-1) and Masconomet (4-2).
The only blemishes on Woburn’s regular season mark were a pair of 2-2 ties with Reading and Westford Academy, while the Red Rangers had a loss to and tie with Andover, and a tie with Masconomet.
“In order for Woburn to win they will need to contain Golini, which is obviously easier said than done,” Seabury said. “Woburn just has to play their game and be themselves which is defending state champs. Methuen/Tewksbury obviously needs Golini to have a monster game. They also need to not turn the puck over in bad areas because Woburn makes you pay for that.”