If familiarity breeds contempt, then Sunday’s MIAA Girls Division 2 state final between Wellesley and Notre Dame Academy should be a battle.
These clubs, who between them own the last three Division 2 state championships, played twice during the regular season. So, there won’t be any secrets when they hit the TD Garden ice (9am faceoff).
The two teams played each other twice over a four-day span. The first contest ended in a 1-1 tie, the second a hard-fought 3-2 win for Notre Dame.
“I see it as a low-scoring, tight checking game,” said Milton HS coach Bobby Dwan, who team played and lost to both teams. “Both have good goaltending and solid defense. Wellesley is starting to score more goals which is a plus for them. Both teams are very disciplined and protect their net well. It will probably come down to who stays out of the penalty box, and who gets the lucky bounces.”
Wellesley (16-4-3) is the defending state champ. Notre Dame won titles in 2016 and 2017. In the 2016 state final, the Cougars beat Wellesley.
That 2016 Notre Dame team included a trio of freshmen, who, now as seniors and four-year varsity players, look for their third state title. They are three of this Cougar team’s key players for first-year head coach John Findley.
Alexa Graziano, one of those three players, drives the Cougars offensive attack, coming in with a line of 29-13-42. The two other four-year players – Caitlin Delano (16 pts) and Kelly Morrissey (18 pts) – combined to score all three goals in the Cougars’ 3-0 semifinal win over Westwood.
NDA also gets offense from the likes of senior Ava Bevilacqua (17 pts), sophomore Christine Landry (19 pts) and freshman Danielle Longuemare (15 pts).
Junior Kelsey Stewart (12 pts), senior Natalie O’Brien and sophomore Sarah Leonard (13 pts) have been keys on the blue line.
In goal, eighth-grader Lily Prendergast has been solid all season.
Since the loss to Notre Dame back on February 1, the Raiders have really turned it on and have been on the top of their game in the post-season.
They possess a multi-pronged offensive attack that includes the likes of juniors Mackenzie O’Neil, Bridget Noonan and Emily Rourke, sophomore Bliss Vernon and freshmen LuLu Rourke and Danielle Cimino.
Junior Erin Fleming and sophomore Lauren Burke are defensive cornerstones for coach P.T. Donato, looking to win a second state title in his first two years behind the bench. Junior Liddy Schultz, who backboned last year’s state title win, brings her experience in goal for Wellesley.