MIAA Girls Division 1 Final: Shrewsbury Earns First State Championship, Takes Down Top-Seed St. Mary’s

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopouloshttp://www.hnibnews.com
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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Shrewsbury captains, coach Frank Panarelli and athletic director Jason Costa with the MIAA’s Dan Brothers and the 2023 Girls Division 1 state championship trophy.

Sophomore defenseman Yasmine McKenzie’s power play goal 4:50 into the third period broke a 1-1 tie and propelled third-seeded Shrewsbury to a 4-1 win over top-seeded St. Mary’s in Sunday’s MIAA Girls Division 2 state championship game at TD Garden.

It was the first girls hockey state title for the Colonials in the school history.

“In the 15 years of the program, we had never made it,” said Shrewsbury coach Frank Panarelli. “We finally got here. It was only fitting that we beat the #1 team. They (St. Mary’s) were ranked #1 from the pre-season. That is all we kept hearing about. It was a lot of motivation for the girls.”

Shrewsbury’s Taylor Ryder, Maddie Mrva and Yasmine McKenzie talk about the title game win here:

A key to this win, according to Panarelli, was the team’s defensive effort on St. Mary’s forward Jenna Chaplain, who came in with a team-leading 59 points.

“We watched a lot of film, and obviously their best player (Jenna), we were able to shut her down a little bit,” he said. “We took her out of the game a bit. She is a great hockey player. We were able to do a good job on her. They go the way she goes.”

Through the first 30 minutes, it was a pretty even game, with Shrewsbury entering the third period with a 1-0 lead, thanks to a first period strike from senior Taylor Ryder, who put a home a nice goal mouth feed from linemate Katie Vona.

The Spartans, held to just two shots in the second period, where finally able to break through early in the third, tying the game at 1-1 at 2:37. Senior Amanda Forziati got it, snapping in a second chance rebound to the right of Colonials’ netminder Risa Montoya.

“When they tied it, I told the girls on the bench that it wasn’t over, that there was a ton of hockey left,” Panarelli said. “They (St. Mary’s) are a great team. They have scored a hundred-something goals so they are going to score a goal. But we didn’t let up. Yazzie’s power play goal was huge.”

A look at Shrewsbury’s three third period goals that sealed the state title win:

At 4:24, Shrewsbury (21-2-2) went on the power play, and it took them just 26 seconds before McKenzie buried the eventual game-winner, firing home a high shot from the center point with plenty of traffic in front of St. Mary’s goalie Ang Cantino.

“We watched some film and noticed that they were a little bit more laid back on their penalty kill than most teams would be,” said McKenzie of her ninth goal of the season. “So everything to the net. If you see the net, take a shot. That’s what I did. There were a lot of bodies in front and that helped take away the goalie’s eyes.”

Shrewsbury’s other high scoring blue liner, senior Maddie Mrva, made it 3-1 for Shrewsbury with just 2:13 to play with a highlight reel goal, busting down the right side, swooping into the slot and depositing home a backhander.

St. Mary’s pulled Cantino for a sixth attacher off the ensuing faceoff, and Shrewsbury’s Paige Umile iced it with an empty net goal with 1:26 to go.

“One of our goals was to play for a state championship and we ended up doing so,” said St. Mary’s coach Frank Pagliuca. “We didn’t play well enough to win. You have to give credit to Shrewsbury. They beat us to pucks. They blocked shots. They did all the little things that we didn’t do. They wanted it more tonight. I’m proud of our kids. We had a great season. We should hold our heads up high.”

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