The biggest question as the puck drops on the 2020 MIAA Girls Division 2 tournament is whether there is any team or teams that can serious challenge Wellesley’s quest for a third straight state title.
Wellesley joins 22 other qualifiers looking to garner the D2 state title. The top nine seeds drew a bye into the first round, while the remaining clubs will start their post-season in a preliminary matchup.
Here is a look at the Division 2 field:
#1 seed Wellesley (19-1-0)
The Raiders were nothing less of dominant this season, outscoring their opponents to the tune of 90-12. They own wins over three of Division 1’s top five teams – Austin Prep (who gave Wellesley its only loss back in December), Braintree and Woburn.
“We are doing our best to take it one game at a time, and not look further than our next opponent. said Wellesley coach P.T. Donato. “We will continue to push ourselves in practice as we believe that is what has led us to our success this season. I believe that our team defense has been a major part of our success, we try to defend every zone on the ice and not give up odd man rushes. We do our best to be the team that sets the pace of play and it starts with our forecheck. We also have been lucky to get production across multiple lines this year with 20 goal scorers on two different lines.”
That pair is the senior duo of Mackenzie O’Neil (26 goals) and Emily Rourke (20 goals). Senior Bridget Noonan, junior Bliss Vernon and sophomore Danielle Cimino are other scoring options.
On defense, senior standout Erin Fleming leads an impressive group that includes juniors Lauren Burke and Maja Desmond and sophomore LuLu Rourke. Senior Liddy Schultz is a three-year starter in goal.
#2 seed Norwell (18-2-0)
The Clippers roll into the season on a 15-game winning streak and boast one of most prolific offenses in the post-season, having scored 103 goals this winter.
Leading the attack are senior veterans Casey Ward and Casey Messina, who both eclipsed the 100-career point plateau early in the season. Senior Grace Burke is a key component as well for coach Frank Messina.
The defense has a lot of experience with seniors Brenna MacDonald and Emma Campbell, and junior Emma Breen. Senior Katrina Mitchell and freshman Nicole Prescott are Norwell’s goalies.
#3 seed Canton (16-1-4)
The Bulldogs lost some key personnel from last year’s club that was tourney bound but came right back to have another banner season.
“I thought we had the potential to be a solid team this year, but the success that we have had caught me somewhat by surprise,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “Our group has committed themselves to each other and has pushed each other every day to raise their level of play.”
It doesn’t hurt to have a player the likes of Olivia Maffeo. The freshman defenseman led the team in scoring with 32 points, including 27 goals. She is joined on the back line by seniors Alexa Maffeo (16 pts) and Meg Aldrich (10 pts). Freshman Carolyn Durand has 13 shutouts and 0.71 gaa.
Up front, Maria Femia (17 pts), Lizzie Tassinari (13 pts), Tess Khoury (12 pts) and Ellie Rae Roberts (9 pts) are offensive leaders.
#4 seed Dennis-Yarmouth (12-2-3)
The Dolphins will be a threat with their defensive style of play and opportunistic offense.
Senior Georgie Snow had a huge season after returning from the prep ranks and leads coach John Shaw’s offensive attack. Sophomore Amelia Veara and Chase Holmes are involved as well.
Defensively, senior Lily Holmes and junior Phoebe Holmes are keys in front of sophomore goalie Tess Labelle.
#5 seed Sandwich (17-5-0)
Another top program coming out of the Cape & Islands League, the Blue Knights showed they have the ability to score, putting up 88 goals on the season. They and coach Stephen Noll will not be satisfied with a one-and-done post-season.
Senior Kileigh Holt, junior Maura McIver and sophomore Paige Hawkins are keys to that potent offensive attack. Rachel Brooks kicked in with some key points.
On defense, senior Anna Goodwin is the team’s shutdown blueliner. Freshman Olivia O’Brien has emerged as a force. Freshman Sophia Viseglio will be the goaltender.
#6 seed Ursuline Academy (13-3-4)
The Bears quietly had a solid campaign, one they hope will last at least a few more games.
Senior Bridget Popkin (31 pts) leads a multi-faceted offensive attack that also features senior Mary Kate Rusnock, sophomores Emily McHugh and Meghan Foley, and eighth-grader Kayla Rice.
On the back end, junior goaltender Lucy Reardon will be fronted by senior veteran Sarah Manning, Tess Marchi, Hannah Daly, Erica Rice and Nina Polansky.
#7 seed Notre Dame Academy (13-5-3)
A strong stretch drive has the Cougars optimistic heading into the post-season. They are battle-tested, having reached the state final game last winter, taking Wellesley to overtime.
“To start the season we were a very young team,” said NDA coach John Findley. “It took them a little while to mesh together but they have worked so hard and we have become stronger as the games and season goes on. NDA needs to get top goaltending, great defense and timely goal scoring. If the girls follow the game plan they will be successful.”
Christine Landry (31 pts) and Caelan Stewart (23 pts) are offensive catalysts, as are eighth-graders Juliana Connors (15 pts) and freshman Lauren White (13 pts).
Senior Kelsey Stewart (18 pts) backbones a solid blue line group that includes junior Hana Bevilacqua and eighth-grader Siobhan Kelleher. Freshman Lily Prendergast will be in goal.
#8 seed Algonquin/Hudson (13-4-3)
A six-game win streak heading into the post-season has the T-Hawks optimistic about being a tournament player.
“The team is playing well and coming together nicely,” said Algonquin/Hudson coach Mike Hodge. “To make a deep run we’ll need continued offensive production and solid, smart D-zone play.
Offense hasn’t been a problem, spearheaded by senior Amy McGlashing (42 pts) and junior Kerryn O’Connell (37 pts – 29 goals). Also in the mix are Heather Hodgkins (22 pts), Ava Domolky (13 pts) and Maggie O’Brien (12 pts).
The defensive rotation features Sabrina Ferro, Jill Johannes, Olivia Bower and Melissa Perry in front of goalie Lana Pacific.
#9 seed Westwood (14-5-3)
A team not to sleep on are the Wolverines. Despite big losses from last year’s squad, Westwood won 14 games, a third straight Tri-Valley League crown, and had a 12-game unbeaten streak. They are shooting for their sixth final four appearance in the last nine years.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t count this team out,” said coach Ed Amico. “To make another serious run they will need to play for 45 minutes, play unselfish hockey and focus on the fundamentals and the little details.”
The Wolverines boast five players with 20 or more points in Hannah Blomquist (36 pts), defenseman Sophia Levering (32 pts), Kendall Blomquist (23 pts), Abby Crowley (21 pts) and Emma Conway (20 pts).
Joining Levering on the blue line fronting freshman goalie Marissa Poma are juniors Kelly Ross and Kathleen Reissfelder, sophomore Meghan McDonough and freshman Caroline Shu.
#10 seed Natick (14-6-0)
The Redhawks projected to be a strong club this winter and they haven’t disappointed. Now, they hope to have some post-season success as well. “Strong leadership on and off the ice and great team chemistry have been keys,” said coach Bruce Ihloff.
Senior Jacqui Poulack (29 pts) headlines the Natick offense, joining Claire Maxwell (18 pts), Caroline Gates (16 pts) and Nicole Schnair (12 pts).
Hadley Green (12 pts) and Erin Quirk (10 pts) join Harleigh Sirafos and Stella Tavilla in the Natick blue line rotation. Lilly Fangel is in the nets.
#11 seed Bishop Fenwick (12-5-3)
It is the fourth tournament appearance in the eight-year history of the Fenwick program, the first under first-year head coach John Kasle. This young team looks to make some noise.
Leading scorers for the Crusaders include junior Gabby Davern (26 pts), sophomores Emma Perry (20 pts) and Lauren Diranian (19 pts) and freshman Abbey Millman (19 pts).
Sophomores Grace Morey and Catherine Salvo are a pair of key defensemen while senior captain Cailyn Wesley handles the goaltending duties.
#12 seed Falmouth (10-5-5)
With a solid nucleus of young guns up front, the Clippers will be a tough opponent in the post-season.
Coach Brian Ferreira got solid production up front from sophomore Samantha McKenzie (34 pts) and the freshman trio of Ryann McDonald (31 pts), Meghan Azzato (20 pts) and Katie Shanahan (8 goals).
Senior captain Catie Brodie anchors the blue line. Freshman Abby McDonald is a key player. Another freshman, Lucy Armour, projects to be in goal.
#13 seed Dedham (11-7-2)
Offensive depth is a hallmark of the Marauders, who boost seven players with seven or more goals.
“Being able to score goals is always huge, especially when you have a few different players that can do it,” said Dedham coach Christine Gurskis. “We play three lines and they are all capable of getting things done on the ice. We also have solid defense that not only play tough out front, but are capable of putting the puck in the net.”
Depth up front comes from junior Lilly Riley (21 pts), junior Madelyn McLeish (20 pts), junior Alexis Stec (19 pts), senior Jenna Soucie (18 pts) and eighth-grader Ava Iantosca (19 pts).
Offensive also comes from the back-end, with rearguards Kassidy Hickey (17 goals), Maille Crowley (21 pts) and Kate Coakley (9 pts) all getting involved in the offense. Katie Soucie will be in the nets.
#14 seed Norwood (13-7-2)
The Mustangs came into the season young and somewhat inexperienced, but jelled to produce a 13-win season (11 for MIAA tournament purposes) and a tournament berth.
At forward, coach Tim Coskren will lean on senior Allie McDonough, junior Maeve Glavin, sophomore Marissa Cataldo and freshman Morgan Roach to lead the way.
Converted forward Allie Martin, Erinn Wagner, Viviane Sharkey and Allie Parkinson will see key minutes on defense. Senior Jenna Mazzola is a solid presence in goal.
#15 Cohasset/Hanover (9-6-3)
Peaking at the right time, Co-Han is ready for the challenges of a playoff season.
“The keys to our success this season have been balanced scoring, strong defense and great goaltending,” said co-coach Pam Manning. “Seniors through freshmen the team has really come together and supports each other.”
Freshman Sofia King (23 pts) leads the club in scoring. Senior tri-captains Olivia Hussey (18 pts), Lauren Farren (15 pts) and Krista Soldano (13 pts) are key components as well.
Co-Han has depth on defense, anchored by senior Lily Tobin (12-4-16). Also in the group are Sarah Long, Anna Cain, Brook Martin, Mia Slowey and Sophia Wirtz. In the nets, look for junior Anna Tedeschi to get the call.
#16 seed Medfield/Norton (10-7-3)
The Warriors are excited to be in the post-season and look to pick up a few wins while there.
Junior captain Krista Anderson leads the offense along with junior Kelly Morrison, sophomore Brynn Leahy and freshman Cassie McDonald.
Freshman Katelyn Cardoso is in goal, with junior Brenna Smith and sophomore Lily Goodman controlling things on the back line.
#17 seed Bishop Stang (10-7-3)
It was to be a rebuilding year for the Spartans, but things came together and resulted in another post-season berth.
Juniors Maddie Andre and Destiny Arruda, and promising freshman Mikayla Brightman are keys offensively for coach Bill Theodore.
Jocelyn Silva is vital on defense. Freshman Sophia Babineau mans the cage.
#18 seed Burlington (10-8-2)
Winless a season ago, the Devils made a remarkable turnaround, winning 10 games and qualifying for the post-season. A key has been the contributions of a handful of young talent.
“The season has been a fun ride and the girls have played hard,” said first-year head coach Rick Sheehan. “The three leading scorers are eighth-graders, and six of the nine eighth-graders on the roster have played a significant role this season. It speaks well to the future.”
Bella Hacker (35 pts), Siena Berardinelli (34 pts) and Shea McDonald (19 pts) are the young guns powering the attack. Junior Ava Petrone and eighth-grader Addie Jay have produced as well.
Junior Sydney Shinopoulos, freshman Lizzie Boulos and eighth-grader Katie Hayes play big roles on the Burlington blue line. Senior C.C. Phair is the goaltender.
#19 seed Wakefield (8-8-4)
The Warriors don’t score a whole lot, just 46 goals in 20 games, but it was enough to secure a tournament berth.
Key forward for coach Chrissy Weeden includes seniors Erin Heffernan and Annabella Forziati, sophomore Maeve Recene and freshman Grace Seabury.
Freshman Caroline Melanson has been a steady influence on defense and also gets involved offensively. Senior Carestin Stewart and sophomore Olivia Johnson are defenders to watch. Sophomore Abby Boudreau takes care of things between the pipes.
#20 seed Pembroke (8-10-2)
The Titans qualified under the Sullivan Rule. They come in with a short roster, just 12 skaters. They don’t score much, but don’t allow many goals either.
Senior Lisa Freeley, junior Hannah Gerlach, sophomore Ali Zeoli and eighth-grader Alexa Lewis form the core of the defense. A pair of netminders – sophomores Kaleigh Murphy and Allison Stone – both saw action this winter.
#21 seed Wilmington (7-10-3)
A co-championship in the Freedom Division of the Middlesex League gets the Wildcats into the post-season.
Looking to help Wilmington chalk up a post-season win are forwards Zoe DeRose (junior), Ida Bishop (junior) and Payton Fuller (senior), defenseman Bridget O’Shea (senior) and goaltender Melanie Hayden (senior).
#22 seed Winchester (6-12-2)
The Sachems may have qualfied via the Sullivan Rule, but don’t underestimate them, as a top-heavy Division 1 schedule should have them ready for the post-season.
“Playing a heavy D1 schedule can only help,” said coach Craig Seabury. “The Middlesex is one of the strongest leagues in the state so I think we’ve seen some really good teams. The win total doesn’t reflect success.”
Senior Whitney Krayer and junior Nikki Micciche will be the offensive leaders. On defense, Issy Bressette and junior Ariane O’Rourke are expected to see large minutes. Amy Scali will be the goaltender.
#23 seed Leominster (4-14-2)
The Blue Devils are in after finishing first in the new four-team Central/West B Division. They look to give Natick a tussle in their preliminary round matchup.
“To be successful we need to focus on strong defense, taking advantage of scoring opportunities and playing a full game,” said coach Nancy LeBlanc.
Juniors Hanna Erickson (10 pts) and Alanna Hoag (9 pts) and sophomore Molly Kimball (7 pts) are key forwards for coach Nancy LeBlanc. On defense, Kaitlyn Bremer, Kaylee Doiron, Alice Mead and Anna Simmons hold down the fort in front of senior goalie Jenna Morse.