Seeking its first Division 1 state title in 11 years, the Woburn High girls’ hockey team did not waste any time getting started Sunday morning at TD Garden.
Sophomore Maddie Russo scored seven minutes in, finishing off a feed from junior Georgie Santullo. Four minutes later, the Tanners continued their barrage when a quick richochet behind the net deflected off a Needham defender and onto the stick of Kaitlyn Delaney. She found Caitlyn Cassidy in front for a 2-0 lead.
The early surge powered Woburn to a 3-1 victory over previously unbeaten and top-seeded Needham (20-1-2).
“It was huge, I really felt like if we came out early with a little bit of a lead, they would be able to sit back and relax a little,” said Woburn’s 17-year coach Bob MacCurtain, who led the Tanners to a 21-2-3 finish.
“We didn’t know much about Needham going into this, other than that they were undefeated,” said Woburn senior captain Brianna Jewett.
“It’s a long year, both teams get better.”
Four minutes into the second period, Russo scored her second for a 3-0 margin off a feed from senior Lily Mallard, who was shifted from defense to the top line for the tournament.
“She was clutch,” MacCurtain said of Russo. “She’s been that way the whole tournament, she’s had a fantastic year.”
Russo, Mallard, and Santullo were strong on Woburn’s first line.
“We just brought our game, right away,” Mallard said. “We really just played the game we know how to play. Just play, that’s our team motto, and we did.”
Woburn senior goalie Katelind Ciaverdone made nine saves on 10 shots.
“The puck doesn’t bounce your way sometimes, but today it was pretty good,” she said.
In the third period, trailing 3-0, Needham had two goals disallowed.
Three minutes in, on a break-in, sophomore Elizabeth Phalen got a shot on net and it appeared as if the Rockets had broken through. But it was quickly ruled no goal.
Two minutes later, Elizabeth Hernberg’s shot was ruled a no-goal after it looked like it had slid past the goal line.
“It was just not our day today,” said Needham coach Allisyn Furano-Foster. “I couldn’t ask them to work any harder or try any harder. Sometimes the puck just doesn’t bounce your way.
“Any time you go into a game like this, you have high expectations, and we’ve had high expectations all season. Woburn is a very disciplined team, their coach has them prepared very well.”
The Rockets scored their lone goal with 1:25 left in the game on a tally from Hernberg.
“Hockey is my favorite season, my favorite sport, it’s going to be tough to leave this year,” Hernberg said.
“Lacing up the skates every day is something kids take for granted. A lot of kids don’t have this opportunity. Playing at the Garden, that’s a great memory, I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”
Woburn, which received a police escort back to town from the Gardedn after the game, will have a different kind of memory from Sunday.
“It’s hard to describe it, it’s been a long time,” said MacCurtain. “We were just hoping to give ourselves a chance all year, and we did it.”
Woburn 3, Needham 1
at TD Garden, Boston
First period: 1, W, Maddie Russo (Georgie Santullo) 8:43. 2, W, Cassidy Connolly (Kaitlyn Delaney) 4:44.
Second period: 3, W, Maddie Russo (Lily Mallard) 11:14.
Third period: 4, N, Elizabeth Hernberg 1:25.
Saves: W, Kaitland Ciavardone, 9; N, Melissa Strauss, 12.Marisa Ingemi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.