Erin Bennett knew Matignon had its team put together right after the season opener.
On Dec. 28, the Warriors knocked off Catholic Central League foe St. Mary’s, 3-1, with two power-play goals. For a team that finished 9-11 last season and missed the playoffs by two points, the win over a perennial state championship contender proved to be the missing piece.
“It was an ecstatic win with the power-play goals,” said Bennett, a senior defenseman and co-captain from Medford. “Just to have the feeling that we can finally beat this team, it was us realizing we have that we-can-do-it mentality,”
Could the win have been a harbinger of what was to come? Nine games later, sandwiched around a two-week COVID-19 pause, Matignon still hasn’t lost. The Warriors are 10-0 after a 6-1 win over St. Joseph Prep/Mount Alvernia on Wednesday and enter the CCL Cup as the top seed with a bye into the semifinals. Their success has been the byproduct of talent jelling at the right time.
“Once we set the tone with the St. Mary’s game, I told the girls every team is going to want to beat us because we’re the top dog,” second-year coach Tommy Scarpa said. “There was a lot of disappointment last year and I think that led to a lot of excitement to get the season started and show that we weren’t the team we were last year.”
Matignon rolled through its first five games, outscoring opponents 23-6, and it’s two sophomores who are providing most of the team’s scoring. Lizzy Greeley leads the club with 14 goals and had seven assists from the second line entering Wednesday. Tia Picardi has 4-9—13 totals. Junior Alexa McKim has three goals and nine assists. McKim, along with sophomore forwards Reaghan Hammersley and Molly Walsh, also play under Scarpa and Arlington Catholic coach Natalie Flynn’s U19 Boston Imperials girls’ club team. Playing at the club level has also helped multiple Matignon players boost their skills.
“The forwards, they just kind of flow together,” Bennett said. “On and off the ice, and our first line, those girls have been best friends for a long time. Tia, Lizzy, Alexa [on the second line] all kind of share the same game play. They just weave together and it works.”
Then, as quickly as Matignon got its offense flowing, the season froze. After a 3-2 win over Bishop Fenwick on Jan. 10 to move to 5-0, Matignon was forced to go on a two-week COVID-19 pause because of positive cases on an opposing team the Warriors played earlier that week. No Matignon players or coaches have tested positive so far, but worrisome thoughts crept into their minds. Would their impressive season end so soon?
“There was definitely some worry at that time because a lot of other teams were only playing two games because they were having their seasons paused,” Bennett said.
Matignon returned to the ice for practice on Jan. 24, and three days later, resumed playing with a 6-1 win over St. Joseph Prep/Mt. Alvernia. After two more wins over Arlington Catholic later that week, Matignon faced defending Division 1 co-state champ Austin Prep, a team that entered the Feb. 3 tilt at Stoneham Arena with a 23-game unbeaten streak.
After falling behind 1-0, McKim, and seniors Molly McConnell and Alaina Aiello scored third-period goals to win 3-1. The Warriors stood firm at the top of the CCL knowing they had vanquished their toughest opponent. Greeley’s goal, the second of the period, was the winner. She took a pass from McKim on a 2-on-1 and buried it with 10:44 remaining, just like they had practiced.
“It was sort of just the perfect goal, the perfect pass back, pass and return for the goal. Just seeing it all work out in a big game was a big moment,” Bennett said.
Matignon as a school always had a hockey pedigree, but that’s dimmed over recent decades. The boys’ program, which won eight state championships from 1975-93, and yearly made bids for the Super 8 title upon the tournament’s inception, folded after the 2018-19 season. Players joined a Revere/Malden co-op last season, but the Greater Boston League isn’t playing boys’ hockey this year because of COVID-19. Other Matignon students are playing for the Imperials’ Boston Hockey Academy affiliated with the school. When Scarpa’s out in public and people find out he’s a coach at Matignon, he’s often regaled with stories of state championships past, the halcyon days of boys’ hockey at the small Cambridge Catholic school.
“When you think of Matignon you think about the ’70s and ’80s when they were beating up on teams and their seasons were so epic,” Scarpa said. “I kind of feel it’s a bit of my responsibility to keep this going, the hockey.”
It looks like the girls are picking up right where the boys left off.
▪ Just a sophomore, Maggie Lynch became the second member of the Quincy/North Quincy co-op to surpass 100 career points this season, joining teammate Orla O’Driscoll, a junior, in the century club. Lynch, who attends Quincy High, scored six goals and dished out two assists Thursday in a 14-8 Patriot League win over Scituate at Quincy Youth Arena, raising her career point total to 105. She added six more goals and an assist in an 8-3 win over East/West Bridgewater on Saturday. She has a staggering 112 points (85 goals, 27 assists) in just 33 games.
“She’s smart and has an extremely good shot,” Q/NQ coach Jeff Craig said. “She’s really good when she gets over the blue line. She just gets through people. When she gets an opportunity, she buries it.”
▪ For the first time since the Patriot League began sponsoring girls’ hockey for the 2017-18 season, Pembroke won the league’s Fisher Division crown. After dropping their season opener against Duxbury on Jan. 4, the Titans have rattled off 11 straight wins. They will open the Patriot Cup competition against Hingham (4-4-3) on Saturday.
“Opening up with Duxbury right off the bat, we gave up a quick goal and were just unsure of ourselves,” Pembroke coach Bill Flynn said. “We have a lot of young, young kids. It’s just about getting the ball rolling and we’ve been playing really, really well.”
There are two seniors on the roster, captains Miranda DeMita and Hannah Gerlach. The leading scorer, eighth-grader Jennifer Birolini, has 13 goals and 12 assists. Goalies Kaleigh Murphy and Alison Stone, a pair of juniors, have allowed 11 total goals for a Pembroke team that has scored 51.
▪ After winning its season opener, 3-2 over Cohasset/Hanover on Jan. 3, Marshfield dropped its next eight games until getting back on track in dramatic fashion against the Plymouth co-op Monday. Junior Josie Keeler provided all the offense for the Rams in a 3-2 win over the Blue Eagles, recording a hat trick — including the game-winner with 0:27 left in regulation at Armstrong Arena.
Correspondent Jake Levin contributed to this report.