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Shrewsbury’s confidence in high-scoring blue line rewarded with Division 1 girls’ hockey state championship

Shrewsbury's Rachel Bunsick (17) carries the trophy to the student section as teammate Maggie McManus celebrates their 4-1 win over St. Mary's in the Division 1 girls' hockey state championship.MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

The Shrewsbury girls’ hockey team went into their Division 1 championship matchup against top-seeded St. Mary’s with confidence.

A high-scoring blue line was a big reason the third-seeded Colonials excelled through the gauntlet of a Merrimack Valley Conference/Dual County League schedule. Their top defensive pairing of senior captain Maddie Mrva (15 goals, 13 assists) and sophomore Yasmine McKenzie (9 goals, 18 assists) dominated both ends of the ice.

“I’ve been saying all year long, from our goalie to our four defensemen, they’re the strongest in the state,” said Shrewsbury coach Frank Panarelli.

McKenzie delivered the eventual winner with 10 minutes remaining in the third period of Shrewsbury’s 4-1 win in the Division 1 girls’ hockey state championship at TD Garden on Sunday. McKenzie’s seeing-eye shot on the power play found its way into the back of the net just two minutes after St. Mary’s had tied the game.


“It was such a blur. That power play, it was really what we needed to get us going on the right foot,” said McKenzie. “We just figured . . . everything to the net, if you see the net take a shot and that’s what I did.”

Shrewsbury(21-2-2) showcased a captain connection to open the scoring. Katie Vona sent a pass through the crease, and the puck found its way to the stick of fellow captain Taylor Ryder, who fired a back-door shot past Spartans goaltender Ang Catino.

St. Mary’s tested Shrewsbury throughout the first frame and earned a bevy of scoring chances. Colonials junior goaltender Risa Montoya turned away all 10 shots she faced through the first 15 minutes.

“Before the game I told [Montoya] ‘You have to be the best player on the ice tonight,’ and she kept us in the game early,” said Panarelli.

Shrewsbury took hold of the game’s momentum with four scoring chances in the second period. It was all Colonials from that point on, and the visitors limited St. Mary’s to just two shots on goal in the second.


In the third, Mrva showcased her speed and long reach when she exploded past a St. Mary’s defender, deked to her backhand, and slotted a shot past Catino to push the score to 3-1 with three minutes remaining. Paige Umile added an empty netter.

“It was a great thing for the program . . . it’s 15 years, never made it, and we got here,” said Panarelli. “It was fitting that we beat the number one team that was ranked [first] from the [preseason] all the way until now.”

St. Mary’s (25-2) was playing in its first state final since 2013.

“It means everything to me. I’ve been here since seventh grade, [Coach Frank Pagliuca] has taught me basically everything that I know,” said St. Mary’s senior captain Jenna Chaplain. “My teammates are family to me. I have memories that I will never forget.”

Shrewsbury players converge on St. Mary's net during the second period.MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Shrewsbury 4, St. Mary’s 1

at TD Garden, Boston

Shrewsbury (21-2-2) 1 0 3 — 4

St. Mary’s (25-2) 0 0 1 — 1

1, S, Taylor Ryder (Katie Vona) 5:00. 2, SM, Amanda Forziati (Haylie Grossman) 12:27. 3, S, Yasmine McKenzie 10:10 (pp). 4, S, Madeline Mrva 2:13 (en). 5, S, Paige Umile (Natalie MacCausland, Bridget McLaughlin) 1:34 (en).

Saves: S, Marisa Montoya, 19; SM, Angelina Catino, 14.

Shrewsbury's Rachel Bunsick (17) presents the Division 1 trophy to an electric student section.MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
Maddie Mrva's third-period goal for Shrewsbury gave the Colonials some breathing room.MARK STOCKWELL FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Olivia Nolan can be reached at