As Arlington Catholic coach Maggie Taverna put it, girls’ hockey deserves a platform to find the state’s “true” state champion.
Requests for the girls’ version of the Super 8 were answered this year with the inception of the 8 Showcase, an event hosted last week at the Pilgrim Arena in Hingham that matched the state’s top talent. The event showcased primarily Division 1 programs with two-time defending Division 2 state champion Duxbury the one exception.
If this event was any indication as to who the Division 1 state champion could be, it would appear to be Woburn.
After at least five years of falling in the shadow of reigning programs such as St. Mary’s, Hingham, and now Arlington Catholic, forward Kayla Smith is shifting the odds in favor of the Tanners (17-0-3), who had their first undefeated regular season since 2003-04.
The senior captain has 31 goals and 24 assists, earning her a spot in the 200-point club. Her performance, combined with junior Ashley Moran (23 goals, 25 assists), settled the score against defending Division 1 state champion Arlington Catholic, 4-1, in the 8 Showcase, avenging last season’s 3-2 shootout loss in the Division 1 state quarterfinals.
After clearing that hurdle, and sporting a 76-12-12 regular-season record over the past five years, there isn’t much standing in Woburn’s way. The Tanners should make it to the state semifinals and a prime matchup would be against St. Mary’s, which twice eliminated the Tanners from the tournament, in the ’09 and ’10 state championships.
However, St. Mary’s has been hit with injuries, explaining the squad’s 1-0 shootout loss to Duxbury, courtesy of Hannah Murphy, in the 8 Showcase, followed by its 2-2 tie with Lexington. Unless senior forwards Alison Butler (31 goals, 23 assists) and Kaleigh Finigan (17 goals, 27 assists) can produce, the Spartans (15-3-4) will struggle.
Hingham has the best chance against St. Mary’s in what would be a Division 1 state quarterfinal. The Harbormen beat common opponent Lexington, 3-2, in the 8 Showcase. Senior forward Jane Freda (31 goals, 16 assists) leads Hingham (13-6-3).
On the other side of the bracket is the Beverly/Danvers co-op (16-2-2), which saw its perfect season come to an end after the squad fell to Chelmsford, 4-1, and lost the Cougar Classic Blue Division championship to Westford, 3-1.
Westford (15-3-2) and Reading (14-4-2) are the co-op’s biggest contenders, but the Rockets are disadvantaged, having no experience in an elite tournament.
But, before that contest, Beverly/Danvers will have to get past Arlington Catholic. The Cougars (13-4-2) were tested in the 8 Showcase, falling to Woburn, 4-1, and Duxbury, 3-0. The Cougars are most solid between the pipes with junior Megan Messuri (0.93 GAA).
Lexington (12-5-3) hasn’t had trouble scoring despite the team’s end of the season slump, falling to Arlington Catholic, 5-1, and Hingham, 3-2, and tying St. Mary’s, 2-2, in the 8 Showcase.
Sidenote: Watch out for Medford’s Brittani Lanzilli, who leads the state with 33 goals and 30 assists.
Duxbury’s chance of grabbing a three-peat as state champion is threatened by Division 2’s biggest threat — Falmouth, the team that ended the Green Dragons’ 34-game unbeaten streak this winter.
Duxbury was the only Division 2 program offered a spot in the 8 Showcase and the Dragons (18-1-2) came out strong with a shootout victory over Division 1 program St. Mary’s, and even sweeter, a 3-0 shutout over defending Division 1 state champion Arlington Catholic.
The Dragons are propelled by senior forward Hannah Murphy (23 goals, 16 assists) and junior goalie Rachel Myette (0.97 GAA, six shutouts).
Falmouth’s only loss is to Duxbury, but the Clippers (16-1-2) beat Norwood and Wellesley in the Cape Cod Classic. Clippers junior forward Alexa Scribner (19 goals, 12 assists) and sophomore goalie Madison Scavotto (1.21 GAA, seven shutouts) are standouts to watch. Also, keep an eye on Canton (16-3-1) and high-scoring senior Meaghan McKenna.