A year ago, when the Methuen/Tewksbury girls’ hockey team made a spirited run to the Division 1 state final at TD Garden, Julia Masotta was not a factor.
The high-scoring forward was not on the roster.
This season, the Tewksbury High senior has been a major factor. She has racked up a state-leading 39 goals, along with 21 assists, to pace the second-ranked Red Rangers to a 17-1-1 record with one game remaining in the regular season.
“I didn’t really expect to come in and play this much of a role,” said Masotta, who, the previous three seasons, had skated for the Boston Shamrocks junior program.
“We found some really good combinations. We all just fit in really well. We’ve all been having so much success.”
Clearly, the Norwich University recruit has had no trouble adapting to the Red Rangers’ style of play.
Methuen/Tewksbury coach Sarah Oteri said Masotta has made noticeable progress on her forecheck and defensive play — Methuen/Tewksbury had registered three straight shutouts before Tuesday’s 4-3 comeback win over Shrewsbury.
Masotta skates on the top line for the MVC/DCL Large champions with fellow senior (and former Shamrocks teammate) Cassidy Gruning ) and junior Lydia Pendleton . Together, the trio accounts for 67 of the Red Rangers’ 94 goals.
“[Masotta] scores in every game,” Oteri said of this year’s MVC/DCL Large Player of the Year. “She’s made the players on our team play a little bit faster and a little bit harder. It’s lifted our whole team up a bit.”
One of her primary motivations for joining the program — beyond having the opportunity to skate alongside her classmates and friends dating back to youth hockey — was rooted in the team’s march to the 2018 D1 final. It was the most successful finish ever for a co-op program in the Division 1 tourney.
Masotta wanted in as the Red Rangers eye redemption.
“That’s our culture, that’s what we work toward,” Oteri said. “There’s a ton of good teams that have depth and skill. It won’t be an easy road, but I do believe we have what it takes to get there, and that’s what we hope for.”
While Methuen/Tewksbury is working for a return to the Garden, Masconomet Regional is also prepped for a deep run after back-to-back trips to the D1 state semifinals. And like Methuen/Tewksbury with Masotta, Masco has a prolific player in senior Abby Gendron.
The second player in program history with 100-plus career points, Gendron is leading a Chieftain squad (11-6-2) that is blending experience with an abundance of youth to make another run.
Freshman Isabel Hulse (15 goals, 30 assists), one of 14 underclassmen on a 20-player roster, has been a fit on the top line.
Gendron (19 goals, 30 assists) is second in the state in points. Together with senior captain Makayla Vincent (17 goals, 7 assists), they have teamed up for 115 of Masco’s 175 points.
“Every year is a little bit different,” Masconomet coach Ryan Sugar said. “We don’t know who we’re getting from [the other schools in the co-op]. I saw a lot of speed in the way that Isabel can play. They clicked very quickly. They assist on every one of each other’s goals.”
Methuen/Tewksbury will take on Masconomet in the final of the Newburyport Bank Ice Hockey Classic Thursday nigth at 7.
In Division 2, juniors Casey Messina and Casey Ward have led No. 19 Norwell (13-4-1) in scoring since they joined the team two seasons ago. This season, they have combined for 50 of the Clippers’ 65 goals.
For 12th-ranked Wellesley (13-3-3), the defending stae champion, junior netminder Liddy Schultz has allowed just one goal in the last five games.
No. 10 Westwood (12-2-5), which started the season with a 9-0-2 run, will lean on senior captain Kat Keith (20 goals, 13 assists), who is a leader in the locker room and on the score sheet.
The Tri-Valley League champion Wolverines, who have yielded fewer than two goals per game for the past two seasons, fell to Notre Dame Hingham in the first round of last year’s tournament.
“She’s very much the catalyst of our team,” said Westwood coach Ed Amico . “She’s on our power play, penalty kill, she’s [a returning] All-Scholastic.
“But one thing that amazes me, she’s got 153 [career] points: 78 goals, 75 assists. She makes the team around her better.”
Sophomore Hannah Blomquist has been shifted from defense to skate on Keith’s line. Amico credited Keith with helping Blomquist emerge as the team’s second-leading scorer with eight goals and 23 assists.
Keith, who is recovered from a high-ankle sprain suffered during a January loss to top-ranked Austin Prep, said the Wolverines’ 0-1-2 slide in recent play serves as motivation.
“It was a good wakeup call for us,” she said. “We need to figure out how to come out strong in games. It was a good test for team morale.
“We need to be able to win games. We haven’t had a big win in a while and have a chance to do so on Thursday [in the Wolverines’ last regular-season game against Mansfield/Oliver Ames/Foxborough]. We can’t take this good season or the TVL title for granted. We need to get off our high horse.”
■ Barnstable coach Peter Nugnes earned his 100th victory in a 7-0 win over Martha’s Vineyard. Since taking charge in 2011, he has led the Red Raiders to the state tournament each year.
“It’s a huge honor,” Nugnes said. “It’s humbling. We’ve had great girls, great parents, a great athletic director, it’s a wonderful program. We’re in a good place.”
■ Canton senior defender Katie Trerice has delivered a number of her best performances this season before puck drop, with her rendition of the national anthem.
After turning heads on senior night for field hockey, Trerice has stepped up to sing the anthem at Canton home games.
“It’s a merge of my two major interests, and I feel more confident almost because they’re two things I really enjoy,” Trerice said. “I get a nice feeling when [the opposing players] look back at me, and I’m like, ‘Yes, I’m singing, and then I’ll be playing.’ ”
■ In her first varsity season, Scituate freshman Christine Oar has made her mark, setting the single-season goal-scoring record in becoming the first 30 goal-scorer in program history. She has surpassed the previous mark (27) set by Alanna Woodford in 2011 and helped the Sailors to their first state tournament berth in five years.
“She’s really rubbed off on the older girls,” Scituate coach Rob Rosata said. “We’ve gone 5-1-1 in our last seven games. She wants to win, and she’s going to be a good player.”
Oar is among 15 freshman who entered the Scituate program this winter. And for most, hockey is their primary sport.
“Hopefully it inspires other girls to play here,” Rosata said.
■ Trailing 2-0 after two periods, Lincoln-Sudbury put together the comeback of the season scoring four goals in the final period to pull out a 4-3 win at Waltham. The Warriors have won three straight heading into Wednesday’s season finale against Wayland/Weston.
■ Canton’s Maggie Malloy and Pembroke’s Carly Birolini and Nikki Rinkus all collected their 100th career point last week.
Games to Watch
Wednesday, Austin Prep at Wellesley (at Babson Rink, 6 p.m.) — The top team in the state aims to stay perfect against the reigning Division 2 champion.
Thursday, Reading vs. St. Mary’s (at Pilgrim Arena, 12 p.m.) — The Spartans are chugging toward the finish line and could be looking to make a statement over a tough Reading team.
Thursday, Walpole at Canton (at Canton Ice House, 2 p.m.) — The Bulldogs have hit their stride at the right time, while Walpole is looking to finish strong.
Thursday, Braintree vs. Westford (at Pilgrim Arena, 4 p.m.) — Another prime matchup at the Hingham Showcase gives the young Wamps their second tough test of the week.
Friday, Duxbury at Notre Dame-Hingham (at Rockland Arena, 12:40 p.m.) — In a makeup from last week, the third-ranked Dragons face their fourth ranked opponent in six days to close out the regular season.