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.
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.
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.
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.
■ 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.
■ 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.
■ 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.