Notre Dame (Hingham) girls advance to Division 1 state final
Senior captain Madison Ahern scored five goals, junior midfielders Maggie Coughlin and Cara Charette scored four apiece, and Notre Dame of Hingham pulled away from Walpole for a 17-8 victory in the Division 1 girls’ state semifinals on Monday night at Babson College.
The Cougars (22-3), the No. 2 seed from the South, advanced to their first Division 1 state final since 2013, when it won the championship. Walpole, the top seed from the East, saw another strong season come to an end.
“You’ve got to battle,” Notre Dame coach Meredith Frank said. “We knew that they were incredibly fast. The more times they touched the ball, the more explosive they would be to get to the goal, and the harder it would be to stay with them. We focused on the extra five seconds it would take to win a 50-50, and I thought our girls did a great job hustling and earning those possessions so that we could keep the ball in our offense.”
Notre Dame jumped out to a 6-2 lead with 8:38 left in the first half, before Walpole responded to slice the deficit to 8-5 at halftime. Ahern delivered a lethal no-look goal off a feed from Charette to extend the lead to 10-5 with 23:07 remaining. The Cougars padded the lead from there, closing the game on a 6-2 run.
Walpole came in with just one loss on the season, but the Cougars ended up running away with a statement win.
Said Ahern: “I’m so excited, not just because we’re in the championship, but because our team has another day together.”
Longmeadow 16, Chelmsford 3 — The Lancers scored two goals in the first 30 seconds and cruised from there in a decisive victory over the Lions in the Division 1 girls’ state semifinals at Babson College.
Holy Cross-bound Henna Brennan scored 10 seconds in, off a feed from Duke commit Kay Conway, then Conway converted off the draw 20 seconds after that.
“It’s really exciting when we get a jump-start and we can spark our offense,” Conway said. “It’s really important for the whole game, setting that tone.”
Junior Ilana Kofman scored five goals for the Longmeadow (17-4-1), the top seed from the Central/West. Conway added four, and Brennan three. Freshman Julia Pitts scored two for the Lions (20-5), the No. 2 from the North.
Longmeadow bolted to an 8-2 lead at halftime and kept the momentum going the entire way.
On one particularly sharp sequence in the third quarter, Conway sprinted upfield and found Jenna Joseph, who fed Brennan near the net. Brennan faked high and went low, catching the goalie off guard and finishing yet another chance.
Now the Lancers get an opportunity to face either South champion Notre Dame-Hingham or East champion Walpole in the state final Friday. This is Longmeadow’s second appearance in the final in the last three years, and it will be looking for its first title since 2015.
Said Brennan: “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
Winchester 10, St. John’s Shrewsbury 3 — With a suffocating ride, a defense disciplined, and a locked-in goalie, all the Sachems needed was a couple of goals to put the game away.
Winchester (21-1) got those scores in the second half of its Division 2 state semifinal at Concord-Carlisle High, earning a win over the Pioneers (17-5) and the program’s first state championship berth since the Sachems won consecutive state titles in 1999-2000.
Winchester will face either Medfield or Sandwich in the D2 state final Thursday at Boston University’s Nickerson Field.
“You hang around long enough, you get to [play in the state final] more than once, maybe,” said Winchester coach John Pirani.
From the opening quarter, St. John’s struggled to clear the ball against Winchester’s aggressive ride. The Pioneers tied the game, 3-3, on a goal early in the second quarter from Trevor Vigeant, but they would not find the net again.
With poles Hayden Bean, Luke Mix, and Andrew Murray leading the way, the Sachems forced a string of turnovers to open a 6-3 lead midway through the third quarter.
“We put the ride in on the first day of practice and have been practicing it every day since,” said Pirani. “It’s really gratifying to see how well our kids play it. It’s almost like they have a third eye in the side of their head. They’re always squeezing the ball one way or the other and know where their adjacent defender is at all times.”
Grant Murray (five goals) handled the bulk of the scoring for the Sachems. At the back end, goalie Matt Suffredini (13 saves) helped keep St. John’s off the board over the final 35 minutes.
“We were a little bit hectic at the start,” said Bean, a Dennison commit. “We were over-pressuring. I think everybody was a little excited. We kind of settled in and once we realized what we were doing out there I don’t think there was much [SJS] could change.”
Medfield 21, Sandwich 5 — For two minutes in Hanover, the Warriors were on the ropes.
About that. After spotting Sandwich a brief 2-0 lead, Medfield proceeded to unleash its fury on the Blue Knights en route to a runaway victory in the Division 2 state semifinals and a berth in Thursday’s state final at Nickerson Field.
Jack McCordic had five goals for Medfield (20-2), while Luke Murphy and Jake Sherman finished with four each. In all, 10 players scored for the Warriors, who will be playing for their first championship since 2016.
“I think our guys were a little bit lackadaisical in the first couple of minutes,” Medfield coach John Isaf said. “Fortunately, we corrected it and got going.”
McCordic’s first two goals tied the game up at 2-2 for Medfield, while Murphy’s first strike gave his team the lead for good. After the Blue Knights (18-6) cut their deficit to 4-3 with 12 seconds left in the first quarter, Medfield proceeded to score 17 of the game’s next 19 goals.
Aside from a narrow 9-7 victory over Concord-Carlisle in the Division 2 Central-East final, Medfield’s average margin of victory this postseason has been 14 goals.
“It’s playing smart with the ball, sharing the ball and being unselfish,” Isaf said.
Sandwich (18-6) comes up short of BU following its first sectional title in program history.
Dover-Sherborn 14, Cohasset 6 — One year after a frustrating finish to the season at the hands of Cohasset, the Raiders exacted revenge on the Skippers while furthering their own chances at a championship ending.
Highlighted by a 28-minute, 26-second stretch without giving up a goal, Dover-Sherborn advanced to the Division 3 state final with a victory over Cohasset (14-8) in Hanover, avenging an 11-3 loss to the Skippers in last year’s state final at Nickerson Field.
“All of us had a pretty sour taste in our mouth after the state championship game,” D-S co-captain Timmy Polk said. “It felt good to dominate the game this year.”
Following a lengthy scoring drought of its own — neither team scored in the second quarter Dover-Sherborn (17-5) reeled off six straight to turn its narrow one-goal halftime advantage into a comfortable 9-2 advantage that was never in danger of collapsing with a defensive unit featuring Alex Thompson, Parker Walsh and Luke Wiese.
“Our defense was playing great,” Polk said. “We expect them to play well the whole game, but we knew it was going to be hard against a team like Cohasset to keep them to two goals.”
Cohasset got off only two shots on goal in the second quarter, one at the buzzer, and didn’t get off another shot that tested Matthew Gallitano until the 10:24 mark of the third, when Colin McFetridge finally brought an end to the drought for the Skippers.
Gallitano finished with eight saves for the Raiders — five in the first quarter — while Polk (five goals, two assists) and Pierce Gregory (three goals, four assists) had seven points apiece for D-S.
Grafton 11, Dracut 6 — For the fourth time in five seasons, the Indians will have the opportunity to play for a state championship.
Grafton ended Dracut’s (17-6) cinderella run in the Division 3 state semifinal at Concord-Carlisle High, setting up a date with Dover-Sherborn in Thursday’s state final at Nickerson Field.
Grafton (20-2) suffered defeats at the hands of D-S in the 2015 and 2016 state finals, lost to Ipswich in the 2017 state championship, and fell to D-S in the state semifinals last season.
“We prepare for this opportunity, and we know it doesn’t always come,” said Grafton coach Alan Rotatori. “We’re confident, but we keep things in perspective. We know who we’re up against. Dover-Sherborn is a top team in the state.”
Dracut, which is coming off the first sectional title in program history, fell into a 6-3 lead at halftime despite the play of sophomore goalie Calvin Desmarias (14 saves).
Middies junior Max Kelley scored three goals in the second half to bring Dracut within 8-6, but Grafton junior Matt Gilliatt (six goals) led a late 3-0 surge to clinch it.
“This group is pretty special,” said Dracut coach Paul Ganley. “Hopefully for us, we can use this run that we had this year to continue to grown and build future success.”
Correspondent Jake Levin reported from Hanover. Correspondent Nathaniel Weitzer reported from Concord.