STONEHAM — The Masconomet girls hockey team overcame their share of adversity this winter. The Chieftains were on their way to doing so again when they rallied from a two-goal deficit in their state tournament opener against Austin Prep at Stoneham Arena yesterday.
The host Cougars and their gifted goal scorer, Maddy Ricci, had other ideas.
Ricci’s hat trick and a pair of goals by Michaela Boyle lifted Austin Prep by Masco, 5-2, in a Division 1 preliminary round match. Ricci netted the game-winning goal with 1:33 left in the second and scored on a 60-foot empty netter with 12.7 seconds left in the third to put it away.
“The one thing this team has is a lot of fight,” said Masco coach Andrew Boepple, whose team went 3-0-1 in its last four games to qualify for the postseason and finished 8-9-4.
Austin Prep (13-5-3) ends Masco’s season in the playoffs for the second straight season. The Cougars outshot the Chieftains 31-16 for the game, with some tremendous work by junior goalie Molly Kelly keeping Masco in it throughout the game.
Kelley made 26 saves in all, flashing the glove on no fewer than three occasions. She left the game with 2:06 to go with a knee injury, and Masco played the vast majority of that time with the net empty in favor of an extra attacker.
Capable fellow goalie Andraya Ferraro didn’t face a shot in about 30 seconds of work. All in all, it was one of the best outings of the season for Kelley, who came into the game having recorded back-to-back shutout in her last two regular season starts.
“Our goalies have taken a ton of steps forward,” said Boepple. “They’re both in their first year playing goalie and to be playing at this high a level is a pretty good thing.”