Young Melrose squad holds its own against Austin Prep in 3-0 loss
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — Two days after securing their first ever postseason win, the Melrose High School girls varsity hockey team were shut out by fifth seed Austin Prep in first round play of the MIAA Div. 1 playoff by a score of 3-0 at Stoneham Arena on Saturday.
Despite the loss to the favored Cougars, Melrose defense prevented an onslaught of scoring, thanks in part to Melrose’s Hannah Aveni, an eighth grader goalie for Melrose who registered almost 30 saves at the net.
“We put up a good fight against a good team. I believe many people didn’t expect us to get this far and do as well as we did against Austin Prep,” said Melrose head coach Samantha Tetreau. “We played great hockey from beginning to end but unfortunately we let our guard down on a power play and they capitalized on it.”
Goals from Caroline Benson, Kylie Currier and Olivia Finocchiaro helped lift No. 5 Austin Prep (16-3-2) to the 3-0 win over No. 21 seeded Melrose (9-10-2). Austin Prep improved to 16-3-2 and advanced the quarterfinals against No. 4 Watertown/Belmont on Wednesday at Woburn.
Melrose failed to get on the board but not without numerous attempts at scoring by various Lady Raiders, including Samantha Kroon, Saoirse Connolly and Rachel DiFraia but Austin Prep junior goalie Caty Flagg of Methuen had 14 saves to keep the shutout for the Cougars.
Melrose had a number of power plays that just missed in the first and Aveni recorded four saves at the net from a ferocious Cougar offense. But Austin Prep’s Caroline Benson was first on board, hitting a shot with 5:09 left in the first. Only 30 seconds later teammate Kylie Currier scored to make it 2-0.
Melrose didn’t throw in the towel, however, and Aveni fended off a flurry of scoring opportunities at the net, aided by defensive work from Alyssa Gorman and the Lady Raiders finished the first without more damage. Olivia Finocchiaro made it a 3-0 game at 13:38 in the second and from there Melrose defense clamped down on the Cougars, with Aveni making five straight saves as Melrose missed another power play opportunity down the stretch as the teams left the ice at the end of two.
Perhaps it was the third quarter that gave preview of the kind of team Melrose fans might expect next year and year after that. The young Melrose Lady Raiders, whose starting line consists mainly of freshmen, pulled off an admirable period against the experienced, well-built Cougars and kept them scoreless, with Aveni holding down the fort and Melrose maintaining possession for most of the period. Yes, it remained a 3-0 shutout, but more importantly drew to mind what this team’s future may be like. One can only wonder what this team will evolve into in one or two years time.
When asked if Melrose could be on the verge of a breakout season, their coach could only agree. “Yes, so long as we continue to improve and don’t lose anyone,” Tetreau replied.
Saying goodbye this year is their lone senior, Kayla Mattucci.