ALI MAGUIRE had 6 goals and teammate Meghan Maher (left) had a hat trick during Melrose’s big opening round win over Norwood, 16-12 on Tuesday at Dedham High. (photo by Raj Das www.edphotos.com)

 


First playoff win in 5 years for Melrose girls

 

By JENNIFER GENTILE

NORWOOD—The Melrose High girls’ lacrosse team was firing on all cylinders and picked up their first MIAA playoff win over over 5 years with a 16-12 win over # 32 seed Norwood (8-10) on the road at Dedham High on Tuesday, June 7.

Melrose senior captain Ali Maguire led the charge with 6 goals and 2 assists, while freshman find Jill Frawley gave notice to the division with her 5 goals and assist which helped Melrose (9-9) take a first half lead of 5-4 and never look back. At the net, Melrose goal Sofia Hitchman had a stellar game with several clutch saves (10 total) including one late in the third that prevented a goal that could have narrowed the gap to three goals.

“This was some of the best I’ve seen this team play,” says Melrose head coach Matt Galusi. “Every single player contributed. Our defense stepped up big time. And like she’s done all season, Ali [Maguire] just took total command out there on offense. She is that player and the Norwood coach commented on her play after the game. She’s a leader and we just feed off of her.”

He also credited freshman Jill Frawley who showed not an ounce of nerves in her first playoff appearance. “Welcome to tournament, freshman!” Galusi quipped.

Melrose (#33 seed) now advances to Round of 32 play against #1 seed Notre Dame of Hingham on the road on Thursday, June 9th at 4:00 p.m. (post deadline)

At the start of the game, Norwood took an early 2-0 lead that Melrose didn’t let phase them. “We may have had a little bit of jitters,” notes the coach.

But with Ali Maguire on face off Melrose soon took command and she scored her first goal about four minutes in the game to make it 2-1. Then she scored again on a free shot to tie it up 2-2 at the 16:30 minute mark. The two teams would swap leads of 3-2 and 4-3 before Melrose’s Megan Casey found Ali Maguire with a gorgeous assist that allowed Maguire to tie it up 4-4. Melrose was essentially in control after that. It was then that the young Jillian Frawley turned a difference-maker. She had two goals in the close of the first half, along with goals from Alison Doherty and Meghan Maher. Melrose held a 10-6 lead going into the half, but were aware they’d need more to fend off the Mustangs in the second half. Norwood came out energized and Melrose would rely on Hitchman to thwart shots as the Mustangs pulled close at 12-8. Jenna Maguire also came up key outside the net while aiding Hitchman.

Meghan Maher also had a hat trick and was key on all ends of the field, along with teammates Megan Casey and Alison Doherty (1 goal). Maher’s goal with 11:00 minutes left in the game helped Melrose take a lead of 14-8.

Says Galusi, “I thought those two did so many things for us that worked. Jenna [Maguire] and Rory [Kirby] also played really well as did Emily Lucian, who brought a physical element to the game. And Sofia at the net was solid. Even when they rallied towards the end, she clamped down.”

Management of clock was essentially, especially in the waning minutes of the game when Norwood threatened by narrowing the gap 14-11 and 15-12. Hitchman and defensive work from LIndsey Teevan and Kate Hubbard helped kill momentum. Ali Maguire had a fast goal coming out of face-off that deflated the Mustangs rally to make it a 15-11 game. It impressed the commentators of Norwood public access tv, fans and the Melrose coach. “That’s what we call the ‘10 second draw’” comments Galusi.

Melrose’s Sofia Pitcher chipped in with Melrose’s last goal of the game for a 16-12 final.

This is Galusi’s first playoff win in his tenure, though certainly not their first playoff experience. Prior to COVID-19, Melrose had the dumb luck of facing Marblehead out of the gate. Needless to say, this team is relishing a playoff win.

“We’re soaking it in, but we have our work cut out for Notre Dame,” says coach Galusi. “They’re a superior coached team and the program is just top notch. They have several Div. 1 recruits on this team and are seeded #1 for a reason.”

Melrose will hit the road, traveling to Notre Dame of Hingham on Thursday, June 9th at 4:00 p.m. (post deadline) Fans are encouraged to visit our social media pages and visit the MIAA website for up to date game information.