Thursday, February 15, 2018

Austin Prep Improves Super 8 Resume with Win over St. Mary's

By Eamon Convey (@ConveyWEEI)

Lynn, Mass. -
In any sport, games that decide a regular season championship generally come down to which team performs better under pressure.

St. Mary’s High School (Lynn) hosted rival Austin Preparatory School Wednesday, not only with a CCL regular season title on the line, but also in front of hundreds of fans on Senior Night.

The (#10) Spartans (11-3-4) and (#9) Cougars (10-5-1) both came into the game with dreams of a Super 8 bid, yet only AP escaped with the ability to control its own destiny still intact, thanks to a resounding 6-1 victory.

Though just his first year at the helm for AP, head coach Bill Pappas has been around this program a long time and knows what it takes to win against a streaking team like St. Mary’s.

“That was a good win,” Pappas said as a look of relief flashed across his face. “Those kids worked hard tonight and I am proud of them.”

Despite the final score, this game was closely contested for two full periods, as the Spartans fought hard for its six seniors: goalie Kevin McMullen, forward Tommy Cash, captain forward Anthony Bono, forward Jason Loeser, defenseman Chris Kirby, captain defenseman Nico Scalli.

From the opening faceoff the Cougars skated well and it paid dividends early as Rago and Maffeo combined to spring Nick Cafarelli up the boards where he snapped off a wrist shot at the left circle that beat McMullen low on the stick side.

“It feels good to get a win like that,” Rago said. “CCL champs for the fifth year in a row and a great win for the program. It was a bounce back win, after back-to-back losses, and we lost to them in the first round of the Serino Holiday Tournament, so definitely a good statement game.”

Despite taking the early 1-0 lead, the Cougars ceded the next one, as junior goalie Rob Farrell made an initial save on Cash’s shot but couldn’t find the puck before freshman Jaiden Moriello poked it home to tie the game.

“St. Mary’s always plays us tough,” Farrell said. “To get this win feels completely amazing because we want to get into the Super 8.”

After that tally by the Spartans, it was all Cougars. After taking a penalty that the Cougars killed off and receiving a power play from a Spartans’ Colin Reddy crosscheck, Cougars’ junior Kevin Urquhart found the back of the net courtesy of Rago and Rick Lyons.

Just two minutes into the second period, after junior Sullivan Marino created a good chance for sophomore Christopher Roy, senior Matt Sacco slipped the rebound past McMullen to give the Cougars a 3-1 lead over the Spartans.

“A Super 8 berth would mean a lot to us,” Rago said. “Especially where we have come from this season, starting on a rough patch, but we continued to work our tails off to get where we are now and this is the reward.”

While the Cougars scored plenty of goals in this one, Farrell’s play was sensational all evening between the pipes.

“Unbelievable,” Rago said with a smile. “Huge game for him and a great game all around. We just didn’t want to lose the league and that was a big motivation for us. We know we need to win out and this is a big step towards doing that.”

“He had a great game,” Pappas said. “You know, he’s had a slight injury and so we’ve been limiting his workload and obviously, as of today, he is back.”

Just a couple minutes into the final period, the Cougars struck again to begin the rout. First, it was senior Dylan Arnold with a wrist shot that found daylight low and away on McMullen to give his team a three-goal advantage. With five minutes left in the game, Lyons slammed home a cross-ice feed from Nick Cafarelli and finally, on the power play, a shot from Jake Thain was poked home by Rago.

“The defense did an incredible job in front of me tonight,” Farrell said. “Moved Spartans out of the way and kept me with lines of great vision all night.”

When asked about having ten different guys on the scoresheet tonight, Pappas replied, “It’s about time!”

No comments :