The Latin Academy hockey team was rocked by Friday afternoon's car crash on the Arborway in Jamaica Plain.
All four teens in the crash were Latin Academy students according to a story in Sunday's Boston Globe and two were hockey players. The team's coach, Bob McCormick, happened to be on his way home on Friday afternoon and was caught in the traffic caused by the crash.
One students remained in critical condition Saturday, according to the story.
Making its first appearance in the state tournament in five years, the Latin Academy girls’ hockey team could not have made a more dramatic entrance than the one it made Monday at Murphy Memorial Rink in South Boston.
Going into the final period trailing Martha's Vineyard, 2-1, the Dragons tied the game on freshman forward Julia Pano’s goal with 7:13 left, and sophomore forward Bridget Fehily scored the go-ahead goal with 1:26 to play.
An empty-netter by freshman forward Danielle Baldassari with two seconds left put Latin Academy's 4-2 victory on ice.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, I feel like we worked really hard,” Fehily said. “We never wanted a game more than this and I think we showed that when we came out to play. We just knew we had this game if we worked hard enough and we’d get it. And we just had to believe in ourselves to be able to do it.”
Pano tied the game on a shot from about 30 feet that bounced out of the goaltender’s glove and into the net.
“I just came down, crossed the blue line, and just took a shot to try to get a goal because we needed it to tie,” said the freshman, who has been on the team since sixth grade. “We haven’t been to states in so long. I haven’t been to states and I’ve been here three years. There are some girls on the team who are seniors and they’ve only been once and they lost in the prelims.
“So it’s a lot of hope for us.”
On the go-ahead goal, Fehily knocked in a rebound after senior forward Tayla Duarte attempted a shot from behind the net that deflected off the goalie.
“I was just going to the net trying to get any puck that I could and I hit it and it went in,” Fehily said. “To score that goal, I couldn’t believe it.”
Second-year Latin Academy coach Ronald Ford said he told his players to “anticipate what is going to happen” when he addressed them before the final period.
“If you anticipate correctly and you’re ahead of the play you’ll have a better opportunity to score,” he said.
Ford said once Latin tied the game he was confident the momentum would push his team to the victory.
“It’s amazing ,” he said. “It really is, the girls truly put their heart on the ice and left it there for the game to decide what happens. They played as hard as they could and they played really well.”
Martha’s Vineyard outshot Latin Academy, 24-14. Natalie Lombardi made 22 saves for the Dragons.
“Natalie has been amazing this year, it’s her senior year,” Ford said. “The two years I’ve worked with her she’s been amazing and we’re lucky to have her.”
No. 18 Martha’s Vineyard, which made states for the first time in program history last year, finishes its season 10-8-3.
“It was a tough loss,” Martha’s Vineyard coach John Fiorito said, “obviously having the one goal lead going into the final period. You want a better result but I told the kids the program has come a long way. … We just couldn’t get out of our own way in the third period. Clearly they came out, we were on our heels. We had a couple opportunities … It was tough. They worked hard. They are in our league so we’ve seen them a couple times.
“It’s a nice little rivalry we got going even though we are on opposite ends of the world in the big scheme of things.”
Latin Academy (11-6-4), the 15th seed, advances to play second-seeded Falmouth.
“We’re happy to be advancing beyond the first round but we’re trying to go as far as possible,” Fehily said.
With the final seconds of the Boston City League hockey championship game at Matthews Arena winding down on Thursday morning, East Boston senior goalie Sean O’Halloran allowed his fifth goal of the day.
Five seconds later he buried his facemask into the top of his goalie pads. Almost immediately he was surrounded by his teammates as Latin Academy celebrated its ninth straight city championship at the other end of the ice.
“It made me break down even more because I know that they are always there for me, we’re still a team win or lose,” O’Halloran said after the Jets' 5-1 loss. “It’s kind of like the last time you’ll ever be playing high school, it’s kind of disappointing.
“To go out on a loss is obviously disappointing too. And to let up the late goal kills.”
O’Halloran, who has been the starter since splitting time his freshman year, said he’s never beaten Latin Academy in four years, including a loss at Fenway Park last year.
But O’Halloran has a lot to be proud of during his tenure at East Boston, sometimes making 40-60 saves per game and creating a buzz in the stands.
O’Halloran, who made about 40 saves against Latin Academy on Thursday, made about 60 the previous night in a 9-2 loss to Nashoba Valley Tech.
“He gets so much recognition from other coaches and parents,” said O’Halloran’s mother, Valarie Murphy. “I heard one of the other parents from another team say, ‘That goalie is phenomenal.’ I said, ‘Thank you very much, that’s my son and that’s really nice to hear from someone on the other team,’ and he was like, 'All the parents are talking.’ ”
O’Halloran’s task was even harder on Thursday because East Boston only had 10 players compared with Latin Academy’s 22. Two Jets went were out with a concussion, two were academically ineligible, and one couldn’t play for disciplinary reasons.
East Boston coach Robert Anthony said O’Halloran is one of the best goaltenders he’s ever had.
“Sean is up there but we didn’t have the bodies behind him,” Anthony said. “When you are skating nine or 10 players behind him it’s kind of hard.”
Latin Academy coach Robert McCormack said O’Halloran is an excellent goalie.
“He’s been playing us strong for the past few years,” he said. “And we knew we were going to run into him. He makes a strong initial save and he’s good at covering up rebounds.”
Even though East Boston finishes with a 3-13-2 record, O’Halloran was able to look at the sunny side this season.
“My uncle always tells me look at the bright side; you get a lot of shots, you’re never really going to see that if you are on a good team,” O’Halloran said. “So if you are on a bad team you can benefit from it too, just getting a lot of shots, quality shots.”
And if nothing else, deflecting all those shots is a great workout.
“Since I was a freshman I kind of got used to it,” he said. “I wasn’t really used to it before because [in] youth hockey you don’t really get anything. It’s definitely something to get used to. It is draining at times. At the end of the day I feel drained getting that many shots but it just keeps me up and gives me the will.
“I want to win every game. No matter how big of underdogs we are I still want to go out on top. I just kind of push myself.”
O'Halloran has not gotten any scholarship offers from colleges. Murphy said her son will try to walk onto a team. She said he has applied to 15 schools and been accepted to three: Southern New Hampshire, UMass-Dartmouth and Bemidji State in Minnesota.
“That’s the one he’s wanted since he was a sophomore,” Murphy said of Bemidji State.
Murphy also said she would have liked to see her son end his high school career on a high note.
“We usually lose to them just by one point,” she said. “I thought maybe we could win by one today and just give him something to remember his high school years by but unfortunately it doesn’t look like that.”
She was speaking as the clock wound down and her son was swarmed by his teammates one final time.
“I think they know he’s kind of the one who holds this team together,” she said. “He has been for the last couple years. I’m very proud to say that he’s my son.”
East Boston and Latin Academy are set to meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning at
Matthews Arena for the Boston City League boys’ hockey championships.
While Latin Academy (8-10-1) will move on to the state tournament, the city championship is the last game of the season for East Boston (3-12-2).
“Your ultimate goal is to get to the big dance and get into the state tournament, but if you can’t get that far because you just don’t have talent or numbers, the next goal is to play in city championship so you don’t come back with nothing,” said East Boston coach Robert Anthony.
“I don’t consider the city championships a consolation prize. The city championship is a superb game. It’s a good chance to get out on the ice and fight each other and the best man wins.”
The Dragons have won the city championships for eight consecutive seasons and this season are led by top scorers Mark Guerard, Paul O’Keefe, Pat Owens, and Daniel O’Connell.
“We hope that we can do our best to win and be successful in the tournament,” said Latin Academy defenseman Peter O’Donnell. “I think our strengths are our readiness to work with each other as a team. We have our own specific talents and use it as a team to do our best.”
Anthony took over East Boston’s program in 2001 and so far he has beaten Latin Academy in the city championships twice. When they met during the regular season, Latin Academy won the first game, 7-2, and the second game, 5-4.
Anthony is still optimistic that his team can win.
“Hopefully my goaltending will be there, and I have a couple kids who are good scorers,” Anthony said. “If we can put the puck in the net and play superb defense and keep them off the boards, we can come back with a W and that’s what I’m hoping.”
East Boston goalie Sean O’Halloran has saved 304 shots this year out 376 attempts.
“My goaltender, when he’s on his game, it’s hard to beat him,” Anthony said.
The top scorers for East Boston are Steven Considine (16 goals and 11 assists), Brennis Scales, and Donnell Dunn.
“Here’s a kid with potential to break 100 points by the time he reaches the top level and gets up to be a senior.” Anthony said about Considine. “He’s got 63 points and I can’t see him not reaching 100 points.”
Eliza Mauro is a junior at Latin Academy.
Globe Correspondent Justin A. Rice contributed to this report
Natalie Lombardi can remember the first time she put on her Latin Academy hockey jersey. Even though the senior goaltender described her performance as a seventh grader as “entertaining” she still smiles when reminiscing on her high school career.
That’s not her only reason to smile. Lombardi has been selected as an All-Star for the Southeastern Massachusetts Girls Hockey league for the second straight year.
And the team will play as a No. 15 seed in the Division 2 state tournament against No. 18 Martha's Vineyard at 3 p.m. on Monday at Murphy Memorial Rink in South Boston.
“It’s special. Being on this team for six years, I just always try putting my best out there and getting to go to the All Stars just means a lot because it just means my hard work paid off and people see that,” Lombardi said.
One person who has enjoyed seeing Lombardi’s work pay off is her coach, Ronald Ford. The goaltender’s effort has propelled them to a 10-6-4 record this season, clinching a spot in the state tournament nearly a month ago.
“Natalie has been a solid performer her whole time at Boston Latin Academy and this year we have the team to support her, so it’s great to have the full complement of what you need for hockey,” Ford said.
While highlighted as being consistent, Lombardi could not emphasize her improvement throughout her six years enough.
“I wasn’t that good, just because going from U-12 to varsity, it’s a big difference just shot wise and now I know a lot of the shots and I have more quickness and agility than I did when I was little,” Lombardi said.
However, starting at a young age and competing against experienced athletes proved to be one of her best decisions as a hockey player.
“It made me realize early on how tough every other team is and it showed me that high school hockey is a big competition for girls,” Lombardi said. “It showed me that there’s a lot of good players out there.”
Lombardi may be right about the surplus of good hockey players on the high school level but for her coach, no one seems to a fit as a replacement for the senior goaltender.
“It’s tough because we’ve relied on Natalie a lot the past five years or so,” Ford said. “Having to replace her is going to be a very difficult task."
While a senior season can be bittersweet, Lombardi said she would savor it all as Latin Academy prepares for the state tournament.
“The girls are amazing, I would do anything for my teammates,” Lombardi said. “It’s just one of those things where you want to take everything in and cherish all the moments.”
Boston Latin got a victory, beating North Andover 4-2 Wednesday at Matthews Arena, but coach Frank Woods wasn’t impressed.
“We expected a very difficult game and I think that’s pretty much what we got,” he said. “It was not a very pretty game. It was not a well played game on either side.”
The game was extremely physical and there were frequent penalties, and the first quarter ended tied at 0-0.
“In the first period we weren’t playing very well and our competition level was very low,” Woods said. “We weren’t doing a good job on our end getting the puck out cleanly.
Boston Latin got it together at 11:25 in the second quarter when freshman forward Jimmy O’Leary pushed the puck into the net, assisted by senior captain Ryan Dougherty.
“We had the younger kids step up with the goals; two were by freshmen and the first of their career,” Woods said. “It was something we talked about the entire game - get pucks in the net. We didn’t do enough of that tonight, but we were able to create some opportunities.”
Boston Latin struck again at 6:09 when senior forward Joe Petruzziello positioned himself in front of the net and tapped the puck off an assist from senior forward Greg Penella from behind the goal.
North Andover began to get frustrated and moved to Boston Latin’s side of the rink for the remainder of the quarter, but was stopped by the defense of senior CJ Duella and senior captain Brian Forgione.
When Penella scored just 30 seconds into the third quarter after a mad dash, as well as freshman Sean Burke at the 7-minute mark, it looked like Boston Latin was on its way to a shutout. North Andover had other plans.
Although it struggled to get the puck into the net for the entire game, North Andover scored the last two goals in the last six minutes.
“We definitely underestimated them out there and let them get back in the third period,” Forgione said. “Two goals in the third period is not good. We didn’t play the way we are capable of playing. We could have played a lot better.”
Senior forward Jake Silk had a beautiful shot that opened the scoring for North Andover and senior forward Dan Rivet finished in the last minute.
Boston Latin will face one of the top teams in the league, Lincoln-Sudbury, on Saturday at 12 p.m. at Matthews Arena. Woods hopes two days of practice will be enough to get his team ready.
“[Lincoln Sudbury] is one of the best teams in our league and we’re going to have to be a whole lot better than tonight if we want to beat them,” he said. “We just have to play a lot smarter.”
If anyone knows losing isn't easy, it’s senior captain Sean O’Halloran who has been goalkeeper for the East Boston Jets hockey team since he was a freshman. Last year was tough as the Jets finished their season with only four wins and 16 losses. What’s even worse, says O’Halloran, is that many of the losses were by one goal.
“I’d rather lose by ten goals than one,” O’Halloran said. “When it’s that one, you keep thinking about it, trying to figure out how you can get it back.
“It haunts you.”
Last season the Jets lost 1-0 to Nashoba Valley Tech, Trinity Catholic and Latin Academy – all in a row. They lost by one again, 3-2, to Cape Cod Tech, Mystic Valley and Fenway.
Those close losses weren’t easy for O’Halloran, who believes that he was responsible for the single goals that determined the losses.
“When we versed Fenway I had 50 saves but all I could think about is that I wish I had 51,” he said. “ I just wanted to play those teams again and prove we could beat them.”
Now that O’Halloran is a senior, he wants revenge for his last year on the ice. The Jets are 1-2, leaving plenty of time for improvement. O’Halloran believes there is no time to waste, however, and has already started making changes.
“To get more wins we need to improve on goal scoring, defense, offense, everything,” he said. “Also as a captain I make sure to keep the boys in line in school and on the ice.
He said another reason the Jets had a tough season last year was because many players weren’t doing well in school. This year, he’s making sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I make sure they’re always in class keeping their grades up and getting to practice on time.”
In addition to keeping the team in line, he’s also making sure his goaltending skills are top notch.
“I’m working hard on rebound control and just pushing myself every day to do better in practice,” O’Halloran said. “My coach isn’t too hard on me because he knows I’m hard on myself.”
In addition to longtime coach Robert Anthony, East Boston has also recruited David Hunt, manager of the Eastie rink, to ensure the Jets have their best season yet. He said both coaches help the team improve simply by going over the basics, working on systems and breakouts.
“When he’s focused. he plays like gangbusters,” Anthony said. “When he steps his game up, the other boys capitalize on that.
“The strength of the team is from goaltending on out.”
It’s especially important for O’Halloran to improve and finish his career on a good note because of the hockey culture in his hometown, Charlestown.
“Growing up in Charlestown, you’re pretty much pushed to play hockey,” said O’Halloran, who has been playing since he was seven years old. “Everyone knows each other in the hockey community and kids only two years older than me are getting drafted into the NHL.
“It pushes me to work hard to succeed every day.”
After graduation, O’Halloran hopes to attend a college where he can play in the highest division possible. He knows that a successful season this year could get him closer to his ultimate goal.
“I think one thing every game: I might never get to do this again,” he said of being a goalkeeper. “I’m going to push my team every day and make it clear that winning is our goal.
“This season, instead of losing by one, we’re going to win by one.”
The Latin Academy girl’s hockey team defeated Brookline, 6-1, Sunday night at Matthew’s Arena, and the domination came as a surprise; fueled by tons of action in a thrilling third quarter.
Even more surprising was that star of the game, Dragons freshman forward Danielle Baldassari is new to the school.
“This is my first time even playing with girls,” Baldassari said. “I’ve played with boys my whole life in South Boston.”
Following only one score in the first period by junior forward Kathleen Torpey, Baldassari started her hat trick at 11:42 in the second quarter. Freshman defender Margaret Whalen assisted on the goal by Baldassari, who shot the puck into the low right corner.
Down by two, Brookline (0-5) worked to pick it up at the end of the second period and succeeded when senior forward Devin Crowley shot the only puck that passed Dragons senior goalkeeper Natalie Lombardi.
The game was close at the start of the third period, 2-1, until the Dragons (3-1) took control over a four-minute span.
“The girls just put everything together and couldn’t stop scoring,” Latin Academy coach Ronald Ford said. “They got four goals in four minutes – that was pretty great.”
Baldassari scored with 6:22 left in the period after a cluttered fight for the puck near the crease. She scored again for the hat trick with 3:01 left after a rink-length rush.
“My first hat trick actually feels normal, scoring goals just feels natural to me,” Baldassari said, while her team chided her for her modesty. “But I guess it is pretty awesome.”
The Warriors' defense collapsed over the remainder of the period as sophomore forward Bridget Fehily and senior forward Jordan Fleming also scored.
“We were doing all right but we just came in so strong in the third period,” Baldassari said. “We crashed every rebound and our defense stopped [Brookline] every time.
“This was our best game by far.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
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