By Nick Ironside
The St. Mary’s girls’ hockey players didn’t hang their heads when the fell behind, 3-1, to Fontbonne Thursday afternoon at Shea Rink in Quincy.
With less than two minutes left in the second period, Spartans senior Kaleigh Finigan connected to pull the third-ranked Spartans within one entering the final period.
Finigan picked right up where she left off early in third, scoring the equalizer. Freshman Samantha Callahan netted her second of the game just 70 seconds later and senior captain Allison Butler added an insurance goal as the Spartans earned a 5-3 win.
The three-goal outburst came in a four-minute span and coach Frank Pagliuca credited his team’s experience and ability to fight back.
“You never want to give up three straight goals,” Pagliuca said. “But we’ve been in a lot of close games, and we didn’t panic. That was great to see.”
Pagliuca pointed to Finigan’s first goal as a turning point.
“We turned it up with three minutes left in the second, and the goal gave us momentum going into the third period,” he said.
Pagliuca called the game “chippy,” and wasn’t happy with the officiating.
“The officials let a lot go on both sides,” he said. “The safety of the players was at risk. It affected the game, and it was disjointed on both sides.”
Pagliuca was impressed with Fontbonne (8-5-1).
“[Fontbonne] is very aggressive, and I think they can play with anyone,” he said.
But Pagliuca credits the Spartans’ schedule with keeping the team on task, after a three-game run against ranked teams. Before Thursday’s game against the 12th-ranked Ducks, the Spartans (9-2-1) defeated No. 20 Archbishop Williams and No. 8 Westford.
“I think we play the toughest schedule in the state,” he said. “I think that helps us. Playing top teams in the state consistently helps us stay focused.”
The Spartans will have another test against a ranked opponent when they visit No. 6 Hingham Jan. 30.
Shrewsbury 2, Austin Prep 1 — Junior Liz Bertram scored the winner with assists to Rachel Diebold and Katie Moran with 12:45 left as the Colonials (5-4) avenged an early-season loss at the hands of the Cougars (6-5-3). Kelsie Flynn also scored for Shrewsbury, and freshman Delia O’Connor made 24 saves in the win.
Wachusett 66, Brockton 52 — Zach Berman had 17 points and Jesse Maresca added 15 as the top-ranked Mountaineers (12-1) controlled the boards to pull away from the host Boxers (8-3) in the second half.
Brockton, which defeated St. John’s (Shrewsbury) earlier in the season, trailed at halftime, 24-20, but Wachusett’s Jeremiah Perez netted 9 of his 11 points in the second half. Alex Cooper added 9 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds for the Mountaineers. Justin Bowker had 11 points and 11 boards, and Maresca also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Landmark 60, Gann Academy 47 — The Vikings picked up their fourth win behind sophomore center Nolan Wilson’s double-double of 33 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Joe Costigan chipped in 12 points and 10 boards.
Lowell 61, Chelmsford 20 — The Red Raiders finished the season 5-0 and won their third consecutive Merrimack Valley Division 1 title.
Newton North 70, Lincoln-Sudbury 39 — Junior guard Infiniti Thomas-Waheed had 29 points and 10 rebounds and hit all six 3-point attempts to power the Tigers (12-1).