MC, Weymouth moving on up
LOWELL — With the goal of advancing to the Super 8 crossover round within reach for Weymouth, the back-and-forth battle with Malden Catholic last night came down to the final minutes, when Ryan Fitzgerald seemed to bury the Wildcats’ hopes by burying a shot from the slot to give the Lancers the 5-4 victory at Tsongas Center.
As it turned out, Weymouth had already done enough to move on.
Malden Catholic (3-0) won Bracket 1 outright, while Weymouth (1-2), by virtue of Central Catholic’s loss earlier in the day, moved on based on the second tiebreaker, greatest goal quotient. Central’s goal quotient (goals scored divided by goals allowed) was .857. Weymouth’s was .90. Hingham, which was also involved in the three-way tie, had a goal quotient of .46. By a margin of .043, the Wildcats will play Wednesday.
Weymouth’s Matt Cataldo coached the entire game under the impression that his team needed a victory to keep its season alive. As a result, after Fitzgerald’s goal, Cataldo pulled goalie Brian Brady with 1:21 to go.
“I was told it was head to head, which is why we pulled the goalie,’’ said Cataldo. “If they had scored an empty-netter, that would have been the end of our year. That could have been a disaster.’’
The Wildcats came out firing on all cylinders and took full advantage of a shaky Lancers defense.
“We played horrendous defensively,’’ said Malden Catholic coach Chris Serino. “The positive part is that we did find a way to win, so you got to be happy with that.’’
Ian Sheridan picked up a bouncing rebound off of a Bob Ganley shot and, with Malden Catholic goalie Pat Young out of position, he buried it in the back of the net at 8:18 of the first.
Weymouth capitalized on a Lancer tripping penalty as Tyler Piacentini collected a rebound in front following a slap shot from Corey Tuplin, putting the Wildcats up, 2-0, at 13:09.
“We just didn’t compete in the first period,’’ said Serino. “We got beat on every one-on-one battle. We quit on the backcheck.’’
Malden Catholic picked up second-period goals from Mike Iovanna (4:53) and Colin MacGillivray (6:58) to tie the game, 2-2. In the period’s closing seconds, Fitzgerald grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, split the defense up the middle, and put it top shelf to give Malden Catholic the lead.
Weymouth would not succumb to the Lancers’ mounting momentum. Tuplin, on a power play, flicked one past Young (29 saves) from the top of the right circle, knotting things up at 2:46 of the third period.
Piacentini helped the Wildcats continue their push when he stole the puck at the blue line and sneaked in past two Lancer defenders for a clean shot. Young stoned the bid, but the puck rolled back toward the slot where Trevor King swept it in for the go-ahead goal at 6:34.
“I think that once we went down a goal, we started to play with a sense of urgency,’’ said Serino.
The Lancers battled through two shorthanded situations and turned the momentum back in their favor with numerous shots.
The pressure paid off when Garrett White passed the puck toward the front of the net where Nick Roberto slammed it home to square it up with less than four minutes to play.
With the clock ticking down, the Lancers’ urgency paid off once more when Brendan Collier found Fitzgerald in the slot, who turned and fired high past Brady (33 saves) for the winner.