Medway/Ashland’s sophomore goalie Kathryn Hamer has worked diligently to get back to where she left off last season before an incident occurred that brought her national attention.
Playing in the MIAA Division 1 state preliminary round against Winthrop/Lynn, Hamer was blinded by a laser pointer used by a Winthrop parent and allowed two goals, which helped lead to her squad’s 3-1 loss.
“The whole thing is shocking. That’s something that never happened before, you don’t know what to expect,’’ said Hamer.
Medway/Ashland appealed, asserting the distraction affected the game, but it was denied by the MIAA. The Winthrop father was charged with disturbing the peace.
“It caught fire nationally. The MIAA and Winthrop could have sent a strong message and they didn’t,’’ said Medway/Ashland coach Kurt Carter.
“In hindsight, it was unfortunate for us and our seniors that graduated. It was probably unfortunate for Winthrop girls, too, since their win was marred by something that will hang with them for a while,’’ he said.
“I thought it was unfair, but I respect their call,’’ said Hamer, who uses the incident as motivation.
The loss sent Medway/Ashland back to square one.
For Hamer and her returning teammates, a fresh start is what the squad needed. The team, which has retained the majority of its defense, has brought along a group of freshmen who are adding the goal scoring.
“Last year, we knew we had a strong defensive team and we had to play smart, hardworking, low-scoring games to have a chance,’’ said Carter.
Hamer wants to make sure the team doesn’t squander its chance this season.
With Maeghan Vasile (two goals), Meaghan Croke (one goal), and Kerryann Goode (two assists) joined Hamer in sealing a 3-1 victory over King Philip on Jan. 26 as the team qualified for the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.
“It’s definitely nice to have a second chance [to play in the tournament], but I don’t view it like that, we earned it,’’ said Hamer.
Hamer, who has been on the team since seventh grade, has posted a 2.06 goals-against average this season for a team that enters this week with a 9-4-2 record.
“This is her fourth year with us and her maturity, physically and mentally since seventh grade, has solidified her position,’’ said Carter.
Hamer isn’t the only leader on the team.
Senior Kait O’Sullivan, a four-year starter, was designated captain this year because of her maturity, development, and ability to be a natural leader.
Leading the offense are freshmen trio of Goode, Jillian Murphy, and O’Sullivan, who have combined for 23 of the team’s total 47 goals.
Carter has chosen not to dwell on last season’s incident.
“We’re just as happy to be back in the tournament. We’ve talked about opportunity more so than anything and to make the most out of it,’’ said Carter.
The farthest the team has gone in the tournament was in the program’s first year, four years ago, to the second round.
Finishing this season on a high note is going to be a challenge for the squad that saw its best defenseman Katie Peters, injure herself in a fall. Peters will be out for at least 7-10 days, said Carter.
Medway/Ashland faces Canton on Monday, followed by back-to-back matchups with Westwood, the two teams ahead of Medway/Ashland in the SEMGHL West standings.
Games of the week
No. 5 Reading at No. 4 St. Mary’s, Monday, 8 p.m. — Reading has rebounded from a 2-16-1 finish last season to go 12-2-1 behind freshman standout Ali O’Leary (21 goals, 13 assists). The Spartans (11-2-2) are led by Kaleigh Finigan (13 goals, 19 assists) and Alison Butler (20, 13).
No. 4 St. Mary’s at No. 7 Arlington Catholic, Wednesday, 6 p.m. — The Spartans stunned the defending Division 1 state champ at the start of the season, 4-1, and are on a 10-game unbeaten streak. The Cougars, who sport the same 11-2-2 record, rely on the goaltending of Megan Messuri (0.93 GAA) to keep them afloat.
No. 11 Westford Academy at No. 12 Billerica, Wednesday, 8 p.m. – Westford (11-3) needs to reboot after an unexpected 4-0 loss to Andover on Saturday. Ali Garvin gave Westford the upper hand in the first matchup Dec. 22, contributing a goal and two assists in a 3-0 win over Billerica (10-3-1).
No. 9 Canton at No. 8 Hingham, Saturday, 6 p.m. — Meaghan McKenna has pulled through for the Bulldogs (14-2), scoring a team-leading 28 goals. Hingham has not won since Jan. 23. The Harbormen (8-5-2) are led by Jane Freda’s 18 goals and 11 assists.
No. 19 Arlington Catholic at No. 3 Falmouth, Saturday, 6:50 p.m. — The Clippers (11-1-1) were just handed their first loss of the season by Duxbury and will be looking to end their season on a high note.