By Cary Shuman
Winthrop High fans can only dream of what might have been had the school started a girls hockey program several years ago and players such as Alex Smith, Michelle Golden, Jess Martino, Jillian Dempsey, the Ferrara sisters, Vanessa Caruccio, Ashley Fiandaca, Alison Garnett and others became full-time teammates.
Smith and Golden took their hockey talents to St. Mary’s of Lynn and the legacy they’ve left on that program is a phenomenal one. The two Winthrop stars just completed a second perfect season in a row, helping the Lady Spartans capture the Division 1 state championship Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Woburn. It was third title overall for the Winthrop duo.
And the setting of the TD Banknorth Garden couldn’t have provided a more illustrious showcase for the two St. Mary’s captains who have led their team to 51 victories in a row.
Smith has been called the state’s best defensemen and an All-Scholastic honor may be coming soon for the senior.
“Alex Smith is the best defenseman I’ve ever seen in a long time,” said teammate Courtney Winters. “All three of our captains were incredible and just controlled the team and had fun.”
“In my opinion, Alex is our most valuable player and one of the best defensemen in the state,” said Golden. “I know she’s going to do great at Southern Maine.”
Coach Frank Pagliuca said the Winthrop duo set the tone with their excellent leadership and their status as role models to the younger players on the team.
“Alex and Michelle did an outstanding job of leadership this year as captains, along with Kelsey Magrane,” said Pagliuca. “We had ten new girls in the program and they really set the tone of how to conduct themselves on and off the ice. Alex and Michelle are just outstanding hockey players and more importantly, outstanding people.
“They represent the school with a tremendous amount of respect and integrity and that’s the most important thing in my opinion,” said Pagliuca. “They’re going to go on to have very successful careers in whatever they decide to do.”
Golden finished a sterling regular season with five goals and 35 assists for 40 points. Smith had four goals and 20 assists from the blue line.
“A lot of people come in to high school and you don’t think you’re going to win one state title – to win three, I’m grateful and happy for my teammates and my coaches,” said Golden. “Coming in to the season, you never expect to go undefeated. We expected to fight every game.”
Following Saturday’s game, Golden reflected on the significance of the achievement of winning back-to-back state titles and playing the first-ever girls high school state championship game at the home of the Boston Bruins.
“This is the first women’s MIAA championship at the Garden, so we can say we were a part of history,” she said. “It’s nice to win the first one.”