The Winthrop High school girls hockey teamâ€™s quest for an historic undefeated season came to an end in the Division 1 quarterfinals in a 3-2 loss to Billerica at Cronin Memorial Rink in Revere.
Billerica senior Remore Serra scored at the 3:39 mark of the third period to break a 2-2 tie. Sophomore goaltender Hailey Graybeal and the Billerica defense maintained that one-goal margin the rest of way.
The visiting team, which consisted of players from Billerica High and Chelmsford High, clearly focused on slowing Winthropâ€™s high-scoring seniors, Emma Holmes and Julia Holmes. Emma Holmes, whoâ€™s truly a magician with her stickhandling prowess, did produce a highlight-reel caliber goal in which she skated around the BC defense and deposited the puck in the net. Julia Holmes scored on a short-handed goal.
But it was clear that Billerica coach Ray Monroe built his game plan around containing the Holmes sisters, who were converged upon by multiple Billerica players throughout the game.
Billerica also took away some of Winthropâ€™s momentum with goals in the final 15 seconds of the first and second periods.
â€œWe had a chance to get that goal and get it out to a 3-1 lead,â€ said Martucci about the crucial end-of the-second-period sequence. â€œInstead, it goes the other way and itâ€™s a 2-2 game.â€
Winthrop goaltender Riley Towse concluded an exceptional rookie season for the Vikings. â€œOverall, I thought Riley played a pretty good game for a kid whoâ€™s never played in a situation like that,â€ said Martucci. â€œThe rink was full, and it was loud and there was a lot on the line, and for Riley to step up and play the way she did, I was very proud of her.â€
Martucci credited the Billerica/Chelmsford team for its upset of the Vikings.
â€œI will give credit where credit is due, and the Billerica team did just enough of what they needed to do â€“ whether it be their goaltender playing a phenomenal game or their defense playing the body on our higher-end forwards. They did a fantastic job of defending, their goaltender played tremendous, and they got timely scoring when they needed it, thatâ€™s for sure.â€
Butch Martucci did address the issue the somewhat controversial issue of the Winthrop-Billerica/Chelmsford game being moved from Larsen Rink at the Mike Eruzione Center to the Cronin Memorial Rink in Revere. As a result of Winthrop being a high seed, the team had earned the right to play the Elite 8 game in its own rink.
â€œI just wished the game was played where it was supposed to be played,â€ said Martucci. â€œIt would have been a little better for us because weâ€™re just very content at Larsen, and itâ€™s easier to set up for our pre-game preparations. The MIAA said we didnâ€™t have enough seats (Larsen Rink has 422 seats) to host the game. It was the MIAAâ€™s call. We called Revere [officials] and we were able to play the game there.â€