The rivalry between Arlington Catholic and St. Mary’s has been heated, to say the least. Battling it out for the Division 1 state championship the past two years, the two programs have each earned a state trophy, but there’s something else on the Cougars’ minds this season — winning a Catholic Central League title.
“According to school history, we’ve never won a division title and that’s a goal we would like to pursue,” said coach Maggie Taverna.
The Spartans have won the CCL championship title seven straight years, dating to 2007, according to the school website.
St. Mary’s, which dropped from No. 1 to No. 6 in the Globe’s Top 20 this week, will have its work cut out if it wants to extend the streak to eight. The Cougars (7-2-1 overall) stand at 2-0-1 in the CCL and St. Mary’s at 2-1-1. The Spartans are 6-2-2 overall.
Among the Cougars’ wins was a 3-0 shutout of St. Mary’s, the Spartans’ first loss this season and a big morale-booster for the Arlington Catholic squad.
“They saw the potential that we could win and they put their nose to the grind,” said Taverna.
This was the second meeting between the pair after a 0-0 tie in which the Cougars outshot the Spartans, 32-9.
Arlington Catholic ranked No. 4, started the season with three straight wins before stumbling against Andover on Dec. 30, losing 2-1.
“We had Christmas break off and we were successful but they came out mentally that they were good. It’s not going to come that easy,” said Taverna.
After dropping their second loss to Ursuline on Jan. 8, Taverna knew something had to change.
“We were too easy on [the girls]. They were lazy in that they were not doing the little things,” said Taverna.
“We changed practice and ingrained in their heads that doing the little things on the rink all the time will lead to scoring opportunities and success,” she said. “Then they were ready to go.”
The Cougars have reeled off three straight wins since, outscoring their opponents, 10-1. St. Mary’s followed its loss to Arlington Catholic with a 3-2 loss to Beverly/Danvers.
Katherine Crane, who has a 1.00 goals-against average, hasn’t seen an abundance of shots because of the team’s strong defense. Allison Cunningham has the hockey sense and Nicole Amato and Erin King have come out of their shells, leading the blue line corps, Taverna said.
Offensively, Globe All-Scholastic Adrieana Rossini (nine goals, nine assists), is Taverna’s quickest forward and is able to get scoring opportunities and her “back checks are phenomenal,” said Taverna. Mickey McLaughlin (three goals, three assists) and Danielle Kelley (two goals, two assists) have also stepped up their games, she said.
Taverna said the work ethic this season is similar to the 2012 state champions. A major difference is experience: this teams has three seniors compared to 10 in 2012.
“The team right now is playing very well from the goal out and they’re implementing the system we’ve created for them to rely on communicating on the ice, getting scoring opportunities and finishing,” said Taverna.
“They learned every team wants to beat us and that no game is going to be easy, especially when we have a heavy schedule,” she said. The Cougars still have league matchups against Archbishop Williams and Austin Prep (twice) and end the season against No. 1 Duxbury.
“It’s not a walk in the park every time you step on the ice. You have to empty your tank,” she said.
Games of the week
No. 11 Archbishop Williams at No. 8 Austin Prep, Monday, 11 a.m. — The Bishops senior goalie Ashley Dallaire has a .945 save percentage, which has kept the team on track (9-2). The squad’s only losses are to Arlington Catholic (7-2-1) and St. Mary’s (6-2-2). Austin Prep (6-1-1) has also had a solid run this season, but the team’s defense will be tested against a Bishops squad that has scored 47 goals this season, compared to 23 for the Prep.
No. 10 Acton-Boxboro at No. 2 Reading, Monday, 3 p.m. — The Rockets (8-1-2) will have to watch out for A-B trio Megan Barrett, Leah Cardarelli and Kaitlin Hoang, who account for half of the team’s 56 goals. The Rockets are coming off a 3-0 win over No. 3 Woburn.
No. 20 Braintree at No. 12 Wellesley, Wednesday., 6:40 p.m. — This Bay State Conference matchup features the Wamps (6-2-2), who are coming off a 3-2 loss to Needham, against an unbeaten Wellesley squad (9-0-1). Wellesley has allowed only 11 goals this season.
No. 1 Duxbury at No. 9 Falmouth, Wednesday, 7 p.m. — The Green Dragons (7-0-1) remain unbeaten in their first season in Division 1. After a season-opening 1-1 tie with Barnstable, Rachel Myette has posted three shutouts and a 0.45 GAA. Myette is very familiar with Falmouth’s goalie Madison Scavotto, who she has faced in the past two Division 2 state championships. Scavotto has a 1.95 GAA this season.
No. 6 St. Mary’s at No. 19 Winthrop/Lynn, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. — The Winthrop/Lynn co-op (8-2) is a threat, allowing 12 goals and scoring 48.
No. 7 Andover at No. 4 Arlington Catholic, Saturday, 8 p.m. — The Cougars will be out to avenge their 2-1 loss to Andover (6-2-1).