Semifinal bound

WORCESTER – The Longmeadow High School girls ice hockey (WHS co-op) team is going where it has never gone before.
Seventh-seeded Longmeadow survived a quarterfinal matchup with No. 15 Shrewsbury Friday at Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center, winning a thriller 3-2.
It is the furthest that Longmeadow (14-2) has ever advanced in tournament play.
“This experience the whole night was crazy,” said Longmeadow goalie Kayla Brown, who finished with 28 saves. “Their fan section was loud like it was really ringing in my ears but I really just tried to tune it out.”
Brown made one critical save after another, and withstood three power play opportunities, including two 3-on-5s in the final seven minutes of regulation.

With Shrewsbury’s goalie pulled, Longmeadow keeper Kayla Brown preserves the D1 state quarterfinal victory for the Lancers with this all-out paddle save. (Photo by Bill Deren)

“Definitely I was on edge in the last couple of minutes,” Brown said. “We were down a few men for a long period of time. They were coming out with everything they’ve got and I just really tried to just be there. They were trying to set up the weak side and I could see their plan and I just really tried to stick it out until the end.” Brown was unmovable, and Longmeadow prevailed.
It was an action-packed game from start to finish.
Although the scoreboard read just 1-1 after the game’s first 15 minutes, there were moments of spectacle with finesse shots, magnificent defensive stops, and key goalie saves that drew several “oohs” and “aahs.”
The Longmeadow defense was busy from the get-go with an early save from Brown, and a key defensive series, dismantling a potential breakaway.
Longmeadow’s offense matched the intensity with a couple of solid shots on net – one each from Kayla Russ and Kaitlyn Quinn. Shrewsbury’s talented junior goalie Riley MacCausland, who is bound for Providence College, made the save each time.
Shrewsbury (14-6-3) broke through with the game’s opening score with 5:05 remaining in the period, netting a goal when Brown dove to the outer edge of the goal to make a save, only to have the rebound bounce out front to Shrewsbury senior forward Lauren Moran, an assistant captain, who hammered it home.
Longmeadow’s lanky senior forward Brigitte Goeler-Slough topped that effort with a dandy. Goeler-Slough took a pass from Chloe Cutting and worked the puck down the center of the ice with a defenseman draped on her the entire way, but the Lancers forward held steady, pirouetting through the circles out front of the net and slipping a backhanded shot past MacCausland for the game-tying goal with 3:17 left in the period.
“I didn’t even see it go in honestly; I just saw it hit the back of the net,” Goeler-Slough said. “I had people all over me but I was just trying to keep (the puck) on my stick and trying to get a shot off there so thankfully I found a little hole and managed to squeak it in.”
The two teams exchanged shots in the final two minutes of the period with Brown making a save on a breakaway, and MacCausland turning away another attempt.
Shrewsbury kept Brown busy in the second period, peppering the Longmeadow goalie with a half-dozen shots through the first seven minutes. The Lancers keeper held steadfast.
The tide quickly turned though when Longmeadow junior forward Ashley Barron weaved her way through four players and scored a power play goal with 6:09 on the clock.
Goeler-Slough added another with 1:04 left in the period when she smacked a mid-range slap shot past MacCausland. Junior forward Alexis Pfalzgraf set her up.
“That second goal to go up by two was a really huge goal,” Goeler-Slough said. What a great pass by Lexi there to get it out in front of me. Again, I just managed to find a little hole there.”
Shrewsbury cut its deficit to one, 3-2, early in the third period when Dolly Herlihy launched a long-range slap shot from just inside the blue line that somehow found its way through traffic into the back of the net.
It was as close as the Colonials would get. Even a last-ditch effort with their goalie pulled in the waning seconds failed to produce a tie as Brown blocked every shot that came her way.

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